Thursday, March 31, 2016
Selling England by the Pound is, without question, my favourite Genesis record. Perhaps it was the album I knew first? I'm really not sure if I can remember what Genesis records I first heard. It was all so long ago. Anyway, this album really spoke to me, and it has remained a favourite.
Once again, Phil Collins takes over on lead vocals on one song. This time, it's More Fool Me.
I am not really sure that we should concern ourselves about reviews, but it is worth noting that some reviewers didn't get this record either. What else is new?
So, here is what is probably my favourite Genesis song, though I readily admit I have no idea what it means.:
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Oddly, Live could well be the best thing Genesis released to this point. If you don't believe me, read the review from Allmusic, which is overflowing with love for the record. The LP contains only five tracks: Watcher of the Skies, Get 'Em Out by Friday, The Return of the Giant Hogweed, Musical Box, and The Knife.
That's all you need to know. Here is the entire record:
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
This is either the third or fourth Genesis record, depending on whether or not you count From Genesis to Revelation as a real record, and some don't. The record continues to demonstrate the maturation of the band's musical vision. The centrepiece is the sprawling Supper's Ready, which takes almost the whole of side two.
"Certainly, they've rarely sounded as fantastical or odd as they do on the epic 22-minute closer "Supper's Ready," a nearly side-long suite that remains one of the group's signature moments. It ebbs, flows, teases, and taunts, see-sawing between coiled instrumental attacks and delicate pastoral fairy tales." [source]
And then there's this praise, from the same source: "This is the rare art-rock album that excels at both the art and the rock, and it's a pinnacle of the genre (and decade) because of it." That sounds like high praise.
I'll include a live clip below, just to show Peter Gabriel's elaborate costumes and theatrical performances, which might make one think of David Bowie. It's a great record, but if you are a fan, you already know that.
Monday, March 28, 2016
In my humble opinion, Nursery Cryme is the first truly great Genesis record from the classic period. It arrived with a new lineup, which now included Steve Hackett and Phil Collins, who joined the remaining members, Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford. This lineup produced some of my favourite Genesis records.
The album opens with The Musical Box, a 10+ minute epic that heralded the new Genesis sound and vision. The record announced that the band had finally found its sound. Of course, there were naysayers, those that didn't understand what the band was doing. But, Wikipedia notes--as is so often the case--that reviews in hindsight have been more positive, proof that reviewers often have no idea what they are talking about and sometimes fail to see and comprehend new musical ideas.
In a foreshadowing, of sorts, Phil Collins sings lead vocals on For Absent Friends.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Michael Rutherford, and Anthony Phillips, all return (with the addition of John Mayhew on drums) for record number two, which is really the band's first foray into progressive (prog) rock. I think it's fair to say that this is the band's first proper record. You might say that it's the first Genesis record as a real band. It's clearly a definite change in direction. Anthony Phillips left after this record.
There are lots of prog haters out there. I like a small number of prog bands, but I wouldn't say that I am "into" prog music by any means. Some prog sounds OK to me and some of it sounds ponderous. Rather than attempting to define the genre myself, I will turn to Wikipedia:
"Progressive rock sometimes abandons the danceable beat that defines earlier rock styles and is more likely to experiment with compositional structure, instrumentation, harmony, rhythm, and lyrical content. It may demand more effort on the part of the listener than other types of music. Musicians in progressive rock typically display a high degree of instrumental skill. Musical forms are blurred through the use of extended sections and of musical interludes that bridge separate sections, which results in classical-style suites. Early progressive rock groups expanded the timbral palette of the then-traditional rock instrumentation by adding instruments more typical of folk, jazz, or music in the classical tradition. A number of bands, especially at the genre's onset, recorded albums in which they performed with full orchestras. Progressive rock artists are more likely to explore complex time signatures such as 5/8 and 7/8. Tempo, key, and time signature changes are common within progressive rock compositions." [source]
Notable prog rock acts include Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes, King Crimson, Marillion, though I'm really not sure that Pink Floyd belongs in this list. I always viewed Floyd as more psychedelic.
