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.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Stuck in a rut (Stereophonics) (LP192 - 195)

Stereophonics Language. Sex. Violence. Other? (CD - V2 Music, 2005) ***
Stereophonics Pull The Pin (CD - V2 Music, 2007) **
Stereophonics Keep Calm and Carry On (CD - V2 Music, 2009) ***
Stereophonics Graffiti On The Train (CD - V2 Music, 2013) ***

Genre:  Welsh pop/rock

Places I remember: Language...Fives (Leigh-on-sea); Pull.../Keep Calm...The Warehouse (New Plymouth); Graffiti...the Warehouse (Hastings)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Dakota

Gear costume: Graffiti On The Train

Active compensatory factors: Most definitely, I own way too many Stereophonics albums. 

This lot comprises a late period 'Phonics wrap up.

The things is - when they stow the bombast and put in some effort they create some great songs. Like Dakota. So, I persist. Plus they usually end up in the sale racks at The Warehouse eventually. So, there's that.

Which means: I hang in there.

Language. Sex. Violence. Other? has a good song (Superman) and one great one (Dakota).

Pull The Pin has a few good songs (It Means Nothing, Stone) but no great ones.

Keep Calm and Carry On has a few good songs (Could You Be The One?) but no great ones. Still, it's a cut above the previous album - less bombast and some variety of approach see to that.

Graffiti On The Train wins its three stars for trying something different at times (the title track frinstance).

Stuck in a rut? The verdict? Well, yes. Based on the evidence of these albums.

Thing of it is - Kelly Jones and his band are capable of a four star album but mostly there's only the likelihood of a 2 star or at best a 3 star album emerging from the ruck in the future.

Where do they all belong? That's it. I'm going to do my best not to buy any more (I haven't bought the last two and the latest got a 2 star rating in Mojo), but, you know, if they are on sale, and there's always that thought: maybe, just maybe, it could contain a Dakota..

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Rock steady (Bad Company) (LP 191)

Bad Company Bad Company (CD - Swan Song, 1974) *** 

Genre:  English pop/rock

Places I remember: JB HiFi (Hamilton)  

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Bad Company

Gear costume:  Can't Get Enough

Active compensatory factors: True fact: I am a latecomer to Bad Company. 

In theory I should have gobbled up the debut in 1974 but I was a teenager and so my priorities and my hard earned pocket money went in other directions.  Then when I had some spare cash and the opportunity in the late seventies I'd moved on via punk/ new wave and Paul Rogers and Co. seemed a little passe.

Listening to the whole album now suggests I didn't really miss that much. I love the singles from this album and from Straight Shooter - great guitar crunch and vocals, however, the album tracks are good but not great rock.

Paul Rogers, of course, stands out with his rock cool vocal style. Clearly with Bad Company he found a real home.

Where do they all belong? The Firm (Paul Rogers and Jimmy Page) is the closest next step I have. I'll get to it eventually when I'm back cruising through the vinyl.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Get it hot (AC/DC) (LP190)

AC/DC Highway To Hell (CD - Point Classics, 1994) ***

Genre:  Australian pop/rock

Places I remember:  The Warehouse (Taupo)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Shot Down In Flames

Gear costume:  Get It Hot

Active compensatory factors: RIP Bon Scott. This was his last album with the boys, the Aussie tearaways, of AC/DC. Within a year he was dead. Another rock casualty - too young. That was nearly forty years ago!

The Youngs continued, of course. Whether it's the death of a lead singer or a brother (RIP Malcolm Young), or Phil Rudd's drug problems - nothing derails the AC/DC machine. Malcolm or Bon wouldn't have it any other way!

As a final album, it's a good one. Riffage aplenty and a tough production from Mutt Lange complement some typically robust AC/DC songs. Would we have it any other way?  

Where do they all belong? After Bon came the mega selling Back In Black but AC/DC would never be this innocent and fun again.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The beautiful young crew (Lawrence Arabia) (LP 189)

Lawrence Arabia Chant Darling (CD - Honorary Bedouin Records, 2009) ***

Genre:  NZ music

Places I remember:  Fopp (London)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Apple Pie Bed. With its Beatle echoes, Apple Pie Bed is superior and classic pop. 

Gear costumeThe Crew of the Commodore, The Beautiful Young Crew

Active compensatory factors: Ironic: As a kiwi, I was living in Doha, visiting London when I found this CD by my countryman, James Milne, who records as Lawrence Arabia.

A very favourable review in Mojo magazine had lead me on a search of Qatar's music outlets. It was a long shot. But Fopp in London was on the money, as usual.

I confess, it's taken time for me to unlock the joys of Chant Darling. At times, its Nu Zild pop style musical wackiness takes some aural adjustment, frinstance Auckland CBD Part Two, but the effort pays off.

Where do they all belong? Lawrence Arabia has a distinctive place in the NZ music landscape. Absolute Truth is next.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Talkin' blues (Bob Marley) (LP 188)

Charlie Hunter Quartet Natty Dread (CD - Blue Note, 1997) ***

Genre: Modern Jazz 

Places I remember: Kings Recording (Abu Dhabi)  

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Revolution

Gear costume:  Talkin' Blues/ Lively Up Yourself

Active compensatory factors: After recalibrating my jazz collection I have a number of sub genres and modern jazz seemed to fit this guy. 

Traditional Jazz guitarists are not especially my thing aside from early George Benson. Instead the last few decades have through up a great collection of talented jazz guitarists like Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny and Charlie Hunter.

There were a number of reasons I took a punt on this while browsing the jazz racks in Kings Recording: Blue Note (noted for its quality); Bob Marley (I'm a fan); the quartet line-up of guitar/drums/two saxophonists; and the cover which gives prominence to Natty Dread and the flax type foliage was intriguing.

Inside the cover? There was no disappointment once I'd pootled back to Al Ain in the Tiida. Charlie's guitar sounds almost like an organ at times - very rich sound and the twin sax attack brings fresh colours to familiar songs.

In fact, the hip jazz Charlie Hunter approach to some great sunshine songs was perfect for the Yellow Jimi apartment and pootling to school in Al Foah each day (along with my other new discoveries from Kings Recording and the Virgin Megastores in Abu Dhabi and Dubai).

Where do they all belong? Next up in this section is Marc Johnson playing along with those aforementioned stellar jazz guitarists Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Hoe down (Aaron Copland) (LP 187)

Michael Tilson Thomas/ San Francisco Symphony Copland The Populist (CD - RCA Victor, 2000) ***

Genre: Classical  

Places I remember: Part of Lindsay Hope's collection donated to the Wozza estate

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Hoe Down

Gear costume:  Appalachian Spring

Active compensatory factors: Everything I know about Aaron Copland's music comes from following the ups and downs of Emerson Lake and Palmer. There's the great video of them doing Fanfare For The Common Man in the snow, and of course, Hoe Down from Trilogy

So, it's not my usual cup of tea, obviously, but the western themes of Billy The Kid are familiar enough from watching Westerns since I was Wozza The Kid in the sixties. 

As it goes on through it's 21 minute programme, Billy The Kid becomes more and more epic AND nuanced. Bombast and lyrical in turns, its a great piece of Americana.

Appalachian Spring is lovely - very pastoral throughout its 35 minutes, with American vistas of wheat fields, wide open spaces, big skies, starry nights, all with a lightness of heart. It's a beautiful piece of music.

For me, though, the short pieces that make up Rodeo (accent on the second vowel) are the most accessible and Hoe Down is the most recognisable thanks to ELP.

I wouldn't have found this music without Lindsay's generosity so kudos again to him!

Where do they all belong? Peter and the Wolf is coming this way soonish.