Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Guess Who: Rockin' (1972)

I think this is a rather mediocre record, but parts of it sound good. I don't mind Heartbroken Bopper. The rest leaves me cold. The Guess Who had lost it by now, I think. It was all down hill after American Woman.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Guess Who: American Woman (1970)

This album is best known for the title track, one of the band's biggest hits. By the way, although I like Lenny Kravitz, I dislike his cover version intensely. This record also contains a reworking of No Time. Most people will know the remade version rather than the original. The other very well known track is No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature. I am not up on my Guess Who trivia, but I think Randy Bachman left after this record. I think this LP is probably the best thing the band ever did.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Grinderman: Grinderman 2 RMX (2012)

This is a remix of the second Grinderman record, and it features an interesting cast of characters, like Robert Fripp, for example. I like it, and it you like Grinderman, you will like it too. I paid $9.99 for this one :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Grinderman: Evil (2011)

Grinderman is Nick Cave's strange side project, which features three other dudes from the Bad Seeds. Evil is a 12" single on red and silver glittery vinyl that comes with a CD single containing all four mixes of Evil. Some describe this as blues-rock, which might be correct.

The 12" single was a limited edition RSD release from 2011. I love the track, but it is odd listening to all four mixes in succession.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Eddy Grant: Going for Broke (1984)

This record features what is probably Grant's second most well known track, Romancing the Stone, used in the movie of the same name. I did see that movie, but it was so long ago, I forget everything about it. I'm not convinced that I like this album, but I do like Reggae, so I should listen to it again.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Green on Red: The Killer Inside Me (1987)

This record borrows its title from the novel by Jim Thompson. I have read that novel. How about that? I simply cannot remember the last time I heard this record. I'm having a hard time remembering what it is all about. My sense is that it's OK, but I haven't listened to it for a very long time. I should really give this one a spin.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Green On Red: Gas Food Lodging (1985)

Green on Red was a psych band, echoing sounds of the 60s, before morphing into alt-country act. By the time this record was released, the band was on its way to a country Americana sound. I think this is a pretty good record, though I haven't listened to it in ages. It's not a record I find myself coming back to, so maybe it's time to let it go.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Grateful Dead: Anthem Of The Sun (1968)

Although originally released in 1968, I have a 180 gram US Rhino Records repressing from 2011. This release uses the 1968 mix, which is important, because as I understand it, there were later mixes that sound quite different, and the 1968 mix was last used in 1972. I probably have never heard the later mixes, so I have nothing to say about that.

Of course, what one wants to see on a new pressing is something like this, which is taken from the hype sticker on the plastic wrap of this release:

"LPs cut from the original analog masters.
Packages replicated to the finest detail.
Manufactured with more care than ever."

On that note, I read that the recent David Bowie repressings were taken from a digital source. It's well known that some modern pressing use a CD as the master. That's nuts. I realize that tape is fragile, and that maybe some digital preservation of mastering might be needed, but using a CD doesn't make sense to me.

I am not a big fan of The Dead. I don't really know that much about them, but I saw this for $9 (brand new, still wrapped in plastic) and I just could not pass it up. It's a really interesting record as it mixes live material with studio material.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Grandmaster Flash: They Said it Couldn't Be Done (1985)

They Said it Couldn't Be Done is a disappointing record. There are much better Grandmaster Flash records. I have the first US pressing. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Grand Duchy, The Gloom Prophet: Let The Prophet Speak: Nine Remixes By The Gloom Prophet Based On Songs From The Album Let The People Speak By Grand Duchy (2012)

So, this record has a Pixies/Frank Black tie-in. Grand Duchy is Frank Black and his wife, Violet Clark. This album is a remix album of the second Grand Duchy record from The Gloom Prophet, otherwise known as Britt Thomas Brady. To be honest, I do not know very much about The Gloom Prophet or Grand Duchy, but if the name Frank Black is on something, I'm generally in.