In any case, Trespass shows where Genesis was going, and that may be the only reason to listen to it. As a fan, though, I like this album, but not as much as what came later. The best song, for me, is The Knife.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
This record has been released so many times and on so many labels, it's hard to keep track. The first release on Decca in 1969 is a valuable record. But, there are dozens of releases on vinyl that are easily found and far cheaper. So, take your pick.
The lineup for this version of Genesis was Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, and Anthony Phillips, with Chris Stewart joining later on drums. He was later replaced by John Silver, who was later replaced by John Mayhew. Note, that Phil Collins and Steve Hackett joined the band later.
The liner notes describe how the band could not be called Genesis because there was an American band with that name. If you read the Wikipedia entry, there are lots of details about the record, like who owns the rights, etc. This album was not included in the 1970-1975 box set. That's curious, but probably has a lot to say about how the band felt about the record. It was not a commercial success by any means and it is not representative of the Genesis sound we know.
It's worth noting that the songs are not the prog pieces that Genesis became known for in the 1970s. These tracks are more straight forward, albeit tracks with some pretensions. I think all of the members were still in their teens, so this was really probably more of a learning experience for them.
I didn't own a copy of this record on vinyl until recently, when I saw the limited edition (1500 copies) 180 gram version from 2014 at a huge discount, so I think I paid about $10.
I would say that unless you are a rabid Genesis fan, there is no need to own this record. The band hit its stride a little later on. Still, it is interesting to hear what they were doing in the very late 60s.
Sorry for the terrible photo. I didn't want to remove the shrink wrap, so the reflection from the overhead light is a killer.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Allmusic's review of the record is so unbelievably mean-spirited. The critic writes:
"Continuing All the Rage's trend towards slick pop production, but finally tipping over into bland anonymity, the album makes absolutely no musical impression even after several listens. Even worse, the songs are a uniformly dire lot, replacing the reggae and Brit-pop influences with newfound interests in American R&B and chart pop. Even the few moderately catchy songs are flawed; the gospel-influenced single "Come Again" moves along cheerfully enough until an absurdly over-emphasized "boop boop!" shout in the chorus makes the whole thing sound simply ridiculous."[source]
I agree that the record is mediocre, but it doesn't live up to that terrible review.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
After the dissolution of The Beat (AKA, the English Beat or the British Beat), Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger formed the more pop-oriented General Public with an ex-Specials member, plus a former member of Dexy's Midnight Runners. Oddly, Mick Jones, formerly of The Clash, appears on many tracks, but departed to create Big Audio Dynamite. The liner notes say: "Mick Jones on loan from Real Westway and appears courtesy of CBS Records." Imagine being able to loan or borrow people. I have a long list of people I would love to borrow.
The band is OK, but not quite as good as The Beat. Still, they managed to produce a big hit with Tenderness. Roger's hairstyle didn't really catch on.
Monday, March 21, 2016
The Motion Of Love was probably the most recognizable track from The House of Dolls. The band had shifted clearly from goth (whatever that really means) to some sort of more straight ahead rock sound. The Motion Of Love is a pretty good track.
This "deluxe 2 disc 12" single for the price of 1 twelve inch single" has these track:
The Motion Of Love (Jezebel Mix)
A Fresh Slice
Vagabond (A New Adventure)
Some comments of youtube give me pause. Regarding this tune, someone actually wrote: "Best song ever." That person has clearly missed a lot. I could name hundreds of songs that are better.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
I saw Gene Loves Jezebel in concert ages ago. They opened for Echo and the Bunnymen or maybe the Cure or maybe it was New Order. I cannot remember which it was. I remember very little about their set.
If you were to describe this band, you would have to use the term goth, though I often feel that the term goth has more to do with the look of the band rather than the sound. I am not sure how helpful it is. Discover is probably the band's most notable record, because of the track Desire (Come and Get It).
After reading the review on Allmusic, I am tempted to put this record on the turntable, maybe just to see if I missed something. They write:
"This was GLJ at it's best, as the band came together in a perfect wedding of all parties, sounds, and styles. Stadium guitar, Bauhausian experimentation, pop, and goth all combined to make a truly unforgettable album." [source]
It seems overwritten to me, or maybe I wasn't paying enough attention to the band.
