Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Clash: Give 'em Enough Rope (1978)

The second Clash record might well be described as more of the same, which is a good thing, if you ask me. The band is somehow a bit more polished on this release.

But, look at that price! $6.99 marked down to $4.99! If you have ever shopped for new vinyl, you will know that the prices are generally insane. While you can pick up a new copy of this record for about $20, a new pressing of the Tragically Hip's Up to Here will run you $43.99 at HMV. The good news is that many new pressings are 180 grams or more. That really helps, but it takes a lot of cash to support a vinyl habit these days.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Clash: The Clash (1977)

My copy of The Clash's debut record is a pressing from Holland. I'm not sure why I ended up with an import, but it reminds me that I should have said that all of these records are Canadian pressings unless stated otherwise. But, I may have forgotten to mention the origin of a few records. Today, as far as I know, any new record pressing sold in Canada is an import. My understanding is that there are only three pressing plants in the United States at present and none in Canada. That is a major change from 25 years ago. I also understand that there are no efforts to add capacity in this area any time soon. After all, even though they has been a huge resurgence in vinyl sales (something like 6 million new vinyl sales last year and who knows the number of vintage sales?), vinyl only counts for about 2% of total music sales.

The Clash is, without question, one of my favourite bands of all time. This album received quite a lot of critical acclaim upon its release, with good reason. It has been called the greatest rock album of all time, though I might dispute that claim. Of course, there is more than one version of this record. The UK and US versions differ in track selection, which is a bit confusing.

So, here are some live clips:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Eric Clapton: Behind the Sun (1985)

In hindsight, bringing in Phil Collins to produce and contribute to an Eric Clapton record seems really dumb. The two approaches to music seem fundamentally antithetical. But, who am I to say?

The history of this record first being rejected by the label is well-known. I think Allmusic aptly called the resulting record schizophrenic. In any case, there is one good track, Forever Man. The rest of the album is OK and reasonably inoffensive, but I have to challenge the wisdom of using synthesizers and drum machines. It was the 80s, I suppose, but Eric was supposed to be a guitar god, right?

I remember that I paid $2 for this record.

Circulatory System: Signal Morning (2009)

For some reason, I love coloured vinyl, but that is not the reason I picked this up. The real reason was the price. OK, maybe that's not true either. The real reason is that I like the band. I guess you'd call Circulatory System something like Athens Indie Pop. That's all I'll say. Here's what appears to be a fan video of a short track on the record.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chysalis [Various]: For Promo Only (1987)

This is a strange promo record. I can tell from the scribbling on the label that it passed through the hands of the Vinyl Museum, but I don't think I bought it there. I suspect that it was something that fell into my hands at some point.

It has a couple of tracks--one a cover of the Star Spangled Banner--from Vinnie Vincent, who replaced Ace Frehley in KISS. Those two tracks are forgettable. In fact Ashes to Ashes is horrendous. On the other hand, there is a Housemartins song, which is a god thing. But, Dweezil Zappa covering his dad's My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama is stupid. I just have to ask why? The Divinyls should probably only be remembered for I Touch Myself. Instead, this record includes the boring Back to the Wall. This is a really schizophrenic record, with Sinead O'Connor and Paul Carrack providing some other songs, but then there is an Icehouse song. Oy vey. I should probably expunge this from the collection.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

China Crisis: Black Man Ray b/w Animalistic (1985)

Black Man Ray might be my favourite China Crisis song, though I have no idea what the song means. I've always assumed that the Man Ray part comes from Man Ray the photographer, especially since the image on this 12" single looks like it was solarized. But, who knows?

China Crisis: Flaunt the Imperfection (1985)

Somewhat surprisingly, Walter Becker (of Steely Dan) produced this record. Becker even gets credit as being a band member. I think he did a good job, though if you preferred the earlier heavier China Crisis sound, you might not like this album as much. Two really fantastic songs stand out on this record: King in a Catholic Style (Wake Up) and the sublime Black Man Ray. I have a second copy of this record, but it is warped and unplayable. I guess I should chuck it in the trash.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

China Crisis: Working with Fire and Steel (1983)

This 12" single contains two mixes of the terrific Working with Fire and Steel. I think Allmusic's assessment of the song is right on: "With its percolating beat, Daly's hiccupping vocals, and a smashing chorus, it was the perfect modern pop song." [source] Side B has two instrumental and somewhat ambient tracks, Dockland and Forever I and I. I still haven't figured out what the name of the band means.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

China Crisis: Working with Fire and Steel: Possible Pop Songs, Vol. 2 (1983)

Although Working with Fire and Steel is the big song from this record, there are other cool tracks, like Hanna Hanna. I think China Crisis is unfairly categorized as an 80s synth band. I think they are more than that. There are lots of cool rhythms and interesting approaches in the music. I can't remember where or when I bought this record.

Chicago: Chicago XI (1977)

This album opens on an impressive note with Mississippi Delta City Blues, but then gets bogged down in self-indulgent commercial garbage on track 2: Baby, What a Big Surprise. But, there area few other good tracks, like Takin' it Uptown. On balance, I would say that this might be the band's last partly good album.

Chicago: Chicago IX, Chicago's Greatest Hits (1975)

Chicago used to be a good band, but they meandered into mediocrity in later years. This record collects some of their better known tunes, before releasing unimpressive stuff like Baby, What a Big Surprise only two years later. The following is a killer live version of 25 or 6 to 4 with some impressive guitar work.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Benny Andersson, Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus: Chess (1986)

This is perhaps an oddity in my collection, because I tend to hate musicals. I have one other musical on CD, and if you are a Leonard Cohen fan, you will know which one it is. Of course, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus are best known for having been the two Bs in ABBA. I don't think I have to tell you who Tim Rice is. The above jacket photo comes with a bonus pseudo self-portrait.

I think I was drawn to this record on the strength of the single, One Night in Bangkok, sung (spoken?) by Murray Head. I still like that song, but the balance of the album is not really for me.

Neneh Cherry: Buffalo Stance (Cosmic Re-Edits) (2004)

This is an unofficial single-sided 12" single on white vinyl containing a cosmic re-edit of Buffalo Stance. I have heard that some were released on red vinyl. I saw one on white vinyl for sale on the web for $23.40. I think that is a little high. I'm not that impressed with the re-edit.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Neneh Cherry: Raw Like Sushi (1988)

In 1988, I was friends with a British chap who was really into rap music and Billy Bragg. I know, it's a strange combination. Raw Like Sushi was one of the records I picked up. Neneh is more like rap-dance or club music, I guess. On another note, it looks like seat belts weren't yet invented in 1988:

Neneh Cherry: Buffalo Stance (1988)

Yippee, five versions of Buffalo Stance all on one 12" disc! No matter your musical tastes, you have to agree that Neneh has a fantastic voice. In fact, the first time I heard her voice was on the duet Slow Train to Dawn with Matt Johnson (The The) in 1986 and I was, like, wow, who's that? (but more on that later).

Buffalo Stance (12'' Mix) 5:43
Buffalo Stance (Sukka Mix) 5:20
Buffalo Stance (1/2 Way 2 House Remix) 7:21
Buffalo Stance (Techno Stance Remix) 6:40
Buffalo Stance (Scratchapella)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cheap Trick: Lap of Luxury (1988)

I'd call Lap of Luxury a mediocre affair. It isn't horrible. It isn't great and it's largely forgettable. Cheap Trick's cover of Don't be Cruel is competent, but it is not ground-breaking. I should probably add this record to the pile that I should remove from my collection.

Cheap Trick: In Color (1977)

In Color, Cheap Trick's second album, is at least as good as their self-titled debut. It's a great album. Of course, some of these tracks appear on the Budokan album, and those live versions are much better known, but the originals are great too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cheap Trick: Cheap Trick at Budokan (1979)

Once upon a time, I owned a copy of this record on cassette. In fact, that cassette was my first Cheap Trick album. Later, I picked up a used copy on vinyl. I Want You to Want Me is probably the most famous Cheap Trick song, and one that most people know only from this live recording. I can't say anything bad about this record. It's great from beginning to end. I've never heard Budokan II or At Budokan: The Complete Concert, but someday I should do so.

Who would have thought that a concert in Japan in front of 12,000 screaming fans would make these guys big stars, at least for a while.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cheap Trick: The Doctor (1986)

Pretty much everything is wrong with this record, especially it's nightmarish cover. But, I can't really sum it up better than Allmusic:

"If any one record sums up all the ludicrous indulgence of ‘80s record-making it’s The Doctor, Cheap Trick’s ninth album. Cluttered with cacophonic electronic drums and clanking with cheap overdriven synths, the record is cavernous and hollow, every instrument echoing endlessly in a fathomless digital stage. As sonic archaeology, this holds some interest, as it contains every bad record production idea of the mid-‘80s -- it’s as garish as its record cover." [source]

Having said that, I imagine that some of these songs could have been salvaged with better production and a strategic reduction in synthesizers and computerized drumming. The title track, for example is really not that bad. But, maybe they forgot who their audience was.