Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Enlightenment (Van Morrison) (LP 16)

Jin Long Uen Buddhist Chants & Peace Music (CD - Music Collection International, 1996) ***

Genre:  Chill  

Places I remember:  The Warehouse in Cambridge, NZ.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Of the two tracks - I prefer the variation of Bow to Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva.  

Gear costume:  Hanshan Temple is wonderfully peaceful and hypnotic.

Active compensatory factors: The sub heading on the CD is 'music for reflection and relaxation from the far east'.

This music and chanting immediately makes your shoulders relax, your breathing slow down, and your thoughts settle.

Where do they all belong? Gregorian chants is where to head next.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Upful and right (Big Mountain) (LP 15)

Big Mountain  Unity (CD - Giant Records, 1994) ****

Genre:  Reggae

Places I remember: Kings Recording record store in Abu Dhabi, 2011. I liked the cover and took a punt. Turned out to be a winner.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Baby, I Love Your Way was a natural single. It's a great song and lead singer 
Joaquin "Quino" (pronounced Kino) McWhinney's voice is perfect for it.

Gear costume: Fruitful Days is an excellent lead off song for the album - full of good vibes! Other songs like Young Revolutionaries are also full of joyful spirit.  

Active compensatory factors:
Sunshine days and reggae grooves go together hand in glove.

These American guys are at the pop end of the reggae interface and so they perfectly fit my sensibilities. The big hit was their version of Peter Frampton's Baby, I Love Your Way, but the rest of the album has many fine smiley moments.

Where do they all belong? Being American, they sound more like a New Zealand reggae outfit than Jamaican if you know what I mean so seek out Pacifika outfits like Herbs or Fat Freddy's Drop.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lumiere du silence (Anour Brahem) (LP 14)

Anouar Brahem Conte de l'incroyable amour (CD - ECM, 1992) ****

Genre:  Jazz

Places I remember:  Virgin Megastore, Dubai Mall, in 2011.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: The title track is amazing - great atmospheric clarinet and oud interplay. 

Gear costume: Epilogue is a stunning solo oud piece. Brahem's on fire!

Active compensatory factors: Anour Brahem is the Jimi Hendrix of the oud. The what?

That's an oud - a kind of lute/guitar style instrument, big in the Middle East. Anour Brahem is from Tunisia and he records for ECM - impressed? You should be!

Haven't heard his stuff? I'm not surprised. If I hadn't lived in the U.A.E. for a few years I wouldn't have come across him either. I was talking to Hisham, one of the English teachers at school, who was from Tunisia, and our conversation turned to music (as it often does with me), and pretty soon he was recommending Anour Brahem. It was a great find.

Recommended listening mode: Middle Eastern dusk, candles burning, memory of the day's warmth burning brightly!

Where do they all belong? I think Brahem is the only oud player who features in my collection but stick around I have loads of his other albums to come.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

MotownPhilly (Boyz II Men) (LP 13)

Boyz II Men  CooleyHighHarmony  (CD - Motown, 1992) *** and a half

Genre:  Soul

Places I remember:  I had the cassette for years, which I bought in Nelson, and upgraded to CD from The Warehouse, Hastings.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: End of the Road is where the Boyz II Men story starts!


Gear costume:  Plenty of other high spots, but MotownPhilly tells the boyz story well and is catchy as all get out.

Active compensatory factors: This all started with a performance of End of the Road on (I think) The Rosie O'Donnell Show. I somehow caught the show (no YouTube remember) and sat transfixed by the smooth emotional delivery. A classic song - bam! Right there!

The harmonies and doo wop influences within this album's songs were what hooked me and kept me interested throughout their career.

Where do they all belong? I kind of link the first two albums together as I had them both on high rotate in the Purdmobile travelling around Nelson when the kids were young (a white van at that time to move the six of us). Good times!

After me kidz - Boyz to men, A B C...

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sweet sweet bulbs (Captain Beefheart) (LP 12)

Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band Trout Mask Replica (CD - Reprise, 1969) ****

Genre: Alternative 

Places I remember: Another Marbeck's purchase (this has already become a common theme). 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: There are climactic points all over the shop - my favourite moment is Well.

Gear costume: ...closely followed by China Pig.