Friday, March 18, 2016
This Art Garfunkel record contains a mini Simon and Garfunkel reunion, in the track called My Little Town, which was written by Paul Simon. This track also appears on Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years.
Again, none of these songs sere composed by Garfunkel. I think I should add this to the pile of records I might purge. Records take up a lot of space, and I need to make sure I have space for the ones I really want. It's likely I will dump this one.
"If Simon & Garfunkel had been the thinking man's Everly Brothers, Garfunkel alone turned out to be the thinking man's Johnny Mathis." [source]
I can't pretend that I understand what this means, but it sounds good.
Garfunkel, otherwise known as Art Garfunkel was, of course, the other half of Simon and Garfunkel. Garfunkel's strength has always been as a vocalist, not as a songwriter. On this--his debut--he wrote no songs, which is odd, because the man is also a poet, or so I have read. So, for this record, he compiled a bunch of tracks and sang them. In truth, the songs are not too bad.
If you do a Google search for Art Garfunkel, one of the suggested searches is: art garfunkel death. As far as I know, he is still alive.
I should probably get rid of this one.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
I can hear the distant thunder of a million unheard souls
- Blood of Eden, Peter Gabriel
This is a double LP containing the previously-released Scratch My Back from 2010 and And I'll Scratch Yours from 2013. This LP came with bonus CDs containing all of the songs from the record. It's well known that some of the artists that Gabriel covered on Scratch My Back did not reciprocate, so other artists had to be recruited to fill in the gaps on And I'll Scratch Yours. If you have heard New Blood, then Gabriel's arrangements of the tracks he covers will not surprise you at all. They are very similar, using orchestra and vocals. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I do like his versions, for the most part.
But, before I get to that, I have to say that I am miffed. Now, this record normally sells for $30+. I have seen new copies for $45, or so. I was lucky enough to find a new sealed copy for $9.99, a deal that I could not refuse. I am willing to let the folded inner sleeve go without too much of a complaint. That happens. But, one of the labels on one of the records was adhered incorrectly in an off-centre position. This means that one has to lift the stylus at the end of the side before it careens across the paper label. I have found "Inspected by" labels in records in days gone by. What ever happened to quality control?
I should also mention that I do have some vintage records with the same issue, but they could easily be replaced for a few dollars. My copy was a final sale, so I couldn't take it back. I suppose this is a good enough reason to always open your records after you buy them. Some people have what they consider to be expensive records and they leave them sealed, but you never know if the record inside is in good shape or even the right record.
Another double LP in my collection has an irritating error. Record one and record two have the same inner sleeve. Fortunately, the set contains the correct records, but the proper inner sleeve for record two is missing, and so are the lyrics and any notes. That was also irritating, and I lost the receipt. This also reminds me of a John Cale CD that I own. When I bought Seducing Down the Door, it had two copies of disc one and no copy of disc two. I was able to get that replaced.
Anyway, back to this double LP. The worst track on this record is Randy Newman's take on Big Time. This song is a massive disaster. It sucks so badly, it's genuinely impossible to listen to it. It's a clinic of how not to sing a song. Hell, I am no singer, but I could seriously do a better job. I was unable to find this song on Youtube, so maybe he came to his senses and is trying to purge it from the internets.
On the other hand, Lou Reed's version of Solsbury Hill is a triumph. However, some of the cover versions are so faithful, I wondered why they bothered. We really don't need Paul Simon phoning in a boring version of Biko. Feist's version of Don't Give Up is almost good. There are a few surprises, like Joseph Arthur's version of Shock the Monkey and Stephin Merritt's Not One of Us. I have to say that Arcade Fire's interpretation of Games Without Frontiers is pedestrian.
On the Peter Gabriel side, I think he did a good job overall, but I didn't hear anything that was mind bending. Still, this is something every Gabriel fan should own.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Only one word can describe this record (two records, really), and that word is beautiful. Well, I suppose we could add haunting, mysterious, moving, evocative, poignant, moody, and dramatic. As the subtitle suggests, the music is from the score to Scorsese's Passion, a movie I have never seen.
