Friday, January 20, 2017

The Jet Black Berries: Sundown on Venus (1984)

The Jet Black Berries are probably an 80s band that few people have ever heard of. I guess they are no longer just an 80s band, because a new album (on CD only) came out in 2010. I have never heard  the CD. I can't believe that 2010 was seven years ago already. Why is time moving so fast?

On Discogs, the band is referred to as punk, new wave, rock and roll, goth rock, and country rock. That's a lot to live up to. 

The US pressing of Sundown on Venus came in three versions: cassette, LP, and LP with a bonus single-side mini album. I have the latter. It was also released on vinyl in Greece and the Netherlands.

A discogs user (bubbleman) left a very interesting comment about the band:
An absolute underrated forgotten neglected classic by this totally unique sounding band far from the restrictions of any genre. Seriously, this makes my all time top ten. Do yourself a favour and get it. You'll probably find it real cheap on Ebay or in the bargain bin of your favourite Festival Rock record store. These guys were probably the inventors and the sole Kings of Death Goth Country Punk adding a large helping of Spaghetti Western aesthetics to the stew. An absolutely fantastic brilliant vocalist, well crafted lyrics avoiding the usual cheesiness of Horror Punk or Psychobilly thus implying a well-read and intelligent author of the afore-mentioned lyrics and a great organ and an overall excellent band create an uneasy air of impending doom and a certain healthy degree of nihilism and misanthropy. Some real bad karma here and some classic feel good music for creeps. And like with everything truly great a lot more SHOW than TELL. Alright, some of it is probably a little cheesy by today's standards, but it's really really good cheesy and 1000 roads probably really all do lead to Shadowdrive. [source]
That's a pretty good description, I think.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Automatic (1989)

Some of the tracks on Automatic are fantastic. Blues from a Gun and Head On are stellar. In fact, I would rank those tunes as being among the best from the band. The Pixies even covered Head On. However, some of the tracks just don't do it for me. This is a mixed bag. They seemed to have abandoned the post-punk landscape for something they hoped would have been more commercial. It didn't really work, and it's the first time I was disappointed with the band.

By the way, I have an original Canadian pressing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Sidewalking (1988)

This 12" US Maxi Single contains the 7" mix and extended mix of Sidewalking, plus live versions of Taste of Cindy and April Skies. I think that all of the JMC LPs have been re-pressed, but I am not sure that these more ephemeral releases will ever see the light of day again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Imagene Peise [The Flaming Lips]: Atlas Eets Christmas (2007]

I hate Christmas music with a passion. I can sort of tolerate Xmas tunes if I hear the jingly-jangly music during the festive season, but only barely, and not until after my December birthday. Despite being an atheist, I have a clear preference for religious Christmas music, if I were forced to choose. I know, that sounds truly bizarre. Even Bruce Cockburn's Christmas album, chock-full of superstition and fairy tales, is far more palatable than secular curiosities, like Frosty the Snowman. I guess one explanation is that Christmas music is really music for children. Another explanation could be that Christmas music, especially the secular variety, is simply inane.

Having said that, I bought copy of this record on red vinyl (brand new, still in shrink wrap) for $1.99, marked down from $19.99. Only 5000 copies in red vinyl were released. At that price, I could not say no. I love The Flaming Lips, so I had to buy it. This was a 2014 Black Friday Record Store Day release. A limited edition CD came out in 2007.

Imagene Peise is a fiction. She is described as being an Iraqi jazz pianist who recorded this record at the age of eighteen. She is said to have committed suicide in 1978. This record is reported to have been a lost album. None of that is true, but I guess it's entertaining, and so is the record. I would argue that this is the greatest Christmas album ever recorded.

The Jesus And Mary Chain: Barbed Wire Kisses (B-Sides And More) (1988)

This collection was recently re-released as a limited edition double LP, I think on some sort of coloured vinyl. I have an original US pressing, though it has been defaced with that horrible gold promo stamp. Such is life. This LP contains singles, b-sides, and rare tracks. The record even spawned the single, Sidewalking. There's also a good Beach Boys cover on this LP. I would award this LP, like the previous two, five out of five stars.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Darklands (1987)

Hand in hand in a violent life
Making love on the edge of a knife
And the world comes tumbling down

Darklands is no Psychocandy redux. That's OK, since this is a very enjoyable record. I don't think that the band ever reclaimed the glory of the first LP, but there is nothing wrong with this record. I think the Allmusic review is spot on, so you can go and read it on your own time. There is just something about the sound of this band that is truly wonderful, to my ears at least.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Some Candy Talking E.P. (1986)

The Canadian version of this EP contains:

Some Candy Talking
Taste of Cindy

The 7" version had one fewer tracks and different cover.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy (1985)

Sometimes you hear a record and it stops you dead in your tracks. Psychocandy, for me, is one of those records. I went on a mission to find out who this band was. Shazam would have been very handy.

