EAT – timeless & unlauded

THE DEITIES OF POP-STARDOM MUST BE FICKLE CREATURES,  JUDGING FROM THE APPARENT RANDOMNESS AT WHICH THEY BESTOW  SUCCESS UPON BANDS (BASED ON SEEMINGLY MYSTERIOUS FACTORS OTHER THAN TALENT).

ONE SUCH EXAMPLE IS THE BAND EAT, WHO’S STUNNING DEBUT ALBUM SELL ME A GOD SHOULD HAVE GAINED THEM QUICK AND LASTING INTERNATIONAL ACCLAIM…….OR NOT, AS IT TURNED OUT.  RELEASED ON THE CURE’S FICTION LABEL IN 1989, THIS MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT ROCK ALBUMS TO CATEGORIZE, FROM ANY DECADE. TIMELESS AND UNIQUE, EAT SIMPLY SOUND LIKE NO ONE ELSE, THEN OR NOW. SOME HAVE LABELED THE SOUND AS “SWAMP-POP”, WHICH IS CERTAINLY AS APPLICABLE A LABEL AS ANY, BEING A CHALLENGE TO CULMINATE THE VARIED APPROACHES ON THIS RECORD INTO A TIDY GENRE-BOX.  FROM COW-PUNK ROCKERS, FUNK-TINGED RANTS TO ATMOSPHERIC SPOKEN WORD PIECES, EAT SOMEHOW MANAGES TO ESCAPE SOUNDING SCHIZOPHRENIC.  HOW IT COULD ALL MAKE SENSE IS A PART OF THEIR UNDER-APPRECIATED TALENTS.

ANGE DOLITTLE’S IS VOICE IS SIMPLY AMAZING, THE GUITAR PLAYING OF THE BROTHERS PAUL AND MAX NOBLE IS AN INSPIRING COUNTERPOINT IN TEXTURE AND TECHNIQUE, THE RHYTHM SECTION (PETE HOWARD, DRUMS & TIM SEWELL, BASS) ARE ALWAYS SOLID, MUSICAL & SPOT ON.  IN SHORT, THESE GUYS ARE A GREAT BAND, SO WHAT HAPPENED?

VOLATILE BAND RELATIONSHIPS, DRUGS & A GENERAL LACK OF SUCCESS IN THE U.S. AS WE UNDERSTAND THE HISTORY OF THEIR QUICK IMPLOSION.  EVEN THOUGH THE LONDON-BASED GROUP HAD GAINED RECOGNITION IN THEIR NATIVE U.K., GOTTEN FAVORABLE PRESS AND TOURED WITH THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN THROUGH EUROPE, THEY COULDN’T HOLD IT TOGETHER AS A WORKING BAND.  PITY.  WE’VE PULLED SELL ME A GOD OUT OF THE STACKS CONTINUOUSLY OVER THE YEARS AND THOUGHT “THESE GUYS COULD’VE BEEN HUGE!”.  NOT EVEN THE REFORMATION OF THE BAND WITH DIFFERENT GUITARISTS, A HONED POP EDGE AND A SECOND ALBUM EPICURE COULD GIVE EAT THE SUCCESS THEY SHOULD HAVE EARNED.  

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT SELL ME A GOD IS STILL A GREAT ALBUM  AND STILL OUT THERE TO BE HEARD=

http://musicstore.orange.ch/eat/sell-me-a-god/aft10748184art843136 

Advertisements

SPARKS, ‘glam’ or not?

 

 

 

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF BANDS THAT THE TERM “70’S GLAM ROCK” IS USUALLY APPLIED TO: DAVID BOWIE, T-REX, GARRY GLITTER, SWEET, ROXY MUSIC….. BUT NOT SPARKS.  TOO BAD.

SPARKS 1974 ALBUM KIMONO MY HOUSE IS A STRAIGHT-UP ROMP THROUGH GLITTER-LAND, AND A CATCHY, FINELY CRAFTED ONE AT THAT.  YOU COULD SAY THAT SPARKS WEREN’T REALLY A GLAM BAND, AS THEIR OUTPUT OF OVER TWENTY ALBUMS SPANNING THREE DECADES COVERS A LOT OF STYLISTIC TERRAIN, BUT THEN BOWIE AND ROXY MUSIC DIDN’T SPEND LONG IN THE GLAM-CAMP  VERY LONG EITHER.