Allmusic makes the following statement:
"..inspired by field recordings collected in areas as diverse as Turkey, Senegal, and Egypt, Passion achieves a cumulative effect clearly Middle Eastern in origin, yet its brilliant fusion of ancient and modern musics ultimately transcends both geography and time."
Some people will read this as cultural appropriation. Gabriel has always been a huge supporter of world music, so I will have to disagree. He founded WOMAD. His label has released lots of world music (just browse the artists section at his record label). He also released a companion CD to this called Passion - Sources. Any charge of cultural appropriation is simply nonsense. If anything, Gabriel brought a wider audience to world music and he hired musicians from other parts of the world. But, I eat ethnic food and have done some yoga, so maybe I am simply an appropriator.
I think you would have to pay $30 to $40 for an original copy of this record.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
The record company calls this a maxi-single; I call it a 12" single. Maxi reminds me of feminine hygiene products. Side A contains Red Rain. Side B has an instrumental of I Go Swimming, entitled GA-GA and Walk Through Fire.
When this record appeared, I told anyone who would listen that I thought that So was the worst thing Peter Gabriel ever put on vinyl. I got some curious looks and some backtalk, mostly from people who only knew Shock the Monkey or had heard him for the first time on Sledgehammer. I take some consolation in the knowledge that one person agreed with me, and he is someone who shared similar musical tastes. In hindsight, nostalgia has tempered my view somewhat. Maybe I was distressed over the musical changes. After all, Allmusic called this record "the catchiest, happiest record he ever cut." Peter Gabriel is not supposed to be happy.
In any case, on first listen, I was appalled by Big Time and Sledgehammer, though I admired his videos from that era. On the positive side, I have always liked the tracks We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37) and This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds). However, as much as I like Kate Bush, I have never liked Don't Give Up and I have always disliked In Your Eyes.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Some friends and decided to see Birdy because we knew that Peter Gabriel did the soundtrack. I think I paid more attention to the music than to the film, but I do remember that the film was enjoyable. A good portion of the pieces on the soundtrack are based on sounds found on Security. Because I love Rhythm of the Heat so much, I thoroughly enjoy The Heat.
Friday, March 11, 2016
Sadly, I have never seen Peter Gabriel in concert. That, as I think I have mentioned before, is a problem if you live in a small town far from a big city. So, this record had to fill in for a real concert experience. In the mid-90s, he released Secret World Live, which I have on CD and DVD.
Gabriel is obviously a perfectionist in the studio and on stage. On Plays Live, he admits that he fixed some of the recordings after the fact. I guess I can forgive him for that. At least he was honest about it:
"Although this album was compiled from four concerts in the mid-West of the United States, some additional recording took place not a thousand miles away from the home of the artist. The generic term of this process is 'cheating'. Care has been taken to keep the essence of the gigs intact, including 'human imperfection'."
When I listen to this record, one of the things that occurs to me is the wish that I could have been there. And, as I recall, that's pretty much what Rolling Stone (I think) said about it when they reviewed this record ages ago. The reviewer said something like it's too bad we can't see the concert. I wonder if Gabriel still wears makeup in concert?
I also have to say that have never liked I Go Swimming. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that certain radio stations never tired of playing it.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
I call it a 12" single, but the record company calls this a maxi-single. Whatever. Side B has a track called Soft Dog. That tune sounds like vintage Gabriel, but I think I can see why it was never put on an LP, though I do like it.
Although I said that I grew very tired of the song Shock the Monkey, from overplay on the radio, I never tired of the video. It's a really good video, and the start of a string of interesting Gabriel videos.
On original pressings of this record, the title Security appeared only on the label on the record and not anywhere on the jacket. This is true of my Canadian pressing. I think I remember Gabriel being upset that the title Security was promoted to the jacket on later releases and on the CD release. I suppose the record company couldn't stand the idea of four albums all being called Peter Gabriel.
