Author Archives: keepsmealive
Five Hole Band – Tales Of Hockey Erotica
Dear KMA Readers, I cannot contain my excitement!
I think most of you here are with me on this one when I say that, as record collectors, sometimes we have items that have eluded us for ages. And even when we find a rare copy, it’s always way too expensive, or in terrible shape. That is, in fact, why we host the KMA Grail List!
Herein lies this tale. I’ve had a copy of the Five Hole Band’s Tales Of Hockey Erotica on the Grail List for ages. Check out the players (and some of the stuff they’ve worked on/with):
Dave Bidini (Rheostatics, Bidiniband, Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, well-known author of books and articles, etc)
Selina Martin (solo, Martin Tielli, Ford Pier)
Barry Mirochnick (drums for Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, Whitehorse, Melissa McLelland, Waterboys, Greg MacPherson, Luke Doucet, Ford Pier, etc etc)
Ford Pier (Carolyn Mark, Kathryn Calder, D.O.A., Buttless Chaps, Amy Honey, Neko Case, Martin Tielli, Show Business Giants, Beat Farmers, Kris Demeanor, solo, etc)
Martin Tielli (Rheostatics, Nick Buzz, Ford Pier, Meryn Cadell, Luke Doucet, Buttless Chaps, Amelia Curran, Justin Rutledge, solo, etc)
I know! And there are guest performers too (see bonus shite photie of credits at bottom of this post)
This disc is the result of Bidini writing a play, and the play getting performed, and then the songs being recorded (see bonus shite photie of digipak blurb at bottom of post). Now you know.
Now, over the years, copies have come along now and again, but they’re always ex-library rentals and the sellers make no promises about conditon, and even then these have been $10 and up, some as high as $50. Seriously. Here’s the common refrain:
“Ex-Library rental. Disc(s) are professionally cleaned and may contain only light scratches that do not effect functionality. Includes disc(s), case, and back artwork. Front booklet may be missing. Disc(s), case, and back artwork may contain library/security stickers and ink writing. Case and artwork may show some wear. ARTWORK MAY BE UNORIGINAL AND PRINTED BY LIBRARY. Case may not be an original jewel case. All disc(s) are authentic.”
Straight up: I’m not buying that.
One time, I even emailed the label, Zunior, and asked about procurring a copy through them. After being told to search what I’d already done for ages (Amazon, etc), the reply came back that the guy would sell me his copy. For $50. Sigh. I didn’t even bother to reply.
And then one day, recently, I randomly searched it out of reflex, and found a copy on Amazon, Used – Like New. For just $9.99. The seller has had 175 ratings averaging 4.5 stars. Hello! Too good to be true? It didn’t take me long to decide to take a chance.
Well, it arrived yesterday and it’s beautiful! The CD itself is pristine, better (I think) than advertised. The digipak clearly had somebody use it as a clipboard for writing a note or something to themselves, as the front cover has a few impressions in it, but I am not bothered by them and looked at straight on they’re not even noticeable.
Even better, it looks to be a signed copy! Selina Martin’s signature seems to be gracing the front! Sweet!
And the music is so much fun. Here are my notes from my first-run listen through this album:
Hockey Anthem quotes Slap Shot (naturally), then plods along in an hilarious “anthem” that loves hockey and being Canadian and, er, big balls.
(Thinking ‘Bout Your) Five Hole has a sweetly plucked (and slightly boinging) intro that’s pure Tielli and Bidini, but it quickly becomes a fun rocker chock full of sexual double entendres as innuendos. This is songwriting!
Joan is a lovely strummed country-ish song about the titular character, and her search for love and same-sex, well, sex. But it’s written as story-telling and poetry and it’s simply awesome!
Electric Goalie starts out with a crowd booing, but then turns a couple’s sex moans into part of the beat for this electronic oddity. Buzzers sound, and left-field quotes like “I’m gonna piss all over myself,” and “fucking here I come!” and “pussy!” playfully add to the mix. As an interlude track it’s… different!
The Squid And The Wayne builds from a sweet love song into a raging and roaring soaring bit of voluminous rawk, then swings back to this great instrumental section with pedal steel…
Five Hole Story is a spoken word piece that is rife with more innuendo and just great description about his five hole and its powers and beauties and strengths. It has a history, it has needs, it has wants, and the guitar flits through the background and voices shout FIVE HOLE! randomly as the story unfolds. Haha this was awesome.
Enough About Men & Women Already is funky fun, sung falsetto with disco affectation as the guitar lays the fuzz and occasional clips from hockey announcers, and even a section that briefly riffs the Chili Peppers before becoming electronic bzzing and more sex moans, all while rapping old school. Seriously!
I Fall To Pieces is not, in fact, a cover of Patsy Cline. Which makes sense because I can’t imagine how that tune would fit into this narrative. Instead, Tielli does his slow song lilting beautiful vocals thing while Selina Martin harmonizes and the guitars add atmosphere and, as the acoustic comes in, a Spanish feel. The track builds into a funky swinging disco rattler. Cool!
Bobby Wolf has an almost childlike intro melody line, but the music underneath is fuzzy and grimy rock, all funk and rawk. Of course, with these folks involed, it switches again to sweet pop, then back again. And the lyrics? Bobby wants his game back, and he needs help doing it! This is stunning!
There Go The Jocks starts off with an announcer calling a Bobby Hull goal, then lifts off straight-away into an almost TV-show theme-sounding bouncy rocker. Haha this is fun. I couldn’t not tap my toes to this one and, hey, there go the jocks! “We love the hockey game,” indeed!
Electric Goalie Exit is, as you’d expect, more of the instrumental interlude from earlier. Complete with sex moans and oddities galore.
Oh my goodness.
1) I am absolutely thrilled to find a Grail List Item!
2) This is my favourite hockey-related album since Hockey Teeth’s album Smells Like Stanley’s Cup! It’s 33 minutes of sweet hilarity and full-on creativity and sexiness and pure fun.
3) THIS FUCKING RULES.
Bonus Shite Photies:
The Blurb from inside the digipak:
The Credits – and check out the guest performers!
On Spec 11: Arvo Pärt – Alina
Bought on a whim, because I first heard of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt through our friend Michael in Saskatoon fifteen years ago. He raved about the man’s work, which is described as minimalist and uses a self-created compositional technique he calls tintinnabuli.
On a cool side note, Wiki says “Since 2010 Pärt has been the most performed living composer in the world.”
I will get to what this music did to me in a moment, but first, and this is incredibly lazy of me, but it’s already been said best by others..
Arvo Pärt’s Alina follows a simple-enough formula. Two stark instrumental works from the master of holy minimalism repeat each other, each time slightly different. But the blissful results–quiet, haunting, and thoroughly hypnotizing–meld to create one of classical music’s best albums of 2000. It’s as intense and sublime as contemporary classical music can be. – Amazon
This is a remarkable release, both for its beauty and its novelty at programming. Für Alina is a two-minute solo piano piece composed by Pärt in l976 that ushered in his “tintinnabuli” style, that is, the bell-like, simple, no-notes-wasted method for which he has become beloved and famous. On this CD, pianist Alexander Malter plays it twice, as the second and fourth tracks; each iteration takes almost 11 minutes (Pärt assumed it would be embellished, and he chose this pair for the CD). There are minute variations in tempo, emphasis, and rubato from one to the other, but, all that being said, it amounts to 22 minutes of the most beautiful, contemplative music ever performed. Almost equally gentle is Spiegel im Spiegel , played as tracks 1, 3 and 5 and scored for piano and, respectively, violin, cello, and then violin again. The notes the instruments mirror one another (Spiegel is German for mirror), with notes added to the scale with each repetition, and so on. Almost impossible to describe in its loveliness, each of the three sets is beautiful; the cello in track 3 gives it extra mellowness. This is music staggering in its simple complexity and a treat for the ear and heart. –Robert Levine
‘Almost impossible to describe in its loveliness,’ indeed. I sat down with the good headphones, ready to apply what remains of my brain and review the shit out of this album, ready for anything… but I was left sitting here, disarmed and immobile, just letting the stark beauty of it all wash over me. It’s the sort of music that, in the quiet of a comfortable room on a rainy day, could render a listener tearful from beauty and joy. It’s so simple, elegant, peaceful. I was lifted, made at ease, and when it concluded I felt myself yearning to catch up with the tail end of it so it could go on and on…
I haven’t felt like this about an album in a long time. Through the good headphones you can hear shifting on the piano bench, breathing, the sound of the pedals being depressed… it’s like you’re right there in the room with them as they perform this…
I’ve gone a couple of days without posting because I kept returning to this album, and every time it floored me. Simply the best On Spec album of the series thus far, and possibly of the whole series, for however long it runs. Also one of the best albums I have heard in ages, full stop.
On Spec 10: Kronos Quartet – Night Prayers
To put it simply, from Wiki: Night Prayers is a studio album by the Kronos Quartet. It contains commissioned pieces with music from former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and includes performances by Throat Singers of Tuva, Dawn Upshaw (soprano), Djivan Gasparian (duduk), and Mikhail Alexandrovich (cantor).
So, let’s talk a bit about what happened when this stuff got into my ears.
First off, I am always freaked out slightly by throat singers. It’s awesome, but man, some of that stuff is wild, and Kongrei shows it all off as the Throat Singers Of Tuva display all their skills… it does become melodic too, and beautifully so. For it being from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, parts of this one also has an African feel to it. The universality of music! Lacrymosa builds in with beautiful operatic singing, building as the strings join in with frantic energy and then, as quick as it grew, it diminishes again. Wow. Mugam Sayagi has a slow string build, somber and heavy, then the instrumnts playfully stab here and there until bang, around the ten minute mark, it takes off at a run… then slows again. Such control. It’s back and forth like this a couple more times over the 21:32 of this song’s duration, with the instruments really taking on the roles of voices, and for me the biggest win on this track is the superb use of dynamics.
String Quartet #4’s staccato notes are relentless, and when the almost atonal bits kick in, it’s so disorienting and strong that at first you’re unsure how to feel as it ends at just under 12 minutes, but overwhelmingly the answer is that it’s awesome… as soon as your brain has time to catch up with everything that has just happened! A Cool Wind Is Blowing is goreous soundtrack music for a recent Jet Li movie, for those opening scenes where you see landscapes and perfectly designed and situated buildings and slowly wind your way to being introduced to the main character… gorgeous. K’Vakarat features Mikhail Alexandrovich on gorgeous operatic vocals, powerful and warm at the same time. The music builds force after the five minute mark, with the violins darting in and out like fighter jets. Then it all calms, the vocals come back just before a big crescendo and… wow. That’s some great stuff! And finally, Night Prayers is a 23:16 expedition into beautiful string quartet music, with occasional bursts of rapid-fire bursts of volume and speed, like around 4:15. There’s also a great booming section after 16:30 that just filled everything in my head through the good headphones. Gentle vocals bring the track, and the album, perfectly and gently to shore.
Overall, I’d say this is a fantastic collection of songs, and again, I was particularly thrilled and impressed by their use of dynamics in all of these tracks. I would say it probably doesn’t flow real well as an album, but each individual song has so much power and beauty that it hardly matters. This is absolutely unlike anything else you’re likely to hear this week, and it’s well worth your time investment.
1. Kongerei – Trad., arr. Steven Mackey
2. Lacrymosa – Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky
3. Mugam Sayagi – Franghiz Ali-Zadeh
4. Quartet No. 4 – Sofia Gubaidulina
5. A Cool Wind is Blowing – Tigran Tahmizyan
6. K’Vakarat – Osvaldo Golijov
7. Night Prayers – Giya Kancheli
On Spec 9: Kronos Quartet – Pieces Of Africa
I say I bought this one on spec because, let’s be honest, sometimes these things can be awesome, while at other times they can be disappointing because you know the band, and the idea of African music is always appealing, but if they don’t nail it it’s just a let-down.
Well, I needn’t have worried. This is a beautiful melding of string quartet classical music sounds and that vibrant, invigorating energy of African music. The drums pound as the violins soar over the top, and while the melodies seem simple, they’re truly not. It’s deceptive, and very powerful. And the vocals on Saade (I’m Happy) and Kutambarara (Spreading) only add to the mix in the best ways.
I discovered that this is album is made up of commissioned pieces from notable African composers, which I think is a fantastic idea! I truly enjoyed the soundtrack quality of Escalay (Waterwheel), the playfulness of Mai Nozipo (Mother Nozipo), and the skittering strings on Ekitundu Ekisooka (First Movement). The real meat on the bones in this project, though, is the five part White Man Sleeps. It’s equally gentle and forceful, all at the right moments. The music evokes imagery in your mind and you easily find yourself adrift and going where the tune takes you.
Should you happen across a copy of this album in your travels, buy with confidence. This hybrid sound is a pure winner.
