Monday, September 25, 2017

Level 42: Hot Water (1984)

This UK 12" single contains an extended version of Hot Water, which is pretty funky, plus an extended version of Standing in the Light.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Level 42: True Colours (1984)

Two of these tracks appeared later on some pressings of World Machine. Why? Why? Why? I hate it when record companies mess around with releases. My Canadian pressing contains both of these recycled tracks: Hot Water and The Chant Has Begun. I already had them on this LP, so why would the idiots at the record label feel compelled to reissue them? I also have the German-made so-called "US Version" CD of World Machine, which also has these previously-released tracks. Why screw with the records?

In any case, True Colours is a pretty good record, and, for me, it introduced a more pop sound which might have been exactly what this band needed.

It's nice to see colours spelled correctly :)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Level 42: Standing in the Light (1983)

This is the album where Level 42 made a conscious switch to real pop songs. I think the band hits its stride on the subsequent record, but this is OK, though I rarely listen to it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Level 42: The Pursuit of Accidents (1982)

Level 42's second LP, The Pursuit of Accidents, dropped in 1982. I'd say that it is not quite as good as the first, but it's pretty good. I'm not as big of a fan as I used to be, and I prefer the later stuff.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Level 42: Turn It On (1981)

Turn It On appears on the band's eponymous debut, previously mentioned. This Canadian 12" single contains Turn It On b/w Starchild.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Level 42: Level 42 (1981)

"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and everything?"

"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”

I've heard that Level 42 took its name from Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Other explanations have been posited, but I like the Adams idea best.

I have always thought that I was a casual fan of Level 42, but then I realized that I have a fairly large number of Level 42 records. I am not quite sure how that happened, but it might have had to do with an old friend who listened to little else, apart from UB40. Most people who refer to this band as jazz-funk fusion, at least in the early years. To be honest, I like some of the band's later work better.

The bass work of Mark King is quite amazing, you will have to admit.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Less Than Zero: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1987)

I have never seen this film (surprise), but I have read the book and I hated it with a passion. I also hated Imperial Bedrooms. Why so much theft of Elvis Costello? Anyway, this soundtrack contains the good, the bad, and the ugly. Mostly, I have it because of the LL Cool J track, Going Back to Cali. The video for that tune is good too. That tune never showed up on on any LL Cool J records, unless you got the CD version of Walking the Panther.

I also like the Public Enemy tune, the Joan Jett song, of course, and some others. But, the Bangles (covering Simon and Garfunkel), Poison, Aerosmith, Slayer? No so much.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Julina Lennon: Valotte (1984)

I recall that this record made a big splash when it came out. I think that had to do with the fact that Julian's voice was so similar to his dad's. It was kind of spooky. However, most critics disliked the record.
In a contemporary review for Saturday Review magazine, music critic John Swenson gave Valotte two out of five stars and critiqued that Lennon's voice lacks the "tortured cynicism and urgency that characterised his father's and, consequently, Valotte sounds like languid outtakes from Imagine." In a three-star review, Davitt Sigerson of Rolling Stone said that it is both "exciting and irritating". He found the album's similarities to John Lennon's later work strange, observing "a middle-aged sensibility, reinforced by Phil Ramone's elegant but often stodgy production, applied to unashamedly youthful themes." Robert Christgau, writing for The Village Voice, gave Valotte a "C" and panned it as "bland professional pop of little distinction and less necessity—tuneful at times, tastefully produced of course, and with no discernible reason for being". Christgau found Lennon's vocal resemblance to his father "eerie" and viewed him as "more Frank Sinatra Jr. than (even) Hank Williams Jr."

In a retrospective review, Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave Valotte three-and-a-half out of five stars and wrote that it is "by any measure the debut of a gifted pop melodicist." He viewed that on the album's highlights, Lennon exhibited a strong sense for "Beatlesque pop songwriting, drawing equally from [John] Lennon and [Paul] McCartney", and at his worst, he drew too often on contemporary conventions such as synthesisers. Paul Evans, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), gave the album two out of five stars and remarked that Lennon "settles for clean but modest stuff—high-end MOR," while finding all of his albums "pervaded with a sort of listlessness, a free-floating pathos." [source]
I suppose each of these reviewers is right in their own way, but I looked past the album's weaknesses, mostly because I thought I was hearing the ghost of John Lennon. I haven't given this one a spin -- I'm guessing -- since the mid-1980s. I have never heard any subsequent music from Julian. These are the only songs I know.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

John Lennon: Live in New York City (1986)

This LP, released in February 1986 was recorded live on August 30th, 1972 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. There are few live Lennon recordings, which makes this a must-have for any fan. It's not a perfect recording by any means, but it's John.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

John Lennon & Yoko One: Milk and Honey (1984)

If you took the Lennon tracks from this album and merged them with the Lennon tracks from Double Fantasy (and leave out the Ono tracks), you would have a truly excellent record. Once again, in this posthumous release, we have a mix of Lennon and Ono, with me preferring the Lennon contributions. Again, I find this to be a really sad record. The album jacket is a bot too similar to the one on Double Fantasy.

Monday, September 11, 2017

John Lennon & Yoko One: Double Fantasy (1980)

It's impossible to listen to this record without waves of sadness passing over me. The record was released on November 17, 1980, and Lennon was murdered just three weeks later, on December 8th, 1980. The older generations remember where they were when JFK was murdered. I will never forget when and how I learned of Lennon's death. It will be forever burned into my brain. I don't think any other celebrity death affected me as much as Lennon's. Even now, after all of these years, I feel the same. It was a senseless tragedy.

The record was a huge success and I'd like to think that his untimely death had nothing to do with it. On the other hand, I have joked, from time to time, that the record should have been an EP. You know, eliminate tracks 2, 4 6 on side A and tracks 2, 4, 6, and 7 on side B. Then, you'd have a killer mini album. That may sound mean. I don't mind Ono's music, but her tracks seem more like filler here. An entire LP or her music could be fine, but I am not sure it works here.

For me, the key track is the lead off track, (Just like) Starting Over, which really seemed to have set the tone for where Lennon was going. It's doubly sad that he could have written such a positive, uplifting song, and then be gunned down for no reason.

Friday, September 08, 2017

[John] Lennon / Plastic Ono Band: Shaved Fish (1975)

This is a really good collection of some seminal Lennon tunes.

Give Peace A Chance
Cold Turkey
Instant Karma!
Power To The People
Woman Is The Nigger Of The World
Whatever Gets You Thru The Night
Mind Games
# 9 Dream
Happy XMas (War Is Over)
Give Peace A Chance (Reprise)

I have a Canadian repressing from 1978.