I think it's fair to say that Peter Gabriel attracted a whole new cadre of fans with this record, mostly because of the track, Shock the Monkey. I, too, like that song, but it was nearly ruined for me from overexposure. I feel the same way about a handful of other songs, most notably Our House by Madness and UB40's cover of Red Red Wine.
What is really perplexing to me is Allmusic's rating for his record. They give 4.5 or 5 for each of his first three records, while this one gets only three stars. That is seriously delusional. This record is equal to or better than some (at least some) of the first three records. Perhaps I have a biased position, because Rhythm of the Heat is my favourite Peter Gabriel track. It's truly awe inspiring. The second track, San Jacinto is a track I have always admired, but I have to say the New Blood version of that song is so emotionally powerful, it blows the original away. The rest of the tracks are all excellent, so I would rate this as a five star record, along with PG1 and PG3.
So, Allmusic gives it 3 out of 5 and then calls it "one of the better records in Gabriel's catalog..." Confused much?
Wednesday, March 09, 2016
This is a limited edition Canadian 12" single containing 4 tracks:
I Don't Remember
Biko (Remixed Version)
Jetzt Kommt Die Flut (Here Comes The Flood)
Some people might be aware that Gabriel recorded two records (3 and 4) with German vocals.
Adolf builds a bonfire...
Perhaps this should now say "Donald Drumpf builds a bonfire."
Sometimes, I think this record is Peter Gabriel's finest work, certainly one of his best three LPs. It contains one of Gabriel's best known songs, Games Without Frontiers. Wikipedia says: "The song's lyrics are interpreted as a commentary on war and international diplomacy being like children's games." I'm tempted to paste in the whole Allmusic commentary on the song, which is longer and more interesting, but why don't you just read it yourself?
Kate Bush contributes vocals on this track. And, by the way, the refrain is "Jeux sans frontieres" not "she's so popular."
The record begins with the sinister Intruder, a song that has a palpable sense of tension. There are lots of great songs, but perhaps the track that proved to be the most enduring is Biko. I think it's fair to say that without that song, far fewer people would have heard about Stephen Biko. I had never heard of him until I bought this record.
Tuesday, March 08, 2016
For the second Peter Gabriel record, Robert Fripp (guitarist of the legendary King Crimson) moved up from his role on the first record, where he played electric guitar, classical guitar, and banjo, to take on the role of producer. Robert Fripp fans will, of course, recognize the track Exposure from Fripp's album of the same name. It features the same Frippertronics that Fripp himself would use, though the words were sung by Daryl Hall on Fripp's version.
This is a record that I never really got into at the time. I felt it to be a big disappointment, once you got past the awesome one-two punch of the opening two tracks. But, I think that the years have been kind to this record, and even the weak spots sound better now.
I'd say that this record is uneven, and not as good as the first record or those that followed, but for Peter Gabriel fans, it's a must-have.
Monday, March 07, 2016
I am confident that the first Peter Gabriel song I ever heard was Solsbury Hill. It was some years after I heard this record that I realized that Peter had been a member, and lead singer, of Genesis, and it was sometime after that when I finally figured out what the song Solsbury Hill was about. I am too young to have known too much about Genesis at that time, and I cannot remember when I first heard any songs by that band, though I imagine that it was probably a more contemporary track, but I could be wrong.
It's always difficult to choose favourite records, but there are times when I think it's this one. But, I am not sure. Perhaps I should say that the first Peter Gabriel album is one my favourite Peter Gabriel albums. Right from the bizarre opening song -- Moribund the Burgermeister -- to the epic, anthemic Here comes the Flood, this album captured my attention. In between, we have Modern Love, Excuse me, and a varied selection of tunes with different moods and styles.
Now that I am fully versed in Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, it seems odd that Peter recorded relatively short, straight-ahead pop songs, rather than the sprawling progressive pieces written by Genesis. I guess he was looking for a change. Or, if you are familiar with From Genesis to Revelation, perhaps this direction can be interpreted as a return to basics.
