Friday, July 31, 2015

Thomas Dolby: Aliens Ate My Buick (1988)

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I think this record is far better than Allmusic suggests, but I accept the criticism that Dolby failed to keep up with the times. Had this come out three years earlier, it might have fared better. Still, I do like all of the songs (even Hot Sauce, the George Clinton track). There is a good deal of humour in Key to Her Ferrari (featuring Robin Leach), My Brain is like a Sieve, and Airhead.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thomas Dolby: Music From The Film Gothic (1987)

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I have never seen Gothic, the film about the writing of Frankenstein. Apparently, it was directed by Ken Russell and stars Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, and Natasha Richardson in her film debut. I would include Frankenstein in a list of my favourite novels, so perhaps I should see this film since it concerns that novel and Percy and Mary Shelley.

The soundtrack has some interesting pieces, some of which sound a little too much like film music. It's a curious record, but it has never driven me to see the film and I don't listen to it very often. I'm hard pressed to even decide if this sounds like a Dolby record, apart from, perhaps, The Devil is an Englishmen, which is available on Youtube in an extended mix:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dolby's Cube [Thomas Dolby]: May the Cube be With You b/w Googooplexus & Club Creature Caviar (1985)

Though I know I have this 12" single, I cannot find it anywhere, so there is no photo. I saw it a while back, but it now eludes me. I think it must be misfiled. A photo will appear when I find it. George Clinton and Lene Lovich appear on this record. It's a pretty cool track.

Thomas Dolby: The Flat Earth (1984)

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The track most people are likely to know from this record is Hyperactive. I remember listening to that track way too many times. The video is great too, but it appears not to be on Youtube, though there is a mangled version of the video for the 12" mix. The video does not sync up with the lyrics, and that irritates me, so I can't post it here.

This record, like his first, is truly amazing, and it's a pity that so many people have not heard it, or have only heard the aforementioned single.

The live version of Hyperactive from the Old Grey Whistle Test is very good.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dolby's Cube [Thomas Dolby]: Get Out Of My Mix (Special Dance Version) b/w Get On Out Of My Mix (Special Dub Version) (1983)

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This is straight from Wikipedia:

"Beginning in 1983, Dolby collaborated with a number of artists in an occasional studio-bound project called Dolby's Cube. The project had no set line-up, and was essentially a forum for Dolby to release material that was more dance-oriented. Dolby's Cube released a single in 1983 ("Get Out of My Mix"), another in 1985 ("May The Cube Be With You"), and performed soundtrack work for the film "Howard The Duck" in 1986. Collaborators in Dolby's Cube at various junctures included Lene Lovich, George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic, Francois Kevorkian, and Lea Thompson."

I have nothing to add, except to say that perhaps this is a bit dated.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Thomas Dolby: Blinded by Science (1983)

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This EP was released after The Golden Age of Wireless. Since later pressings of The Golden Age of Wireless, were altered to include She Blinded my With Science, there is really no reason to own this record, since most of the songs are available elsewhere, but I have it anyway. I'm not sure why, but Youtube has a deficiency of official Thomas Dolby videos.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Thomas Dolby: The Golden Age of Wireless (1982)

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Original pressings of this record did not include the famous single, She Blinded Me With Science. I have a Canadian repress from 1983 that includes this song, which was a hit from the Blinded by Science EP released in January of 1983. I guess the record label decided that they could increase sales of the LP by including that song, rather than risk people not purchasing an EP.

The Golden Age of Wireless is a fantastic record even without that song. I really love the sound on the record. There are so many great tracks, like One of Our Submarines, but it's hard to choose a favourite. The odd thing is that copies of this record are easily found at affordable prices. Go get one.

And a live track:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Divine Fits: A Thing Called Divine Fits (2012)

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Divine Fits is a modern day supergroup, comprised of Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade), Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks), and someone called Alex Fischel. So far, they only made one record, and this is it. It's pretty good, but I might be biased, since I am a huge fan of Spoon and Wolf Parade.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dire Straits: On Every Street (1991)

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There comes a time when a band has to call it a day. For the Rolling Stones, that should have been 1983. I think it's a bad idea to overstay your welcome. Dire Straits should have called it quits after Brothers in Arms. Nevertheless, I have to say that, despite the weak patches in this record, there are a few good tracks. I don't mind Calling Elvis, Heavy Fuel, When it Comes to You, and The Bug. After six years, though, expectations were running high, and this record doesn't really make the cut and it can't match anything the band had released previously.

