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Saturday, October 31, 2009

DAVID BOWIE

DAVID BOWIE
HEATHEN (2002)
320 KBPS

Heathen marks a new beginning for David Bowie in some ways — it's his first record since leaving Virgin, his first for Columbia Records, his first for his new label, ISO — yet it's hardly a new musical direction. Like Hours, this finds Bowie sifting through the sounds of his past, completely at ease with his legacy, crafting a colorful, satisfying album that feels like a classic Bowie album. That's not to say that Heathen recalls any particular album or any era in specific, yet there's a deliberate attempt to recapture the atmosphere, the tone of his '70s work — there's a reason that Bowie decided to reteam with Tony Visconti, the co-producer of some of his best records, for this album — even if direct comparisons are hard to come by. Which is exactly what's so impressive about this album. Bowie and Visconti never shy away from electronic instrumentations or modern production — if anything, they embrace it — but it's woven into Bowie's sound subtly, never drawing attention to the drum loops, guitar synths, and washes of electronica. For that matter, guest spots by Dave Grohl and Pete Townshend (both on guitar) don't stand out either; they're merely added texture to this an album that's intricately layered, but always plays smoothly and alluringly. And, make no mistake, this is an alluring, welcoming, friendly album — there are some moody moments, but Bowie takes Neil Young's eerie "I've Been Waiting for You" and Pixies' elusively brutal, creepy "Cactus" and turns them sweet, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, either. In the end, that's the key to Heathen — the undercurrent of happiness, not in the lyrics, but in the making of music, a realization by Bowie and Visconti alike that they are perfect collaborators. Unlike their previous albums together, this doesn't boldly break new ground, but that's because, 22 years after their last collaboration, Scary Monsters, both Bowie and Visconti don't need to try as hard, so they just focus on the craft. The result is an understated, utterly satisfying record, his best since Scary Monsters, simply because he'd never sounded as assured and consistent since.

1. Sunday
2. Cactus
3. Slip Away
4. Slow Burn
5. Afraid
6. I've Been Waiting For You
7. I Would Be Your Slave
8. I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship
9. 5:15 The Angels Have Gone
10. Everyone Says 'Hi'
11. A Better Future
12. Heathen (The Rays)
Bonus Disc
1. Sunday (Moby Remix)
2. A Better Future (Remix by Air)
3. Conversation Piece (Written 1969, Recorded 1970, Re-recorded 2002)
4. Panic in Detroit (Outtake from a 1979 Recording)

JUST LIKE HEAVEN

JUST LIKE HEAVEN
A TRIBUTE TO THE CURE (2009)
320 KBPS

2009 tribute to Robert Smith and Co. Just Like Heaven features 16 new cover versions of Cure songs by The Wedding Present, The Brunettes, Devics, Dean & Britta (Luna), The Submarines, The Rosebuds, Grand Duchy (Violet Clark & Black Francis), Joy Zipper, Elk City , and many others. Produced by Joe Spadaro and Gwen Hysler and original album art and design by Rhode Island Illustrator Melinda Rainsberger . Early press is fantastic for this one. Brought to you by the same label who produced the critically acclaimed Neil Young benefit CD Cinnamon Girl: Women Artists Cover Neil Young For Charity, and the popular 80's tribute High School Reunion - a tribute to those great 80's films!. Highly recommended for Cure fans or any of the bands covering the Cure on this excellent tribute compilation.

1. Just Like Heaven - Joy Zipper
2. The Lovecats - Tanya Donelly, Dylan In The Movies
3. Lovesong - The Brunettes
4. In Between Days - Kitty Karlyle
5. Friday I'm In Love - Dean & Britta
6. Jumping Someone Else's Train - Luff
7. Boys Don't Cry - The Submarines
8. Close To Me - Elk City
9. The Walk - The Rosebuds
10. Pictures of You - Elizabeth Harper, The Matinee
11. Let's Go To Bed - Cassettes Won't Listen
12. Catch - Devics
13. A Night Like This - Julie Peel
14. 10:15 Saturday Night - The Poems
15. A Strange Day - Grand Duchy
16. High - The Wedding Present
Bonus Track
17. Lovesong - Dala

KYLE EASTWOOD

KYLE EASTWOOD
METROPOLITAIN (2009)
320 KBPS

Kyle Eastwood's fourth recording takes the bassist into a populist mode, playing music much more on the contemporary side of the jazz dichotomy. Far from a mainstream or swinging date, the acoustic and electric bassist seems as if he's determined to compose music for the screenplay in his head from his time spent in Paris, France, where this was recorded. The fine drummer Manu Katche, keyboardist Eric Legnini, and trumpeter Till Brönner are focused into making this music less standardized and more rhythm & blues oriented. It's produced by longtime collaborator Michael Stevens with help from the son of Miles Davis, Erin Davis, and sports the quadruple attachment to Eastwood's Rendezvous production company and Chick Corea's manager, Ron Moss, from L.A., the legendary Candid label, and Detroit's Mack Avenue record company. Certainly a combined global team, it reflects the commercial nature of the music without selling out to the lowest common, so-called "smooth" denominator — a good thing indeed. Katche has much to do with the sonic image of this music, whether setting up 5/4 vamps on "Black Light," offering two-beat faux to real Brazilian beats on "Samba de Paris," or switching from light to heavy funk during "Le Balai." His greatest rhythmic contribution during "Rue Perdue" represents the street smart strut that dominates this paper thin melody, and drives the funky little line of "Hot Box," or "Bel Air" that parallels "A Night in Tunisia." The title track, urged by Legnini's minimalist piano juxtaposed against French vocalist Camille's wordless singing, while "Bold Changes" is not as its title suggests, but instead more like an ECM track in its spirit/soul, if not pop vein. Brönner is heard throughout the disc in a relegated, sparse role, while Eastwood only occasionally leads out the songs, most noticeably with Legnini for "Samba de Paris" and "Le Balai," but by himself in resonant tones for the harmonically based 6/8 rhythm of "Song for You." This is a credible effort with a degree of distinction, not so much cinematic as it is functional, and pleasant enough to reach an audience that does not depend on overt swing, virtuosity, or improvisation to make their ears tick.


1. Metropolitain
2. Bold Changes
3. Hot Box
4. Black Light
5. Bel Air
6. Samba de Paris
7. Song for You
8. Rue Perdue
9. Le Balai
10. Live for Life

JACQUES HIGELIN

JACQUES HIGELIN
EN PLEIN BATACLAN (2007)
320 KBPS

2007 live album from Jacques Higelin. As usual, Higelin's songs take a whole new dimension played live. He plays with his music, his audience, himself which leads to a lively result no Higelin afficionado would want to miss.
Here, you'll find some vintage classics from his repertoire (Je Veux Cette Fille, Tombé du Ciel, Cigarette, Pars) along with excerpts from 2006's Amor Doloroso, his last offering to this day. What amazes me is how well those new songs fit with the classics proving, if needed, that Higelin is still very much alive and at the top of his game.
A must try for anyone into the French scene of which Higelin is one of the finest artists.

1. Je Veux Cette Fille
2. Ice Dream
3. Tombé Du Ciel
4. Prise De Bec
5. Lettre À La P'tite Amie De L'ennemi Public N°1
6. Denise
7. Cigarette
8. Crocodaïl
9. Ici C'est L'enfer
10. Queue De Paon
11. L'hiver Au Lit À Liverpool
12. J't'aime Telle
13. Pars

Friday, October 30, 2009

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE
VOLUNTEERS (1969)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

Controversial at the time, delayed because of fights with the record company over lyrical content and the original title (Volunteers of America), Volunteers was a powerful release that neatly closed out and wrapped up the '60s. Here, the Jefferson Airplane presents itself in full revolutionary rhetoric, issuing a call to "tear down the walls" and "get it on together." "We Can Be Together" and "Volunteers" bookend the album, offering musical variations on the same chord progression and lyrical variations on the same theme. Between these politically charged rock anthems, the band offers a mix of words and music that reflect the competing ideals of simplicity and getting "back to the earth," and overthrowing greed and exploitation through political activism, adding a healthy dollop of psychedelic sci-fi for texture. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's beautiful arrangement of the traditional "Good Shepherd" is a standout here, and Jerry Garcia's pedal steel guitar gives "The Farm" an appropriately rural feel. The band's version of "Wooden Ships" is much more eerie than that released earlier in the year by Crosby, Stills & Nash. Oblique psychedelia is offered here via Grace Slick's "Hey Frederick" and ecologically tinged "Eskimo Blue Day." Drummer Spencer Dryden gives an inside look at the state of the band in the country singalong "A Song for All Seasons."
The musical arrangements here are quite potent. Nicky Hopkins' distinctive piano highlights a number of tracks, and Kaukonen's razor-toned lead guitar is the recording's unifying force, blazing through the mix, giving the album its distinctive sound. Although the political bent of the lyrics may seem dated to some, listening to Volunteers is like opening a time capsule on the end of an era, a time when young people still believed music had the power to change the world.

