Tuesday, December 16, 2014
This compilation contains four previously unreleased tracks. For me, the price if this record is justified by the new song, The Coldest Night of the Year. It has some Toronto references and in winter, some days feel like the coldest day ever. I don't like the cover.
In contrast to Humans, I like the photo on the jacket of Inner City Front. It gives Cockburn a tough guy look, surrounded with military men. He's smoking a cigarette and one wonders if he is a mercenary rather than a missionary. Despite the positive reviews, this album is one that did very little for me. I like it, but I think that there are far better Cockburn records.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Humans stands as one of Cockburn's most well-regarded records. What strikes me most about reading the review on Allmusic.com is this sentence: "Cockburn's marriage had fallen apart, he'd moved from the country to a gritty inner-city section of Toronto called Cabbagetown..." Perhaps "gritty" was once the proper adjective, but, like most areas of Toronto, things have changed. According to the latest Toronto Life Real Estate guide, the average house prices in Cabbagetown are:
- detached houses: $1,300,000
- semi-detached houses: $719,750
The area is not gritty. In fact, this area is one of the most desirable locations in downtown Toronto. I did not live in Tdot in 1980, so I have no way of knowing if Cabbagetown was once gritty. The area I currently live in was not so long ago inhabited by drug dealers and street prostitutes. Much has changed. But, back to Humans.
The record is really fabulous, but I spend most of my time wondering why on earth they chose that photo for the cover. Was that the best they had? It's not quite as bad as the recent Tony Blair Christmas card, but it is close.
It was around the time that this record was released that I consciously became aware of Cockburn. I knew who he was before then, of course, and had surely heard some songs. But, I remember watching the New Music and there was a clip of him signing Tokyo. Bruce was wearing army fatigues and maybe a beret.
Just when I thought that Bruce had really dumped the religion, out he comes with Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws. The truth is that this album is my favourite Cockburn record, by far. I think it is extraordinarily good, even if I have to ignore nonsense lyrics like:
Love the Lord
And in Him love me too
And in Him go your way
And I'll be right there with you
Of course, the song that everyone knows is Wondering Where the Lions Are. That's a great song, but there are other equally awesome songs on this record. Here's a live version of Lions.
The title of this record should really be Résumé. In any case, Resume is a collection of tracks that would probably only appeal to Cockburn completionists. If you have the other records, you don't need this one, becuase you already have all of the tracks. But, I am more than happy to have it in my collection.
The album cover is pretty good.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
I like this record, but I would consider it to be less interesting than the records that precede and follow it. But, I still like it very much. Highlights for me are A Montreal Song, Rainfall, Laughter, and Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in my Hand. I bought this record some place, though I forget where.
Circles in the Stream is a live double album. Speaking of live music and concerts, I should say that I have seen Bruce in concert several times. I can't remember how many times, but it includes shows with a full band and some solo shows. Once, I went with two friends, one of whom fell asleep at the show, I think during Peggy's Kitchen Wall. That was a very strange thing to see. There are some clips --of varying quality--of Bruce performing on Youtube. You should have a look. Here's an audio only version of Free to Be from this record.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
In the Falling Dark is probably Cockburn's best album up to 1976. It is more sophisticated and satisfying. Also, he seemed to have made some effort to curb the overt Christianity of earlier songs. Well, that's apart from the rather peaceful opening number, Lord of the Starfields, which is an obvious prayer to a fictitious supreme being.
Lord of the starfields
Ancient of Days
Here's a song in your praise
For me, the best song on this piece of vinyl is Silver Wheels. Here are the first two verses:
High speed drift on a prairie road
Hot tires sing like a string being bowed
Sudden town rears up then explodes
Fragments resolve into white line code
Whirl on silver wheels
Black earth energy receptor fields
Undulate under a grey cloud shield
We outrun a river colour brick red mud
That cleaves apart hills soil rich as blood
By the way, if you like Cockburn, you should really check out the Cockburn Project, where you can find all of the lyrics and some notes about the songs.
My favourite Bruce Cockburn song is probably Arrows of Light, with Joy Will Find a Way finding its way into the top ten, or so. It's odd, because both are overtly religious and decidedly spiritual. The music appeals to me very much, even though the lyrical content of both songs is kind of stupid. Burn, an early political song, appears here, in the midst of songs of praise and a couple of songs that might better appeal to the non-converted. As time passed, Cockburn shed some of the religious sentiments and started to make some more obvious political statements. Still, that the two could live in harmony in his brain is surely a sign of cognitive dissonance. I think this album cover is a bit weird.
