Wednesday, December 28, 2016

All in forms (Bonobo) (LP 77)

Bonobo Black Sands (CDR, 2010) *** 

Genre: Chill

Places I remember: One of my sons, Adam, burned this to a CDR for me.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/ Gear costume: When I listen to this stuff I never play one song - instead the whole album has to kind of wash over me.

Active compensatory factors: I don't know much about Bonobo. Wikipedia tells me that his real name is Simon Green, that he's British, a producer and a DJ and that he's based in Los Angeles.

This is his fourth studio album.

Adam suggested I take a listen because I really liked Emancipator's trip hop grooves and Adam's own music, as Bambino Beats and now Bluesleep, is not too dissimilar.

Adam was right - it's sinuous beats and trances pull me in to feed my imagination.

Where do they all belong? Emancipator, Bluesleep, Bambino Beats and Phosphene are all worth your time. Bonobo's website has a gig guide for 2017 - take a look!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Rebel music (Bob Marley) (LP 76)

Bob Marley Natty Dread (CD - Tuff Gong, 1996) ****

Genre: Reggae

Places I remember: The Warehouse, Cambridge

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Them Belly Full (But We Hungry). The combination of reggae's joy (forget your troubles and dance) and pointed political message/ warning (a hungry mob is an angry mob) comes through loud and clear.

Gear costume: Lively Up Yourself, No Woman No Cry

Active compensatory factors: I was a relative late comer to the joys of reggae in general and Bob Marley in particular.

Working at Marbeck's Records gave me access to so many sounds I may not have otherwise heard. In this case it was listening to the Live! (at the Lyceum) album, after reading reviews of it in Sounds, that drew me into those joys.

I have had to backtrack to the studio albums over time. I do not have all of them by any means. I am not a Marley completist. But I do have the heavy hitters and Natty Dread is a heavy hitter.

No more Peter Tosh or Bunny Wailer, this was the first Marley album to move away from the Wailers tag and add his own name. 

It's aged well!

Where do they all belong? Next up - Rastaman Vibration.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The B side of love (National Lampoon) (LP 74 - 75)

National Lampoon Radio Dinner (Cassette - MCA, 1972) **
National Lampoon Goodbye Pop (Vinyl - Epic, 1975) ***

Genre: Comedy

Places I remember: Marbeck's (stickers intact)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Southern California Brings Me Down

Gear costume: Kung Fu Christmas, Art Rock Suite, Those Fabulous Sixties (from Radio Dinner)

Active compensatory factors: National Lampoon is an American spoof outfit that is kinda working the same adsurb side of the street as Monty Python at times.

Goodbye Pop is the more long lasting listen - featuring Bill Murray and other Lampoon stalwarts, it has some cool musical spoofs of musicians like Neil Young and genres like prog rock.

Radio Dinner is worth a listen for the Beatles spoofs, and a dynamite Lennon parody, but it's mainly spoken word stuff that is rooted in the sixties/ early seventies, so it's quite dated in comparison. 

Where do they all belong? File alongside Monty Python, Robin Williams and Cheech and Chong.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A smooth one (Kenny Burrell) (LP 73)

Kenny Burrell A Generation Ago Today (Vinyl - Verve, 1967) *** 

Genre: Jazz

Places I remember: From my father's collection.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Rose Room (Carter and Tate in sparkling form)

Gear costume: Stompin' at the Savoy.

Active compensatory factors: My dad was a big Benny Goodman fan, less so of jazz guitar (more a piano guy), so I can see the appeal this album had for him as this album features some of the standards associated with Goodman.

I'm also not much of a jazz guitar guy (more piano and sax) so I don't recall playing this album much as I was growing up. Charlie Christian is also the inspiration here for Kenny but I'm not familiar enough with the work of Christian to appreciate the debt owed.

The stellar line up of Ron Carter (bass) and Grady Tate (drums) is augmented by Phil Woods on sax (described hilariously as a 'capable saxophonist' in the liner notes) and for me, it's these three musicians who make this all sound so effortless.

