Tuesday, March 20, 2018

You like me too much (The Beatles) (LP 209 - 212)

The Beatles Help! (Vinyl + CDs - parlophone, 1965) *****
The Beatles Help! (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Vinyl - Apple, 1965) ***
The Beatles The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl (Vinyl - EMI, 1977) ****
The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl (CD - Apple, 2018) ****

Genre: Beatles pop  

Places I remember: Variety of places, tracking backwards from 2018: JB HiFi (Mt Albert); Marbecks Records; Capitol Help! from Noel Forth; the various UK versions of Help! have come from Kings Recording (Abu Dhabi), The Warehouse (Hastings), and DJ Records (Otahuhu)   

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: I've Just Seen A Face (Macca did this during his Auckland gig recently and my smile broke world records!)

Gear costume Highlights aplenty: Yesterday, Act Naturally, Help!, Ticket To Ride, I Need You, I could go on!

Active compensatory factors: What a year 1965 was: the fabs toured the UK, as well as the USA for a second time, and Europe; recorded two albums - Help! and Rubber Soul; Ringo found space to marry Maureen Cox; they shot the Help! movie in a variety of locations, released some non album singles, did a number of TV appearances, got their MBEs, John published another book, and generally they continued to conquer the known universe. Lazy layabouts! 

I've wrapped these four albums together because together they present the studio/live distinctions, and the Help! to Rubber Soul progression.

The live albums are great! Amazingly, even though they probably couldn't hear too much over the screams, the Fabs rip through their programme with gusto boys, with gusto. Turns out, when you could hear them, they were a great live band as well as everything else; take a listen to the way Ringo attacks Boys and Paul gives it plenty of welly in Long Tall Sally frinstance. 

The 2018 version includes four extra tracks that the album didn't have room for and Giles Martin's take on things benefits sonically from 2018 technology that his dad didn't have in 1977, but not by much.  Bravo George! 

However great they were live, it's to the studio they would repair to after that tour and Help! shows them transitioning from Mop Tops to studio wizards - a process that would continue later in 1965 with the Rubber Soul sessions.

Help!, in its UK iterationis a classic in any one's definition, and the US version is the best of the alternative Capitol albums (perversely and strangely, my version is on Apple) as it doesn't cherry pick other Beatle product. Instead it includes non-Beatle instrumental material from the film amongst the seven Help! tracks.

Where do they all belong? Rubber Soul man, Rubber Soul.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kids wanna rock (Bryan Adams) (LP 208)

Bryan Adams Reckless (CD - A&M Records, 1984) ***

Genre:  Canadian pop/rock

Places I remember:  From Lindsay's collection, although I had a dubbed version on cassette from Roger Marbeck during the eighties and it got a fair dollop of airplay on family trips.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Hard to go past Summer Of '69

Gear costume: Kids Wanna Rock

Active compensatory factors: Weirdly, by harking back to 1969, nothing screams mid eighties more than this album featuring Summer Of '69

[Even more weirdly Adams was referencing a time when he was 10 years old! That state of not being here now is a fertile one in rock which is forever reinventing itself]

In 1984 it was that big rock drum sound courtesy of Bob Clearmountain that was all over the radio. Listening to it again now is still fun but those synth sounds anchor it firmly to only one decade!

And then, OMG, there's that cover! 

Where do they all belong? He's a Canadian rock hero, okay!

Next up: we're finally back to the vinyl again for the next load of selections...and that means starting again with another Beatle classic. Wahoo!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Laughing at me (Alice Cooper) (LP 204 - 207)

Alice Cooper Pretties For You (CD - Warner Bros, 1970) ***
Alice Cooper Easy Action (CD - Warner Bros, 1970) ** 
Alice Cooper Love It To Death (CD - Warner Bros, 1971) ***
Alice Cooper Killer (CD - Warner Bros, 1971) ***

Genre: American pop/rock

Places I remember: A Taupo record shop. 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: I'm Eighteen

Gear costume: Under My Wheels

Active compensatory factors: The first four Alice Cooper albums trace the arrival of the Coop (a.k.a. Vince Furnier) and his band from weirdo experimentalists beloved by Frank Zappa and signed to his label (Straight Records) to weirdo pop icons via I'm Eighteen (on Love It To Death). 

Debut album Pretties For You will appeal to Zappa/ Beefheart fans (like me). It's weird, eclectic, psychedelic music straight (ha ha) out of 1969.

Follow up, Easy Action, suffers a little from second album syndrome as the boys were a little short of material. David Briggs is well known for his association with Neil Young and no frills rock'n'roll so he's a bizarre (ha ha) choice!

Third and fourth albums are like Vol 1 and 2 of the new AC; they hit their mark with a harder rockier sound but still poppy in all the right places. I'm Eighteen is an obvious standout on Love It To Death and Under My Wheels is nicely macabre.

Still, they are all something of a preamble for School's Out - where I first started taking notice back in the day via the lead track as a single. 

That album is also collected in this five pack, original album series which I came across recently while cruising for burgers in Taupo [not sure what it is about Taupo and Alice - coincidentally, that's also where I first bought the School's Out album way back in time].

Where do they all belong? The classic School's Out (not included above because I've written about it already. You can check it out here). Next up is Billion Dollar Babies!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Whatever it takes (Lene Marlin) (LP 201 - 203)

Lene Marlin Another Day (CD - EMI, 2003) ****
Lene Marlin Lost In A Moment (CD - EMI, 2005) ****
Lene Marlin Twist The Truth (CD - EMI, 2009) ****

Genre: Scandinavian pop/rock 

Places I remember: Various music outlets in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai  

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: What if (LIAM); Another Day (AD)

Gear costume: Everything else * because she's awesome!

