Sunday, August 28, 2016

Wanted man (Bob Dylan) (LP 37-38)

 Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison (Vinyl - CBS, 1968) ****
Johnny Cash At San Quentin (Vinyl - CBS, 1969) *****

Genre: Country

Places I remember: Real Groovy and Lewis Eady's in Queen Street.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: San Quentin is an extraordinary document of a moment, and Darling Companion on SQ with June Carter is a definitive version.

Gear costume: Cocaine Blues, Jackson on Folsom.

Active compensatory factors: Ordinarily I would not go out of my way to buy a Johnny Cash album. Greatest hits, maybe, but not a regular release.  

Except...these two. If I had to keep one only - San Quentin gets the nod. His attitude is more in your face (the banter more pointed), the cover is better, the songs are tighter, better chosen for the album, more atmospheric and there are only 8 of them (16 on Folsom). Less is more, remember.

Not that Folsom is bad but the vibe is darker and the humour of Flushed from the bathroom/ Egg sucking dog is weak. A trimmed down version would have been better, I feel.

Where do they all belong? They are unique in and of themselves. Very much of the time. Love these? Try one of those Greatest Hits from the bargain bins.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Open your eyes (Asia) (LP 36)

Asia Alpha (Vinyl - Geffen Records, 1983) ****

Genre: Progressive Rock

Places I remember: Real Groovy in Queen Street, Auckland. 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Don't Cry (the first track side one, when John Wetton's vocals start you know all is right with the world). The cheesy Indiana Jones style video should be in a time capsule somewhere!

Gear costume: The Heat Goes On.

Active compensatory factors: Ah, supergroups...sigh. Sometimes they disappoint but often they are AMAZING.

My top 10:
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
  • Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
  • Cream
  • The Traveling Wilburys
  • The Plastic Ono Band
  • Golden Smog
  • Flying Colors
  • Chickenfoot
  • West Bruce and Laing
  • Asia

That first Asia album was pretty special. Similarly, Alpha, their second album, is a worthy addition to the sub genre of supergroup albums.

Asia's pedigree is damn impressive. Members came from bands like Yes, King Crimson, Emerson Lake and Palmer. Together they made a smoothly commercial brand of progressive rock.

John Wetton's voice alone is worth the entry price but the songs themselves are catchy and challenging enough to warrant your sustained interest.

Given all that, I can forgive the slick eighties production sensibilities. Do try it!

Where do they all belong? Yes (the Geoff Downes version), King Crimson (the early records), Emerson Lake and Palmer (the ones that Greg Lake sings on).

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Believe Me (Badfinger) (LP 35)

Badfinger Magic Christian Music (CD + Vinyl - Apple, 1970) ***
Badfinger No Dice (CD + Vinyl - Apple, 1970) *****

Genre: Apple/ Dark Horse

Places I remember: The vinyl came from Marbecks in the seventies, during my searches for Apple Records product in the company of Greg Knowles. The CD reissues are from Real Groovy in the nineties.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: No Dice has an embarrassment of riches. But even among great company, two Pete Ham songs - Without You, No Matter What still stand out.

Gear costume: We're For The Dark, Midnight Caller.

Active compensatory factors: Badfinger - four young badass guys oozing pop smarts, desire, belief, and not shy about their love of Beatles and Apple: I love Badfinger!!

Don't believe me? Who else would have the balls to call a song Love Me Do and make it a guitar/drums fueled rocker on the Beatles' Apple label? I love Badfinger!!

Magic Christian Music is the big brother record to The Iveys' Maybe Tomorrow (they have six songs in common). The Magic Christian movie of 1969 (starring Ringo and Peter Sellers) throws a lifeline and Paul McCartney donates the hit single Come and Get It and's still just a first step.

The variety of styles on offer don't help the cause much as the next record would show.

No Dice is much more fully formed statement. Churning power pop guitars, amazing harmonies, terrific songs are all to the fore.

And it's on Apple! 

Mmmm mmm...I love Badfinger.

