Wednesday, June 21, 2017

We can swing together (Lindisfarne) (LP 117 - 119)

Lindisfarne Nicely Out Of Tune (Vinyl - Philips, 1970) **** 
Lindisfarne Fog On The Tyne (CD - Charisma, 1971) *****
Lindisfarne Dingly Dell (Vinyl - Charisma, 1972) *** 

Genre: Folk

Places I remember: The vinyl is from Real Groovy (Auckland) and the CD from HMV (Stratford Mall, London)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Lady Eleanor, Meet Me On The Corner.

Gear costume: It may be a little glib to say but everything else on the first two albums is pretty gear. There are some amazing songs on Nicely Out Of Tune and Fog On The Tyne. Dingly Dell has some great moments but it's without a killer track. 

Active compensatory factors: I'm a late comer to Lindisfarne albums, although I did buy Dingly Dell way back in 1972 (I sold it along the long and winding road, so this is a 'new' copy). Instead, over the years, I have used a great compilation as my Lindisfarne go to item.

The albums are something of a revelation to someone like me who just has all the hits on the best of CD. One great song after another from the principle song writers Alan Hull and Rod Clements.

Like a lot of classic musical combos, having the different vocalists, subtle stylistic changes associated with having different, strong song writers, and the multi tasking musicianship makes for a great great sound and, more important - album!

Where do they all belong? Kind of like Wishbone Ash and Black Sabbath, the first three or four albums of their career were never bettered. Next up for Lindisfarne was a couple of crap albums before Back And Fourth, which is coming up, eventually. Interesting that all of these other bands also abandoned fancy album titles and went for Wishbone Ash 4; Black Sabbath Vol. 4. Just sayin'.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Blessing in disguise (Michael Murphey) (LP 116)

Michael Murphey Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir (Vinyl - EMI, 1973) ***

Genre: Country

Places I remember: Slow Boat Records (Wellington)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Blessing in Disguise

Gear costume: Rolling Hills

Active compensatory factors: Roger Marbeck once gave me a tape of Blue Sky - Night Thunder by Michael Murphey. It contained the hit song Wildfire, which I was immediately drawn to, but it turned out I loved the whole album. Murphey's voice is an authentic one.

Sadly the tape was munched many years ago and I've been searching for a replacement copy ever since*.

I did find this earlier album last year in Slow Boat Records. It's no where near as good as Blue Sky - Night Thunder but it's still a worthwhile record in its own right.

Straying into the poppier end of country from time to time, there is still plenty of  pedal steel and mandolin from Herb Steiner to keep it real.

Extra kudos: it's produced by the great Bob Johnston.

Where do they all belong? Still, the search goes on for Blue Sky...*

* Since writing this post I found a copy! Vinyl too! And it's as great as I remember it. It will be the next cab off the rank in this genre.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The heat goes on (Asia) (LP 115)

Asia Under The Bridge (Vinyl - The Vinyl Countdown, 2012) ***

Genre: Progressive Rock

Places I remember: The Warehouse (Hastings)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:  Heat of The Moment from the live album is always a great source for early eighties memories.

Gear: Soul Survivor

Active compensatory factors: Supergroup Asia's debut was firmly in the prog vein, thanks to sinuous songs, John Wetton's wonderful vocals (sadly John passed away in January this year), Geoff Downes' pop smarts, and great musical chops from Palmer and Howe. 

Under The Bridge is an 'official bootleg' of a show by the original band members from 2008 in San Francisco. One of those shows where legacy bands play a whole album - in this case their debut.

It's pretty good, too.

Sidebar for Under The Bridge: Naff cover is NOT by Roger Dean.

Where do they all belong? Asia would go through numerous personnel changes and I'd lose interest from the debut, persevering with collecting Yes albums instead. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Meanwhile back at the ranch (Badfinger (LP 114)

Badfinger Wish You Were Here (Vinyl - Warner Bros, 1974) ****

Genre: Apple/ Dark Horse Records (yes, I know it's not on either of those labels, but I group all the related stuff under that umbrella 'genre').

