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.

Tender when I want to be (Mary Chapin Carpenter) (LP 95)

Mary Chapin Carpenter   Stones In The Road (CD - Columbia, 1994) ****

Genre: Country (Slash/Rocker)

Places I remember: Kings Recording (Abu Dhabi)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Why Walk When You Can Fly

Gear costume: House Of Cards, Stones In The Road, Shut Up And Kiss Me.

Active compensatory factors: I can see why Columbia marketed the talented young Mary as a country artist. It's her voice which appeals to the realness musical quotient of 'country'.

BTW I saw a sign on a SUV tyre cover yesterday - said 'If it ain't country, it ain't music'. A knuckle-head sign but I get from whence it stems.

MCC is in touch with her feelings, but she also offers a check on the American pulse as well. I bet she don't put on no airs and graces in real life!

That all comes across in her music. House of Cards is about her parent's divorce (but not really), Stones In The Road is about growing up an American (but not really), and so on.

Where do they all belong? One of my fav compilations is her Party Doll and Other Favorites. Magical!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The big dig (Captain Beefheart) (LP 94)

Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band Lick My Decals Off, Baby (CD - Reprise, 1970) ***

Genre: Alternative

Places I remember:  Sister Ray in London

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:  The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig). There's a hint of The Torture Never Stops in the instrumental vibe.

Gear costume:  I Love You, You Big Dummy

Active compensatory factors:  My search for this record goes back many years - to a record auction I attended back when I was a teenage malt shop. 

This record came up in the auction and it seemed so impossibly exotic and so impossibly out of reach. I have had a hankering for it ever since.

Over the years it has been impossible to find in NZ. I could never seem to find a vinyl copy nor was it available on CD. It was only a recent trip to the UK that proved fruitful.

It's not disappointing by any means, but, for me, it ranks below my favourite Beefheart albums (Bongo Fury, Mirror Man, Ice Cream for Crow, Trout Mask Replica).

And there is still no denying that his genius is an acquired taste, but if you have an open mind, give him and the aptly named Magic Band, a try.

Where do they all belong? Mirror Man is coming!   

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Running on faith (Eric Clapton) (LP 93)

Eric Clapton Unplugged (CD - Reprise, 1992) ****

Genre: Blues

Places I remember:  I had a bespoke cassette tape of this courtesy of Roger Marbeck but then saw a cheap CD version in The Warehouse.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:  Layla

Gear costume:  San Francisco Bay Blues

Active compensatory factors: This went mega for Eric at the time and it's kinda easy to see why. The MTV unplugged format suited him and his easy going blues treatments to a T.

He's in a warm, relaxed, laid back mood throughout and without the video you don't have the constant fiddling with the slipping glasses as a distraction.

One slight niggle is that it's maybe a song or two too long. Less is more Eric!  A lesson that wasn't learned with the reissue which added 6 more songs!

Where do they all belong? From The Cradle was next up a year or so later. An electric version of some blues standards - it's worth checking out too.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Know (Nick Drake) (LP 92)

Nick Drake Pink Moon (CD - Island, 1972) ****

Genre: Folk

Places I remember:  Fives on the Broadway in Leigh on sea.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:  Pink Moon

Gear costume: The rest. 

Active compensatory factors: Nick Drake's story is impossibly sad - a talented guy wracked by depression and self doubt. He killed himself at age 26!

Never popular at the time, his three albums have gone on to find much wider audiences since his death.

This album is pretty stark, just Nick and his guitar, but it is beautiful and haunting at the same time. One listen to Pink Moon and you'll be hooked by that amazing voice and need to find more.

Where do they all belong? Sadly, this was his last album. Best place to head to after this is a compilation like Way To Blue: An Introduction to Nick Drake.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Eat my beat (Air) (LP 91)

Air Love 2 (CD - EMI, 2009) ***

Genre: Progressive rock

Places I remember: Abu Dhabi's Kings Recording

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:  First track, Do The Toy, starts the album off with some unusual sounds before settling into an Air (tight) groove.

Gear costume:  All the rest!

Active compensatory factors: They are so well named. So much of Air's music is light and ephemeral. It floats along in time and space and when I try to grab it, it's got no substance.

That doesn't mean I don't like it. But I tried listening to this album over and over again for a week to prepare for this post and nothing stuck.

Somehow, it's still a worthwhile addition to the collection. 

It fits the progressive tag because they do experiment and push themselves onwards throughout the album. Having said that, there are also some wistful reminders of Moon Safari along the way.

Where do they all belong? Next up is Le Voyage Dans La Lune - a marriage between sound and the George Melies classic film.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I miss you (Badfinger) (LP 90)

Badfinger Badfinger (Vinyl - Warner Brothers, 1974) ***

Genre: Apple/Dark Horse records

Places I remember:  Real Groovy, Auckland. It cost me $2.50. I know this because some plonker wrote that figure on the cover!

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: My Heart Goes Out

Gear costume:  Lonely You and Shine On.

Active compensatory factors: In a parallel universe Pete Ham is a huge star and his band, Badfinger, are second only to The Beatles in popularity (whatever Universe you pick the Fabs ROCK IT). I've said it before, and there - I've said it again!

This album was the first one for Warner Brothers after leaving Apple Records, reluctantly, behind. Badfinger was the accidental title - not having a proper one, this is what it's come to be known as over the years.

It's patchy. Love is Easy was the first single lifted from the album. A Joey Molland song. Sadly it's not one of his best and it's no surprise it failed to chart. One of his best is the FAB selection for this entry. An amazingly deep song with some killer mandolin work.

Again, though, it's the Pete Ham songs that impress the most. I love his voice and his songs are always a cut above the rest. What a waste of huge talent! For you now, my heart goes out, once again.

Where do they all belong?  Next up, a clear post-Apple Badfinger peak, the mighty one - Wish You Were Here.