Thursday, June 30, 2016

Corey Hart: First Offense (1984)

"Don't switch the blade on the guy in shades; oh no
Don't masquerade with the guy in shades;
(oh no) (I can't believe it)
You got it made with the guy in shades; oh no"

I'll admit that this is a rather embarrassing part of my record collection, but I paid nothing for it. Somewhat interestingly, an old friend's brother went to high school with Mr. Hart. That's three degrees of separation, for those of you who are counting.

I have to say that First Offense is a kind of a brilliant and perhaps ironic title for this record. I don't think any artist has done better and it makes me laugh. On the other hand, it's probably his best record, as it contains his big hit, Sunglasses at Night, which was marketed with a cheesy video. I'll admit that there was a time when that song seemed OK to my ears. It no longer does, except in a nostalgic way. The opening sometimes makes me think that the Eurythmics were a big influence, and maybe they were. On the other hand, this record also contains the appalling It Ain't Enough.

This record screams 80s, but not the good 80s. As Allmusic notes: "All the cliched '80s sounds are here in full force, from the brooding saxophone, the bratty guitar solo, the snotty background vocalists, and the catchy keyboard riffs." [source] I have no idea what a bratty guitar solo is and I have even less idea of what snotty background vocalists are, but that sentence encapsulates the record perfectly.

I do like a woman in uniform :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Deborah Harry: Def, Dumb & Blonde (1989)

This record is far better than I would have guessed. I don't remember what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised. Allmusic gives it a surprising 4.5 stars. The CD version has a few extra tracks, but I have never heard them. This LP does not sound like Blondie, but it sounds OK to me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Jerry Harrison: Casual Gods (1987)

Jerry Harrison, formerly of The Modern Lovers and Talking Heads, has released some solid music of his own, like this LP right here. If you know a track from this record, it's likely to be Rev it Up, which is a really cool song with lots of energy. It has some especially great guitar parts, but I don't think that is the official video, below :). Man With a Gun also got some airplay.

Monday, June 27, 2016

George Harrison: Cloud Nine (1987)

George took five years off, and then came back with Cloud Nine, which is a really good album. The LP had a couple of big hits, and the whole affair is very polished, perhaps even a tad too polished. I'm conflicted about the whole Jeff Lynne thing, since I am not a lover of ELO. But, the album works very well.

Friday, June 24, 2016

George Harrison: Gone Troppo (1982)

I think that some reviewers were a little too harsh in reviewing this record. The problem is that George released his best work near the beginning of his solo career and I think it was hard for him to equal that. The other thing is that the record suffers a bit from mediocre 80s production. But, I think this is a far better album than some reviewers would have you believe, apart from the last track, which is really not very good at all.

It's too bad that the Beatles didn't record more of his songs. Sometimes, I think he wrote the best of the Beatles songs.

I dislike the album jacket.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

George Harrison: Somewhere in England (1981)

Somewhere in England contains the closest thing to a Beatles reunion, at least until Free as a Bird, which really wasn't a reunion, but more of an endeavor in musical archaeology plus some editing. But, all four members were present, even if John sounded like a ghost. All Those Years Ago features Ringo on drums and Paul McCartney doing some over dubs on vocals. This track, of course, was atribute to John, who was murdered a few months prior to the release of this record.

This is a good record. The video for All Those Years Ago makes me sad, though.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

George Harrison: George Harrison (1979)

I guess by this point, George realized that he had not released a self-titled record, and decided that the time had come. So, here, several records into his solo career, is a self-titled record.

When I first heard this record, I wasn't convinced that I was actually listening to a George Harrison record. It's a very smooth record, and it's perhaps a bit too over-produced, with tracks that don't quite do it. I had high hopes for Here Comes the Moon, which would suggest a sequel or tie-in to Here Comes the Sun. On that level, it's a disappointment. It's OK, but the title is full of possibility that is never realized. I think this is a case of expectations ruining what is otherwise a pretty good track.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

George Harrison: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)

This record was pressed in Canada, but I have the US version. I get the sense that George was struggling here a bit, thought there are couple of good songs, like Crackerbox Palace and This Song. In the end, I would rate this higher than some of the contemporary reviewers. George might have been my favourite Beatle, but it's hard to say. So, I have a positive view of his music, in general.

Monday, June 20, 2016

George Harrison ‎– Extra Texture (Read All About It) (1975)

I have the US Winchester pressing, which seems identical to the Jacksonville pressing, but I could be wrong. Both come in a die-cut "pigskin" textured sleeve.

This record was his final recording for Apple Records. Many people, including Peter Sellers, are listed as not appearing on the record, which I guess is funny. Wikipedia notes that "[a]mong his solo releases, Extra Texture is notable as the only album whose lyrics are devoid of any obvious spiritual message." Maybe that's why I don't hate it, when many others do. I think this record is widely regarded as a soul effort, which makes it less interesting than it should be. Also, there is little of substance in the lyrics, so maybe he was struggling with the idea of a non-spiritual record. While I don't hate it, this is probably is weakest record, but the following track, which seems like a fairly obvious sequel to While My Guitar Gently Weeps, is pretty good.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

George Harrison: Living in the Material World (1973)

This is a really great George record, but I gather that some listeners found themselves let down after the brilliant triple album, All Things Must Pass. That's too bad because this is a really strong record.

I've always loved George's voice and his guitar playing, so I am usually fully engaged, with some exceptions. Bowie did a really good cover of Try Some Buy Some IMHO. Unfortunately, when I think of this record, what often comes to mind is Madonna's Material Girl, even though the line she uses is "living in a material world," which is subtly different. It's also a really terrible song. But, I will be frank: there is no Madonna music that I like, although I think there are a couple of tracks on Ray of Light that are not offensive ear worms.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

George Harrison: Wonderwall Music (1968)

Wonderwall was the first solo record from a Beatles member, but it is an odd one, being the soundtrack to the film of the same name. Not surprisingly, I have never seen the film.

The music is heavily influenced by Indian music. Anyone who is familiar with Harrison at this time would know of his fascination with Indian music and religion. The album has been both praised and dissed, as far as I can tell, and I think it has been treated better in hindsight. The public always seems to know what it wants, and the weight of expectations sometimes gets in the way. I like the record, but I like drone and I do like some Indian music and tabla music. That's not to say that the entire record sounds Indian. There is some diversity.

The only other thing I will say is: piss off, Oasis, you bunch of scurvy bastards. I have never owned any Oasis music in any format and I quite honesty cannot figure out what that appeal is. They really thought they were the new Beatles. They were not.

Ii wish I had an original pressing from 1968; instead, I have a German pressing from 1986.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Harmonia & Eno '76: Edward Versions (2015)

I will let Wikipedia give the details on Harmonia:

"Harmonia is a Krautrock supergroup from Germany. They formed as a collaboration between Michael Rother of Neu! and Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Möbius of Cluster and later included the British musician Brian Eno." [source]

I have some music from this band on CD, including Tracks and Traces, which was released under the moniker of Harmonia '76. Oddly, that record was recorded in 1976 but not released until 1997. The 2009 reissue was released as Harmonia & Eno '76, the same credit as this EP. I don't think a vinyl version of that album exists.

This EP is absolutely gorgeous. I just wish it was longer. It contains two pieces, Athmosphere (Edward's Desert Version) and Sehr Kosmisch (Edward's Close To Pompeii Version) and both are brilliant. The Edward in question is Gilles Aiken.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Happy Mondays: Step On (1990)

This Canadian 12" single from 1990 has five versions of Step On. And, as much as I love that song, no one should sit through all five mixes back-to-back. One of the versions is the original 7" version. I am not sure if that matches the version used in the original music video, but, whatevs. By the way, I loved the Madchester sound. Oddly, I don't think I had ever seen this video until just now.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Hangedup: Kicker In Tow (2002)

Hangedup are label-mates of Godspeed You Black Emperor! on Montreal's Constellation label. The record was even produced by GYBE's Efrim. The result is amazing.

This description is accurate: "Kicker in Tow is a hypnotic collection of avant-rock/art-punk compositions spurred to life by Genevieve Heistek's amplified, often percussive viola and Eric Craven's inventive drumming (with touches of electronica occasionally augmenting the proceedings)." [source] Kinetic Work, in my humble opinion, is the best tune on the LP. (I also own a copy of this release on CD).

Daryl Hall & John Oates: Rock 'N Soul Part 1 - Greatest Hits (1983)

There doesn't seem to be a Rock 'N Soul Part 2. Oh well. If you want to hear single edits (as opposed to longer album versions) this record will do. It contains a whole whack of hits by the duo, like I Can't Go For That (No Can Do), Rich Girl, Private Eyes, etc. If you like Hall & Oates, you won't go wrong with this LP. The arrival of this record really reinforced that they had made the big time. As such, the quality of the music was bound to decline.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Daryl Hall + John Oates: H2O (1982)

H2O was a very big record for Hall and Oates, and it spawned some big shiny hits, like Maneater and One on One. I know, Family Man was a big one too, but I have to say that I much prefer the original Mike Oldfield recording to this cover. By this time, the boys were a real top 40 phenomenon, so they lost some of their appeal, at least to me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Daryl Hall and John Oates: Private Eyes (1981)

Yes, they made some really great pop songs, and this record contains some good ones, like Private Eyes and I Can't Go For That (No Can Do).

Daryl Hall & John Oates: Abandoned Luncheonette (1973)

I'm not a big fan of Hall and Oates (or Philly Soul, or Blue eyed Soul - whatever you want to call it), but I think Hall and Oates have recorded some good tracks. Abandoned Luncheonette, from 1973, contains the big hit She's Gone. The album has a smooth soulful feel with lots of hook and things to keep the listener engaged. It's perhaps an odd thing to find in my collection, but I really think that they did some good stuff on this record.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Haircut One Hundred: Fantastic Day (1982)

Only the UK and Australia released 12" version of this single. The flipside to Fantastic Day is Ski Club of Great Britain, an pseudo-instrumental track. It appears on the expanded CD, which I have, under the title of Ski Club. This song has a good vibe.

Haircut One Hundred: Pelican West (1982)

This record is a triumph, a perfect pop mini masterpiece. It has a kind of funky pop sensibility that really hits the mark. Without question, this is one of my favourite records of all time. It always reminds me of summer. (Let's just forget that the band released a second record after the departure of Nick Hayward). The good news is that you can easily find copies for a few dollars. I also have the CD with a number of bonus tracks. If you don't like this record, there is something wrong with you. Every track is a winner.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton: Knives Don't Have Your Back (2006)

There's a pattern in the system
There's a bullet in the gun
That's why I tried to save you
But it can't be done

- Our Hell, Emily Haines

I remember reading reviews of this album on Amazon after it was released and was amazed at the number of fools who complained that they didn't like the record because it did not sound like Metric! Idiots. Why on earth would anyone want or expect the same? A solo record should be a solo record for a reason.

I have often wondered why lead singers release solo records when the resulting record sounds just like the band they sing for. I mean, unless the band breaks up, why put out a record that could have been a band record? I know, some singers have too much material or there are other obligations at play.

Knives Don't Have Your Back is brilliant. It sounds nothing like Metric, which is a good thing. I say this as someone who likes Metric. I would argue that this record is way better than Metric.

The good news is that you don't have to pay the over-inflated prices for this. It was recently repressed and I have seen copies for about $30. Someone paid over $100 for this record on Discogs! That's a few dollars more that the top price for the 2xLP version.

By the way, I am sure that I know what store this was filmed in. It's now closed as part of that Target debacle.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Steve Hackett: Spectral Mornings (1979)

Spectral Mornings is a proggy piece of work, from ex-Genesis member, Steve Hackett. Lots of people love it. I like it. Perhaps people like it so much because it serves as a counterpoint to the commercial direction that Genesis found themselves pursuing. In that respect, it belongs to the old Genesis era, and if you liked that, you will like this. But, it is not Genesis, and it is not quite as good as old Genesis. But, there are moments that sound great.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Guess Who: Flavours (1974)

And I quote: "Too many ballads, very little fire, a going-through-the-motions feel: all combined to condemn this album to instant obscurity." [source] That probably sums it up, though I will confess that Dancin' Fool is not a bad track.