Active compensatory factors: Arrgghhhh where to start discussing this record. I could just say it's fast and bulbous and leave it at that.

Descriptions of this album cannot convey the bizarre inspired madness that assaults the senses. If you prize a melody above all else do not approach. If you don't like the blues, ditto. If your mind is closed, ditto.

But if you're up for it, dive in and go with it. It's hilarious! And deep! And challenging! And rewarding!

My favourite critical response is from Robert Christgau who commented that Trout Mask Replica was "... great played at high volume when you're feeling shitty, because you'll never feel as shitty as this record".

The Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, speaks for many of us when he tells of listening to Trout Mask Replica at the age of 15: "I thought it was the worst thing I'd ever heard. I said to myself, they're not even trying! It was just a sloppy cacophony. Then I listened to it a couple more times, because I couldn't believe Frank Zappa could do this to me – and because a double album cost a lot of money. About the third time, I realised they were doing it on purpose; they meant it to sound exactly this way. About the sixth or seventh time, it clicked in, and I thought it was the greatest album I'd ever heard".

BTW - one star deducted because, while it's important and great and all, truthfully, it's not an album I listen to a lot for enjoyment.

Where do they all belong? Zappa's Hot Rats and Bongo Fury albums feature Captain Beefheart heavily and any lover of fine beat combos should search those albums out. As for the Captain's own stuff - Lick My decals Off, Baby is next in line.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Steady Rollin' Man (Eric Clapton) (LP 10 and 11)

Eric Clapton 461 Ocean Boulevard + Slowhand (CD 2for1 - Polydor, 1974/1977) *** + ***

Genre: Blues 

Places I remember: The Warehouse in Hastings, just recently. These 2 albums for 1 deals are pretty irresistible. I'd not bought these albums previously, being more of a Cream/ Derek fan than of the solo years.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:  Motherless Children is a great opener on 461; Cocaine does a similar job on Slowhand

Gear costume: I Shot The Sheriff has dimmed through over exposure but it's still a great song; Peaches and Diesel is a nice instrumental on Slowhand - in feel closely aligned to Wonderful Tonight.

Active compensatory factors: Seventies Clapton was a mixed bag. Actually, solo Clapton is a mixed bag. The guitar hero took a backwards step on the studio albums and so we had songs like Let It Grow and Wonderful Tonight. Fine if you like that sort of thing but I'm schooled in Cream style guitar pyrotechnics, so I never pursued these more laid back albums in the seventies.

Where do they all belong? Do yourself a favour and backtrack to any Best of Cream compilation that you can find or John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. And there's always Derek and the Dominos from the previous post.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Have you ever loved a woman? (Billy Myles) (LP 9)

Derek and the Dominos 
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (CD - Polydor, 1970) *****

Genre: Blues

Places I remember: This is a remixed CD version bought in 1990 from Marbecks Records in Queen St., Auckland - at the time the best record shop in New Zealand.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Have You Ever Loved a Woman is amazingly emotional for Eric. He pours his heart and soul out in this song with passionate vocals and heart wrenching guitar. This slow blues is a standout on a classic collection of songs.

Gear costume: Extremely high quality here - Key to the Highway is a guitar feast/fest/master class from Duane Allman and Eric; the version of Hendrix' Little Wing is innovation on a stick and all that leads to Layla as the climax.

Active compensatory factors: Wow - Eric Clapton is in peak form here in a way that he could never reach again. 

His work in Cream, Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers, Blind Faith all seemed to be a precursor to this outpouring of raw lust, emotion, depression and elation.

The back story of his ultimately doomed love of Pattie Harrison (Pattie Boyd that was) is well known, but listening to this group of brilliant songs in 2016 is as refreshingly relevant as it was in 1970.

A remarkable achievement! Whether he could have done it without being fired up by Pattie AND Duane Allman is a moot point. Clapton and Allman are just on fire together.

Bit of a mystery as to why he hasn't thought to do co-lead guitars with a master musician in a studio setting since this. Maybe he realised he'd never top it.

This is the first bone fide Wozza classic in the countdown so far.

Where do they all belong? Next stop for Eric was his solo career - paradoxically a retreat of sorts away from groups to having assorted guests join in the fun.