The description that was released with the record is as follows:

"Let The Prophet Speak is a 12'' limited edition LP of remixes by the Gloom Prophet from Grand Duchy's new album Let The People Speak, due out April 10. Gloom Prophet, a self-proclaimed 'sound designer', specializes in rich textures and soundscapes laid atop groove-laden, post-dubstep beats. Although tracks from Let The People Speak were remixed by a handful of artists all over the world, the Gloom Prophet's remixes have taken these tracks out of this world and back. The familiar voices of Violet Clark and Frank Black, along with his signature howling telecaster riffs have been remixed and warped into another universe. An absolute must for any fan of Grand Duchy, Frank Black or experimental electronic and dubstep."

I think that this is a limited edition, but I am not certain.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Gowan: Strange Animal (1985)

Strange Animal is the only Gowan record I have heard in full. I have heard some of his other tracks, here and there. In truth, I was never a huge fan, but it would have been impossible to make it through 1985 in Canada and not have been exposed to his music. I recall that some friends hated his voice. It did remind me somewhat of Jon Anderson, at times and so it is probably an acquired taste.

A bunch of singles were released from this record, including the two most famous, Strange Animal and Criminal Mind. For me, the most interesting thing about this record is the fact that a big portion of Peter Gabriel's band appears on this record, those members being Jerry Marotta, Tony Levin, and David Rhodes. The band sounds really tight.

I would say that this record is very well recorded and catchy, but I am no sure it has endured. Bizarrely, Gowan ended up as the new lead singer for Styx, starting in 1999. I still can't get used to that. I have checked out some stuff on youtube, and I guess it makes some sense. There is no question that Gowan is an accomplished musician. Still, it just seems weird. I even heard that the band plays Criminal Mind in concert.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Government: How Many FIngers?

How Many Fingers?, a four-track EP, was the final release from the band. It contains:

How Many Fingers?
Plaza Del Pimps
Paranoid Downtown Funk Pt.2

The band had a new drummer for this record. I'd say that they lost their way a bit here, but I still love this record.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Government: Guest List (1980)

I love this LP. It holds a treasured space in my memory of certain days way back when. For some reason, this record was very well known in parts of my residence during my undergraduate degree. The first time I heard a few tracks, I raced out to the nearest record store and found a copy, along with some other releases from this band. It's a weird record, but very interesting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Government: Electric Eye (1979)

This is a crazy, freaky record. I cannot describe it. In truth, I prefer Guest List and the 7" EP better, but this is unquestionably some music that challenges and it needs to be heard.

The Government had an association with the VideoCabaret theatre company, so this record is something of a soundtrack, albeit an odd one, to a video. I have no idea if the video still exists.

I was nowhere near Queen Street west during this time, so all I have are the records. I wish I had been able to see this band, I hadn't heard of them until way too late.

For more information on this record, I recommend the following brief article:


Here's an interview:
Gina Daniels interviews The Government, 1979 from Allison Collins on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Government: 33 ⅓ RPM E.P. (1979)

I know I said I wasn't going to discuss my 7" record collection, but this is one I have to include, mostly because it's an EP with 4 tracks, rather than the usual 2 tracks. I do have other 7" records like this. The other odd thing is that it plays at 33 ⅓ rather than the usual 45 RPM for small records.

I'd call this a punk band, though some have seen fit to use the term post-punk. Either will do. Just don't call them a new wave band. It's almost impossible to describe the music on this record, so I'm going to insist that you listen to the youtube content, below. All I can say is that it's awesome. My copy is a minty fresh piece of vinyl. I recently saw a used copy on the shelf of a local record store with a $30 price tag attached to it. I know I paid about $5.

Side A:

Flat Tire
Get You Sleepin'

Side B:

Zippers of Fire

Wikipedia has a brief entry for Andy Paterson, the lead singer of the band. He also has a website.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress (2015)

After a three year break, Godspeed came back with this relatively short album, by GYBE standards.