Places I remember: Real Groovy Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Know One Knows (yes - that's how it's spelt on the album)

Gear costume: Dennis (another Pete Ham classic)

Active compensatory factors: Maybe their best album, and pretty much know one knows it (sic). Their second album of 1974 was withdrawn soon after being released and its appearance on CD is severely limited.

Blame naff lawsuits for this travesty. My copy was a great find at a second hand shop in Auckland way back at the end of the seventies. It has a 'Promotional Copy: Not For Sale' pink sticker and originally came from the USA.

The album stands as Pete Ham's last contributions to the much loved, but badly treated Badfinger. His vocals alone are worth your time.

Like The Beatles, the band had a number of song writers and so variety of approach (and quality) can be an issue on their albums. All contributions here are strong and stand the test of time.

Where do they all belong? Wish You Were Here was a peak; afterwards - heart breaking suicides, patchy records with various combinations of old and new band members, live and lost recordings. A sad slow winding pathway for a once magnificent band.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

You really got a hold of me (The Beatles) (113)

The classic version
The Beatles With The Beatles (CDs/ Vinyl - Parlophone, 1963) ***
The Beatles Meet The Beatles (Vinyl - Apple, 1963 ***

Genre: Beatles pop

Places I remember: The vinyl came from Noel Forth via swap deals - the American version (Meet...) is on Apple! The Australian vinyl of With... has a really bad cover (not the classic shadow one) and the various CDs are from either NZ or Kings Recording in Abu Dhabi (the remastered box set).

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: It Won't Be Long - for John's vocals!

Gear costume: Don't Bother Me 

My vinyl Aussie version
Active compensatory factors: The difficult second album: With The Beatles is a bit of a mixed bag. The first side gets off to a roaring start with four stone cold classics before John's weak Little Child and Paul's cringe inducing Till There Was You shake the side up, Please Mr Postman ends things well enough, but it's a cover and (whisper it) kind of slight.

Side 2 has some great moments and ends strongly with John's brilliant Money cover, but along the way we have Ringo's less than stellar take on the knock off I Wanna Be Your Man and the weakish Devil In Her Heart. A mixed bag, as I said.

Meet The Beatles is the American version and is even more piecemeal; it includes some singles (I Want To Hold Your Hand) and choice cuts off Please Please Me (I Saw Her Standing There) along with those less than stellar songs from With The Beatles. Weird.

Where do they all belong? Next up:  A Hard Day's Night. Back on track in a big way!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Forever Young (Bob Dylan and The Band) (LP 112)

The Band The Last Waltz (CD - Warner Brothers, 1978) *****

Genre: Canadian pop/ rock

Places I remember: The Warehouse CD copy replaced the cassette tape that (I think) Greg Knowles gave me.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Who Do You Love (with Ronnie Hawkins) gets the set off to a storming start after the haunting Theme from The Last WaltzBig time Bill! Big Time!

Gear costume: Plenty of other gear highlights - maybe the best Band moment is one of my favs - Life Is A Carnival. At the time, Greg and I were very taken with Van the man's spots as well.

Active compensatory factors: G.K. and I went and saw the movie in Queen Street while we were at Auckland University. I had the tape for years, thanks to him, but when I saw it going cheap at The Warehouse, I couldn't resist an upgrade. It is a classic, after all! 

The set shows off the best of both The Band as The Band and how great they were as a band, backing other talented individuals.

The special guests are very very special and his Bobness is in prime form. 

All that and Levon Helm has surely one of the best voices in rock and roll.

Only down point (still) for me is Neil Diamond. Levon was right, Robbie - you shoulda nixed that one.

Where do they all belong? As a high water mark for the seventies, it's pretty much untouchable. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ain't wastin' time no more (The Allman Brothers Band) (LP 111)

The Allman Brothers Band Eat A Peach (CD and double vinyl - Capricorn, 1972) *****

Genre: American pop/ rock

Places I remember: RCA record club catalogue/ Real Groovy/ The Warehouse Hastings.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Blue Sky (5 plus minutes of blue sky brilliance from Dickey Betts and Duane Allman; first solo is Allman's, then Betts).

