Friday, May 19, 2017

Kiss: The Originals (1976)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)
Sleepless

Friday, May 12, 2017

King Crimson: Three of a Perfect Pair (1984)

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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)

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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)

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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
8
and 5
8
, 5
8
and 4
4
, 5
8
and 9
8
, 15
16
and 15
16
, 15
16
and 14
16
, 10
8
and 20
16
, 15
16
and 15
16
, 15
16
and 14
16
, 12
16
and 12
16
, 12
16
and 11
16
, 15
16
and 15
16
, 15
16
and 14
16
. Throughout the drums play in 17
16
..." [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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.