Evidently, a double-sided poster was included with some pressings, but not mine. This record contains 4 tracks:

1. "Peasantry or 'Light! Inside of Light!'" 10:28
2. "Lambs' Breath" 9:52
3. "Asunder, Sweet" 6:13
4. "Piss Crowns Are Trebled" 13:50

I think the Allmusic critic is a big fan of GYBE:

"Opener "Peasantry or Light! Inside of Light!" thunders in on doom riffs, while squalling, sawing, multi-tracked violins and an army of slow, plodding guitars compete for dominance, with thudding drums -- à la Black Sabbath -- and a taut, layered bassline all playing variations on 12-bar blues but in waltz time. Short cadenzas are woven into the turnarounds, throwing things off and adding a regal element that passes for a schematic; it's almost florid maximalism, but the tension is palpable. After a stinging guitar break, Sophie Trudeau's violins introduce the next phase as Eastern and Western melodies join and soar to the top of the mix and the rest of the band's instruments, puncturing every space in order to catch her. That enormous crescendo we've become accustomed to never quite happens. The pace slows, the spaces get wider, and the opening riff eventually returns, this time with the pomp of those recombined harmonic lines woven in. "Lamb's Breath" and "Asunder Sweet" variously employ blown-out distorted basslines, piercing feedback, single guitar stabs, and sonic washes, culminating in tonal and microtonal drones forming the middle of the record. It's an extended meditation in sound, full of bleak and brooding dread and mournful spaces. Ambient textures from blasted organs and synths and guitar harmonics coalesce toward a squall of maqam violin themes grafted onto post-minimalist repetition. Combined, they create a ground floor for GY!BE to begin to erect their trademark urgent, dramatic tension that gradually announces the concluding "Piss Crowns Are Trebled." Single-string ringing guitar, prodded by open-tuned drones from keyboards and other six strings, whomping bass, and cataclysmic drumming are woven into and through one another as an uncharacteristically intricate violin melody climbs toward the transcendent border of no return. Everything swirls in cacophonous, ever repeating, four-beat drones; only Trudeau's violins offer variation in a frenzied, harmonic counterpoint. There is nowhere left for the music to go; even scaling back the swell of instruments doesn't succeed in relieving the tension or stop the frenetic energy; the music has entered oblivion; shelter from the storm is only unnecessary because it is impossible." [source]

I should add that I love this record. I should also add that GYBE make really fine album covers.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: 'Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend (2012)

It took 10 years, but the band finally put out another record. Allelujah! You can call it a comeback. The record even won the 2013 Polaris Prize. The reviews, as I recall, were good, so my faith in reviewers is partially renewed.

The band toured the year prior to this release, but I did not see them. In fact, I have never see the band in concert. Maybe I never will. I really should.

This record was sold with a bonus 7" 45RPM record, but my copy lacks the 7". I noted one other complaint on Discogs about this. How do I get my 7" record? Constellation, can you send me the 7" record?

These notes were provided on Discogs: Pressed on 180-gram virgin vinyl and comes in a tipped-on heavyweight gatefold jacket printed in full-color process plus a spot metallic ink and spot matte varnish. LP dust sleeve is also 4-color print, with a center hole cut to display the record label on either side. Package includes a 7" in printed dust sleeve and a 12" x 48" poster (printed full-color on both sides) featuring a collage of film stills specially-photographed and captured from the GY!BE live 16mm projections. Godspeed You! Black Emperor is also credited as "God's Pee" on the back cover, spine, and dust sleeve.

Once again, Allmusic praised the record, and rightly so, because it is great, even though I don't have the 7" record that is supposed to come with it.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Yanqui U.X.O. (2002)

Godspeed You Black Emperor! became Godspeed You! Black Emperor on this release. I suppose it's a subtle difference. The good news is that discogs hasn't made two entries for the band, something that is entirely possible on that site, but would be dumb.

GYBE gets right to the point on the insert:

"09-15-00 is sept.15,2000 is Ariel Sharon surrounded by 1,000 Israeli soldiers marching in Al-Haram Ash-Sharif & provoking another intifada."