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Of course, the title should really be Salt, Sun, and Time. The Oxford comma is a good thing. I say, use it. In 1974, Cockburn evidently discovered or "found" Jesus. Despite the creeping Christian sentiment, I still think these are fantastic songs. All the Diamonds in the World is one of my favourite Cockburn songs, despite the line: "Dying trees still grow greener when you pray." That's simply delusional thinking. In fact, there have been peer-reviewed studies that analyzed the efficacy of praying for the sick, and there was zero effect, because god does not exist.
Monday, December 08, 2014
In case you didn't already know, Cockburn is generally regarded as being a folk singer. I guess that's right, though this record has some jazz influences on it. The sound is fuller, darker, and perhaps a little more complex than the previous albums. Already, there are signs of Cockburn's rebirth as a Christian. In God Bless the Children, he sings:
With pain the world paves us over
Lord let us not betray
God bless the children with visions of the Day
I have never been able to reconcile Cockburn's obvious interest in social justice with the stupidity of religion.
Sunday, December 07, 2014
They're losing their pawns in Asia
There's slaughter in every square
My favourite song from this record is It's Going Down Slow, though I realize that Dialogue With the Devil (or Why Don't We Celebrate) is a big fan favourite. I like that song, but I am now sure I understand it. I also love the track Up on the Hillside. Sunwheel Dance is a really solid record. Did I mention that I have all of Bruce's releases on CD? That includes some promotional items, live releases, and some CD singles.
Thursday, December 04, 2014
I've always loved this jacket photo, which wraps around the gate-fold. It says Canada in winter.
Years ago, I used to be a "human." In other words, I was a member (on various occasions for varying lengths of time) of the Humans mailing list, which is evidently one of the earliest mailing lists created to discuss a specific recording artist. I no longer have time for this chit chat, but it was interesting for a while. I don't even know if the list still exists.
High Winds, White Sky is a fabulous record, with lots of great tracks to choose from.
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
My copy of this record is a reissue, probably from the early 1980s. The original was a gate-fold. This, alas, is not. I am a big Bruce Cockburn fan, but I have to admit that this is probably his weakest album. I think he has said as much in interviews. The two tracks that received attention are Musical Friends and Going to the Country, on which you can already hear his unique guitar style. I do enjoy the other tracks, but I find that this is not a record that I play very often.
The electric drums are a mistake, the production is very dated, and the look is oh so very 80s. But, it's what one would expect from a New Romantic group. I certainly did not buy this record in 1982. I stumbled up it later, probably for a good price. I was never a big fan. The best comment I saw on one of these Youtube videos was: "This band was very popular in Poland in the 1980's."
When the change was made uptown
And the big man joined the band
Imagine being able to wear a red leather suit and get away with it. I could not do it.
I own this record because I went through a major Springsteen phase (more on that later). Sadly, this record did nothing for me. Sure, there are backing vocal from Daryl Hannah, who was dating the Big Man at the time. Who knew she could sing? I had no idea she was dating CC. The best track is probably You're a Friend of Mine, a duet with Jackson Browne. Sadly, the official video on Youtube is totally distorted.
Sadly, Clarence passed away in 2011. I think it is awesome that his nephew, Jake, has joined the E Street Band.
I remember diving into a bin of records and saw this for $2. It was difficult to resist. I am not a Madonna fan, but I wondered what this crazy mashup would sound like. It turns out that the track is an offence to the memory of The Clash.
The disc is a single-sided promotional copy.
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
The most curious thing about The Story of the Clash, Volume 1 is that there was no Volume 2. Evidently, volume 2 was to include some live material, but that never happened, and perhaps it never will.
So, The Story of the Clash, Volume 1 contains 28 tracks spread over 2 LPs. I have it, just to be a completist. Note that nothing from Cut the Crap made the cut, because they did, in fact, cut the crap.
OK, I will admit it: I was disappointed when this album came out. It seemed overtly commercial to me. Both Rock the Casbah and Should I stay or Should I Go struck me as average tracks and so I did not buy the record right away. When I finally obtained a copy of this record I noted, as so often happens, that there are much stronger tracks than the singles. I think I have made my peace with this record, but it does give me pause to note that this is the only Clash studio recording that I do not own on CD.I am not sure what that means.
But, here is a funny story.
I remember listening to the song Rock the Casbah, either on the radio or on cassette (I often taped records to play on my portable cassette player, much like the one in the video below), and my dad said: "Are they saying what I think they are saying?" I was confounded for a moment, but then I said, the song is called Rock the Casbah. I realized that my dad had thought that they were singing "F%@# the Casbah. That should be listed on one of those misheard lyrics sites.
When Sandinista! was released, some of the reviewers made the point that had this record been pruned to make it a single or maybe even a double album, it would have been much stronger. I am in that camp. It would have made a really great single record and I think it could easily have been stretched to a double. Evidently, the band asked for fewer royalties to help fund a triple album.