This record started a musical revolution, of sorts, leading to the shoegaze movement. I've heard this record described as part Beach Boys, part Velvet Underground. That's probably a good description

It's hard to choose the best Scottish band, but I would choose The Jesus and Mary Chain. (Another band on my short list would be Simple Minds).

Original pressings of this LP demand a moderate investment. I have seen copies priced at $40 quite frequently. I have an original Canadian pressing from 1985. Later CD releases included Some Candy Talking, which was originally only released on an EP.

The sound might not seem to interesting now, but this was groundbreaking back in the olden days.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy: Distressed Gentlefolk

The band's name might suggest that it is a weak jazz band or a failed jazz band. Alas, it is not. Instead, the band is a UK indie pop band from Oxford. Allmusic describes the band this way: "Formed in the early 80s as a vehicle for the idiosyncratic, melodic talents of UK songwriter Pat Fish." [source]

From Wikipedia:
Their oeuvre is blackly humorous with such topics as Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, an unrequited crush on Shirley MacLaine, and an ode to SF writer Harlan Ellison. The song "Sister Death" is not about the comic book character, but was inspired by the last words of Saint Francis of Assisi, "Welcome, Sister Death". [source]
I really don't know very much about this band, beyond this record and I cannot remember where I got it.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Japanese Popstars: The Remixes (2011)

The Japanese Popstars are an electronic trio from Northern Ireland. I think they have now been downgraded to a duo. The Remixes release came in two varieties: a regular edition; and, a limited edition heavyweight vinyl edition released on Record Store Day 2011. I have the latter, which I picked up for a dollar or two..

This EP contains remixes of:

Depeche Mode: Peace
Thirty Seconds to Mars: Closer to the Edge
Kylie Minogue: Better than Today

The Depeche Mode remix really excels. I like it very much, and it's the best thing on the record. The Thirty Seconds to Mars track is also quite enjoyable, in its own way. I'm a bit puzzled by the Kylie Minogue tune. I've never been a fan, and I am unfamiliar with the original version. I'd say that it sucks.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Japandroids: No SIngles (2010)

No Singles compiles ten previously-released tracks, five tracks each from from 2007's All Lies EP and 2008's Lullaby Death Jams EP. Clearly, no singles were released from the record.

There is an obvious nod to The Boss on Darkness on the Edge of Gastown, which is a pretty good track, though it seems to have nothing racing out at the trestles. Sexual Aerosol might be the best track on the LP, but who knows?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Japandroids: Post-Nothing (2009)

The Japandroids are not from Japan. They are not droids either, as far as I can determine. The band is a duo, much like The White Stripes and what The Black Keys used to be. The description from Wikipedia, is interesting:
"Japandroids' music has been described as "one part classic rock, one part punk",due to their blending of classic rock influences such as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, with punk rock influences such as the Replacements and Hüsker Dü." [source]
The Springsteen influences are obvious on the track Darkness On The Edge Of Gastown from the band's 2008 EP Lullaby Death Jams.

Post-Nothing was the band's first LP, but this release was preceded by two EPs (including the aforementioned EP), which were later collected on the No Singles compilation.

This record rocks. Live Japandroids in Toronto:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Japan: Exorcising Ghosts (1984)

This 1984 compilation, apparently overseen by Sylvian, is rather odd, for it contains only three tracks from the fist two records. Instead, it focuses on the last two records. The record also includes some rarities, like A Foreign Place, Life Without Buildings (which isn't rare if you have the 1981 12" single of The Art of Parties), and a remix of Taking Islands in Africa. The CD and cassette versions have different track listings. This a great intro into the mostly later years. If you want a compilation of the early years, Assemblage is obvious the one to get.