Sunday, January 14, 2018

My favourite things (John Coltrane) (LP 185)

John Coltrane Afro Blue Impressions (Vinyl - Pablo Records, 1977) ****

Genre:  Jazz

Places I remember:  Marbecks Records. Roger imported a lot of stuff on Pablo Records at that time. I wish I'd got more then, but you can't always get what you want. 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Cousin Mary

Gear costume My Favourite Things, Naima

Active compensatory factors:  Recorded in 1963, this set has the classic Coltrane quartet blasting through their current repertoire and they are each in blistering form.

Cousin Mary is especially amazing as it focuses for a lengthy period on McCoy Tyner's breathtaking piano with Elvin Jones on drums and Jimmy Garrison on bass - all three are locked into a great groove. And then Coltrane drops in. And the energy levels head into the red zone. Sheer brilliance!!
Sidebar: Far away and long ago (Ramelton Road days so the early seventies), I used to have a double album on the Impulse! label called John Coltrane - His Greatest Years Volume 2. Unfortunately, one day I left it on the turntable and the sun got to it. A harsh lesson. One that I learned well - since then, I always put the record safely away!
I tried everything to try and straighten out the vinyl but the roller coaster look remained. With a killer version of Greensleeves on it (from the Africa/Brass album), I have missed it!
Luckily I found a replacement in Real Groovy last week - for $10!! And Greensleeves is as great as I remember it. 

Where do they all belong? Coltrane is a major figure and I have most of the landmarks so stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Beat it (Michael Jackson) (LP 184)

Michael Jackson Thriller (Vinyl - Epic Records, 1982) ****

Genre: Soul 

Places I remember: Marbecks Records (Auckland) 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Beat It - remember him this way!

Gear costume: Billy Jean 

Active compensatory factors: While Billie Jean has lost a little of its freshness via over-exposure over the years (and some of the songs on the album have definitely not aged well), Beat It remains a stunning thing of beauty. A song (and video) for the ages!

MJ's finest moment of joyous energy!

As a whole, the album rode a tidal wave of success via MTV's exposure of Thriller, Beat It and Billy Jean, but it lacked the cohesion of Off The Wall. Just sayin'.

The playful Paul McCartney duet, The Girl Is Mine, is worthwhile but overall, Thriller has too much filler material. Maybe that's harsh and the high water mark of Beat It shades a lot of the songs, but for a megaseller, you'd expect more consistency right?

Where do they all belong? Bad was next and it could not compete sales wise, but it did its best creatively speaking.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Isolation (Joy Division) (LP 183)

Joy Division Closer (Vinyl - Factory, 1980 ) *****

Genre: Alternative rock 

Places I remember: Marbecks Records 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Atrocity Exhibition

Gear costume: Isolation

Active compensatory factors: Mervyn Peake's prose is often grotesquely bleak and full of meandering cobwebby corridors of sentences. I'm sure Ian Curtis was a fan.

Listening again to this album on a rainy day while reading Gormenghast was the perfect circumstance. The mood was right.

Although that's not the only time to listen to Joy Division, a melancholy atmosphere does help. As does a working knowledge of Manchester in the late seventies. It was grim up north!

Where do they all belong? Sadly, that was it for the troubled Ian Curtis. He committed suicide before Closer was released and the band retired the Joy Division name - re-emerging as New Order.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hoodoo man (Junior Wells) (LP 182)

Eric Clapton 24 Nights (Vinyl - Reprise Records, 1991) **

Genre: Blues 

Places I remember: Marbecks Records (Queen's Arcade, Auckland) 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Bad Love

Gear costume: Watch Yourself

Active compensatory factors: This one is a bit weird -  as it forms a sampler from all the 42 concerts Eric played at the Royal Albert Hall starting in 1990, each side has a different band line up.

Not surprising then that the album lacks cohesion. My favourite side is three with the 9 piece band which includes a groovy smouldering Wonderful Tonight; least favourite is side 4 - the band augmented by the National Philharmonic Orchestra, only Procol Harum can get away with this kind of union and even then...

That leaves sides 1 and 2 and it's EC with the slick late eighties band he had (Greg Phillinganes, Nathan East, Steve Ferrone). Given even EC wasn't that happy with the 1990 dates, the whole package becomes a nice collection but a little lacking in edge. Raw it ain't.

Where do they all belong? The Cream of Eric is coming.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Good to be here? (Lindisfarne) (LP 179 - 181)

Lindisfarne Back and Fourth (Vinyl - Charisma, 1978) **
Lindisfarne The News (Vinyl - Phonogram, 1979) ***
Lindisfarne "Lindisfarntastic!" Live (Vinyl - LMP Records, 1983) **

Genre:  Folk

Places I remember: Vinyl Countdown (New Plymouth) 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Run For Home (Back and Fourth)

Gear costume Call Of The Wild (The News)

Active compensatory factors: Back And Fourth is clearly the band's fourth studio album (I've covered the first three in an earlier post).

It's a disappointing record.

Unfortunately, it's a case of ever diminishing returns with Lindisfarne (the first two albums are immense, then from Dingly Dell to Back and Fourth it's a slide) until The News perks things up somewhat. However, they were never going to ever return to the joy and freshness of the first two albums.

The live one is Lindisfarne as a party band. May have been great to be a part of that experience but it doesn't make for a great listen stone cold sober alone at home.

Where do they all belong? That's it for Lindisfarne. If you are new to the band go directly to a best of compilation. Inevitably, it will focus on all the great early stuff. 

Steeleye Span is the next vinyl member of the Folk genre collection.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Lost in the ozone (Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen) (LP 177 - 178)

Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen Lost in The Ozone (Vinyl - MCA, 1971) ***
Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen Hot Licks, Cold Steel and Truckers Favorites (Vinyl - Paramount Records, 1972) ***

Genre: Country 

Places I remember: Real Groovy Records (Auckland) 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Hot Rod Lincoln (can't go past it!). Two versions here - studio and a smokin' live one that I've used afore but what the heckfire!

Gear costume Beat me Daddy, Eight To The Bar (Lost...)Mama Hated Diesels (Hot Licks...)

Active compensatory factors: The first two albums from the fantastically named Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen are the real deal!  

Songs about truckers, songs about hot rods, songs about artificial stimulants - all the bases are covered!

Hot Rod Lincoln was among the earliest clutch of singles I bought and thrashed mercilessly. The fun aspect is a big component on the Airmen: their compilation Too Much Fun is titled that for good reason!

Second album, Hot Licks... is a concept album of sorts, built around the Truckers' Favourites tag. Fun ingredient still very much intact! 

Where do they all belong? Live albums to follow.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Trombone Gulch (Audience) (LP 176)

Audience Lunch (Vinyl - Charisma, 1972) ***

Genre: Progressive rock 

Places I remember:  Slow Boat Records (Wellington)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Thunder and Lightnin'

Gear costume: Barracuda Dan 

Active compensatory factors:  There is a strong earthy feel to this album - and a distinct Band resonance: real music by real people.

Audience are a weird band - hard to pin down genre wise. Howard Werth's vocals are very distinctive but he's not a rock voice and the band instruments lend themselves to prog, or Art Rock according to wikipedia (whatever that is - I have no Art Rock genre section in my collection).

This one has Jim Price, and Bobby Keys adding their distinctive patois to the mix. All very confusing. Which is why, I guess, they never reached an, erm, audience.

Where do they all belong? Barclay James Harvest are next up in the prog section.