Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Coda (1982)

Coda compiles eight unused tracks and fulfills a contractual obligation with the record company. It's not a bad collection, but I do not view this as a Led Zeppelin album. It's just a haphazard collection of tunes. Perhaps the expanded edition is a much better collection, but I have never heard it, for some reason. I remember buying this one. I'm not fond of the album cover.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Led Zeppelin: In Through the Our Door (1979)

After a three year break, the mighty Led Zeppelin returned with In Through the Out Door, a record that really divided fans. To be sure, there was a definite change in direction in sound, most notably prominent keyboards and diminished guitars. I have always had mixed feelings about this LP. If I am in the right mood, I really like it, but it's not the first Zeppelin record I would reach for.

Sadly, this was the band's final studio recording. Coda came later, but that was a collection of odds and sods, two or three of which would have improved ITTOD immensely. Even more sadly, John Bonham died about a year after the record was released, and that killed my plans to somehow get to Toronto and finally see the band in concert. He was only 32 years old.

I've read that the change in sound had a lot to do with the greater influence of John Paul Jones and Plant, while Bonham was struggling with alcoholism and Page was in full heroin mode. It made for an odd record in some ways, yet it was very popular. I really do love this record, but I prefer the heavier Zeppelin. Also, I kind of hate the song Hot Dog.
"The original album featured an unusual gimmick: the album had an outer sleeve which was made to look like a plain brown paper bag (reminiscent of similarly packaged bootleg album sleeves with the title rubber-stamped on it), and the inner sleeve featured black and white line artwork which, if washed with water, would become permanently fully coloured. There were also six different sleeves featuring a different pair of photos (one on each side), and the external brown paper sleeve meant that it was impossible for record buyers to tell which sleeve they were getting (there is actually a code on the spine of the album jacket which indicated which sleeve it was—this could sometimes be seen while the record was still sealed). The pictures all depicted the same scene in a bar (in which a man burns a Dear John letter), and each photo was taken from the separate point of view of someone who appeared in the other photos. The walls are covered with thousands of yellowed business cards and dollar bills. The photo session in a London studio was meant to look like a re-creation of the Old Absinthe House, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The album artwork was designed by Hipgnosis. Storm Thorgerson recalls the design in his book Eye of the Storm:
The sepia quality was meant to evoke a non-specific past and to allow the brushstroke across the middle to be better rendered in colour and so make a contrast. This self same brushstroke was like the swish of a wiper across a wet windscreen, like a lick of fresh paint across a faded surface, a new look to an old scene, which was what Led Zeppelin told us about their album. A lick of fresh paint, as per Led Zeppelin, and the music on this album... It somehow grew in proportion and became six viewpoints of the same man in the bar, seen by the six other characters. Six different versions of the same image and six different covers.
Did you ever notice you could affect the dust jacket by putting water on it? If you applied spittle to it or a bit of water, it would change colour, like a children's colouring book we based it on. But we didn't tell anybody. I don't think Zeppelin told anybody, either.
In 1980, Hipgnosis were nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Album Package for In Through the Out Door." [source]
I have a 'C' album cover, by the way. Everything Zeppelin did was awesome, but this is a little less awesome that what cam before it.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Presence (1976)

I suppose there are two Led Zeppelin records (not including Coda) that some fans are not so enamoured with. These records are In Through the Out Door and Presence. I used to rank Presence as my least favourite Zep record, but I think my opinion changed over the years. I will say that the record has grown on me.

I really love the opening track, Achilles Last Stand, which clearly needs an apostrophe. Other highlights are For Your Love, which was resurrected for that famous O2 concert, Royal Orleans, Nobody's Fault But Mine,

It's weird to think that of all of the Zeppelin records, I have two copies of this one, both Canadian pressings. I have no idea why. I've been curious about the remastered vinyl that came out a while back. I'm sure they must sound better, but the prices have kept me away.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti (1975)

In terms of LZ records, this one lands somewhere in the middle of favourites. I was never blown away by it, though there are some great songs, most notably, Kashmir, which would fit in my top five Zeppelin tunes. Clearly, I am on the minority position here:
"Physical Graffiti was the first album to go platinum on advance orders alone. Shortly after its release, all previous Led Zeppelin albums simultaneously re-entered the top-200 album chart.

"In March 1975, Billboard magazine's reviewer wrote: "[Physical Graffiti] is a tour de force through a number of musical styles, from straight rock to blues to folky acoustic to orchestral sounds." Similarly, Jim Miller stated in Rolling Stone that the double album was "the band's Tommy, Beggar's Banquet and Sgt. Pepper rolled into one: Physical Graffiti is Led Zeppelin's bid for artistic respectability." Village Voice critic Robert Christgau was less impressed, writing that except for side two, the material often wanders into "wide tracks, misconceived opi, and so forth", and "after a while Robert Plant begins to grate". Reviewing the album for BBC Music in 2007, Chris Jones described it as "a towering monument to the glory of Zeppelin in their high-flying heyday".

"In 1998 Q readers voted Physical Graffiti the 28th-greatest album of all time; in 2000 Q placed it at number 32 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever; and in 2001 the same magazine named it as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time. In 2003, the TV network VH1 named it the 71st-greatest album ever. In 2003, the album was ranked number 70 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". The album is also listed in Robert Dimery and Stevie Chick's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2005)." [source
Oddly, this record contains a tune called Houses of the Holy, which does not appear on the eponymous record.

