Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I breakdown (Trash) #403

Trash Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight/ Trash Can   (Apple Records, APPLE 17, 1969)

Trash (a.k.a. White Trash) were a Scottish band that found themselves releasing two singles on The Beatles Apple Records label. Lucky, lucky bastards!

I only have the one - their undistinguished pre Abbey Road take on Paul's Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight. It was produced by Tony Meehan - he of The Shadows fame.

Hidden gem: Trash Can - geddit? - starts out as a bit of a dirge but then has some nice prog organ flourishes and soulful vocals which hint at a productive direction. It proves Trash, erm, could, but as far as Apple goes it was a case of see ya, it's been real!

Friday, April 24, 2015

It's such a crazy squeeze (Toy Love) #402

Toy Love Rebel/ Squeeze   (Chrysalis, Z 10015, 1979)

N.Z. music has some wonderful blind alleys. Toy Love are a case in point. Toy Love were Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate's band in between The Enemy and Tall Dwarfs. They lasted barely two years. I didn't like either of those bookends but I could connect with Toy Love.

During my heady Auckland University years I was game for new sounds. Toy Love were pop punk in a good way and seemed to go with Patti Smith, Television and Talking Heads in my imagination.

Rebel was a different kind of N.Z. song in 1979. It was sneery (like punk) but smart and sarcastic as well. That was new.

Hidden gem: In some ways I prefer the B side with it's catchy new wave-isms.

The wacky video of Squeeze is very much of its time and I've included a great live clip from Auckland University's 1980 Orientation week, coz I'm part of the in crowd!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Rough fits in my hush puppy shoes (Pete Townshend) #401

Pete Townshend Rough Boys/ And I Moved   (Atlantic, 45 5425, 1980)

I have no idea what this song is about. Unhelpfully, Pete dedicated it to his children and The Sex Pistols but the lyrics are enigmatic to say the least.

Whatever it's actually about - he's a complicated bloke is our Pete, it's a great slab of Townshend patented guitar rock with a terrific singalong chorus. He knows how to write a classic 3-4 minute single!

I first came across this via music television in NZ. MTV didn't launch here until much later but we did have Radio With Pictures and this clip was clearly a favourite. I'm pretty naive and dense at times so I didn't pick up on the gay references at the time - instead I focused on Pete's/The Who branded aggression.

Hidden gem: If the A side could have easily fitted into The Who music wise (can't see Daltrey singing rough boys, I want to bite and kiss you though, can you?) the B side was foreign territory. It's also off the parent Empty Glass solo album and can only have been chosen because of its stark contrast to Rough Boys.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sentimental fool (.38 Special) #400

.38 Special Hold On Loosely (edited version)/ Throw Out The Line (A&M, K 8251, 1980)

Good ole wide-eyed southern boys .38 Special, with Donnie Van Zant on guitar/vocals, play a similar brand of southern rock music to Lynyrd Skynyrd (who have featured Donnie's two brothers on vocals - Ronnie who died tragically in that plane crash and Johnny).

This was their first hit and, fun fact, in an act of serendipity it was the 13th video played on MTV's very first broadcast day in 1981.

Why do I own this obscure single from some GOW-ES boys? Listen to those first 10 seconds and then picture me smiling growing to a shit eating grin, air guitar working overtime.

Yes - it's that trio of guitars (from Don Barnes, Jeff Carlisi and Donnie) that does it to me. Doesn't hurt that Barnes' vocals are smooth as molasses on this song.

Hidden gem: The B side - also from the parent album (Wide-Eyed Southern Boys) is another excellent slab of melodic guitar rock from Donnie and the boys.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The fan keeps whirling (Television) #399

Television Ain't That Nothin'/ Glory (Elektra, E 45 516, 1978)

By no stretch of the imagination were Television pop stars, singles artists or in it for the glory.

This single comes from their second album Adventure, which suffers from a text book case of second album syndrome. Marquee Moon was a revelation and a joy from start to finish; Adventure is anything but by comparison. 

How to follow up that awesome debut? Go for more concise songs that shy away from the nervy jagged spark of Marque Moon? Well - okay, but it didn't work guys!

So what's the deal with this single? In short it's a pale imitation of Marque Moon's guitar adventurism. Three seconds after playing it, all I can remember is Tom Verlaine's plaintive cry of 'Ain't that nothin'.

The band called it a day after this. Richard Lloyd went on to release a wonderful solo album (Alchemy) in 1979 and Tom Verlaine also had a solo career before they reconvened the band (unsuccessfully) in the nineties.

Marquee Moon casts a giant shadow!

Hidden gem: Glory contravenes the trade description act! It ain't nothin' of the sort!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rock and roll circus, it's the best I've ever seen (Mick Taylor) #398

Mick Taylor Leather Jacket/ Slow Blues (CBS, BA 222569, 1979)

Mick has many claims to fame - surviving life with Keef in The Rolling Stones is definitely one.

His previous roles, as a Bluesbreaker for John Mayall and as the brilliant guitar replacement for Brian Jones in The Rolling Stones, didn't really translate into a brilliant solo career. Pretty sure there have been only two studio solo albums since leaving the Stones. Mainly he seems to enjoy the sideman role.

This is a pretty cool solo single though. Leather Jacket is catchy and he sings well, as well as playing some tasteful guitar, keyboards and bass guitar!

Hidden gem: I suspect this is where his heart really lies: great slow blues guitar. This is also off that first 1979 solo album called Mick Taylor: an under rated joy!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Qu'est-ce que c'est fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far (Talking Heads) #396 - 397

Talking Heads Take Me To The River (edit)/ Thank You For Sending me An Angel (version(Sire, SRE 1013, 1978)
Talking Heads Psycho Killer/ Psycho Killer (accoustic version sic(Sire, SRE 1013, 1979 sic)

A few weird things going on here - Psycho Killer appeared on the album 77, which was released in 1977, so why it took NZ two years to release it, I don't know; the B side can't spell acoustic; and Take Me To The River chops a minute and a half off the album version...why?? 

Bizarre. An apt word for this smarty pants brigade. Smarty pants in a good way though!

But I'm getting ahead of myself here, Talking Heads were the band du jour for all us white middle class hipsters attending our first year at Auckland University in 1977. I am normally suspicious of the hip new thing so it actually took a weekend live in course on American poetry run by my friend Roger Horrocks to win me over. Someone brought the record along and it was played during that weekend. Sorted.

77 is full of spiky tension, jerky rhythm and nervousness (David Byrne's voice is utterly distinctive). Psycho Killer is all of that and more. Don't touch me, I'm a real live wire!

Take Me To The River is the opposite of all that - it's all about the groove (Al Green - the song's co-creator, is the master of groove). Needless to say it was a big hit in NZ in 1978. Clearly the band wanted to send a signal! Say one thing once - why say it again?

Hidden gems: The acoustic version of Psycho Killer (NOT to be confused with the Stop Making Sense version below) is okay but it escapes me why they put this on the B side - there must be a reason...Thank You etc is not that exciting and the reason I never actually bought the difficult second album (More Songs About Buildings And Food) in the first place.