Monday, February 29, 2016

Fucked Up: Glass Boys

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This band's name is not one you can casually throw around the school yard when picking up your kids, or around the dinner table at the in-laws, unless you have hipster in-laws. I'm not sure how to categorize the band, but I have heard the term post-punk revival and hardcore and even post-hardcore, whatever that means.

Fucked Up is an interesting band, but here is my unvarnished assessment: I love the music but I am not sold on Damian Abraham's vocals.

Robert Fripp / The League Of Gentlemen: The League Of Gentlemen (1981)

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The League of Gentleman was around for a short period of time. I have a Canadian pressing of this release. Parts of this record were released elsewhere. I am a big fan of Fripp's guitar work and also of his Frippertronics, so this album sits well with me.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Robert Fripp: God Save The Queen / Under Heavy Manners (1980)

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This record has both a Side A and a Side One. I've seen other records take a similar tactic, I guess suggesting that each side is of equal importance. This is a good record, but I find that I enjoy Discotronics more than the rest.

Back in the late 1990s, I attended a Fripp concert in Toronto where is he improvised an evening of Frippertronics. By the way, I have a whole raft of Frippertronics CDs (Let the Power Fall, A Blessing of Tears, Radiophonics, That Which Passes, November Suite, 1999 Soundscapes Live in Argentina, A Temple in the Clouds, etc.). Before the concert, a bunch of local subscribers to the Elephant Talk liserv met up for pre-concert beverages and food. That was the first and the last time I ever saw those people.

The concert was weird, in some ways. Once Fripp got some sounds flowing through the loops, he stood up and walked around. He encouraged people to talk. At some level, it seemed a bit like something out of the 60s, without people smoking joints, not that I have any experience with smoking pot in the 60s (I am way too young to have done that).

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Robert Fripp: Exposure (1979)

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Robert Fripp is the guitarist for one of my favourite bands, King Crimson, though I think I should point out that it is really the post-1980 King Crimson that I like best. I don't mind some of the earlier stuff (parts of the debut--parts of Red, and some other pieces--but it's the era that commenced with Adrian Belew that I like better).

Fripp's solo work has been varied and I have enjoyed some pieces more than others. I regard this as his first true solo record, because the previous two records were collaborations with Brian Eno. Most fans will know that Fripp intended Exposure to be part of a trilogy, the other two records being Peter Gabriel's first record and Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs. There's lots of information on the web about how this all turned out. If you want to spend some time investigating, go ahead.

In any case, there are a number of styles on this record, ranging from tracks that sound like Crimson to some moody experimental stuff, including some Frippertronics. The record has vocals from Peter Hammil, Daryl Hall, Terre Roche, etc. Peter Gabriel provides some backing vocals. Musicians include Brian Eno, Jerry Morotta, Tony Levin, Barry Andrews, etc.

It's a curious record but it took me some time before I was convinced that I liked it. I have this on CD as well.

Friday Night Lights: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2004)

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This record was originally released in a limited edition of 2500 copies in 2004. I have in my possession the repress from 2015. The original pressing will cost you a few bucks. Most of the soundtrack is music by Explosions in the Sky, a band I really like. The record also has one track from Daniel Lanois, which is great. There is one track from David Torn. I generally like his music, and this track is very good and very atmospheric. Finally, there is one track from Bad Company. I'm not really a Bad Company fan, but this song is passable.

Some of the music was re-used in the TV series of the same name. I have not seen the movie or the TV series.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Frankie Goes to Hollywood: Liverpool (1986)

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Rage Hard is probably the best-known track from the second Frankie record. I think many people felt that this album was a letdown after the first record. I sort of agree. It sounds less like dance or disco but is perhaps a more focused affair. Ultimately, it is less interesting.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Two Tribes (1984)

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This Canadian 12" single for Two Tribes contains two mixes (Annihilation and Surrender) plus War (Hide Yourself) and One February Friday.