1. We Can Be Together
2. Good Shepherd
3. The Farm
4. Hey Frederick
5. Turn My Life Down
6. Wooden Ships
7. Eskimo Blue Day
8. A Song For All Seasons
9. Meadowlands
10. Volunteers
Bonus Tracks
11. Good Shepherd (Live)
12. Somebody To Love
13. Plastic Fantastic Lover (Live)
14. Wooden Ships
15. Volunteers

MIOSSEC

MIOSSEC
BAISER (1997)
320 KBPS

Second Miossec album who still works with Guillaume Jouan and adds a more rock formation (with drums) to enrich his sound. This album mainly focuses on failed relationship, the Miossec way, so it's honest, raw and true to the man's character. Just what Miossec's followers would have expected.
The voice is less fragile than on the first album which gives the album an overall more abrasive songs and, since those songs are more rhythm oriented, it fits the music perfectly. You'll even find a heartfelt versions of Joe Dassin's "Salut les Amoureux" that strays far from its originator happy mainstream's style, thank god.
All in all, Baiser is a better album than Miossec's debut though retaining the best aspects (aka that folkish vibe) of it but, now we know, that the best was still to come... Still, it's a enjoyable travel through the man's troubled soul and a must hear for anyone into the French music scene.

1. La Fidélité
2. Une Bonne Carcasse
3. Ca sent le brûlé
4. Je Plaisante
5. Le Célibat
6. Le Mors Aux Dents
7. Tant D'Hommes - Et Quelques Femmes Femmes Au Fond De Moi
8. L'Infidélité
9. On Etait Tellement De Gauche
10. Juste Après Qu'Il Ait Plu
11. La Guerre
12. Le Criterium
13. Salut Les Amoureux

PEARL JAM

PEARL JAM
VITALOGY (1994)
320 KBPS

Thanks to its stripped-down, lean production, Vitalogy stands as Pearl Jam's most original and uncompromising album. While it isn't a concept album, Vitalogy sounds like one. Death and despair shroud the album, rendering even the explosive celebration of vinyl "Spin the Black Circle" somewhat muted. But that black cloud works to Pearl Jam's advantage, injecting a nervous tension to brittle rockers like "Last Exit" and "Not for You," and especially introspective ballads like "Corduroy" and "Better Man." In between the straight rock numbers and the searching slow songs, Pearl Jam contribute their strangest music — the mantrafunk of "Aye Davanita," the sub-Tom Waits accordion romp of "Bugs," and the chilling sonic collage "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me." Pearl Jam are at their best when they're fighting, whether it's Ticketmaster, fame, or their own personal demons.

1. Last Exit
2. Spin The Black Circle
3. Not For You
4. Tremor Christ
5. Nothingman
6. Whipping
7. Pry, To
8. Corduroy
9. Bugs
10. Satan's Bed
11. Better Man
12. Aye Davanita
13. Immortality
14. Stupidmop

DANNY GATTON

DANNY GATTON
IN CONCERT (1994)
320 KBPS

The performance captured on In Concert 9/9/94 happened less than a month before Danny Gatton's death, and from the sound of the album, it's hard to believe he was in a deep depression. Gatton's playing is incendiary and fiery, an extended display of sheer virtuosity, and the songs are consistently better than his studio albums, which were hampered by filler. Similarly, the studio polish of his albums tended to obscure how dazzling Gatton's pure, unvarnished talent was. That's not the case with In Concert 9/9/94, which positively sizzles. It might not be the best way to become acquainted with the guitarist — after all, it doesn't show all of his versatility (the jazzier numbers are noticeably missing) — but for fans, it's one to cherish.

1. Intro/Sunnymoon for Two
2. Land of Make Believe
3. Blues Newburg
4. 88 Elmira
5. Secret Love
6. Apache/Surf Medley
7. Caravan
8. Linus and Lucy
9. Orange Blossom Medley

PARADISE LOST

PARADISE LOST
HOST (1999)
320 KBPS

If you are a Paradise Lost completist, or if you are open to the idea of your favorite bands expanding into different territories, then give this a shot. This is Paradise Lost expanding their furthest into pop-gothic territory, only to start returning to a more rock format on the next album, semi-closer to their roots in doom metal. I love this album. If you are open-minded to the electronica experimentation, you will find an album using the subtleties of Paradise Lost's common song structures and instrumentation to assist the band in finding new ways of exploring a dark and introspective sound. A must try for sure!

1. So Much Is Lost
2. Nothing Sacred
3. In All Honesty
4. Harbour
5. Ordinary Days
6. It's Too Late
7. Permanent Solution
8. Behind the Grey
9. Wreck
10. Made the Same
11. Deep
12. Year of Summer
13. Host
Bonus Tracks
(Japanese Edition)
14. So Much Is Lost (Lost in Space Mix)
15. Languish
16. So Much Is Lost (String Version)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

GASTR DEL SOL

GASTR DEL SOL
CAMOUFLEUR (1998)
320 KBPS

Gastr Del Sol consists primarily of Chicagoans Jim O'Rourke and former Squirrel Bait member David Grubbs. For the better part of the '90s, they've brought avant-garde concepts of experimental sound to a younger, ex-indie rock audience. Camofleur generally mined for experimental sounds, but this time they came from pop and folk. With echoes of Van Dyke Parks and John Fahey, Gastre shifted their focus from sound to arrangement, presenting tunes for the first time. Still, the music defied category, melding piano, acoustic guitar, strings, horns, tape noise, and deadpan da da lyrics into delicately abstract and melodic sound paintings. This is Art music at its most listenable, eluding your grasp rather than testing your patience.

1. Seasons Reverse
2. Blues Subtitled No Sense of Wonder
3. Black Horse
4. Each Dream Is an Example
5. Mouth Canyon
6. A Puff of Dew
7. Bauchredner

LOU REED

LOU REED
CONEY ISLAND BABY (1976)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

From 1972's Transformer onward, Lou Reed spent most of the '70s playing the druggy decadence card for all it was worth, with increasingly mixed results. But on 1976's Coney Island Baby, Reed's songwriting began to move into warmer, more compassionate territory, and the result was his most approachable album since Loaded. On most of the tracks, Reed stripped his band back down to guitar, bass, and drums, and the results were both leaner and a lot more comfortable than the leaden over-production of Sally Can't Dance or Berlin. "Crazy Feeling," "She's My Best Friend," and "Coney Island Baby" found Reed actually writing recognizable love songs for a change, and while Reed pursued his traditional interest in the underside of the hipster's life on "Charlie's Girl" and "Nobody's Business," he did so with a breezy, freewheeling air that was truly a relief after the lethargic tone of Sally Can't Dance. "Kicks" used an audio-tape collage to generate atmospheric tension that gave its tale of drugs and death a chilling quality that was far more effective than his usual blasé take on the subject, and "Coney Island Baby" was the polar opposite, a song about love and regret that was as sincere and heart-tugging as anything the man has ever recorded. Coney Island Baby sounds casual on the surface, but emotionally it's as compelling as anything Lou Reed released in the 1970s, and proved he could write about real people with recognizable emotions as well as anyone in rock music — something you might not have guessed from most of the solo albums that preceded it.

1. Crazy Feeling
2. Charley's Girl
3. She's My Best Friend
4. Kicks
5. A Gift
6. Ooohhh Baby
7. Nobody's Business
8. Coney Island Baby
Bonus Tracks
9. Nowhere At All
10. Downtown Dirt
11. Leave Me Alone
12. Crazy Feeling (alternate version)
13. She's My Best Friend (alternate version)
14. Coney Island Baby (alternate version)

YEZDA URFA

YEZDA URFA
BORIS (1975)
256 KBPS

Definitive set of mid-70s symphonic rock that will leave you wondering where these guys have been hiding... and they're Yanks, too. What makes this record stand out from the pile of Yes and Gentle Giant wannabes is the easy-going attitude and relaxed production - it was recorded as a demo after all - jumping from dazzling prog dowsed with walls of keys and guitars to Celtic pastorals and clever vocal arranging. You'll swear lead singer Rick Rodenbaugh is a woman, and sometimes the group strays into unsure waters flirting with Country ('Texas Armadillo'), commercial jazz and folk. But mostly it's just some of the best stateside symph you'll ever hear.
Clear inspiration is taken from the prog spectrum of their time including Giant, Renaissance, Gryphon, Caravan, Yes, ELP, a distant Crimson influence and even Zappa, yet somehow it's reconstituted in an unexpectedly original way with less academic pretense and more a desire to just play, 'Boris' at times sounding like the band walked into the studio one afternoon and said "Hey, let's make a record today". The album opens on a twee note but slowly builds and suddenly we have an instant unknown classic staring us in the face, with Phil Kimbrough's synths squealing nobly above a powerful backdrop of acoustic & electric axes, Brad Christoff's heroic drums hacking through layers of tough prog, and Mark Tippen's guitar the backbone. It's 10 minutes of music no classic era Prog lover should be without. Kimbrough's contemplative piano sets the tone for instrumental 'Almost 4.6 Yea', another wild and wonderful bit sounding quite cutting-edge for '75, and no lack of rock power. 'Tuta in the Moya' is playful and eclectic, splitting between crashes of freeform jazz, country rock, refrains of harpsichord and culminating in a beautifully extended chorale. And 'Three Tons of Fresh Thyroid Glands' is typically outstanding, tasteful but powerful and overflowing with maddening time signatures and absurd rhythmic tumbling.
Utterly recommended to almost anyone reading this review and an absolute joy to discover. Hats off to Greg Walker.

