Thursday, September 29, 2016

More and more amor (Herb Alpert) (LP 49-51)

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass The Lonely Bull (Vinyl - Festival, 1962) **
Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass South Of The Border (Vinyl - Festival, 1964) ***
Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass Going Places  (Vinyl - Festival, 1965) ***

Genre: Easy Listening

Places I remember: From my dad's collection. South of the Border has a sticker from HMV in the Cuba Mall, Wellington so I guess he got that on a business trip.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Nice version of All My Loving; Walk, Don't Run is bouncy fun!

Gear costume: The Lonely Bull is iconic and Tijuana Taxi brings back many memories.

 Active compensatory factors: Both my parents enjoyed this stuff - it was often playing at home and used during work dinner parties.

Hey - it was the sixties and easy listening for hip young sophisticates (which my parents were) was all the rage.

It's never been to my taste but I can listen to it now with a little bit more of an open mind.

Where do they all belong? In this case, they belong in my Easy Listening section, along with a dollop of other records my dad loved like Sounds Orchestral and Sergio Mendes.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nudge nudge (Monty Python) (LP 48)

Monty Python Live at Drury Lane (Vinyl - Charisma, 1974) ****

Genre: Comedy

Places I remember: Marbecks Records

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Election Special segues into Lumberjack Song stand out (but plenty to choose from here).

Gear costume: So many wonderful routines here - Bruces, Secret Service, Four Yorkshiremen, Parrot Sketch.

Active compensatory factors: Comedy records are usually fraught with problems. Familiarity breeds contempt...usually.

And there are, of course, no visuals with a sound recording. 

Monty Python inhabit a different universe, however. I can listen to these sketches over and over again, even though I know them off by heart (as my generation all have done).

Listening to this again in 2016 still made me laugh, a lot. The Election Special skit has not aged at all!!

Where do they all belong? The Goons, Robin Williams, The Marx Brothers - they all mine a surreal brand of humour that I love!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Everybody's jumpin' (The Dave Brubeck Quartet) (LP 44-47)

The Dave Brubeck Quartet  Gone With The Wind (Vinyl - Coronet Records, 1959) ***
The Dave Brubeck Quartet  Time Out (Vinyl + CD - Coronet Records, 1959) *****
The Dave Brubeck Quartet   Brubeck and Rushing (Vinyl - Coronet Records, 1960) **
The Dave Brubeck Quartet  Time Further Out (Vinyl + CD - Coronet Records, 1961) **** 

Genre: Jazz

Places I remember: All four vinyl albums are from my father's collection. Time Out has a Marbecks Records sticker!

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Justifiably, Take Five and Blue Rondo A La Turk were the big hits.

Gear costume: Camptown Races (2 versions) takes off in joyous fashion (Gone With The Wind); Bru's Boogie Woogie; Maori Blues (both from Time Further Out).

Active compensatory factors: These albums have been around almost as long as I have (I was two in 1959) and they've always been a part of my life.

My father was VERY keen on Dave Brubeck! He loved that cool quartet/ piano jazz sound right up to the end of his life (when Diana Krall was his main squeeze). 

Interestingly, he knew how to play the piano and he was pretty good at it - having had lessons in his youth and passing piano exams. But we never, ever, had a piano in the house and I never, ever, heard him play. Weird. I guess he was only taking the lessons to please his mother and then gave up on it when he could. Electronics was much more his bag.

Brubeck was amazingly productive - these four albums cover only three years in Brubeck's lengthy career.

Incredibly, The Riddle was a third album recorded in 1959 but dad didn't have that one.

The story goes that Gone With The Wind was the commercial album that Columbia insisted on before the band recorded the adventurous Time Out. It's cool sounding but not as adventurous, and as a consequence doesn't have the pulling power of the classic Time Out. Dad obviously loved it though - it's been played a lot as the surface scratches can attest (especially on side 1).

True confession time - I wasn't a jazz fan until hitting my twenties but I still knew a great sound when I heard it and Take Five is a great sound and never fails to thrill. I've since played the whole album a lot!

Paul Desmond was a great foil for Brubeck and he dominates the sound on Time Out. There is still wonderful space on these tracks for the quartet to stretch out; that includes drummer Joe Morello and bassman Gene Wright. But it's Desmond's fluid alto sound and Brubeck's experimental piano that are the recognisible features of the band. 

The Jimmy Rushing album is not really to my taste. The jazz backing to a blues shouter (Rushing is not as appealing to me as Big Joe Turner) doesn't move me.