Despite the fact that it might have been better with either 12 or 24 songs, rather than 36, there is something to be said for the vision of a really diverse three record set. They did what they wanted and it works.
Monday, December 01, 2014
I wish I had the 10" version of Black Market Clash, but I don't. I do have Super Black Market Clash on CD. This record is a compilation of some tracks that were not released in the USA (and Canada, by extension). Speaking of expensive records, I once saw a copy of Super Black Market Clash on 3 10" discs on sale for well over $100. It might have be more than $150. As much as I would like to have it, I didn't hand over the cash for The Clash.
Friday, November 28, 2014
It's difficult choosing a favourite singer or favourite band or song or album. But, if I were forced to choose, London Calling would make the list of my favourite albums of all time. Thirty Five years later, this record still sounds amazing. This record has always been in my top 5, mostly sitting comfortably at #1. It also happens to be the first Clash record I ever bought.
London Calling has a truly fantastic cover, featuring what has to be one of the best rock and roll photos ever taken. The graphic for the album name recalls Elvis Presley's debut record. I think this has to be one of the greatest covers ever made. The power of the cover is diminished on the compact disc version, which I also have. It needs to be seen as intended.
Initially, I was drawn to this album on the strength of Train in Vain and the title track, but I quickly realized that the record is packed with excellent songs, an amazing feat for a double album. I mentioned this album previously, when this used to be a real blog. I wrote:
This here music mash up the nation
This here music cause a sensation
The Legacy Edition - 25 Years after London Calling (instead of a Juno rant)
I bought London Calling in 1979, which was a good year for music, at least for me. I know, dear readers, that some of you were too young to remember much of 1979, but that was the year I found XTC, The Clash, Pink Floyd, and a host of others, some of whom have not aged well (but I won't mention those). London Calling, I believe, was the best album to come out that year (followed closely by Leonard Cohen's Recent Songs). After all of these years, I would rank London Calling as one of the top five rock records of all time. It is, beyond any doubt, a rock and roll masterpiece.
The cover picture screams punk - Paul Simonon about to smash his Fender bass. But even on first listen, most Clash fans could recognize the astonishing musical maturation that this album represented. The album opens with the apocalyptic pop title track, London Calling, and moves quickly into reggae, rockabilly, folk rock, more straight up pop and even a hint of the blues. The Clash had moved on to the new territory of postpunk, and they did it fantastically well.
Here's a good quote from Amanda Petrusich:
"The Clash are a rock band, and 1979's London Calling is their creative apex, a booming, infallible tribute to throbbing guitars and spacious ideology. " link
And another, from Adrien Begrand:
"The influence of London Calling on rock music is immeasurable. Not only did it break down barriers for punk rock, achieving mainstream success, in both the UK and North America, but it also proved that it was okay for a punk band to be great musicians, adventurous even." link
So, maybe I should stop rambling and get to some music.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
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
"Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer.
I think he might've been our only decent teacher."
- Constructive Summer, The Hold Steady
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
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.
I picked this up because of the price and the fact 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
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
It's strange that I never knew that The Church was an Australian band until I looked up this record. For some reason, I thought they were British. I think there are better records from the Church, but this is OK.
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?
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
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
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.
This is a UK 12" single, containing:
Some People I Know To Lead Fantastic Lives
This Occupation (Extended Mix)
Some People I Know To Lead Fantastic Lives (Extended Mix)
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 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
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.
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
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:
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
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.
Years before Cheap Trick decided that they wanted to be the Beatles, they released this live EP which included a cover of Day Tripper. The cover is not bad. The EP highlights for me the reality that Cheap Trick is better live than in the studio, though it is widely know that the cover of Day Tripper on this release was not really recorded live. This was originally a 10" release, but I ended up with the 12" version from 1983. Can't Hold On is from the Budokan concert. The screaming fans give it away.
"Had a moment in the middle of In Color
And in Black And White.
Sing along to the Southern Girls,
Rip me out of my little world"
- Rock Problems, The Hold Steady
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
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
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.
Saturday, November 08, 2014
Cheap Trick brought in famed Beatles producer, George Martin, for All Shook Up. It's definitely a change of direction, and probably at least a little misguided. Stop this Game, for example, is rather horrible. Overall, I think the negative reviews were a bit unjust, because there are some good songs here, and the album seems like something of a masterpiece when compared with The Doctor. But, it's clearly no where as good as the Cheap Trick of yesterday. I wonder how the album would have fared with a different producer?
Friday, November 07, 2014
"Didn't want to go out but I felt really light.
When someone put on Heaven Tonight."