1. Boris And His 3 Verses, including Flow Guides Aren't My Bag
2. Texas Armadillo
3. 3, Almost 4, 6 Yea
4. Tuta In The Moya & Tyreczimmage
5. Three Tons Of Fresh Thyroid Glands

ROLLINS BAND

ROLLINS BAND
GET SOME GO AGAIN (2000)
320 KBPS

Nearing mid-life and showing no signs of cooling down, Henry Rollins - he of semi-truck tire neck, bulldog brows and philosophical comedy rants (oh, and former vocalist for hardcore punk vibratos Black Flag) - takes his aging with a steady dose of black back-to-basics, thanks to accompaniment from California punks Mother Superior (a wild bunch that includes old axe-swingers from Thin Lizzy and The MC5). Literaryily speaking, Rollins' saber-toothed righteousness is at full steam, chewing pitilessly through a host of mod social issues (macho stupidity, domestic violence, the failings of love, physical frailty, inner strength, er... scented candles?). But the thrash-a-millisecond verve of his past has been tightened to taut focus; crunching and heaving power rock as synchronized, menacing and purposeful as the approaching footsteps of a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex. It's rockin' post-punk for aging fellers sans buffoonery, full of noncognito classic rock sturm and drang finessed with potent arena riffing as relentless as shellfire in a military target practice and scented with a sour spritz of Black Sabbath simplicity. Rarely does any of it sound remotely like anything else in the hard rock dungeon, that it is, it ignores all the trappings of mod-metal, qualifying GSGA as mindless jackhammering punk/metal at it's smartest.

1. Illumination
2. Get Some Go Again
3. Monster
4. Love's So Heavy
5. Thinking Cap
6. Change It Up
7. I Go Day Glo
8. Are You Ready?
9. On the Day
10. You Let Yourself Down
11. Brother Interior
12. Hotter and Hotter
13. Illuminator
14. Money Train

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE
STAND! (1969)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

Stand! is the pinnacle of Sly & the Family Stone's early work, a record that represents a culmination of the group's musical vision and accomplishment. Life hinted at this record's boundless enthusiasm and blurred stylistic boundaries, yet everything simply gels here, resulting in no separation between the astounding funk, effervescent irresistible melodies, psychedelicized guitars, and deep rhythms. Add to this a sharpened sense of pop songcraft, elastic band interplay, and a flowering of Sly's social consciousness, and the result is utterly stunning. Yes, the jams ("Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey," "Sex Machine") wind up meandering ever so slightly, but they're surrounded by utter brilliance, from the rousing call to arms of "Stand!" to the unification anthem "Everyday People" to the unstoppable "I Want to Take You Higher." All of it sounds like the Family Stone, thanks not just to the communal lead vocals but to the brilliant interplay, but each track is distinct, emphasizing a different side of their musical personality. As a result, Stand! winds up infectious and informative, invigorating and thought-provoking — stimulating in every sense of the word. Few records of its time touched it, and Sly topped it only by offering its opposite the next time out.

1. Stand!
2. Don'T Call Me Nigger, Whitey
3. I Want To Take You Higher
4. Somebody'S Watching You
5. Sing A Simple Song
6. Everyday People
7. Sex Machine
8. You Can Make It If You Try
Bonus Tracks
9. Stand! (Single Version)
10. I Want To Take You Higher (Single Version)
11. You Can Make It If You Try (Single Version)
12. Soul Clappin' II
13. My Brain (Zig-Zag) (Instrumental Version)

NEIL YOUNG

NEIL YOUNG
THIS NOTE'S FOR YOU (1988)
320 KBPS

A collective groan from Neil Young fans could be heard when it was announced that, as his return to Reprise Records, Young was engaging in yet another genre experiment, this time recording blues and R&B with a six-piece horn section. If Landing on Water and Life had been lackluster, at least they hadn't been as embarrassing as Young's forays into rockabilly (Everybody's Rockin') and techno (Trans). And if you took This Note's for You on its own genre terms, it could be just as laughable. A song like "Sunny Inside," with its marching rhythm and charging horn charts, seemed to demand a forceful, gritty singer on the order of Wilson Pickett, and Young's watery tenor just didn't cut it. But the album was only half up-tempo numbers; the other half was bluesy ballads for which Young's singing was effective and on which he sounded more personally involved than he had in years. And even on the rockers, his sense of humor often carried the day. This Note's for You was the best of Young's stylistic side trips because it was the only one in which the style augmented his own instead of overwhelming him. The songs were mediocre, but the playing was spirited. The album earned much better reviews than Young had gotten lately, largely because critics tend to stand in awe of the blues in whatever form it appears. And Young got further kudos due to his contretemps with MTV when the video channel first declined to program a clip for the title song because it featured parodies of popular MTV artists and commercial sponsors, then caved in and named it Best Video of the Year. Lost in all that hoopla, however, was that record buyers never came to the party. This Note's for You was another commercial failure for Young, and it was apparent that, to lure back his audience, he would have to go back to making the kind of music his fans had liked a decade before.

1. Ten Men Working
2. This Note's For You
3. Coupe de Ville
4. Life In The City
5. Twilight
6. Married Man
7. Sunny Inside
8. Can't Believe Your Lyin'
9. Hey Hey
10. One Thing

WALTARI

WALTARI
TORCHA! (1992)
320 KBPS

My favourite album by Waltari, and I know many hardcore W-fans feel the same way. "Torcha!" also happens to be the first cd by a Finnish band that I ever bothered to buy (before it I did have a couple of vinyls and tapes).
Although this is a varied album, I think it sounds the most like a complete and tight unity of all the albums Waltari has done. The songs simply fit together. Here I would say thrash metal is the most obvious influence, as opposed to punk on the previous album. The material is amazingly strong: "Lights On", "The Lie Of The Zombie" (a track in my all-time Waltari top 5), "Dedicated To The Flyers", "Death Party" and the mighty "Fuckadelican Garden" (never mind the title)... For me, it's almost like a best of Waltari cd. The cover of Madonna's "Vogue" (with grunts in the chorus) is hilarious. Many of the less-know tracks also turn out to be hidden gems upon repeated listens.
Recommended!

1. Lights On
2. The Lie of the Zombie
3. I Held You So Long
4. Dedicated to the Flyers
5. Lust of Life
6. Vogue (Madonna cover)
7. Till the Music Nation
8. Fool's Gold
9. You Know Better
10. Dance Electric
11. Jukolauta
12. Death Party
13. I'm a Believer
14. Fuckadelican Garden
15. Waltari-lapio

PORCUPINE TREE

PORCUPINE TREE
SIGNIFY (1996)
320 KBPS

On Signify, Porcupine Tree become a full time band. Previous albums such as The Sky Moves Sideways had elements of the full band and Steve Wilson working as a solo artist. While that album and previous ones were excellent Signify demonstrates the progression in musical ideas.
Starting out with the ambient Bornlivedie and morphing into Signify listeners get a good idea of the evolving sound of Porcupine Tree. There is more drive without losing the ambience that makes PT so interesting.
Every Home Is Wired plays the technology issues of the future against PT's own brand of electronica meets progressive rock. Listen to Idiot Prayer, the song prior to Every Home Is Wired. It is a juxtiposition in thematic ideas.
This is another area that makes Porcupine Dream such an entertaining band. The subject matter which is mostly bleak to sardonic is a far cry from traditional radio friendly music yet one gets the feeling that with some promotion PT would do well on college and open format radio.
The other area that is a major advance is the programming of the album with excellent ebb and flow. At times rocking and alternatively similar to post rock electronic bands the mix of rock and soundscapes progress nicely making Signify a great listen in one sitting.
Very much a transitional release, Signify gives some indication of the one two punch of Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun to follow.