  SPARKS ARE AN AMERICAN GROUP, FROM LOS ANGELES.  BUT THE MAEL BROTHERS RECORDED THIS RECORD IN THE U.K. WITH A BRITISH RHYTHM SECTION, WHICH IS ALSO WHERE IT WAS RECEIVED THE WARMEST (THE SINGLE “THIS TOWN AIN’T BIG ENOUGH FOR BOTH OF US” REACHED #2 IN ENGLAND, LATER TO BE COVERED BY ONE MS SIOUXIE).  SO IS THIS AN ENGLISH OR AN AMERICAN GLAM-ROCK RECORD?   IS THIS PERHAPS THE ANSWER TO THE RIDDLE OF HOW ONE OF AMERICAS BEST GLAM RECORDS IS LEFT OFF THE LIST? IS IT THEIR LACK OF EXTREME STAGE-MAKE-UP, SEQUINED CLOTHING AND PLATFORM BOOTS?   HMMMM…..PERHAPS IT DOESN’T ULTIMATELY MATTER.

  THE VOCAL ACROBATICS OF RUSSEL MAEL ARE STUNNING, THE LYRIC-COMEDY OF RON MAEL (NOT TO MENTION THE DEAD-PAN STAGE PRESENCE) IS A LAUGH, AND THE BAND IS ROCKIN’ AND GREAT.  TIMES CHANGED, STYLES CHANGED, SPARKS CHANGED, BUT THIS ALBUM IS AN ACHIEVEMENT IN GLAM-POP GREATNESS.


the secret wonders of Monoton

WE TEND TO FAVOR THE VINYL PART OF OUR MUSIC COLLECTION, BUT OCCASIONALLY THERE COMES ALONG A CD THAT IS A MUST-OWN; ONE SUCH DISC IS THE ORAL RECORDS RE-ISSUE OF THE 1982 ALBUM MONOTONPRODUKT 07  FROM MONOTON.  A FORGOTTEN GEM OF EARLY MINIMALIST ELECTRONICA, MONOTON SOUNDS JUST AS UNIQUE TODAY AS IT MUST HAVE UPON ITS’ INITIAL RELEASE.

MONOTON IS ACTUALLY ONE MAN, AUSTRIAN KONRAD BECKER, AND A COMPARISON TO ANY OTHER ALBUM OR GROUP IS A DIFFICULT ONE.  THINK OF PHILLIP GLASS ON QUAALUDES, OR KRAFTWERK ON A VERY VERY DISTRAUGHT DAY….. BUT THAT STILL DOESN’T SUFFICE.  MONOTONPRODUKT 07  DOESN’T EVOKE A DOUR FEELING, PERHAPS IT IS THE ABSENCE OF FEELING THAT IS MORE UNSETTLING.  COLD, MATHEMATICAL IN SOME WAYS, BUT ALLURING IN SO MANY OTHERS: HYPNOTIC, OTHERWORLDLY, TRANCE PRODUCING.  THE SOUNDS ARE NOT REALLY DATED (THEY DON’T SCREAM 1982 IN THE WAY AN EARLY HUMAN LEAGUE RECORD DOES), AND THE STRANGENESS THAT TAKES A FEW TRACKS TO PLACE IS THE ABSENCE OF DRUMS (THERE ARE PRACTICALLY NO PERCUSSIVE SOUNDS USED AT ALL), INSTEAD RHYTHMS ARE ESTABLISHED BY LOW FREQUENCY TONAL REPETITIONS WHICH SERVE AS A PLATFORM FOR SONIC EXPLORATIONS.  THE OCCASIONAL VOCALS ARE, APPROPRIATELY ENOUGH, SUNG IN MONOTONE UND AUF DEUTSCH ONLY AUGMENTED BY A TIGHT DELAY WHICH FURTHERS THE DISTANCE FROM COMPARISONS TO FOLKS LIKE KRAFTWERK WHO WERE SO VOCORDER HAPPY. 

