Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Berlin: Love Life (1984)


As far as I'm concerned, Berlin only released one good song: Sex (I'm A...). The rest is garbage, including that stupid Take My Breath Away track, featured in Top Gun. So, this album (the second release from Berlin) is totally unremarkable. They should have quit after the first release.

Jeff Beck: Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live (1977)


This is a live recording of Jeff Beck (one of Adrian Belew's guitar heros) backed by a jazz fusion group. It's interesting, but I am not convinced that it works. There are places where it seems to work (like Freeway Jam) and other spots where I am baffled (like most of the vocals, especially on Earth (Still our Only Home)). In any case, this album is in my collection, but I rarely play it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Beck: Morning Phase (2014)


I finally picked up a copy of Morning Phase. I think that the first pressing was sold out, so this is probably a second pressing. The hype sticker might also give that away. Prior to this release, I would say that my two favourite Beck albums are Sea Change and Mutations, so this one fits right into that style. After listening to this one a couple of times, I will add it to my favourite Beck albums. It's also refreshing to see classic looking labels. I am a bit tired of the endless stream of vanity labels.

Oh, and it has to be said that Kanye is an ass.

The Bears: Rise and Shine (1988)



The second record from The Bears is not as good as the first. I often wonder how Belew managed to write so much music. After the trilogy of fantastic King Crimson records in the early 80s, how did he have any creative energy left? I'm tempted to say that this record is disappointing, but compared with the mass of garbage released at the same time, this is much better than the norm.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Bears: The Bears (1987)


I've never understood why it took until 1985 for a band called The Bears to emerge. It seems like such an obvious name. The Bears features one of my favourite guitarists, Adrian Belew, as you already know. (He's the dude on the left of the cover, with the guitar).

This album is pure guitar pop. I also have a copy of this release on CD and cassette. What else can I say?

The (English/British) Beat: Wha'ppen (1981)


Wha'ppen didn't spawn any monster hits, like the first album, but it's a fantastic record. That's all I will say.

The (English/British) Beat: Special Beat Service (1982)


Save it for Later has always been one of my favourite Beat tunes. It's curious, then, that I really had no idea that there was an oral sex joke buried in the song until recently. As with most of my records, where I got it and how much I paid for it are details that have been lost in the mists of time.

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.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The (English/British) Beat: What is Beat?: The Best of The Beat (1983)


This is a German pressing of a best of collection from The Beat (known in North American as the English Beat and in Oz as the British Beat). It's a fine assembly of the most popular tunes, bundled together with a free remix album. The Beat is an interesting fusion of ska, pop, reggae, and maybe some punk.

This is one of those records that really takes me back to my undergrad days. The song Mirror in the Bathroom, really transports me.

I just read that the band will release a new album next year, after running a Pledge music fundraiser. I am curious to see if they manage to come up with something good.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Adrian Belew: Mr. Music Head (1989)

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Mr. Music Head is a solid record, but it is, by no means, my favourite Belew release. 1967 is a fabulous tune, but I find that I like the acoustic version from Belew Prints better. I would make the same statement for One of Those Days and Bad Days. The big hit was Oh Daddy, and it's a cute song featuring his daughter.

Adrian Belew: Twang bar King (1983)


Given Belew's love of The Beatles, it shouldn't be too surprising that he would have decided to cover a Beatles tune. Indeed, Twang Bar King opens with a cover version of The Beatles' I'm Down. This album, like his first, is very diverse, with moments of pure pop, some really frenetic pieces, and some very sedate atmospheric tunes.

Adrian Belew: Big Electric Cat b/w The Lone Rhinoceros (1982)


This is a two track 10" 45 RPM single. Adrian played the guitar, drums, vocals, piano, keyboards and produced the tracks.

As I mentioned in ta recent post, this is probably my favourite Belew track. In fact, one year, during CFNY's All-Request Nooner (when CFNY was still a good radio station, and there were still some independent radio stations), I requested this song for my birthday, and I even introduced it on the air.

Adrian Belew: Lone Rhino (1982)


During my undergraduate degree, I could always count on residence-mate Pete to alert me to great music, old and new. I have greatly missed his recommendations over the years. Geography has gotten in the way, and we have both drifted apart. If it weren't for Pete, lots of bands might have slipped past.