1. Bornlivedie
2. Signify
3. The Sleep of No Dreaming
4. Pagan
5. Waiting Phase One
6. Waiting Phase Two
7. Sever
8. Idiot Prayer
9. Every Home Is Wired
10. Intermediate Jesus
11. "Light Mass Prayers"
12. Dark Matter

SYD BARRETT

SYD BARRETT
BARRETT (1970)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

A founding member of Pink Floyd who suffered a mental breakdown in the late '60s, Syd Barrett is revered in some circles for his singular vision. While outtake recordings that have surfaced have sadly shown much of his psychic dislocation, his two solo albums he released have much idiosyncratic beauty to offer. Barrett is the second solo album, joining The Madcap Laughs as a solid representation of Barrett's innate tunefulness and bizarre, surrealist imagery. Produced by the Floyd's David Gilmour and Rick Wright and featuring Humble Pie's Jerry Shirley on drums, the album veers from lighthearted shuffling jug band tunes to the grand and majestic "Baby Lemonade," possibly Barrett's finest song. Several other Barrett staples such as "Dominoes," "Rats," "Gigolo Aunt," and "Effervescing Elephant" showcase Barrett's knack for unexpected chord changes and inventive rhythmic breaks. Ironically, Barrett's music is not some heavy "acid rock" trip but a free-spirited, openly optimistic, and folkie journey through one man's unusual mind.
1. Baby Lemonade
2. Love Song
3. Dominoes
4. It Is Obvious
5. Rats
6. Maisie
7. Gigolo Aunt
8. Waving My Arms in the Air
9. I Never Lied to You
10. Wined and Dined
11. Wolfpack
12. Effervescing Elephant
Bonus tracks
13. Baby Lemonade (Take 1)
14. Waving My Arms in the Air (Take 1)
15. I Never Lied to You (Take 1)
16. Love Song (Take 1)
17. Dominoes (Take 1)
18. Dominoes (Take 2)
19. It Is Obvious (Take 2)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MARILLION

MARILLION
LIVE FROM LORELEY (1988)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

By the time Marillion were recorded here, they had reached the peak of their creativity and delivering great shows. This gig captures that sort of performance and is a great summary of the band's career to that point.
There is a real sense of atmosphere during this concert and the musicianship involved in delivering these songs is virtually flawless, OK there are a few minor cock ups mainly on Fish's part but bear in mind this isnt some manufactured boy band drivell!! The penultimate moment has to be the Hotel Hobbies-Warm Wet Circles-That Time Of The Night Trio which put simpy is "Bloody Awesome". A must have from a dearly missed band.

Disc 1
1. Slainte Mhath
2. Assassing
3. Script For A Jester's Tear
4. White Russian
5. Incubus
6. Sugar Mice
7. Fugazi
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Disc 2
1. Hotel Hobbies
2. Warm Wet Circles
3. That Time Of The Night (The Short Straw)
4. Kayleigh
5. Lavender
6. Bitter Suite
7. Heart Of Lothian
8. The Last Straw
9. Incommunicado
Bonus Tracks
10. Garden Party
11. Market Square Heroes

VINNY GOLIA QUARTET

VINNY GOLIA QUARTET
SFUMATO (2005)
320 KBPS

Coined by Leonardo da Vinci, the term sfumato refers to a blending technique used to create a sense of depth through layering. This has certainly never been a problem for multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia, as this album demonstrates. For some, the West Coast’s de facto avant-garde scene leader, Golia’s brand of intricate free jazz needs little introduction. This session finds him in the company of like-minded masters once again; 1998’s marvelous Lineage (Nine Winds) featured the same lineup.
With legendary trumpeter Bobby Bradford—former John Carter and Ornette Coleman front-line foil—at his side, Golia sounds as though he’s been reunited with a soulmate. Golia’s multi-instrumentalism places him in direct competition with Anthony Braxton for who plays the most sundry horns. On Sfumato he limits himself to six, from sopranino saxophone to bass clarinet, allowing him a judicious tonal range. Golia’s varied timbre, encompassing a litany of moods from petulant dissonance to moody exotica, forms a rich contrast with Bradford’s wrenching inflection. They accompany each other with sporadic horn hits and subtle riffing, providing harmonic counterpoint as well as competitive inspiration.
Golia’s complex, interlocking structures reveal a composer’s thoroughness for dynamic detail. Constant shifts in tempo and rhythm abound, like rhythmic sonic minefields. Bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Alex Cline are veteran accomplices who know this music inside out, which is exactly how they play it. Filiano and Cline display their dexterity with the lock-step rhythm and zig-zag melody of “All Together Now”. Using metric modulation to vacillate between speeds, they taunt and challenge the horns, which bob and feint in response. Golia’s mutating bass clarinet solo transforms from apocalyptic keening to lyrical blues phrasing and fleet bop runs. Undeterred, Bradford exhibits a magisterial sense of melody with a fragile, but soulful tone.
In an already extensive discography, Sfumato stands out as one of Golia’s most exceptional records, featuring one of his best lineups. Paring down his large ensemble aspirations to focus on the core essentials of his writing, the result is stunning in its immediacy and level of interaction.
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1. That Was for Albert Phase 3
2. All Together Now
3. CBQ241
4. Monday at Eight, Just Black & White
5. That Was for Albert Phase 5
6. NBT
7. Transition of Power
8. Repitition
9. Small Group Caught in the Reel World

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT
AGENTS OF FORTUNE (1976)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

This is the fourth studio album from Blue Öyster Cult which was remastered and reissued on the Columbia/Legacy label. As with the other three reissues there are lyrics, photos, and liner notes by Lenny Kaye. In addition, there are four bonus tracks, none of which were previously released. "Agents of Fortune" was recorded in 1975 and 1976, and released in May of 1976. Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman were joined by David Lucas as producers of this album. This remastered CD was released on June 26th of 2001, and Bruce Dickinson produced the remastered version.
"Agents of Fortune" was the start of a new period for the group. The first three albums are often called their "black-and-white" period, and the live album "On Your Feet or On Your Knees" marked the end of that period. This album has a number of memorable songs, such as "This Ain't The Summer of Love", "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)", "The Revenge of Vera Gemini", and the too often overlooked "Morning Final". Of course, it is best known for "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" which is one of the greatest Rock songs of all time.
The four bonus tracks consist of songs which were considered for the album. "Fire of Unknown Origin" was an outtake which would appear on an album of the same name five years later, although this is a significantly different version of the song than the one which would eventually be released. "Sally" was demoed for the album, but not used. It later was used by Albert Bouchard on "Trepanation", which was the 1995 release from his band "The Brain Surgeons". The third bonus track is the original demo for "(Don't Fear) The Reaper". "Dance the Night Away" is another demo which was eventually used by Jim Carroll (who co-wrote the song with Allen Lanier) on his "I Write Your Name" album. Essential.

1. This Ain't The Summer Of Love
2. True Confessions
3. (Don't Fear) The Reaper
4. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
5. The Revenge Of Vera Gemini
6. Sinful Love
7. Tattoo Vampire
8. Morning Final
9. Tenderloin
10. Debbie Denise
Bonus Tracks
11. Fire Of Unknown Origin (Unreleased Outtake)
12. Sally (Unreleased Outtake)
13. (Don't Fear) The Reaper (Demo)
14. Dance The Night Away (Demo)

JOHN LEE HOOKER

JOHN LEE HOOKER
MR. LUCKY (1991)
320 KBPS

When one of the most revered blues guitarists asks for help on his album, there is no shortage of great talent to show up. The likes of Santana, Ry Cooder, Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, John Hammond, and Robert Cray (to name just a few) come out in support of "Mr. Lucky", the follow up guest album to "The Healing". But, John Lee Hooker doesn't need all of this talent to put out a great blues album.
Robert Cray shows up on the title cut of this album providing some great leads to Hooker's rhythm. A tune that makes Hooker "... feel a little better". Albert Collins steps in for "Backstabbers" providing a powerful presence that only he was capable of. All you have to hear is one note of Collins to know it's him. "I Cover the Waterfront" is a haunting tune with Van Morrison taking over the guitar work and Booker T. Jones on organ. Morrison's voice complements the low-boom of Hooker's. Another highlight is Santana's work on "Stripped Me Naked".
Hooker's Delta Blues sound is hypnotizing, and his deep voice is lazy and sweet. There are very few that have shaped the sound of music, especially the blues, as he has. This album, a tribute of sorts, is a must for blues lovers. To hear so much talent gathered in one place playing with a legend like Hooker gives me the chills.