WE THOUGHT SECTIONS OF  MONOTONPRODUKT 07  WOULD’VE MADE A MUCH MORE ENGAGING (or fitting)  SOUNDTRACK FOR A FILM LIKE 1982’s BLADE RUNNER THAN VANGELIS,

BUT DON’T JUST TAKE OUR WORD ON IT, LISTEN FOR YOURSELF:

http://grooveshark.com/#/artist/Monoton/404466

 

acid, sitars & the Moody Blues

 

SOME BANDS/ARTISTS JUST KEEP AT IT TOO LONG, AND LONGEVITY IS NOT ALWAYS SO FRIENDLY….THINK OF THE ROLLING STONES, HEART, DONOVAN, HAWKWIND OR THE MOODY BLUES.  FOR A LOT OF FOLKS UNDER THE AGE 40, THE NAME THE MOODY BLUES MAY CONJURE A MEMORY OF THE 1986 HIT ‘YOUR WILDEST DREAMS’,  WHICH LINGERS IN THE BACK OF OUR MINDS LIKE AN UNPLEASANT ODOR THAT STICKS IN THE ICEBOX.  IT IS AN UNFORTUNATE REPRESENTATION OF A TALENTED BAND WHO’S EARLIER RECORDS WERE INVENTIVE, UNIQUE AND ENDANGERED NOW OF BEING OVERLOOKED (OR NOT TAKEN AT ALL SERIOUSLY).

THE MOODY BLUES HAD QUITE A GOOD, ALBEIT SHORT, RUN.  FROM 1967 TO 1970 THEY RELEASED FIVE SOLID, ORIGINAL ALBUMS, COMBINING ORCHESTRAL POP, PSYCHEDELIC FREAKOUTS, SOARING BALLADS, INDIAN INFLUENCES AND DRIVING ROCK.  AN OUTSTANDING REPRESENTATION OF THEIR STRENGTHS IS FOUND ON THE 1968 ALBUM IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD.  A SONIC VOYAGE TAKING LISTENERS FROM ODES TO TIMOTHY LEARY (“LEGEND OF A MIND”) TO SITAR-TINGED MANTRA-POP (“VISIONS OF PARADISE” & “OM”),  IN SEARCH IS PRETTY DAMN SOLID FROM START TO FINISH.

FOR SOME LISTENERS, THE MOODY BLUES WILL ALWAYS BE JUST A BIT TOO CHEESY (THINK “NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN”) OR NOT QUITE ‘COOL’ ENOUGH – BUT ANY OF THIS SHOULD BE OUTWEIGHED BY TERRIFIC ARRANGEMENTS, WELL-CRAFTED POP SONGS (THE ENTIRE BAND WERE SONGWRITERS AND MULTI-INSTRUMENTALISTS) AND THAT PHENOMENAL MELLOTRON SOUND!!!!

FORGET THE BAD 80’S MTV MEMORIES, OR THE MODERN DAY CASINO TOURS AND RECONSIDER THESE LADS IN THEIR CREATIVE PRIME=



the video world of Arthur Brown

WE WERE GOING TO WRITE A FEW THINGS ABOUT THE 1968 ALBUM THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN;  SUCH AS THE VOCAL SIMILARITIES TO SCREAMIN’ JAY HAWKINS,  THE INFLUENCE ON OTHER LATER STAGE THEATRICS, OR SOME 90’S BANDS APPROPRIATION OF THE ORGAN SOUND { THE “BAGGY” MANCHESTER SOUND OF CHARLATANS UK, SOUP DRAGONS, INSPIRAL CARPETS, HAPPY MONDAYS}.        BUT WE’RE GOING UBER-21ST CENTURY TODAY AND LETTING OUR FRIENDS AT YOUTUBE DO THE WORK FOR US.  THANKS YOUTUBE.



the Brothers Gibb you might not know

OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, WE’VE GOTTEN QUITE A FEW SNAPS-OF-THE-HEAD AND “WHAT!”‘S  WHEN WE’VE TALKED ABOUT THE BEE GEES AS A GREAT SIXTIES POP BAND. 

WE UNDERSTAND WHY.  FOR MANY OF US, WHO WERE BORN IN THE 70’S OR 80’S,  UPON HEARING THE NAME “THE BEE GEES” IMAGINE THREE DUDES IN WHITE BELLED-JUMPSUITS WITH GOLD CHAINS SINGING IN FALSETTO VOICES OVER DISCO BEATS.    YES, THIS IS A VALID IMAGE TO RECALL, BUT ONLY FOR THE RE-INVENTION OF THE CAREER OF A BAND THAT HAD BEEN WRITING GREAT POP SONGS SINCE THE EARLY SIXTIES.

THE BEE GEES FIRST ALBUM (RELEASED OUTSIDE OF AUSTRALIA) WAS THE 1967 ALBUM 1ST.  ENTIRELY OF IT’S TIME, IT’S A INFECTIOUS BLEND OF POP, ORCHESTRAL, PSYCHEDELIC AND ROCK SOUNDS – MUCH LIKE THEIR CONTEMPORARIES THE ROLLING STONES OR THE BEATLES (WHO ALSO USED ARTIST KLAUS VOORMANN FOR THEIR REVOLVER ALBUM COVER)….. AND LIGHT YEARS AWAY FROM “NIGHT FEVER”.  NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH “JIVE TALKIN'” (either you dig disco or you don’t), BUT WE’RE REALLY TALKING ABOUT AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT BAND WITH 1ST.

I COULD ACTUALLY LUMP IN THE BEE GEE’S NEXT TWO ALBUMS FROM 1968, HORIZONTAL AND IDEA, WITH THEIR FIRST, BUT HOPEFULLY YOU GET THE DRIFT ALREADY. 

IF YOUR MUSICAL INTERESTS INCLUDE UK POP BANDS FROM THE LATE SIXTIES, BE WILLING TO CHECK OUT THE BEE GEES IN THEIR ROCK’N’ROLL YOUTH.

ALSO, IF YOU’RE WONDERING HOW THIS ALBUM COULD HAVE FALLEN THROUGH THE CRACKS, HERE IS A PARTIAL LIST OF A FEW OTHER ALBUMS THAT WERE RELEASED IN 1967:

BEATLES – SGT. PEPPER’S

ROLLING STONES – THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST

THE DOORS – THE DOORS & STRANGE DAYS

PINK FLOYD – PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN

VELVET UNDERGROUND – VU & NICO

DONOVAN – MELLOW YELLOW

JIMI HENDRIX – ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?

SCOTT WALKER – SCOTT

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE – SURREALISTIC PILLOW

LEONARD COHEN – SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN

MOODY BLUES – DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED

THE ANIMALS – WINDS OF CHANGE

ETC, ETC

COIL and the beauty of circulating

I suppose there are people who like COIL and those that don’t.  Then there are people who enjoy a record like Queens of the Circulating Library, and those that fall asleep after 10 minutes.   Fair enough.  Even in the ambient subcategory of “minimalist drone”, or for the average COIL listener, Queens requires an almost Buddha-like attention span from its listeners (or the proper influence of chemicals?).
It is difficult to briefly generalize the broad musical terrain COIL covered over three decades, from industrial-tinged stomping to serene glitchy strangeness, but somehow even harder to convey the brilliance of a record with one single 50 minute track that, on the surface, doesn’t do much.   But this is where patience pays off:  the subtle changes of tone, color and texture that occur over those 50 minutes are a masterful stroke of sound manipulation (and dare I say more sophisticated, though very different, approach than their colleagues’ Nurse With Wound’s Salt Marie Celeste).  Somewhat like COIL’s sound experimentation with the Russian ANS synthesizer (which is quite interesting but ranges from pleasing to painful to listen to), Queens utilizes texture to create movement in surprisingly harmonic, lulling and transportive ways, with an effect not dis-similar to narcotics but much safer, legal and cheap.
Ultimately this, and other records like it, are not for everyone…. and that’s alright.  For those that are open to this type of sonic exploration, it is a journey well worth taking.

Note: this album is not to be confused with the track ‘queens of the circulating library’ (or just ‘circulating’) that appears on ‘COIL presents Time Machines’ (aka ‘COIL live one’), which is not to be confused with the album ‘Time Machines’; confusing, huh?

Herb Alpert……yes, we mean it.

growing up going record hunting, i was constantly running into countless copies of the 1965 album whipped cream & other delights  by Herb Alpert.  everywhere =  record stores, thrift stores, garage sales, piles of rubbish left with discarded apartment furniture in back alleys.  And like most of my generation,  i recognized its’ iconic cover-art attributes while ignorantly dismissing the music it contained as cheesy, “old-people music” (along with the likes of Lawrence Welk or anything misconstrued as “easy listening”).  well, decades later i have finally understood why there were six million copies of this record sold, aside from the aesthetic qualities of lovely (and pregnant)  cover model Dolores Erickson, it kicks ass.   True, it is question of taste whether you like the saccharine sweet arrangements, the ridiculous modulations, the food-themed titles….. yet the playing here is top shelf, and easily overlooked, much in the same way as the players in show bands at amusement parks or cruise ships are forgotten professionals.
The rhythm section is rock solid, the horns are crisp in attack and exacting in pitch, the dynamics are spot-on and the tunes are, well, damn catchy to tell the truth.  it might still be “old people music”, but those old people knew good playing when they heard it.
and by the way, i could write the same for the Lawrence Welk show as well.