That's a political statement. In fact, there's lot of political references on this record, even if there are few spoken word parts. Let's start with the title. U.X.O. refers to unexploded ordinance, which is exactly what it sounds like: any type of munition that did not explode after deployment and, therefore, still poses a risk. Lots of unexploded WWII bombs have been found in London and other places. In the album footnotes, Godspeed defines U.X.O. as "unexploded ordnance is landmines is cluster bombs."

What's interesting about the album jacket is that the rear cover shows a diagram that suggests that BMG, AOL Time-Warner, Vivendi Universal, and Sony all have links to manufacturers of armaments and, by extension, American U.X.O.

And then there's this:

"Though godspeed is guilty of profiting from hateful chainstore sales, we encourage you to avoid giving money to predatory retailers and superstores. & hope still, a little resistance always maybe, stubborn tiny lights vs. clustering darkness forever ok? thankslovegodspeed

There are some differences between the vinyl and CD pressing, as explicated by a detail-oriented Wikipedia editor:

"The album was released as a CD and a double vinyl LP, the latter having three noticeable differences. One is the compounding of the two-part composition "09-15-00" (the album liner notes imply that on this date the second Palestinian intifada began, although this is incorrect) into one. Another is the addition of an untitled "hidden" track after some silence (it is masked in a similar manner with the short song "J.L.H. Outro" on the CD release of F♯A♯∞); this ulterior track consists of a sampled and cut-up George W. Bush speech with applause added (it also appears on bandmember Aidan Girt's related project 1-Speed Bike's debut album Droopy Butt Begone! (2000) in the track "The Day that Mauro Ran Over Elwy Yost", as well as on Museum Fire Records' compilation Azadi! (2003, a benefit for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) where it is titled "George Bush Cut Up While Talking"). Finally, the second section of the two-part track "Motherfucker=Redeemer" is about five minutes longer on the LP due to an extended ambient opening." [source]

Somewhat bizarrely, the Allmusic reviewer refers to the band as "Montreal politico-art/music terrorist unit." I am not sure what a music terrorist is, but it is somewhat surprising that the reviewer would have used those words so soon after 9/11. Nevertheless, the review is positive and the review concludes with this statement: "And for the record, though the critical backlash against Godspeed You! Black Emperor has already begun, this is music for a different kind of engagement; one that sets its own agenda and pushes against its own history." [source]

Even some friends became inexplicably anti-GYBE, based solely on the assessment that the band relied on a formula of soft followed by crescendo. I would call that a totally simplistic view of the band and its sound. Allmusic has a much better description of the music, noting that it "develops slowly over time and creates layers of dynamic tension that expresses itself in waves and off-kilter, shimmering flows." [source]

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Godspeed You Black Emperor!: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven (2000)

Spread over two CDs or two LPs are four pieces entitled Storm, Static, Sleep, and Antennas to Heaven.

The full track listing is:

Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas To Heaven...
Gathering Storm / Il Pleut À Mourir [+Clatters Like Worry
"Welcome To Barco AM/PM..." [L.A.X.; 5/14/00]
Cancer Towers On Holy Road Hi-Way

Terrible Canyons Of Stati
Atomic Clock.
Chart #3
World Police And Friendly Fire
[...+The Buildings They Are Sleeping Now]

Murray Ostril: "...They Don't Sleep Anymore On The Beach..."
Broken Windows, Locks Of Love Pt. III. / 3rd Part

Antennas To Heaven...
Moya Sings "Baby-O"...
[Glockenspiel Duet Recorded On A Campsite In Rhinebeck, N.Y.]
"Attention...Mon Ami...Fa-Lala-Lala-La-La..." [55-St.Laurent]
She Dreamt She Was A Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone In An Empty Field
Deathkamp Drone
[Antennas To Heaven...]