Time Further Out is much better. Desmond's alto sounds slightly raspy compared to the smooth Time Out tracks but that's not a bad thing. There's a new playfulness, especially on side 2's boogie work out (Bru's Boogie Woogie) and Unsquare Dance

Where do they all belong? More Brubeck to come - lots more!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Love music (The Four Tops) (LP 42-43)

The Four Tops Keeper of the Castle (Vinyl - Probe, 1972) *****
The Four Tops Meeting of the Minds (Vinyl - Probe, 1974) *****

Genre: Soul

Places I remember: Marbecks Record Shop (stickers on the albums!)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: These songs instantly put a smile on my face - Love Music, Ain't No Woman, One Chain are just the heaviest hitters on two classic albums.

Gear costume: Keeper of the Castle bookends that album superbly. Midnight Flower on Meeting...Minds is another beautifully sung Four Tops effort.

Active compensatory factors: Yes, I gave these albums classic five star status!

You're probably wondering what's going on - The Four Tops is the group who had all those great hits of the sixties on Motown: I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch); Reach Out, I'll Be There; It's The Same Old Song; Baby, I Need Your Loving and on and on.

You're right, they are, but...the story doesn't stop there. By no means were they washed up as the seventies started.

When they moved to ABC-Dunhill/Probe, the hits kept coming and the quality did NOT diminish. In fact - as an album band - they only got better!!

Writer/producers Denis Lambert and Brian Potter took over the roles previously held by the immortal Holland/Dozier/Holland and did a mighty job.

They also allowed The Four Tops' social conscience to emerge. The cover painting to Keeper has a lovely mansion on the front cover. The back cover has a black American family living in a dilapidated version of the same mansion! 

Keeper of the Castle, and Love Music most successfully merge the social commentary with great music.

And then there's the singing! Levis Stubbs is in his usual peerless form but the harmonies also lock in right from the off. It's transcendent music!

Where do they all belong? Marvin Gaye and The Temptations.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Making love to a vampire with a monkey on my knee (Captain Beefheart) (LP 41)

Captain Beefheart and the Magic band Doc at the Radar Station (Vinyl - Virgin, 1980) ****

Genre: Alternative (Universe)

Places I remember: Real Groovy (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Sue Egypt

Gear costume: Hot Head is a great lead off track.

Active compensatory factors: The back cover image of Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) sums him up better than words can. 

At first glance, all appears normal. The band are in natty shirts and ties, resplendent with fashionable tie clasps.

But, then, when you take a closer look...

... you notice that Cap's tie clasp, is, in fact, a clothes peg!!! Genius!

Where do they all belong? There's no other place to go but deeper into Captain Beefheart's world. Ice Cream For Crow was two years away.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Come on in (The Blues Band) (LP 40)

The Blues Band Official Blues Band Bootleg (Vinyl - Arista, 1980) ****

Genre: Blues

Places I remember: Marbecks Records. The EMI rep came in to the shop raving about this, played it to me and Roger and we instantly went, "Oh Yeah, baby!"

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Talk To Me Baby kicks us off and Diddy Wah Diddy finishes us off brilliantly.

Gear costume: Come On In, Flatfoot Sam, Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights).

Active compensatory factors: In 1980, we needed The Blues Band.

Band members had a terrific pedigree that took in Manfred Mann (Paul Jones, former lead vocalist and harmonica player/ Gary Fletcher on bass/ guitarist Tom McGuinness); Howlin Wolf and John Lee Hooker (slide guitarist Dave Kelly). Drummer Hughie Flint (yes, of McGuinness Flint fame) completed the line up. 

They were fun! Their songs were well chosen, they were brilliant musicians and this album had a rough and raw vibe. Hence the bootleg tag.

Given the eighties production blight about to descend on the music world, this was a very great thing.

This was their debut album. For me, it's their best moment! Paul Jones is in great form and Kelly's slide guitar in particular is a thing of beauty. Yes - beauty!

Where do they all belong? I always link this to Nu Zild's great Headband with Tommy Adderley being the Paul Jones figure. That first Headband album is sublime!!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

I believe (deep within) (Máire Brennan) (LP 39)

Máire Brennan  Máire (Vinyl - RCA, 1992) ***

Genre: Folk

Places I remember: Marbecks during the sell off of their vinyl stock.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Voices of the Land

Gear costume: Against the Wind

Active compensatory factors: Máire (a.k.a Moya Brennan) is the older sister of Enya and Brídín Brennan. She began performing professionally in 1970 when her family formed the band Clannad and this is her first album.

It's okay but not really my thing. Like Enya and Clannad, it all sounds samey to me. The two tracks highlighted are mid tempo and do raise their head above the slower aural washes.

It's nice and all for background noise but I don't think music should be background noise. For me, it should provoke a reaction of some kind and this stuff, while pleasant, doesn't do that to me. Sorry.

Where do they all belong? If you want more head to Clannad.