In 1985 or 1986, Pete lent me two Adrian Belew cassettes. I had what I would call an instant appreciation for what I heard coming out of my speakers. Undeniably, there was a Beatlesesque pop sensibility, but it was infused with a radical guitar sound, the likes of which I had never heard. Later, I found copies on vinyl.

Over the years, I have seen Belew's name pop up everywhere as producer, writer, or collaborator. In fact, I already mentioned him in the Laurie Anderson posts. He has also worked with The Bears, Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Jerry Harrison, David Byrne, Tom Tom Club, Joe Cocker, Cyndi Lauper, Mike Oldfield, Paul Simon, Porcupine Tree, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jars of Clay, Tori Amos (I think I can forgive him for that), Robert Palmer, Mariah Carey, Herbie Hancock, Asia, and Tony Levin. He has worked with as many as 100 acts.

Incidentally, I should add that of all the bands and singers I have mentioned so far, Adrian is the only one I have seen in concert, the first time with King Crimson, for whom he was the guitarist (along with Robert Fripp) and with ProjeKct Two, also with Robert Fripp. I have never seen him solo, unless you include the between-sets mini-concert he did during the ProjeKct Two show in Toronto several years back.

There are so many amazing songs on this record, it's hard to know what to highlight. I am tempted to embed a video for Big Electric Cat, possibly my favourite Belew track, but I will save that for later. Instead, here is an infectious pop tune. The songs are quite diverse, so don't take this tune as representative of the entire album.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Beautiful South: Welcome to the Beautiful South (1989)

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I saw The Beautiful South in concert at the Siboney Club in Toronto on the tour for Welcome to the Beautiful South in either 1989 or 1990. I cannot remember which. I recall that it was a fun, crowded, and hot show.

I will start with one complaint about this record. The lead-off track and first single should be entitled Song for Whomever, rather than Song for Whoever.  With that out of the way, I can move on. I did like the Housemartins, Paul Heaton's former band, with some reservations best left for the letter H, much later one. This album is pretty good, with catchy cynical songs, like Song for Whoever [sic].

I love you from the bottom of my pencil case
I love you in the songs I write and sing
Love you because you put me in my rightful place
And I love the PRS cheques that you bring

and:

Oh Cathy, oh Alison, oh Phillipa, oh Sue
You made me so much money,
I wrote this song for you 

But, the real tour-de-force on this record (for me anyway), is Woman in the Wall.

He was just a social drinker but social every night
He enjoyed a pint or two or three or four
She was just a silent thinker, silent every night
He'd enjoy the thought of killing her before

Well he was very rarely drunk but very rarely sober
And he didn't think the problem was his drink
But he only knew his problem when he knocked her over
And when the rotting flesh began to stink

There are many other great songs. Sadly, this was really the end for me for The Beautiful South. I had some other releases on CD, but none really enchanted me as much as this one and I lost interest.

There's a video for You Keep it all In on the Youtube, but it cannot be embedded. Oh, and I guess I should mention that there is one song I kind of hate, and that is I'll Sail this Ship Alone. I never liked that song.

The Beatles: Rock 'n' Roll Music (1976)


I remember purchasing this record at a lawn sale when I was much younger. It's a double album of previously-released music. Both records have a number of scratches and the spine of the jacket looks as if a rat gnawed on it. Otherwise, it is a fine collection of Beatles tunes.

Sadly, I am forced to recall that our family had some other Beatles records: The Red and Blue double best of albums, the Hollywood Bowl live album, and some others. These have all disappeared. Thankfully, I managed to get my hands on the old 7" 45s, though they are not in the best of shape and none have picture sleeves.

Until I read the Wikipedia entry, I had no idea that the cover of this album did not please The Beatles. I learned something today.

The Beatles: Let it Be... Naked (2003)


It's hard to know what to make of this record. It sounds good, the packaging is cool, and/but the tracks are obviously different to the tunes I grew up with. The most jarring version to me is The Long and Winding Road, because I am so accustomed to the earlier version. I find that it sounds like a demo rather than a completed and produced track. I will say that I prefer the original version of Don't Let Me Down. It's an interesting record to have in the collection.

The Beatles: 20 Greatest Hits (1982)


I find myself in disagreement with the track selection for this greatest hits package. No collection that claims to aggregate the greatest Beatles songs is complete if it lacks A Day in the Life, and, sadly, that track is lacking from this collection. Also, Hey Jude is truncated. I have other issues, but I will let those pass. Suffice it to say that this is a predictable assembly of popular Beatles tunes.

The Beach Boys: Love You (1977)


Love You, by The Beach Boys could very well be the strangest record in my collection. The sound is perplexing. The lyrics are perplexing. The cover is perplexing. In fact, my three-year-old daughter recoiled in horror at the sight of this album jacket and refused to let me play it, until she was in bed for the night.

The first three songs are straight up love songs, and then we are treated to a bizarre track called Johnny Carson.

"He sits behind his microphone
John-ny Car-son
He speaks in such a manly tone
John-ny Car-son

Ed McMahon comes on and says "Here's Johnny"
Every night at eleven thirty he's so funny
It's (nice) to (have) you (on) the (show) tonight
I've seen (your) act (in) Vegas out of sight

When guests are boring he fills up the slack
John-ny Car-son
The network makes him break his back
John-ny Car-son

Ed McMahon comes on and says "Here's Johnny"
Every night at eleven thirty he's so funny
Don't (you) think (he's) such (a) natural guy
The (way) he's (kept) it (up) could make you cry

Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.
Who's the man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire."

Wow. I mean, I loved Johnny Carson as much as anyone else, but this song is just weird. The rest of the songs are weird too. Is it wrong to think about The Velvet Underground's Sister Ray when listening to Ding Dang?

I would rank the jacket as one of the ugliest things I have ever seen. And yet, there can be no question that this is probably the finest record The Beach Boys ever made.

The Beach Boys: Endless Summer (1974)


Who wouldn't want a summer that never ends? I mean, I enjoy the change of seasons, but I would prefer it if winter ended after New Year's Day. That would make me much happier.

I am not a huge fan of The Beach Boys, but the music does really suggest summer, beaches, and girls. What's better than that? This double album is a collection of hits. You know all of these songs.

The really perplexing song for me has always been Be True to your School. What? And Why?

Be Bop Deluxe: Drastic Plastic (1978)


My copy of Drastic Plastic is on white vinyl. Every copy I have ever seen is on white vinyl, so I don't think this is rare. The last Be Bop Deluxe record sort of moved into new wave territory, but I think that description does some injustice to the music on the record, because some of it sounds like proto-punk.  In fact, Love in Flames sounds like something The Stranglers might have recorded.

Be Bop Deluxe: Modern Music (1976)


I am still not convinced that anyone has managed to properly categorize the music of Bill Nelson's Be Bop Deluxe. It's variously described as prog, rock, album rock, art rock, heavy metal, pop, glam rock, protopunk, and new wave. Oddly, they look a bit like bankers on the cover of Modern Music, their fourth release, which was quite a change from the earlier glam look.

Anyway, it's a great record. The sound is really awesome.

Be Bop Deluxe: Live! in the Air Age (1977)


Do you remember the days when double albums were pressed with sides one and four on the same disc and sides two and three on the other? This was to facilitate sequential playing on those old turntables where one could stack records. My dad had one of those cabinet stereos with an eight track player. Sometimes, the records would skip, and so we would tape a penny to the top of the cartridge and probably ruined a good many records in the process.

Anyway, records were pressed like that for a reason. When side one finished, there was no need to flip it to hear side two, because side two (on record two) would drop on top of record one, if you had stacked them. Then, you could flip both records and hear sides three and four in proper sequence. Of course, modern records are not pressed that way.

I am convinced that many scratches on records are from the plastic arm that held the stack of records level. I remember trying to remove records form the platter without moving that damn arm out of the way, and I may have scratched a few records. 

Sides one and four (comprising one record) of this release are the live concert album, while sides two and three (comprising the other record) is a 12" EP worth of live tracks. Side two of the record (or side one of the EP) contains an epic jazz-infused, pseudo prog rock track that clocks in a over 9 minutes. It's pretty cool.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bauhaus: Go Away White (2008)

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Twenty-five years after the last studio album and sixteen years after the so-called "Final Concert," Bauhaus returned with a new studio album. I would be surprised if this is not the last album. Go Away White is really good, so good in fact, that I think it's too bad that they didn't get back together sooner or simply released more records.


Bauhaus: Swing the Heartache - The BBC Sessions (1989)


This double BBC sessions record recorded in 1983 (but released in 1989) is awesome. Allmusic sums it up this way: "Swing is an unparalleled success, a collection that will interest and satisfy newcomers as much as longtime band fanatics" [source] I can get behind that. 

Bauhaus: The Singles 1981-1983 (1983)


This UK pressing of singles contains six tracks on a 12" 45 RPM disc. I suppose the later two-volume singles collection would be a more comprehensive and useful collection, but I am happy that this piece of vinyl is in my collection.

Bauhaus: 1979-1983 (1985)


This is an excellent double record of the best of Bauhaus. This was later released on two compact discs, which I also have. Oddly, some pressings of this record contain side two of the Cult's Love on side B. That's bizarre. The back cover looks like this:

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.

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."

Bauhaus: Bela Lugosi's Still Waiting (1983?)


Bela Lugosi's Still Waiting is an unofficial release--otherwise known as a bootleg--from Japan. The back cover jacket contains some rather unappealing images of what looks like a cat being shot. I hope that this is not a real cat. Some of these tracks are from the Peel Sessions, and others are live tracks. But, the production is really bad. So, this one is best left to the hardcore fans.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bauhaus: Press the Eject and Give me the Tape (1982)


My near mint original UK pressing of Press the Eject and Give me the Tape comes with the poster and the bonus 7" that came with only some editions. I think that this is a fine live record. The CD version, which I also have, contains a few extra tracks. This seems to be a difficult record to find. I saw a beat up copy for $35 without the poster and the 7" a while back.

Bauhaus: She's in Parties (1983)

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I have an original UK 12" which contains She's in Parties b/w Here's The Dub (Special Effects By "Loonatik & Drinks ®") and Departure.

Bauhaus: Burning from the Inside (1983)


Burning from the Inside on a picture disc. Cool. I should have photographed the back too.

Bauhaus: Burning from the Inside (1983)


I have a US pressing of the fourth release from the godfathers of goth, which Wikipedia describes as an "overbearingly gloomy style of post-punk rock driven by jagged guitar chords and cold, distant synthesizers." I am not convinced that this is an adequate or accurate description of goth or Bauhaus. It sounds to my like this description was written by someone who hates the band and the genre. Besides, there are plenty of Bauhaus songs that don't come anywhere close to satisfying that definition. For example, there's She's in Parties? That's a brilliant track. I'm a big Bauhaus fan, so I might be biased here.

Bauhaus: Ziggy Stardust (1982)


Released on October 5, 1982, this UK 12" single contains a cover Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, along with Party of the First Part (a really wacky tune), plus a cover of Brian Eno's Third Uncle, and a cover of the Velvet Underground Waiting for the Man, performed live with Nico.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bauhaus: Lagartija Nick (1983)

Untitled
This is a four track 12" released in January 18, 1983. It contains:

Lagartija Nick
Watch That Grandad Go
Paranoia, Paranoia
In The Flat Field (Live In Paris)

It's cool.

Bauhaus: Ziggy Stardust (1982)

Untitled
I probably should not list this one separately, because it is not a real release. This is the 12" promo single that was bundled with certain copies of The Sky's Gone Out. As such, it contains: Ziggy Stardust, Lagartija Nick, and Kick In The Eye. My copy comes in a plain white outer sleeve, with a hole for the label to show through. The inner sleeve has the tracks names, just as the bonus 12" does. I suppose this was separated from the other record some time and, and it made its way to me.

Bauhaus: The Sky's Gone Out (1982)


I also have a Canadian pressing of the third Bauhaus album, The Sky's Gone Out. This release included a bonus 12" EP containing three tracks: Ziggy Stardust, Lagartija Nick, and Kick in the Eye. Sadly, the artwork, in comparison to the UK pressing, is dismal. You might say that artwork is lacking. My photo makes the cover look grey, but it is actually white.

Ziggy Stardust is a Bowie song, of course, but Bauhaus does a fantastic version which I think might even be better than the original.

Bauhaus: A Kick in the Eye (Searching for Satori E.P.)

Untitled
This UK E.P. contains four tracks:

Kick In The Eye (Searching For Satori)
In Fear Of Dub
Harry
Earwax

As a fan, I had to have it. I also have a copy that has black lettering, rather than the gold.

Bauhaus: Telegram Sam b/w Rosegarden Funeral of Sores & Crowds (1981)


This is a 12" Italian pressing of Bauhaus's 4th single backed with a cover of John Cale's Rosegarden Funeral of Sores and Crowds.

Bauhaus: The Sky's Gone Out (1982)


I have a UK pressing of the third record from Bauhaus.

I don't think I can discuss Bauhaus without mentioning Kim Hughes, the former host of CFNY's Live in Toronto radio show. I liked the show and generally appreciated her interviews, but she really irritated one day me when she dissed Bauhaus. According to her, Bauhaus were only known for Bela Lugosi's Dead and Telegram Sam, the latter of which is a cover of a T Rex song. Musical tastes are personal, of course, but her comments screamed ignorance. 

This album commences with a high-energy cover of Brian Eno's Third Uncle. It's fantastic. But, I wonder why Kim Hughes didn't mention that this song is also a cover version? It's because she simply doesn't (or didn't) know very much about the band. Bauhaus is one of my favourite bands, and I have all of the releases on CD.

Bauhaus: In the Flat Field (1980)


Allmusic sums up this album perfectly:

"Few debut albums ever arrived so nearly perfectly formed; that In the Flat Field practically single-handedly invented what remains for many as the stereotype of goth music -- wracked, at times spindly vocals about despair and desolation of many kinds, sung over mysterious and moody music -- demonstrates the sui generis power of both the band and its work. This said, perhaps the best thing about the album isn't what it's supposed to sound like, but what it actually does -- an awesomely powerful, glam-inspired rock band firing on all fours, capable of restraint and complete overdrive both, fronted by a charismatic, storming frontman. Starting with the challenging angst of "Double Dare," with shattering guitar over a curious but fierce stop-start rhythm while Murphy rages ever more strongly over the top, In the Flat Field contains a wide variety of inspirations and ideas. The astonishingly precise rhythm section of David J and Haskins pulls off a variety of jaw-dropping performances, including the high-paced tension of the title track and the brooding crawl from "Spy in the Cab." Ash, much like his longtime hero Mick Ronson, turns out to be a master of turning relatively simple guitar parts into apocalyptic explosions, from the background fills on "St. Vitus Dance" to the brutal descending chords of "Stigmata Martyr." Murphy, meanwhile, channels as much Iggy Pop as he does Bowie, proving to be no simple copyist of either, able to both maniacally sing-shout and take a somewhat lighter touch throughout. Concluding with the seven-minute "Nerves," an aptly titled piece that alternates between understated energy and unleashed power toward a dramatic ending, In the Flat Field started off Bauhaus' album career with a near-perfect bang." [source]

I have to say that I agree with this in every way. I have a 1984 repressing from West Germany.

Bauhaus: Bela Lugosi's Dead (1979)


Although originally released in 1979, this is a 1988 repressing on blue vinyl. Small Wonder Records went to great lengths to capitalize on the growing fame of Bauhaus, even though the band left for a different label. To that end, this EP was released several times with a few different colours of vinyl. According to Wikipedia, this track is "often considered to be the first gothic rock record to be released." I guess that's probably true.

For many years, I felt that Bela Lugosi's Dead was my favourite song. I am certain that this is no longer true. In fact, as I age, I have a harder time deciding what my favourite song is or even if I have one. What's the point of a favourite song anyway?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Aryan Asshole Records Compilation: Vol. 1 (2006)

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Aryan Asshole Records, also known as AA Records, is a label owned by Nate Young of Wolf Eyes. 
This is a "[c]ompilation LP showcasing all of the first 13 lathes from AA Records. Mastered directly from the lathes." The bands either fall into the categories of noise, experimental, ambient, or abstract.

Somewhat interestingly, all of the pieces are untitled, with the exception of one track credited to "No Artist". If you want to know more about this record, I suggest that you check out this blog post. I read somewhere that this record was banned in Canada because of the cover, but I can't figure out why. The pieces included are:

Side A:

BLOODYMINDED - Untitled
Wolf Eyes - Untitled
Aaron Dilloway - Untitled
Graveyards - Untitled
Religious Knives - Untitled
Hive Mind - Untitled

Side B:
No Artist - The Moonlanding
Damion Romero - Untitled
Dead Machines - Untitled
Burning Star Core - Untitled
Failing Lights - Untitled
Raven Strain - Untitled
Charlie Draheim - Untitled

Band of Skulls: Baby Darling Doll Face Honey (2009)


"Shot in the dark, I'll wait for your Dull gold heart"

I guess you could describe Band of Skulls as Indie Blues. Parts of the album remind me of The Black Keys, yet other parts are more definitely pop. Oddly, there are two copies of this LP (on vinyl) for sale on discogs.com right now: one is listed at $91.70 and the other is listed at $108.64, plus shipping! I paid far far less than that, let me tell you.


Surely you can find enough time to listen to the entire 7 minutes:

Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock: Joy and Pain (Remix) (1989)


Yeah, I have this too. 

Joy And Pain (World To World Remix)
Joy And Pain (No-Rap-Attack-Dub-Track
Times Are Gettin' Il
Joy And Pain (Rob-A-Pella)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock: Get on the Dance Floor (1988)


For some reason, I photographed side B of this 12" single. This track is a bit of a disappointment, especially after hearing It Takes Two.

So, the track listing is:

Side A:
1. Get on the Dance Floor (The "Sky" King Remix)
2. Get on the Dance Floor (The Surgical "Sky" King Dub)

Side B:
1. Keep it Going Now (Hardcore Remix)
2. Get on the Dance Floor (E-Z Rockin' Bonus Beats
3. Get on the Dance Floor (Original Album Version)

I have never listened to anything other than the first mix on side A, and I was not impressed. Neither was I impressed by Joy and Pain.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock: It Takes Two b/w It Takes Two (Instrumental) (1988)


It may surprise you to discover that I have a small collection of hip hop records. I will go out on a limb and say that It Takes Two is perhaps the best hip hop song ever made. I know, we have to give credit to James Brown who wrote and produced Think (About it) as sung by Lyn Collins. Rob Base sampled a part of this song. Cue up 1:22 of this track to see what I mean: http://youtu.be/eHn48b7iWF0.

I have a funny story about the first time I ever heard It Takes Two, but it's far too long to relate here. Oddly, it was in the most non-urban place imaginable and involved two African-Canadian men who had never ventured out of Toronto before that day.

I think my 12" copy is a DJ version, so it lacks a distinctive cover and is housed in a simple black jacket with a label cut-out. I used to know all of the words, and even today, I can rap along with most of it, but not in public.

I have heard many people say things such as, I like all kinds of music, but not hip hop or rap. That's silly, although I admit that have a really difficult time with country music, though I make an exception for Johnny Cash. We should all keep an open mind. Turn it up and check out the fresh moves and the fashions of the day. I might have to break out my track suit.

Geoff Barrow / Ben Salisbury: Drokk, Music Inspired by Mega-City One (2012)


OK, I will admit that I had never heard of Mega-City One when I picked this up. I was, however, familiar with the name Geoff Barrow from his work with Portishead and others. This album is fantastic. Allmusic says:

"Salisbury and Barrow recorded most of the soundtrack with a vintage 1975 Oberheim 2 Voice Synthesizer, which gives the soundtrack an authentic late-'70s feel that channels John Carpenter's spare, creepy synth-based scores, especially Escape from New York. Drokk's mix of dead air, dark, viscous analog synth tones, and thrumming arpeggios is hypnotic and intense but never too claustrophobic -- like any good soundtrack, this album is more about creating a mood than calling attention to itself." [source]

The good news is that you can listen to the entire album here. Of course, it sounds better on vinyl.