Here are the tracks and composers (with country of origin):
1. Mai Nozipo (Mother Nozipo) – Dumisani Maraire (Shona, Zimbabwe)
2. Saade (I’m Happy) – Hassan Hakmoun (Moroccan)
3. Tilliboyo (Sunset) – Foday Musa Suso (Mandika, Gambia)
4. Ekitundu Ekisooka (First Movement) – Justinian Tamusuza (Uganda)
5. Escalay (Waterwheel) – Hamza El Din (Nubia, Egypt)
6. Wawshishijay (Our Beginning) – Obo Addy (Ghana)
7. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. I (original, unrevised) – Kevin Volans (South Africa)
8. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. II
9. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. III
10. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. IV
11. White Man Sleeps, Mvt. V
12. Kutambarara (Spreading) – Dumisani Maraire (Shona, Zimbabwe)
Alrighty, we’re back to the On Spec series! Let’s give ‘er!
On Spec 8: Green Day – Shenanigans
Yes, I say I bought this on spec because I go in and out of like and love with Green Day, so it wasn’t a shoe-in I was gonna dig this. Not to sound punker-than-thou (because who cares), this is just truth, but I generally like the earlier records better. Kerplunk!, 39/Smooth, Dookie, and Insomniac are essentials. After that, it’s tracks here and there, as somewhere in all of this (for me, anyway) they began calculating their sound instead of just being snotty assholes about it. Ach what am I saying, most of it is strong, anyway, so I’m just talking out of my ass.
So what do we have here? A collection of b-sides, covers, rarities and one unreleased track. Interesting. It could go either way – it could be awesome, or it could feel like a contractual obligation release of mediocre stuff that is a placeholder between studio albums. And the verdict? Find out in the In Sum, below!
Here’s a look at the tracks and whence they came:
Suffocate – Australian editions of Nimrod, 1997
Desensitized – Good Riddance, 1997, and Japanese & Australian editions of Nimrod
You Lied – Good Riddance and Australian editions of Nimrod
Outsider (written by Dee Dee Ramone; originally performed by the Ramones) – Warning, 2000
Don’t Wanna Fall in Love – Previously unreleased song from Dookie but later re-recorded as a b-side for Geek Stink Breath, 1995
Espionage (instrumental) – Hitchin’ a Ride, 1997 and the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack
I Want to Be on T.V. (written by Sam McBride, Tom Flynn; originally performed by Fang) – Geek Stink Breath, 1995, and Japanese editions of Insomniac, 1995
Scumbag (lyrics written by Mike Dirnt) – Warning, 2002 and the American Pie 2 soundtrack
Tired of Waiting for You (written by Ray Davies; originally performed by The Kinks) – Basket Case, 1994 and the Private Parts soundtrack, 1997
Sick of Me – Hitchin’ a Ride
Rotting – Good Riddance
Do Da Da – Brain Stew/Jaded, 1996, and Australian editions of Nimrod
On the Wagon – Basket Case, 1994
Ha Ha You’re Dead (lyrics written by Mike Dirnt) – previously unreleased
There was supposed to be one other Tré Cool-written track, D.U.I. (Driving Under The Influence) on here, but it got taken off for no given reason. It’s even painted over in the booklet. Thanks guys. I mean, how hard would it have been to include it? This disc has 14 tracks, sure, but for a total length of 33:23. You had a shit-ton of space! Alas.
Also, what about J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)? That appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Angus, but who the fuck bought THAT? OK, I did at one point, but still. You should have included that track here too, boys!
Awesome! I honestly had so much fun listening to this. It’s because it has been so long since I played these guys, probably. This was just good clean Green Day fun. Yeah it sounds like them, you know what I mean. And that’s the point – crank it and have silly fun!
Cruel Bloom is a band from my town, and they make one helluva noise. Their bass player (Russ) sold me my Tele, and I work with the guitarist/vocalist (Richard). It was he who hooked me up with this newest release (which dropped a month ago, in February), and told me they are a trio now, so accordingly their sound has changed from previous releases. In fact, the direct quote was that the sound is “if Entombed was a crust punk band now.” Hell yes. I’m in! Of course, I played these six tracks through the good headphones at high volume.
Gloom starts off with a minute or so of static and a slow build of rattling noises before the guitar chug begins. By the time the band crashes in and the song takes you, you know you’re in for a pummeling. This is so great! The howled vocals are perfect, and the crashing main bit is so fucking satisfying. Graves gives no space for a breather as it comes stomping into your skull. There’s something Black Flag about this one, not so much in the sound but in the feel. It’s heavy as hell, but it swings and shifts its tempo beautifully. Church Of The Glass Pipe wails in like a siren and then the bass takes over with a great heavily funky riff. Of course the tune is built to destroy and, as it achieves lift-off, it’s unrelentingly powerful. What a huge sound! Just past the mid-point it breaks off and the tune dies screaming in electronic feedback.
No Hope is straight-up bad-ass hardcore. It’s a great riff and it’s unapologetic in all the best ways. Absolutely punishing, and its message is there’s no hope for you! The instrumental section is brilliant, everything working great together… and then it abruptly ends! First listen I thought there was some mistake, I could have listened to a lot more of that… but now I’m sure it was meant that way – suck it up, buttercup! Return To Ash has so much menace and power packed into it, it’s unreal. There are points where it cuts to half-time and just punches its way into what’s left of your senses. This one also ends with a long stretch of feedback and noise, leaving one with the impression that it isn’t the song that’s frying out, it’s your synapses. Man I loved this track for how heavy it is, and for bringing the best of hardcore to the fore and then welding metal to it for a truly great sound. And finally, Death Eternal is pure sludge aggression. Everything about this song wants to tear the top off your head. What a solid tune, right to the bone! Check out the videos linked below. I’ve included the studio version, so you can hear how great this thing sounds. And I’ve also linked a live performance of the tune so you can see them in action! Whatever you do, as you play them, have the volume cranked!
Full marks to the band for musicianship here, there’s a lot going on in these songs, so repeat listens will reward you. I must also give full marks to the production. This does not sound like a local garage band’s release, slapped together in their basement. This is professionally done, the sound is clear and true and absolutely huge.
Death Culture is a mature, mighty, and unrelenting release. I fucking loved it.
Brace yourselves, folks, it’s new Manipulant music for 2018!
You’ll recall that I covered the excellent 2017 release Eclectro, and even interviewed the artist. Read it RIGHT HERE.
So, imagine my joy when an email appeared recently to say that a new Manipulant EP will drop on March 26! Happy days indeed, and thank you very much for the chance to hear this, sir.
This EP is 5 tracks in a total of 16 minutes. Let’s get straight to the tunes:
Wander, RTL is a short minute (and a bit) of synth intro, shifting from right ear to left ear, repeating notes creating a mood for… SandS, which takes the tone darker, that bell-like tone pulsing throughout as the drums lay down an energetic beat and the vocals drone and echo and reverberate. This track has a real push/pull to it, equally danceable and melodically meditative, and it totally works! It goes instrumental at the end, taking your mind with it on its journey, then dissolves into electronics…
A Fresh Perspective has a sound that’s slightly askew, jazzy and almost carnivalesque on the keys, as the fingersnaps and occasional cymbal crashes and drum hits provide intermittent reminder of the beat. The vocals are spoken, and sound like a megaphone being heard through a telephone, then amplified, as he advises us to step back, take a new look at things, which is a message I think needs to be heard. I loved this track for the quirky oddball that it is, because it is fearless, soulful, and unlike anything else I’ll hear for ages.
Next, I drifted along to Shiveresque, which brings a pulsing bassline, crash-like drum sounds, and more echoed vocals sung/spoken as a single note synth line repeats. This tune is very atmospheric, like some laidback, darker and more sinister Depeche Mode meets NIN track. It sounds easy-going, but don’t turn your back on it… there’s menace in its swagger. And finally comes All Good Boys, which offers timpani rolls and tapped beats, descending synth notes and a cool roaring/echoing sound that has falsetto vocals swirling in it. It’s another mood, another taste, another angle, and it’s awesome. A cool, haunting thing about it is that single wee vocal bit at the end as the music fades, which I take as a promise of more.
And all too soon it is over. Folks, this is a fully-realized, mature, wonderful piece of art. Each track transports you into its world, and holds you there. I thought of each track as a portal into unique worlds, where the sound prevails and your brain adjusts, accepts and then adores each stop along the way. I loved the overall sound, very roomy and open and expressive, enveloping in all the right ways.
I fully recommend you check out this EP when it drops March 26, as well as getting 2017’s Eclectro!
Here’s the info you need:
And here’s the official press release for Perspective:
Newbury, 26/03/18-Lancaster, PA based artist Manipulant (David Speakman) reveals his third release, ‘perspective’ on UK label Submarine Broadcasting Company (catalog #SBCE005). perspective, a five song EP, tails the self-released ‘Eclectro’ (2017) which placed on several year-end ‘Best Of’ lists and helped him collect a nomination on the Wigwam Online Radio Awards in the ‘Best Indie/Alternative Act’ category. “This record is so much more personal than my past efforts” said Manipulant. “Before, the songs were just stories. These are pieces of me, reflective of my current state. The music, though electronic, avoids sterility. It’s very imperfect, just as we are.” Manipulant cites The Fall, Tom Waits, The Legendary Pink Dots, & Brian Eno as stimuli.
1. Wander, RTL
3. A Fresh Perspective
5. All Good Boys
. Submarine Broadcasting Company (SBCE005) ©2018
I’ll be getting back to the On Spec series shortly, folks, but I keep finding other things to cover… Stay tuned for two awesome new releases coming soon…
As I learned, Voices is made up of former members following the break-up of Akercocke. They self-describe as making “extreme and challenging music.” They’ve succeeded! They differentiate themselves from their Akercocke efforts too:
Vocalist Peter Benjamin has said that Voices is philosophically distinguished from Akercocke. “Akercocke was more focused on the imagery and ideals of Satanism. For us, it would be boring to go where Akercocke and many other black metal bands have been. We believe that it’s time to do something different, so we have taken on our urban surroundings and all that happens within as our influence.” Sam Loynes confirmed Benjamin’s perspective, noting that “The themes in Voices do not relate to any religious ideology. We are interested in trying to decipher the world that surrounds us. The music forms an impression of our misgivings relating to the distaste we have for this world. Yet, it is still a mystery to us.”
That said, London one hell of an homage to the ancient city, especially the dark underside (of course). The music here is heavy and controlled, punishing but also gentle, done with an understanding and care that a lot of metal bands and albums miss in their rush to be the most aggressive and metal in the land.
Unsettling to a track, the music is all over the place, at times full-on screaming and growling metal, at others an almost punk thrashing and wailing, still others a gothic atmospheric drone that tempers the mélange, and even acoustic guitar passages. But as erratic as it sometimes seems, there’s something welcoming about it, too. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but even the heaviest bits here didn’t assault me in the same way others do. It felt like there was an understanding between me and the band, and we were all in this together. Does that even make sense?
Of course, I played it through the good headphones and was well-enough blown away by the musicianship, the attention to detail and the enveloping sound and emotion that went into each track here. One review I read (as I listened) pointed out how awesome it is to walk around London itself while listening to this album on headphones. I can only imagine, especially at night! In my life I have spent a grand total of three days in London proper, as a tourist, and even for that small amount of time I can imagine how the shadows falling over all those old buildings and passageways would make for an awesome listening/walking experience!
I’m certainly no expert when it comes to this kind of music, but I would say that this record is a fully-realized masterpiece of glorious, satisfying, haunting and even spiritual music. It is equally feral and refined, absolutely worth your listening time.
Thanks to Danica for organizing yet another awesome group post, this time Your Song, a look at singer/songwriters that appeal to our community. I truly enjoy this series, and contributing to it is great fun. Thanks, Danica, and thank you all for your contributions. You can see all of the group’s posts RIGHT HERE.
When this next group post idea was proposed, John Frusciante was the first person to pop into my mind. I tried to tell myself no, he was an on again/off again Red Hot Chili Pepper, so I can’t do it. I thought of a few other singer/songwriters I might cover, but I kept coming back to Frusciante. Of course, I was just being silly in doubting focussing on him. His solo career of 11 albums and 5 EPs is more than enough to consider him a singer/songwriter in his own right!
The Empyrean was released in 2009. It contains a cover of Tim Buckley’s Song To The Siren (where Frusciante uses no guitars at all), and appearances from Flea, Josh Klinghoffer (also a Chili), Johnny Marr, the Sonus Quartet, the New Dimension Singers, and other musicians as well.
I found this quote online, regarding the Tree Of Life collage cover artwork, and it seems to work as well as any other to try to describe the approach of the record:
“We are all reaching up in our own way and so even when we choose concrete things as the object of our desire, I feel that they are only symbols and that the real object of our desire is the creative force inherent in everything. It is what created us and perpetuates our lives, and so our creations are its creations. Kind of like if you built a robot that could think and feel, and then it painted a picture, that picture would be the result of the precise structure of thought and feeling you endowed the robot with. We’re all grateful for what we’ve been given. Even when we are unhappy with everything, its “poor me”, showing that we still think of that “me” and its feelings, as having a lot of significance. It’s a pretty amazing thing to have this complex network of thought and feeling in these bodies. From where does it come? We’ve traced the cause of matter to something that required the preexistence of time, the principles of motion, space and many other things. The laws of motion, time and the space everything exists into, all have an untraced cause. And likewise we don’t have any idea where things like perception and thought came from.”