I have a vivid memory of buying this record. My sister had a few Led Zeppelin records (Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin IV, The Song Remains the Same, In through the Out Door), but she never owned a copy of this one. I wanted to hear it, so I decided to pick it up one day. I carried it with me back to residence.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy (1973)

"They used to think it was so cute when she said dyer maker.
All the boys knew it was a joke about Jamaica"

"Dancing days. Houses of the holy. Hot child in the city in the middle of the prairie."

- Joke About Jamaica, The Hold Steady

Sometimes, I am convinced that this is my favourite Led Zeppelin record. Is there any song that sounds better than The Song Remains the Same, especially when turned up very loudly? The answer is no. Back in the day, I would really crank up that song when no one was home.

Although the cover seems harmless to me, the album artwork caused some controversy:
Like Led Zeppelin's fourth album, neither the band's name nor the album title was printed on the sleeve. However, manager Peter Grant did allow Atlantic Records to add a wrap-around paper title band to US and UK copies of the sleeve that had to be broken or slid off to access the record. This hid the children's buttocks from general display, but still the album was either banned or unavailable in some parts of the Southern United States for several years. [source]
I think many would argue that the first four records are the band's best, but I would say that this one is at least equal. It's fabulous.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin [AKA Led Zeppelin IV or the Four Symbols logo, Four Symbols, The Fourth Album, Untitled, Runes, The Hermit, ZoSo] (1971)

"Tired eyes. Trampled under foot. Dazed and confused. C-c-c-c-Cocaine blues.
She hasn't gotten any eye contact tonight"
- Joke About Jamaica, The Hold Steady

Oh, well, the night is long, the beads of time pass slow,
Tired eyes on the sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow.
 - The Battle of Evermore, Led Zeppelin

I'll just say it now to get it out of the way. Stairway to Heaven, although a fine song, is not my favourite Led Zeppelin song. In fact, it wouldn't even make my list of top 25 Led Zeppelin songs. It used to be my favourite song, but I think that was when I knew very little about the band's catalogue. There are way too many great songs to allow this one to take a preeminent places.

Back in high school, Stairway to Heaven was often the last song at school dances (it was either that or Babe, that awful piece of shot from Styx). Those songs served as a signal that the dance would soon be over, and it was your last chance to get close to a female. But, let's face it, this is a difficult song to have a slow dace to. The beginning works, but once the track speeds up, most kids were at a loss as to how to deal with the tempo change. Most just clung to their dancing partner until the song ended.

The album jacket for this record omits the band's name. It's a curious thing to do, but I imagine a hype sticker would have alerted people to the contents. My copy is a Canadian pressing from 1979, and it's in great shape. I think there were close to twenty Canadian pressings of this record.

This record is packed from start to finish with awesomeness. It contains some of my favourite Zeppelin tunes, like Black Dog, Four Sticks, and When the Levee Breaks, all of which are in my top 20 Zep tunes.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin III (1970)

The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying,
Valhalla, I am coming!

Although it stands against prevailing opinion, my favourite Led Zeppelin record is the third. It wasn't always that way. In fact, in the early days, I felt that the record fell apart after the lead-off tack, Immigrant Song. Later, my thinking shifted 180 degrees. I think that Immigrant Song is the weakest track on the record, though I still love it. After all, the track is only 2.5 minutes, and Page somehow manages to play that riff over 100 times.

My copy is a later (probably 1980s) repress in absolutely mint condition.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II

I learned the following after reading Wikipedia. "The advertising campaign was built around the slogans 'Led Zeppelin – The Only Way to Fly' and 'Led Zeppelin II Now Flying'." [source]

This is a heavy album from start to finish, filled with heavy guitar riffs, tireless vocals, thundering drums, and some delicious bass sounds. As usual, the critics were confused:
Critical reaction to Led Zeppelin II was not positive originally. John Mendelsohn wrote a negative review of the record for Rolling Stone, in which he mocked the group's heavy sound and white blues, while writing that "until you've listened to the album eight hundred times, as I have, it seems as if it's just one especially heavy song extended over the space of two whole sides". Robert Christgau jokingly referred to the band as "the best of the wah-wah mannerist groups, so dirty they drool on demand", while complaining that "all the songs sound alike". He nonetheless conceded that "Led Zeppelin simply out-heavied everyone" in 1969, "pitting Jimmy Page's repeated low-register fuzz riffs against the untiring freak intensity of Robert Plant's vocal. This trademark has only emerged clearly on the second album, and more and more I am coming to understand it as an artistic triumph." [source]
I have a Canadian pressing (not the original) that I think came out sometime after 1978. The jacket of my copy looks mint, and the record is in fabulous shape too. I think there are more than 20 Canadian pressings of this LP, plus numerous 8-track, cassette, and CD issues.

The only track I am not crazy about is Moby Dick, partly because I think extended drum solos are kind of stupid. The guitar part of that song is great, though.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin [aka Led Zeppelin I] (1969)

"Tired eyes. Trampled under foot. Dazed and confused. C-c-c-c-Cocaine blues.
She hasn't gotten any eye contact tonight"

- Joke About Jamaica, The Hold Steady

In answer to the question -- often asked in musical circles -- the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?, I always answer Led Zeppelin. As much as I like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, it's the New Yardbirds for the win. When I was in public school and junior high, I was often teased for liking Led Zeppelin. I attribute my early interest to a couple of my older siblings. One year, I forgot it was photo day, and I wore a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. Oops.

