Slade – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Slade               slade

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: All of em: Of Note: Coz I Luv You (#1 UK), Look Wot You Done (#4 UK), Take Me Back ‘Ome (*97 US, #1 UK), Mama Weer All Crazee Now (#76 US, #1 UK), Gudbuy T’Jane (#68 US, #2 UK), Cum On Feel the Noize (#98 US, #1 UK), Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me (#1 UK), My Friend Stan (#2 UK), Merry Xmas Everybody (#1 UK), Everyday (#3 UK), The Bangin’ Man (#3 UK), Far Far Away (#2 UK), My Oh My (#37 US, #3 UK), Run Runaway (#20 US, #7 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you were in the UK and were a Slade-head

LINEUP: Noddy Holder, Jim Lea, Dave Hill, Don Powell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Glam rockers, huge in the UK, barely made a ripple in the states until Quiet Riot covered them, and then they got their deserved hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Glam rock barely caused a fuss over here, except on rare occasions when singles by some artists hit the airwaves (Mott the Hoople, Sweet). No band was unjustly denied their rightful place over here more than Slade.

From mid 1971 through 1974, they released 12 singles in the UK, and every one of them hit #4 or higher, including six #1 singles. And they weren’t just copy cat hits (they did change it up a bit, honestly), they were solid songs like “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (on a K-Tel record, even) and Gudbuy T’Jane. They ran out steam and by the punk era they were off the charts.

But they had more life in the early 80’s, as two singles hit the Top 10 again n the UK and gave the band their much deserved Top 40 hits in the US.

Sure, it’s kind of simple – memorable guitar riffs, Noddy Holder shouting about something, and the band chanting and stomping all around. What’s not to like?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally, they felt the title they gave their first self-written single didn’t fit with the sound, and thus they named it “Coz I Luv You”. A career of spelling errors ensued.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A: I may have bumped this up a bit…but I mean, this is just packed with memorable shouters and bangers. What’s not to love?

 

Hall & Oates – Abandoned Luncheonette

ARTIST: Hall & Oates       Hall_and_Oates,_Abandoned_Luncheonette_(1973)

TITLE: Abandoned Luncheonette

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #33 US

SINGLES: She’s Gone (#60 US on first release; #7 US, #42 UK on re-release)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ooh…maybe Lady Rain??

LINEUP: Daryl Hall, John Oates and session hotshots like Chris Bond, Hugh McCracken, Jerry Marotta, Steve Gelfand, Bernard Purdie, and more…

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the duo finds their sweet spot in an updated blue-eyed soul sound, with a couple of tracks not working this time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Daryl Hall & John Oates moved from their hometown of Philly to New York to take in that scene and work with Arif Mardin on their album. Together, they crafted a sound that was the start of the classic Hall & Oates sound.

This collection is fine for the most part, with a couple of highlights like “Lady Rain”, and the all-timer “She’s Gone”. Oates had more tracks on this record than the usual release, and his tracks aren’t the weaker ones.

The record kind of goes off the rails at the end – with “Laughing Boy” kind of a messy solo performance by Hall (though he loved to play it in concert) and the final track which goes from blue-eyed soul to a…hoedown…for some reason. Well, just stop it after “Lady Rain” then.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This is supposedly the duo’s favorite record that they did.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B+: Wow, those last two tracks derailed it. The first seven cuts were good to great to all-timer, and then…

Kim Mitchell – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Kim Mitchell                    kimmitchell

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Most all of these songs were in Canada. He had two charting ones here: Go For Soda (#86, #12 Rock) and Patio Lanterns (#36 Rock)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not in this country, but Canadians of an age would know most of these.

LINEUP: Kim Mitchell, Pye Dubois, and a couple of different groups of musicians depending on when.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Earnest Canadian rocker’s solo career (after a stint leading Max Webster) produced some enjoyable, but not essential, 80’s rock.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Either the Trailer Park Boys or Canadian radio stations would be the only points of entry to the world of Kim Mitchell. Perhaps, like me, you remembered “Go For Soda”, which is an enjoyable piece of rock that stood out in the 80’s because of what it wasn’t – hair metal, new wave, or new romantic.