- Rock Problems, The Hold Steady
When I woke up, mom and dad were rolling on the couch
Rolling numbers, rock and rolling, got my KISS records out
Whenever I hear the song Surrender, I can't help but be reminded of Alice Cooper's song Dance Yourself to Death, and vice versa.
My parents would never listen to my KISS records. In fact, I think they hated most of my music, though probably with a few exceptions that I can't remember right now. Fortunately, that didn't stop my parents from buying records for my birthday and Christmas. I would always have a list of records I wanted to get on hand, just in case, though my dad improvised a couple of times, to my despair, but more on that later.
Heaven Tonight is one of Cheap Trick's best records, though not the first one I owned. Surrender is probably the band's best song. I recall being surprised by Cheap Trick's appearance in the film Daddy Daycare. My daughter was engrossed in the film and I was kind of half watching, when all of a sudden, there was Cheap Trick.
Thursday, November 06, 2014
Crossroads is a bit of a let down after the debut album. It pales in comparison, but that doesn't mean it's bad. The first record was simply a hard act to follow.
The second release form Chalk Circle is as good as the first. I can't figure out why this band wasn't bigger. They wrote some solid tunes and they had a great sound. Two years later, the band released As the Crow Flies. I might be wrong, but I think that I have never heard any songs from that record.
Chalk Circle's debut six-track EP was later released on CD with the original back cover photo as the front cover of the CD. I prefer the vinyl cover better. The Canadian Chalk Circle shouldn't be confused with the American Chalk Circle, of whom I know very little.
The Great Lake is a really solid pop album, I mean EP.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Herein, we have 10 tracks recorded live in 1985 during a tour of America, and by that, they mean the United States. The British are so imprecise. The 1985 release was on cassette, with the vinyl following in 1986. Oddly, no version of this album was released outside of the UK on any format. Even the CD releases were only dropped in the UK. What's up with that?
I think that this is a really solid live record with really fine live versions. I've embedded the studio version of Shack Up. It's really hard to find clips from this tour, but the entire album in on Youtube.
"Looking for a certain ratio
Someone must have left it underneath the carpet
Looking up and down the radio
Oh-oh, nothing there this time
Looking for a certain ratio"
- Brian Eno, The True Wheel
It took me some time to figure out if this band should be alphabetized under A of C. It goes without saying that I would never alphabetize something that began with the under T, unless the band was The The. A, being an indefinite article, I opted to put this under C.
By the mid 80s, A Certain Ratio had shifted from a sort of post-punk to a more dance-oriented band with some funk influences. I liked the former better, but this is cool. There is some really cool bass work on this EP.
The EP contains four tracks.
Original 1996 pressings of the record are a bit pricey, but there are other options, even unofficial options. I have an official US repress from 2015, which is on heavyweight vinyl and came with a download card. My copy has dog-eared corners, regrettably, but the price was impossible to pass up. This is a great record, but I think I have yet to hear a Nick Cave song that I did not like. This record has a mixture of original and cover versions, including a couple of traditional tunes, all of which sound really great.
The last six Johnny Cash records are absolute genius. I have them all on CD. The rest of his catalogue ranges from great to mediocre. This record aggregates some of his more well-known tunes, but inexplicably leaves off Ring of Fire and I Walk the Line. On the plus side, the collection excludes Cats in the Cradle, one of my nominations for the worst song ever written. I recall not buying a couple of Cash collections on CD simply because that train-wreck of a song was on it.
It looks like Andrew Cash never left this boomtown after all, opting to stay and be a really great MP. Of course, I am assuming that the Boomtown in the song is Toronto and not some other mythical boomtown.
I guess I liked the first album better, but this is still a good record. I have never heard any tracks from the third record, Hi, which was a CD-only release.
Just look at the outfit the Honorouable Andrew Cash is wearing! It certainly suggests a time but maybe not a place. As a member of parliament, his wardrobe seems to have undergone a change.
Time and Place is a solid album. He wore the same outfit to the filming of the video for the lead-off track. I guess he was trying top project a consistent image:
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Wow, this photo is seriously crooked. Maybe I had a glass of wine before I took the photo.
Today, Andrew Cash is my Member of Parliament. Back in the 1980s, Mr. Cash was a musician, first spending time in the band L'Étranger with another future MP (but more on that later). I have spoken to Mr. Cash a few times. I think he makes a really fine politician and he is obviously passionate about social justice.
Tim Vesely, from the Rheostatics, is the bassist on this EP. A couple of these songs show up on Mr. Cash's first full length album.