Where do they all belong? File this one under 'cool jazz'.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Play to win (Al Green) (LP 72)

Al Green I Can't Stop (Vinyl - Blue Note, 2003) ****

Genre: Soul

Places I remember: Marbecks Records

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: You

Gear costume: I Can't Stop

Active compensatory factors: Although recorded in 2003 and produced by Willie Mitchell, this all sounds like classic Al Green to my ears.

And classic Al Green is about as good as it gets - horns, Al's distinctive vocals (although a little less prominent in the mix at times), bass and drums locked in - all here! 

Where do they all belong? Brother Al Green is firmly of the Memphis soul family. Next stop would be a compilation like The Very Best Of Al Green.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sketch for summer (The Durutti Column) (LP 69 - 71)

The Durutti Column The Return of the Durutti Column (Vinyl - Factory Records, 1980) ****
The Durutti Column LC (Vinyl - Factory Records, 1981) ****
The Durutti Column Another Setting (Vinyl - Factory Records, 1983) ***

Genre: Alternative

Places I remember: Marbecks Records

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Sketch For Dawn (1)

Gear costume: Sketch For Summer (first track on The Return of...)

Active compensatory factors: Lazy, dreamy weekend mornings when I was first with my (now) wife in our New Plymouth flat in the mid eighties were often sound tracked by these records. Especially the first one.

Vini Reilly's crisp, fresh guitar lines delivered evocatively via some colourful and inventive instrumentals were a perfect match for sleepy, sunny morning lie ins.

All three have unique moods but the music (and singing) on LC especially holds up some 30 plus years later. 

Another Setting has a darker mood to it which is fine but didn't match my mid eighties bloom of love mood as well.

Where do they all belong? Although this appears on the Factory Records label (famous home for Joy Division), Pat Methany's jazzy guitar on American Garage is a clear link in my mind.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

That's All Right Mama (Arthur 'Bigboy' Crudup) (LP 68)

Canned Heat Future Blues (Vinyl - Liberty, 1970) ****

Genre: Blues

Places I remember: Although there is an old Marbecks Records sticker on the cover, I bought this at Real Groovy, while I worked at Marbecks. It's a tangled web!

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: So Sad (The World's in a Tangle) - an extended boogie workout master class!

Gear costume: Let's Work Together - their cover was the hit single from this album.

Active compensatory factors: The fifth album from the Heat and the last with the classic line up. This is immense!

My good friends, Clay and Margo, recommended this album to me and they weren't wrong!

The band is under-rated as a studio unit. Of course, they are mostly known for their epic live work and Woodstock helped with that impression, but they can certainly work up a lather in the studio as well. 

Where do they all belong? No collection is complete without a Canned Heat best of compilation with their terrific singles like On The Road Again, and Going Up The Country.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Incandescent blue (Bruce Cockburn) (LP 67)

Bruce Cockburn Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws (Vinyl - RCA, 1979) ***

Genre: Folk

Places I remember: Marbecks Records

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Wondering Where The Lions Are

Gear costume: After The Rain

Active compensatory factors: The hook (to buy the whole album) was the awesomeness of Wondering Where The Lions Are. My children know this song really well. Not only did I play it a lot but I would often wake them up in the morning with the opening lines:

Sun's up, uuh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.

After The Rain is a beautiful tone poem reflection that floats along a few feet above the ground. Gorgeous music!

The rest of the album cannot rise to those lofty heights but is nothing less than good honest Canadian folk/rock music.

Where do they all belong? With other obscure Canadian folkies like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

I feel like singing (Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks) (LP 66)

Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks Where's the Money? (Vinyl - ABC Blue Thumb, 1971) ***

Genre: Country

Places I remember: Amoeba Records, Haight Street, San Francisco. Cost me $1.99! Yeah baby!

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Is this my happy home?

Gear costume: By Hook or By Crook.

Active compensatory factors: This is good timey, funky folkie music that blends all sorts of genres - bluegrass, country, folk, swing and pop.

