Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Flaming Lips: Oh My Gawd!!!...The Flaming Lips (1987)

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It's very difficult to track down original pressings of early Flaming Lips records, and when I do find one, they are ridiculously expensive. As a result, this record is a 2005 limited edition re-issue on clear vinyl. I'd like an original, but there are other pressing needs. I love this band immensely. I went to their free concert at NXNE in Toronto a few years back and loved it.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Fixx: React (1987)

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For some inexplicable reason, The Fixx decided to re-record Red Skies. I simply do not understand that decision. In any case, this record contains four new studio tracks, including the aforementioned Red Skies. The remainder of the tracks are live songs recorded in Canada (yay) in 1986. The record is OK. It doesn't light any fires but at least it's not boring.

In 1988, The Fixx released Calm Animals without producer Rupert Hine. They struck out on a new direction with a new record label. I haven't heard the record and I recall that the reviews were not positive. They left the RCA after only one record. The Fixx released several records after Calm Animals but I haven't heard anything from any of them.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Fixx: Walkabout (1986)

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The reviews of this record were somewhat less enthusiastic than the reviews of the first three records. I have to agree that this record is not quite as good as the previous records. Having said that, there are some gems on this record, like Secret Separation. The guitar hook in that song is genius. I think Rupert Hine did a good job on outing number four for the band.


Monday, December 21, 2015

The Fixx: Phantoms (1984)

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The Fixx once again brought back Rupert Hine for album number three, with great results. There are a number of solid tracks on this record, including Are We Ourselves?, perhaps the most well-known track. This is a really fine record.



Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Fixx: File Under: Fixx (1983)

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This record, despite being a bootleg, has pretty good sound. It was recorded at My Father's Place in Roslyn, New York. There are six tracks: Cameras In Paris, I Found You, Stand Or Fall, Reach The Beach, Lost Planes, and Red Skies. The packaging is either brilliant or awful. It comes in a stamped manila folder, so the "file under" makes sense, but it really doesn't cause any excitement. In fact, it leads one to believe that what's inside is boring. I have another of these File Under bootlegs from another band, but that is for another year :)

I often look at discogs.com to see prices. For this release, there is no sales history, but there are three copies for sale now for $17, $25, and £29.99 each, plus shipping. I think that's a bit high.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Fixx: Reach The Beach (1983)

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The second Fixx record contains what is probably the band's biggest hit, One Thing Leads to Another. This is yet another song that I have heard way too often. I am still tired of it, and so I prefer other Fixx songs better, like Saved by Zero, which I think is fabulous. Rupert Hine was brought back in for Reach the Beach, and I would say that he did an admirable job.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Fixx: Shuttered Room (1982)

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"Red or blue, what's the difference"
Stand or Fall - The Fixx

The Fixx is another group well worth investigating, especially for fans of Rupert Hine. But, if you are a Hine fan, you would already know about this London band. The Fixx were (are, I guess) a really great pop band that never quite made it big. I suppose the thing that kept them interesting was the fact that they didn't sell out, at least not right away. The first record -- Shuttered Room -- had two big hits: Stand or Fall and Red Skies at Night. These are both catchy tunes that received a lot of airplay (on the radio stations that I was listening to) way back when.

Stand or Fall is a really strong political tune, and perhaps the band's best song.

Crying parents tell their children
If you survive, don't do as we did
A son exclaims there'll be nothing to do to
Her daughter says she'll be dead with you

While foreign affairs are screwing us rotten
Line morale has hit rock bottom
Dying embers stand forgotten
Talks of peace were being trodden

-----

An empty face reflects extinction
Ugly scars divide the nation
Desecrate the population
There will be no exaltation

I'd say that these are strong lyrics reflecting the cold-war era 80s.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Firm: Mean Business (1986)

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Mean Business is not as good as the debut record from The Firm, but that is so often the case. It's really great to hear Jimmy's guitar, but they probably should have stopped after the first record.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Firm: The Firm (1985)

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The Firm is proof that a supergroup is not necessarily greater than the sum of its parts. Here we have Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company, Chris Slade of Uriah Heap, Manfred Mann, and AC/DC, plus Tony Franklin, the fretless bass player who has worked with a number of artists like Roy Harper. The first self-titled album, despite what the critics said at the time is pretty good, but it is not super. There are some good tracks, though, and the whole thing is quite enjoyable. I remember thinking that it was great to hear Jimmy Page again playing the guitar.

For some truly bizarre reason, they chose to cover You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling. That's a fail. In the H section, we will come to a much better cover of that song.

Craig Finn: Faith In The Future (2015)

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Craig Finn is the lead singer of the best rock band in America. He has released two solo records, Clear Heart Full Eyes and Faith In The Future. I ordered the latter a couple of months back from a major online retailer, and it has not yet been shipped. So, I guess it's not really in the mail. It might be in a warehouse. I guess I will have to update this post when it arrives.

Update:

I received a message from Amazon on December 21st that said: "We're still trying to obtain the following item[s] you ordered..." And then,

"Still want it? We'll keep on trying. You'll still be able to cancel at any time before we ship it. If you want to cancel the item now, please click the link below:"

I decided to wait. Bizarrely, less than two days latter, I received the following message: "Your Amazon.ca order of "Faith In The Future (Vinyl)" has shipped!"

Now, that is weird.

I am happy to report that I like the record very much. Solo Craig does not sound like another Hold Steady record, but of course there are elements that are reminiscent. This is a much subtler and more introspective record.

By the way, I did my best to find a copy in one of my local independent record shops, but I failed. I opted not to order a copy from Pledge, because the price was a bit high. I chose Amazon because I had a coupon, meaning that the record was under $15. That was a steal.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fingerprintz: Beat Noir (1981)

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A change in record labels seems to have ushered in a bit of a change in sound. There are more beats here, and less of a punk sound that described the first record, as you can hear below. The Beat Escape, in places, reminds me of Shriekback. It's a pretty good record and I like the cover design.