Alllmusic hates this record:
"Missing from the album is the usual Cars chemistry, made up of Ocasek's crisp vocals and Elliot Easton's animated, hook-infused guitar work. Instead, tracks like "Go Away" and "Double Trouble" yield to murky instrumentation and subpar rock formulas." [source]
It's hard to disagree with this view. Certainly, You are the Girl, is not so good. Other tracks seem to take their cure from metal, is some ways. The album is probably the weakest record from the Cars. The interesting thing about this record is that my copy is sealed. I heard it many times back in the day, and then I acquired a copy and never opened it. I suppose that really says a lot about the record.
The truth is that I hate the song Drive. It's insipid, boring, and irritating. Generally speaking, I prefer earlier Cars, but there are some good tracks here. It's a fun album.
Album #4 from The Cars is pretty good. The two big songs are Shake it Up and Since You're Gone. The good news is that Cars records are not that expensive. You should be able to find used copies of this record for $5-$6, which is probably less than it cost new in 1981. Some records sell for multiple times their original selling price, but not the Cars.
The third Cars record has been described as more experimental and less straight-up pop. That may well be true, but it's still a great album. The opening track - Panorama - sounds oddly like it could have fit on the Cure's Boys Don't Cry album. It works for me. Touch and Go, I think, was the only single.
Monday, November 03, 2014
she's laughing inside
'cause they can't refuse
she's so beautiful now
she doesn't wear her shoes
I bought this record at the same main street record store in my hometown. While it is perhaps not quite as good as the first Cars record, it is still pretty awesome, and the cover, by Vargas, is great too. Even as a boy, I knew who Vargas was, because my dad had a backdoor subscription to Playboy. In other words, he bought a subscription for someone else each Christmas, and then that person would pass the magazines along to him. It was a win-win.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
you've got your nuclear boots
and your drip dry glove
and when you bite your lip
it's some reaction to love
In my small hometown, there used to be a record store and it lasted for a while. A newer one replaced the older, but eventually, it too died, but I am not sure when. There used to be lots and lots of records stores all over the place, but now they are few and very far between. I bought lots of records in that tiny record shop in my hometown, including this one. For some reason, I have a crystal clear memory of buying it. The shop was only so big, and the stock was rather provincial, so I had to make treks to urban places farther afield to find more interesting items.
The Cars appealed to a wide range of tastes, and I think the songs still sound fresh today.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
"Back home we were listening to Catholic Boy
And I got hung up on the people that died"
- Rock Problems, The Hold Steady
Jim Carroll was a poet, and it showed in his song writing. Sadly, he passed away in 2009.
I'm not sure how to define his music. I guess it's part punk, part new wave. His memoir, The Basketball Diaries, was made into a film that I actually saw. This album, as the title suggest, touches on Catholicism in many places, especially in the title track, Catholic Boy:
"I make angels dance and drop to their knees
When I enter a church the feet of statues bleed
I understand the fate of all my enemies
Just like Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane"
But, for me, the song that captivated me was People Who Died. It's a tour-de-force. Carroll always made me think of Lou Reed, and if you are a fan of both, you should check out this clip or Lou and Jim. Sadly, they are two more People who Died.
Here's a vid of People who Died that was released with the movie, I think.
On the first casual listen, this might seem to be something of a light goofy album, which seems strange for a chap who was a founding member of UK punk band, The Damned. The two most recognizable tracks are probably Wot and the cover of Rogers and Hammerstein's Happy Talk, lending some credence to the idea that this is purely a quirky album. Both of the aforementioned tunes got plenty of play in my circles back in the day. I would say that there are some serious compositions here, but I still like Wot the best of the album.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Ex-members of the Johnny Winter Band, Deep Purple, and Iron Butterfly came together to construct this sort of progressive jazz-rock album with touches of heavy metal. Sadly, this record once got wet and the jacket is wavy and wonky, which is a major irritant to me. I would never buy record with water damage, though I think this was a cheap find for me, probably in the $1-$2 range, and I bought it, as the price was irresistbale.
I am not sure I can adequately describe the music, so just have a listed to this live clip.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Camper Van Beethoven might be the world's best alternative rock band, back when alternative rock actually meant something. This is a US first pressing, released in 1989. I've never had a piece of key lime pie. The two tracks that your might know from this record are When I Win the Lottery (I wish) and Pictures of Matchstick Men, which is a cover version of the old Status Quo song. That cool opening guitar riff is made really interesting on the violin. While, the violin might an unusual instrument for a rock band, there are lots of precedents. Let's not forget John Cale's viola.
Some people don't seem to understand cover songs. Check out this comment on the Youtube video:
"FUCK THIS GROUP STATUS QUO IS THE NUMBER 1 ROCKER I LOVE THE QUO ONE BETTER THIS ONE IS SHIT AND PLUS THIS GROUP ARE FUCKING STEELING THE SONG }:("
You just can't beat outrage combined with grammatical failures.
