Saturday, July 29, 2017

Trick of the light (Wayne Roland Brown) (LP 127)

Wayne Roland Brown Trick Of The Light (Vinyl - RCA/ Mandrill Records, 1981) **

Genre: NZ and Australian pop/rock

Places I remember: Slow Boat Records (Wellington)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/ Gear costume: This Close To Love

Active compensatory factors: Kind of appropriate that I bought this singer-songwriter's album in Wellington - his home town. I like bits of Wellington - the main few streets around Cuba Mall, Arty Bees and Unity bookshops, Slow Boat Records, the waterfront by Te Papa and the botanical garden is cool, but that's about it.

I'd dimly remembered the name and the cover of a previous album (left) but it was the back cover information that made me take a punt on this. 

I have a soft spot for Mandrill Records (a NZ label) and the backing musicians are world famous in NZ: Bruce Lynch; Frank Gibson Jnr; Stuart Pearce (Streettalk); Eddie Hansen (Ticket); Brian Smith (various jazz combos); Jacqui Fitzgerald; Suzanne Lynch (The Chicks); Glyn Tucker Jnr (producer to the stars).

So expectations were high, tempered by the fact it was released in 1981! It's always a punt with stuff from the eighties.

The musicianship is first class, but in the end, the slickness of the sound, the pleasant but not distinct enough voice, and the so so-ness of the songs make it a good sounding but ho-hum, meh, kind of record. 

Sorry Wayne, I really wanted to like the record but, you know - that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

Where do they all belong? Hmm - flip comment would be - back in 1981. I'll hang onto the record because it's part of Kiwi music history, and that supporting cast - ooee baby.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Le chant grégorien est un chant sacré anonyme (LP 126)

The Deller Consort  Gregorian Chants - Wedding of Cana (Vinyl - Everest Records, 1979) *** 

Genre: Classical

Places I remember: Marbecks Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/Gear costume: It all morphs into one extended ambient sound collage.

Active compensatory factors: Incredibly calming sounds these; bought after hearing something similar at Roger Marbeck's place.

This form of chanting goes back to the 9th and 10th century. For me, it's similar to Buddhist chanting and Brian Eno's ambient albums - meditative and refreshing after listening to 'modern' music. 

Best listened to on a Sunday morning or late at night. 

Where do they all belong? This album stands alone. Every home should have one!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A sign of the times (LP 125)

Les and Larry Elgart Sound Of The Times - More Au Go-Go (Vinyl - CBS, 1966) ** 

Genre: Easy Listening

Places I remember: My dad's collection

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/ Gear costume: California Dreaming is nicely arranged and the Batman Theme is bold and brassy.

Active compensatory factors: This is at the meatier end of the Easy Listening genre but it still conforms to the norms - orchestral/jazzy versions of hits of the day (the sound of the time) by The Beatles, Beach Boys and Herb Alpert (Spanish Flea). It's all here, plus the garish girly having fun cover. The shoddily prepared wrinkled backdrop is eerily appropriate.

It's all very swinging 1966.

Larry Elgart is the alto saxophonist, his brother Les plays trumpet.

Dad loved this stuff - let's just say I didn't share his enthusiasm back in 1966 when I was 9. 

Now? I can listen to it in the right spirit - in a vaguely warm, nostalgic glow.

They don't make 'em like this anymore!  

Where do they all belong? Next up in this section is George Martin's more authentic, but equally easy listening, take on some Beatle chunes.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The spatial effect of stereo (LP 124)

Phillips Presents Super Stereo Demonstration (Vinyl - Phillips, no date anywhere but it's old, okay) * 

Genre: Comedy (because of the sketches and sound effects)

Places I remember: My dad's collection. It has always been around. I can remember this being played when I was still in single figures.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles/Gear costume: Fab and gear is pushing it but the Philip Morgan Super-agent sketch was useful when Greg Knowles and I did our crazy tapes!

Active compensatory factors: A relic from a distant age, when mono made way for stereo and early adopters like my dad needed a stereo presentation record to...erm...actually I'm not sure why he needed this.

Its principal format is, on side 1, a narrator examining the benefits of stereo separation. There are snippets of songs and sketches - like a motel room skit (weirdly put onto YouTube by some weird weirdo above) and 'an overworked commercial traveller desperately trying to get some sleep' - cue the clock ticking, a tap dripping and a brigade of mosquitoes!

Side 2 features the New Westminster Orchestra playing standards, like Hello Dolly, in an easy listening style that my dad was particularly fond of, and I hated. Still doesn't do anything for.

But the whole record is all wonderfully comforting for me - a real, tangible link to my musical history. It's nuts, but I can't imagine my collection without this record.

Where do they all belong? File this in the barking mad category - which, I guess is why I have it nestled into the comedy genre.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Locomotion (John Coltrane) (LP 123)

John Coltrane Blue Train (Vinyl - Blue Note, 1958) ****

Genre: Jazz

Places I remember:
 Marbecks Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Locomotion (Trane/train - see what he did there?)

Gear costume: Blue Train

Active compensatory factors: Coltrane’s only album on the famous Blue Note label was his self-proclaimed favourite album up to 1960.

It's a varied hard bop affair with Lee Morgan, on trumpet, Kenny Drew, piano, and Curtis Fuller, on trombone, joining the rythym section (Paul Chambers, bass, 'Philly' Joe Jones, drums), to provide additional colour to Coltrane's masterful tenor sax.

Overall, it's hard to argue with the sleeve notes that highlight the 'free, but not disorganized, blowing mood that has everyone in exceptional form both individually and collectively'.

Where do they all belong? Coltrane would next take a giant step in 1959.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

You got me working day and night (Michael Jackson) (LP 122)

Michael Jackson Off The Wall (Vinyl - Epic, 1979) ****

Genre: Soul

Places I remember:
 Marbecks Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Rock With You

Gear costume: Off The Wall, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Active compensatory factors: Off The Wall was eclipsed by Thriller's uber-mega-success but, for me, this is a purer, funner, Michael Jackson album. Even if there are only three songs written by MJ.

Off The Wall is just a load of fun, from the first whooooo to the last disco tune.

In fact, there is a neat balance between the dance/disco material that bookends the album (the very funky Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough…to the slightly weak final Burn This Disco Out), the impressive but soppy ballad (She’s Out Of My Life), and superior pure pop (Rock With You).

The quality control isn’t 100% though with at least one track on each side that is a little weak and/or formulaic. Never mind. The joy and high energy elsewhere more than makes up them.

Where do they all belong?  The behemoth was coming.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

New dawn fades (Joy Division) (LP 121)

Joy Division Unknown Pleasures (Vinyl - Factory, 1979) *****

Genre: Alternative

Places I remember: Marbecks Records (Auckland)

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: New Dawn Fades

Gear costume: She's Lost Control

Active compensatory factors: Everything about this record should be depressing - black unrelenting cover (where music is reduced to sound waves), songs without titles (and when they are revealled they are titles like Disorder, New Dawn Fades, Wilderness, She's Lost Control, I Remember Nothing) and a bleak history thanks to Ian Curtis' death, BUT, call me weird, somehow, I find this record curiously uplifting. Same curious thing happens when I listen to the blues.

I have good memories of listening to it during my last few years at Auckland University - the surreal sounds suited my academic reach as I studied a potpourri of poetry and drama and novels for my masters degree in English.

The bleak post punk Mancunian landscape was purely of my imagination. 

The mystery associated with the album - no band pictures (or even names), no song titles - gave it a deeply satisfying aura. I had to make all that stuff up in my head. 

Most definitely a case of unknown pleasures!

Where do they all belong? Closer is coming.