Wikepedia has this to say: "Presenting a nihilistic, gleeful lyric expressing enthusiasm for a nuclear war, it juxtaposes a relentless pounding bass line and guitar riff inspired by American funk and R&B pop with influences of Russian classical music, in an opulent arrangement produced by Trevor Horn. The recording makes extensive use of samples of the British Protect and Survive public information films on how to survive a nuclear attack" [source]

It's a really engaging cold war track. In fact, I would argue that the extended Annihilation mix is the best thing Frankie ever did. It's worth picking this up just for the extended Two Tribes.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Frankie Goes To Hollywood: The Power Of Love (1984)

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In truth, I sort of hate this song. Maybe I heard it too many times. Maybe an ex-girlfriend liked it a bit too much. Who knows? I will say that it is better than that other song with the same title.

This picture disc contains the following:

Side A:
The Power Of Love (Extended Version)

Side B:
The World Is My Oyster (Scrapped)
Holier Than Thou (The First)
The World Is My Oyster (Trapped)
Holier Than Thou (The Second)
The Power Of Love (Instrumental)

Yup, I dislike this song. I'm sure it has been used in countless weddings.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Welcome To The Pleasuredome (1984)

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I remember the first time I heard Relax (Come Fighting). I wondered what the big deal was and why the BBC would ban such an innocuous-sounding song. I guess I didn't understand what the song was about. I learned subsequently that the focus of the song was homosexual sex, still controversial back then. How narrow-minded humans are. Had I seen the video, I probably would have made the connection.

I wrote off Relax almost immediately, mentally placing it in the mindless stream of horrible top 40 garbage. Later, I heard the extended mix of Two Tribes (For The Victims Of Ravishment), and I felt that this was a much better song. I still think it's an admirable political song.

Upon hearing the album in its entirety, I noted a few interesting elements, but discounted the mediocre attempt to cover Springsteen. The Frankie cover of Born to Run is the very definition of mediocrity. It's a boring run through that seems to not have benefited from any real planning or execution. But, even that song is much better than the appalling Power of Love. I have nothing positive to say about that track.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Peter Frampton: I'm In You (1977)

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"It was almost inevitable that I'm in You would be thought of as a letdown no matter now good it was." Allmusic

Frampton called in a host of guest musicians for his followup to Frampton Comes Alive. Joining Frampton are Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, and others. I have to agree with Allmusic in its assessment that nothing he released after the live album would be good enough. Nothing could live up to expectations. I think other artists have felt the same pressure after releasing a major commercial success. So, while the record may be pretty good, the fans were disappointed. Fans are fickle and stupid.

I'm not a really big Frampton fan. I think that the live album is a curious record and I think I have hung onto it out of nostalgia. I'm in You is pretty good for what it is, but it's not my scene. Oh, and I don't like the album cover at all.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Peter Frampton: Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)

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Frampton Comes Alive! is probably the most famous live recording of all time. It is also the biggest selling live record of all time. If you have ever listened to any classic rock radio stations, you will know at least three tracks: Show Me the Way, Baby, I Love Your Way, and Do You Feel Like We Do. I'm sure that lots of people who own this record have never heard Frampton's former band, Humble Pie. That's OK with me. Nobody can know everything.

This record reminds me of Cheap Trick at Budokan. Both Cheap Trick and Frampton gained huge commercial success on the basis of live records. That seems like something that would not likely happen today. In my opinion, this is not the best live record ever made, not by a long shot.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

John Foxx: In Mysterious Ways (1985)

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In Mysterious Ways was the final LP from Foxx for a decade or so. It's also, in my humble opinion, not quite up to his usual standards. Having said that, I still like it. I have a UK copy because it was never released in Canada.

Monday, February 15, 2016

John Foxx: Endlesly (1983)

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This is a UK 12" single featuring Endlessly and A Kind of Wave. The following video is the original LP version.

Friday, February 12, 2016

John Foxx: The Golden Section (1983)

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"...the third solo album by John Foxx focused on fusing the experimental fringe of synth pop with a melodic preoccupation that almost put him into crossover territory." - Allmusic [source]

I'd have to agree. In truth, I prefer the earlier LPs, though this is still good. But compared with his efforts, this doesn't really excite me as much. Don't get me wrong, though, this is great music.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

John Foxx: The Garden (1981)

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For some reason, John Foxx's records are somewhat unheralded. They slipped under the radar, which is too bad. This album has some terrific tracks, like Europe After the Rain and others. It's a really great 80s synth outing, with some really great guitar parts as well. Most of the record works for me and I can recommend it.