It seems that the reviewers at Allmusic are fans, as they wrote:

"Storm" vents a powerful frustration (each listener can insert their own reasons why) with majestic screams of strings, guitars, and layers, resulting in a climactic and passionate soaring. It eventually winds down into an exhausted aftermath of piano, underlying drones, and frustrated rants. The second piece, "Static," is a wandering, isolationist piece of bleak expanses shaded with darker emotions, but the remaining two works raise the album back up to the impressive standard set by the opening cut, though with less furor and even more loveliness. "Sleep" opens with an elderly gentleman reminiscing about Coney Island, and his frank and amusing narration briefly recalls the recordings of David Greenberger and scenes from the documentary Vernon, FL. This narration is followed by a slow and melodic piece featuring a pseudo-theremin effect amidst all of the other instrumentation. "Antennas to Heaven" opens with someone playing acoustic guitar, singing "What'll We Do with the Baby-O," soon washed over with sound, which then gives way to a brief chorus of glockenspiels, and on. [source]

The site awards 4.5 stars. Pitchfork said that the record "is a massive, achingly beautiful work, alternately elegiac and ferocious." [source]

My only criticism is with the pressing. One of the records in the set is not flat. It plays fine, but it has what I would call a slight warp. This really irritates me.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Godspeed You Black Emperor!: Slow Riot For New Zerø Kanada E.P. (1999)

"Moya," the album's first piece, is a lot like weathering a torrential downpour: torn between moments of uncertainty a final deluge occurs absorbing everything in its path. The second piece, "BBF3," is a history lesson set to music, a story of dysfunctional government, militias, and human rights. This one album spans the emotions of terror and delight in 30 minutes. The same feelings of fear and triumph found in Beethoven can be found here, and there is perhaps no better endorsement for such music.
-- Allmusic [source]

Side one of this record--Moya--is 45RPM and side two--BBF3--is 33RPM. For an EP it is quite long, clocking on at almost 29 minutes. Here are some things I learned from the Wikipedia entry:

- "Users of the website Rate Your Music rate it as the greatest EP of all time."
- "The front of the album contains Hebrew characters, in transliterated form, 'Tohu va bohu' (formless and empty)."
- "The back of the EP contains a diagram with instructions in Italian on how to make a molotov cocktail."
- Side One, Moya "is a reference to band member Mike Moya. Concert setlists sometimes refer to this song as Gorecki because it is a reworking of his third symphony." And, by the way, if you have never listed to Gorecki, you should. I have some recordings on CD, including String Quartets 1 and 2, performed by the Kronos Quartet, which is simply stunning. I also have Symphony No. 3 (Dawn Upshaw, London Sinfonietta, David Zinman).
- Side two, BBF3, "refers to the vox pop interviewee going by the name of 'Blaise Bailey Finnegan III', whose eccentric ramblings form the core of the song. Finnegan recites a poem which he claims to have written himself. The poem is, in fact, mostly composed of lyrics from the song "Virus" by Iron Maiden that were written by their then-vocalist, Blaze Bayley. Blaise Bailey Finnegan III is also apparently the same person being interviewed at the beginning of F♯ A♯ ∞'s "Providence", and indeed some concert performances of 'BBF3' also incorporate that sample.

Wikipedia also notes the following, which I already knew:

"The album packaging makes only sparing reference to either the band or the album title: the outer packaging does not make any reference to Godspeed, but mentions them in the liner notes; the album title is only shown on the spine of the album cover. The song titles are not listed anywhere on the cover."

I personally believe that every Canadian should own all of the recordings of Godspeed You Black Emperor! In fact, I'd like them to record a version of the national anthem, if they haven't already done so.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Godspeed You Black Emperor!: F♯ A♯ ∞ (1997)


Since I was actively buying CDs in 1997, I bought this on CD and not on vinyl, which is too bad, because the original pressing is now worth a few dollars. So, I have a pressing from 2010. There are some noticeable differences between the vinyl and the CD releases, as noted on Discogs:

"The CD Re-issue of the Constellation LP. was remastered and changed in some areas, with some new material, and some material missing. It has a completely different booklet/cover/liner notes, but as with the lp, each track is made up of several different segments."