This is a concept album, a musical journey told from the perspective of two voices within a single person. Naturally, since “empyrean” means “belonging to or deriving from heaven,” there are religious lyrics and themes here as well. Frusciante was searching, that existential crisis we all suffer about our place, our direction, our purpose, our potentials. It makes sense to consider the spiritual, on this quest.
It got me thinking, independent of any of his other solo work, could this be his A Love Supreme? His ode to the human need for something spiritual to attach itself to, to acknowledge what he feels is above us and gives us our gifts, to help bring meaning to what can be a cold, hard existence? Maybe I go to far, but the thought did occur. Frusciante also came back from the brink of a heroin addiction, so themes of birth and rebirth, facing death, and soul searching would also make a whole lot of sense. But don’t dismiss this as the self-absorption of a junkie. There’s meat on these bones, something for everyone, and it’s all done beautifully, make no mistake.
Of course, I came here for the guitar (who wouldn’t, with this guy involved?) and was not disappointed. It is at times forceful, powerful, at the fore, as well as gentle, caressing, subtle, or even funky, all at the appropriate times as suits the moment in each song. The word that comes strongest to mind for all of this incredible beauty is atmosphere. Late at night, through the good headphones, I felt myself transported by this music, which doesn’t often happen. I read somewhere that it was Frusciante’s own advice that this album ought to be played in the dark with the volume cranked. I wholeheartedly agree.
This isn’t just a rock record, or an experimental music record, or a self-absorbed guitar wankery project (though it may be argued it is all of these and more), this is a truly beautiful overall experience. There’s a feeling of floating, even in the harder rocking tunes, that feeling anchored by organ and electronic synthesizer backing, and John’s wide vocal range. I did hear a few chord changes and song structures that reminded me of the Chilis (is it his influence on them, or their influnce on him?), but that’s hardly a problem. In fact, it just neatly ties John the solo artist and John the band member all together in one sweet bundle.
You know I’m going to recommend that you check this out. You won’t be disappointed. But this isn’t background music, to be heard as you do three other things while it plays. Instead, I recommend you get comfortable, strap on the good heapdphones, and allow this to be your sole focus for 54 minutes. The rewards are definitely worth it.
Track List: Before The Beginning / Song To The Siren / Unreachable / God / Dark/Light / Heaven / Enough Of Me / Central / One More Of Me / After The Ending
There were three bonus tracks for the album (mine does not have them):
– Today (Japanese release only)
– Ah Yom (US iTunes Store and Japanese release only)
– Here, Air (free download)
Taking a break from the On Spec series today, in order to share how damn excited I am about this new album from Mali’s Songhoy Blues! Of course, we have 1537 to thank for our introduction to this excellent group, so, thank you sir! Now, according to Amazon, this dropped back in June of 2017. How did I miss this? Shame!
Voter is damn funky, with that skittery guitar line and the anchoring bass line my goodness. But then it just achieves lift off and rocks the hell out before shifting again… Yes! What an opening track! Bamako keeps the 70s soul funk alive, with horns! The beat is relentless and that jangly guitar sends shivers up my spine! Sahara features an appearance by Iggy Pop, whose drawl off the top, and his verse contributions, are classic Iggy. “… no Kentucky Fried Chicken! No!” The band kills it with a swaggering tune and wailing guitar lines that captures the feel of the desert over top of a grooving bluesy rock beat.
Yersi Yadda starts off gentle, but builds into a rapidfire funk guitar-driven bounce track, and again with the horns! And cowbell! If this amazing track doesn’t make you move or dance, you must be dead. What a groove! And that guitar solo is crazy-good. Wow. Hometown’s bluesy acoustic intro, complete with noodling electric over top, has a satisfying shuffle to it, the group vocals backing up the single voice in a wonderful singalong. I loved the violin line too, not an instrument I associate with something this bluesy, but it totally works here. Badji gives all indications it may be a ballad, that sweet slow movement to it… but wait! It quickly hops into a crazy time-signature workout that has so much love and bounce to its infectiousness. Fun! Dabari brings back the 70s soul jamming with that relentless beat and the rock feel married well to that desert bounce. It ha sa wee breakdown of beauty with about a minute to go, but don’t worry, you’re rocking again by the end!
Ici Bas bashes away with a slinky rockin’ intro, then shifts happily into a tighter, closer, beat that (once again) makes it impossible for you to sit still. I friggin’ loved this one! Ir Ma Sobay brings the jazzy swing and a machine-gun guitar line over top as the vocals grab your ear. Just before the two minute mark the drums double-time and there’s a wild string solo while the dance elevates. Goddamn, this band just throws down groove after groove and it’s stunning!
Mali Nord features London’s Elf Kid (MC with The Square) and has a happy pop sound to it, complete with strummed almost-Buddy Holly guitar bit. The horns glue it all together, and the lead guitar rips out stellar solos as if it were the easiest thing in the world. Elf Kid’s vocal section fits the tune well enough, but for myself, I was happier when it switched back to Songhoy Blues’ vocalist. Alhakou offers up a gorgeous bluesy groove over which the group vocals anchor the solo vocals and it all goes together so well it’s brilliance. And finally, One Colour is a guitar workout with a solid bassline and yet another swingin’ bluesy rock tune. Love the reverb on this one, and there’s even a children’s choir.
On the back cover, Songhoy Blues writes:
Songhoy Blues has always been about resistance. We started the group during a civil war, in the face of a music ban, to create something positive out of adversity. As long as we have music left in us and something to say, we’ll keep fighting each day with music as our weapon, our songs as our resistance.
Right on, brothers. With efforts like this, the world will come together, and we will all hail you kings and give thanks!
This is a record of resistance. It’s a guitar record (the solos all over this thing are So. Damn. Good). For most of it, I could not understand the words, but it didn’t matter a lick. The incredible music lifts you, transports you, pulls you in and fills you with its holy fervour, leaving you breathless, sweaty, and completely suffused with happiness.
You need to buy this album. One of the best of 2017, hands-down!
A Two-fer! On Spec 6 & 7: Rymes With Orange
Anybody else remember these guys? They’re a Canadian (from Vancouver, BC) rock band from the 90s, and I found their two CDs at work. I knew there was a song I knew, but I couldn’t remember what it was called, even after staring at the track lists on both albums. But man, I remembered liking that song half a lifetime ago! So I bought both because I am me (and it was a total of $3 for both).
Now, sharp-eyed Readers will say that I’ve misspelled Rhymes. Nope, it was intended that way by the band. As I was reading about them online, one of my favourite stories was about how, around the time of their beginnings, they’d joked that the missing ‘h’ in their name had been donated to the band hHead. Haha awesome, boys!
This one had two singles (Marvin, and Memory Fade – the first two cuts on the album, I preferred Memory Fade’s heavier chug), as well as a cover of the Small Faces’ Itchycoo Park. Playing through this record, neither of the two singles was the one I’d had in mind as the tune I knew. As for how it sounds… all I can say is Holy 90s, Batman! All the elements are there. The guitars sounding just so, the drummer playing the hell out of the hi-hat with that 90s bounce beat, the (sometimes) wonky poetry lyrics. There’s even the requisite acoustic ballad at the end, In My Life.
Sometimes it sounds Cult-ish, sometimes like contemporaries such as Age Of Electric or many others, and there’s something very Alan Frew by way of Perry Farrell about the vocals. Ultimately, it rocks in that pop-like way, and I’ll bet they sounded great in a live setting. Sometimes these bands just sounded better live. My favourite bits were probably the bass parts, they were excellent. And the Itchycoo Park cover was interesting. They turned its hippy jam into a song that sounded like everything else on this record, way faster and louder and with the drums playing that same beat…
Trapped In The Machine (1994)
This album had four singles (Toy Train, I Believe, She Forgot To Laugh, and The Taking Of David). And success! It had been Toy Train that I remembered liking from way back when, but couldn’t name now, in 2018. It’s funky and fun (see link below). Trust me, in 1994, this was a popular song for my group of folks! And to be fair, I honestly don’t remember any of the other singles from this album. I may have known them back then, but not now!
I found this to be a much more mature, heavier album that Peel, showing great development in the interim two years. I’ll bet touring helped a bunch. Gone (pretty much) is that bounce beat the drummer used everywhere on Peel, a broader palette serves them well. There’s more atmosphere here, and I think the production is way better. Manic Madness brought Watchmen to mind, and that’s always a happy thing. The following track, Whore, has a massive bottom end (hahahaaaaa) and rocks pretty damn hard. I also liked the title track, but there’s something about each tune on this one that is satisfying.
Between the two, here in 2018, I’d take Trapped In The Machine, but both were serviceable, fairly rockin’ 90s-sounding (natch) albums. If you happen across them in the shoppes, get your CanCon on!
And there’s more! They had two more albums: 1999’s Crash, and 2003’s One More Mile, neither of which I knew anything about at the time, or until I read about it for this post.
And there’s more! The Trapped In The Machine line-up of the band reunited on November 4, 2017 (for the first time in 21 years) to play a private event in Vancouver. Not only that, there’s a new album (RWO5) tentatively scheduled to be released this year!
On Spec 5: Arcade Fire – Everything Now
Needing a wee bit of a break from all the metal (don’t worry, there’s more soon!), I thought it was time to try out the Arcade Fire again. I may be an odd man out on this one (I have no idea, lemme know in the comments), but this group’s work hasn’t ever done much for me. I’m willing to keep trying, though, because I feel like I should like them, somehow, ya know? Anyway. I got this one brand new, still in the shrink wrap, for cheap. And it’s their most recent, from 2017. Someone didn’t even try it before ditching it. Should this worry me? Let’s find out…
The title track [after a wee intro bit called Everything_Now (Continued)] is one I knew from work, as it’s a single so it gets play on our piped-in muzak. I wouldn’t have known it was them, though. Anyway. It’s a breezy, 70s disco-ish track with acoustic guitar backbone. Wiki tells me it contains elements of The Coffee Cola Song by Francis Bebey. Signs Of Life (another single) keeps that light and airy dance feel, funky pop with sweet soul backing vocals. Creature Comfort, another single, is lyrically one of the coolest things about the record, a rant about/against the desire for fame. It brings the synths up front and moves us into the 80s. I liked the chorus bit “…make me famous/if you can’t, just make it painless.”
Peter Pan goes deeper into the electronic depths, throbbing and blipping with touches of sampled reggae (I think). Odd. Chemistry has a bounce… it wants to be an old soul song that married a ska song. It took a while to build, but it ended up not bad overall, with an alright breakdown section. Infinite Content ramps us up to some sort of weird 80s-ish punk, but with everything distorted and compressed and brittle-sounding. I don’t know if I like this or not. I just don’t know. This is followed by a slow country swing called Infinite_Content, a reprise that is a full 180 from its predecessor namesake.
Electric Blue (another single) is electrobeat falsetto vocal nonsense. God, it goes on for four minutes. This did nothing for me. Good God Damn is what I’m trying to give here, with this record. The track of this name is simple, a bit slinky, still with that disco by way of 80s chord changes feel, but way better than the tracks before it. Put Your Money On Me (another single) has a restless bassline and keeps us rooted firmly in the 80s with occasional falsetto and a beat people will want to dance along to, I’m sure. We Don’t Deserve Love is the atmospheric slower track, with drum machine and wonky synth backing. And the album is rounded out by a slow, throbby Everything Now (Continued) reprise of the opening single, strings and all (and a very abrupt cut-off ending. This wasn’t necessary at all, in fact it detracts from the way the album could have ended as We Don’t Deserve Love wound down. No one ever asks me if things are a good idea or not, though, so they go and do dumb ‘artistic’ things like this.
Looking back at what I wrote, I realize I wrote way too much about an album I didn’t much like. This is still not my stuff. And I’m not saying that just because the last four records I’ve played have been metal and punk, I just have never dug this sound. It feels all light and airy, all surface, no meat on the bones. I know they have their fans, and that’s great. I just can’t find anywhere to really sink my teeth into this album, well, except the lyrics of that one song, and that’s slim pickings indeed. I’m a bit boggled that this thing has five singles released for it. Whut. Anyway, I’ll probably never play this again, and it’ll be a long while before I try these guys again.
On Spec 4: Lamb Of God – New American Gospel
I snagged some Lamb Of God in this group of discs, interested to check them out as I will be seeing them perform in May during the Slayer show…
This is their second record, the first with Willie Adler on guitar (replacing Abe Spear). This edition I have here is a remaster from Metal Blade with four bonus (demo) tracks on it. Check this: “The remastered version contains a note on the inlay that explains that the sound of the album is less polished than their newer work, in part due to time constraints as well as heavy drinking.” Haha.
This has been labelled grindcore, groove metal and death metal, for those who like to label things. Revolver magazine named it one of the “69 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums Of All Time. High praise!
