Thursday, April 27, 2017

Killing Joke: Fire Dances (1983)

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"Fire Dances bridges Killing Joke's primal past with their more melodic, accessible future and without compromising any of their thunder." [source]

I'd say that the above is a very apt statement. I regret that I have never seen this band live. It's also strange that I am totally unfamiliar with the band's more recent output.

My copy of this LP is a German repressing from 1986. $15 to $20 is probably a reasonable price for this record.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Killing Joke: "Ha" - Killing Joke Live (1982)

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This record was recorded live at Larry's Hideaway, Toronto (yay!) on August 9th and 10th, 1982. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to go to Larry's Hideaway. It was closed before I moved to Toronto, and the building was later demolished. About Larry's, Wikipedia says this:

"The venue was notable for being one of the first venues in Toronto to open itself to punk and new wave music acts, as well as hard rock. The venue was well known for its good acoustics." [source]

A number of seminal acts played there. Here are a few: Bauhaus, The Cult, Einstürzende Neubauten, The Diodes, Goddo, Nina Hagen, Max Webster, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, R.E.M., Rush, They Might be Giants, The Fall, Hüsker Dü, Richard Thompson, The Cramps, and The Demics.

But, back to the record. Most of pressings were released as 10" records, but I think there were 12" imports. Ha has six tracks.

Pssyche
Sun Goes Down
The Pandys Are Coming
Take Take Take
Unspeakable
Wardance

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Killing Joke: What's THIS For...! (1981)

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I guess the real title is What's THIS For...? Shouldn't there be a question mark and not an exclamation point! See what I did there! Again! The second Killing Joke record is also awesome. It might not be as good as the first, but it's pretty fantastic.
What's THIS For...! was generally well received by critics. Trouser Press described the album as "nearly as terrific" as their debut album, "bringing funk to ambient music, implying feeling sublimated in a chaotic world".

Paste magazine's Josh Jackson listed the album at No. 48 on his list of "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums", noting that "the real genius here is the human emotion that comes through such spare efficiency" [source]
I think more than a few people recognize that Ministry was influenced by this record.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Killing Joke: Killing Joke (1980)

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It's argued that Killing Joke paved the way for acts such as Metallica and Nine Inch Nails. They have been described as post-punk, new wave, gothic rock, industrial rock, industrial metal, alternative pop/rock, alternative/indie rock, punk, and dance-rock. I 'm really uncertain as to which label fits better, and it needs to be pointed out that the sound of the band shifted over the years. But, new wave, I think not. Let's just read the entire Allmusic review:
Since 1980, there have been a hundred bands who sound like this; but before Steve Albini and Al Jourgensen made it hip, the cold metallic throb of Killing Joke was exciting and fresh. The harshly sung vocals riding over the pulsating synth lines of the opener "Requiem" have a vigor and passion that few imitators have managed to match. The precise riffs and tight rhythms found in songs like "Wardance" would influence a generation of hardcore musicians; yet "The Wait," with its thrashing guitars and angry vocals, would find itself covered on a Metallica album only six years later. That such a bleak and furious album could have such a widespread influence is a testament to its importance. Certain parts of the album have not dated well; the vocals and drums are mixed in such a way that they lose some of their effectiveness, and the fact that so many other bands have used this same formula does take some of the visceral feeling away. But this is an underground classic and deserves better than its relative unknown status. Fans of most kinds of heavy music will probably find something they like about this band, and this is a good a place as any to start the collection. [source]
I love this record and I love the cover art. I have a Canadian pressing. Enough talk, more listen:




Friday, April 21, 2017

Nik Kershaw: Human Racing (1984)

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A couple of years back, I had some friends over for dunner and drinks. One of my friends laughed and exclaimed loudly when he saw this record. I get it. This is probably weak 80s music, more like weak top forty 80s music. But, I will admit that I don't mind Wouldn't it be Good. But, shouldn't that have a question mark at the end? Is not "wouldn't it be good" a question?

In contrast to that song, the rest of the album really does nothing for me. Elton John once said that Kershaw is "the best songwriter of a generation." [source] That's not a great endorsement, especially from a man whose entire catalogue post-1977, or so, is more or less uniformly awful. Maybe I like Wouldn't it be Good simply because the remainder of the songs are uninspiring.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lostboy! A.K.A Jim Kerr: Lostboy! A.K.A Jim Kerr (2010)

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I guess I could have filed this under L for Lostboy, but I put it under K for Kerr.

Jim Kerr, the lead singer of one of the top Scottish Bands -- Simple Minds -- released his first solo record in 2010. What took him so long? The vocals are credited to Lostboy, not Jim, and yet Jim's name is on the jacket. I wonder what he is trying to say? The Peter Pan reference is a bit bizarre.

I'd say that this is an OK record, but I am not blown away. I wonder why he bothered, at this point, with a solo record. The LP version was pressed only in Germany. I think I paid under $10 for it, which is probably what it's worth. I'm not crazy about the jacket design.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

John Kay: Forgotten Songs & Unsung Heroes (1972)

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I find it interesting that Canadians do their best to claim Steppenwolf as a Canadian band. John Kay did live in Canada, beginning in 1958, when he was 12 or 13 years old. At some point, he shuffled off to the USA where the pastures are greener. Others refer to the band as Canadian-American, which seems fair enough to me.

Anyway, John Kay (born Joachim Fritz Krauledat in East Prussia) was the lead singer of Steppenwolf, which was formed in 1968. I'm not up on my Steppenwolf history, so thank you Wikipedia for the details. Anyway, on to this record.

Forgotten Songs & Unsung Heroes, Kay's debut solo record, is pretty good. In fact, I recall being surprised by how much I liked it upon first listen. Half of the record is comprised of original tracks, while the other half are covers. It seems to work quite well, but I gather it fell between the cracks, as has happened to so many good songs and records.

I think that perhaps some were expecting a raucous record with tracks like Born to be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride, but this is a mellow countryish, bluesy affair, and maybe some were disappointed?

I'm pretty sure I paid a dollar or so for this one. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Kansas: Point of Know Return (1977)

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I recently purged a bunch of Greg Kihn records from my collection. I didn't mind some of the tracks, but I never really listened to them any more, even though they don't write 'em like that anymore.

This record contains the other really huge Kansas tune, Dust in the Wind. By the way, some people think that this record is entitled Point of No Return. It's close, but it isn't right.

I think this record is not so great. Maybe I just don't get it. I find it almost to be a job to force myself to listen to the record, and that's saying something. I will admit that Dust in the Wind is probably a very good rock song, but its bot really my cup of tea.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Kansas: Leftoverture (1976)

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The best thing about this record is the title. It's pretty clever and it's an authentic title too, from what I've heard, since they used bits and pieces of older material after failing to come up with new material.

Prog rock mixed with classic rock and pop is probably a good description of this band, who I think are still staples of classic rock radio. I just learned that this band has released records through the decades, including a new collection of songs in 2016. Who knew? I thought they were dead and buried. But, then again, who knows what the lineup is? I'm too disinterested to care.

This record was either a lawn sale pickup, when I was a teenager, or something passed along to me sometime by a person long forgotten. I do not recall the last time I listened to it. I'll likely never listen to it again.

I am relatively ignorant of Kansas, but my uninformed argument is that Carry On Wayward Son has to be the band's biggest song. This portion of the Allmusic review made me chuckle:
...an impenetrable conundrum of significance that's capped off by nothing less than a five-part suite, appropriately titled "Magnum Opus," and featuring such promising movement titles as "Father Padilla Meets the Perfect Gnat" and "Release the Beavers." Of course, there's no telling whether this closing opus relates to the opener, "Carry On Wayward Son," the greatest single Kansas ever cut -- a song that manages to be pompous, powerful, ridiculous, and catchy all at once. That they never manage to rival it anywhere on this record is as much a testament to their crippling ambition as their lack of skills. [source]
I can't add anything to that. I have a Canadian pressing

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Just West Of Something Big: A CFRU-FM Compilation Album (1987)

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This LP contains 15 tracks from obscure bands from the Guelph scene in the mid-late 1980s. A copy of this record is currently for sale on Discogs for $53.29, which is asking far too much, if you ask me. I paid a buck for my copy. I don't think any of these bands made it big, but I could be completely wrong about that. There's not much information about this record on the interwebs. It appears to be the only release from No's To No's Records. I wonder about the apostrophes in that name.

By the way, I'm pretty sure that the title refers to the fact that Guelph is west (just a bit west) -- geographically speaking -- from Toronto, which is a big city.

So, here are the tracks:

Right Nostril (Side 1)

A Single Voice - Ripping Susan
This Ill File - Step In Time
Belinda Wu - Facelift
Rigor Mortis - Life Cycle
Built With Lego - Not Your Fault
Maggot Fodder - Down And Under
Strings And Shades - Last Fall

Left Nostril (Side 2)

The Bird Sisters - Big Plans
Love's Ugly Children - Teeth Marks (Cannibal Bliss)
The Exploding Postmen - S.N.A.F.U.
Garden Bower - Stockholm
The Nationals - Workin' For A Living (Just Don't Work)
2 Below Subway - Are Ye Able
The Weathermen - Record Of The Time
Smash To Death Inc. - Condoms

The name some people might recognize from this release is that of Chris Bottomley, who produced the track from Love's Ugly Children. Chris's brother -- and former band-mate from Tulpä -- John Bottomley, went on to have a promising solo career. Sadly, John passed away a few years back.

(Being in the Ju section, I remember that I once had some Juluka records, which I purged from my collection).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Joy Division: Live In Holland (Live at the Paradiso Club in Amsterdam, January 11, 1980) (2015)

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This unofficial (bootleg) record was released by DOL, a trademark of Vinylogy, a Russian "reissue label" (bootleg label) evidently specializing in jazz and blues. My understanding is that the source for this record was an FM radio broadcast or a cassette of the FM radio broadcast. I believe that there have been several versions of this record, some on CD and some on double vinyl and with different names. Such is the nature of bootlegs. This particular version comes on 180 gram virgin vinyl. The sound is really great, for a bootleg.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Joy Division: Live In Blackpool 1979 (2008?)

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The record was recorded illegally at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool on July 27th, 1979. One hundred copies were pressed on orange vinyl and three hundred copies were pressed on black vinyl. I have the latter. The sound sucks. It's a truly awful recording.

Just how bad is it? Imagine you were in a club listening to a band ripping through their set list, and you realize that you have to have a pee. You can hear the music as you are walking towards the bathroom. You pull open the door and, as it closes, the music becomes a muffled noise behind the door. Now, imagine that someone in the bathroom has fired up their auto-stop portable Panasonic cassette deck while occupying a toilet stall and recorded the entire concert while sitting on the throne. That's what this record sounds like: the shits. On the other hand, if you are willing to put up with the atrocious sound, there is information to be gleaned from this record. But, I just can't listen to it again. Still, I will hold on to it, for whatever reason.