Sunday, September 29, 2013

With the way you look i understand that you are not impressed (Elvis Costello) # 90

Elvis Costello 1 Accidents Will Happen 2 AlisonWatching the Detectives (Radar, SAM 90, 1978)

This is a weird one - live versions of these three Elvis classics recorded at Hollywood High School of all places.

For a while there I was, once again, going to blame WEA NZ for their hilarious incompetence with 'accidents' misspelled on the sleeve as 'adcicents' (bottom right), but the sleeve seems to have been designed that way on purpose. Geddit? Accidents will happen. What a jolly jape eh.

I must confess I am not much of an Elvis fan. I only have two of his albums - Armed Forces was given to me by a co-worker at Marbecks and I bought Spike because of the Macca connection, being as it was a kind of companion album to Macca's wonderful Flowers In The Dirt.

This single was included with the Armed Forces album. No idea why. The album is a strong one with Oliver's Army being a great song.

He's a good song writer, of that there is no doubt - these three songs are all fantastic songs. I'm not that impressed with the solo piano version of Accidents but Alison is a hard song to muck up and Elvis does a pretty good version here (sadly couldn't find it on youtube though).

So why haven't I bought more of his stuff? The adcicents thing sums it up. He's a smart arse! Too clever by half! I just do not warm to him. There it is. A peculiar, non scientific bias.

Hidden gem: The weirdness continues as the A side features two songs but the B side only has one.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Just about to lose my mind (Eric Clapton) #88-89

Eric Clapton (sic) LaylaLayla Part 2 (Polydor 2058 263, 1972)

Eric Clapton Tulsa TimeCocaine (RSO POLY 81, 1980)

Everyone now knows the Layla soap opera story concerning Slowhand's obsession with Patti Boyd, Hari Georgeson's wife, but back in 1972 I had no access to hindsight so my reaction to Layla was purely on a musical level.

And back in 1972 the guitar riff was king! This is one of the best and most easily recognisable riffs in all of rockdom. Air guitar glory!

The NZ version of this single dispenses with the Derek and The Dominos thing, probably due to incompetence, and tells it like it is - Clappers back in form and control. Little did I know how wrong that impression was but I wouldn't have cared anyway back in the day. Pre social media, it was all about the music maan.

Tulsa Time is Clapton in laid back mode. Nuff said. I have no idea why I own this single.

Hidden gems: The Layla B side is the slow coda to the song and on its own without the rip snort bust of the first part it's pretty anaemic as a B side.

Cocaine is well known. It's a great loping song but I've always been disturbed by the lyric which seems to advocate for the drug. Unlike Jackson Browne's song about cocaine (now I'm losing touch with reality and I'm almost out of blow) there appears to be no irony in J J Cale's song. She don't lie? Really?? On its own it may have a case but repeated again and again throughout the song?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ooee what a lovely pair (Citizen Band) #86 - 87

Citizen Band The Ladder SongMartin: Spaceman (Pete's Best) (Mandrill Drill 8,  1978)

Citizen Band Somebody Else/ Holy Fulele (Mandrill Drill 11,  1978)

Clearly the boys were huge Beatles fans (Pete Best was the drummer before Richard Starkey). This pair of singles are examples of superior hero worship at work.

The Ladder Song is my favourite CB song. It has great lyrics with hints of naughtiness, it has a stonking riff by Greg Clark, it has a brilliant vocal from Geoff Chunn, and I'm a sucker for stop start dynamics in a song.

Somebody Else is a worthy single but it wasn't a hit at the time. It's from the melodic Beatle inspired heart of the band and wasn't included on either of the first two albums.

Hidden gems: Martin etc is quirky and a B side is its rightful home (like You Know My Name by The Beatles), but Holy Fulele is the real deal. It's a great dumb pop song. It knows it (Mike Chunn has a certain Louie Louie vocal style) and it doesn't try to be anything but a great dumb pop song. Like My Pohutakawa it revels in its kiwiana clothes.

Neither song appeared on albums so I guess you'll have to take my word for it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I was far out, I was groovy (Citizen Band) #84 - 85

Citizen Band In A LifetimeGood Morning Citizen (Mandrill M 10007,  1977)

Citizen Band I Feel Good/ 1 Good Morning Citizen 2 My Pohutakawa (Mandrill Drill 4,  1977)

I'm pretty sure it was my old school friend, and (in 1977) my varsity buddy, Greg Knowles who broke the news about Citizen Band. He'd heard about them, maybe from his big brother Michael or maybe it was his sister Susan (pretty sure it wasn't his mum although she was pretty hip as I remember).

Anyway GK was a fan and pretty soon, after he shared the secret, so was I. We loved them partly because they were so accessible. Our new University friend, Kevin Simms, had a tape of Citizen Band and Hello Sailor live at Westlake Girls' High School - the bands often played college gigs - they were cunning! How great was that - we were practically related!

We knew Mike from Split Ends (before they became the Enz) and we'd seen Geoff in After Hours at the Old Maid(ment) Theatre at Auckland University before Waves played. We knew Eccles and Clark from the awesome Space Waltz album.

We were ready for Citizen Band!
In A Lifetime had stiffed before Greg shared his discovery and I was ignorant of its existence until after I Feel Good and the other great songs on their first album - Citizen Band.

In A Lifetime didn't make the album, whereas the B side did! The A side is an okay song but it's not representative of the boys' quirky sense of humour and the melodies that would later come pouring out of the classic Geoff Chunn/ Warren Sly writing partnership.

It's I Feel Good where the CB story really starts. A remake of the old Larry's Rebels song; it injects more drive (go Brent!), more infectious fun and more guitar to the original great song. It's become a CB signature tune.