So, it's a good idea to have both versions, as I do.

As with the 1997 pressing, the 2010 pressing also came packaged with a number of items:

"Cover has a print glued in place, but not a photograph as on the first edition...
Inserts: a white on brown locomotive etching & an envelope containing the credit sheet, a handbill from a previous show, a blueprint of "faulty schematics for ruined machine" and a Canadian or American penny flattened by a train"

My copy has a flattened American penny, which brought back childhood memories. When we were kids, we would often put pennies on the train tracks near our house. That was fun.

So, if you don't already know, Godspeed You Black Emperor! is a Canadian post-rock band hailing from Montreal. Members of this band created a number of side projects, such as A Silver Mt. Zion, Set Fire to Flames, Fly Pan Am, HṚṢṬA, and Esmerine. Wikipedia defines post-rock as: "a subgenre of rock music characterized by the influence and use of instruments commonly associated with rock, but using rhythms and "guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures" not traditionally found in rock. Post-rock bands are often without vocals. [source] Allmusic is much more succinct in its description of GYBE!, describing the music as "extended, repetition-oriented chamber rock. The minimal and patient builds-to-crescendo of the group's compositions results in a meditative and hypnotic listen that becomes almost narrative when combined with found-sound splices and the films of their visual collaborators."[source] I think that is a better description.

There are some vocals, spoken words, really, on some GYBE! tracks. The first piece on this LP, for example, has some rather interesting lyrics, which might be better described as a poem:

"The car's on fire and there's no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows

The government is corrupt
And we're on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawn

We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death

The sun has fallen down
And the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead
At the top of their poles

It went like this:
The buildings toppled in on themselves
Mothers clutching babies
Picked through the rubble
And pulled out their hair

The skyline was beautiful on fire
All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze

I said: "Kiss me, you're beautiful - these are truly the last days."

You grabbed my hand and we fell into it
Like a daydream or a fever

We woke up one morning and fell a little further down
For sure it's the valley of death

I open up my wallet
And it's full of blood"

The above might partly explain why the members were once considered to be anarchists and were questioned by police in Oklahoma (the Wikipedia entry covers that incident). As Allmusic notes, "[t]he narratives that accompany the music meditate on the corruption of the American government and the seeming emptiness of the postmodern era." In the end, and despite awarding the record (CD is this case) only three stars, the reviewer concludes "This music is inherently inexplicable, and this is its beauty." [source] This is a five star release, in my opinion.

The Wikipedia entry for this record notes that the overall tone is apocalyptic and then offers this interesting piece of trivia:

"Indeed, English director Danny Boyle was heavily inspired by the album during the making of 28 Days Later. During an interview with The Guardian, he explained, "I always try to have a soundtrack in my mind [when creating a film]. Like when we did Trainspotting, it was Underworld. For me, the soundtrack to 28 Days Later was Godspeed. The whole film was cut to Godspeed in my head." [source]

If you have never heard this band, you are missing out on some really interesting music and one of Canada's greatest musical treasures.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Gods And Queens: Untitled (2008)

Not only is the album entitled Untitled, but every song on the record is also entitled Untitled. 1000 copies were released in three colours: purple (425 copies), orange (425 copies), and clear (150 copies). My copy is purple. Each record was bundled with a CD of all of the tracks. I guess you'd label this band as noisy hardcore. Discogs applies the terms Hardcore, Shoegazer, Indie Rock. I guess that works. The band's bandcamp page says this:

"Gods And Queens have never claimed to be re-inventing the musical wheel. The band play a noisy, melodic brand of music directly influenced by 1990′s stalwarts Unwound, Lush, or Lungfish." [source]

It's not a bad record, but I don't listen to it very often. Despite being released in limited quantities, the record is not valuable. I couldn't find any tunes on youtube.