Saturday, March 25, 2017

Howard Jones: You Know I Love you Don’t You? (1986)

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You Know I Love you Don’t You? is taken from One to One, Jones's third record. It might be the best track on the record. Side A of this 12" single contains the Dance In The Field Mix. Side B has an instrumental version as well as a tune called Dig This Well Deep.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Howard Jones: One to One (1986)

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I think the verdict on this record is that it is far more mature and laid back than his earlier recordings, but that fact didn't really mean that this is a good record. It's OK, but I think the earlier stuff is better.

Some CD releases of this album contain the re-imagined version of No One is to Blame.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Howard Jones: Dream into Action (1985)

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Dream into Action contains a bunch of popular tunes, like Things Can Only Get Better, Life in One  Day, Like to Get to Know You Well, Look Mama, and the original version of No One is to Blame, which was subsequently re-recorded and rearranged by Phil Collins. I prefer the re-recorded version of that track. This is probably the record to get if you want to hear Jone at peak pop. I have a Canadian pressing. I think that the cover is ugly.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Howard Jones: Human’s Lib (1984)

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Human's Lib was the first LP from Howard Jones and it's pretty good. It contains the aforementioned What is Love?, plus New Song, and a bunch of other good tracks, such as Pearl in a Shell. I recall that the late Don Berns, of CFNY (he was later known as Dr. Trance) claimed that Hide and Seek was his favourite song. Berns meant his favourite song, not simply his favourite song from Howard Jones. I could never reconcile that. I remember Berns saying that on the air, I had a very difficult time even remember the melody. I feel the same way now.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Howard Jones: What Is Love? (1983)

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Howard Jones was a new waver from the early 80s and someone that I casually liked. A song or two here of there sounded OK to me, but I was never fanatical. And, here's a Canadian connection. Jones lived in Canada for a while, when his family relocated here, but then he returned to the motherland some time later.

This UK 12" single (it was only released on 7" in Canada) contains What is Love? on the a-side, with It Just Doesn't Matter and a live version of Hunt the Self on the b-side. My UK pressing is not in a picture sleeve, as suggested by Discogs, but in a plain sleeve. I'm not sure if this was a replacement, or of there were other versions in a plain sleeve.

What is Love? is a pretty good track, for a new wavish pop song.I think Jones might still be touring, but I have no idea if any new music came out after the 80s, when I lost interest in most 80s acts.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Grace Jones: Living My Life (1982)

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Originally, I was a bit wary of Grace Jones, primarily because my brother liked her. He liked disco. I didn't. He bought singles from all of the disco queens. I retreated into Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Over time, I came to enjoy Grace Jones' music. This might be the only time that my brother was right about anything.

Anyway, Grace is awesome.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Jon and Vangelis: The Frinds of Mr. Cairo (1981)

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Check out the Allmusic review, below.

The second album-length collaboration between Jon Anderson and Vangelis is almost perfect in its blending of elements; it's only when the pair tries to do some serious rocking on "Back to School" that things take a bit of a nosedive. Other than that, though, there are some classic cuts to be found on this record, including the breathtaking "I'll Find My Way Home," "State of Independence" (which became a popular tune to cover), and the brilliantly optimistic "Mayflower," which catapults the listener into a star-traveling future. Grand stuff. [source]

And yet, the reviewer awards this three out of five stars. I consider this to be a better record that the first, but that might have something to do with my fascination of the title track, back when the record was released.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Jon and Vangelis: Short Stories (1980)

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Jon Anderson of the band Yes and Greek composer Vangelis might seem like an unlikely pair, and yet they recorded four records together. I think the music they recorded was interesting, but I don't find that I go back to it very much. There is a part of me that thinks this record would have been better without the vocals, or maybe just without the vocalist. I do like some of the music provided by Vangelis, on the other hand.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Matt Johnson: Burning Blue Soul (1981)

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"And my aching little soul--has started burning blue!"
Infected, The The

In 1993, this record was released on CD, as per Johnson's wish, under the moniker The The, Matt Johnson's oddly-named new "band." I put that in quotes because Matt was the only member, at the outset anyway. I have a copy on CD as well. By the way, try searching for The The on Amazon. It's impossible. You can, of course, search the titles of records, but not the band.

The The ranks, in my ever so humble opinion, as one of the best groups to hail from the 80s. I'm a big fan, owning pretty much everything they released in one format or another. I even saw them in concert, when the band was really a band.

As much as I like this record, I feel that Johnson really hit his stride with Soul Mining, the debut record from The The. Allmusic sort of agrees with me:
Matt Johnson's work thrives on the tension between accessible pop and dissonant experimentation; between joyful wonder and despairing bleakness. Burning Blue Soul was a more disjointed solo album Johnson released under his own name in 1981 before these tensions were fully integrated. The reissue is a valuable sketchbook for The The fans interested in dissecting the early inner workings of Johnson's art, but the meandering tape-collages that serve as framework will leave most others cold. [source]
Still, I love this record. Johnson wrote all of the songs and played every instrument, but obviously not at the same time.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Elton John: Breaking Hearts (1984)

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Sad Songs (Say So Much) is a terrible song. It's so bad that Elton offered it to Sasson for a stupid advertising campaign. Enough said. There is nothing remarkable about this record, except how bad it is. I have no idea how it came to be in my possession. And that reminds me that I was once given copies of Reg Strikes Back and Sleeping with the Past. I never played them, and they sat in a crate until I decided to unload them, a while back. I should do the same with this one. If you think my opinion of later Elton is harsh, just do this test. Listen to his greatest hits releases, volumes one through three, and then objectively decide which is the lesser record. If you do not agree that it is the third collection, we cannot be friends.

OK, I suppose Sad Songs (Say So Much) is probably an OK pop song, and it's certainly much better than Who Wears these Shoes? All in all, though, it's difficult to believe that Bernie Taupin rote most of the lyrics.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Elton John: Jump Up! (1982)

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The only redeeming thing about this record is Empty Garden, a wonderful and heart-wrenching tribute to John Lennon. I would call this one of Elton's greatest songs.

What happened here
As the New York sunset disappeared
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange
It's funny how one insect can damage so much grain

And what's it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed we're crippled and we're dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace

And I've been knocking but no one answers
And I've been knocking most all the day
Oh and I've been calling oh hey hey Johnny
Can't you come out to play

And through their tears
Some say he farmed his best in younger years
But he'd have said that roots grow stronger if only he could hear
Who lived there
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls
We hear, we hear your name

Johnny can't you come out to play in your empty garden

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Elton John: The Fox (1981)

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The 1980's were unkind to many former stars, and Elton was no exception. I'll add this record to the long list of things I should part with. I have no idea where I got it. On the other hand, I'll have to give it props for the track Elton's Song, for its frank look at gay love when such topics were deemed to be controversial. As Wikipedia notes, "The theme of gay love caused a controversy, inspiring such tabloid headlines as "Elton's gay video shocker". [source] It looks like we have learned nothing in the intervening years