Active compensatory factors:  I wrote a few blogposts back when I discovered Lene Marlin, the wonderfully talented Swedish singer/songwriter, while living in the Middle East. 

The one that mentions my reaction to Another Day stands up.  

Twist The Truth got a separate post as well.

That leaves Lost In A Moment. I love the ambiguity of that title.

It's a lovely mix of sophisticated pop (a more mature Playing My Game) with the introspection of Another Day (and before the starker Twist The Truth). 

* The remarkable thing about her records and her music is that there is not a duff song to be found anywhere. 

Four amazingly presented albums that are varied and display growth in her artistry. Lene never disappoints.

If you haven't yet been tempted to search her out by now you really don't like music and should stop reading my blogposts right now - go and do something else more worthwhile for you!

Where do they all belong? She has not released anything for the last 9 years. A real shame. We need you Lene!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

All night long (Scorpions) (LP 200)

Scorpions Tokyo Tapes (CD - EMI, 2001) ***

Genre:  German pop/rock

Places I remember: King's Recording (Abu Dhabi) 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Fly to The Rainbow (some great Hendrix inspired guitar from Ulrich Roth)

Gear costume:  In Trance

Active compensatory factors: Although reissued in 2oo1, this originally comes from 1978. 

I picked up a lot of this kind of thing in the Middle East while living there from 2009-2012. Strange, but they seemed to have a thing for hard rock/metal acts like Scorpions. Had to be aimed at the expat market, but who knows.

I played this and other Scorpions albums a lot as I pootled to Al Foah each day to go to work at Ali bin Abi Taleb school. Great times and the hard rock sound of Scorpions suited the manic motoring.

Makes less sense to me ten years later on an nearly autumn afternoon in Maungaturoto, I have to say.

As you know, I have a thing for double live albums. Every band worth its salt produced a double live in the seventies and Scorpions, a quality rock band, were no exception. 

Recording a live album in Japan was also a no brainer in the seventies. Scorpions went over well, if this double live document is anything to go by. Weird.

Where do they all belong? Jump forward to the 2010 version of the band and their failed bid to retire gracefully which lead to a rejuvenated Sting In The Tail.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Fuel to the fire (Rory Gallagher) (LP 198-199)

Rory Gallagher Notes From San Francisco (CD - Sony/Capo, 2011) *** (** for the studio side, **** for the live side)
Rory Gallagher Meeting With The G-Man+ (CD - Sony/Capo, 2003) **

Genre:  Irish pop/rock

Places I remember: Fopp (London) 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: If You Keep On Walkin (aka Wheels Within Wheels) is amazing and yet didn't even get on the revamped Photo Finish!!*; Shadow Play (every version is special!)

Gear costumeOff The Handle (live version on Notes...); The Loop (G-Man)

Active compensatory factors: Don't be fooled by the release dates. The posthumously released San Francisco set comes from 1978/79 and, similarly, the G-Man+ was recorded live in 1993 - just two years before his death but not released at the time.  

Notes from San Francisco was recorded in SF 1978, and shelved, as Rory was unhappy with the song quality. *Being Rory, he broke up the band ('cept for Gerry of course), started again, and ended up with Photo Finish, also in 1978. 

He didn't muck about did our Rory.

So - how does it stack up? Well not as good as Photo Finish - that's for sure. It's a brave attempt to fill out the sound in an American context but I think he was wise to scrap it and return to a trio format. Besides, Photo Finish contains Shadow Play! Need I say more?

Live? Another story entirely - the power trio arrived back in SF 1979 and kicked arse!! The live tapes show Rory in peak shredding form, with the rhythm section containing much needed muscle and grace. Gerry McAvoy and Ted McKenna - take a bow.

And then there's G-Man+. The sound quality is not the greatest so it's hard to judge how good the nineties band really was. It's like those audience recorded YouTube clips: superior bootleg quality.

Having said that, Rory is rarely off and his guitar is still sharp on this set.

Where do they all belong? Still loads of RG vinyl to come, as well as back to the future moments when comes Taste, the band.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Made in heaven (Big Country) (LP 196-197)

Big Country At the BBC, The best of the BBC recordings (CD - BBC, 1996) ****
Big Country Restless Natives and Rarities (CD - Mercury, 1998) ***

Genre:  Scottish pop/rock

Places I remember:  HMV (Stratford Mall, London) and Real Groovy (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: On The Shore (RN), Lost Patrol (BBC) - at the Hammersmith Palais 1983  

Gear costumeWinter Sky (RN)Porrohman (BBC) - and anything else on the BBC album.

Active compensatory factors:  Strictly speaking, these aren't the kinds of compilations I have chosen not to include in my album run down. Did that make sense? 

Rather than being greatest hits albums, instead, each of these CD collections looks at the band's back pages. 

Restless Natives is all about blind alleys, B sides and choice cuts. The great (honest) liner notes by Stuart Adamson are worth your hard earned cash on their own!

Like all these types of alternative history anthologies, there are plenty of interesting tracks amongst the ones that didn't make the cut.

As for the BBC one - there is ample proof throughout this collection to prove that LIVE is where Big Country thrived. The big songs, the big sound, the big hurdy gurdy presence, the Big Country extravaganza!

Where do they all belong? That's it for my Big Country collection. Love this band! Best band of the eighties? Maybe. Long may they reign - they have a permanent place in Scottish rock history and in my heart.