As for my impression on this playthrough, I can keep this short: This is one hell of an album musically, full-on aggression and screaming madness and pounding metal mayhem. It’s like they took every heavy metal element in existence and made an album of it all, cranked to 11 and not giving a fuck. It is incendiary, indeed. Holy hell this one is relentless and will crush your skull! I don’t usually go for the screamo-growly vocals like this but, while it’s not something I would play all the time, this still scratched that metal itch really, really well. \m/ \m/
The record had one single, Black Label. Talk about crushing. CRANK IT!
On Spec 3: Bane – The Note
Bane is an American hardcore punk band, active 1995-2016, which was a great run given how many bands flame out quickly. I grabbed this for the cool comic book-style artwork, and because it just looked like a punk album. As I read about the band more, I knew I had to love them more because two of their members are named Aaron. It’s a good name (Ed: I may be biased).
Anyway, Aaron Dalbec was in Converge, and Bane was intended as a sideproject for him and for Aaron Bedard (of Backbone), but after playing a while as Gateway, away they went. The band was known for integrity, meaningful lyrics, and for uncompromising hardcore punk. Many in the group (they had several players come and go) claimed the straight edge.
Reviews of this 2005 album seem to say it’s great because it’s Bane, but it’s maybe not the album the fans return to very often. It’s said that this one had too many slower bits, too many breakdowns, it wasn’t (for some) a true hardcore album. Well, I guess for some people who are holier hardcore than thou, they like the earlier stuff by the band better. Fair play.
But what I heard was a well-realized, heavy and pounding album. The breakdowns, I felt, were very well done and well-placed. They were, like in End With An Ellipsis, beautiful, ear-catching intermissions in the middle of the swaying pummeling chaos. There’s no questioning that the band is tight, and they have a knack for riffs that cut like knives. Bedard’s vocals are shouted/howled with aggression but also musicality. One cool song here is the last track, titled (natch) Swan Song. It’s like an accumulation of all the best bits from the whole album, and a great way to end an album that spent the previous nine tracks trying to crush your skull.
This was really satisfying. If you like hardcore punk and wanna get your mayhem on, check out Bane.
Swan Song – Lyrics (found online):
Today won’t be like yesterday
The bell tolls for an hour straight
Screaming mothers chase their children down
Fathers tear out their eyes
As the city topples to the ground
Outside the streets are in a panic
Truth sellers jump from tall, tall ledges
No sign of Christ with a sword in his mouth
Beneath the blood red sky I’ll sit and laugh with you tonight
This is a promise I made to you
I’ll be right there
I’ll be right next to you
When the trumpets blare the loudest and cannons roar
All the trains that once came for you
Spill off the tracks floor
All your horrors they multiply
And you realize your fears
I’ll block your ears with both of my hands
Kiss away the tears
When armageddon’s been locked and loaded
I will come back for you…
On Spec, Part 2: Jesuseater – Step Inside My Death Ray
I grabbed this one simply because, let’s be honest here, who wouldn’t buy an album with that band name and album title? Exactly. It’s also on a label called Deathwish, and it has songs called ‘Who Keeps Stealing The Bricks,’ and ‘Punching Southern States,’ so, c’mon.
Jesuseater’s vocalist is Shawn Brown, who used to be in a band called Dag Nasty with Brian Baker of Minor Threat and Bad Religion. I didn’t know this when I bought it, but hey, I see Minor Threat and Bad Religion connections anytime and I am happy!
I did more digging around online for info on this act and found comparisons to pre-‘In The Meantime’ Helmet, Black Flag (and ROLLINS Band), a band called Deadguy, even Black Sabbath.
I hear all that. I also hear stuff like Red Fang, the Shrine, and many others. But I think they have something of their own too, never quite falling into blatant homage to any of it. This is straight up rock and roll, unvarnished and rough, in your face and frickin’ loud. There’s no messing around (just guitar drums and bass blasting away), no growly vocals though there’s lots of hoarse yelling!, and just a pile of fantastic grooves and riffs and punishing battery lines. It’s honest, it’s blatant, here ya go!
Based on all of this, of course, it was right in my wheelhouse. This sort of no-holds-barred rawk is exactly the type of thing I like!
Lots of great tracks here, and plenty faster, but this one got my ROLLINS blood rarin’ to go, and it’s a great heavy stomper of a track too! CRANK IT!
This past spate of Dire Straits albums has been wonderful (I do love that band), but until I get more of their stuff, it must end here, for now. Heck, it was almost a series!
So, to fill in the gap you must surely be fearing, I begin a new series. I’ll call it… On Spec. See, I buy stuff at work sometimes just to hear it, because I have access to music so cheaply, it’s easy to do. Many times I hear things once and that’s enough for me, but sometimes I find gems!
Recently at my work, someone turned in a whole pile of metal albums. Some of the bands I’d never heard of, some I knew. Of course, I must wait 48 hours before buying anything, so several of them were gone already, but I managed to snag a few and so I will go through some of this stuff and let you know what I’ve discovered!
Let’s get in there and give ‘er, shall we? As ever, we shall!
On Spec 1: Jungle Rot – Order Will Prevail
First off, this is one of the ones I’d never heard of, so let’s see how it goes!
What caught my eye was this album cover. It’s particularly poignant given current American politics… it’s like a vision of the future… Anyway, it’s also a confusing cover. I can’t figure out why the mounted officer has a patch on his uniform that says Jungle Rot, yet he has (presumably) the band members’ heads strung from his mount. Why would an officer attack his leaders… oh my goodness, it’s a revolution! A new order shall prevail, presumably! Or maybe the band’s way of announcing their last album, since they’ve been beheaded? I doubt it… Anyway, I probably think too much. On to the music.
What a blast of metal! This is full on, 100 mph blast beats and screaming and growling cookie monster from hell and hooboy was it a ton of fun! Brutal is a good word for what they do, yet it’s also quite melodic and musically intricate and, sometimes, I swear they even swing. I know. The musicianship is quite excellent too, very technical, impressive riffing and drumming and that heavy bass…
As I listened, I had visions of a more growly Megadeth, yet also I had flashes of those times when punk and metal collide and the sound is an unearthly roar. Add in guest vocals from Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly, etc) on Fight Where You Stand and you have a pretty damn good time ahead of you (see video, below). I couldn’t listen to stuff like this all the time, but holy shit this album was satisfying during my review listen!
And hey, if you wanna break stuff, this is the perfect soundtrack. Just sayin’.
Fully recommended that you crank the volume for this…
Released in 1995 as a contractual obligation album (the band officially disbanded that year), this captures Dire Straits at the BBC in 1978 (and 1981, see below).
All I really need to do, here, is list the eight tracks. You’ll see what kind of glory we’re talking about:
Down To The Waterline
Six Blade Knife
Water Of Love
Wild West End
Sultans Of Swing
What’s The Matter Baby?
Tunnel Of Love
Awesome! The sound quality’s great. Hearing these songs live from that period is awesome, as the versions are pretty close to the albums but there’s a live edge to it all, something real and visceral and alive.
The first seven tracks were recorded July 22, 1978 for the BBC Live In Concert series. The booklet says Tunnel Of Love was recorded for The Old Grey Whistle Test On January 31, 1981, but Wiki says it was really from Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany, on December 19, 1980.
What’s The Matter Baby? was an unreleased song, the only song not written solely by Mark Knopfler (it was co-written with brother David, who does play here). The riff and basic song are essentially Lady Writer, though, so it’s not really exciting new material.
Still, it’s wonderful to hear these songs in a live setting. And yes, I can think of a ton of other songs I would like to have heard them play, but this is what it is and it is pretty damn wonderful.
Dire Straits in 1980 was high and low… high: riding success from the last two records, and adding E Street keyboardist Roy Bittan… low: David Knopfler left the band during recording of this record. Through it all, this became one helluva record. Check it out:
Tunnel Of Love opens with an organ/piano intro (which is part of The Carousel Waltz by Rodgers & Hammerstein), before the band kicks into full Dire Straits blues rock mode. “She had a ticket for the races… let it rock and let it roll,” indeed. Love it. Romeo & Juliet is one of the band’s biggest songs and you know why. How gorgeous can it get? Just listen… Of course it was a single too. Skateaway builds into a decent rocker, but there’s something in the production that makes the bass drum thump weirdly, with an echo or something. I can’t not hear it, especially in the good headphones.
Expresso Love grows into a solid Dire Straits via E Street sound, and the combination totally works. Hand In Hand starts out pretty with piano and gently strummed guitar, then becomes a full band mid-tempo love track with a decent swing to it… and then the feel shifts multiple times throughout the song, which really holds the ear. Solid Rock is exactly that, straight up bluesy barroom rock Dire Straits-style, complete with rollicking keys in the background. Go go go! And finally, Les Boys is an interesting slow country-ish stomp tune about what the boys are up to together… It’s definitely an oddity on the album, but it’s fine by me.
I really liked this one, for the most part. A couple of odd choices, sound and tune-wise, but the overall record stands tall on the strength of its best songs, and it adds beautifully to the discography.
BONUS: For a great post and concert reminiscences on this one, READ 80SMETALMAN’S POST!
I dropped the needle on my LP copy of this 1979 second album from the mighty Dire Straits, and I was immediately adrift on a wave of bliss.
Once Upon A Time In The West opens with that bluesy guitar and lifts off into an almost reggae-feel blues that draws you in, holds you tight, and shows you the world. “Some of you mothers oughta lock up your daughters,” indeed! News keeps the tempo laid back and bluesily tells us a tale while that guitar sings beautifully in its own voice. Love the drum breakdown at the end. Where Do You Think You’re Going? opens on an acoustic riff so tasty while the cymbals wash over. By the time the band kicks in in full, you’re already fully invested in this incredible tune, but that extended guitar section holds you entranced… Communiqué brings the country honky tonk intro and my goodness I love that piano line, yet the verses are much more gentle. Interesting juxtaposition of two excellent sounds on this one. We ride out on the sweet honky blues, complete with handclaps…
Lady Writer is pure Dire Straits as you know it, up-tempo and that guitar underneath pinning everything down while the solo guitar overtop is gravy. If my reading of the interwubs is correct, this was the only single from the album (!), and I can see why it is… though I would say the rest are just as great! Angel Of Mercy rocks and rolls us perfectly, another straight up gem, complete with backing vocals on the chorus. There are times in this song I could have sworn it was Stones… Portobello Belle is sweet country bluesy rock about a lady (of course), again making me think of Stones with Keef singing and, coming from me, this is a compliment! Single-Handed Sailor is guitar-slinging awesomeness. It has soul, it has swing, and it’s another single if I ever heard one. And finally, Follow Me Home starts us off on the beach, breaking waves and bongo drums in the background. As the music builds, it becomes a blues groove so sweet, you wanna live right here forever. This was one of my favourite tracks on the record.
You know it. It’s another fully-realized work of art from Dire Straits. And it’s so damn perfect.
BONUS: For another great take on this one, CHECK OUT 80SMETALMAN’S POST!
Still on a Knopfler kick, here’s Dire Straits’ first album, from 1978 (!), and it’s a thing of absolute beauty. Now, in case you didn’t know the band’s origin story (and all superheroes have an origin story), here’s theirs:
“Dire Straits came about through a musical collaboration between Mark and David Knopfler. After graduating from college with a degree in English, Mark Knopfler took a job writing for the Yorkshire Evening Post. Wanting to pursue a career in music, he took a teaching position at Loughton College while playing music at night, performing with pub bands around town, including Brewer’s Droop and Cafe Racers. Following his divorce and struggling financially, Knopfler moved into his brother David’s flat, where John Illsley also lived. In 1977, Mark, John, and David decided to form a band. They recruited drummer Pick Withers and began rehearsing. A friend of Mark’s helped give the group their name, a reference to their financial situation. After a few months of rehearsals, the band borrowed enough money to record a five-song demo tape, which included the song “Sultans of Swing.” They took the tape to disc jockey Charlie Gillett, who had a radio show called “Honky Tonk” on BBC Radio London. The band respected Gillett and sought out his advice. Gillett liked what he heard and started playing “Sultans of Swing” on his show. Two months later, Dire Straits signed a recording contract with the Vertigo Records division of Phonogram Inc.”
Awesome. And so, too, is this record…
Down To The Waterline, a single, psychs us out with a blues gentle intro and then bam! let’s go! and in full-on Dire Straits mode, no less. Such a distinctive sound, and what a great track. Water Of Love (the b-side for Down To The Waterline single) rolls things back with a sweet beat and brilliant slide guitar fills. This has a J.J. Cale feel to it and I love it. Setting Me Up sets us up (natch) with a busy country twangy rock swing sound that would fall apart if left in the hands of lesser bands. Six Blade Knife takes us back to the blues and Cale again, and with growly vocals, but this is not a complaint, not even close. I could listen to this all damn day. Southbound Again has a fun bounce to it, buoyed by that jittering guitar line and those bass stabs as the drums keep it between the ditches… seems so simple, really, but we know it’s not!
Sultans Of Swing, well, I don’t even need to comment on this one, do I? Of course not. What a monster hit track, perfect in every way. In The Gallery is a groovin’ blues that’s so sweet I didn’t want it to end when its 6:17 was up. Wild West End is deceptively titled, a sweet and slow dancer, late night in the bar story-telling at its best. And finally, Lions brings the mid-tempo blues with a touch of swing to the beat and I’m fully completely impressed.
My goodness, there isn’t even a mediocre track here, it’s all hits (in my humble opinion). Of course, my ear was constantly pulled towards the guitar work of one Mark Knopfler, the solos and the main riffs… all of it… but the whole band absolutely nails it. Every lyric is a tale worthy of a traveling raconteur, road-weary but willing to warm your night for the price of a drink and a meal… This copy I have here is the 1996 remaster and it sounds perfect. I also own the old original LP, which is even sweeter. Hot damn, what an album. I absolutely loved it.
BONUS: For a far more brilliant take than I could ever hope to offer, travel in time to 2015 and READ MR. 1537’s POST!
BONUS 2: For another far more brilliant look at the record, travel in time to 2012 and READ 80SMETALMAN’S POST!
This CD was a ton of fun. It’s fuzzy psychedelic weirdo Pavement-by-way-of-GBV-esque grandiosity, skills masquerading as sloppiness, and it’s creative glory unapologetic to the norm. Speaking of GBV, I heard these guys do Smothered In Hugs on the Sing For Your Meat GBV tribute album and now, hearing more of their stuff, I realize why they were such a good fit.
Of course, it’s also unfair (and lazy) to just compare them to other bands and think that covers it. Their sound is also distinctive, carried largely by Wayne Coyne’s voice. Granted, it sure sounds like the drugs were good while they made this, but that makes it impossible to recreate in the wild, unique. Transmissions… is blissed out sunshine pop music with distortion on the guitars and, occasionally, on reality too.
This punched all of my 90s indie rock happy buttons.
The title track comes out guns a-blazin’, Aero-barroom rawk, let’s go go go! That slinky descending riff/vocals is so sweet. Uncle Salty saunters and swings bluesily and it’s glorious. Adam’s Apple is a chugging blues that bands like Poison took for themselves a decade later.
Walk This Way, of course, right? I’m so used to hearing it with Run DMC, though, so it was nice to hear the original again! Big Ten Inch Record takes a left turn towards classic 50s rock shuffle, with hilarious lyrics very much in the tradition of those old blues tracks on that vintage comp I covered a while back.
And then it’s Sweet Emotion. We’ve all heard it a million times and never tired of it, what a classic track. No More No More is a solid rocker, I give a tip of the hat most to that piano part that draws the ear towards barrelhouse fun, well done. Round And Round is a muddy bluesy Zeppelin stomper, the vocals buried way back. Kind of the odd man out, here, but it still thumps along mightily. And finally, You See Me Crying, showing that Tyler had a penchant for piano-led ballad-like tracks even in the mid-70s. It’s a decent track, probably a set-closer before the encore, at the time. I found it a bit plodding, but I don’t go in much for Aero-ballads.
And can I just say holy shit Joe Perry on every track on this record. Wow!
Great times, listening to this. Solid record with few (if any) flaws. Get you some!
Album Subtitle: World Psychedelic Classics 2: California Soul
Folks, I’m too busy grooving to this amazing record, so here’s a bit with which I completely agree to save me writing WOW! for every track!
“Son of band-leader, Johnny Otis, multi-instrumentalist, Shuggie Otis worked with Al Kooper when he was 16, refused the offer to join the Rolling Stones after Brian Jones’ death and recorded this highly influential album in 1974. So why so few of us have heard of him is a mystery. Exiled to cult status, “Inspiration Information” (reissued in 2001 by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop) was his finest hour on record-loose, spellbinding, a wonderful combination of vulnerability and consoling mellowness. Too weird to be embraced by the mainstream, it’s actually an extraordinary jazz-soul listen that strives for a kind of gravity-defying weightlessness. Produced and reportedly multi-tracked all by him, (only the strings and horns were played by session musicians) this album of stark, breath-taking beauty recalls Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, The Meters and Love in feel and quality. The previously un-included “Strawberry Letter 23” (later covered by disco band, The Brothers Johnson) begins as a deceptively languid sing-along, backed by a celeste, then Otis begins weaving dense webs out of guitar riffs, wacked-out up tape flanges and lots of far-out effects. However ornate the effects may become, the song/track is always allowed to predominate. “Island Letter” and “Aht Uh Mi Hed” are both intoxicating and menacing, contrasting hard, angular arrangements with crooned vocals and lush, electronic textures. Tracks, like the sweetly valedictory “Not Available” and “Rainy Day” achieve a kind of unsettling and hypnotic sensibility in their dreaminess. Nearly 30 years on, Otis should feel vindicated for sticking to his guns. Remarkable and visionary, “Californian Soul: Inspiration Information” is definitely deserving of that misused term, “lost classic.” —Maxine Kabuubi”
Y’ALL NEED SHUGGIE!
Fire up for this 1994 EP, seven tracks over and done in 20 minutes, and with more than enough edge to make a lot of the pop-punk bands of today sound like they’re still cutting their teeth.
Wiki tells me this disc contains remixes of songs released on Don’t Turn Away (1992), as well as original material. It is also the first appearance of Chad Yaro on rhythm guitar. Track information includes a preview of “a.o.k.” which later appeared on Big Choice as “A-ok.” Also, “Don’t Turn Away” was on the No Authority 7”, but this is it’s first CD appearance.
Oh, and by request of the band, this EP is no longer in print. WHY? I think it’s awesome.
Turn it up and get yer punk rock fix. Actually, I found myself listening to Trever Keith’s lyrics more than the music, even though my ear (and my heartrate) was pulled towards the tight beats and riffs. It’s refreshing to hear a singer in a band like this not be so nasal and shrill, he sounds real. Even better, he’s telling truths, and telling them straight – as only the best ever do.
Let’s time warp back to 1994. Radiohead was about to be flying high with (I’ve always felt) their creepiest and most menacing-sounding record, 1995’s The Bends. This EP dropped before the record, in 1994, and collects the tracks from the two-part UK My Iron Lung singles and one track from the Japanese-only Itch. Basically, it’s chock full of (at the time) rarities and b-sides.
My Iron Lung, of course, is a great track, the band’s reaction to the success of Creep (“this is our new song / just like the last one / a total waste of time / my iron lung,”) with that throbbing bass in the fore, and those guitar slashes and that laidback baring of the teeth before going mental on the breakdown… The Trickster shuffles and punches along before soaring as well. Why this wasn’t an album track for The Bends, I honestly don’t know. Lewis (Mistreated) is Radiohead channeling the Pixies, mainly, and it’s cool for its many restless riffs and licks.
Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong floats beautifully, finally just a bit rougher but still floating. Sweet. Up next is Permanent Daylight, which ( I think) was a clue for Radiohead fans of what was to come in the next couple of records. That beat, that sound, that feel… add some more electronics instead of the guitar rock band sound and this could have been on Kid A. Sounds great as it is, though, too.
Next up are a couple of short tracks that feel more like sketches than fully realized songs. Lozenge Of Love is a strange little picked-acoustic space-out track, and You Never Wash Up After Yourself brings on the R.E.M. arpeggiated guitar, gentle and sweet. And finally, a fairly basic acoustic version of Creep, because the world was not yet tired of that song in 1994. Sadly, this version I have here overdubs the word very over Thom singing the word fucking. Because we’re not grown-ups enough to hear swearing on a record. Alas.
Cool collection of non-album tracks from a band on the verge of becoming one of the world’s biggest acts (if they weren’t already, by that point).
Primus has such a trademark easily-identifiable sound, unlike any other band I’ve ever heard. Also, they’re consistently awesome.
When promoting this release, bassist Les Claypool remarked that “It seems of late that bands are adding supplemental DVD material to their album releases to promote record sales. We’ve done the opposite. We’ve added a supplemental audio recording of brand new music to an extremely comprehensive DVD of classic visuals.”
It’s only five tracks, but they’re all great. The Carpenter And The Dainty Bride is funky and throbbing and rocks like hell after a long build. Pilcher’s Squad is full-on Primus madness in under two minutes, story-telling and whacky instrumental squeals on hand! Mary The Ice Cube takes us into psychedelic territory, things all wobbly and distorted with pounding tribal drums, while occassionally the guitars fuzz out and rock and the bass makes the whole thing stomp. Whoa. The Last Superpower AKA Rapscallion is a seven minute experimental rockin’ expedition, my goodness. This is totally a jam session that made the EP, I swear. This one would need multiple listens to be fair to it! And finally, My Friend Fats ups the ante to almost eight minutes, with most of it making us sure it’s going to explode at any minute, that tension and groove edging closer to kaboom… and it takes five minutes to get there. What a trip! All of this is just so much fun.
But there’s more, this set also contains the aforementioned DVD. It features all of the bands videos to date (2003), short films and live performances. Honestly, some of the content here is of very poor quality, but that’s alright, it’s shot as home video and would never be perfect anyway, and there’s a lot of greatness to outweigh such minimal concerns. There’s even a cameo from Alex Lifeson, Buckethead…
If you wanna know all that’s on it, here ya go!
1″John the Fisherman” * (from Frizzle Fry) – Directed by Mark Kohr
2″Too Many Puppies” (from Frizzle Fry) – Directed by Kevin Kerslake
3″Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” * (from Sailing the Seas of Cheese) – Directed by Mark Kohr
4″Tommy the Cat” * (from Sailing the Seas of Cheese) – Directed by Mark Kohr
5″My Name Is Mud” * (from Pork Soda) – Directed by Mark Kohr
6″Mr.Krinkle” * (from Pork Soda) – Directed by Mark Kohr
7″DMV” * (from Pork Soda) – Directed by Mark Kohr
8″Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” * (from Tales from the Punchbowl) – Directed by Les Claypool
9″Southbound Pachyderm” (from Tales from the Punchbowl) – Directed by Les Claypool
10″Shake Hands With Beef” (from the Brown Album) – Directed by Les Claypool
11″Over the Falls” (from the Brown Album) – Directed by Les Claypool
12″Lacquer Head” (from Antipop) – Directed by Les Claypool – (Banned by MTV)
13″The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (Charlie Daniels cover, from Rhinoplasty) – Directed by Mike Johnson
* Optional commentary track featuring Les, Larry and Tim.
•Cheesy Home Video – transfer of the video with the same name, edited to exclude the music videos.
•Horrible Swill – transfer of the video with the same name, previously available exclusively to the fan club.
•Horrible Men – previously unreleased assortment of clips from on-stage, backstage and in the studio.
•The Making of “Mr. Krinkle” – previously unreleased short on the making of the music video.
•The Making of “Wynona” – previously unreleased short on the making of the music video.
•The Making of the Brown Album – transfer of a segment from the Videoplasty video.
•Radio Relics – Recorded at Stanford University’s KZSU college radio station for a campus-only cable channel in 1989
•”To Defy the Laws of Tradition”
•”Too Many Puppies”
•New Year’s 93-94 – Recorded at the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland, on New Year’s Eve 1993-1994
•Woodstock 94 – Recorded at the 25th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival in Saugerties, New York in 1994
•”Those Damned Blue Collar Tweekers”
•”My Name is Mud (Bootleg Quality)”
•Florida 95 – Recorded in West Palm Beach, Florida during the Punchbowl tour in 1995
•”Duchess and the Proverbial Mind Spread” – Recorded at Irving Plaza in New York for HBO’s Reverb in 1998 (Erroneously listed as “Kalamazoo live” on some pressings)
•”Lacquer Head” – Recorded during the Family Values Tour on Halloween in 1999
•”Sgt. Baker” – Recorded at a rent party at Kommotion in San Francisco sometime between 1986 and 1988
•”Groundhog’s Day” – Recorded at the Omni in Oakland in late 1988
•”Tommy the Cat” – Recorded by Bob Cock and the Yellow Sock, 1991, and venue not noted
The DVD also includes an illustrated discography and slideshow of promotional photographs. Easter eggs include a short video clip of Bob Cock in heaven and an interview.
Thank you, Wiki, for saving my typing all that in.
It’s Primus! It rocks. Fun times!
I bought this because Henry Rollins was always raving about the brilliance of Adrian Belew (ROLLINS!).
Going into this, I’d heard of King Crimson but hadn’t taken the time to play any of their stuff.
Am I ever glad I did! I’ve never heard any other record like this one – and I’ve heard a lot of records, over all these years. But first, let’s have a look at the players…
Belew is joined by:
Robert Fripp (whose complete discography includes more than 700 releases over four decades).
Tony Levin (who has played on over 500 albums since the 70s).
Bill Bruford (Genesis, among others).
As well as:
Trey Gunn (Tool, Puscifer, Vernon Reid, John Paul Jones, Eric Johnson, Trey Gunn Band, among others).
and Pat Mastelotto (Mr. Mister, Rembrandts, even Kim Mitchell’s Rockland album).
In other words, there’s a boatload of talent here!
And now… the record itself…
Wiki says “This album was recorded in the “double trio” format of King Crimson. With the band consisting of two guitarists, two bassists and two drummers the opening track begins with all six musicians in the center of the mix. Then as the track gets going they are split into two trios (guitar, bass and drums) with three going to the left channel and three going to the right.” Cool!
And how do I describe everything that’s going on here? It’s like the future has come back to us, here in their past, and is using their advanced music capabilities to play old tribal society tunes directly into our brains via telepathy. Or maybe this is a soundtrack to some (slightly messed-up) movie from the 90s where plaid-clad grunge warriors tilt against the cruel world around them. It’s like jazz, metal, funk and electronica met in a bar, got hammered together, and played in a studio all night while the tape never stopped rolling. Actually, it’s all three… and more…
What a massive sound, instruments all over the place doing interesting things, pulling your ear and brain here and there, but yet all of it still working together to make cohesive songs. The sense of balance is incredible, given everything going on.
The songs themselves are time signature workouts and experimental (seemingly) improvisational explorations. The string sections are beautiful, as are the ballads, and the instrumentals, and there’s a lot of really heavy riffing going on here, too, which was really satisfying. Throw in drums solos and trippy space-out synth-like sections, and you’re starting to get a wee glimpse of some of this stuff. But for all of this, there’s no clutter. Everyone leaves space for everyone else, and it all shines.
Honestly, I probably shouldn’t even be writing this post. Not yet. I’ve only been through the whole album once, and that is nowhere near enough to feel like I’ve even scratched the surface of some of this stuff. There are so many beautiful passages of music, and also so many that are more challenging, and I get the feeling that this record is going to stick in my head for a long time to come, and each future listen will teach me yet more about it.
Excited by my opportunity to see 5 bands on May 29 for the farewell SLAYER!! \m/ \m/ tour, I thought I’d better check out Behemoth, see what’s up…
Behemoth are a Polish “blackened death metal” band, and they’ve been around, over ten studio albums, since 1991 (formed by lead singer Nergal).
This album is super-loud, and the music is absolutely killer. As usual, I don’t really dig that ‘demon from the pits of hell’ style of growl/shouting that passes for vocals, but as the album went on I got used to it. Released on Nuclear Blast in 2014, Satanist is their most recent effort, and it seems to have received (pretty much) universal acclaim from reviewers and fans alike.
The whole album has an epic quality to it, as though the armies of heaven and hell are charging into the fray right there in your good headphones, and thus it’s actually quite uplifting and satisfying. Without question, the production brings everything they do here to full realization. It’s clear, and definitely roomy enough to make everything sound full. I also learned that “the cover art was painted by renowned Russian painter and occultist Denis Forkas. The paint used included some of band leader Nergal’s own blood.” Now that’s metal!
These guys will make an excellent addition to the SLAYER!! \m/ \m/ tour line-up, and I have no trouble believing that this stuff is absolutely going to decimate in a live setting.
Cannonball Adderley – Great Sessions (EMI, 3CD in slipcase)
This one’s a short and sweet blow-out of three amazing albums, all in a lovely CD slipcase. Hey Deke, for this one I’m Mr. Jazz!
I can’t even begin to describe how happy this 3CD set made me. I was in a state of sheer bliss sitting here, with the good headphones on, just letting the music wash over me. Three albums’-worth of solid gold, folks, my goodness.
Check it out:
1) Somethin’ Else
Recorded March 9, 1958, these six tracks on Blue Note 1595 are the sweetest damn thing you’ve heard in ages. Here’s why:
The Players: Miles Davis (trumpet), Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), Hank Jones (piano), Sam Jones (bass), Art Blakey (drums).
I mean, come on! Put those people together and magic happens! This is swingin’ brilliance, top to bottom. ‘Nuff said.
Tracks: Autumn Leaves / Love For Sale / Somethin’ Else / One For Daddy-O / Dancing In The Dark / Bangoon
2) Cannonball’s Bossa Nova
Recorded on a few days of December 1962 with the Bossa Rio Sextet (Sergio Mendes’ band). This album marries jazz and South American rhythms in the most glorious ways. So tasteful, so wonderful. Oh baby.
The Players: Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), Sergio Mendes (piano), Durval Ferreira (guitar), Octavio Bailly, Jr. (bass), Dom Um Romao (drums), and on #2,4,5,7,8 add Pedro Paulo (trumpet), Paulo Moura (alto saxophone).
The Tracks: Clouds / Minha Saudades / Corcovado / Batida Diferentes / Joyce’s Sambas / Groovy Sambas / O Amor Em Paz (Once I Loved) / Sambops / Corcovado (alternate take)* / Clouds (single version)* *bonus track on this version
3) Cannonball Adderley Quintet – Mercy, Mercy, Mercy: Live At “The Club”
Recorded October 20, 1966, this time Cannonball is joined by his brother Nat. Of course, as you know, this was not at all recorded live in a Chicago club (as the entirely false original liner notes would have you believe), but rather in a studio in California, as a favour to the club owner. The ‘audience’ was a group of invited guests plied with free booze.
No matter. This is some jammin’ soul-jazz that really, really moves you. My goodness. It’s music like this that lifts your soul, and makes you revel in the capabilities of humanity.
The Players: Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), Nat Adderley (cornet), Joe Zawinul (piano, electric piano), Victor Gaskin (bass), Roy McCurdy (drums).
The Tracks: Fun / Games / Mercy, Mercy, Mercy / Sticks / Hippodelphia / Sack O’ Woe
You already know I’m in love. What a set! I love every note, every moment, on all three of these discs. Love love love!
I spend my life not thinking about Justin Timberlake. Not a like or dislike thing, I just don’t generally care either way. I know he exists, he has lots of fans, great for him, but I don’t go out of my way to listen to his music.
So I sat with my Dad last night, watching the Eagles beat the Patriots in (what amounted to) an actually exciting football game to watch. There were contentious plays, plenty of tense moments, strong play, and (generally) excellent defense. I’m not a football guy either (usually this is the only game I watch all year, unless I also remember to catch the Grey Cup) and even I knew it was a good/interesting one to watch.
Anyway, come halftime and it’s Justin Timberlake. OK, sure. No Janet Jackson (and thus no wayward nipples) this time. His set was a choreographer’s dream. Moving through at least four stage setups (more?), amongst which there was a marching band, a wee stage with a microphone stand that wobbled like a Weeble, dancing at center field, and finally ending up in the crowd* doing a selfie with a kid. The guy was everywhere, and even did a piano tribute of I Would Die 4 U for Prince, as the game was held in Minneapolis. He sang along to a medley of his songs, all of which I knew, surprisingly, thanks to the piped-in music at work.
* And here we have the crux of the performance. He was in a crowd of people for a good portion of it. Of course some of it was on the stage above other people, but I’d wager the majority was spent in crowds… he was down in a hallway with a bunch of people under the stands to start, then on the field with the marching band and a bunch of people waving mirrors around, then the stage, back on the field, stage, etc until finally ending up in the stands. Moving between each set piece took him through more crowds of people…
… the whole thing felt like it was meant to bring people together, we’re all in this together. First time I ever saw anyone do that in quite this way. I liked it, even though I know the whole thing was a set-up, planned to an nth degree, and that selfie kid was likely a plant, etc etc. It was different, and it worked, largely (I’d surmise) because everyone seemed to like the guy, and bringing people together feels right given the prevailing mood and political upheaval in present day America. It took the focus off himself and his band and made it about everyone, and it wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, it was the first one of these I’ve seen that wasn’t just a by-rote stage performance.
But between the music and the roar of the crowd, the vocals were buried way too low. Even my Dad, who says “there was music?” in every movie he sees, said he couldn’t hear the guy, couldn’t make out any of the words (could I? no), and wondered why he even bothered singing when he could just dance.
In all, a decent performance. I’ll go back to my life of not thinking about Justin Timberlake, but from a performance persepctive, I think he pretty much nailed this halftime appearance.
Man, this stuff takes me back to the 90s. Bootsauce were a band from Montréal who blended metal, funk, rap and soul from 1989-1996. They won a Juno Award for their cover of Hot Chocolate’s Everyone’s A Winner.
I never owned The Brown Album, though I heard it enough in the art room at high school. Pretty sure at one point I did own their album called Bull, though, as my memory of it is pretty strong. Or maybe my buddy Brian owned it and I borrowed it a lot? I don’t know. Anyway, it’s a great record!
So, to my (possibly unreliable) memory, this compilation covers just about everything you’d need from these guys… short of buying their albums, natch. It rocks, it funks, and it holds your attention damn well. Buzzsaw guitars, heavy bottom end, and Drew Ling’s growly vocals add to the funk stew (think RHCP and Primus and Beastie Boys and…). Some of it sounds a bit dated, these days, but you can’t deny (personal fave) Love Monkey #9, the rap-rock of Touching Cloth, the weird swing funkmetal of Masterstroke… or the stomp of Play With Me, the danceability of Moanie, and their cover of the Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right is straight up punk rock bliss (and quotes the Three Little Pigs) too. Lots of great stuff here.
Fun times on memory lane, this one!
Here we have Dire Straits’ 90s concert CD. Many big tracks here, and all are played well. As you’d guess, right?
Of course! But some cat named Andrew McGuire thinks otherwise:
This live album finds Mark Knopfler well into his decadent phase: prosperous, internationally acclaimed, and long past remembering the hard times and hungry years from which his band originally drew both its name and its attitude. Where the first three Dire Straits albums evinced a gritty determinism, an acknowledgement of their unfashionability coupled with an urgent desire to remake the world on their own terms, this seems bloated and self-congratulatory, so that even “Romeo And Juliet” (arguably Knopfler’s greatest achievement as a songwriter–and undoubtedly his most popular) sounds vaguely perfunctory; while other, lesser tracks (“Heavy Fuel”, “On Every Street”) are merely inconsequential, the songs little more than excuses upon which to hang extended lead-guitar noodling. Sting makes a dutiful appearance on “Money For Nothing”–but somehow those lyrics seem less ironic than they used to, less savage: more a bald statement of fact. And that’s scary. –Andrew McGuire
I dunno, Andrew, what else would you have them do? It’s 1993. They’re playing to huge crowds, so they’re gonna play the hits, they’re gonna sound somewhat like the album versions, and for all that, when it’s Dire Straits playing you know that’s gonna be pretty damn good! Who would listen to Dire Straits and complain if Mark Knopfler did a little bit of extra guitar noodling? This guy, apparently.
I didn’t get a whole lot of bloat or laziness from any of it. Check out the instrumental workout of album opener Calling Elvis (which ends up being 10:31), or the steel guitar brilliance on Walk Of Life, or the bluesiness of Heavy Fuel, or… Man, I could mention every song on here. Did you even listen to this in full before you wrote it up, or just scan the first 30 seconds of each song? Or were you multi-tasking ten other things while you tried to hear this too? Maybe you didn’t have the good headphones on. Those always help.
I give it two thumbs up. Excellent versions, perfect for their mid-90s sound, and I dig the warmth and that feel that you’re right there as they’re playing it all. Yes!
Tracks: Calling Elvis / Walk Of Life / Heavy Fuel / Romeo And Juliet / Private Investigations / Your Latest Trick / On Every Street / You And Your Friend / Money For Nothing / Brothers In Arms
This 2015 effort from Mark Knopfler is a gorgeous affair. Laid back, introspective, and superbly done all around. There’s a real celtic feel to a lot of the tracks, but not in a slavish way. Album opener Laughs And Jokes And Drinks And Smokes (linked below) is just brilliant. It swings, reels, and is jazzy too. One of the best songs I’ve heard, by anybody, in ages!
There are ballads (Basil, Silver Eagle), funky workouts (Broken Bones), and even a Dire Straits-ish track (Beryl), but they all serve the whole without one being stronger than any other. There’s even a gorgeous ballad duet with Ruth Moody (Wailin’ Jennys) called Wherever I Go (linked below) at the end of the album.
Overall, there’s a pure simplicity to it all, and the songwriting is simpy excellent. Lyrically it’s heartfelt, reflecting back as one does at his stage in life, but only in the best ways. The guitar work you expect is here, but it’s only one of many excellent instrumental components of these songs. Listen with the good headphones on and catch all the extra little bits being added by everyone in the band!
HUGE thanks to Derek Kortepeter for sharing his new Amherst Drive EP, For Freedom And Democracy, with us here at the KMA!
As you know, we have covered Derek’s excellent work before:
Straight from the Amherst Drive bandcamp page for the EP, here’s Derek’s write-up:
This is the debut EP by Amherst Drive. It explores various social, personal, and political themes. It all covers things that consume me the most, so it is a very personal album. I hope my message is clear and that you are able to give it your time. I’ll be forever grateful.
Right! And now for the tracks:
Rise! starts off with a series of pull-quotes from political speeches over a bed of piano carnival-like music. Raunchy punk guitars and rapid-fire drumbeats wipe that away as we’re off to the races, baby! If ever there was an awesome call to action, here you go. There’s anger, righteousness, and pure energy in this track, all at 100 mph, complete with speed wobble in places. There’s pure urgency to get this all down before it’s too late. There’s an awesome guitar solo wailing away here too, and when it all crashes to a close, you know you’ve been woken up. “Take them down!” indeed!
Mental Case is pure Black Flag-feeling, I loved it. That disaffection, that confusion, the seeking for answers, everything slightly off-kilter and more real than anyone claiming they have it together.Yes! Another great guitar solo over the punk chords, too. As he screams “I’m a mental case” repeatedly as the song ends, the yearning is real.
Disorder takes us close to 80s fringe rock pop, with arpegiating guitar and chugging bass notes that resolve into ear-catching instrumental sections. There’s an echo to the whole affair, opening everything up and making the lyrics of waiting, longing, wondering. Again things are that wee bit off center, a recurring sense so far in these tracks and it’s the perfect thing that serves the music well. The ending raises the bar and shouts us out into the urge to play this one again!
Run Away’s pounding drums intro washes away another political quote, as the guitar knifes its way over top and the pace double-times. Lyrically, things are slipping away now, the urge to get away and start over before it’s too late is closing out this Ep. Is that the solution? We’re left to decide as the guitars wind down.
Short, sharp and brilliant, this EP covers some big themes in tight, economical tracks. There’s a directness to the attack, to the lyrics, to the urges and the needs in it all. As he said in his blurb on Bandcamp, this is a very personal effort for Derek, but the things covered here are, I’d wager, felt by all of us at one time or another.
Again, huge thanks to Derek for sharing this excellent effort. I recommend it to you all!
More info (from bandcamp):
released January 27, 2018
All songs produced by Derek Kortepeter.
Vocals and instrumentals by Derek Kortepeter.
All songs (except ‘Disorder’) written by Derek Kortepeter
More specifically, where in the world will KMA Aaron be on May 29, 2018?
Brother Craig got us tickets for Toronto.
It may not be news around here that I don’t much like the new country music. To me, most of it either wants to be Van Halen (with a twang), or yet another idiotic appeal to their ‘girl’ to get in their ‘truck’ so they can go down to the ‘river’ and ‘learn who they truly are.’ Gah. I swear it’s all the same. Suck suck suck.
And then there’s the Mavericks. Wiki says they’re “eclectic… combining neotraditional country music, Latin, and rockabilly influences.” Hell yes. Of all the ‘new’ country acts (and this album is from 1995, mind you, so it ain’t exactly new), they’re about the only ones I can stand – and I really like them a bunch.
I am an absolute sucker for Raul Malo’s vocals, which he uses to powerful and great effect on each song, without over-done twang or affectation. His voice hearkens back to the old days when country didn’t suck, and the band is tight and so I do love this album. It’s chock full of great tunes that sound modern yet also could be from fifty years ago. Check out Foolish Heart (which featured in the movie From Dusk Til Dawn), the single Here Comes The Rain (for which they won a Grammy), and their highest-charting tune ever, the bouncy All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down (featuring Flaco Jiménez on accordion), all linked below.
So yeah, I don’t write up country too often, but this one’s a keeper.
Way back in October of 2016, right around the 10th anniversary of the KMA, actually, I posted up THIS BRIEF POST about the soundtrack for the movie The Proposition.
Back then, based on what I’d heard in the soundtrack, I had every intention of seeing the film. True to my word, here in January of 2018, we finally watched it last night. Nothing like waiting a bit, eh?
What a film. It’s stark, and undeniably of the landscape in which it takes place, in feel, in tone, in mood… This tale of three outlaw brothers wanted for murder holds power struggles, racism, brutality, and the hard life of frontier Australia. Fair Warning: In no way, shape or form is this a film to be gone into lightly. The tension is thick from start to finish. Even the beautiful scenes, the philosophical, wistful, loving scenes are frought with the knowledge that beauty might imminently change to horror. Often, it does.
Written (brilliantly) by Nick Cave, this flick has a great cast with Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Emily Watson, John Hurt, Danny Huston, and David Wenham. All of them play it to the friggin’ hilt. Each character was performed perfectly, though we kept hoping for Emily Watson to be more than she was, here – she is a fine actress and this role wasn’t really a stretch for her. In depicting the times and her role in them, and in making herself the calm heart of the storm, she did it up just right. But still we kept hoping for her to make herself more of a major player, as the story unfolded and she learned the truths around her… Anyway.
Having now seen the film, I can tell you that the soundtrack I heard two years ago (and which I know I must now replay) is so inextricably entwined with the film that it could not possibly be any more perfect. Beautiful, lilting tunes, a capella singing in desert canyons, and old traditionals done just right are bluntly crashed into by raging moments of musical mayhem and volume. The scenes on screen are doubled, even trebled by the force and/or gentleness of the music.
I really cannot recommend this one enough, to all of you. I’m a bit of a tough audience to please, when it comes to films, but I can say without equivocation that The Proposition, as a film and as a soundtrack, will stay with me for a long, long time.
Thanks to Danica for the idea on this post! You can get links to all the posts in this Community series on DANICA’S SITE RIGHT HERE.
For this post, I’ve chosen a classical track. I KNOW!
Way back in the 80s, my sister got married. As she walked down the aisle, her friend Patrick and I played Jeremiah Clarke’s Prince Of Denmark’s March, a.k.a. (and better known as) the Trumpet Voluntary.* It sounded great in the acoustics of the church, because of course we both were playing it fairly loudly. 🙂
My sister likely chose it because it was played at the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and my sister is still, to this day, a big fan of Diana, so whatever Diana had at her wedding was good enough for her! Really, though, it gets played a lot at weddings (not just royal weddings) for very good reasons. It’s stately, powerful, and clear as a bell. Brilliant anytime, but perfect for weddings.
* From 1878 until the 1940 this piece was attributed to Henry Purcell (in fact, that’s who I always thought wrote it, but nope it was Clarke!).
Sadly, Clarke committed suicide in 1707, reportedly over being unable to be with the woman he loved because she was way out of his league in social standing. Imagine. There is some controversy about his life, and WIKI has the goods.
I do love this piece. Not just because it was what we played when my sister got married, but because, as a trumpet player, I will always cheer for the trumpets, and this is a great trumpet piece, through and through. So much fun to play (those trills!), and it sets my trumpet senses tingling every time.
Check out the tune below. I love how, at 2:24, the trumpet just jumps to a fff at least, like BAM! Take THAT! Hahaha awesome.
NB: Whomever put the following video together would have been better to have left a static image throughout, so the song could stand strong alone. I suggest opening a new tab and letting this song play while you browse on another tab so you don’t have to watch these images. Also, good headphones recommended for maximum in your ears trumpet thrills! ENJOY!
Well this one’s like shooting fish in a barrel, isn’t it. I mean, 29 of Rush’s biggest songs, as compiled in 2006. What could possibly go wrong with this?
Exactly. Objectively, nothing.
Listening through this, I wondered how it stood up against my favourite Rush compilation, the 2CD set we all know and love, Chronicles.
Of course, most of the tracks are identical. But there are some omissions and additions. Here’s what I gleaned:
CHRONICLES HAS (RUSH GOLD DOES NOT HAVE) (6 tracks):
What You’re Doing (Live)
A Farewell To Kings
A Passage To Bangkok (Live)
Show Don’t Tell
RUSH GOLD HAS (CHRONICLES DOES NOT HAVE) (6 tracks):
By-Tor And The Snow Dog
The Analog Kid
The Body Electric
*** It’s also worth noting here that both Chronicles and Rush Gold contain Mystic Rhythms, but the Chronicles version is the A Show Of Hands live recording, while the Rush Gold is the Power Windows album version.
I will grant that Chronicles was made in 1990, a full 16 years before Rush Gold, but I realized that there are no tracks from Roll The Bones, Counterparts, Test For Echo, or Vapor Trails!
Seriously, you’re sitting there in 2006 making a Rush compilation and you leave off everything from those four full albums? I get that they probably wanted to try to capture the “classic years,” but come on.
Rush Gold is a sweet set, chock full of Rush Goodness. I don’t know whose job it was to leave off Lakeside Park or Show Don’t Tell, or any of those other Chronicles mainstays, let alone omitting all the intervening albums from 1991-2006, but there you go. Maybe the Retrospective sets are better for a more complete, up to date picture. I’ve never compared! I was happy to see The Analog Kid and Xanadu and all the others that were additions on Rush Gold, though, too.
In Sum Of My In Sum:
I welcomed the additional tracks. And I missed the ones left out.
In Sum Of My In Sum Of My In Sum:
I love me some R.L. Burnside.
And anything else from Fat Possum, too. Dayum!
I was gonna write all this up, and then I read this review on Amazon by ‘A Customer,’ and I laughed and had to share it.
All deference to the other artists mentioned, natch…
5.0 out of 5 stars
an unstoppable force of nature
May 25, 1999
Format: Audio CD
There is no other description for it: this CD has BALLS. Burnside unleashes the screaming, vengeful ghost of Elmore James to claim the Delta’s muderous retribution on all the Chicago crap that has passed for “blues” over the last 3 decades. I dream that Buddy Guy, BB King, Eric Clapton, Kenny Wayne Shepard, and all the other popular “blues” guitarists are led to a one room shack surrounded by a blinding cotton field on a dirt road deep, deep in Mississippi. Outside RL and his band tear into the groove of “Alice Mae” with such ferocity it sounds like a freight train loaded with nuclear bombs slamming into a mountain. The blasphemers inside the shack wail and gnash their teeth as they beg for mercy for their terrible sins. RL’s cataclysmic howl of “DID YOU SEE MY BABY?/CALL HER ALICE MAE!” summons a pillar of fire from the black sky to consume the shack and lay waste to the world. That’s what this CD sounds like.”
Oh yeah, and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion plays on tracks 2 & 7. Fuck yes.
Pure gold. I own this on CD and on LP. Why do I own two? BECAUSE IT’S R.L., that’s why!
Bruce Hornsby has a sound. Every song he does (solo or with The Range) just sounds like him. It’s in his stellar piano in the fore (a key part, pun intended), in his completely distinctive vocals, and in that sweet grooving bottom end. Also, and I struggled with how to describe this part… there’s a complete melodic sense that teases with 80s doctors office lite FM radio pap but never, ever comes close to it because there’s a wee bit of edge, as well as strength and masterful tunefulness.
That last bit isn’t a backhanded compliment, I truly do like how all the elements come together in his songs, his records are a songwriting master class.
So what we have here is his third (and last) album with The Range, 11 tracks of clear Hornsby goodness. Of all the tracks here, you’d most likely know Across The River (video below). But it doesn’t matter if you’ve heard any of these tracks – if you like his sound, you will love this album. On top of that, this record features many special guests including Jerry Garcia, Béla Fleck, Shawn Colvin, Charlie Haden, and many others (see below). Hot damn.
Tracks: A Night On The Town / Carry The Water / Fire On The Cross / Barren Ground / Across The River / Stranded On Easy Street / Stander On The Mountain / Lost Soul / Another Day / Special Night / These Arms Of Mine*
* This is an original song, not a cover of Otis Redding.
Additional personnel, by track:
“Carry the Water” – Laura Creamer and Shaun Murphy (backing vocals)
“Fire on the Cross” – Béla Fleck (banjo), Wayne Shorter (saxophone)
“Barren Ground”– Shawn Colvin (backing vocals), Béla Fleck (banjo), Jerry Garcia (guitar)
“Across the River”– Jerry Garcia (guitar), Laura Creamer and Shaun Murphy (backing vocals)
“Stranded on Easy Street” – David Mansfield (guitar), Jimmie Wood (harmonica)
“Stander on the Mountain” – Charlie Haden (upright bass), David Mansfield (violin), Shawn Colvin (backing vocals)
“Lost Soul” – Shawn Colvin (vocals)
“Another Day” – David Lasley and Arnold McCuller (backing vocals)
“Special Night” – Shawn Colvin (backing vocals)
“These Arms of Mine” – Bridgette Bryant, David Lasley, Arnold McCuller and Fred White (backing vocals)
I can keep my own input on this one short: this is, short of the later stuff with Gowan, pretty much most of the Styx songs I’d want to hear in any one sitting. Now, I know, their albums will have deep cuts that are stellar and I should probably have those too, but honestly, throwing this on as I worked away the other day was just right for me in the moment. I knew every song, hell, I knew most of the words.
And now, I will shamelessly use other people’s work to tell you things:
Lady was re-recorded for this compilation, and titled Lady ’95. According to Wiki, that session led to Styx reuniting. And there’s more:
Greatest Hits is a compilation album by the American rock band Styx. It was released by A&M Records on August 22, 1995. It contains 16 tracks, 8 of which were Billboard Top 10 Pop Singles, another 4 that were Billboard Top 40 Pop Singles, and 4 that received heavy airplay on FM album oriented rock stations.