Where do they all belong? Badfinger were yet to peak. Extraordinary!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Talkin' 'bout you (Chuck Berry) (LP 34)

The Beatles Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962 (Vinyl, double LP - Interfusion, 1977) *** 

Genre: Beatles pop

Places I remember: A double album, bought in 1977 when I was in my first year at Auckland University, it cost me $9.98 from Marbeck's Records (15 Queen's Arcade) in Auckland.  How do I know this? The Marbeck's sticker on the cover and I kept the price tag! 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Side four is fantastic - they sound like a gnarley punk band on these tracks. Lennon's Talkin 'Bout You wins out over some terrifically spirited playing on the side four songs like Long Tall Sally and Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby. 


Gear costume: McCartney is terrific as well on another Chuck Berry song, Little Queenie  (side three).

Active compensatory factors:  Yes, it's one for the completists, but still... There is enough raw rock and roll to interest even the casual rock fan.

In interviews, Lennon often made the claim that the real Beatles were never recorded, in that their live performances in Germany and Liverpool's The Cavern were a truer record of their vibrancy.

This double doesn't quite back up that claim, but, you can hear what he's alluding to.

Where do they all belong?  The roots of the Beatles are on fine display on Anthology Volume 1. Some of it's hard graft, but worth it, maan.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Endless highway (The Band) (LP 32-33)

The Band Music From Big Pink ****/ The Band **** (CD Twofer pack - Capitol Records, 2000) 

Genre: Canadian pop/rock

Places I remember: Big Pink and I have a chequered past. Initially I bought it on vinyl but somehow it was let go in a move. Instead I opted for Greatest Hits sets until grabbing this Twofer on CD from the Warehouse. I'm not proud of it.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: The Weight. The Night They Drove Old
 Dixie Down. Two classic songs sung by the incomparable Levon Helm.

Gear costume: Chest Fever. Rag Mama Rag.

Active compensatory factors: All the hoopla about Dylan/Band/Basement Tapes/Big Pink is a slight mystery to me, still.

When Dylan reconvened to the West Saugerties area of New York with The Band and workshopped the chunes that would eventually end up as The Basement Tapes they essentially created Americana and influenced everyone.

Not bad considering nothing was officially released at the time.

Big Pink followed on from that experience and has the same feel as The Basement Tapes.

For me, the first example of 'getting it together in the country' (Traffic followed suit by moving to the Sheepcott farm cottage around the same time). Although there are some terrific stand out songs, as a whole I fail to see what the fuss about these works in progress is all about. 

The brown album feels like it mines the same areas but in a slightly more sophisticated way. More confident, they look directly at us from the cover, rather than behind a piece of Bob's art (Big Pink).

What is beyond dispute is the individual brilliance of some of the songs on these two albums. For me, just not albums that contain wall to wall genius. The bonus tracks don't help either - I don't need all those alternative takes thanks very much.

Where do they all belong? The Complete Basement Tapes is what it says on the tin.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Luney tune (Alice Cooper) (LP 31)

Alice Cooper School's Out (CD - Warner Bros. Records, 1972) *****

Genre: American pop/rock

Places I remember: A Taupo record shop whose name escapes me now, although it's still there! Bought while holidaying with Jacky and the Purdettes. I had this on cassette tape before finally buying it from a budget rack.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Hard to pull one out - it's a five star album all the way: no weak tracks. Okay, if pushed - Alma Mater


Gear costume: All the rest!!!

Active compensatory factors: A classic. Solid gold. 
I play it a lot, and I always hear new things.

It's the Alice Cooper album that is the least shocking. 

It's a weird album which is maybe why I love it so much. Nothing is what you expect from The Coop. In fact it almost sounds like School's Out (the big hit single/song) is the anomaly here - the rest of the album is like a stage show without the usual Alice schlock horror dead babies stuff and it's all the better for it.

Bob Ezrin's contribution needs to be acknowledged as well. The production standards are top notch!

Where do they all belong? Billion Dollar Babies is up next.