1. I Want to Hug You
2. Mr. Lucky
3. Back Stabbers
4. This Is Hip
5. I Cover the Waterfront
6. Highway 13
7. Stripped Me Naked
8. Susie
9. Crawlin' King Snake
10. Father Was a Jockey

Monday, October 26, 2009

REGINA SPEKTOR

REGINA SPEKTOR
FAR (2009)
320 KBPS

"Far" is the follow-up to 2006's album "Begin to Hope", whose catchy tunes and quirky blend of folk-pop propelled the Russian-born New York songstress from the obscurity of New York's bar circuit to the fame and fortune of David Letterman and adverts for Vodafone. "Begin To Hope" saw numerous tracks used on the likes of Grey's Anatomy (this is known as the Gary Lightbody's Goldplated Mansion Method). Any criticism of "Begin To Hope" however stemmed from it's accessibility, the edges were smooth and the eccentricities muted. With those reservations in mind, it's nice to listen to a record to hear that features amongst its treats Regina imitating a dolphin and telling the story of a lost wallet. Three years on, this CD is just as remarkable and whimsical.
At first listen the polished production threatens to push Spektor into Middle-Of-the-Road Katie Melua territory, but her uncanny ability to write melodies that are simultaneously familiar and challenging, coupled with lyrics that are idiosyncratic yet everyday (from an expose of atheism to an aria on a lost wallet) make this a richly rewarding album.
"She enlists four producers - ex-ELO frontman Jeff Lynne (Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney), Jacknife Lee (Editors, Bloc Party) and Fiona Apple mentor Mike Elizondo among them - to perfectly frame a baker's dozen of tracks that take idiosyncrasy to delicious new heights of oddball inventiveness"..."Far showcases a singer-songwriter of considerable (if occasionally unfocused to the point of unhinged) ability. But behind Spektor's cutesy cartoon outlines lie songs full of adult drama and detail that catch the imagination when you're least expecting them to". -BBC
Talking about one of the four producers, Jeff Lynne, Regina admits that she didn't know who he was when she hired him, but the decision to recruit ELO lush soundscapes' maestro to produce numerous tracks on her fifth studio album has proven a happy accident. In fact he adds sumptuousness to tracks such as "Blue Lips", but the Russian New Yorker is too restless to stay in one mode for long. She's at her best telling intimate, piano-based fables on the environment, and at her worst when making direct statements (the atheist-bashing banality of "Laughing With", where she sings "No one laughs at God when the doctor calls after some routine tests/ No one's laughing at God when it's gotten real late/ And their kid's not back from the party yet").
All in all, "Far" is a unique and interesting journey that, whilst failing to match the highs of "Soviet Kitsch" shows progression from "Begin To Hope" and finds a nice balance between the odd and the beautiful. Take your time, don't rush, the album will grow on you.


1. The Calculation
2. Eet
3. Blue Lips
4. Folding Chair
5. Machine
6. Laughing With
7. Human Of The Year
8. Two Birds
9. Dance Anthem Of The 80's
10. Genius Next Door
11. Wallet
12. One More Time With Feeling
13. Man Of A Thousand Faces
Bonus Tracks
14. Time Is All Around
15. The Sword & the Pen
16. Laughing With (Video Mix)
17. Dance Anthem of the 80's (Video Mix)
18. Eet (Video Mix)
19. Man of a Thousand Faces (Video Mix)

CURTIS ELLER

CURTIS ELLER'S AMERICAN CIRCUS
WIREWALKERS AND ASSASSINS (2008)
320 KBPS

Banjo player and singer Curtis Eller has a distinctly leftfield slant to his brand of Americana. He sings of presidents, Jack Ruby and Elvis to a stripped down folk sound.
"John Wilkes Booth (Don't Make Us Beg)" is a merry toe tapping tribute to the presidential assassin. Eller has an acid tongue and an eye for the absurd. "Sugar For the Horses" is no less special, a catchy song that references Elvis and has a great backing vocal by Liisa Yonker. "The Curse of Cain" is a song with a heavy heart that speaks of Booth again and somehow sounds sad. "Abraham Lincoln Had It Coming" notes Booth in the song. I think Eller is after a comparison with today's America and not liking what he sees. He pens a loving tribute to his won daughter in between all this and ends the album by wanting to be saved by the boxer Joe Louis. The wayward and elusive Eller seems like he wants to make an exceptional album and he just has.

1. After the Soil Fails
2. John Wilkes Booth (Don't Make Us Beg)
3. Hartford Circus Fire, 1944
4. Sugar for the Horses
5. The Curse of Cain
6. Sweatshop Fire
7. Plea of the Aerialist's Wife
9. Daisy Josephine
9. Firing Squad
10. Save Me Joe Louis

BOB MARLEY

BOB MARLEY
DREAMS OF FREEDOM:
AMBIENT TRANSLATIONS OF BOB MARLEY IN DUB (1997)
320 KBPS

To coincide with the electronica revolution of the late '90s, Bill Laswell remixed a number of Bob Marley records as ambient dub for the Dreams of Freedom: Ambient Translations of Bob Marley in Dub album. If these songs were remixed by any other producer, the results could have been disastrous, but Laswell is one of the masters of intellectual dub — he knows what to take out and what to add, creating a spacious, cavernous mix that is provocative without being extreme. Some longtime Marley fans will balk at the very idea of the album, but the results are undeniably impressive, even if it's a little too restrained and cerebral.

1. Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)
2. No Woman No Cry
3. The Heathen
4. Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)
5. Waiting In Vain
6. So Much Trouble In The World
7. Exodus
8. Burnin' And Lootin'
9. Is This Love
10. One Love (People Get Ready)
11. Midnight Ravers

SCORPIONS

SCORPIONS
SAVAGE AMUSEMENT (1988)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

By 1988 alot of things had changed in the musical landscape. Newer but not neccesarily better production techniques were being used and everyone from Judas Priest to Yes were using more "modern" sounding things like drum machines or an "echoey" mix. Now the Scorpions are "guilty" in using some of these techniques on this album, and all songs seem tailored to be hits, BUT, this album is not without great songs that can match up to anything from "Blackout" or "Love at First Sting". "Rhythm of Love" and especially the very inspiring "Don't Stop at the Top" can be definitely called classic songs. Good for the hardcore fan and some of the last truly melodious material they worked with.

1. Don't Stop At The Top
2. Rhythm Of Love
3. Passion Rules The Game
4. Media Overkill
5. Walking On The Edge
6. We Let It Rock...You Let It Roll
7. Every Minute Every Day
8. Love On The Run
9. Believe In Love

Sunday, October 25, 2009

WHAT IT IS!

WHAT IT IS!
FUNKY SOUL AND RARE GROOVES (2006)
320 KBPS

Funk emerged in the 1960s, a scorching sound that amped up the spirit of R&B and became the precursor to hip-hop. While major artists topped the charts with funk hits throughout the '60s and '70s, What It Is! celebrates the smaller ones—the heady, groove-monstrous strain of gutbucket funk that remains a major force in American music.
A four-CD, 91-track compendium that would take incalculable hours to assemble from dusty bins at disappearing record shops, What It Is! is culled mainly from the treasure-filled vaults of Atlantic, Atco, and Warner Bros. Records. It's an unprecedented shadow history of funk, pulling together rare sides from well-known artists and definitive grooves from lesser known but supremely gifted masters of the art form.


Disc 1
1. Spreadin' Honey - The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
2. Soul Finger - The Bar-Kays,
3. Shadow of Your Smile - Jack McDuff
4. Gangster of Love, Pts. 1 & 2 - Jimmy Norman
5. Memphis Train - Rufus Thomas
6. Get out of My Life Woman - Grassella Oliphant
7. Live Right Now - Eddie Harris
8. Pig Snoots, Pt. 1 - Natural Bridge Bunch
9. Soul Sound System - Wayne Henderson
10. Snatching It Back - Clarence Carter
11. Stoned Soul - Artie Christophher
12. Getting the Corners - TSU Tornadoes
13. Sexy Coffee Pot - Tony Alvon & The Belairs
14. Don't Come Around Here Anymore - Mark Putney
15. Keep on Dancing - The Commodores
16. Right on Brother, Pt. 1 - South Shore Commission
17. Pop, Popcorn Children - Eldridge Holmes
18. It's Your Thing - Cold Grits
19. It's All in Your Mind - Soul Angels
20. Funky John - Johnny Cameron & the Camerons
21. Help Me Make Up My Mind - Joyce Jones
22. Rock Me Baby - Lou Johnson
23. Sing a Simple Song - Noble Knights
24. Do You Dig It - Titus Turner
25. Funky Canyon - Phil Moore, Jr.
26. Jan Jan - Fabulous Counts
27. Tampin - The Rhine Oaks

Disc 2
1. Gossip - Cyril Neville
2. Somebody in the World for You - The Mighty Hannibal
3. Stanga - Little Sister
4. Jumpin' Jack Flash - Ananda Shankar
5. Deacon - Brute Force
6. Sookie Sookie - Don Covay & the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band
7. Right On - Clarence Wheeler & the Enforcers
8. (Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go - Curtis Mayfield
9. Stepping Stones - Johnny Harris
10. I'm Just Like You - Gix
11. Funky Thing, Pt. 1 - Unemployed
12. Messie Bessie - Shirley Scott
13. Fairchild - Willie West
14. Cold Bear - The Gaturs
15. I Can't Get Next to You - Mongo Santamaria
16. Feelin' Alright - Lulu
17. Soul Bowel - The Memphis Horns
18. Tuane - Hammer
19. Take It Off, Pt. 2 - Johnny Tolbert & De Thangs
20. Seeds of Life - Harlem River Drive
21. Engine Number 9 - Wilson Pickett

Disc 3
1. Hard Times - Baby Huey & the Baby Sitters
2. What So Never the Dance, Pts. 1 & 2 - Houseguests
3. Headless Heroes - Eugene McDaniels
4. Spinning Wheel - Wade Marcus
5. Bad Tune - Earth, Wind & Fire
6. Mr. Cool - Rasputin's Stash
7. Don't Cha Hear Me Callin' to Ya - Junior Mance
8. Hang on in There - Stovall Sisters
9. Funky Nassau, Pt. 2 - The Beginning of the End
10. Whatever's Fair - Mark Holder & the Positives
11. Face It - Ed Robinson
12. Wah Wah Man - Young-Holt Unlimited
13. Rock Steady [Alternate Mix] - Aretha Franklin
14. Won't Nobody Listen - Black Haze Express
15. Goin' Down - Allen Toussaint
16. Suavecito - Malo
17. You Gotta Know Whatcha Doin' - Charles Wright
18. Mo Jo Hanna - Teri Lynn
19. Ridin' Thumb - King Curtis
20. Almendra - Macondo
21. Nuki Suki - Little Richard

Disc 4
1. Getting Uptown (To Get Down) - United B
2. 8 Days on the Road - Howard Tate
3. Moon Shadow - Labelle
4. Let It Crawl - Society's Bag
5. Wanaoh - Black Heat
6. If It Was Good Enough for Daddy - Clarence Reid
7. Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky - Claudia Lennear
8. Cosmic Sea - Mystic Moods Orchestra
9. Kissing My Love - Cold Blood
10. Flute Thing - Seatrain
11. Chug Chug Chug-A-Lug (Push N' Shove), Pt. 2 - The Meters
12. Funky to the Bone - Freddi & Henchi & the Soulsetters
13. Try It Again - Bobby Byrd
14. Teasin' - Cornell Dupree
15. (Everybody Wanna Get Rich) Rite Away - Dr. John
16. Chicken Heads - Oscar Brown, Jr.
17. Rien Ne Va Plus - Funk Factory
18. Cajun Moon - Herbie Mann
19. Improve - Darrow Fletcher
20. Riding High - Faze-O
21. Four Play - Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns
22. California Dreamin' - Eddie Hazel

Saturday, October 24, 2009

CHARLELIE COUTURE

CHARLELIE COUTURE

With his distinctive husky drawl and his strong regional accent, CharlElie Couture is one of the most colourful figures to have emerged from the new French music scene. Equally at home sitting behind his piano or strumming his acoustic guitar, CharlElie has experimented with a number of different musical styles in the course of his career, exploring rock and electronic music before re-discovering the blues on his latest album. CharlElie has not only made a name for himself as a talented singer/songwriter, he has also established an excellent reputation as a painter, photographer and producer.
On his 1987 & 1988 double set "Solo Boys/Solo Girls", and despite what the title might lead you to believe, Mister Couture did not commit a concept album about onanism. Here, Charlelie explored a world of solitude and 20th century alienation - themes which appeared to have become firm favourites with the talented singer/songwriter. CharlElie's album turned out to be something of a family affair, for the singer's brother Tom Novembre helped him produce "La Suprême dimension" (the first single release from the album) and also directed the accompanying video. The following year CharlElie returned to the studio to record "Solo Girls" the sequel album to "Solo Boys". Most of the tracks on this new album had been written around the same time as the songs on "Solo Boys", so the two fitted neatly together as a kind of extended double album. One of the most outstanding tracks on "Solo Girls" was the extremely popular "Aime-moi encore au moins".

SOLO BOYS (1987)
320 KBPS
1. La Suprême Dimension Zarathoustra Rock
2. Tu Joues Toujours
3. Keep On Movin' Esmeralda 2nd
4. Solo Boy
5. Jacky
6. Bemol Boogie
7. Guitarist
8. Demain Ailleurs
9. L'histoire De Bernard Workers
10. Longues Distances Calling

SOLO GIRLS (1988)
320 KBPS
1. Solo Girl
2. Elle N'aime Pas Ça
3. Violente Passion
4. Suria Devi
5. Rachel
6. Juanita La Méduse
7. Cindy Fait Semblant
8. Le Sens De Sa Vie
9. Aime Moi Encore Au Moins
10. Golden Fish

JANIS JOPLIN

JANIS JOPLIN
WITH BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY
LIVE AT WINTERLAND '68 (1998)

320 KBPS

This belated collection of Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company tracks features 14 performances, a dozen of which debut here. Of the two familiar selections, the version of "Ball and Chain" here is the same one that graces Cheap Thrills, and "Bye Bye Baby" can be heard on In Concert. No matter if it's not quite the definitive Big Brother album; it is nonetheless a hell of a lot of fun. Big Brother's playing is intense and relatively tight. A magnificent moment is heard in "I Need a Man to Love" when Joplin urges the band on. "C'mon boys, play," she prods, and a stunning Sam Andrews guitar solo ensues. If you've never heard Joplin do "Summertime," grab this album. If you have, grab it anyway. It's wonderful.

1. Down On Me
2. Flower In The Sun
3. I Need A Man To Love
4. Bye Bye Baby
5. Easy Rider
6. Combination Of The Two
7. Farewell Song
8. Piece Of My Heart
9. Catch Me Daddy
10. Magic Of Love
11. Summertime
12. Light Is Faster Than Sound
13. Ball And Chain
14. Down On Me

MACDONALD AND GILES

MCDONALD AND GILES
MCDONALD AND GILES (1971)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

Former King Crimson members Ian McDonald & Michael Giles recorded this set shortly after leaving the British prog-rock group in 1969. They enlisted the help of Traffic vocalist/ keyboardist Steve Winwood and released this album in 1970. Songs like 'Flight of the Ibis' & 'Is She Waiting' were standard pop fare of the time, but "Birdman" was the obligatory album side long track that is the set's focal point. Allegedly, Robert Fripp wanted the song for King Crimson's "In The Wake Of Poseidon" and paid homage to the track on his first solo album "Exposure". McDonald in later years co-founded Foreigner and Giles went on to become a session player. Their moment in time still stands as a favorite of prog rockers worldwide for a reason. Get it.

1. Suite in C
2. Flight of the Ibis
3. Is She Waiting?
4. Tomorrow's People - The Children of Today
Birdman
5. The Inventor's Dream (O.U.A.T.)
6. The Workshop
7. Wishbone Ascension
8. irdman Flies!
9. Wings in the Sunset
10. The Reflection

WEATHER REPORT

WEATHER REPORT
HEAVY WEATHER (1977)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter didn't truly fulfill Weather Report's artistic and commercial potential until they brought on-board a bassist who could function as an equal partner in the musical equation, like co-founder Miroslav Vitous, whose main shortcoming was his inability to play funk. In renegade bassist Jaco Pastorius, the band found a formidable composer and improvisor, who possessed deep roots in funk and R&B, yet was equally at home in modern jazz and Afro-Cuban settings. Not coincidentally, the presence of this innovative fretless bassist on Heavy Weather gave Weather Report the rhythmic/melodic dimension it had been missing since Vitous's departure, as evidenced by his voice-like declamations on Zawinul's ballad "A Remark You Made." On Zawinul's chart-topping, big band-styled arrangement of "Birdland," Pastorius provided the kind of big, sweeping orchestral gestures the tune required, while on the shifting canvas of Wayne Shorter's "Harlequin," the bassist's ability to articulate complex chords allowed him to function as a string section unto himself. And on his own "Havona," Pastorius not only soloed with horn-like artistry, but combined with drummer Alex Acuna and percussionist Manolo Badrena to give Weather Report its funkiest rhythm section ever.

1. Birdland
2. A Remark You Made
3. Teen Town
4. Harlequin
5. Rumba Mama
6. Palladium
7. The Juggler
8. Havona

Friday, October 23, 2009

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE
CROWN OF CREATION (1968)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

The group's fourth album, appearing ten months following After Bathing at Baxter's, isn't the same kind of leap forward that Baxter's represented from Surrealistic Pillow. Indeed, in many ways, Crown of Creation is a more conservative album stylistically, opening with "Lather," a Grace Slick original that was one of the group's very last forays (and certainly their last prominent one) into a folk idiom. Much of what follows is a lot more based in electric rock, as well as steeped in elements of science fiction (specifically author John Wyndham's book The Chrysalids) in several places, but Crown of Creation was still deliberately more accessible musically than its predecessor, even as the playing became more bold and daring within more traditional song structures. Jack Casady by this time had developed one of the most prominent and distinctive bass sounds in American rock, as identifiable (if not quite as bracing) as John Entwistle's was with the Who, as demonstrated on "In Time," "Star Track," "Share a Little Joke," "If You Feel," (where he's practically a second lead instrument), and the title song, and Jorma Kaukonen's slashing, angular guitar attack was continually surprising as his snaking lead guitar parts wended their way through "Star Track" and "Share a Little Joke." The album also reflected the shifting landscape of West Coast music with its inclusion of "Triad," a David Crosby song that Crosby's own group, the Byrds, had refused to release -- its presence (the only extant version of the song for a number of years) was a forerunner of the sound that would later be heard on Crosby's own debut solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name (on which Slick, Paul Kantner, and Casady would appear). The overall album captured the group's rapidly evolving, very heavy live sound within the confines of some fairly traditional song structures, and left ample room for Slick and Marty Balin to express themselves vocally, with Balin turning in one of his most heartfelt and moving performances on "If You Feel." "Ice Cream Phoenix" pulses with energy and "Greasy Heart" became a concert standard for the group -- the studio original of the latter is notable for Slick's most powerful vocal performance since "Somebody to Love." And the album's big finish, "The House at Pooneil Corners," seemed to fire on all cylinders, their amps cranked up to ten (maybe 11 for Casady), and Balin, Slick, and Kantner stretching out on the disjointed yet oddly compelling tune and lyrics. It didn't work 100 percent, but it made for a shattering finish to the album. Crown of Creation has been reissued on CD several times, including a Mobile Fidelity audiophile edition at the start of the '90s, but in 2003, RCA released a remastered edition with four bonus tracks from the same sessions including the mono single mix of "Share a Little Joke," the previously unreleased 8 minute "The Saga of Sydney Spacepig," Spencer Dryden's co-authored "Ribump Ba Bap Dum Dum," which is a spaced-out assembly of noises, effects, and pop-culture catch-phrases, and the more accessible "Would You Like a Snack?," an atonal piece of musical scatology featuring Grace Slick and co-authored by Slick and Frank Zappa.

1. Lather
2. In Time
3. Triad
4. Star Track
5. Share A Little Joke
6. Chushingura
7. If You Feel
8. Crown Of Creation
9. Ice Cream Phoenix
10. Greasy Heart
11. The House At Pooneil Corners
Bonus tracks
12. Ribumbabap Rubadubaoumoum
13. Would You Like A Snack
14. Share A Little Joke (Mono Single Version)
15. The Saga Of Sydney Spacepig

ALAIN SOUCHON

ALAIN SOUCHON
TOTO 30 ANS, RIEN QUE DU MALHEUR... (1978)
320 KBPS

Fourth album from Alain Souchon, "Toto 30 ans, Rien que du Malheur" is also one of his very best. On this one, Alain displays the same fragile grace he did on the previous but with more adult themes aka themes of lost youth. There's not one single weak song here and the production and arrangements, typical of the French chanson of the 70s add an undeniable charm to the lot.
As with his previous offerings, the biggest disappointment here is how short the album is (around 36 minutes) but the quality of the album saves the day. A must hear for anyone into French chanson and quality music.

1. Le Bagad De Lann-Bihoué
2. Frenchy Bébé Blues
3. Le Dégoût
4. L'Amour En Fuite
5. Nouveau
6. Papa Mambo
7. Cosy Corner
8. Toto 30 Ans
9. Lulu
10. J'Etais Pas Là
11. Bagad (Reprise)

SONIC YOUTH

SONIC YOUTH
EXPERIMENTAL JET SET, TRASH AND NO STAR (1994)
320 KBPS

Whereas Dirty and its predecessors were loud, distorted, and bordering on the fine line between pop and noise, Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star did away with the ear-bleeding guitar feedback so often attributed to the group. The group retained its quirky twist on pop/rock song structures, moving even closer to a consistent use of the verse-chorus-verse template. Of course, the disregard for mosh-friendly guitar riffs, lack of crowd-surfing intensity, and increasing traces of normalcy killed a large part of the group's momentous surge in popular acceptance, damning them once again to the status of often misunderstood artists. Popular opinion may have wanted more rock than what Sonic Youth wanted to deliver on this album, yet upon careful inspection, Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star still out-noises the majority of its peers. Butch Vig's clean production makes the album seem clean, when in actuality it is nearly as dirty as the group's preceding effort. Songs such as "Starfield Road" and the acoustic song "Winner's Blues" emanate plenty of raw spontaneity, even with Vig's crystal clear production. Relative to Sonic Youth's greater body of work, the album does seem rather sedate, though. The noises resonate subtly rather than mangle one's eardrum. In sum, this record must be considered the closest the group has ever gone to straight-ahead pop/rock. With all of the feedback, murky production, incoherent song structuring, and rambunctious charisma stripped away, what remains are odd lyrics and unique guitar nuance. In other words, Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star features the underlying foundation of the group's music standing naked, without any of their traditionally excessive static to heighten it.

1. Winner's Blues
2. Bull In The Heather
3. Starfield Road
4. Skink
5. Screaming Skull
6. Self-Obsessed And Sexxee
7. Bone
8. Androgynous Mind
9. Quest For The Cup
10. Waist
11. Doctor's Orders
12. Tokyo Eye
13. In The Mind Of The Bourgeois Reader
14. Sweet Shine

EUROPE

EUROPE
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN (1986)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

One of the most glorious launches in history, the title track for the thrice-platinum The Final Countdown is so bombastically brilliant, such glorious garbage, that this nuclear hair assault could only spew from the vacuous '80s. But the full-tilt follow-up "Rock the Night" rules also: "You know it ain't easy/Running out of thrills." "Carrie" comes off a consummate butane ballad. Meanwhile, the rest of the disc packs so much power that Swedish superheroes Europe get away with all the processed pretension. In fact, the lofty ambition of "Danger on the Track," "Ninja," and "Cherokee" (each as tasty as its title) combines with heated drive and hot delivery to meld The Final Countdown into a unique portrait of propulsive prog and a worthy addition to any hard rock collection. This is the story; this is the legend told by Teutonic guitars and predictable keyboards ringing pure and hurtling through each and every convention perfectly. The quintet's big-boy Epic inaugural, The Final Countdown deftly combines the Valhalla victory of Europe's heroic debut with the American poodle pomposity that devoured the band. You could live without The Final Countdown, but why?

1. The Final Countdown
2. Rock The Night
3. Carrie
4. Danger On The Track
5. Ninja
6. Cherokee
7. Time Has Come
8. Heart Of Stone
9. On The Loose
10. Love Chaser
Bonus tracks
11. The Final Countdown (Live)
12. Danger On The Track (Live)
13. Carrie (Live)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MARILLION

MARILLION
THE THIEVING MAGPIE (LA GAZZA LADRA) (1988)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

This double CD Live set provides the uninitiated with a snapshot of the early career (first four albums) of one of the most unique prog rock outfits ever, and shows these five guys in their natural habitat, LIVE. I saw Marillion several times in the eighties, always at Hammersmith Odeon or The Marquee Club and they always did the business. This album is also notable as the last hurrah for the Fish era. The songs on disc 1 are an eclectic mix from the two and fourth albums, although they are not on the disc in chronological order. The Thieving Magpie disc 1, has great renditions of Chelsea Monday, Script, Sugar Mice, Incommunicado, White Russian, and disc 2 recites Misplaced Childhood practically note for note. I bought this CD shortly after it's release in '88 and still love it today. It was as good a way to say goodbye to Fish as any and remains a great album to pull out whenever you hear someone whinge about how appalling the music was in the eighties.

