Thursday, January 16, 2020

Panda Bear: Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper (2015)

Panda Bear is really Noah Benjamin Lennox, who is also a member of Animal Collective. This is his fifth record.
The lyrical themes of the album center around personal growth, although Lennox wanted to discuss issues on a larger scale because he wanted to avoid "self-obsession or narcissism". The drum programming on Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper was influenced by 1990s hip-hop. Specifically, Lennox cited Dust Brothers, Q-Tip, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, and J Dilla as influences.

The opening track, "Sequential Circuits", is a neo-psychedelia song that was described as "swirling" and "a[s] pure as a babbling brook". "Tropic of Cancer" contains a harp sample from the Nutcracker suite and its lyrics concern the death of Panda Bear's father. His vocal harmonies on the song were compared to those of The Beach Boys. [source]
The set is pressed on two 150g records. I like this record.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Pan American: Cloud Room, Glass Room (2013)

I have quite a few releases from Kranky, but most are on CD. These include Labradford, Windy and Carl, and others. It's a really great record label, and I think I would like anything they released. This record from Pan American is simply sublime.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Robert Palmer: Heavy Nova (1988)

Confession time: I am not sure that I have played this record more than once or twice, and certainly not in years. I'm not even sure that I have committed the songs to memory, beyond Simply Irresistible. This is perhaps odd, because this was Palmer's most successful record. I think, by 1988, I was listening to far different music.

Wikpedia notes: "The name Heavy Nova derives from Palmer's love of both heavy metal and bossa nova rhythms." I had no idea.

After this record, I disconnected from Palmer, and really only paid attention when I heard of his premature death in 2003. Apparently, there were five studio albums that followed Heavy Nova, along with some live releases, and some compilations. I had no idea, and I have never heard any of it. By the way, I do not own any Robert Palmer music on CD.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Robert Palmer: Riptide (1985)

I was a little surprised when Pete, my friend in residence, professed his positive opinion of this record. It just didn't seem to fit with the other music he liked. I could always count on hm to offer nearly never-ending suggestions of what to listen to next, but I was puzzled, but them I realized that he liked the new wave sound of Clues, which led him to Riptide. The records sound totally different, but at least it made sense.

This LP followed the huge Power Station record. Palmer was the lead vocalist, in case you were not aware. I liked this record instantly (my first copy was on cassette). I listened to this LP recently, and it reminded me of how much I like it. Even the Allmusic reviewer liked it, and awarded it 4.5 stars.

I was greatly pleased to see Palmer achieve some true fame. On the other hand, in later years, I was increasingly dismayed that many people only knew Palmer from the track Addicted to Love and Simply Irresistible, from the next LP. Worse, some dismissed him as a misogynist because of those two videos, and also the video for I Didn't Mean to Turn You On. Maybe he was, but the videos undermined the music, in my opinion. Imagine listening to Addicted to Love without associating it with that video.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Ghosteen (2019)

This is a heartbreaking and harrowing record. It's epic, powerful, painful, beautiful, transcendental, and maybe even a masterpiece. But, there's so much emotion and anguish that I find it difficult to listen to.

Parts of Cave's delivery remind me of some of John Cale's work.

The band name gets an asterisk on Discogs because the full word and is used rather than an ampersand on previous releases. Seriously!

Robert Palmer: Pride (1983)

I lost track of Palmer for a while after Clues, so this is a record I had to come back to, and for that reason, it never really said much to me. I guess I am just indifferent to this one, apart from You are in My System, which I think is a great track that sounds like it should have been on Clues. The album cover sucks, IMHO.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Robert Palmer: Maybe It’s Live (1981)

Maybe It’s Live contains six live tracks and some new studio tracks, the most popular of which is Some Guys Have all the Luck, a tune that Rod Stewart later covered, but not as well. I also own a promo copy of this record, packaged in a plain brown cardboard sleeve.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Robert Palmer: Clues (1980)

Clues has always struck me as the record in which Palmer shifted from blued-eyed soul to new wave. He even added synthesizers. There were two big hits on this LP: Looking for Clues and the Johnny and Mary. The real surprise for me is the cover of Gary Numan's I Dream of Wires, which features Numan himself on keyboards.

Sadly, the record is only thirty minutes in length. Despite that, I rank it in my top three Palmer records.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Robert Palmer: Secrets (1979)

Secrets was the first Robert Palmer record I ever owned. I picked it up because I liked the lead-off single, Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor Doctor), a tune he did not write. I discovered that there were far better tracks on the record. I sold my copy at a lawn sale one year ages ago (along with a number of Robert Palmer 12" singles), when I decided to divest myself of some records. Later, I found a mintish copy in a dollar bin somewhere and decided to bring it back into my collection.

My favourite track on this record is What's it Take?, a Palmer original. There's some great rhythm and percussion in that tune. I also love Jealous. I think there are better Palmer records, but this is not too bad.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Robert Palmer: Double Fun (1978)

Robert looks he is living every man's dream on the cover of this LP. He died young, at age 54. That was sad, but that's what heavy smoking does to a body.

I think there are three cover versions on this record. I have no idea what inspired Palmer to do a rendition of the Kinks' You Really Got Me. That's a total fail, in my books.

I like this record. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Robert Palmer: Some People Can Do What They Like (1976)

I don't know if Robert had a reputation as a player, but one just gets the sense that he was. Following that great cover image for Pressure Drop, he appears here with Playboy's Playmate of the month for April 1976. They are playing strip poker. That's a win-win, if you ask me. It looked like he was having a good time all of the time, but smoking too much.

Palmer wrote only two of these songs, plus he co-wrote another with his old pal from Vinegar Joe.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Robert Palmer: Pressure Drop (1975)

The adolescent boy in me simply loved this record jack, both front and especially back. After this record, Palmer moved to Nassau. I wish I had done that.

Again, Palmer wrote just over half of these tunes. On balance this is a really smooth and soulful record.

Robert Palmer: Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley (1974)

"The career of blue-eyed soul singer Robert Palmer was a study in style versus substance. While the performer's earliest work won praise for its skillful assimilation of rock, R&B, and reggae sounds, his records typically sold poorly, and he achieved his greatest notoriety as an impeccably dressed lounge lizard. By the mid-'80s, however, Palmer became a star, although his popularity owed less to the strength of his material than to his infamous music videos: taking their cue from the singer's suave presence, Palmer's clips established him as a dapper, suit-and-tie lady's man who performed his songs backed by a band comprised of leggy models, much to the delight of viewers who made him one of MTV's biggest success stories. " [source]

And so begins Allmusic's biography of the late Robert Palmer. I will have to dissent, for I have always loved Palmer's music, even when it reached its misogynistic fever pitch in the Addicted to Love and Simply Irresistible videos. Wikipedia's introduction is far more charitable: "He was known for his distinctive, soulful voice, eclectic mix of musical styles on his albums, combining soul, jazz, rock, pop, reggae, blues, and sartorial acumen." [source

I first heard Palmer singing Bad Case of Loving (Doctor Doctor) -- one of a number of songs he recorded but didn't write -- on the radio in my dad's car, I think. But, that song was from a later record. He wrote just over half of the songs on Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley, and he did a fabulous job in arranging.

Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley begins with a excellent trio of tunes that all run seamlessly together and introduce a really funky and soulful album. I find it a shame that most people know him for Addicted to Love. I'm willing to bet, also, that most people are unfamiliar with his work with Vinegar Joe, with whom he made two records in 1971 and 1972.

I have a Canadian pressing of this record.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark/OMD: Souvenir, the Sigles Collection, 1979 - 2019 (2019)

This triple LP release compiles OMD forty singles from 1979 - 2019. From a Discogs comment:

"Completists take note and rejoice! Track 3, Messages, is the (relatively) rare 7" remix, and not the Lp version. It is a short version of the 10" remix that appears almost everywhere else. This is the first time that this version of this track has appeared on cd, I believe."

While the vinyl set contains one new track (Don't Go), the deluxe CD box set has a lot more material, including a bunch of unreleased tracks. This is a cool compilation.