If I can believe what I have read, Gabriel wrote this song about his decision to leave Genesis:
To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Though my life was in a rut
Till I thought of what I'd say
And which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
When illusion spin her net
I'm never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
So I will show another me
Today I don't need a replacement
By the way, since I recently discussed my Robert Fripp records, it is worth noting that Fripp played guitar and banjo on this record. Tony Levin, who spent time with King Crimson, also appears. This is a truly fascinating record.
Friday, March 04, 2016
The story of BB Gabor is a tragic one. His career seemed to start off well enough, with this debut LP, which got quite a lot of airplay back in the day. The two biggest tracks were Metropolitan Life and Soviet Jewellery. His follow-up record from 1981, which I have never heard, tanked, apparently. In 1990, Gabor committed suicide in his Toronto apartment. That's a sad end.
Thursday, March 03, 2016
The Wong People contains Furniture's biggest hit -- Brilliant Mind -- though I suspect that most people have never heard it, which is too bad. I especially like the extended mix. I think it is true to state that the band had a very loyal following. The band was active from 1979 to 1991, but I lost track of them after this record came out.
This record was only released on vinyl in the UK (my copy), Belgium, and France. It was also released on cassette and CD in the UK.
For some bizarre reason, this 12" single is worth a bit of cash. There are 7 copies currently for sale on Discogs, with the lowest priced copy listed at $43.75 and the highest priced copy topping out at €101.20, which is more than $147 Canadian! I can't figure this out. And, if that's not enough, recent sales on Discogs are:
I really don't know why this record is worth so much money. Maybe there aren't very many copies around? In any case, I did well on this one, because I am sure that I paid $1 for my copy.
This band was around from 1979 to 1991 and is best known for Brilliant Mind, which is a really great song. This 12" has four tracks:
I Can't Crack
I Can't Crack (Broken Mix)
Wednesday, March 02, 2016
"At least in dying you don't have to deal with new wave for a second time."
- Multitude of Casualties, The Hold Steady
I happen to like New Wave. After all, if you grow up listening to a certain genre, it's something that tends to stay with you as you age. That might explain why certain people can't get into modern music. Their tastes have hardened.
Terry Hall, formerly of The Specials (and subsequently of The Colourfield) created Fun Boy Three with a couple of other guys from The Specials. So, the three core members of Fun Boy Three all spent some time with The Specials. The band's only really big hit single was Our Lips are Sealed, which appears on this record. This song was co-written by Terry Hall and Jane Wiedlin of the The Go-Go's (there's no need for an apostrophe here) who recorded the track first.
Waiting was produced by David Byrne of Talking Heads. Another interesting thing to note is that Fun Boy Three brought Bananarama to the world. The three ladies in that band provided some backing vocals for the band. I am not a fan of the Go-Go's or of Bananarama. But, there is something interesting about Fun Boy Three.
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Crafty is more than just a clever name. Guitar Craft was a series of courses designed by Robert Fripp to enhance guitar skills. I have a friend who attended a course, and he gave me a triangular guitar craft pick, which I still have. There is a brief article about guitar craft at Wikipedia.
I was lucky enough to see Robert Fripp And The League Of Crafty Guitarists on this tour. The only thing that irked me was the photography police. I did not have a camera with me during this concert, but I was sitting close to a guy who had taken some photos. After the show, he was beset upon by Fripp's anti-photography police force who demanded that he turn over the film. (I think the chap was using one of those god-awful disc cameras). The security force gave him a hard time, and I am not sure what the outcome was, because we left during the fracas. I would have been belligerent and would have refused to cooperate. There were no signs warning against photography. In fact, in this outdoor venue, where I have seen countless concerts, photography seemed to be a matter of course. It seemed that Fripp and his minions were out-of-touch with the local practice at this venue.
Fripp does have a reputation when it comes to photos. He has notoriously ended concerts prematurely because someone used a camera. I am not sure if it is the flash or the act itself, but he really doesn't like it. I have sympathy with part of his view. I hate being at a concert where everyone thinks it's fine to record video instead of watching the show, and I think flash photography would be irritating to the performer. But, his attitude to the act is a little overboard considering that these are his fans who paid money to see him perform.
I think this record is really great.