Lee Bannon: Pattern Of Excel (2015)

Untitled
Lee Bannon was originally Fred Welton Warmsley III, and later Dedekind Cut. I guess he was first known as a hip-hop producer, but he has changed sounds several times, it seems. This record is an ambient, droning (occasionally with beats) effort that I find very interesting. It's music for a certain mood.

From Allmusic:
Pattern of Excel, Bannon's second Ninja Tune full-length, is another total left-field shift, this time forgoing beats almost entirely, entering the realm of ambient/drone. The album concentrates on the bizarre sonic manipulations that were always present in Bannon's work, but this time they're divorced from hip-hop or drum'n'bass rhythms, creating free-flowing passages that don't always suggest structured songs. The detached sounds, distorted elements, and non-musical sounds (such as voices, footsteps, typewriters, and trains/subways) are woven throughout fragile melodies and atmospheres reminiscent of Vangelis' gentler, less bombastic moments. [source]
The album jacket has an embossed L and B plus some braille, which I guess corresponds to the name of the album.



Long John Baldry: Long John Baldry (1980)


I struggled to figure out where to alphabetize this guy. Does he belong under L for Long and B for Baldry. I settled on B for Baldry. Maybe I should just get rid if it and solve the problem, since the album really bores me. There's really nothing to hold on to, in what I would call a weak collection of covers. The only memorable track is Morning Dew, but even that is not really so great. I have seen a few copies of this is $1 bins, so I guess I am not the only one who finds the music less than enlightening.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Aidan Baker: Letters (2008)

Untitled
Only 400 copies of this record were released on 180 gram vinyl. The original release was on CD in 2002. Side A contains The Letters Of Your Name Are Still A Scar Upon My Ears (23:15) and side two contains I Flay My Skin Upon Which To Write These Letters To You (22:50). I have a dozen, or so, CDs from Aidan Baker. I also saw him perform once, at the Ambient Ping.

This record is a soothing ambient affair. It's not too bad.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive: Four Wheel Drive (1975)


If this album were released today, it's likely that the title would be All Wheel Drive. The lead off track, Four Wheel Drive, is an infectious track with a really cool guitar riff. There's no way to argue against the rock and roll feeling of the first track.

For those of you who only know the hit BTO singles, you really need to check out this record. I think it's fair to say that BTO music has stood the test of time. It's pure rock and roll. Hey You was the big single, and as good as it is, there are other equally strong tracks.
OK, so there is some self-indulgent guitar work to open this track. Skip ahead to 2:20 if you don't want to hear that.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bachman-Turner Overdrive: Not Fragile (1974)


I think it's fair to say that I was raised on the music of my parents and my siblings. Having a brother who is 10 years older than me left some impressions, mostly of the rock variety. I recall that in the late 70s and early 80s, I was interested in opposing music styles, from The Fabulous Poodles to Black Sabbath, for example. By the time I went to University, I had left all of the classic rock behind, but I guess I still like some of it. It's hard to leave your past behind.

The most popular track on this album is clearly You Ain't See Nothing Yet, sung in that familiar halting stutter. This album also features Roll on Down the Highway. Both were popular tunes and they seem to have aged well.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

B-Movie - Forever Running (1985)


I think I bought this record because I really liked the track Nowhere Girl, which is listed as track 9, the last song on side 2. I remember being horribly disappointed to realize that the band had, for some inexplicable reason, re-recorded Nowhere Girl for this release. To this day, I cannot understand why the band decided to release an anaemic, soulless, pointless version of the formerly fantastic track. Well, at least I thought it was fantastic at the time.

It turned out that the album is okay, but I think I was so irritated by the mangled version of Nowhere Girl, that I didn't listen to this album very much. But, here is something interesting that I did learn. While looking at the record, I recognized the name Paul Statham. Could it be the same one, I wondered? It turns out that it is indeed the same Paul Statham that is well known to me for his work with Peter Murphy. So, I listened to the album in a new light and I conclude that it is not bad.

This is the version of Nowhere Girl that you should here. There is also a good extended mix on Youtube.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The B-52's: The B-52's (1979)


I've always hated the apostrophe in The B-52's. It should be The B-52s. In any case, this is a fantastic album, and one that I have heard way too many times. I have the CD too.

Average White Band: AWB (1974)


AWB is a Scottish funk and R & B band. I am half Scottish and it makes no sense to me either. While listening to it, I kept thinking about how odd it is that this Scottish group managed to cross over into funk.

While the album does have its moments it really does very little for me, apart from Pick up the Pieces, which may be the only reason to own the album, and is probably the only reason I own it.

The Art of Noise: In Visible Silence (1986)


Here's another crooked album jacket photo, by me.

This record features more musical mayhem from AON. Paranoimia is probably the best known track from this album, and some of that popularity might have been because of the video, featuring Max Headroom. My vinyl copy contains the original version, which does not include Max Headroom. Later copies included the revised Headroom version.

Beyond this track, AON offers up a great version of Henry Macini's Peter Gunn and let's not forget Legs. I love this record.

Art of Noise: Peter Gunn (extended version) b/w Peter Gunn & Something Always Happens (1986)


The only thing better than the Art of Noise's cover of Peter Gunn is Art of Noise's six minute version of Peter Gunn.

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Art of Noise: (Who's Afraid of?) The Art of Noise! (1984)


I suppose that when most people think about the Art of Noise, they think about Paranoimia (from the second album) and Moments in Love (from this album)...oh, and maybe Kiss, the Prince tune they recorded with Tom Jones and released as a single. Oh, and let's not forget their cover of Peter Gunn (also from the second album).

Perhaps to today's ears, the Art of Noise may not sound so interesting, but at the time, I thought that they were quite innovative. I find myself in full agreement with the review at the Allmusic Guide:

"Art of Noise's first full album, (Who's Afraid Of?) The Art of Noise!, consolidated the future shock of the earlier EPs and singles in one entertaining and often frightening and screwed-up package. Rarely has something aiming for modern pop status also sought to destroy and disturb so effectively."

Here are Beat Box and Close (to the Edit):

Arcadia: So Red The Rose (1985)


Oh, yeah, I forgot this one. There's really not much to say about this band, beyond what I said about my 12" single for Election Day.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Arcade Fire: Reflektor (2013)


Critics often don't agree. It's interesting to compare and contrast the Rolling Stone review of this release with the Allmusic review.

From Rolling stone: "...Reflektor is closer to turning-point classics such as U2's Achtung Baby and Radiohead's Kid A – a thrilling act of risk and renewal by a band with established commercial appeal and a greater fear of the average, of merely being liked."

Compare that with the bizarre review over at Allmusic: ..."but what ultimately keeps Reflektor from sticking the landing is bloat. The stylistic shifts, courtesy of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, aren’t nearly as jarring as the turgid and Tiki-colored, almost seven-minute “Here Comes the Night Time,” the six minutes of rewinding tape that serve as the coda for the otherwise lovely “Supersymmetry,” or the unnecessarily drawn-out fountain of white noise that should seamlessly connect the Gary Glittery “Joan of Arc” with the Flaming Lips-ian “Here Comes the Night Time, Pt. 2,” but doesn’t because the songs are on separate discs."

Anyway, I think Reflektor is a fine album.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Joan Armatrading: The Shouting Stage (1988)


Here is more evidence that the 80s were cruel to Joan Armatrading. Even Mark Knopfler couldn't save this record. Some collector might want a copy of this record. If so, let me know. I think we can work out a trade or a deal.

Joan Armatrading: Secret Secrets (1985)


If you think that the idea of using a producer known for his work with OMD and Berlin sounds like a bad idea on a Joan Armatrading record, you may be right. This was the 80s, and lots of acts lost their way, trying to pander to 80s musical styles and tastes. So, on the one hand, the production is lush, while on the other, her acoustic guitar seems to have been lost in the mix. Other critics have argued that Armatrading's voice had gone into decline by this point in her career. It's hard to quarrel with that assessment.

In my humble assessment, I would say that this album doesn't work. I put it on, and abandoned part way through side one. I would sell the record, but I suspect that it has no resale value.