This album essentially replaced Styx’s previous greatest hits album, Styx – Classics, Volume 15, which was released by A&M in 1987. That previous album had excluded the hit song Lady because the song was originally recorded for and released through Wooden Nickel Records (which also had a distribution arrangement with RCA Records). Because A&M/Polygram had been unable to secure distribution rights to the song, most of the classic lineup of Styx (Dennis DeYoung, Tommy Shaw, Chuck Panozzo and James J.Y. Young) reunited to re-record the track at Dennis’ home studio, The White Room. They were joined by uncredited session drummer Todd Sucherman, who filled in for John Panozzo due to Panozzo’s failing health; Sucherman joined the band permanently in 1996, during the Return to Paradise tour. The track, which is very similar to the original, was titled Lady ’95.
With the exception of Lady ’95, Styx – Greatest Hits features the original album versions of all the other songs included in the compilation. Come Sail Away is presented here in its full 6:05 version and Miss America is here in its original studio version (despite the CD’s packaging showing incorrect time listings for both tracks).
And the track list:
1. Lady ’95 – originally from @
2. The Best of Times #
3. Lorelei $
4. Too Much Time on My Hands #
5. Babe %
6. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) ^
7. Show Me the Way &
8. Renegade *
9. Come Sail Away ^
10. Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) *
11. The Grand Illusion ^
12. Crystal Ball ~
13. Suite Madame Blue $
14. Miss America ^
15. Mr. Roboto +
16. Don’t Let It End +
Fantastic. A real nostalgia trip, and amazing how many songs I knew when I didn’t know the titles off the top of my head. Fantastic stuff, great band, cool comp. Win win win.
@ Styx II 1973
$ Equinox 1975
~ Crystal Ball 1976
^ The Grand Illusion 1977
* Pieces Of Eight 1978
% Cornerstone 1979
# Paradise Theater 1981
+ Kilroy Was Here 1983
& Edge Of The Century 1990
Original Motion Picture Score
Music By Harry Manfredini
I bought this because of jhubner.* He’s always on about horror movie soundtracks, so when this one (for the 1980 original film) turned up at work (for $1.50), I figured I’d give it a spin.
To heighten the experience, I listened to this alone, in the basement, late at night, through the good headphones. Good times!
Ah, Camp Crystal Lake. I remember having the wits scared out of me when I went over to a childhood friend (Jason, natch)’s house to watch this. On those old 80s plastic video cartridges that were the size of LPs… what the hell were they called? Oh yes, folks, I am old.
Anyway, this disc is great for atmosphere. If I were to ask you, right now, to imagine horror movie music in your head, I’ll wager it’d approximate this stuff. Minimal instrumentations, cool uses of breath and mouth noises (cha-ha-ha-ha, etc), long sustained notes, chiming and phaser effects, sharp instrumental stabs at just the right moments… it all simultaneously evokes an ineffable sadness and impending doom…
This may be an odd impression, but it occurred to me anyway… it was almost as though, through listening to the music, I came somehow to an understanding of Jason and his mother, as if the music explained what their actions certainly never could. Fascinating!
One track stands out, in this mix, as odd, and that was Banjo Travelin’, which is exactly that, banjo music… in amongst the rest it’s jolting. My only real complaint about it is that many of the tracks are only about a minute or two in length. I know this is because they are cut to fit scenes in the movie, but when heard in order on a CD like this, outside the context of the film, it felt more as though I’d just settled into the mood of a piece and then it was over and on to the next one. For all that, it still contains moments of beauty crushed up against moments of panic and terror, with pretty damn good timing for each.
I’m not really sure how often I will listen to this in future – it’s not something I would just thrown on as I worked around the house and, for me anyway, it’d take a dedicated listening session – but I truly did enjoy the excellent work here.
PS: This edition contains a Bonus Cue track called Sail Away Tiny Sparrow, which was apparently inspired by Dolly Parton. I KNOW!
* If you’re not following that blog already, DO SO NOW. It is excellent!
Coleman Hawkins is amazing. Everything he did seemed so easy, so fluid, so melodic and tuneful that your ear would follow him anywhere. If someone were to ask me what I would consider to be beautiful music, I would point them in the direction of this collection as a great example.
Spanning recordings made between 1939-1956, this collection of 10 tracks made me wish it was a collection 1000 tracks. I particularly loved the earlier stuff. There’s a sound, a swing to the whole affair that just can’t fail to make me incredibly happy when I hear it. Big band music has the same effect on me – I grew up on this sound, and it always fills me with joy. But then again, I love the stuff on here that’s from a decade later too, with the strings… oh hell, the whole thing is amazing!
The list of players with him in these sessions is boggling. To name a few: Benny Carter, J.J. Johnson, Fats Navarro, Hank Jones, Max Roach, Zoot Sims, and so many more… GLORY.
Here are the tracks (with years, for your edification):
Body And Soul (1939)
When The Day Is Done (1940)
Bouncing With Bean (1940)
April In Paris (1947)
Angel Face (1947)
I Love You (1947)
There Will Never Be Another You (1956)
Little Girl Blue (1956)
The Bean Stalks Again (1956)
Have You Met Miss Jones? (1956)
Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes.
I think it’s quaint that this book got published. Not to disparage it in anyway, because I am always (always) happy to read about AC/DC. What I meant was that it pretty much didn’t need to be written. Let’s be real here: We all already instinctively know that AC/DC matters. It’s primal. Visceral. It just IS, and thank goodness for that.
What Anthony Bozza’s book is, then, is basically a mini-biography of the band and its members, interspersed with a collection of all the ways he could think of to use and twist the English language into new ways to effuse about the band.
So, when Bozza tells us about how the band started and who the members are, and the band’s story, etc, we say: we already knew this stuff. And when he enthusiastically raves about every aspect of the band and their playing and their magic, soul and consistency, and how they play for the fans not for the money (haha erm, sure), we say: WE KNOW.
Fair play, it’s still a cool book. But it’s preaching to the choir, baby. Now turn it the hell up and get some AC/DC in yer ears! \m/ \m/
This review may potentially meet with disagreement from fans, as the internet seems full of people who swear these guys are great. So I’ll say off the top that I give all deference to your tastes, and fair play to you. This is just my experience, posted on my (and James’) site. Thanks for reading.
I just never understood the appeal of this band, for myself. I mean, I get why other folks liked it – it was a fine enough example of 80s post-punk. And some people like it because the singer, Ian Curtis, was a bit of a poet of “desolation, emptiness, and alienation.” (Wiki) Even his 1980 death by suicide (he suffered from both epilepsy and depression) seems to have added a sheen to the myth and legend of the band for some people, which I find morbid and weird.
With me, though, it never really caught on. Not at the time, and not now in 2018, either. I dunno, it just isn’t my brand of sound. So why did I even bother to buy this compilation? Because I feel as though I ought to like it, somehow, and not just because many other people seem to. It has an edge to it that makes his odd vocals and the content of his lyrics a fascinating subject of study, when (potentially) seen in a different light. So I gave it a whirl. And… nope, it just doesn’t click. Not something I would choose to play often, anyway.
Love Will Tear us Apart is the most recognizeable, of course, and there are two versions here. It has actually taken me several days to get all the way through this CD, because I could only do two or three tracks at a time, and I needed to play other things in between to balance it all out. That says something right there, too, honestly.
Maybe I oughta add Joy Division to my Every Five Years project with My Bloody Valentine. I try them out, try to ‘get it,’ then wait five years before trying again. Might do, we’ll see.
Anyway, this compilation contains the following:
1 Love Will Tear Us Apart (Pennine version)^
3 She’s Lost Control
5 Day of the Lords
8 Heart and Soul
9 Twenty Four Hours
10 These Days
12 Dead Souls
13 The Only Mistake
14 Something Must Break
16 Love Will Tear Us Apart (Permanent Mix)
^ Not listed as being alternate version at all
Tracks 1 and 10 first released on the Love Will Tear Us Apart single in 1980.
Tracks 2 and 11 first released on the Transmission single in 1979.
Tracks 3 to 5 first released on the Unknown Pleasures album in 1979.
Tracks 6 to 9 first released on the Closer album in 1980.
Track 12 and 15 first released on the Licht und Blindheit single in 1980.
Tracks 13 and 14 first released on the Still album in 1981.
Track 16 previously unreleased.
Yesterday, a co-worker left in a hurry as family had been called asap to be with their mother in hospice after over a year’s fight with cancer.
Also yesterday, we got news that Dolores O-Riordan (Cranberries, solo) passed away during a recording session in London. She was only 46.
And, of course, a few days ago, we lost the last remaining original Motörhead member when Fast Eddie Clarke died of pneumonia.
And so it goes.
Whoa, this one takes me back. There were two guys in my class in high school who were waaay into this album. To any younger readers out there, yes, I am old, I was in high school in 1992. Anyway. I didn’t listen to this stuff a whole lot at the time (I was into jazz), but over time I have discovered that techno-metal smash-up derby albums like this are actually quite fun, when the mood strikes… I even saw Ministry live one time, I’ll get to that, stay with me… First, the songs:
N.W.O. has a hypnotic driving pulse that ought to be annoying but is certainly not so, particularly at high volume. I can hear where Trent Reznor might get his rocks off, listening to this track, and if this is how the New World Order will sound, I am OK with it – turn it up, overlords! Next is Just One Fix, which shoves raunchy guitars to the fore and tries to crush your skull with its pounding and distorted vocals, all while its opening statement reminds us to never trust a junkie. Glory!
TVII was an oft-quoted bit, back in school. “Connect the goddamn dots!!” But oh man the BPMs here are certifiably insane. What a total rush! Whooaa! Hero keeps the pace racing in a fantastic Motörhead homage. It’s metal, punk and crazy all wrapped up in an explosive and brilliant track.
Jesus Built My Hotrod features Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers, etc) on lead vocals. It’s another relentless psycho tech-metal blow-out, guaranteed to strip paint and set you to destroying the living room as you crash around to its energy. Scare Crow is the first track to cut the blistering tempos to half, even a quarter speed. It plods along menacingly with a searing metal guitar assault and sounds like what every bad guy in every movie ever wished had been their intro scene soundtrack track. It’s Sabbath done Ministry-style.
Psalm 69 takes that metal plod from Scare Crow and carries it into its first half, but then things take off and it’s a swinging stomping metal basher that vascillates between the two feels over its length. Two songs in one, and I like them both! Crank it! Corrosion is exactly that, a swirling metal mindfuck that probably got played at that rave scene in the Matrix. You know the one – “hey all the metal robots are coming to kill us, but tonight let’s party instead of trying to get the fuck out of here!” Yeah, that one. And finally, Grace is three minutes of pure noise and distorted talking voices, and epigraph for your mind, a come down from the driving and relentless energy of all that has come before, a ngoodnight kiss as you drift back into the nightmare of reality.
Add in all of the hilarious, quasi-religious and weird spoken bits at the start of tracks (and within tracks), and you have a stellar record of metal, punk and electronic mayhem that has an esthetic all its own. This is fully-realized and controlled chaos, a statement of intent and philosphy. It’s also bent on crushing your skull as it drives over you at 100 mph. Fun!
So yeah, one time in Saskatoon we went to see Ministry in concert in 2004. Our friend Michael was bent on going, so my lovely wife and I went along. Opening the gig was My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. I don’t remember a single song they played, but I know they were loud and, well, writhing. That’s my memory of it, well, that and the fact that the lead singer was wearing these tight black leather pants and jacket (and no shirt beneath) and he kept teasing the crowd that’d he’d strip it off until he eventually did this gross strip tease as he removed the jacket… despite, may I add, all my yelling at him to please not do so. Yeah. And Ministry, in full regalia, was super-loud and punishing, but actually a lot of fun too. I liked Al’s mic stand, covered as it was in skulls and detritus and whatever else.
Below is Ministry’s setlist from that gig. I also remember an encore that included their cover of Black Sabbath’s Supernaut, so I don’t think setlist.fm has the complete info. Anyway, I’ll take their word for it that this is otherwise accurate…
Setlist for Ministry, Prairieland Park, Saskatoon, SK
Just One Fix
This Verve series is fun – each disc is an ‘Ultimate’ set of an artist’s songs, as chosen by another famous jazz musician. For example, the Clifford Brown set was selected by Nicholas Payton (yes!), Billie Holiday was chosen by Shirley Horn (yes!), Lester Young was selected by Wayne Shorter (yes!), etc. Amazing, I love it.
This Oscar Peterson set features songs chosen by bassist Ray Brown. I know! Brown, who played in trios with Peterson for 14 years, said, “Oscar had a power, he could play soft… and he could swing. He has that great command of the piano.” No kidding, brother!
There’s no arguing with Peterson’s talent. He was so strong and spectacular that the listener has the ease of just sitting back and marvelling as the songs wash over and infuse themselves into your brain. And of course, the track selection is perfect:
Sometimes I’m Happy / Love You Madly / In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning / Reunion Blues / Waltz For Debby / Blues For Big Scotia / Jet Song / Noreen’s Nocturne / Mumbles / Chicago
Bliss. I cannot stop playing this disc. So much gorgeousness, so much taste, incredible playing…
I’ll just leave track one here to lift your soul and leave you wanting more: