Monday, July 17, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II

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I learned the following after reading Wikipedia. "The advertising campaign was built around the slogans 'Led Zeppelin – The Only Way to Fly' and 'Led Zeppelin II Now Flying'." [source]

This is a heavy album from start to finish, filled with heavy guitar riffs, tireless vocals, thundering drums, and some delicious bass sounds. As usual, the critics were confused:
Critical reaction to Led Zeppelin II was not positive originally. John Mendelsohn wrote a negative review of the record for Rolling Stone, in which he mocked the group's heavy sound and white blues, while writing that "until you've listened to the album eight hundred times, as I have, it seems as if it's just one especially heavy song extended over the space of two whole sides". Robert Christgau jokingly referred to the band as "the best of the wah-wah mannerist groups, so dirty they drool on demand", while complaining that "all the songs sound alike". He nonetheless conceded that "Led Zeppelin simply out-heavied everyone" in 1969, "pitting Jimmy Page's repeated low-register fuzz riffs against the untiring freak intensity of Robert Plant's vocal. This trademark has only emerged clearly on the second album, and more and more I am coming to understand it as an artistic triumph." [source]
I have a Canadian pressing (not the original) that I think came out sometime after 1978. The jacket of my copy looks mint, and the record is in fabulous shape too. I think there are more than 20 Canadian pressings of this LP, plus numerous 8-track, cassette, and CD issues.

The only track I am not crazy about is Moby Dick, partly because I think extended drum solos are kind of stupid. The guitar part of that song is great, though.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin [aka Led Zeppelin I] (1969)

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"Tired eyes. Trampled under foot. Dazed and confused. C-c-c-c-Cocaine blues.
She hasn't gotten any eye contact tonight"

- Joke About Jamaica, The Hold Steady

In answer to the question -- often asked in musical circles -- the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?, I always answer Led Zeppelin. As much as I like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, it's the New Yardbirds for the win. When I was in public school and junior high, I was often teased for liking Led Zeppelin. I attribute my early interest to a couple of my older siblings. One year, I forgot it was photo day, and I wore a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. Oops.

This is a massive record. It begins pleasantly enough, with the brief Good Times Bad Times, but it's the second track that really lays claim to a new sound. It's hard to pick a favourite, but for me, it's Dazed and Confused, a song that would be in my top five Zep tunes. Ages ago, when I was living in a certain place, I would often play Dazed and Confused as loudly as possible when no one else was home. Every song on this record is amazing.

For me, this record is the defining statement about why critics are often wrong. Many critics dissed this record, and that is something I have always had a hard time wrapping my head around. Perhaps the music was so out-of-step with the music of the day, that it left them mystified. Who knows? In hindsight, I think some critics have corrected their opinions.

Figuring out which vinyl version I have is quite difficult. For the vast majority of artists, there was generally only one, and sometimes two, Canadian pressings. For this one, there are something like fifteen, or close to that. I wish I had a red Atlantic pressing or a Canadian red Atlantic pressing, rather than my mundane, later Canadian green Atlantic pressing from 1976. Oh well, it still sounds fine and my copy is mint, or very close to it. Needless to say I also have a copy on CD.

I have pretty much everything officially released from LZ on CD as well as some DVDs. By the way, check out Lez Zeppelin and Zepparella.



Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Keith LeBlanc: Einstein (Extended Remix) (1989)

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Keith LeBlanc is known partly for being a member of Tackhead, an industrial hip hop act. Most of my Tackhead, Gary Clail's Tackhead Sound System, and Keith LeBlanc music is on CD. This 12" single has two mixes of Einstein and a tune called Here's Looking at You, featuring Gary Clail.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Daniel Lanois: Acadie (1989)

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My body is bent and broken
By long and dangerous sleep
I can't work the fields of Abraham
And turn my head away
I'm not a stranger
In the hands of the maker

Though I identify as an atheist, I can't help but admire the passion and emotion, and even devotion, of the above stanza.  The Maker is one of the best songs ever recorded, in my ever so humble opinion.

Lanois may be better known as a producer. You might know him from his production work with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, U2, Peter Gabriel, Jon Hassell, and from his collaborations with Brian Eno. He has also released a number of solo records, beginning with Acadie, which I consider to be a musical masterpiece. Why Allmusic awarded this record only four stars is a mystery. Te review is glowing, appropriate for a five star record.
This stunning debut album by an artist that had hitherto been known only as a producer is priceless, and stands up well to repeated listening. It is a blend of New Orleans rhythm, rock, new age mysticism, and folk. It is not mushy but it is as caressing to the ear as to the mind. It has the very distinctive ethereal sound of the albums he produced for among others the Neville Brothers and Robbie Robertson. All the songs were written or co-written by Lanois, with the exception of the traditional "Amazing Grace" (done in an untraditional manner and sung by Aaron Neville). The songs affect a rural and uncomplicated yet very complete and full sound that brings the listener into their mood, swing into the full lilting joy of "Under a Stormy Sky," to the haunting and ominous "Where the Hawkwind Kills." His sound is a distinctive signature, that holds well with each different song and with each artist for whom he has fashioned albums. [source]
Acadie is another record on my long list of top ten records.In addition to the LP, I own the CD Goldtop Edition, which contains six bonus tracks.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs: Live Fall 2010 (2011)

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Honestly, that's the best title they could come up with? This brief five-track EP was released for record store day 2011. I'm not really a fan, though I do appreciate his voice. People often tell me that I should like him, but I have never invested the time. Someday, someday.

Some of this record is far too countryish for me, but other tracks I quite like, such as this killer tune:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

La Bamba (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1987)

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Here is a rare occurrence. I've seen the corresponding film to this soundtrack. Amazing. And, I liked the film very much, though watching it is a truly sad experience. Eight of the twelve tracks are performed by Los Lobos. Other artists appearing are Brian Setzer, Bo Diddley, Howard Huntsberry, and Marshall Crenshaw. I'd argue that this is a pretty good collection of tunes and the cover versions are all very well done.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lenny Kravitz: Circus (1995)

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Circus, from 1995, is a 10" record that was also released on CD. It contains the album and acoustic versions of Circus plus two live tracks: Tunnel Vision and Are You Gonna Go My Way (with no question mark). There are far far better Kravitz videos, if you know what I mean (nudge nudge, wink wink).

Monday, June 26, 2017

Kraftwerk: Aerodynamik + La Forme Remixes (2007)

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The original mix of Aerodynamik, from the Tour de France record, is fantastic. I really like it. I'm not so crazy about the Hot Chip remix here. I think I can see the intention, but I am not sure. The flipside of this UK 12" is La Forme (King Of The Mountains Mix). I would make the same statement about this tune. I don't hate the remixes. I just think the originals are better.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Kraftwerk: The Mix (1991)

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This is another Kraftwerk album that divides fans and critics. Just check out these statements from Discogs:

"Rusty German robots are cashing in on screwing up their classics with acid house crap."


"Kraftwerks classic releases are timeless classics. This attempt to modernize these songs sounds absolutely dated these days."

"the simplest way for me to put it is this way. They spent seven years from autobahn through computer world being able to see hear and shape musical evolution. and all the other accolades that go with that stature. as for electric cafe well debate its merits if you want but no is the final answer if its in the league of its predecessors. but i will take it any day over "the mix".

Despite awarding it only three stars, Allmusic had positive things to say bout the record...I mean CD:
By the early '90s, it was quite apparent just how far-reaching Kraftwerk's influence had been. From techno to hip-hop to industrial music to house, numerous others were undeniably indebted to the group. Dance clubs had long been a key part of Kraftwerk's following, and the dance market was the obvious target of The Mix -- a collection of highly enjoyable, often clever remixes. While novices would do better to start out with Trans-Europe Express or The Man-Machine, hardcore Kraftwerk followers shouldn't pass up these remixes of such classics as "Trans-Europe Express," "The Robots," "Autobahn," and "Radioactivity." One could nitpick about the absence of "Neon Lights" and "Europe Endless," but the bottom line is that this CD was a welcome addition to the Kraftwerk catalog. [source]
This record has been re-pressed a few times, and I have a later pressing that came with a 20 page full-colour booklet. I do not hate this record, but some of the remakes work better than others.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Kraftwerk: Tour de France Soundtracks [Tour de France] (2003)

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The 10th Kraftwerk album was released under the title Tour de France Soundtracks in 2003. The 2009 pressing, which I have, was simply entitled Tour de France. Obviously, the original pressing will cost you more. I have read that some fans hate this record (a friend of mine concurs). Others praise it. C'est la vie. For the record, I like the LP, though I think perhaps some earlier stuff was better.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kraftwerk: The Robots (1991)

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The Robots (Die Roboter) single was originally released in 1978. This 12" version was released in 1991 and contains the remixed version from The Mix. Side A has: Robotnik (Kling Klang Extended Mix); Side B has The Robots (Single Edit) and Robotronik (Kling Klang Mix). I don't hate the remixes as much as some Kraftwerk fans seem to.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Kraftwerk: The Telephone Call (1987)

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Once again, this is a Canadian 12" single with a remixed version of The Telephone Call on side A. Side B has a track called House Phone and the German version of the tile track (Der Telefon Anruf).