Disc One
1. Intro-La Gazza Ladra
2. Slàinte Mhath
3. He Knows You Know
4. Chelsea Monday
5. Freaks
6. Jigsaw
7. Punch and Judy
8. Sugar Mice
9. Fugazi
10. Script for a Jester's Tear
11. Incommunicado
12. White Russian

Disc Two
1. Pseudo Silk Kimono
2. Kayleigh
3. Lavender
4. Bitter Suite
5. Heart of Lothian
6. Waterhole (Expresso Bongo)
7. Lords of the Backstage
8. Blind Curve
9. Childhood's End?
10. White Feather

OLIVER NELSON

OLIVER NELSON
THE BLUES AND THE ABSTRACT TRUTH (1961)
REMASTER
320 KBPS

As Oliver Nelson is known primarily as a big band leader and arranger, he is lesser known as a saxophonist and organizer of small ensembles. Blues and the Abstract Truth is his triumph as a musician for the aspects of not only defining the sound of an era with his all-time classic "Stolen Moments," but on this recording, assembling one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever. Lead trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is at his peak of performance, while alto saxophonists Nelson and Eric Dolphy (Nelson doubling on tenor) team to form an unlikely union that was simmered to perfection. Bill Evans (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums) can do no wrong as a rhythm section. "Stolen Moments" really needs no comments, as its undisputable beauty shines through in a three-part horn harmony fronting Hubbard's lead melody. It's a thing of beauty that is more timeless as the years pass. The "Blues" aspect is best heard on "Yearnin'," a stylish, swinging, and swaying downhearted piece that is a bluesy as Evans would ever be. Both "Blues" and "Abstract Truth" combine for the darker "Teenie's Blues," a feature for Nelson and Dolphy's alto saxes, Dolphy assertive in stepping forth with his distinctive, angular, dramatic, fractured, brittle voice that marks him a maverick. Then there's "Hoedown," which has always been the black sheep of this collection with its country flavor and stereo separated upper and lower horn in snappy call-and-response barking. As surging and searing hard boppers respectively, "Cascades" and "Butch & Butch" again remind you of the era of the early '60s when this music was king, and why Hubbard was so revered as a young master of the idiom. This CD is a must buy for all jazz collectors, and a Top Ten-Fifty favorite for many.
1. Stolen Moments
2. Hoe Down
3. Cascades
4. Yearnin'
5. Butch And Butch
6. Teenie's Blues

NEBULA

NEBULA
ATOMIC RITUAL (2003)
256 KBPS

The cover art for Atomic Ritual suggests Nebula's quest for the melding of inner and outer space — or something equally hazy and vaguely profound conjured up amidst all the bong resin and empty, crumpled Cheetos bags. Of course, Nebula treads heavily within the realm of stoner rock — in other words (and setting aside any ridiculous categorizations), this hard-working power trio sounds like it has been hanging out in the garage since 1973, blissfully unaware of the changing world outside. Which is definitely to its benefit because this, the band's third full-length, boasts consistently entertaining songwriting and the production hand of desert-rock hero Chris Goss, who captures Nebula's sound while simultaneously enhancing it. He carefully and brilliantly melds warm, '70s fuzz tones with the grit and fury necessitated by gifted guitarist Eddie Glass' raucous, overdriven Stooges riffs. Hence the up-tempo thunder-and-rumble of "So It Goes"; the garage punk freakouts of "More" and the title track; the wavering space echo of "The Beast" and "Strange Human"; the flanged acoustic guitar and lazy Mellotron warbles of "Paradise Engineer"; and the hook-ridden, coulda-been-AM-radio-hits "The Way to Venus" and "Carpe Diem." Notably, there's very little filler and plenty of hooks to be found on Atomic Ritual, and the group manages to somehow work its meandering sonic indulgences — hyperactive drumming, phaser-pedal whooshes and swooshes, guitar solos — into arrangements that never top the five-minute mark. Sure, Nebula wears its myriad of influences on its dusty, tattered sleeve — early Monster Magnet, Mudhoney, the MC5, Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Blue Cheer — but bottom line, Atomic Ritual is a thoroughly enjoyable listen and a surprisingly focused piece of work considering the band's penchant for psychotropic space rock.

1. Atomic Ritual
2. So It Does
3. Carpe Diem
4. More
5. The Beast
6. Out Of Your Head
7. The Way To Venus
8. Paradise Engineer
9. Electric Synapse
10. Strange Human
11. Fin

SUEDE

SUEDE
A NEW MORNING (2002)
320 KBPS

When Bernard Butler left the band all thoe many years ago, few would have guessed that with him left the dangerous, romantic noir vibe that fueled Suede's first two albums. After all, Brett Anderson was supposed to be the Byronic prince of darkness, and without Butler around, it only made sense that he would indulge his taste for the theatrical. It didn't turn out that way, of course. The band hired young Richard Oakes and refashioned themselves as a glammy, fizzy guitar pop band whose elegantly wasted ballads were tales of love found, not love lost. Suede's fifth album, A New Morning, confirms that this band isn't about to release another Dog Man Star anytime soon, or even turn out a "Whipsnade," since they're now all about "Positivity," as the opening track and lead single crisply announces. Once that disappointment fades — Suede did tragic romantic better than anybody, and it's hard not to wish they still did it — it's easy to appreciate A New Morning as another solid, succinct collection of tuneful, stylish modern-day glam pop, nearly the equal of Coming Up, whose blueprint this follows to a tee. Song for song, it's better and more consistent than Head Music — whose dabbling in vague electronic now seems mildly dated and whose songwriting seems slight — thanks partially to Stephen Street's focused, flattering production, but also due to a sharp set of songs, highlighted not just by "Positivity," "Lost in TV," "When the Rain Falls" (where the piano sounds lifted from a Vince Guaraldi Peanuts special), and "Lonely Girls," but a triptych of songs that inexplicably borrow their titles from classic rock songs ("Beautiful Loser," "Street Life," "One Hit to the Body"). Plus, there's no denying that Suede does this music better than anybody else (and they sound both loose and muscular here), and that Anderson's voice is aging marvelously, sounding quite fetching with a slight hint of booze and tobacco wear. So, A New Morning isn't a new beginning, nor does it take many risks, but it does find Suede in top form with good songs and an appealing record. You might wish that it was a little more than that, but you'll be satisfied by what it is.

1. Positivity
2. Obsessions
3. Lonely Girls
4. Lost in TV
5. Beautiful Loser
6. Streetlife
7. Astrogirl
8.Untitled/Morning
9. One Hit to the Body
10. When the Rain Falls

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

EYAL MAOZ'S EDOM

EYAL MAOZ'S EDOM
HOPE AND DESTRUCTION (2009)
320 KBPS

Raise your fist. Now extend your index finger and pinky. This album rocks. The second album by Eyal Maoz’s Edom, just out on Tzadik, is a nonchalantly dark blend of pounding instrumental metal and surf music with brooding Middle Eastern flourishes. The obvious comparison is Texas cult instrumentalists Intodown, with a slightly more ornate, noisy sensibility. In this power quartet, multi-faceted guitarist/composer Maoz is backed by keyboardist Brian Marsella (of Cyro Baptista’s band and the fascinating melodic jazz ensemble the Flail) along with a plodding rhythm section. From the first few bars of the first song, it becomes clear that these guys really don’t have a clue about surf music. But that’s cool. That’s what gives them an original sound. The Yardbirds didn’t have a clue about blues either, and nobody can say that they didn’t rock.
As you would expect from a bunch of guys with a jazz background, they vary the tempos and dynamics. Maoz sets down eerie, often anguished layers of noise and feedback over simple, catchy chromatic vamps. Marsella utilizes several keyboard patches: quavery Vox organ, smooth Hammond and seemingly every bleep and bloop stored within the memory of whatever he’s playing (a Nord Electro seems a good guess). Most of the craziest noise passages are his, although, predictably, the most beautifully lyrical moments – particularly the Vox solo on the fifth track – are his as well.
The best song on the cd is Shell, a terse, catchy, macabre number that sounds like the Coffin Daggers gone to the Golan Heights, especially menacing as the organ doubles Maoz’ sinister guitar line. The best single solo is by bassist and producer Shanir Ezra Blumankranz, on the same song – it’s long and bluesy and deliciously terse and you don’t want it to end. Beyond the chromatic metal vibe of most of the other tracks, there’s also one that nicks a familiar hook by the Cure before going all hypnotic with a two-chord vamp, a bizarre attempt at a bubblegum surf song and a big, cinematic track simply titled Two with a noise breakdown evocatively colored with Maoz’ hammerlike attack. It’s nothing if not original and probably sounds terrific live. Shesh shesh shesh (that’s 666 in Hebrew).

1. Somewhere
2. Tsi
3. Rocks
4. Messenger
5. Slight Sun
6. Shuki
7. Eagle
8. Shell
9. King
10. Skies
11. Two
12. Down