Gear costume: Mountain Jam

Active compensatory factors: This album had such an aura around it as I was growing up. First awareness of it came in a record catalogue and it was clearly different from a Hollies/ Merseybeat/ Bubblegum pop context.

This was grown up music. A double album. With ONE song spread over two sides. A picture on the cover of a truck with a giant peach. Wowsers. 

I had to wait a while, until I was more grown up, before I could appreciate its richness.

Compared to their previous albums, the interesting thing about Eat A Peach is the breadth of material from acoustic to pastoral to progressive to creative improv jam to southern boogie. All masterfully executed.

It's a peak - not only for the band, but for American music. Full stop.

Where do they all belong? This was the last of the Duane Allman influenced Allman Brothers Band albums, next up was the equally classic Brothers and Sisters album.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The metal age (Hammerfall) (LP 110)

Hammerfall Glory To The Brave (CD - NEMS Enterprises, 1997) ***

Genre: Scandinavian pop/rock

Places I remember: Virgin Megastore Dubai Mall

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Hammerfall (the best that can said about the video is that it is 'of its time and genre'; but hang in there until the chorus at least and the shredding guitar solo)

Gear costume: Child Of the Damned

Active compensatory factors: Their debut album, and the only one I own, Glory to the Brave was a purchase from the Dubai Mall. For some reason they had an awesome collection of Scandinavian metal in the racks at the Virgin Megastore.

Dream Evil and Hammerfall became firm favourites and although I wouldn't find any more of their albums, I played it often while pootling along in the Purdmobile (a.k.a. the Tiida) in Al Ain.

Where do they all belong? Similar in approach to the mighty Dream Evil but more Americanised in feel.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Du Hast (Rammstein) (LP 109)

Rammstein Sehnsucht (CD - Motor Music, 1997) ****

Genre: German pop/ rock

Places I remember: Real Groovy, Auckland

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Du Hast

Gear costume: Sehnsucht, Engel

Active compensatory factors: Du Hast on the live album clued me in to this earlier album. It's a beast of a song live and great on this album as well.

The industrial-metal tag is appropriate for this album - from the cover portraits to the use of Flake's keyboards that are playful at times, ominous at others - all coming together via superb production by Jacob Hellner.

It's one great song after another! And the fact that the band use German lyrics just adds to the whole mystery.

Where do they all belong? This is positioned just before the breakthrough Live Aus Berlin album.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

I ain't no saint (Rory Gallagher) (LP 108)

Rory Gallagher Defender (CD - The Capo, 1987) ****

Genre: Irish pop/ rock

Places I remember: HMV Oxford Street, London

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Don't Start Me To Talkin'


Gear costume: Kickback City (great lead off track)

Active compensatory factors: For me, the last album of great(ish) material from Rory. All the trademark sounds are present and correct. Rory was a firm 'if it ain't broke...' believer.

Along for the ride again was the great Gerry McAvoy on bass (and even Lou Martin makes an appearance on the album). 

Spirited blues and rock guitar heros your bag? Gig Rory in something close to his prime (which is still better than 90% of other rock acts).

Where do they all belong? Sadly, there was only one more album to come - Fresh Evidence.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

King of emotion (LP 106 - 107)

Big Country Peace In Our Time (CD - Phonogram, 1988) *** 
Big Country The Buffalo Skinners (CD - Chrysalis, 1993) ***

Genre: Scottish pop/rock

Places I remember: Real Groovy (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Broken Heart (Thirteen Valleys)

Gear costume: Peace In Our Time.

Active compensatory factors: Mid period studio albums by Big Country can be tricky wee beasties at times. 

These two albums bookended their No Place Like Home album, which doesn't appear here because I didn't like it  much- production especially was very thin and un Big Country like, so I flicked it off.

Peace In Our Time has some cracking songs as mentioned above, so too does The Buffalo Skinners but they also contain too many lesser moments. And those late eighties production values, where the bagpipe sound is replaced by more mainstream rock guitars, don't do the band too many favours.