Hidden gems: Good Morning Citizen was clearly a band favourite - it appears as two B sides and is the opening track on their first album but it's not a great song. That description does apply to My Pohutakawa. It IS a great kiwi song.

You're my Pohutakawa, you're my greenstone, my paua, you're the mussel in my sholes, the sausage in my rolls.

Genius! Sholes rhymes with rolls! That's CB at its finest.

They redid the song for the album so this single version is quite rare and I prefer the energy here to the album version. Looking for an alternative national anthem? Right here!

Friday, September 13, 2013

I'm still thinking about all the things she never said (The Church) # 82 and 83

The Church Tear It All AwayShe Never Said (Stunn BFA 022,  1981)

The Church You're Still Beautiful/ Hunter 
(Mushroom K 10121,  1990)

It was the video to The Unguarded Moment (also from the debut album Of Skins And Heart) that alerted me to the band in the first instance so here it is (followed by the A side under examination).

I love that sepia wash/ blissed out/ paisley look. The sound is great too - classic jangly pop. Right up my street! So collecting The Church became a new craze for me back in the eighties, never mind that they were a bunch of Bruce's from Aussie.

A quick check in my record collection tells me that I lost interest after Starfish in 1988. So the second single was bought much later from a throw bin somewhere or other.

Hidden gems: I love She Never Said - it's very much of the time - all new romantic pout and guitar driven psychedelic psounds. I'm also a sucker for false stops and starts. Hunter is a rare track - it didn't appear on the parent album - the lacklustre Gold Afternoon Fix, and it's fine as far as it goes - guitar driven pop but not very memorable. It's a 'clearly a left over track from the album' scenario.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why you snotty nosed... (Cheech and Chong) # 81

Cheech And Chong Earache My Eye/ Turn That Thing Down (A&M Records K 5697,  1974)

I'm fast coming to the conclusion that I own an awful lot of weird singles!

Cheech and Chong's shtick was very much of the time. The early seventies so...what else but two drug addled bumbling idiots. It was funny as heck fire though back in the day, apparently. Seems pretty tame to me now.

1974 and I'm into my second year of fifth form at Mt Albert Grammar and hanging out with music lovers who have great senses of humour. We didn't love Cheech and Chong but they were of the time so I bought their Wedding Album record (which contained Earache...). I tired of the record so it's long gone but somehow I hung onto the single.

Actually, I have no idea why Cheech and Chong appealed to me. Like Ian Paice (Deep Purple's drummer) I've never felt the need/urge to take a mind altering substance (nor did any of my friends), so comical drug fuelled routines shouldn't really be something that I would enjoy.

And sure enough this single does not feature the duo in blissed out ooohhhh wow maaaaaan form. 

Instead it's a pretty cunning satire on Alice Cooper/ David Bowie style glam rock before it preaches to the converted by having the crusty old man ripping the needle off the record and telling his 'son' to get ready for school.  

Like pretty much all comedy records it's only funny for a few spins - then it seeps into the consciousness so that you can recite the four Yorkshiremen skit by Monty Python forty years later!

Hidden gem: The B side is just part two of the A side but it is the stronger side thanks to its focus on some guitar shredding by famed Canadian guitarist Gaye James Delorme who died in 2011.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm going to camp out on the land, I'm going to try an' get my soul free (Joni Mitchell) # 80

Chapman And White Nambassa/ You And I Together (Mandrill Drill 2,  1977)

Ah...Nambassa, New Zealand's Woodstock - a naive but laudable attempt to marry new age sensibilities (yes - hippies) to music.

I went to the last Nambassa held in January 1981 - a five-day celebration of music, crafts and alternative lifestyles culture on a farm at Waitawheta Valley between Waihi and Waikino.

The attendance was low - 15,000 which suited me. The 1979 festival had been mega - 75,000 which would have been intolerable. As it was the toilets were abysmal and, even though it was January the rain poured down. 

I was at University at the time, in the middle of a masters' degree and Brett, a friend at varsity, talked me into going with him. I'm glad he did too. It was an experience for sure. The line up of musicians and speakers (Ram Dass for instance) was an eye opener for me (my stand outs are in bold):
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Billy TK 
  • John Mayall
  • Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee 
  • Charlie Daniels 
  • Kevin Borich 
  • Topp Twins
  • The Roger Fox Big Band
  • Limbs Dance Company
  • Dr Richard Alpert (aka Baba Ram Dass)

  • Chapman and White wrote the Nambassa anthem in 1977 and it suited perfectly the ambiance of trippy hippy freedom of expression (ok, yes - nudity) that was part of the Nambassa vibe.

    Hidden gem: The B side is more pleasant melodic acoustic music but the vocals are not distinctive enough and so it's a kind of Donovanesque folky trip, maan. Nice though.

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    I set to sea on a ship called Emptiness (Eric Carmen) # 79

    Eric Carmen She Did It/ Someday (Arista BL 345,  1977)

    Eric had it all and he gave it all away.

    The ecstasy he created in The Raspberries flamed out over a series of solo albums that produced diminishing returns. The Raspberries were a fantastic group - with Eric the Pete Ham/John Lennon of the band: rhythm guitar, great singer, great songwriter.

    The eighties were not kind to him and although, yes, he had a couple of hits (Hungry Eyes from Dirty Dancing anyone?) the output and the quality dipped and then dwindled. Today he's pretty much retired and living off his royalties.

    But in 1977 he still had it! Oh boy did he!

    She Did It is a cool little song from the mostly excellent The Boats Against The Current album.

    Hidden gem: The B side was left off Boats Against The Current but appeared on his next album, the patchy Change Of Heart. The decision pretty much shows what I mean about diminishing returns. Someday is good but not great, makes a great B side and is a worthy song but it wasn't considered strong enough to make BATC. Nuff said, I rest my case your honour.