Monday, November 30, 2015

Bryan Ferry: Boys and Girls (1985)

Many people dismiss the final two Roxy Music records as lesser Roxy efforts, but to me, they are fabulous. Boys and Girls carries on the atmosphere of the last two LPs quite well, and I think it works. In our modern hyper-politically-correct era, some people would probably interpret the samba rhythms of Slave to Love as cultural appropriation. It seems that the idea of appreciating other cultures is foreign to the regressive left. Recently, there was an article that argued that we (and it's clear the author meant "white people") should not even eat ethnic food! I am growing tired of the fascism of the left, and I include here its aggressive attempts to suppress free speech when it comes to criticism of religion, but I am straying from the point. I should have put a trigger warning at the top of this post so as to warn potential readers that they might be offended.

This album drifts a bit into the middle of the road, but, on balance it's very good, and it reminds me somewhat of Avalon and Flesh and Blood.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Bryan Ferry: Let's Stick Together (1976)

Bryan Ferry, the voice behind Roxy Music, has released a good number of solo records. Generally, he includes lots of cover versions. On this record, he wrote about half of the tracks. The best known tracks is probably the title track, written by Wilbert Harrison. It's pretty darned good, but it ain't Roxy Music.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Fennesz: Endless Summer (2010)

Fennesz, who hails from Austria (I guess Falco is not the only musical export) is either glitch, experimental, ambient, or all three at once. He has released tons of music that most people have never heard. I like this record immensely. The music is dazzling.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Faust: Faust IV (1973)

Faust is a Krautrock band. Perhaps I should have written that Faust is a legendary Krautrock band. Krautrock refers to a form of music that came out of Germany in the late 1960s. Wikipedia says this:

"Largely divorced from the traditional blues and rock and roll influences of British and American rock music up to that time, the period contributed to the evolution of electronic music and ambient music as well as the birth of post-punk, alternative rock and new-age music. Key artists associated with the tag include Can, Amon Düül II, Ash Ra Tempel, Faust, Popol Vuh, Cluster, Harmonia, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Neu!, and Kraftwerk." [source]

We will encounter more of this music as I move ever so slowly down the alphabet of my collection. (Sadly, all of my Can albums are on CD). Obviously, Faust IV is the fourth record from the band. It took 21 years for a further album to be released. The title track, incidentally entitled Krautrock, is a work of absolute genius. Just relax, and listen to this amazing piece of music, below. The entire record doesn't sound like this, as evidenced by tracks such as The Sad Skinhead.

Some Faust fans refer to this record as a sell-out, noting that that band had lost an edge. I still think this is a great record.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Father John Misty: Pure Comedy (2017)

I just got this, so I haven't had much time to really get into it, but I can tell you that I think it's great, like all of his records. Maybe I will add something in the future. But, how about these lyrics from the title track?:

Oh, their religions are the best
They worship themselves yet they're totally obsessed
With risen zombies, celestial virgins, magic tricks, these unbelievable outfits
And they get terribly upset
When you question their sacred texts
Written by woman-hating epileptics

Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear (2015)

In what can only be described as a packaging fail, the first pressing, on tricoloured vinyl, were pretty much all warped by the time of purchase. The Dioramic Meta-Musical Funtime gatefold jacket was to blame. When the gatefold jacket is opened, the included midi player plays part of the opening track. But that piece of metal ruined one of both of the LPs inside the jacket.

That reminds me of a birthday card my daughter received almost three years ago. When you open it now, I lets out a warped, aching, and somewhat heartbreaking sound that reminds us of its earlier glory:

Every girl can be a princess, any dream can be
Close your eyes and see
A magic wand and soon you've gone
From just you to royalty 

The record company sent out replacements with an apology letter. I have to say that, despite the visual appeal of non-black vinyl, I prefer black vinyl, which is why I own the standard black vinyl pressing of this record.

Bizarrely, this album was also released on cassette! Here we are in the early twentieth century releasing cassettes again! Have we learned nothing?

This is a great record.

Father John Misty: Fear Fun (2012)

"I never liked the name Joshua
I got tired of J"

- Everyman Needs a Companion, Father John Misty

Father John Misty, otherwise known as Joshua Michael Tillman or J. Tillman, was the drummer for Fleet Foxes until 2012. He has also had a fairly successful solo career, starting in 2003, but this is his first record under his new moniker.

I think this is a really fine record with a bunch of great songs. I like them all, with one exception: Well, You Can Do It Without Me. The track starts off well enough and I like parts of it, but the distorted screaming really is off putting. It's grating and I just can't understand why it was recorded this way. Maybe it was a mistake? It destroys what would have been a good song. I don't often use the word hate, but I hate it.

Fatboy Slim: Champion Sound (2006)

Who could have ever thought that the bassist from the inoffensive and somewhat vanilla Housemartins would end up on the leading edge of Brit-Hop? It's a radical departure and yet it seems to work.

It's likely that most people are more familiar with Rockafeller Skank and Weapon of Choice, the video of which features Christopher Walken. Anyway, this UK 12" single contains four mixes of Champion Sound. Here is the official video for the single.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Falco: Einzelhaft (1982)

Of course, you know Der Kommissar, from this, Falco's debut 1982 record. Everyone does. Falco's other big hit, which is not on this record, is the inferior Rock Me Amadeus from 1986. Evidently, Falco is Austria's biggest musical export. What I didn't know, until I looked for some biographical information, is that he was a classically-trained child prodigy. 

So, Einzelhaft, apparently translates to solitary confinement. I learned something else today. On Reddit, I would have to say TIL.

The truth is that the rest of the record is uninteresting and yet there are a surprising number of videos from the record. I guess the fans at home really liked Falco. I am not sure he translated too well across the ocean.

The odd thing is that I never knew that Falco had died until recently, when I was discussing this record with C.  He died at age 41 in an automobile accident, just as he was planning a comeback.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Marianne Faithfull: A Child's Adventure (1983)

A Child's Adventure is a lesser Marianne Faithfull record in her uneven recording career. Oddly, her output seems to have improved towards the end of the 80s. This record is totally unremarkable, though I am sure others will disagree.

Fairport Convention: Moat On The Ledge-Live At Broughton Castle (1982)

This is a reunion show from 1981, recorded a couple of years after the group disbanded. It's hard to find clips from this concert on Youtube that are not banned in Canada. This folk-rock band had its origins in the late 1960s. For me, this band is memorable for bringing us Richard Thompson, someone whose solo work I like far more that the stuff he did with Fairport. Sometimes, I think I should remove this record from my collection.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Donald Fagen: Sunken Condos (2012)

This is jazz-funk Fagen, spread over three sides of clear vinyl. It's a truly great record with lots of rhythms and grooves.

My copy is the USA and Canada pressing, which, for some reason, was pressed in Holland, though the jacket says it was printed in Canada. Anyway, what's interesting are the current prices. The recent median sale price on Discogs is about $50. Copies for sale range from about $50 to $85 Canadian. I recently saw a copy for sale in a local store for $68. I paid far less.

When I first heard the record, I was kind of stopped in my tracks when Out of the Ghetto came on. I'm not sure that a white guy should be permitted to sing Isaac Hayes' Out of the Ghetto. Fagen does a good job, but it made me wonder. Imagine a white guy singing these lyrics:

You've come a long way baby,
From wealth and food stamp lines,
You're moving on up,
And leaving poverty behind.

And this:

You've had a good education,
And seen the best of the schools,
But when you take a drink,
The ghetto comes out of you.

And, them, the chorus, or part of it:

I took you out of the ghetto
But I could not get that ghetto out of you.

It sounds like la mission civilisatrice to me. Again, can a white guy sing these lyrics?

When we go to the disco,
You drive the fellas wild,
When you shake your booty,
Ghetto style.

You're a hunk of raw sugar,
Got some real sweet hips,
Your love, your love, your love,
Is like a honey drip.

I have no answer. But maybe I reading too much. After all, the tracks ends this way,

Ghetto mamma, don't you change,
Ghetto mamma, stay the same.

Maybe it's simply cultural appropriation to sing lyrics written by a black man. That's what the virtue signallers these days might say. Add it to the list of things we can't do: yoga, eat ethnic food, and wear clothing originating in another culture.

In the end, it can't top Isaac's version. Anyway, I really like this record.

Donald Fagen: The Nightfly (1982)

I suppose an apt description of Donald Fagen would be to call him half of Steely Dan. The other half, of course, was Walter Becker.

Despite having heard a number of fairly decent Steely Dan tunes over the years, I ignored many friends who went on and on about how great they were. I knew a guy who managed to bring up Steely Dan as often as some guys referred to their sex lives. I was more interested in Bauhaus and Joy Division and the Cure. Fast forward a couple of decades, and I had found an appreciation for them.

Even while ignoring the constant refrains to listen to Steely Dan, I became a Donald Fagen fan, mostly because of Pete, who lent me a copy of this record on cassette way back when. I liked it immediately and bought a copy on CD. Later, I found a vinyl copy at a great price. The Nightfly, Donald Fagen's first true solo record, is brilliant and as interesting as Steely Dan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Donald Fagen, Walter Becker, and Denny Diaz: You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It (Or You'll Lose That Beat) (Original Soundtrack) (1971)

I suppose you could look at this record as a pre-Steely Dan record, coming, as it did, about a year prior to the first Steely Dan record. Sadly, it's not as good as Steely Dan, though there are hints. People have to start somewhere.

You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It (Or You'll Lose That Beat) is a comedy-drama, what we would now call a dramedy.  I have never seen this film, described as a low budget outing. in any case, the record is probably only of interest to Dan fans. like me. Others might not get it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Fabulous Poodles: Think Pink (1979)

Think Pink is filled with funny and amusing songs that all have great energy and pace. Although I like Mirror Stars well enough, to me, Think Pink seems better overall. I have a hard time believing that the Fab Poos didn't make it big with this record. It's really too bad that they didn't make any videos (or none that I know of). I think that might have helped.

I once played the track entitled Anna Rexia for a woman in my university residence, after which she told me that she once suffered from anorexia. Oops. She seemed to forgive me.

"Anna! Anna! Anna! Anna!
That little girl's got a prepossessing manner
Anna! Anna! Anna! Anna!
I'm makin' love to a bagful of spanners
Every day she's gettin' thinner and thinner
She won't touch a bite of her dinner
She used to be my one and only
Now she's even thinner than a Bony Maroney!"

I have to say, though, that this is one of those records that I heard way too often. My sister had a copy, which she later sold, but during the time she had it, it was on the spin too many times. Some years later, I dug this up in a record bin for a good price, and couldn't resist picking it up.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Fabulous Poodles: Mirror Stars (1978)

The first time I heard this band was the Think Pink record, and I couldn't discern if it was a joke or not. At the time, I had no idea if there were any other records by the band. Somewhat surprisingly, it was difficult to know what other records bands had released. If you were lucky, you might get to look at that massive book some records stores had that listed the records. Of course, it excluded bootlegs and I think some imports. Usually, you just had to keep flipping through the record bins to see if you could find anything new. It was thrill to see something you hadn't seen before. This explains why so many people would travel to different and distant record stores, in the hopes of finding something they knew existed or something they had never seen before.

So, The Fabulous Poodles came on my radar in 1979, the year after Mirror Stars was released. I had no idea, until a couple of days ago, that this record was produced by John Entwistle.This record is OK, but I prefer the follow-up.

I recently dropped my phone, so all of my photos on my phone like this album cover.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Explosions In The Sky: Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever (2001)

Explosions In The Sky is an instrumental post-rock band from Austin. They are fabulous. I have a number of their CDs as well. I suppose the closest bands to them in style are Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai, both of which are coming up.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Exhaust: Enregistreur (2002)

I think it's fair to say that some people find the sound of Exhaust to be grating, but I like it very much. This is as good as the first record. I like it.

Exhaust: Exhaust (1998)

I'm a big fan of Constellation Records out of Montreal. You wouldn't go wrong with anything they have ever released.

Exhaust features Adrian Girt, of 1-Speed Bike and Godpseed You! Black Emperor, plus Gordon Krieger, who has played with Set Fire to Flames and Molasses, and Mike Zabitsky, who also spent some time with Set Fire to Flames. Allmusic's description of this record is quite interesting:

"The self-titled Constellation Records debut by Exhaust embodies the sound of squatting in an anarcho-socialist warehouse commune in Montreal's arty/industrial Mile-End district surrounded by French-speaking philosopher/musicians with revolution on their minds and time on their hands."

Allmusic goes on to say this: "Much of their live-to-four-track recordings have been electronically manipulated during mixdown to evoke an aura of experimental dub and an attendant cinematic mystery that conjures the urban setting of their creations. The drumming is minimalist and crudely recorded, as if from a single microphone set up in a storm drain, yet front and center, directing each piece, while menacing tape loops of agitprop speeches, street conversations, film dialog, and eerie wails permeate the mix, and all of this is anchored by depth-charge bass drones and the moaning of the clarinet." [link]

I don't think this is wild hyperbole. I think this is probably an accurate description.

I have a ton of CDs from this record label, including everything GY!BE ever released.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Everest: Ghost Notes (2008)

"The music throughout is sublime, the sound extraordinary, the arrangements inspired, and Russell Pollard's lyrics capture the style of the past while feeling as fresh as today. Classic sounds make for a classic album, which is precisely what Ghost Notes is" [source]

Overall, this is a mellowish record with a very polished and warm vintage sound. It's difficult to describe. I guess you might call it hipster-indie, with a bit of edgy folk. At first, the record left me feeling indifferent, but it really grew on me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Evans The Death: Evans The Death (2012)

Evans the death is an indie pop band from London, UK. To me, the lead singer - Katherine Whitaker - sounds a bit like Debbie Harry and at times reminds me of Chrissie Hynde. The music offers a mix of shoegaze crossed with the Smiths or maybe even the Pixies. I am also reminded of Elastica, a little bit anyway. Together, it's an interesting package and worth checking out.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Eurythmics: We Too Are One (1989)

In hindsight, it's obvious that the band could not continue after this record. Ten years later, they released the adult contemporary, Peace, but We Too Are One should have been the last record. Don't Ask Me Why (not the Billy Joel song) is a pleasant enough tune, but it was clear that the early synth sound was never coming back and that they would never recapture past glories. All good things must pass. Annie set out on her solo career, but I was not interested in that at all, and I only know the songs that might have made it to the radio.

PS. I did not pay $10.99 for this record.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Eurythmics: Savage (1987)

I had lost pretty much all interest in the Eurythmics by this point. Savage is a weak record. On this, Allmusic agrees with me, arguing that this record confirmed the band's decline. I don't mind some of the tracks. For example, Beethoven (I Love to Listen To) and, maybe Heaven, are not too bad. By this time, Annie Lennox was bigger than the band itself and it seemed clear that she was  heading for solo territory, but maybe that is hindsight talking.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Eurythmics: Be Yourself Tonight (1985)

For me, the classic Eurythmics period ended with this record. There are "hits" on this record that are middle-of-the-road and boring, like Would I Lie to You?, Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves, and It's Alright - (Baby's Coming Back). The only song that really interests me is There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart), and that is pushing it. If they were looking for a commercial record filled with pop songs, they succeeded. It works as background music or for when your parents come over for dinner and you want something not too offensive.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Eurythmics: Touch (1983)

Here Comes the Rain Again is a great song with a really great video. This is another band that seemed to thrive in the MTV world. They were able to craft compelling videos, which probably helped with records sales and attracting fans.

Some of the remainder of the record I find to be a little pedestrian. Who's That Girl? does little for me and neither does Right By Your Side. One gets the nagging feeling that the band was fleeing for more commercial territory and abandoning the early sound. This scenario has been played out with so many bands, it's almost as though this is inevitable.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983)

I remember listening to an interview with Annie Lennox in which she emphasized that the band's name was Eurythmics, not The Eurythmics. I suppose it is a subtle difference, but, it sounds a bit awkward without the definite article. And, I find myself referring to the band as The Eurythmics rather than the preferred name. Oh well.

This record is best known for two tracks in particular, Love is a Stranger and the title track. The title track was played very often after it was released. It's probably safe to say that I heard Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) far too many times. If you add to this the fact that my friend sang it loudly every time it came on the radio, it made it worse. Still, the song has aged well, and I still believe it to be a good song. And, I can still appreciate Love is a Stranger.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

L'Etranger: Sticks and Stones (1986)

Andrew Cash's first EP, called Sticks and Stones, which you may have read about here, was actually a remake of the third L'Etranger EP by the same name. As I mentioned previously, Tim Vesely, of the Rheostatics, appears on this record. After this EP, Andrew Cash launched his solo career.

I'm happy to own all three of L'Etranger's records. I am not sure if these records are valuable or not, but that doesn't matter.

Monday, November 02, 2015

L'Etranger: Running Out Of Funtown (1984)

The second EP from L'Etranger contains the band's most popular, and perhaps enduring, track, the anti-apartheid song, entitled One People. My, Andrew Cash looks young in this video.

Her's an interesting interview with the band from The New Music, a show I watched religiously back in the day.