Friday, October 30, 2015

L'Etranger: Innocent Hands (1982)

Bizarrely, the two core members of this band - Andrew Cash and Charlie Angus - both ended up as Canadian members of parliament. Angus was first elected in the riding of Timmins—James Bay in 2004. Cash was my MP, having been elected in 2011. Sadly, he was defeated in the liberal wave on October 19, 2015 by a nobody. I was all for kicking out the Conservatives, and I really don't mind a liberal government, but the NDP got trammelled in the rush to send Harper a message. I really thought he would retain his seat. The good news is that Charlie retained his seat.

Angus left the band after the first two EPs. On this first record, Pete Duffin played drums.

The vast majority of Canadians have probably never heard of this band, which is too bad. The band is often described as punk, but I think that is reflected more in their social justice attitude than is sound. The debut has six tracks.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Escape Club: Wild, Wild West (Dance Mix) (1988)

I'm guessing that Wild, Wild West is the best track from this mediocre 80s band. I think I've only ever heard two songs: this and the atrocious flip-side, We Can Run.

This 12" contains three mixes of Wild Wild West, just in case one or two aren't enough:

Wild, Wild West (Dance Mix)
Wild, Wild West (Edit)
Wild, Wild West (Wild, Wild Dub Club)

There is nothing remarkable here, but I challenge you to listen to all three mixes in a row.
I am sure everyone knows this song. When I hear it, I think it's OK, but I don't go out of my way to listen to the song. I should really expunge this record from my collection.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Esben And The Witch: Chorea (2011)

Chorea, from Esben And The Witch, is a limited edition 33 ⅓ RPM 12" release from 2011 for Record Store Day. Wikipedia describes this British band as post-rock, dream pop, alternative rock, gothic rock, indie rock, and darkwave. I am not sure how one band can satisfy all of those descriptions. The paragraph on musical style is probably a better description of the band:

"The band's music has been described as "electronic dubstep soundscapes" and "Radiohead without the mithering, goth stripped of unnecessary melodrama", with Davies' vocals compared to Siouxsie Sioux and PJ Harvey. The Quietus called it "perfect gothic pop" The band themselves once described their music as "nightmare pop" around the release of the '33' but have attempted to avoid genre classification since. With A New Nature, Rachel Davies alluded to wanting to have a less electronic feel with further emphasis on the rock element of the band." [source]

If you can't figure out how that paragraph defines the music, don't worry, just listen. The good news is that the band is awesome. This EP contains three tracks: Chorea, Eumenides (Mogwai Remix), and
Corridors Installation.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Eric B. & Rakim: Paid in Full (1987)

"This is a journey into sound."

Paid in Full is a classic hip hip record by Eric Barrier and William Michael Griffin Jr., better known as Eric B. & Rakim. Allmusic describes this record as "One of the most influential rap albums of all time..." I can't argue with that. Allmusic adds: "The key cuts here are some of the most legendary rap singles ever released..." I can't argue with that either. If you've never heard the track Paid in Full, your life has less meaning. Finally, the critic says this: "Paid in Full is essential listening for anyone even remotely interested in the basic musical foundations of hip-hop -- this is the form in its purest essence." [source] Again, I have no argument.

I'm not a huge Hip Hop fan, but I do have several key records, this being one of them. I think that the kids back-in-the-day would say that this record is dope. By the way, I have an original US pressing on the 4th and Broadway label.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Erasure: Chorus (1991)

Did I mention that I am not a big Erasure fan? I think Vince did better work with Depeche Mode and Yaz. By the way, I had no idea that Erasure did a cover version of Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill. I watched the video and have to say that the interpretation did absolutely nothing for me. However, there is a good cover of that song, but that is coming way down the alphabet.

I'd like to know how many copies of this record were pressed. By 1991, far fewer records were being pressed, in favour of CDs. On discogs, there are currently 10 copies of this UK pressing for sale, ranging from about $7.50 to over $40.  Those prices seem a bit high to me.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Erasure: A Little Respect b/w Like Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor (1988)

I don't really like Erasure very much. A Little Respect is a catchy tune, and I certainly do not hate it, but the band just does not speak to me. I suppose I see a little too much disco, or dance, in this band. That's not to say that I don't appreciate danceable music. After all, I lived through the 80s.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Enya: Watermark (1988)

Some people knew of Enya from her band Clannad, a band I know next to nothing about. Watermark sold millions of copies, based on the strength of the single Orinoco Flow, which, I have to say, is not a bad song, if you like that kind of thing.