This record was released domestically in Canada, but with a different cover. I'll never understand why record companies (and book publishers) do this.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

John Foxx: John Foxx (1981)

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This self-titled LP is a 1981 compilation of tracks taken from a few sources. I guess this was an effort to bring Canadians into the fold because the only country that released this record (or cassette) was Canada. I suppose you could call it an apology for forcing us to pay a premium for import copies of Metamatic. Four tracks are taken from Metamatic, and I am not sure of the provenance of the other tracks, but some are b-sides. I haven't bothered to figure it out. It's a good introduction to his music.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

John Foxx: Metamatic (1980)

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Before Ultravox! (later, just Ultravox) became a vehicle for Midge Ure, the group was fronted by John Foxx. With Ure, there was a noticeable change of direction. I prefer the pre-Ure Ultravox, but that is a story for much later.

Foxx's music is synthesizer-based, electronic post-rock with a bit of punk thrown in. It's no secret that Gary Numan was heavily influenced by Foxx's music, though Gary seemed to throw a bit more melody, or maybe just more warmth, into his music. This, also, is a story for much later.

This record sports a fabulous cover image with tracks that are equally engaging, though some might think the music cold and unforgiving or perhaps just simply too robotic. For me, these are points to be placed in the plus column. This is a perfect description:

"On Metamatic, Foxx cultivates a curious air of disinterest that never seems truly bored, but is much more extreme than even his unarguably distant vocal style for Ultravox! It holds up as one of the peaks of the early-'80s fascination with emotionless, Kraftwerk-inspired synth pop."

I own the original UK pressing of this record, because it was never released in Canada on any format. How stupid are Canadian record companies? The record has a really good cover image too.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Foreigner: Head Games (1979)

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This is another Foreigner record from my youth with two tracks that are very well known in classic rock circles: Head Games and Dirty White Boy. It's probably equal to the previous efforts. I used to own a copy of Foreigner 4 on vinyl, but I was forced to sell it because it sucked. It's a lesser record in so many ways.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Foreigner: Double Vision (1978)

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This record is another item from my youth. If I were out shopping for records today, I would not buy it, or any other Foreigner record, even if they were $1. I can still appreciate some of their songs, but the band simply does not hold my attention, other than in the arena of nostalgia. Two tracks are very well known: Double Vision and Hot Blooded. These tracks stand up today as classic rock standards, I suppose.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Foghat: Foghat (1972)

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This is a US pressing of Foghat's debut record. I wouldn't call myself a fan, and I am not sure where I got this record, but I do like some blues-rock, and some of these songs--a mix of covers and originals--are quite good. I suppose this record has more cache among the classic rock set, but since I have only really ever been half in that camp, this is not a required item for my collection. In fact, I might be one to put on the sale block one day. I could probably get a couple of bucks for it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

FM: Tonight (1987)

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Any lingering question as to the direction that FM was taking in the mid to late 80s was put to rest with this record. The band even covered a Beach Boys tune. The lead-off track--Magic (in Your Eyes)--is a finely-crafted pop song. I can't really complain, but the rest of the record does not fair so well. Dream Girl and She Does What She Wants are insipid. I miss the early prog-jazz-space influences. I probably bought this because I had everything else the band had recorded, so why not?

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

FM: Con-Test (1985)

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Con-Test features the return of Nash the Slash to FM. Nash's solo career stalled after 1984, so I guess his return makes some sense. Instead of returning to the sound of the early years with Nash, the band forges ahead into really commercial territory.

The video for Just Like You is interesting in that you can hear Phasors on Stun on the car radio before Just like You commences. However, that's as much looking backwards as we get, because this is really a commercial record, and it is no where near as good as the previous FM releases or Nash the Slash's solo records. I would say that there are some OK pop songs om this record, but that's really not what I want from an FM record.

I remember paying about $1 for this record.

Monday, February 01, 2016

FM: City of Fear (1980)

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I suppose City of Fear could be regarded as a transitional album, though that is probably something that is easier to say in hindsight. After all, there was a five year gap following the release of this record. Yet, there is an undeniable move towards a more pop sound. It's not too bad, yet I can't help comparing it with the earlier stuff, which is probably not wise. Still, I guess you could say that this record marks the end of the great FM period.