I have the subsequent live album, On the Night on CD. I have no idea if that was ever released on vinyl. Vinyl copies of On Every Street, released in the era of the death of vinyl, are hard to find, so I am happy to have a copy of this one.

There's an official Dire Straits Vevo channel on Youtube, but they don't like Canadians :(

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms (1985)

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I've always been inclined to believe that the release of this record coincidentally with the continued rise of MTV (despite the scathing message contained in Money for Nothing) and the widespread adoption of compact discs made this album far more popular than it otherwise might have been. It's a solid record, but I was stunned to see it turn Dire Straits into a huge act.

While visiting a friend for a weekend way out near Kingston back in 1986, or so, I was surprised to discover that her father had a copy of this record on cassette. When the previous generation likes your music, it makes you pause to think. I wondered if it was uncool to like Dire Straits. Perhaps the band had jumped the shark? Anyway, her father popped in the cassette on a drive to a restaurant, but it was on side two, and he complained that he needed to flip the tape to hear the "good tunes." I've always preferred side two. Brothers in Arms, the title track, is awesome, for example.

Some tracks on the LP are shorter than the CD and cassette versions, which I suppose is understandable, given the limited space, but they really should have released this as a double record.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dire Straits: Alchemy - Dire Straits Live (1984)

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Alchemy is a double live record, offering live versions of some seminal Dire Straits tunes. If you are a Dire Straits fan, you will need no convincing. I bought this new when it came out, somewhere.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dire Straits: ExtendeDancEPlay (1982)

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Allmusic, a site I sometimes love and sometimes hate, referred to this EP (and the title track specifically) as "the closest thing to exuberant rock & roll this seemingly humorless band had ever attempted." The same reviewer, in the same review, referred to Love Over Gold as "ponderous," [link] despite the fact that the original reviewer of Love Over Gold assessed that record 4 out of 5 stars and said that the album was "fully engaging." [link] It makes one wonder what goes on at Allmusic. Besides, how many rock bands could be called humorless? I would say most. It's simply a dumb thing to say.

In any case, there is no question that this EP is a lighthearted effort and it is fun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dire Straits: Love Over Gold (1982)

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I bought this record because I really liked the track Industrial Disease, which had received plenty of airplay on the radio. Imagine my surprise when, upon listening to the record, I found that Industrial Disease wasn't even the best song on the record. Love Over Gold commences with what must be regarded as the best Dire Straits song of all time - Telegraph Road. It's an epic 14 minute+ track. Of course, a 14 minute tracks isn't going to leave room for too many other songs, so the album only has 5 songs, but they are all good ones. Check out the unembeddable fan video for Telegraph Road.

I suppose this record announces the end of the blues-rock thing they were doing, but on this record at least, that is fine with me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dire Straits: Making Movies (1980)

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It's hard to rank my favourite Dire Straits records, but I would say that Making Movies is probably my favourite. I don't think there is a bad song on the record. Highlights for me are the epic Tunnel of Love, Romeo and Juliet (one of my all time fav Dire Straits songs), Expresso Love, Skateaway, Solid Rock. It's really an awesome record with some great guitar work, as usual, from Mark Knopfler. If you are not familiar with the album, check out these tracks:



Friday, July 10, 2015

Dire Straits: Communiqué (1979)

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Allmusic complains that Communiqué was rushed to the market quickly; only nine months had passed since the release of the debut record. And, they argue that the songs are not as good. I might agree that this album is not quite up to level of the debut, but it is still a good record. I wonder if Allmusic would change the review in hindsight now that some years have passed. There are, after all, some really fine tunes on this album.

I bought my copy of this record at the now-closed Sunrise Records on Yonge Street, just north of Dundas, in 1985 or 1986.

This version of Once Upon a Time in the West is twice as long as the original studio version.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Dire Straits: Dire Straits (1978)

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No money in our jackets and our jeans are torn
Your hands are cold but your lips are warm



Of course, everyone knows the fantastic track Sultans of Swing from this record. (As an aside, I really hate it when radio stations cut off the ending of this song, just the way I hate it when radio stations cut off the ending of Higher Ground, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' cover of the Stevie Wonder tune. Why can't they just wait until the song is over? On the other hand, I rarely listen to the radio, so it doesn't matter anymore).