I use to own a bunch of her CDs, but I let them go. I keep this only because it is on vinyl. At some level, I can appreciate the songs, but it is an overtly mellow affair, which might be appropriate for Sunday mornings and maybe yoga sessions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Brian Eno: My Squelchy Life (2015)

Evidently, Brian Eno's birth name is Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. Somehow, I have a hard time believing it, and wonder if Eno is playing a joke on us. The Wikipedia source for Eno's given name is an article on That article has no source for the claim. This is how Wikipedia works. You could write something on a blog post, and then make an entry in Wikipedia referring to that post and it would pass Wikipedia's editorial standards. But, if you were the inventor of nuclear fusion, for example, and wrote a post about how you did it, making no references to published sources, the Wikipedia editors would quash your article. Wikipedia is awesome in many ways, but the sources are often suspect.

My Squelchy Life was a limited edition Record Store Day release from 2015. It was released in an edition of either 4000 or 4300 copies (I've read conflicting numbers). A concise description of this record is "First official vinyl release for legendary 'lost' Eno album. Includes a previously unheard track from the vaults, 'Rapid Eye'."

Allmusic says this:

"My Squelchy Life is Brian Eno's Smile -- an album that was completed, sent out to reviewers (with some reviews hitting the stands), then withdrawn suddenly by Eno, regarded as a minor effort. A year later, Nerve Net was released. Undoubtedly, Nerve Net is a more polished, adventurous, and mature album, but My Squelchy Life, is a splendid pop album, and a fine follow-up to his collaboration with John Cale, Wrong Way Up."

My Squelchy Life is simply fantastic. I had wanted to hear this record for a long time, and finally, it was released, though with a price tag that was a bit high. True, Nerve Net is perhaps a bit better.

All of the stuff on Youtube from this records seems to have copyright restrictions and cannot be seen in Canada. Sometimes, Youtube sucks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Brian Eno And The Words Of Rick Holland: Panic of Looking (2011)

This six-track EP clocks in under 17 minutes. But, these are 17 brilliant ambient minutes. I'm a big fan, of course, but I recognize that this is not everyone's cup of tea. I have a copy of this record on CD as well.

Brian Eno And The Words Of Rick Holland: Drums Between The Bells (2011)

Drums Between The Bells is what happens when you pair a poet with experimental musician, Brian Eno. The results are stellar. Parts of this record remind me of Nerve Net, which is a good thing. Just listen to this:

Eno - Hyde: Someday World (2014)

Someday World is Brian Eno and Karl Hyde's second collaboration. My copy is the standard UK & European copy. A special edition, limited to 750 copies, came with a print. There's some Afro-funk elements on this record. Daddy's Car is no where near the best track on the record, but there's an interesting live performance on Jools Holland.I tried to find an Youtube version of my favourite track from this record, but it was unavailable in Canada. We lose again.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Brian Eno/David Byrne: My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (1981)

I remember playing this record one day, not realizing the effect t might have on some people, namely children. My daughter asked me to take it off during The Jezebel Spirit. I guess that's fair enough, given the content of the song, which is a recording of an apparent exorcism. Of course, the idea of an exorcism is stupid. It might make for a good movie, but anyone who believes that humans can be possessed of devils or demons is an idiot, and I include the Pope in that statement.

The album title is taken from Amos Tutuola's 1954 novel of the same name. I haven't read it.

My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts is a work of pure genius. It's way ahead of it's time, in some respects. Of course, the reviews at the time were mixed, but now, the album is is praised as being ground-breaking. This has happened so many times, it's a wonder anyone listens to critics any more.

I'm happy to have a copy of this on both vinyl and CD. An expanded and remastered CD version was released, but I just have the original with the same tracks as the record. The sound quality of this Youtube clip is abysmal, but you will understand why young kids might not appreciate the music.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Brian Eno: The BBC Sessions (2010)

The nature of bootlegs makes it difficult to find out what version you have, since there is often very little in terms of identification numbers or dates. The original pressing of this record was limited to 100 copies. According to Discogs, there are four coloured vinyl versions and a black edition, which I have. The jacket does appear to be silk screened, so I think I know which one I have. As for the sound quality, it isn't too bad, but it suffers from that general bootleg problem where it sounds like someone put a cassette in a boom box and dropped the boom box in a garbage can, put the lid on, and then recorded the music with a microphone pressed against the outside of the garbage can. It's a bit muffled and/or mangled, and clearly, no one involved in the project knew anything about mastering. I've heard worse bootlegs, but if you are hoping to hear Brian Eno's vision, this is not the record to get it. By the way, the source material was recorded in 1974 at the BBC, though those details are not printed on the jacket.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Brian Eno: Music for Films (1978)

My copy of Music for Films is a 1980 Canadian edition, and so it might be better than the original UK pressing. Eno's notes on the jacket say:

"This Album is identical in content to the first edition released in 1978 but has been rearranged into what I consider a more satisfactory track sequence. It is a compilation of my recorded works from 1975 to 1978. Some of it was made specifically for use as soundtrack material, some of it was made for other reasons but found its way into films; most of it is previously unissued in any form."

Legend has it, however, that none of this music was ever used in any film. I've heard lots of comments about these pressings, and despite the fact that the jacket on mine looks beat up, there is not a single pop or click or any other surface noise on my copy. It plays beautifully.

Guest musicians include Fred Frith, Robert Fripp, John Cale, Phil Collins, and others.

Brian Eno: Another Green World (1975)

I am a big fan of Brian Eno and I think I have everything he ever released on Compact Disc. Sadly, I have very few Eno records, mostly because I became interested in his music near the end of the vinyl era, and I am reluctant to re-purchase his releases on vinyl, partly because Eno vinyl tends to be very expensive. This record, Another Green World, for example, regularly sells for more than $25 and I have seen minty copies for $50 and more.

Of course, I knew a bit about his music before I became fully engaged with it. I heard some of his ambient records in University, but it was his collaborations with Robert Fripp that caught my attention. To me, Here Com the Warn Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World, and Before and After Science represent perhaps the strongest four album arc of any artist.

Speaking of Fripp, he appears on this record in a few places.

Another Green World can only be described as a masterpiece.If I ever acquire some more Eno records, I guess I will just add them here.

Eno [Brian Eno]: Here Come the Warm Jets (1974)

Baby's on fire
Better throw her in the water
Look at her laughing
Like a heifer to the slaughter

Brian Eno's first solo record was credited to Eno, rather than Brian Eno. I have a Canadian repressing from 1982. I've heard conflicting reports, but I am convinced that the title refers to golden showers. Whatever floats your boat.

For many years, if asked what my favourite song was, I would eagerly say Baby's on Fire. Robert Fripp plays an amazing guitar on that track. Some people knew what I was talking about; others did not. I still think it makes my top ten of all time.

This album is truly excellent.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Works, Vol. 1 (1977)

If ELP's first record was unpretentious, Works, Vol. 1 is the precise opposite. On this record, each member was given one side for himself, with the final side devoted to a group effort. It's kind of like having three mini solo albums and one mini-group album sold as one package. I believe that this record has received generally positive reviews, but I find it hard to understand why that is.

Keith Emerson's piano concerto is pedestrian. I think the rest of the record fairs better, especially Carl Palmer's tracks, though as a package, the record doesn't really work for me. I do genuinely like some of what this band has done, but this record is hardly required listening.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1970)

It case you don't already know, Emerson, Lake & Palmer (or ELP) was formed by Keith Emerson of The Nice, Greg Lake of King Crimson, and Carl Palmer from Atomic Rooster. The band focused its energy on classical and jazz-influenced compositions. In other words, this is prog rock. I think many people dislike prog because it seems pretentious and overblown. I admit that I do like some prog rock, but certainly not all of it. On the positive side, Allmusic referred to this, ELP's debut record, as showcasing "the group at its least pretentious." That made me laugh.

If you know any tunes from ELP, it's likely to be Lucky Man.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Electric Light Orchestra (ELO): Time (1981)

Hmm. Not sure what to think. It has its moments. One song is OK. I guess you would call this orchestral pop. It just doesn't work for me, but maybe I just need to listen to it a few more times. I am sure others like this record just fine.

Electric Light Orchestra (ELO): Discovery (1979)

Some people refer to this record as Disco Very. Personally, I think the disco moniker holds true for most of the ELO I have heard. This record was definitely a cheap pickup or a gift from years ago. As I mentioned, I'm not a huge fan of Jeff Lynne, though I liked The Traveling Wilburys.

So, this record is notable for one of ELO's biggest hits: Don't Bring Me Down. I can appreciate that song at some level, but the album on balance is not really for me. As Allmusic notes:

"Though Discovery charted well, it was becoming obvious that ELO were starting to run themselves out of useful Beatles hooks with which to fuel their hit-making machine." I'll trust them on that one. [source]

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Electric Light Orchestra ‎(ELO): A New World Record (1976)

One of my best friends in high school was a huge ELO fan, and I never really could figure out why. I have tried to like them, but the best I can say about them is that some of their songs are OK -- not great, just OK. This record, in fact, is OK, if you know what I mean, and maybe better than some of their other records. I think it is highly regarded among fans, and I can understand why. Tightrope and Telegraph Line are OK tunes. So, if you like music that is just OK, this might be the ticket.
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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Electric Dreams: Original Soundtrack (1984)

Once again, I have a soundtrack for a movie I have never seen. The Electric Dreams soundtrack is notable for the inclusion of the only Culture Club songs in my record and CD collections. I remember when Do Your Really Want to Hurt Me came out and some of my forward-thinking friends felt that this band fit into the cool new wave sound. I disagreed and thought that the band was appallingly bad. I also had a friend who felt that Madonna was also the next best cool thing when her first album came out. Oddly, this friend had comparatively good taste in music, so that perplexed me. Some people are easily taken in.

The rest of the record has some interesting tracks, from the likes of Georgio Moroder, Jeff Lynne, Heaven 17, etc. It's OK, I guess, but it's not a brilliant record. I suppose the most popular track was Together in Electric Dreams by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder.

According to Wikipedia, the film "depicts a love triangle between a man, a woman and a personal computer." Hmm. The article goes on to say: "Fans of Electric Dreams have noted the similarities between the film and Spike Jonze's Her. But when asked about it, Jonze claimed not to have seen the former film." [source] I haven't see that film either.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Einstürzende Neubauten: Zeichnungen Des Patienten O.T. / Drawings of O.T. (1983)

Einstürzende Neubauten (which roughly translates to Collapsing New Buildings) is an industrial or experimental band from (West) Berlin. The O.T. in the title refers to Oswald Tschirtner, an schizophrenic artist from Austria. Wikipedia's description of the band is pretty good:

"One of their trademarks is the use of custom-built instruments, predominantly made out of scrap metal and building tools, and noises, in addition to standard musical instruments. Their early albums were unremittingly harsh, with Bargeld's vocals shouted and screamed above a din of banging and scraping metal percussion. Subsequent recordings found the group's sound growing somewhat more conventional, yet still containing many unorthodox elements." [source]

The description from Allmusic is similar:

"Along with Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, Germany's Einstürzende Neubauten ("collapsing new buildings") helped pioneer industrial music with an avant-garde mix of white-noise guitar drones, vocals verging on the unlistenable at times, and a clanging, rhythmic din produced by a percussion section consisting of construction materials, power tools, and various metal objects." [source]

I'm lucky enough to own the very first pressing, which was done in the UK. This is a fantastic record, though clearly not everyone's cup of tea. Some might find the sounds to be harsh and challenging. I have always liked this kind of music, so it appeals to me.

Eight Seconds: Almacantar (1986)

An almacantar is a device that is used to observe celestial bodies that pass along a plane that is parallel to the horizontal plane. In other words, it measures altitude. It's an interesting choice for an album title and the good news is that the album graphics make good reference to the instrument. Some record covers seem to have been made in complete ignorance of the album and song titles.

I first heard this band when the single Kiss You (When it's Dangerous) came out. I quickly found out that the band was from Ottawa. I was absolutely stunned to learn that this, their debut, was produced by Rupert Hine. How could that have been, I wondered?

I had already heard Thinkman's The Formula and Rupert Hine's Immunity, Waving Not Drowning, and The Wildest Wish to Fly and just could not believe that an unknown band from Canada could have managed to attract Rupert Hine as a producer. If I remember correctly, I think that someone sent Hine a copy of the band's first EP and he decided that he wanted to produce the band. It's an interesting story, but it still means that there are really only two good tracks on the record: the aforementioned Kiss You (When it's Dangerous) and Where's Bula, which I really think ought to be Where's Bula? OK, if pressed, I might also include Sincere as a good track.

Oh, and one other thing I should mention, if I can trust information from the deep recesses of my brain. I seem to recall that the name of the band came indirectly from Andy Warhol who apparently made a statement that his argument that everyone gets 15 minutes of fame should really have been eight seconds of fame. I wonder if I remembered that correctly? I think I heard this as part of a radio interview with the band.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Dave Edmunds: Information (1983)

Like so many other bands and singers, Dave felt the need to join the new wave bandwagon by dumping his cool, rootsy sound and co-opting an 80s synth-based sound that simply does not work. The Rolling Stones managed to record a fabulous disco record or two, but they are the exception. "Flush the fashion" should have been the war cry from the era for most established artists.

This record is a disaster. Dave Edmunds and Jeff Lynne are two names that should not go together. This album proves that statement. Just listen to what should have been called an ELO-Dave Edmunds mashup. I keep expecting to hear the chorus of Don't Bring Me Down at any moment. Oh, and Don't Bring Me Down is a much better tracks than this one.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Dave Edmunds: Twangin' (1981)

I guess Twangin' is a decent follow-up to Repeat When Necessary. There are some good tracks, like Singin' the Blues. I'll also give him props for employing The Stray Cats on one tune. Overall, though, the listener gets the sense that his best days are behind him.