This is a massive record. It begins pleasantly enough, with the brief Good Times Bad Times, but it's the second track that really lays claim to a new sound. It's hard to pick a favourite, but for me, it's Dazed and Confused, a song that would be in my top five Zep tunes. Ages ago, when I was living in a certain place, I would often play Dazed and Confused as loudly as possible when no one else was home. Every song on this record is amazing.

For me, this record is the defining statement about why critics are often wrong. Many critics dissed this record, and that is something I have always had a hard time wrapping my head around. Perhaps the music was so out-of-step with the music of the day, that it left them mystified. Who knows? In hindsight, I think some critics have corrected their opinions.

Figuring out which vinyl version I have is quite difficult. For the vast majority of artists, there was generally only one, and sometimes two, Canadian pressings. For this one, there are something like fifteen, or close to that. I wish I had a red Atlantic pressing or a Canadian red Atlantic pressing, rather than my mundane, later Canadian green Atlantic pressing from 1976. Oh well, it still sounds fine and my copy is mint, or very close to it. Needless to say I also have a copy on CD.

I have pretty much everything officially released from LZ on CD as well as some DVDs. By the way, check out Lez Zeppelin and Zepparella.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Keith LeBlanc: Einstein (Extended Remix) (1989)

Keith LeBlanc is known partly for being a member of Tackhead, an industrial hip hop act. Most of my Tackhead, Gary Clail's Tackhead Sound System, and Keith LeBlanc music is on CD. This 12" single has two mixes of Einstein and a tune called Here's Looking at You, featuring Gary Clail.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Daniel Lanois: Acadie (1989)

My body is bent and broken
By long and dangerous sleep
I can't work the fields of Abraham
And turn my head away
I'm not a stranger
In the hands of the maker

Though I identify as an atheist, I can't help but admire the passion and emotion, and even devotion, of the above stanza.  The Maker is one of the best songs ever recorded, in my ever so humble opinion.

Lanois may be better known as a producer. You might know him from his production work with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, U2, Peter Gabriel, Jon Hassell, and from his collaborations with Brian Eno. He has also released a number of solo records, beginning with Acadie, which I consider to be a musical masterpiece. Why Allmusic awarded this record only four stars is a mystery. Te review is glowing, appropriate for a five star record.
This stunning debut album by an artist that had hitherto been known only as a producer is priceless, and stands up well to repeated listening. It is a blend of New Orleans rhythm, rock, new age mysticism, and folk. It is not mushy but it is as caressing to the ear as to the mind. It has the very distinctive ethereal sound of the albums he produced for among others the Neville Brothers and Robbie Robertson. All the songs were written or co-written by Lanois, with the exception of the traditional "Amazing Grace" (done in an untraditional manner and sung by Aaron Neville). The songs affect a rural and uncomplicated yet very complete and full sound that brings the listener into their mood, swing into the full lilting joy of "Under a Stormy Sky," to the haunting and ominous "Where the Hawkwind Kills." His sound is a distinctive signature, that holds well with each different song and with each artist for whom he has fashioned albums. [source]
Acadie is another record on my long list of top ten records.In addition to the LP, I own the CD Goldtop Edition, which contains six bonus tracks.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs: Live Fall 2010 (2011)

Honestly, that's the best title they could come up with? This brief five-track EP was released for record store day 2011. I'm not really a fan, though I do appreciate his voice. People often tell me that I should like him, but I have never invested the time. Someday, someday.

Some of this record is far too countryish for me, but other tracks I quite like, such as this killer tune:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

La Bamba (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1987)

Here is a rare occurrence. I've seen the corresponding film to this soundtrack. Amazing. And, I liked the film very much, though watching it is a truly sad experience. Eight of the twelve tracks are performed by Los Lobos. Other artists appearing are Brian Setzer, Bo Diddley, Howard Huntsberry, and Marshall Crenshaw. I'd argue that this is a pretty good collection of tunes and the cover versions are all very well done.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lenny Kravitz: Circus (1995)

Circus, from 1995, is a 10" record that was also released on CD. It contains the album and acoustic versions of Circus plus two live tracks: Tunnel Vision and Are You Gonna Go My Way (with no question mark). There are far far better Kravitz videos, if you know what I mean (nudge nudge, wink wink).

Monday, June 26, 2017

Kraftwerk: Aerodynamik + La Forme Remixes (2007)

The original mix of Aerodynamik, from the Tour de France record, is fantastic. I really like it. I'm not so crazy about the Hot Chip remix here. I think I can see the intention, but I am not sure. The flipside of this UK 12" is La Forme (King Of The Mountains Mix). I would make the same statement about this tune. I don't hate the remixes. I just think the originals are better.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Kraftwerk: The Mix (1991)

This is another Kraftwerk album that divides fans and critics. Just check out these statements from Discogs:

"Rusty German robots are cashing in on screwing up their classics with acid house crap."

"Kraftwerks classic releases are timeless classics. This attempt to modernize these songs sounds absolutely dated these days."

"the simplest way for me to put it is this way. They spent seven years from autobahn through computer world being able to see hear and shape musical evolution. and all the other accolades that go with that stature. as for electric cafe well debate its merits if you want but no is the final answer if its in the league of its predecessors. but i will take it any day over "the mix".

Despite awarding it only three stars, Allmusic had positive things to say bout the record...I mean CD:
By the early '90s, it was quite apparent just how far-reaching Kraftwerk's influence had been. From techno to hip-hop to industrial music to house, numerous others were undeniably indebted to the group. Dance clubs had long been a key part of Kraftwerk's following, and the dance market was the obvious target of The Mix -- a collection of highly enjoyable, often clever remixes. While novices would do better to start out with Trans-Europe Express or The Man-Machine, hardcore Kraftwerk followers shouldn't pass up these remixes of such classics as "Trans-Europe Express," "The Robots," "Autobahn," and "Radioactivity." One could nitpick about the absence of "Neon Lights" and "Europe Endless," but the bottom line is that this CD was a welcome addition to the Kraftwerk catalog. [source]
This record has been re-pressed a few times, and I have a later pressing that came with a 20 page full-colour booklet. I do not hate this record, but some of the remakes work better than others.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Kraftwerk: Tour de France Soundtracks [Tour de France] (2003)

The 10th Kraftwerk album was released under the title Tour de France Soundtracks in 2003. The 2009 pressing, which I have, was simply entitled Tour de France. Obviously, the original pressing will cost you more. I have read that some fans hate this record (a friend of mine concurs). Others praise it. C'est la vie. For the record, I like the LP, though I think perhaps some earlier stuff was better.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kraftwerk: The Robots (1991)

The Robots (Die Roboter) single was originally released in 1978. This 12" version was released in 1991 and contains the remixed version from The Mix. Side A has: Robotnik (Kling Klang Extended Mix); Side B has The Robots (Single Edit) and Robotronik (Kling Klang Mix). I don't hate the remixes as much as some Kraftwerk fans seem to.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Kraftwerk: The Telephone Call (1987)

Once again, this is a Canadian 12" single with a remixed version of The Telephone Call on side A. Side B has a track called House Phone and the German version of the tile track (Der Telefon Anruf).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Kraftwerk: Musique Non Stop (1986)

This Canadian 12" single contains the 12" version of  Musique Non Stop on side 1 and the 7" version of the same track on side two. That's it. I don;t remember where I bought it or how much I paid.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Kraftwerk: Electric Cafe (1986)

One starts to worry when vast periods of time pass between records, unless it's Peter Gabriel, of course. After a five-year wait, we got Electric Cafe, and it was something of a disappointment, to my ears at the time anyway. I listened to the record recently, and I have to say that I think I like it better than I thought I did. I know, lots of people will argue that this is an awesome record. I like it, but it is just not up to the level of the previous records

Friday, June 16, 2017

Kraftwerk: Computer World [Computerwelt] (1981)

Computer World is Kraftwerk's eighth record.
The album deals with the themes of the rise of computers within society. In keeping with the album's concept, Kraftwerk showcased their music on an ambitious world tour and issued several different versions of the single "Pocket Calculator" in different languages: namely, German ("Taschenrechner"), French ("Mini Calculateur") and Japanese ("Dentaku", or 電卓). A fifth version, in Italian ("Mini Calcolatore"), was lip-synched to on Italian television in 1981. The compositions are credited to Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider, and Karl Bartos. As was the case with the two previous albums, Computer World was released in both German- and English-language editions. The title of the final track, "It's More Fun to Compute", is in English in all releases, as it is based on the slogan "It's more fun to compete!", which could be seen on old pinball machines. There are some minor differences in the mixes used on English- and German-language releases. [source]
Because I am not a fan of Cold Play, I had no idea that they had sampled Kraftwerk's Computer Love, found on this record, until very recently, when I was finding music from this record on youtube. I don't understand the fuss about Coldplay. To be, they are as offensive as Nickleback.

This album, on the other hand, is a triumph. Maybe it's the best Kraftwerk record? I'm not sure. Sadly, I will have to agree with Allmusic that this is the "last great Kraftwerk album."

Friday, June 09, 2017

Kraftwerk: The Man Machine [Die Mensch·Maschine] (1978)

The two big tracks on this record are The Robots and The Model. This is a more pop-oriented record, and it seems to belong to the early new wave movement.  I'll just paste in two excerpts that will summarize things better than I could:
The NME wrote a glowing review and said: "Kraftwerk manage to convey the entire 'melange of elements' by musical means alone: the sparsity of the lyrics leaves the emphasis squarely on those robot rhythms; chilling tones and exquisite melodies." Critic Andy Gill also praised the "complexity of construction", saying "there's a lot more than electronic percussion in there" [source]
The Man-Machine is closer to the sound and style that would define early new wave electro-pop -- less minimalistic in its arrangements and more complex and danceable in its underlying rhythms. Like its predecessor, Trans-Europe Express, there is the feel of a divided concept album, with some songs devoted to science fiction-esque links between humans and technology, often with electronically processed vocals ("The Robots," "Spacelab," and the title track); others take the glamour of urbanization as their subject ("Neon Lights" and "Metropolis"). Plus, there's "The Model," a character sketch that falls under the latter category but takes a more cynical view of the title character's glamorous lifestyle. More pop-oriented than any of their previous work, the sound of The Man-Machine -- in particular among Kraftwerk's oeuvre -- had a tremendous impact on the cold, robotic synth pop of artists like Gary Numan, as well as Britain's later new romantic movement. [source]
This band was always ahead of its time. Again, I have a Canadian pressing, for $5.99! Sehen Sie sich dieses Video an, um die Band zu sehen. (Yes, I used Google translate).

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Kraftwerk: Trans Europe Express [Trans Europa Express] (1977)

I only wish that they have given us a full side (22 minutes or so) of the title track. That would have transported me to a hypnotic state. This album is simply stunning and ground-breaking. I have a repressing from the 80s.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Kraftwerk: Radio-Activity [Radio-Aktivität] (1975)

This is the Voice of Energy
I am a giant electrical generator
I supply you with light and power
And I enable you to receive speech,
Music and image through the ether
I am your servant and lord at the same time
Therefore guard me well
Me, the genius of Energy

I have the original US pressing of this LP from 1975. The original German pressing from the same year carries the title Radio-Aktivität and that will cost you a bit more. Allmusic's review is brief but to-the-point:

"A concept album exploring themes of broadcast communications, Radio-Activity marked Kraftwerk's return to more obtuse territory, extensively utilizing static, oscillators, and even Cage-like moments of silence to approximate the sense of radio transmission; a pivotal record in the group's continuing development, the title track -- the first they ever recorded in English -- is their most fully realized electro-pop effort to date, while "The Voice of Energy" precipitates the robot voice so crucial to their subsequent work." [source]

I like it. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Kraftwerk: Exceller 8 (1975)

This compilation covers the first four releases, up to an including Autobahn. It bridges the gap between the earlier noise stuff and Autobahn, which heralded the new smother sound. This LP contains a rare 7" mix of Autobahn, which may be reason enough to own it. I don't think this compilation was ever released on CD. I am still surprised that this record was released in Canada, which is the version I have.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Kraftwerk: Autobahn (1974)

Autobahn really announces the arrival of Kraftwerk. The record's title track is twenty-two minutes and forty-two seconds of hypnotizing genius. I think I could listen to it all day long.

I should point out that I have a Canadian repress from 1985, rather than the original. Even then, prices on discogs for my release start at $30. For that price, you might as well opt for the new 180 gram releases readily available in most record stores.

Kraftwerk is one of my favourite bands, and this album really says why. If you don't like it, there is something wrong with you :)

Friday, June 02, 2017

Kraftwerk: Kraftwerk (1971)

Now don't get too excited. I do not own an original pressing of Kraftwerk, the first LP from Kraftwerk. My copy is an unofficial release from Italy pressed on red vinyl. I have no idea what year it was made. I have compared the sound with an official best of Kraftwerk LP, and it sounds great to my ears.

There were only a few versions of this album released, most on LP, one on cassette, and none on CD. All other releases on any format are unofficial, or bootlegs. For some reason, the band really doesn't like this record and it seems that they have disowned it. I have heard that it might finally be re-released on CD.

As much as I'd like to own an original pressing, the price for such would be high. I once saw this record in a store in Toronto for $150 about a year ago. I am not sure which version it was.

Evidently, the cover was inspired by Warhol's pop art movement, but all I can think of is VLC.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Mark Knopfler: Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989)

I can't say anything constructive about this record. There is orchestration here, unlike the other Knopfler soundtracks I have. I think I like this less, too. I just might have to see the film.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Mark Knopfler: Cal {Music by Mark Knopfler from the Film Cal]: (1984)

This soundtrack from Mark Knopfler gets the same rating from me: meh. It probably doesn't help that I have never seen the film, so maybe I will give this a provisional meh, and then go and see the film.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kark Knopfler: Local Hero (1983)

I guess I was expecting a record that sounded exactly like a Dire Straits record. In hindsight, that was, perhaps, a little unfair. Freeway Flyer hits the mark, but that tune is way too short. The rest of the record has never really done anything for me.  It's a real meh record, but it might just work as a soundtrack. Since I have never seen the film, I can't really comment on that. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Knack: ...But the Little Girls Understand (1979)

This record sums up what happens when a band tries to rush a carbon copy of a successful debut. Only six months had passed when this uninspired record was dropped. They should have taken a breather and put a little more thought into it, but maybe they had nothing left to offer?

I remember the first time I heard Baby Talks Dirty, the lead-off track. The radio DJ said that some staff had listened to it and were calling it My Sharona II. As I said, this LP was a failed attempt to clone the debut record.

Sadly, Doug passed away in 2010. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Knack: Get the Knack (1979)

Ah, songs about adolescence or songs for adolescent boys.

Despite this record's popularity when it was released -- it still ranks as one of the best-selling debut records of all time -- I still think it is a little under-appreciated. Yes, they seemed to model themselves on the Beatles and, according to Wikipedia, "[t]he album went Gold in just 13 days, becoming Capitol Records' fastest selling debut LP since Meet the Beatles in 1964" and "The lead single, "My Sharona", also met with immediate success, becoming Capitol's fastest selling debut single since the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks." [source] In awarding the record 4.5 stars, Allmusic referred to the debut record as "at once sleazy, sexist, hook-filled, and endlessly catchy -- above all, it's a guilty pleasure and an exercise in simple fun." [source]

I bought this record soon after it came out at my local small-town record store. I remember the clerk telling me that I got the last copy in the store. Yay me.

Everyone seems to know the track My Sharona. That is a really great song and it contains perhaps one of the best bridges I have ever heard. I think the record had more depth than that, however. Take Good Girls Don't, for example:

She's your adolescent dream,
Schoolboy stuff, a sticky sweet romance.
And she makes you want to scream,
Wishing you could get inside her pants.
And it's a teenage sadness
Everyone has got to taste.
An in-between age madness
That you know you can't erase
Til she's sitting on your face.

Those were very enlightening lyrics for adolescent boys everywhere, though I am sure that some of my friends did not fully understand the last sentence above.

Get the Knack is a fine record willed with great hooks and guitar solos, and some lyrics that are at least misogynistic and maybe worse. The band found their market immediately, and I'm guessing that it was generally young men or adolescent boys. I have to say that I loved the cover image on the original My Sharona 45.

Despite everything that I said, I have not played this record for decades. Maybe I should do just that.

I'm not gong to include the video for Good Girls Don't because the youtube version is the censored version.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kissing the Pink: Certain Things are Likely (1986)

Certain Things are Likely is the title track from Kissing the Pink's third LP, released in 1986. The 12" single contains four mixes: garage mix, garage dub, original mix, and instrumental. It's too much to listen to all at once.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kissing the Pink: Naked (1983)

I remember when this band was more or less forced to change its name from Kissing the Pink to KTP because some people were offended by the sexual innuendo. What a bunch of crybabies. I am not in favour or rampant profanity of profanity for no good reason, but Kissing the Pink is obscure enough not to offend the vulnerable or the easily offended. After all, you have to do a little thinking to connect the dots, but not as much as you need to do to figure out what Steely Dan's name is all about. Nowadays, we have much more explicit names for bands, like Scissor Sisters, Anal Cunt, Fucked Up, Butthole Surfers, Holy Fuck, among many others. Kissing the Pink seems genuinely wholesome and completely inoffensive compared to some others more contemporary bands.

Naked is the first Kissing the Pink LP. I like it.

Kiss: Double Platinum (1978)

This is a difficult album jacket to photograph, unless what you are really after is a selfie (G-d, I hate that word) or other crazy reflections.

I was done with Kiss very soon after I got my copy of The Originals. There was so much other music to explore. But, sometimes, the message takes a long time to make its way to family and friends, and so, one year, I got a copy of Double Platinum for Christmas from some relatives. I think I managed to hide my dismay.

This record collects the biggest Kiss hits, like Calling Dr. Love, Love Gun, Firehouse, Detroit Rock City, God of Thunder, Hard Luck Woman, and that god awful song, Beth. Sorry, Kiss fans, but I have always hated Beth. It's insipid and truly awful garbage. The horrible orchestration makes me laugh.

I have virtually no knowledge of Kiss after this period. I am aware that there have been many lineup changes and that they were unmasked at some point. I am familiar with Lick it Up because of the music video. That, by the way, is a fantastically ridiculous song and the video is terrible.

I have heard people argue that Kiss were better than the Beatles. That is delusional thinking. Only someone completely ignorant of music could make such an argument.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Kiss: The Originals (1976)

The Originals, by Kiss, is a seminal record in my collection because this was the second record I ever bought, after Goofy Greats. I no longer have my copy of Goofy Greats (I probably unloaded it at a lawn sale), but I hung on to this one, though I am not sure why. This is another record that had my name scrawled across the cover, in my sister's handwriting, along with "Album #2." Thanks to the magic of Photoshop, you do not have to see that.

I consider the music of Kiss to be one-dimensional and juvenile. Besides, looking at them now, one might have half expected the band to have been a progressive rock band. At the time, though, I was a fan...or, maybe I was a fan because some of my friends were fans. It's hard to say. What I can say is that I find it incomprehensible that there are adults who are fans of this band. I see Kiss as music appropriate for pre-adolescents.

I once did a school project about Kiss and that, sadly, means that I used the six color rock superstar cards and the Kiss Army sticker that were bundled with this collection in that report. Stupidly, I stuck these items onto the pages in the report, which later ended up in the trash can. But, I still have the original booklet that came with the record.

This collection contains the first three Kiss records: Kiss (1974), Hotter Than Hell (1974), and Dressed to Kill (1975). The Originals came out in 1976, and, by the time I bought my copy, I had already heard Alive! at a friend's house many times as well as Rock And Roll Over and Destroyer. I can't remember exactly when I bought this record, but I remember where I bought it.

In my home town, there was no record store, at the time anyway, so I either had to hope that I could join my sister or my mom on one of their shopping trips to larger urban centres, where one could find a record store or two, or rely on a feeble stereo store in town. This local stereo shop had, for a short period of time, a small rack of records. I guess if someone bought a new hi-fi system, they could then rightly suggest a record or two to go with it. The selection was generally dismal, as it tended to serve the needs of the older rural conservative. But, one day, I found this record and I had saved enough of my allowance to buy it. I cannot remember the price.

The debut record -- Kiss -- might be the best Kiss record, though I have not heard them all. Back in the day, if you asked me to chose my favourite Kiss track, I would have said Strutter. Other top choices would have been Firehouse and maybe Deuce and possibly even Love Theme from Kiss. I suppose Hotter Than Hell and Dressed to Kill are probably equal in quality, but I just liked the first record better. I have really no idea when I played anything from this collection last, but it must have been a hell of a long time ago. It's unlikely I will ever play this again, except maybe for comedic purposes at a dinner party, perhaps.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Kinks: State Of Confusion (1983)

I know this will sound absolutely crazy, but my favourite Kinks song is Come Dancing. What? I know, it's hard to believe. Still, its true. I'm not sure why, but it just is. The other big hit from this record is Don't Forget to Dance, a slow-paced song, which is also about dancing. What was going on with the Kinks in 1983?

I had lots of Kinks music, all on cassette, way back when.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Kingbees: The Big Rock (1981)

I don't know this record as well as I now the first LP from the band, simply because I didn't listen to it as much. But, I would say that the first record is better, but this is pretty good fun music.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Kingbees: The Kingbees (1980)

I'd guess that there are lots of people who have never heard of this band. The Kingbees had a short-lived career which started in 1980 and ended in 1981. I know, they released something in 2004 and something in 2012, but I know nothing about those records. For me, they existed from 1980-1981.

This record is part of that rockabilly revival that included the Stray Cats and others. I was never swept away by that movement, but I did like some of the music, and I liked this record, which - without looking it up - I think came out before the Stray Cats. Surprisingly, Allmusic gives the record 4.5 stars. I'm amazed.

By the way, there was a band called The King Bees that operated in the 1960s and I believe there were other bands called King Bee.

Monday, May 15, 2017

King Crimson: Sleepless (1984)

What? A remix? A Dance mix too! What a surprise. I have a copy of the first UK pressing of this 12" single.

Side A:
Sleepless (Dance Mix)

Side B:
Sleepless (Instrumental Mix)

Friday, May 12, 2017

King Crimson: Three of a Perfect Pair (1984)

Discipline represented the drive to 1981. This record was part of the incline to 1984. Am I remembering that correctly?

This record completes the 80s trilogy. After this, it took eleven years before we got a new record, though we did get the EP VROOOM in 1994, which was still ten years on.

I love the title track almost as much as anything that appeared on Discipline. However, Model Man is another song that probably should have been on a Belew record. I feel the same way about Man with an Open Heart, though I like both songs.

Side two is the less commercial side, containing more experimental efforts, with three of the four instrumentals appearing here. The best tracks on side two to me are Industry and Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part III).

Like Discipline and Beat, I used to own the cassette. I have the record. I have the definitive edition on CD. I have the thirtieth anniversary edition on CD. In this case, the thirtieth anniversary remastered edition sounds better, maybe because the original tapes were digital and remastering helped?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

King Crimson: Beat (1982)

Beat makes reference to the Beat generation, especially Kerouac's On the Road. The opening track, Neil and Jack and Me provides an obvious reference. It's an excellent record, but I prefer Discipline, even after learning that Bruford preferred Beat to Discipline.

I would say that the live versions of these tracks are better than the studio versions, perhaps because of the recording or mastering of this record. Oddly, there's a pop song here -- Heartbeat -- which sounds more like a Belew solo tune. I feel the same way about Two Hands. But, there are some brilliant musical moments on this record. The band even made an official video for Heartbeat, one of only two the band ever made.

There is a strange stability with his record, as Wikipedia notes: "[Beat] is the first King Crimson studio album to feature a band line-up identical to that of their previous album." [source] The next record would feature the same lineup as well.

I used to own the cassette. I have the record. I have the definitive edition on CD. I have the thirtieth anniversary edition on CD.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

King Crimson: Discipline (1981)

Dialogue, duologue, diatribe,
Dissension, declamation
Double talk, double talk

Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford, Adrian Belew, and Tony Levin! Wow. Imagine that? The 80s KC is really a super group. And, wow, what a change in sound. At times, Discipline is my favourite record. It might be the best thing Crimson ever did. It's either this record or The Power to Believe. Both are fabulous. I also love the other two 80s records: Beat and Three of a Perfect Pair.

I would say that Discipline contains my favourite KC track of all time. That track is Frame by Frame. From what I have read, this tune is in 7/8 and 13/8. I'm not up on my music theory. It has something to do with Fripp falling behind Belew one beat every measure until they sync up again, after each has played thirteen and fourteen bars or notes. My memory is hazy. In any case, it is totally awesome.

The title track is also interesting:

"During the piece the two guitars of Belew and Fripp, respectively, move through the following sequence of pairs of time signatures: 5
and 5
, 5
and 4
, 5
and 9
, 15
and 15
, 15
and 14
, 10
and 20
, 15
and 15
, 15
and 14
, 12
and 12
, 12
and 11
, 15
and 15
, 15
and 14
. Throughout the drums play in 17
..." [source]

The only track I am not big on is Matte Kudasai, which might sound sacrilegious given the love this track gets from many fans. It just doesn't do anything for me. I like it; I don't love it.

I used to own the cassette. I have the record. I have the definitive edition on CD. I have the thirtieth anniversary edition on CD.

This record fits on my top ten list of records of all time, a list that probably has one hundred records on it by now. By the way, I used to be on a listserv called Elephant Talk. Formerly, it was called Discipline, until Fripp asked the group to change the name. You can find the archives via the ET wiki.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

King Crimson: Islands (1971)

Like Lizard, I paid $1 for this Canadian pressing at a church rummage sale in the early 1990s. I think that this is a better record than Lizard.

Some people hate it; others do not. I don't have much to say about it. I still prefer later Crimson, but this record has it moments, like:

Monday, May 08, 2017

King Crimson: Lizard (1970)

I bought this record at some sort of church rummage sale in Toronto in the very early 1990s for $1. Fripp once said that the record is unlistenable. I think that's a bit harsh, but I see what he means. There are some less successful parts on the record, and it just doesn't hold together. The best thing might be the lead-off track, Circus. Wait, that should read Circus (Including: Entry Of The Chameleons).

If you know anything about KC, it's likely that you will be aware of the revolving cast of musicians. It's really difficult to keep track of the changes. Oddly, Jon Anderson was brought in for some vocal duties, which does not work at all. So, it's hit and miss, mostly miss.

Friday, May 05, 2017

King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King, An Observation by King Crimson (1969)

Cat's foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoia's poison door.
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Blood rack barbed wire
Polititians' funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man

Twenty first century
Twenty first century
Twenty first century
Twenty first century schizoid man

Death seed blind man's greed
Poets' starving children bleed
Nothing he's got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Twenty first century
Twenty first century schizoid man
Twenty first century schizoid man

Welcome to the twenty first century

Years ago, Pete said something like: "everyone has a copy of In the Court of the Crimson King in his record collection." I didn't then, but I do now (on both CD and vinyl). My CD copy is the Definitive Edition, which was released in 2009. My LP is a Canadian gatefold pressing, but I do not know the date it was pressed, though it is probably not from 1969.

I am pretty sure that I have a complete run of KC recordings on CD, including some of the ProjeKCts (but only some releases from the Collector Club), and many recordings on vinyl and/or CD by current and former members, most notably Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew. For many years, I went down the Robert Fripp rabbit hole and ended up in very strange places. Think recordings by Bill Reiflin, Trey Gunn, Tony Levin, Adrian Belew, Bill Bruford, Brian Eno, etc. All of which led to Steve Gorn, David Torn, The California Guitar Trio, Jeffrey Fayman, etc, etc...

This record is perhaps the first truly prog rock record, a genre I have a love/hate relationship with. I admire some of it but hate vast quantities of it. I also have a love/hate relationship with this record, despite it's ranking by most people as a classic. There is some fantastic drumming on this record.

The truth is that I never really like King Crimson until I heard Discipline in the early 1980s. I guess I should also say that I discovered some earlier KC that I quite like, particular Red. In my ever so humble opinion, this record has two excellent tracks: 21st Century Schizoid Man and The Court of the Crimson King. The former track is so good it might be worth the price of the record. The rest of the tunes don't do as much for me. OK, OK, Epitaph is not bad.

A very proggy thing to do is s to have movements in songs, or very long song titles, like these:

21st Century Schizoid Man (Including Mirrors)
I Talk To The Wind
Epitaph (Including (A) March For No Reason; (B) Tomorrow And Tomorrow)
Moonchild (Including (A) The Dream; (B) The Illusion)
The Court Of The Crimson King (Including (A) The Return Of The Fire Witch; (B) The Dance Of The Puppets)

I have heard that this type of song naming really had to do with royalties, since the record only contains five tracks. I have no idea if that explanation is correct.

I saw King Crimson in concert years ago. Oddly, I saw PJ Harvey the same weekend. Anyway, the gender imbalance of the KC audience had a curious effect. The women's restroom had no queue: the men's did. I had to wait to pee, while the women just walked straight in. That never happens.

I do love the album jacket. It's epic. There is a prescient comment on the video below: "I'm going to enjoy this before it gets taken down..." If it's gone, it's gone.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Killing Joke: Outside the Gate (1988)

Once again, this album really divides people. Personally, I prefer the earlier releases, but this is not as bad as some critics would have you believe. I see the problems with the record, for sure, but it does not stink, as Allmusic claims:
Put it this way: this is the Killing Joke album where castanets are heard and both bassist Paul Raven and drummer Big Paul Ferguson quit the band to avoid association with this misfire. If you're anything but a very forgiving completist, pass on this one. [source]
America, the lead-off track, is not too bad, despite the fact that the first thing that occurred to me when I first heard the opening sythny sounds is Van Halen's Jump. I hate Jump, mostly because of the infantile use of the synthesizer. I will have to listen to Outside the Gate again soon.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Killing Joke: Brighter than a Thousand Suns (1986)

This album is either loved or hated by Killing Joke fans. The critics seems to be united in their dislike for it. Just have a look at what Allmusic said. The critic argued that the album was: effort ultimately dialed in rather than performed. The sound-alike quality of nearly all the songs -- especially ironic considering the accomplished genre-hopping on the earliest records -- renders Killing Joke its own unfortunate parody in the end. [source]
Wikipedia finds a more charitable review:
Adrien Begrand of PopMatters wrote "Without question, 1986's Brighter Than a Thousand Suns marked a sharp decline in quality, many viewing it as a complete betrayal of Killing Joke's signature sound, but more than 20 years later, it's surprising how well parts of the album hold up." [source]
It's a fact that some of the edge is gone, but I truly like most of these tunes. The opener - Adorations - is really great, for example. Sanity is good. I like Chessboards, Twilight of the Mortal, Love of the Masses, and others. In short, it's far better than the critics would have you believe, but it's not the Killing Joke of yore.