Friday, October 24, 2014
I like the previous two John Cale pop records - Hobosapiens and blackAcetate - much better. On the other hand, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood is a far better effort than Walking on Locusts, which might be Cale's worst record. Allmusic called this record "[s]illy, savage, and willfully schizophrenic..." A review quoted in Wikpedia referred to the record as "both provocative and strange." That sums it up nicely. I will add that I hate the auto-tuning with all my being.
Fragments of a Rainy Season is one of my favourite John Cale releases. I received this one, the double LP from 2016, as a Christmas present. I would have loved the limited edition triple LP, but that was sold out immediately, and the shipping was extortionate. I have owned a copy of the CD since 1992 and I have kept my eyes open for the DVD, but I have never found one.
The newly remastered version has a different track order, which might make more sense. As much as I love the original versions of these songs, these stripped down, solo versions are extraordinary, managing to capture something more engaging. I suppose this could have been entitled: John Cale Unplugged.
Oh, and by the way, you can forget about all of the other cover versions of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Cale's arrangement, upon which many later versions were based, is the only one you need. It's here, accompanied by solo piano, and it's fantastic. I'd call this the definitive cover of this tune, and people should just stop recording it, as Leonard himself once suggested.
I think that the Allmusic review of this record is just mean-spirited. To me, this is a fantastic record. The reviewer states that this record is "...Cale's unsuccessful attempts to translate [Dylan] Thomas' imagery through song." I do not agree that the "the words lose their power in the retelling." I could go on, but you can read the review yourself which includes an insult about his hair style. To me, these are great interpretations and I also like the stripped-down versions on Fragments from a Rainy Season.
Dying on the Vine is a brilliant Cale track, especially in later renditions. On the other hand, Satellite Walk is dreadful. Although far better than the mediocre Caribbean Sunset, Artificial Intelligence is a bit of a disappointment. Still, the album is almost worth it, just for Dying on the Vine. And, I do like the cover art. Here's an interesting live version with a string quartet.
I picked up a copy of this record when it came out (Jan 22, 2016, I think). Music for a New Society is one of my all-time favourite records, so I was a little worried about what Cale might have done to it on this update. My verdict after a few spins is, I prefer the original album from 1982, but I would say that the new interpretations are engaging and interesting. I would also say that some of the tracks work better that others. If I could somehow forget the original versions, I might regard this record as one of Cale's better later efforts (maybe his best rock LP since 1992's Fragments of a Rainy Season), but it is very difficult to forget music that is so ingrained in my head.
As an aside, I have to say that I find it impossible to believe that Cale is 73! Where has the time gone?
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Caribbean Sunset is the other Cale record never released on CD. Many fans would probably argue that this is Cale's least impressive outing, and I am tempted to agree. Even Walking on Locusts is better.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
It used to irritate me that this record was never released on CD, but now I don't care. It's one of two Cale records that were not released on CD. The other is coming up. I think we have to thank Peter Frampton for all of the live albums that use "Comes Alive" in the title. I fairly certain that Frampton's was the first usage, and there are lots of other later examples.
Allmusic's rather savage review of this live recording is probably correct. It's pales in comparison to Sabotage. But, some fans are eager to complete their collections of favourite artists, so having this on vinyl makes my Cale collection complete, even if most of the rest of my Cale releases are on CD.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Roll up the history books, burn the chairs
Set fire to anything, set fire to the air
It's difficult choosing favourite songs and albums, but I think my favourite John Cale record is Music for a New Society. It's a musical masterpiece. It's spare and minimal and engaging. Paris 1919 would be a close second, but I have to give this one the edge, just based on the lyrical power and the understated music. Paris 1919 is more of a pop affair, but it's great too.
In John Cale's autobiography, he wrote that he had hoped that Frank Sinatra would cover his song, (I Keep a) Close Watch. I have to agree that this would have been cool and it's too bad it never happened. I wonder of Frank even knew who John Cale was.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Honi soit qui mal y pense
Growing up in rural Ontario meant that concert choices were slim to practically nonexistent. In fact, I can only remember one concert from any rock band in my town. I really didn't see any real concerts until I went to university. Once I moved to Toronto, the choices got even better. Finally, I saw John Cale in concert, but only once, during the Black Acetate tour.
I had heard the song Streets of Laredo many times at home. My dad was a big fan of Marty Robbins and he had lots of his records. I recall thinking that Big Iron was my favourite song at one point, but that changed later on. One has to overthrow the music of one's parents sooner or later. Cale's version of Streets of Laredo is creditable. I prefer most of the other songs on this record, but it's hard to chose a favourite.
Friday, October 17, 2014
And now, we come to one of my favourite musicians of all time, John Cale. He was, as many people know, a member of The Velvet Underground, along with Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, and Mo Tucker. Cale was classically trained on the piano and he also plays the viola, guitar, bass, sax, and a number of other instruments. I have more that 60 John Cale and associated CDs including his Velvet Underground period, his solo work, The Dream Syndicate, numerous soundtracks, collaborations with people like Terry Riley, Brian Eno, and Lou Reed, and several live recordings. On top of that, I have a number of recordings produced by Mr. Cale.
The Allmusic Guide really has an evocative summary of this record. The guide notes that Cale "was travelling the world in the company of a band of snot-nosed youngsters raised on hard rock, shrieking himself into a frenzy, wearing a hard hat on-stage, and writing songs like Chickenshit, a real-life tale of the time he beheaded a chicken (already dead) on-stage and threw the carcass into the crowd and his whole band quit in protest, set to the most merciless music he'd been a part of since White Light/White Heat."
That really sums up the record. The CD version, which I also have, contains four extra tracks, three of which come from the Animal Justice EP.
Animal Justice is a strange name for a record (an EP, really) from a guy who once decapitated a chicken on stage, though the chicken was already dead. This disc contains three tracks: Chicken Shit (a song about the aforementioned event), Memphis (the Chuck Berry tune), and Hedda Gabbler. The only 12" version this record was a UK pressing.
Allmusic says this: "...Animal Justice can only be ranked among the true must-haves in Cale's ever-lengthening canon." While song of these tracks appear in other places (for example, two tracks appear on the Seducing Down the Door compilation, which I have), I think this EP is well worth having.
This album might have the best jacket in my collection. I guess that makes sense, because it was designed by Andy Warhol, though the story goes that Cale, or the record label, changed the cover to colour, abandoning Warhol's original black and white design. In any case, the cover is great.
My copy is a promo with die cuts for the images. I am not sure if the commercial pressing retained these cuts. I think I have seen later issues with a plain flat cover.
The music might seem a bit strange, following on from the unusual experiments of the Velvet Underground. Cale worked with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for a couple of tracks. I think this album is fabulous.
I think that there are better Cabaret Voltaire records, but I like everything they've done and am always on the look out for records from these guys.
Cabaret Voltaire are pioneers of industrial music, with a sound that reminds me of early Ministry, or the other way round. Sensoria was the big song from this record, though, for some reason, I like Spires in the Wires better.
On Crackdown, Cabaret Voltaire move beyond its earlier noise experiments to a harder sound. There are some funk elements throughout. I'll just let the music speak for itself.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Sounds from True Stories is the soundtrack to the Talking Heads film True Stories, and it's full of quirky and cool pieces of music from The Talking Heads continuum and guests. It's fantastic. Once again, I have to admit to not having seen a film for which I own the soundtrack. I guess I haven't seen as many movies as I should have.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Guest musicians on this record include Adrian Belew, Jerry Harrison, and Brian Eno. I really like this record, so much so that I have the CD copy, which contains some extra tracks. It's good. Take my word for it.
So, Kate Bush decided that she wanted to rework some of her songs. Although the reviews seemed to have been generally positive, I think I was too attached to the original versions and these never really struck a chord with me. It's not that I hate the songs, I just get the feeling like one sometimes gets when listening to a cover version that doesn't top the original.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
This is a UK 12" 45 RPM picture disc that contains three tracks: Rubberband Girl (Extended Mix),
Rubberband Girl, and Big Stripey Lie. My copy is a promo, so the plastic sleeve has a "Not for Sale" sticker on it. I don't think it's particularly valuable. I saw one for $30 recently, but that was probably over-priced.
Rubberband Girl is the best track from The Red Shoes, which I would say is the weakest Kate Bush record.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
This US 12" contains three tracks: Experiment IV (Long Version), which first appeared on The Whole Story, Wuthering Heights (New Vocal), and December Will Be Magic Again, which is a christmas song, but an entirely secular one, which is OK with me.
The Whole Story is an example of a greatest hits (or best of) collection that works well. It includes many of her best known tunes and adds a new single, Experiment IV. By the way, some delete marks are more intrusive than others. The huge drill hole is a bit much.
Friday, October 10, 2014
I prefer The Hounds of Love to this record, though I think The Sensual World is brilliant. Some people might argue that this record was her best release up to this point. Parts of The Sensual World (esp. This Woman's Work) seem overly sentimental. But, perhaps that has to do with how the song has been interpreted in such places as She's Having a Baby. The title track is awesome.
This is Canadian 12" single contains three tracks: The Big Sky (Meteorological Mix), Not This Time, and The Morning Fog, the first of which appears on the anniversary CD edition of The Hounds of Love. The Big Sky is one of my favourite tracks from The Hounds of Love. Since there was no video for the extended mix, some intrepid Youtube user created a video using parts of The Dreaming and the original video for The Big Sky. The sync seems to be screwed up.
Thursday, October 09, 2014
Apparently, only 800 of these pink marble vinyl records were released in Canada. My copy of the Canadian pressing still has a factory seal, so obviously, I have never played it. I picked this up in 1985 or 1986 in a record store in downtown Kitchener, though I forget the name of the store. I assume that the store is long gone. I was a regular there, because it was the only record store I knew of in the area that carried bootlegs.
You would probably have to pay $40 to $50 to get a copy of this record, which is far more than I paid.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Once upon a time, I owned the cassette version of this release. I guess I should look through the box and see if I still have it. It compiles a few tracks, one of them live:
Sat In Your Lap
James And The Cold Gun (Live Version)
Ne T'Enfuis Pas
Suspended In Gaffa
Un Baiser D'Enfant (The Infant Kiss)
"She mouthed the words along to "Running Up That Hill"
That song got scratched into her soul
And he never heard that song before, but he still got the metaphor
Yea, he knew some people that switched places before"
Hornets! Hornets! - The Hold Steady
Without question, The Hounds of Love was my favourite album of 1985. While the Smiths did release an album that year, it was not their best work, if you ask me. Only a few other albums would rival my choice for best record of 1985: New Order's Lowlife, The Waterboys' This is the Sea, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions' Easy Pieces, and Psychocandy, by the Jesus and Mary Chain. Oh, I guess I have to add Skinny Puppy to this list. Bites is an awesome record, though a little too bizarre for some people.
I own the deluxe anniversary edition of The Hounds of Love on CD, which is interesting for the bonus material. So many Kate Bush videos feature dancing. I'll admit that I am not a fan of dance.
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
I once saw Kate Bush in person in Toronto. She was doing an interview and I was holding a position outside the venue and got to see (but not hear) part of the interview through the glass. She waved from the vehicle as it drove her away after the interview. So close, but yet so far.
The Dreaming is simply fantastic from start to finish. Of course, I also have a copy on CD. I am hard pressed to choose a favourite track. Sat in Your Lap, the first track, really gets ones attention, though the video is perplexing, at least to me. But, then again, most of her videos are unusual. I am happy that I decided not to part with the vinyl when I acquired this on CD.
Monday, October 06, 2014
Back in the day, I studied Russian. I was stunned to learn that Kate Bush mangled the pronunciation of babooshka in her song Babooshka. Not only that, the definition of babooshka is grandmother. If I received a scented letter from a woman calling herself Babooshka, I would call the police. But, it is, in the end, a good song, as are the others on this record.
There's very little live Kate Bush available, and I think On Stage was the first small collection of four tracks:
Them Heavy People
Don't Push Your Foot On The Heartbrake
James And The Cold Gun L'Amour
Looks Something Like You
Apparently, this was recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1979.
Sadly, I was unable to travel to England to see Kate's return to stage. That would have been awesome. Lionheart is probably my least favourite Kate Bush Record. Well, maybe that is too hasty. The Red Shoes might give it a run for its money. Wow and Oh England my Lionheart are especially memorable, but the other songs didn't leave a big impression on me. But, I enjoy her voice so much that even her weaker albums are still great. I'd take this over the masses of top 40 garbage that is constantly being pumped out by the recording industry. I don't remember where or when I picked up this record.
The Canadian version of The Kick Inside has a different cover, one of at least seven in circulation. I hate it when record companies do that. My favourite piece of trivia about this record is how her song, Wuthering Heights, helped kick Emily Brontë's novel onto the bestseller list. That's cool. Of course, it also reminds me of how I once wrote an essay on Wuthering Heights in high school without having read the novel.
I really think that this album is amazing, especially given Kate's age at the time of release (19) and the age at which she wrote some of the songs (15-16). Moving, James and the Cold Gun, The Man with the Child in His Eyes, and the aforementioned Wuthering Heights are all fantastic.
Sunday, October 05, 2014
For some reason, I have never opened this promotional 12" single. (It contains the same song on both sides). It's still sealed. I remember Malcolm from his early days with The Boy's Brigade. I think he is best known now for his work in New Orleans with Daniel Lanois and for his own production work. He has worked as a musician, producer, or co-producer for a whole host of artists, like Blue Rodeo, Bob Dylan, Midnight Oil, Emmylou Harris, Iggy Pop, Blue Peter, Patti Smith, etc.
Walk, Don't Run is a catchy tune, and I really love that he used a comma in the song title, rather than running the words together as so many others would have done.