Where do they all belong? Big Country released further studio albums, both with and (sadly) without Stuart Adamson, but for me - the studio journey was ended with The Buffalo Skinners. Live albums! Now - that's another thing entirely as we'll see in time.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tell all your friends (Feeder) (LP 105)

Feeder Echo Park (CD - The Echo Label, 2001) ***

Genre: Welsh pop/rock

Places I remember: From Samantha's collection that she left behind when she pootled off to university.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Buck Rogers was a hit.

Gear costume: Piece By Piece - a lovely piece of melodic English psychedelic rock.

Active compensatory factors: Although Feeder are very much of their time, and pack a rakish punch at times, they are melodic enough with it to keep me interested. 

This is the sort of stuff I hear on my ipod and need to check who it's by, because it sounds rather good.

Where do they all belong? Living firmly in Britpop land of the early millennium, but on the good side of the ledger.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Perhaps vampires is a bit strong but...(Arctic Monkeys) (LP 104)

Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (CD - Domino, 2006) ***

Genre: English pop/ rock

Places I remember: Fives - Leigh-on-sea

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: When The Sun Goes Down

Gear costume: Fake Tales of San Francisco.

Active compensatory factors: In 2005-2006, there was no escaping Arctic Monkeys if you lived in the UK as we did then.

They were exciting. Fresh. Young. Organic. Articulate. Guitar driven. Seemingly new (listen carefully and the sixties beat groups were clearly an inspiration) and not hyped by a record company.

Singing in a blatant Sheffield dialect, Alex Turner was clearly right for the time. I'm not too sure that it's aged well but who cares. This is about a new band in 2006, not an aging band in 2017.

Take a look at that video and get a feel for a band alive in the moment!

Where do they all belong? The next album was my favourite worst nightmare!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Riff raff (AC/DC) (LP 103)

AC/DC Powerage (CD - Epic, 1978) *****

Genre: NZ/Australian pop/rock

Places I remember: The Warehouse Cambridge

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Riff Raff is GREAT rock and roll!!

Gear costume: Take yer pick - a strong collection of yer classic AC/DC filthy funky guitar noise. Try Up To My Neck In You though, it is impossible to sit still during most of these songs but this is especially infectious!!!

Active compensatory factors: Five stars Wozza, really?

Well, yes. It's a clear classic in my eyes and ears. Bon Scott in all his aussie battler glory!

Powerage is a peak moment in the studio albums. Not a duff track to be found and everything clicks. A classic!

Where do they all belong? Next up - If you wanted blood you got it during Akka dakka's finest hour.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Concerto Grosso (Corelli) (LP 102)

Corelli 4 Concerti Grossi (CD - Point Classics, 1994) ***

Genre: Classical

Places I remember: The Warehouse Cambridge

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/Gear costume:

Active compensatory factors: The baroque era is by far and away my favourite within the classical genre.

I'd heard an edited piece on a sampler, so I knew I liked Corelli's music. This is a nice example - it's very melodic and joyous; surprisingly spritely at times and quietly contemplative at others. 

Where do they all belong? Nicely nestled within the Baroque section of my limited classical section.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Positive Vibration (Bob Marley) (LP 101)

Bob Marley and The Wailers Rastaman Vibration (CD - Tuff Gong, 1976) ****

Genre: Reggae

Places I remember: The Warehouse Cambridge

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: War

Gear costume: Positive Vibration

Active compensatory factors: The uplifting start from Positive Vibration is what makes this album such a joy to return to from time to time.
Say you just can't live that negative way 
If you know what I mean 
Make way for the positive day' 
Cause it's news (new day) news and days 
New time (new time), and if it's a new feelin' (new feelin'), yeah 
Said it's a new sign (new sign) 
Oh, what a new day
I love that - it's what connects so many people to Bob Marley and his music - this message. He had some terrible things happen to him in his life and he saw a lot of bad things too. And still - oh what a new day!

That's pretty special. Jah love.

I've chosen War to highlight here as well because the positivity is maintained until the end of the album (War is track nine of ten). Rather than highlight war's brutality and degradation, Marley looks forward:

And we know we shall win 
As we are confident 
In the victory 
Of good over evil - 
Good over evil, yeah!

