Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blue Rodeo: Outskirts (1987)

For some reason, I was lucky enough to see Blue Rodeo in concert many times in the 80s, and I even saw them prior to the release of Outskirts, their first album. On one occasion, the band 13 Engines opened for them. During the 13 Engines set, some small guy came out and started dancing like a wild lunatic. He was flailing all over the place, really, like he was insane or had no concern for whatever anyone thought of him. When Blue Rodeo took the stage, I realized that it had been Bobby Wiseman (Blue Rodeo's keyboardist) on the dance floor, dancing like a dancing fool.

Blue Rodeo, as I am sure you know, is a blend of country, rock, folk, and maybe blues. I thought (and still think) that Outskirts is a fantastic record. I own a copy of CD as well. Every song is a winner, apart from the sappy Try, which I can't stand, for many reasons.

Blue Peter: Falling (1983)

Arguably, the most famous Blue Peter track of all time appears on this album. Don't Walk Past was so popular, it even got MTV airplay even though the band did not have a record deal in the USA. The song even has a real video. By the way, I knew a guy who danced exactly like Paul Humphrey does, starting at 3:05 in the video below.

The (English/Britsh) Beat: I Just Can't Stop it (1980)

This is the first and best Beat album. This album featured prominently in my undergrad years. It has so many good songs, it's almost like a greatest hits package.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blue Peter: Up to You (1982)

The big track from this EP was Chinese Graffiti, which had been previously released on a different label the year before. Maybe you have heard it? Sometimes, I remember how much I paid for records and sometimes I don't. In this case, I was in a used record shop and I purchased an EP by Echo an the Bunnymen. I was considering adding this one, and the owner gave it to me for free. It plays fine, though the cover is a bit worn.

Blue Peter: Radio Silence (1980)

Radio Silence was the first full-length release from Toronto's Blue Peter. The year 1980 was pre-MTV, and although I recall seeing music videos on CityTV's The New Music, videos seemed to be few and far between. So, there are only live clips and plain audio files for this album on Youtube.

The title track was a big single, as I recall. Clearly, the band was beginning its shift in sound. It's smoother, more new wave, and less punk. The keyboards feature prominently.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bauhaus: 4AD (1983)

Bauhaus released this EP in late 1983, after releasing Burning from the Inside earlier in the year. The EP (mine is a UK pressing) contained three singles along with three b-sides, as follows:

1 Dark Entries
2 Terror Couple Kill Colonel
3 Telegram Sam
4 Terror Couple Kill Colonel (Version)
5 Rosegarden Funeral of Sores
6 Crowds

This all reminds me that I used to have a Bauhaus VHS tape called Shadow of Light, which contained the video of Rosegarden Funeral of Sores, a song written by John Cale, as well as a few other tracks with the associated videos. I wonder what happened to that tape? Someone on eBay is trying to sell a copy for almost $25.

Blue Peter: Test Pattern for Living (1979)

I'd like to know how many copies of this EP were released. I recently realized that copies of this EP go for a few bucks. For example, one sold on Discogs for close to $40 (plus shipping). That's far more than I paid for my copy.

Blue Peter was either classified as a new wave band or a punk band. I think they moved from light punk to a new wave/new romantic sound (maybe even synth) as the years passed. The band was popular in the early CFNY days, when radio was an authentic entity, unlike today's corporate radio landscape.

The Black Keys: Turn Blue (2014)

The colours are wonky on my jacket photo.

I have every previous Black Keys release on CD. I would say that the Black Keys are one of my favourite bands. I love the grounding in the blues. I love the intensity. If you have never heard them, you are missing out. It's hard to pick a favourite album, because, in my mind, they are all 5 stars out of 5.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blondie: The Best of Blondie (1981)

Who wouldn't want to own a collection of Blondie's best tracks (up to 1981)? This is my second copy. The first copy came to a bad end, when it was subjected to an unwanted source of heat and warped. Records can be fragile but they can last forever, unlike CDs, which might stop working or develop laser rot or other bad things. My oldest CD (The Cure: Staring at the Sea) still works fine, though I think the mastering is suspect.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blondie: Autoamerican (1980)

My brother had a copy of this record, but he lost it somehow or maybe he gave it away or sold it to buy cigarettes, along with all of his other records. In some respects, it wasn't a tragedy that he lost this one, because the hole was drilled in the wrong place, and the record sounded way off, like it was warped, though it wasn't. I picked up a copy sometime later. It was a tragedy that he divested himself of some of his other records.

What a change of sound was this record from previous Blondie releases. It took me a while to adjust to the new sound, which I grew to like.

One thing that really irritated me during this period when cassette tapes were on the ascendancy was the predilection of record companies to place bonus tracks on the cassette that were missing from the vinyl release. In this case, the cassette contained Susie and Jeffrey, the b-side to The Tide is High. Another notable case was the inclusion of Murder by Numbers on the cassette copy of The Police's Synchronicity. That also pissed me off. I remember being duped into buying some cassettes, which I later regretted. How many 'eaten' tapes did it take before I saw the light? I wish I had seen the light before buying all of my Joy Division on tape rather than vinyl.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blondie: Eat to the Beat (1979)

Deborah Harry was the object of much adolescent sexual yearnings from all of the boys back in the day. I think part of that appeal was the film American Gigolo, which came out the year after this album, because a Blondie track was used in the soundtrack. Or, the appeal might also have been the result of a rumour that she had been a Playboy Playmate. I never saw the evidence and I have no idea if it is true, but I think she was a waitress in a Playboy club. I think Blondie's music has stood the test of time. It still sounds good to my ears, at any rate. For a while, I had two copies of this record, but I think I got rid of the spare copy.

Blancmange: Mange Tout (1984)

My dad was a major ABBA fan. I suffered through untold hours of ABBA, first from the 8-track player in the living room, and then on vinyl, and then on cassette in my dad's car. I think I still know all of the lyrics to all of the ABBA songs. Just think of the wasted brain storage space. I also wonder if this exposure caused any permanent brain damage.

The very last song ABBA ever recorded turned out to be their best track. I distinctly remember hearing this track and thinking that the Swedish foursome had actually and finally written a good song. I wonder why it took so long.

Two years later, Blancmange covered The Day Before you Came on Mange Tout. They do a good job, but the version is no better or worse than the original, though the pacing seems quicker. It's a fairly faithful rendition. Mange Tout has some great tracks: Don't Tell Me, Blind Vision, etc.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Black Heart Procession: 1 (1998)

Allmusic describes The Black Heart Procession as a "Dark and brooding San Diego-based indie rock group with deeply theatrical undercurrents." From the opening notes of the first track, it's clear that this album will be a largely mellow, atmospheric, acoustic, melancholic, somewhat intense affair. In some respects, I am reminded of the more passive arrangements of Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra, but that may have more to do with the Paul's almost pleading vocals.

My sense is that this piece of vinyl is hard to find, but I could be wrong.

Blancmange: Happy Families (1982)

This album brings up the issue of import versus domestic releases. For some reason, when albums are released in different markets, records companies often screw around with album covers, track order, and even track selection. (Book publishers do the same thing with book jackets). On this release, the version of Waves is different from the original UK release. The Canadian pressing also includes an early version of Blind Vision, which would appear in an alternate format on the subsequent Blancmange album. I have to ask why? The cover art for the Canadian release of Bauhaus's The Sky's Gone Out sucks, especially when compared to the awesome original UK cover. There are lots of other examples, which we will get to, eventually. In any case, this all leads me to quote perhaps the funniest thing I have ever read on

"Drummer Laurence Stevens was a member of the band for a short while, but they eventually replaced him with a drum machine."

Image the ignominy of being replaced by a computer? Was it cost-cutting? Who knows?

Big Talk: Big Talk (2011)

Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (drummer for The Killers) formed Big Talk in 2010. This is the only album, so far. I guess there wasn't enough money in the budget to make real videos. I would not list this as a favourite album, but it has its moments.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Big Country: Peace in our Time (1988)

I suppose the best news with this album is that the band lessened the reliance on its trademark bagpipe guitar. I think they should have moved in that direction sooner. But, paradoxically, this move  might have also made the band less interesting. Combined with the new production, the album comes across as bombastic, especially the lead off track, King of Emotion.

The Big Chill: More Songs from the Original Soundtrack of the Big Chill (1984)

Many people would file this record under a category of Various Artists, or maybe Soundtracks. I prefer to file soundtracks under the name of the film. So, the soundtrack for Pretty in Pink would be under P. The exception to that rule is if one artist is responsible for the entire soundtrack. In that case, I would put the record with the other records by that artist. So, Chariots of Fire would be under V for Vangelis. Got it?

Oddly, I have never seen the film, and I have no idea why.

Here's a live version of The Weight by the Band from Woodstock in '69. The studio version was used in the film The Big Chill.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Big Country: Wonderland (1984)

Wonderland is either a 4-track EP or a mini album, depending on who you ask. It commences with the lively Wonderland, which I suppose is emblematic of the band's sound, for better or worse. Depending on who you ask, this band is similar to The Alarm, or maybe The Icicle Works, or even Howard Jones and Simple Minds, though I can't help but feeling that the comparison to the latter band is influenced by geography more than sound. I think it does a huge disservice to Simple Minds to have to live with that comparison. Big Country is both lyrically and musically unsophisticated as compared with Simple Minds.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Big Country: The Crossing (1983)

I am half Scottish, so there has to be (more) Scottish music in the collection. I have to say that by the end of 1983, I was sick to death of this album's lead-off track, In a Big Country. It was a repeat of my hatred of Our House by Madness the year before. Both songs were overplayed and I got so very very tired of them. It didn't help that a friend of mine kept playing this song over and over and over again. I think this type of torture could be a new area of exploration. If we ever need a new method of inquiry to replace waterboarding, the repetition of certain hit songs could prove promising.

Big Audio Dynamite: Megatop Phoenix (1989)

This album is something of a return to form, after Tighten Up Vol 88. In other words, I like this record more than its predecessor. There are so many good songs, I can't decide which one to post. James Brown has a car chase and an interesting sample from West Side Story, so it wins.

All of this BAD reminds me of Doug, another chap from my residence, who was a huge fan of The Clash and an early fan of BAD. I haven't seen him in ages.

Bauhaus: Mask (1981)

I have a UK pressing of Mask, the second Bauhaus album, released in 1981. Mask is a fantastic album, perhaps even the best Bauhaus album. The album cover, drawn by guitarist Daniel Ash, might be the best Bauhaus album jacket, at any rate. On Hair of the Dog, the album's opening track, Allmusic says:

"...opening number "Hair of the Dog," one of the band's best songs, starts with a double-tracked squalling guitar solo before turning into a stomping, surging flow, carefully paced by sudden silences and equally sudden returns to the music, while Murphy details cases of mental addictions in pithy phrases."

Friday, September 05, 2014

Big Audio Dynamite: Tighten Up, Vol. 88 (1988)

The third BAD album cover features a painting by Paul Simonon, another former Clash band-mate. Of course, this leads me to reflect on all of those artists who are multi-talented. For example, Leonard Cohen also paints, Lou Reed was a photographer, Keanu Reeves has a band, etc. The list goes on. Incidentally, I have a compact disc copy of Paul Simonon's later project, The Good, The Bad, and the Queen, which is either the band name, the album title, or possibly both. It's unclear.

In any case, while possibly less successful than the previous two releases, this one is pretty good. By the way. all of the white pants and shorts in various BAD videos remind me that I used to own a pair of white jeans. There is no photographic evidence to support that statement.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Big Audio Dynamite: No. 10 Upping St. (1986)

It's really bizarre that Joe Strummer produced this album (and co-wrote some of the songs) after he had turfed Mick Jones from The Clash. But, then again, John Cale worked with the Velvet Underground a few times after being kicked out of the band by Lou Reed, so I guess it's not as unusual as it sounds.

I think that No. 10 Upping Street is not as good as first album, but I do like it. Big Audio Dynamite were the best non-Clash Clash band around, and it was clear that The Clash were dead, permanently.

Big Audio Dynamite: This is Big Audio Dynamite (1985)

"The horses are on the track."

Who would have imagined that from the ashes of The Clash, Mick Jones would come up with something like Big Audio Dynamite? I guess it's wrong to say "the ashes of The Clash" because he was fired and the band soldiered on with final and truly terrible album. Terrible, that is, apart from the track This is England, which is quite good. At the time, I thought that BAD defied belief, but this was the mid-1980s so that may explain the musical direction. Or, maybe Jones was giving the finger to The Clash. In any case, this is a really great album and much better than the Clash's swansong.

Pat Benatar: Live From Earth (1983)

Ditto to what I said in the last post.

Pat Benatar: Precious Time (1981)

I lost interest in Pat's music long this album, but sometimes, cheap records at lawn sales have caused me to buy records that I would never otherwise buy.