The debut record from Dire Straits is a truly great record from start to finish. When I first heard this record, I assumed that the rest of the songs wouldn't be as good as that track, but I was wrong. There is not a bad song on it. To me, this is the best Dire Straits record, and this the best track:

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Diodes: Action Re-Action (1980)

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The most well-known track from this Canadian band's third record is probably Catwalker, which, to my ears at least, does not really sound like punk, which The Diodes are supposed to be. They really sound like a pop band on this record, or maybe a punky new wave band. This album is probably the weakest of the band's offerings, but I like it. It is, in fact, immensely more enjoyable than Difford and Tilbrook. Oh, and I like the cover of this record.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Difford & Tilbrook: Difford & Tilbrook (1984)

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This record is totally unremarkable, which is surprising since Difford & Tilbrook wrote some fantastic songs with Squeeze. Apart from the vocals, this record sounds nothing like Squeeze. Worse, it sounds like boring 80s fluff. I was disappointed the first time I heard it, and the intervening years have not ameliorated my opinion.

Howard Devoto, Jerky Versions Of The Dream (1983)

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Howard was the leading force in the Buzzcocks, Magazine, and Luxuria. Jerky Versions Of The Dream is his only solo record. I guess he had too many other things to do. I'm not sure if it's as good as the music he released with his bands, but I think it's really interesting and cool. I've always like his voice.

This is probably the weakest track on the record, so, naturally, there's a real video:

Monday, July 06, 2015

Devo: Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig (2014)

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As you can see, this is a picture disc. It was released on Record Store Day in 2014 in a limited edition, originally with a DVD. It's a pretty good recording of Devo's concert at the closing of the Sundance Film Festival a couple of decades ago. It's got a good selection of songs, like Jocko Homo, Girl U Want, Uncontrollable Urge, etc.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Jon Hassell: Aka / Darbari / Java - Magic Realism (1983)

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I'll just include two things. The first is printed on the back album jacket:

"MAGIC REALISM • Like the video technique of "keying in" where any background may be electronically inserted or deleted independently of foreground, the ability to bring the actual sound of musics of various epochs and geographical origins all together in the same compositional frame marks a unique point in history. • A trumpet, branched into a chorus of trumpets by computer, traces the motifs of the Indian raga DARBARI over Senegalese drumming recorded in Paris and a background mosaic of frozen moments from an exotic Hollywood orchestration of the 1950's [a sonic texture like a "Mona Lisa" which, in close up, reveals itself to be made up of tiny reproductions of the Taj Mahal], while the ancient call of an AKA pygmy voice in the Central African Rainforest — transposed to move in sequences of chords unheard of until the 20th century — rises and falls among gamelan-like cascades, multiplications of a single "digital snapshot" of a traditional instrument played on the Indonesian island of JAVA, on the other side of the world. • Music which is to this degree self-referential, in which larger parts are related to and/or generated from smaller parts, shares certain qualities with "white" classical music of the past. AKA/DARBARI/JAVA is a proposal for a "coffee-colored" classical music of the future — both in terms of the adoption of entirely new modes of structural organisation [as might be suggested by the computer ability to re-arrange, dot-by-dot, a sound or video image] and in terms of the expansion of the "allowable" musical vocabulary in which one may speak this structure — leaving behind the ascetic face which Eurocentric tradition has come to associate with serious expression. • JON HASSELL"

The other is from Allmusic:

The beautiful cover painting by Mati Klarwein serves as an appropriate visual analogy for the music contained herein: an abutting of two worlds, an insinuating blend of early-'80s high tech with ancient Southeast Asia. Over varying, non-specific rhythms supplied by Abdou Mboup, Jon Hassell weaves a music both evocative and plaintive, his modified trumpet sighing like an old Javanese horn pulled into the digital age on its way to what he calls a "coffee-colored" future where all ethnic traditions become one. The astonishingly vocal sound he gets from that treated trumpet is certainly one of the signatures of this album and one of the more lovely sounds heard anywhere. His compositions have a bit too much direction and drive to comfortably settle into the term ambient, but they remain as relaxed and gently meandering as a jungle stream. One especially nice feature is the subtle electronic burblings that whisper in the background, creating an enticingly busy sense of space. Aka/Darbari/Java is an early high-water mark at the juncture between world and ambient musics.[source]

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Devo: Here To Go (1985)

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The jacket tells us that this is a "SPECIALLY-PRICED 4-CUT MAXI SINGLE." Mine is also a promotional copy, with that ugly gold stamp on the front.

Here is the track listing:

Here To Go (Go Mix Version)
Here To Go (Here To Dub Version)
Shout (LP Version)
Shout (E-Z Listening Version)

Devo: Fresh b/w What We Do (2010)

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I have read that some Devo fans hate the album from which these tracks were pulled, but I think it's not too bad. This was a Record Store Day release in 2010 on blue vinyl.

Devo: Shout (1984)

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This is a stinker of a record. It's difficult to believe that this is the best they could do. It's an utter failure.