Good over evil, yeah Bob!

Where do they all belong? This album kind of embedded things for the band after Live! kicked off things properly in the west. Next up - the five star classic, Exodus

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ramy (Anouar Brahem) (LP 100)

Garbarek/ Brahem/ Hussain Madar (CD - ECM, 1994) ***

Genre: Jazz

Places I remember: Weird little shop in the Souq Waqif (Doha, Qatar) that had an amazing ECM collection of CDs.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/ Gear costume: Opener Sull Lull sets the scene.

Active compensatory factors: Anour Brahem was the reason I bought this. Jan Garbarek is an acquired taste as a saxophonist. He can be quite harsh in his tone and I'm more a smooth sax sound lover.

But forget that! On this album the Norwegian complements the Tunisian oud master, Anouar Brahem, and Ustad Shaukat Hussain, from Pakistan, on tabla.

So much so that these three create something beyond their usual individual sound. The mix of Scandinavian cool, middle eastern oud and the anchoring sound of the tabla works to create some fascinating, and at times, challenging, sound collages.

Where do they all belong? Much more Brahem magic to come.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Gonna make you love me (Ryan Adams) (LP 96 - 97)

Ryan Adams Gold (2CD 2for1 - Lost Highway, 2001) ****

Ryan Adams Demolition (2CD 2for1- Universal, 2002) ***

Genre: Americana

Places I remember: Virgin Megastore Dubai Mall

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Answering Bell

Gear costume: Nobody Girl, Starting to Hurt (from Demolition)

Active compensatory factors: Everything seems to come easy to Ryan Adams. He's a guy with a prodigious talent and he can write classic songs. These two albums bear testimony

Gold is well named - Ryan Adams manages to distill his Dylan, Byrd, Beatle, Rolling Stones influences into his own thing to record his best selling album.

It's a run of one great song after another until Enemy Fire, which tries too hard to rock it up and sounds stodgy as a result. Try Starting To Hurt from third studio album, Demolition, instead.

Good news though - the deft touch returns from Gonna Make You Love Me.

All up it's a terrific set - well recorded too. There's tons of space for the acoustic guitars, organ, voice...

Demotion followed Gold and suffered in comparison but it's actually a fine album in its own right. Ryan takes on a more experimental stance with some of the instrumentation and he's, therefore, only partially successful.

Ultimately, I do have a real soft spot for Gold - it formed the soundtrack for plenty of driving around Al Ain and Dubai. Go fer Gold!

Where do they all belong? A  lot more Ryan Adams to come - some hits, some misses. You definitely need a 'how to buy' guide for his prolific output. Trust me with Gold though - along with Heartbreaker, it's a high water mark!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Doin' just fine (Boyz II Men) (LP 98 - 99)

Boyz II Men II (2for1 CD - Motown, 1994) ***
Boyz II Men Evolution (2for1 CD - Motown, 1997) ****

Genre: Soul

Places I remember: Originally I had II on cassette and Evolution was from the music shop at St Luke's Mall but this 2for1 package came from The Warehouse Hastings.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Harmony!

Gear costume: Some great ballads on both records - I'll Make Love To You/ On Bended Knee/ Water Runs Dry on II and Doin' Just Fine/ A Song For Mama/4 Seasons of Loneliness on Evolution.

Active compensatory factors: They kept me hanging on, long after the initial rush of End Of The Road. The first three albums all hold up!

II was the mega seller and it does contain some amazing stuff but some of the more up tempo material doesn't do it consistently for me.

Interestingly, Evolution is the one I return to the most - just a smooth-a-thon without peer. It formed the soundtrack for a lot of nights on duty at Mount Albert Grammar's School House hostel!

It's crammed with brilliant harmony, brilliant ballads, brilliant music - one great song after another . They even make a hugely over sentimental thing like a paean to mothers (A Song For Mama) sound amazing! It's a very impressive feat which they manage to sustain for 3/4 of the album, until Dear God proves a sentimental bridge too far.

Where do they all belong? Hard to sustain that amazing run and sure enough they struggled with label problems and health issues before coming up with fourth album Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya.