Tuesday, December 12, 2017

You can do it (Natural Gas) (LP 175)

Natural Gas Natural Gas (Vinyl - Private Stock Records, 1976) ***

Genre:  Apple/ Dark Horse Records (of course Private Stock is neither of those but I group Badfinger related albums all together)

Places I remember: Real Groovy Records 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Christmas Song

Gear costume: Little Darlin'

Active compensatory factors: Of course, Joey Molland's voice is very familiar from those Badfinger songs, but hardly anyone remembers this band. The band is obscure enough that there is not even a wikipedia article on them!

On the surface it's a supergroup of sorts. Some of the bands the membership of Natural Gas have been part of: Badfinger, Humble Pie, Colosseum, Uriah Heep, Rare Bird, Sutherland Brothers & Quiver.

It's a nice collection of largely undistinguished songs from various band members. Naturally, I'm more partial to Joey's tunes, but even his contribution doesn't come anywhere near his Badfinger output.

Where do they all belong? Natural Gas was a brief interlude before Joey went back to the Badfinger name with Tom Evans.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Words of Love (Buddy Holly) (LP 171 - 174)

The Beatles For Sale (various CDs/Vinyl - Apple Records, 1964) *****
The Beatles VI (Vinyl - Apple Records, 1965) ****
The Beatles '65 (Vinyl - Apple Records, 1965) ****
The Beatles No. 5 (Vinyl - Apple Records, 1965) ****

Genre: Beatles related pop  

Places I remember: For Sale CDs came from Kings Recording (Abu Dhabi) and The Warehouse; vinyl from DJ Records (Otahuhu) ; Beatles VI - Marbecks Records; Beatles '65 and #5 from Noel Forth.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: No Reply

Gear costume: I Don't Want To Spoil The Party 

Active compensatory factors: Okay. Deep breath. The one true item amongst this bunch is The Beatles For Sale, with that iconic cover above. 

That's the one long term Beatles fans who don't have OCD know and love from their nostalgic past. 

But wait...there were other versions?!

The other three records in my list are the American versions - they made two out of one (The Beatle '65 and Beatles VI), and the Japanese version was The Beatles No. 5

All these records are repackages on Apple Records rather than on Capitol or Parlophone.

Why? Because I'm an OCD/completist Beatle AND Apple Records fanatic. Well, those two things usually go hand in hand for us OCD/completist Beatle AND Apple Records fanatics.

Four stars for these other versions of Beatles For Sale is because they each take tracks from For Sale and flesh them out with various singles or older cuts.

That doesn't make for a cohesive package and there's only so many times I can listen without prejudice to the German language versions of I want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You. Great though they are.

My opinion. But what is never under dispute is the fact that 1964 was the year the Beatle dam burst.

Where do they all belong? Help is coming! 

P.S. Off to meet up with Macca in Auckland this coming Saturday night! My heart is all a flutter. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Merry-go-round (Buffalo Springfield) (LP 170)

Buffalo Springfield Last Time Around (CD - Atco Records, 1968) **

Genre: Canadian pop/rock

Places I remember: The Warehouse (Cambridge) 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: On The Way Home (the only track the original five members all play on).

Gear costume: I Am A Child, Kind Woman, Four Days Gone (all provide hints of solo greatness to come)

Active compensatory factors: Heavily tilted towards (ultimately, sub-par) songs by Stephen Stills and Richie Furay (with only two from Neil), Last Time Around was the band's third and final album and cobbled together to fulfill their contract and boy does it show! 

The front cover and title are clear indications that the band members are moving on. Neil is even facing the other direction to the rest and the back cover collage is a clear symbol of the cut and paste job happening inside.

Pity, because while the restless Neil Young loves the band in retrospect, and the Buffalo Springfield sound is unique, with strong individual egos pulling in different directions the band just couldn't sustain itself beyond two strong albums and this last one.

Where do they all belong? Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, Jim Messina, and Neil Young went on to realise their potential in the next decade in a variety of bands.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Find the real (Alter Bridge) (LP 168 - 169)

Alter Bridge One Day Remains (CD - Wind-up Records, 2004) ****
Alter Bridge Blackbird (CD - Universal Republic Records, 2007) ****

Genre: American pop/rock  

Places I remember: Virgin Megastore Abu Dhabi; Music Box Record Exchange (Hastings)  

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: White Knuckles (Blackbird) is nicely representative of the Alter Bridge experience.

Gear costume: Wayward One (Blackbird); Find the Real, Down To My Last (ODR)  

Active compensatory factors: They used to be Creed but please don't hold that against them. Along came the lung busting vocals of Myles Kennedy and hey presto, they are Alter Bridge!

These are the band's first two albums. They sound kinda like Volume 1 and 2, even though are three years apart so it seemed a good idea to pair them here.

If old school guitar shredding rawk is your bag - get hip to be square and check out these dudes!  

Where do they all belong? America is next up in the US pop/ rock genre.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Playing my game (Lene Marlin) (LP 167)

Lene Marlin Playing My Game (CD - Virgin, 1999) ***

Genre: Norwegian pop/ rock  

Places I remember: Virgin Megastore Dubai Mall.   

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Sitting Down Here

Gear costume: Unforgivable Sinner  

Active compensatory factors: I started my Lene Marlin obsession via a sampler. Sitting Down Here was a crazily effective ditty. It got into my brain and wouldn't let go. In a nice way.

Lene's whole sound is a superb mix of pop hooks, Scandinavian mystery and appropriate beats. 

It's catchy as all get out.

Taylor Swift was certainly one person who was listening and watching closely!   

I can just imagine a preteen Tay Tay picking up on what Lene was doing!

Where do they all belong? Debut album in a stellar career. Another Day is next. No difficult second album syndrome for Lene.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Engel (Rammstein) (LP 166)

Rammstein Live Aus Berlin (CD - Universal, 1999) **** (***** for the DVD version)

Genre:  German pop/rock

Places I remember: The Warehouse (Cambridge)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Engel (sadly, the Berlin version not available)

Gear costume:  Du Hast, Asche zu Asche, Rammstein

Active compensatory factors: Brutal. But not humourless. There is no better place to start if you have never experienced the joy of listening to Rammstein.

Utterly captivating - the DVD of this concert trumps the CD/Record. The malevolent robot cartoon concept is breathtaking in its execution. It's impossible to turn away for even a second.

Go view it now and turn your hifi stereo support system up to 11!!    

Where do they all belong? Next up - the boys head back to the studio with Mutter

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Got my mojo working (Muddy Waters) (LP 165)

Rory Gallagher BBC Sessions (CD - Capo, 1999) ***

Genre:  Irish pop/ rock

Places I remember: HMV Stratford Mall, London  

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: I take What I want

Gear costume: Country Mile, Race The Breeze 

Active compensatory factors: Rory played everywhere, and he always played for fun. If ever a guy had a guitar shaped heart, it was Rory Gallagher. If ever I guy had his mojo working on a consistent basis, it was Rory.

Here we find Rory on the wireless, both in the concert and studio mode over two CDs.

He lets rip! As he always did! 

Faithful allies Gerry McAvoy, Lou Martin and Rod deAth are present and correct - laying down the bedrock for Rory to do his expansive best upon.

Where do they all belong? More to come in the firey/bluesy guitar stylings of Rory Gallagher.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wonderland (Big Country) (LP 163 - 164)

Big Country Live in New York City 1986 (CD - Immortal, 2012) ***
Big Country Without The Aid Of A Safety Net (Live) (CD -EMI, 1994) *****

Genre:  Scottish pop/rock

Places I remember:  The Warehouse (Hastings); Music store in the Onehunga Mall back in 1994.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/ Gear costume: Just A Shadow (Live in NYC); Everything on Without...Net

The whole concert is magical but if you want a brief sample - try Thirteen Valleys at 9.40 mark.

Active compensatory factors: I quite liked Big Country when, in 1994, I came across Without...a Net in a remainder store in the Onehunga Mall (best $5 I've ever spent).  

From that point on, I LOVED Big Country.

Without...a Net is a nigh on perfect live album: bags of atmosphere at the Barrowlands in Glasgow; Stuart Adamson's warm vocals and welcome; the way it begins with a number of acoustic versions and builds and builds; the crowd singalongs and chiming in at appropriate times; the electric intensity at the end of the concert!

It is magic and I could listen to it every day without ever getting weary of it. 

The other live album in this post has some great moments but the audio quality and atmosphere is not a patch on Without...a Net.

Where do they all belong? A fitting tribute to Adamson's genius. More BC to come.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

So maybe tomorrow I'll find my way home (Stereophonics) (LP 159 - 162)

Stereophonics Word Gets Around (CD - V2, 1997) ***
Stereophonics Performance and Cocktails (CD - V2, 1999) **
Stereophonics Just Enough Education To Perform (CD - V2, 2001) ***
Stereophonics You Gotta Go There To Come Back (CD - V2, 2003) ***

Genre: Welsh pop/rock 

Places I remember: Record shop Central World Plaza in Bangkok, Fives (Leigh-on-sea) and HMV (Edinburgh and Oxford Street)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Maybe Tomorrow

Gear costume: Traffic (Word Gets Around); Local Boy In The Photograph (WGA);

Active compensatory factors: We were living in Essex in 2004 and I had back catalogued from 2003's You Gotta Go There To Come Back, which I'd bought in Bangkok on the way to my first ever visit to the UK the year before. Which is why I've lumped the first four Stereophonics albums together. Keeping up in the back?

At the time (2003), the title struck me as being particularly prescient, and I'd heard Local Boy In A Photograph on a compilation, and liked it a lot. So I took a punt. 
The song Maybe Tomorrow is responsible. I listened to YGGTTCB a lot on the plane ride from Bangkok to London to help quell my nerves.

It had the right kind of melancholy longing and haunted wistfulness that matched my mood. In the end I was going home (to Rochdale) but that was fleeting and, as it turned out, unsustainable.

Although it's not brilliant, when I got sorted in Leigh-on-sea I dug around and picked up the back catalogue. None are classics but there are enough individual brilliant songs scattered among each one to make me keep coming back for more.

While Word Gets Around is a really good debut, Performance and Cocktails, for me, suffers from classic second album syndrome (most of the time, Kelly Jones tries too hard).

Third album Just Enough Education To Perform hits the mark with some classic pop and a more varied approach - Mr Writer and especially Have A Nice Day distinguish themselves.

Which brings us back to where I started with Maybe Tomorrow.

Where do they all belong? A swag of post YGGTTCB albums to come. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fire and the thud (Arctic Monkeys) (LP 157 - 158)

Arctic Monkeys Favourite Worst Nightmare (CD - Domino, 2007) ***
Arctic Monkeys Humbug (CD - Domino, 2009) **

Genre:  English pop/rock

Places I remember:  The Warehouse (New Plymouth)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: This House is a Circus (FWN)

Gear costume Fluorescent Adolescent/ Old Yellow Bricks (FWN), Fire and the Thud (Humbug)

Active compensatory factors:  For me second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, is the band's high water mark, the fire.

I like the guitar attack, the loudness which differentiated it from the debut, the melodic hooks, and the distinctiveness of the arrangements throughout the whole album. It's a winner all the way!

Third album, Humbug, in comparison, was more about bass/drums thud, albeit with some interesting textures overlayed, and I stopped keeping up with the band from that point onwards. 

Where do they all belong? Even though Humbug changed the AM sound quite a bit, for me, the AM problem is how do they develop around those distinctive AM ticks (the Alex Turner vocals are so AM).

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Rocker (AC/DC) (LP 156)

AC/DC If You Want Blood You Got It (CD - Atlantic 1978) *****

Genre: Australian pop/rock  

Places I remember: Fives (Leigh-on-sea) 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: The 7.35 minutes of Bad Boy Boogie are tough to beat.

Gear costume: Riff Raff and Whole Lotta Rosie are larger than life! 

Active compensatory factors: A case can be made that Bon Scott is AC/DC. He's certainly my favourite AC/DC vocalist and this, my goo goo friends, is his finest hour. Live and strutting his stuff. Living it. Breathing it!

But that would also be doing Angus Young a disservice. Along with Bon, Angus is the star attraction live. It's very hard to keep your eyes off him as he becomes Mr Perpetual Motion. His guitaring is feral wild and pure excitement.

But that would also ignore the songs. On this set all the catchy riffs and vocals exist because the songs are great.

Bottom line: my favourite AC/DC album. Full stop.  

Where do they all belong? Almost at the end of AC/DC mark 1 but fear not. There is more Bon Scott to come.  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Koncert Fur Piano (LP 155)

Mozart - Beethoven Piano Concertos #12 and 4 (CD - Point Classics, 1994) ***

Genre: Classical

Places I remember: The Warehouse (Cambridge)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/Gear costume: Of the two I prefer the Mozart concerto, #12.

Active compensatory factors: Although I'm a complete philistine with classical music, I know what I like and I do prefer piano concertos to symphonies. 

I find them less bombastic, with less peaks and valleys and more pastorally prog rockish, I guess. Having said that, I do find the elaborate piano flourishes a little tough to take at times.

Where do they all belong? In the small classical section. Next and last (I told you it was small) is some (tell) Tchaikovsky (the news).

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

World's away (Jesse Cook) (LP 152 - 154)

Jesse Cook Nomad (CD - Norada/Virgin, 2003) ***
Jesse Cook Frontiers (CD -  Virgin, 2007) *** 
Jesse Cook The Rumba Foundation (CD - EMI, 2009) ***  

Genre: World

Places I remember: Virgin Megastores in Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: 
La Llorona (Frontiers)

Gear costume: Cecilia (The Rumba Foundation), It Ain't Me Babe (Frontiers).

Active compensatory factors: Canadian guitarist, Jesse Cook, is huge in the Middle East. His flamenco guitar has a number of Middle Eastern and European flavours and so I had no clue he was Canadian until I checked out his biography for this post.

The tasteful Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel covers are the only nods to pop influences on these CDs - mostly some great Latin jazz style rhythms are the order of the day.

Frontiers is the pick of the three studio albums featured here, in case you were wondering.

Where do they all belong? He traverses a variety of genres - world, jazz, even pop at times but resides in the 'World' section of my collection. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

So much things to say (Bob Marley) (LP 151)

Bob Marley and The Wailers Exodus (CD - Tuff Gong, 1977) *****

Genre: Reggae

Places I remember: The Warehouse (Cambridge)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Jammin'

Gear costume: Natural Mystic, Exodus, Three Little Birds

Active compensatory factors: Why feature Jammin', you ask? The answer dates back to a performance by an Auckland reggae band at Mt Albert Grammar the year after I left school. 

beautiful sunny day in 1977, and the school was having a gala. I went along, maybe with Greg? Not sure. We'd both had our final year at MAGS the year before and so, we'd been part of plans for the gala, or at least, the planning for it was in the air.

What I am sure about is the brilliant song I heard that day from some anonymous band. I never found out their name but they did their version of Jammin' and it sounded amazing.

Not only that, but seeing a joyful bunch of pacific island guys in dreads speaking of jah and other phrases foreign to my ears was something of an ear opener!

Pretty sure this was my first experience of the cool reggae groove as well. I eventually found the source - Bob Marley and he's been soundtracking my summers ever since.

For this album, Bob's singing sounds more mature, more confident to me. 

Where do they all belong? Next up, a clutch of live BM albums of variable quality.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Affirmation (George Benson) (LP 150)

George Bens0n Breezin' (CD - Warner Bros, 1976) ***

Genre: Jazz

Places I remember: The Warehouse, Hastings NZ

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

Active compensatory factors: When I was working for Marbecks Records during a 1981 University holiday, George Benson's double album The George Benson Collection came out. Oh my my! Did it go off!! We're talkin' mega!! I lifted a ton of those beasts onto the racks!

At the time the smooth jazz guitar stylings were a bit too poppy for my tastes. Plus I had/have this thing about stuff that everybody is buying. 

Instead I picked up a compilation, in the Columbia Jazz Profiles series, that is much more to my taste, being pre-pop stardom Benson.

Anyway. Breezin' had come out in the mid seventies and my old buddy (as in he's been a mate for yonks), Greg Knowles, taped a copy for me and I fell for the first few tracks, before the strings take over. It became a guilty pleasure of sorts.

And now, here it is some 40 years later and I picked up a CD copy cheap from a clearance bin at a red shed. It still has that lovely glow of familiarity about it - a re-acquaintance with an old friend!

Where do they all belong? George's pop/jazz niche is pretty much his own, so, kudos George. Next up it's back to Anouar Brahem in the jazz genre.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I'm OK, you're OK (Boyz II Men) (LP 148 - 149)

Boyz II Men Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya (CD - Universal, 2000) ***
Boyz II Men Full Circle (CD - Arista, 2002) ***

Genre: Soul

Places I remember: The Warehouse (Cambridge)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: The Colour Of Love (from Full Circle)

Gear costume: Beautiful Women

Active compensatory factors: These albums are okay. Nothing startling here like the first three albums but enough quality signature Boyz II Men moves to keep me interested.

Colour Of Love is a classic Boyz II Men chune, and, while the rest is pleasant, they were treading some well known terrain here.

And yet, and yet...those harmonies!!

Where do they all belong? Full Circle was the last album with the original members, as Michael McCary had to leave for health reasons. A covers album was their way back in as we will see in due course.