Friday, February 23, 2018

Martha and the Muffins: Trance and Dance (1980)

[photo coming soon]

I used to have a bunch of Steve Martin records in my collection, but I unloaded them. Back in the day, the only way one could hear comedy, especially if you lived in a small town, was late night TV (like Johnny Carson) or on record. Occasionally, you could hear some comedy on the radio. I had no access to comedy clubs, so I had to rely on records. But, once you've heard the routine, it's not always fun going back, so I lost interest. But, I am sidetracked.

Martha and the Muffins, alter known as M+M (and somehow miraculously not separated on Discogs) were a Canadian pop band. They are best known, I think, for the tune Echo Beach, which is a real place in Toronto. If you lived in Southern Ontario in the early 80s, you couldn't have missed them. The truth is, I haven't listened to his album very much at all, and I know next to nothing about it.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hugh Marsh: Shaking the Pupmkin (1987)

[photo coming soon]

I probably would not have known who Hugh Marsh was, had it not been for his work with Bruce Cockburn. Marsh contributed some violin work to several Cockburn records. Incidentally, Hugh's brother, Fergus Jemison Marsh, also worked with Cockburn, playing the Chapman stick and bass.

This record, has some interesting guest vocalists, including Cockburn himself. Other guests include Dalbello and Robert Palmer. There is even a track with words (read by Robert Palmer) by Josef Škvorecký, whowrote one of my favourite books of all time, The Engineer of Human Souls. Palmer also sings Purple Haze, the Hendrix tune. The audio is on Youtube, but embedding is disabled.

I remember being happy to see Marshs's name in the credits of a couple of Peter Murphy albums in the early 2000s.

Sometime after this album was released, Hugh played a free noon-hour concert at the university I was attending. A classmate and I went over the check it out, but my friend left after a few minutes, complaining about the discordant sounds emanating from the stage. I quite enjoyed it. This friend wrote an essay on imperialism for a Marxist prof using Hobsbawm as a framework. I stuck with Lenin and got a far better grade.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

M|A|R|R|S: Pump up the Volume (1987)

[photo coming soon]

Mars, stylized as M|A|R|R|S, was a collaboration between some members of the Colourbox and the group A.R. Kane. There a a few samples in this track, but the most obvious on is from Eric B and Rakim. The first time I heard this track, I described it as infectious nonsense. The truth is that I liked the track and still do.

I have the Canadian 12" which contains the original and remixed versions plus Anitina (The First Time I See She Dance).

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Bob Marley and The Wailers: Rebel Music (1986)

I guess you could say that this collection is the opposite of Legend. As Allmusic states, Legend "misrepresented the range of Marley's work, downplaying its political aspect in favor of danceability and romantic sentiments." The author goes on to say: "Of course, what made Marley such a powerful figure internationally was his message about the uprising of the oppressed, but you wouldn't know that from Legend." [source]

So, here we have a number of political tunes, the most popular of which is probably Get Up, Stand Up, though the version included here is live.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Bob Marley and The Wailers: Confrontation (1983)

Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock Rasta
There was a Buffalo Soldier
In the heart of America
Stolen from Africa, brought to America
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival

Confrontation was released two years after Marley's death. It contains some unreleased tracks and some singles. It's somewhat strange to note that Buffalo Soldier, which is perhaps Marley's best known song, appears for the first time here. By the way, if you do not know what a buffalo soldier was, you should look it up. I'd say that this is a solid posthumous collection.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Bob Marley and The Wailers: Uprising (1980)

Uprising was the last studio recording from Bob. Sadly, he died in May of 1981. This record contains Redemption Song, my favourite Bob Marley track.

Old pirates, yes, they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the Almighty
We forward in this generation
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
'Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look? Ooh
Some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fulfill the Book

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy
'Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fulfill the book
Won't you have to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever had
Redemption songs
All I ever had
Redemption songs
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom

Ive never been a fan of the almighty, and I find it curious when people proclaim their faith loudly and clearly, but Rastafari appears to be peaceful, but I think women are not considered equal. Anyway, I am not an expert. But I do like this record. I have an original Canadian pressing.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Bob Marley and The Wailers: Survival (1979)

"Containing what is considered Marley's most defiant and politically charged statement to date, Survival concerns itself with the expressed solidarity of not only Africa, but of humanity at large." [source]

Just look at the album art. First, you notice the flags, and, since I am not a vexillologist, I had to look this up: "The album's front cover depicts 48 African flags, 15 of which [...] are now obsolete, and the flag of Papua New Guinea." [source] The other cover element is an engraving of the interior compartment of a slave ship. I think this makes a strong statement, and I can't see how anyone would object, but the cover proved controversial. I simply cannot imagine why. Slavery (in all time periods) was and is an abomination. It was cruel and inhumane and a massive tragedy. Let's also not forget that slavery continues, though we tend to use the term human trafficking.

I like this record very much. I have the original Canadian pressing.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Bob Marley and The Wailers: Babylon by Bus (1978)

I think Allmusic is right about this album, about which they said: "Arguably the most influential live reggae album ever..." and "Without question, Babylon by Bus is an integral component of any popular music collection."[source]

Wikipedia notes: "Like the 1973 album Catch a Fire, the first release had something of a novelty cover. The windows of the bus on the front cover were cut out, revealing part of the inner sleeve. As this was a double album, the listener had a choice of four different scenes to view through the windows." [source].

I think all of Marley's records have been repressed on vinyl. This is an original Canadian pressing.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Bob Marley and The Wailers: Kaya (1978)

"The album has a very relaxed, laid back sound, lacking much of the militant quality of the Wailers lyrically and musically. They received criticism for 'going soft' as a result of the general sound of the album as well as the theme: songs primarily revolving around love, as well as marijuana." [source]

Even Billy Bragg wrote love songs, though none about marijuana, as far as I can tell. By the way, I recently read that Kaya means marijuana.This is a solid record. I have an original Canadian pressing.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Bob Marley and The Wailers: The Birth of a legend, Vol. 1 (1977)

This is an odd record because it sounds nothing like the Bob Marley we all know and love. This is a compilation of early Wailers. It's roots reggae, ska, rocksteady, and R & B. The style will probably confound those who know the super Marley hits. The cover image (of which there are many versions) here is misleading. This is the pre-dread, pre-rasta period.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Exodus (1977)

He said: I got through the part about the exodus.
Up to then I only knew it was a movement of the people.

- The Cattle and the Creeping Things, The Hold Steady

Movement of Jah people! Oh oh oh, yeah!"

This is a fabulous record containing a number of well-known Marley tracks, like Exodus, Jamming, Waiting in Vain, and Three Little Birds. It's truly amazing to me that anyone would have wanted to kill Marley, which is what someone tried to do in late 1976. Someone wasn't a fan of his anti-corruption, peace and love message, it seems.

I have an original Canadian pressing.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Bob Marley and The Wailers: Rastaman Vibration (1976)

Oddly, none of the tracks from this record showed up on Legend. So, most people would probably not recognize many of these songs

Wikipedia has details I never knew:
Although the album's liner notes list multiple songwriters, including family friends and band members, all songs were written by Marley. Marley was involved in a contractual dispute at the time with his former publishing company, Cayman music. Marley had not wanted his new songs to be associated with Cayman and it was speculated, including in his obituary in The Independent, that he had put them in the names of his friends and family members as a means of avoiding the contractual restrictions and to provide lasting help to family and close friends.

Vincent Ford, a childhood friend from Jamaica, is the songwriter for "No Woman, No Cry" on the 1974 album Natty Dread, as well as the songs "Crazy Baldheads" (with Marley's wife Rita), "Positive Vibration" and "Roots Rock Reggae" from Rastaman Vibration, along with "Inna De Red" and "Jah Bless" with Marley's son, Stephen.

Marley's widow and his former manager Danny Sims sued to obtain royalty and ownership rights to the songs, claiming that Marley had actually written the songs but had assigned the credit to Ford to avoid meeting commitments made in prior contracts. A 1987 court decision favored the Marley estate, which assumed full control of the songs. [source]