It is often smiley face funny as well.

Especially on this, a live album. Dan's dry stage announcements remind me a little of the laconic Neil Young delivery at his early solo concerts.

It was perfect that I got this on our first visit to San Francisco - Haight St. - Amoeba Records. 

Good times and good rockin' tonite are guaranteed.  

Where do they all belong? Hard to characterise Dan Hicks but for me he slots in right along side other wonderful fringe weirdos like Commander Cody. Chuck in some Asleep at the Wheel country licks for good measure.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Fragile dreams (Anathema) (LP 65)

Anathema alternative 4 (Vinyl - Peaceville, 1998) **

Genre: Progressive rock

Places I remember: Cost $15 from the Hastings Warehouse, 2016 (a few weeks ago). Yes I still buy vinyl, wherever I can find it.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Actually, nothing special has lifted itself into my brain and I've had it on high rotate. So this is something of a random choice from YouTube.

Active compensatory factors: I'm a fan of Anathema. I love prog, both old and modern so I snapped this up on vinyl when I saw it in the Warehouse.

Sadly though it's, at this stage, a definite meh.

I'd played it over and over - hoping each time for a tune to leap out at me/ stick in my brain/ worm its way into my consciousness.

But all I'm left with is...meh.

Where do they all belong? Anathema have a deep back catalogue - more to come that is definitely more memorable than Alternative 4.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Apple of my eye (Badfinger) (LP 63-64)

Badfinger Straight Up (Vinyl - Apple, 1972) *****
Badfinger Ass (Vinyl, CD - Apple, 1973) ****

Genre: Apple/ Dark Horse Records

Places I remember: Marbecks Records

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: So many wonderful songs on the classic five star Straight Up. Picking one stand out is grossly unfair but Day After Day was my first ever taste of Badfinger power pop on the radio (and Solid Gold Hits) so... Ass' best moment is Pete Ham's heartfelt Apple Of My Eye natch.

Gear costume: Baby Blue, I'd Die Babe (featuring belting Ringo style drumming), Sweet Tuesday Morning (Straight Up); Icicles (Ass).

Active compensatory factors: Straight Up is peak Badfinger on Apple Records. Not that it's clear cut. No Dice is a wonderful record but, for me, the songs/ production/ playing/ harmonies on Straight Up are beyond great!

From the classic Beatle's style cover, to the classic Beatle pop inspired sound, to Beatle George's involvement, Straight Up is all class!

Sadly, though, Ass was the final Badfinger album on their beloved Apple Records. Although patchy (only a few Pete Ham songs), as a band, they got their shot and they took it and their legacy lives on!

Where do they all belong? Leaving Apple, Badfinger were given a home of sorts on Warner Brothers and the greatness (and sadness) was not done yet!

Rest in peace Tom, Mike and Pete.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Love of the loved (The Beatles) (LP 62)

The Beatles Birth of a Legend (Vinyl - Music World, 1983) *

Genre: Beatle pop

Places I remember: Marbecks Records.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Money.

Gear costume: Three Cool Cats.

Active compensatory factors: The Beatles have a unique place in our hearts, culture and consciousness. Not too many bands/artists have their audition tapes out there on vinyl like this.

Yes, audition tapes. This album collects 12 of the 15 songs from the ultimately failed Decca audition (the other three, the only three Lennon/McCartney songs: Love of the Loved, Like Dreamers Do, Hello Little Girl appeared on singles elsewhere on this blog).

Bottom line - listening to this in total, I can understand why Decca didn't sign them and how only George Martin's punt saved the band.

Yes, the cover is atrocious - a painted version of the Ringoless Beatles (Pete Best was the drummer before Ringo) blesses this budget record. And yes, this is one for collectors/ obsessives, hence the one star rating, but call me crazy - I really like it!

Especially the 'comedy' numbers like, cha cha boom, Besame Mucho.

Interestingly, George is heavily represented as a vocalist and has some of the best moments here (Three Cool Cats, Crying Waiting Hoping, The Sheik of Araby, Take Good Care of My Baby).

Paul has the cheesiest moments (September in the Rain, Besame Mucho, Sure to Fall, Till There Was You -I've never liked this one).

John only has a few rockers that hint at his greatness (Memphis, Money).

Therein lies the essential 'problem' here - no clear dominant vocalist for a producer to focus on. And the variety of styles on display is confusing.

Beatle fun and harmonies are hinted at in these songs, but really, you would have to have been a real visionary to see these blokes changing world history!  

Where do they all belong? Only five of these songs made it to Anthology 1 but if you want context - that's the place to go!

Sidebar - I noticed online that a mint copy (like mine) goes for around $50 now. Nice!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Rock is my life (BTO) (LP 61)

Bachman Turner Overdrive Not Fragile (Vinyl - Mercury, 1974) ****

Genre: Canadian pop/rock

Places I remember: Slow Boat Records

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Roll On Down the Highway gets me up and air guitaring every time. Every time!

Gear costume: Phew - so many great tracks - the always terrific You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, but Not Fragile, and Freewheelin' are also on side one!!

Active compensatory factors: These guys ruled in the seventies at my school (and every school!). Their hits sound tracked our lives.

I distinctly remember travelling to football games with these songs playing on the radio. Turn it up!! time.

Randy Bachman came to BTO via The (wonderful) Guess Who. He left after the American Woman album and lit out for other Canadian pastures with his brothers and friends that eventually led to BTO.

Where do they all belong? You need to go back to Guess Who - you really do.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sick things (Alice Cooper) (LP 60)

Alice Cooper Billion Dollar Babies (vinyl - Warner Brothers Records, 1973) ****

Genre: American pop/rock

Places I remember: RCA Record Club. There was a real thrill attached to getting a record in the mail!

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: No More Mr Nice Guy

Gear costume: Elected, Billion Dollar Babies

Active compensatory factors: It's the more straight forward rock songs that grab my interest like the ones listed above, as opposed to the shock value attached to things like I Love the Dead, Sick Things, and others.

Compared to the classic School's Out, this set was much more varied in quality. Of the two albums I listen to School's Out much much more. 

Where do they all belong? I stopped collecting Alice Cooper albums after this one and the superior School's Out. Quality became increasingly patchy to my mind and then he went all wannabe metaller on us.  Marilyn Manson, I guess, is the natural destination if you have a mind to (which I don't).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Heart and soul (Big Country) (LP 58-59)

Big Country The Crossing (CD - Mercury Records, 1983/1996) ****
Big Country  Steeltown (Vinyl - Mercury Records, 1984) ****

Genre: Scottish pop/rock

Places I remember: New Plymouth from 1983-1985

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Tough to choose the best track on the debut but I'll go for Porrohman, Just A Shadow on Steeltown.

Gear costume: Harvest Home, The Storm, Lost Patrol and Chance from The Crossing are awesome.

Active compensatory factors: I was first aware of Big Country and their main man Stuart Adamson via a Skids song on a Virgin sampler. Into The Valley has a great guitar sound.

In 1983 In A Big Country and Fields Of Fire were huge, thanks to some videos and radio play on NZ stations. 

The big sound of Steve Lillywhite seemed to be everywhere in the early eighties (Simple Minds, U2, and XTC were a few). For me, he's at his best with Big Country and these two albums.

Adamson was trying for music that could make pictures, music that could spread out wide landscapes and great dramas. Lillywhite was a perfect fit.

When I hear these songs I can't help but imagine the wide vistas in the highlands, which I love.

Where do they all belong? Big Country studio albums would become patchier but still essential purchases for me. 

Rest in peace Stuart.  Such a sad waste of immense talent.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Now I'm back in your town (Rory Gallagher) (LP 55 - 57 )

Rory Gallagher Rory Gallagher (Vinyl - Polydor, 1971) ***
Rory Gallagher  Deuce (Vinyl - Chrysalis, 1971) ****
Rory Gallagher Live in Europe (Vinyl - Chrysalis, 1972) ****

Genre: Irish pop/rock

Places I remember: First one came second hand from Real Groovy, other two from Marbecks Records (sticker to prove it).

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: In Your Town (both the studio version on Deuce and the live one on In Europe) - amazing guitar!

Gear costume: Crest of a Wave (Deuce); Can't Believe It's True (Rory Gallagher) - great sax from Rory!

Active compensatory factors: Rory's first three albums after Taste are about feet finding and getting a sound. By 1972's In Europe - there it was!

Perceived wisdom about Rory is that the live in concert stuff is the best way to approach his recorded works. No argument from me - his 1980 NZ concert remains my favourite concert experience of all time, BUT there are still many gems on the studio albums. 

Deuce is a big improvement on the tentative debut album (but even that has the excellent Laundromat and the unusually jazzy Can't Believe It's True).

For me, Irish Tour '74 knocks In Europe for six but that's just an indication of how great the Irish tour set is.

Where do they all belong? Much more Rory to come but Taste is the best destination for similar stuff to these three albums.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The real feeling (Ace) (LP 54)

Ace Five-a-side (Vinyl - Anchor Records, 1974) ****

Genre: English pop/rock

Places I remember: Slow Boat Records in Wellington

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: How Long is the brilliant single.

Gear costume: 24 Hours is a fine example of the great Ace sound - terrific beat thanks to the drums/bass combo, great organ/guitar licks, terrific Paul Carrack vocals, excellent horns.

Active compensatory factors: Ace were a great but underrated Beatles influenced band from the seventies. Most notably, they are known for Paul Carrack and his pop hit How Long (no question mark).

But the band (and this, their debut album) are way more than just that song. They played a fine funky brand of pop.

There isn't a dud track among the ten songs (five a side - ha!).

Where do they all belong? Paul eventually moved onto Mike + The Mechanics - you'll meet them along this journey!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Rock me baby (Aztecs) (LP 53)

Aztecs Live! at Sunbury (Double vinyl - Havoc, 1972) *****

Genre: Australia/NZ rock

Places I remember: St Kevin's Arcade, K Rd.,  Auckland

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: C C Ryder kicks us off, literally!! The sound isn't great on this historic video clip of Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs at Sunbury, but you get the idea. The man can sing! The man can play guitar!

Gear costume: Most People I know Think That I'm Crazy was the big hit for Billy and the song is fabulous live! Momma and Be Bop A Lula are totally gear!

Active compensatory factors: Sunbury '72 was kind of Australia's answer to Woodstock (except it featured NZ/Australian bands).

It was thanks to my Aussie friend Noel Forth that I discovered the joys of Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. Noel is an wonderful, altrusistic guy who loves music and loves sharing his knowledge. He sent me a couple of his self compiled best of Aztecs tapes, that I still have! 

One thing lead to another and I managed to find Billy's  double live set second hand.

This is a monster of an album. The volume must have been huge - it feels a little like Motorhead's No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith in that the feedback/distortion is actually captured and makes these live versions throb and breathe. 

Where do they all belong? Nambassa was the NZ version of Sunbury/ Woodstock.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Flute sonatas (LP 52)

J S Bach Flute Sonatas (Vinyl - Hungaroton) ***

Genre: Classical

Places I remember: Marbecks Records

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:

Gear costume: The other tracks are similarly fab and gear.

Active compensatory factors: A weird one - most of the back cover is written in Hungarian, the front cover is terrible, but the music is wonderfully calming.

I used to put this on a lot when Jacky would ask for something that wasn't 'hillbilly music'.

There is something magical about the flute and harpsichord combination.

The baroque period is a great one for music. It featured many of my favourites - Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Domenico Scarlatti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann, and Arcangelo Corelli.

If I'm in need of soothing - this is where I head.

Where do they all belong? A compilation called Baroque Masterpieces.