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Fingerprintz: Distinguishing Marks (1980)

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The curious thing about this record is the jacket. Both the front and rear covers are perforated so that one can separate the segments and use them as postcards. I have no idea who would want to do that. I guess if you have 12 friends and you ran out of postcards, these would be a good substitute. You will note, however, that this copy is a promo, and so it has a giant white label on the front, thereby undermining the point of the jacket.
 
In a similar vein, I have a copy of Beck's The Information on CD and it allows owners to use the supplied stickers to create you a custom cover on the almost blank white insert. I did not do that.

And, all of that brings me to the issue of writing on records. My sister always wrote her name followed by "record #___" on the jacket and inner sleeve of all of her records. She did the same for 45RPM 7" singles, adding her name to the sleeve and record label. In the early days, she convinced me to do the same, and I still have a few records with my name scrawled on them. I abandoned that practice when I decided that I didn't want to deface my records any longer.

A person I worked with used to do the same, and he told me that he was in some sort of thrift store, and he saw a pile of records that he used to own with his name on them. I have never seen any of my former records that had my name on them anywhere.

Generally, I refuse to buy a used record if someone has scribbled their name on it. But, I do have a few items with a name written inside the outer sleeve, which is less objectionable. I knew someone who used to affix return address labels to the front cover and to the labels. That is obnoxious. I have clear memories of finding near mint records for excellent prices that I passed on buy simply because some guy put his name on it.

Oddly, this might have helped me back-in-the-day. I lent a few records while living in residence at university and I never got them back. If my name had been on the covers, I might have gotten those back.

Anyway, back to Fingerprintz. I would say that the record has a more polished sound than the first, and I would argue also that this is a bad thing, despite the fact that the music is still great. The most recognizable track from this album is Bulletproof Heart. There is a live clip on youtube, but the uploader has prevented it from being embedded.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Fingerprintz: Dancing With Myself (1979)

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This is a 12" UK pressing of Dancing With Myself on green vinyl. The flip-side contains Sean's New Shoes and Sync Unit. It shares the title with that other track of the same name from Generation X (also performed by Billy Idol on his solo debut), but the songs are quite different. I would say that the Gen X song is better.

By the way, I haven't been to a dance club in some time, but there were some people (men and women) who would take to the dance floor by themselves (myself included) back in the day. It's true, though I would never do that now.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Fingerprintz: Fingerprintz (1979)

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I bought a lot of music in 1979, even as a young boy. It was a year of musical awakenings with bands like Pink Floyd, the Clash, etc. My musical tastes ranged from a bit of prog, to pop, to punk, to new wave (or post-punk, if you prefer). Fingerprintz fit nicely into the new wave genre. I think I bought it after hearing the track Wet Job, though there are better tracks on the record.

Despite being new wave, there is a punk aesthetic on the record and the sound is edgier than on subsequent releases. The only weak point is the track Beam Me Up Scotty, which ought to be a great track, based on the title alone, but it turns out to be a major disappointment.

Our friends at Allmusic say:

"Formed by Scottish-born singer/guitarist Jimmie O'Neill in 1978, the 'Printz slowed down punk's careening guitar rock, adding clever, rhythmic twists and turns, and offering up deftly written stories about lust, angst, and urban desolation." [source]

Once again, and inexplicably, I might add, the original UK pressing was entitled The Very Dab and it had a slightly different song selection, leaving out Dancing with Myself, for example but adding some others, like Sean's New Shoes, a really infectious instrumental.

I don't know if this band ever made any videos, but i can't find any on Youtubes. I did find this live clip of Wet Job.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Film School: Fission (2010)

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I'm not sure how to describe Film School, other than to say that they sound like indie pop crossed with elements of shoegaze. Parts of this record sound really dreamy, while other parts sound like pure pop. At times it has a slight Pixies feel (like the opening of Waiting) and at other times, I think of Lush. It's not a bad record, but it's a bit too vanilla in some ways.

For some reason, the only vinyl copy of this record was pressed on clear vinyl.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Field Music: Plumb (2012)

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There is a limited edition of this record that was pressed on purple (or pumb) vinyl. I have the standard black vinyl release. By the time I had bought it, the company that provided the MP3 downloads was out of business, so I was never able to download the files, despite sending email messages to various parties concerned. They simply ignored me.

I really don't know too much about this band. I don't think you'd be wrong to think that there was an XTC influence here. At times, I am also reminded of the Beatles and even Wolf Parade. It's a curious record, at first not entirely accessible, but it really grew on me and I find the music to be very interesting.


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Fiction Factory: Not The Only One (1985)

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Here we have some Scottish new wave music. It's Scottish and it's new wave, so it's cannot be crap, but there are far better songs by Fiction Factory out there (Feels Like Heaven, for example) and there are far better Scottish new wave bands out there too (Simple Minds, Orange Juice).

This is a UK 12" with two versions of Not the Only One (Extended Mix and the so-called "Mix" Mix) plus a tune called Let Me Be a Part of It.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra: The Great Gatsby Jazz Recordings: A Selection of Yellow Cocktail Music (2013)

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The blue vinyl version of this record, which I have, was limited to 1000 individually-numbered copies in a package that includes a 20-page booklet. The record contains music from the film, plus some additional selections. Some tracks are original and others are covers, including some interesting 20s style renderings of modern songs. For example, there's a cool jazz version of Back to Black, which is much better that the ridiculous Beyoncé version used in the film. I should point out that I have not seen the film, though I have read the book. Why bother with this film anyway? After all, the Redford version was really good and we do not need a new version. I felt that same way about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.