Mitchell led Max Webster, a Canadian FM radio staple in the 70’s, before starting his solo career. This collection serves as a good overview of his peak period, and while at times he can fall into Foreigner territory (especially in the ballads – ick), his straight ahead rock songs are decent enough that won’t make you skip over the tracks.

Mitchell never got a foothold in the US, as only one LP charted here, but just go north of the border and they can remember his career fondly.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: His highest charting Canadian track was “America”, which hit #3 in 1992.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B-: I don’t have strong nostalgia for him (except “Go For Soda”), but I can see why he’s still remembered up in Canada and on their version of Classic Rock radio.

James Taylor – James Taylor

ARTIST: James Taylor     James_Taylor,_James_Taylor_(1968)

TITLE: James Taylor

YEAR RELEASED: 1968

CHART ACTION: #62

SINGLES: Carolina On My Mind (#118), Knocking ‘Round the Zoo, Something’s Wrong

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Something In The Way She Moves

LINEUP: James Taylor, Mick Wayne, Louie Cennamo, Freddie Redd, Don Shinn, Bishop O’Brien. Paul McCartney and George Harrison guested on one track. Richard Hewson arranged all the strings so you can blame him for those.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album on Apple Records didn’t sell and wasn’t promoted well. But it had a few lasting tracks, and others almost ruined by string interludes and syrup.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After failing to hit the big time with his band (called The Flying Machine – no, not that one), Taylor was signed as a solo artist on Apple Records after auditioning for Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Harrison nicked the first line of “Something” from a Taylor track.

When Taylor plays along with the studio musicians, and without the orchestra, it’s a perfectly nice folk-rock record. A track like “Taking It In” shows some liveliness and uses a harpsichord along with a nice bassline and acoustic guitar, while Mick Wayne’s lead in the opener “Don’t Talk Now” is strong.

BUT – dang it – Peter Asher and Richard Hewson added string interludes and a lot of syrup on tracks and in between tracks as interludes. Those wreck the continuity and detract from the intimacy of the record. Ack!

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Knockin’ Round the Zoo” references Taylor’s old bandmate Danny Kortchmar.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A few demos and a B-side were appended.

GRADE  B-: I can rescue a few tracks from this, if I can somehow zap the string interludes.

Ryan Adams – Love Is Hell

ARTIST: Ryan Adams                               220px-Love_Is_Hell

TITLE: Love Is Hell

YEAR RELEASED: 2003 / 2004

CHART ACTION: #68 UK. Pt. 1 EP #78 US, #62 UK. Pt. 2 EP #114 EP

SINGLES: Wonderwall (#27 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Love Is Hell

LINEUP: Ryan Adams. He used two bands – one for NYC sessions the other for sessions in New Orleans. They included Greg Leisz, Ricky Fataar, and Ian McLagan, among others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Forced to release this set as two Eps at first, Ryan Adams creates a downer masterwork. RyanAdamsLoveIsHellpt1

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The record company said it wasn’t a commercially viable product, but they did allow Adams to release this work as two EPs. When they sold well, Lost Highway reconsidered, and released it as one unit, with the addition of one track from his prior album, although in an unexpurgated version. (There’s more to the story, I’m sure. Whenever they write a Ryan Adams book, the damn things going to be 1,000 pages due to all the stories and myths).

“Political Science” isn’t the most upbeat album opener, and throughout most of the record Adams stays pretty true to the title of his work. The title track is one of his most realized and complete songs he’s ever written, and his cover of “Wonderwall” strikes a right note.

As the music moves on, Adams tries to pull everyone out of his dolorious state, with a couple of more upbeat tracks, including “Hotel Chelsea Nights”. It’s a fine capper to a fine record that shouldn’t have been shelved in the first place. RyanAdamsLoveIsHellpt2

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Adams wrote “Shadowlands” before a concert in Belfast, and opened his show with it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Japan, of course, yet again, got bonus tracks on each EP and on the full length. Dang it.

GRADE A: He’s better when he’s contrary and bucking the system, like this.

The New Pornographers – Electric Version

ARTIST: New Pornographers                       220px-The_New_Pornographers_Electric_Version (1)

TITLE: Electric Version

YEAR RELEASED: 2003

CHART ACTION: #196

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: From Blown Speakers, The Laws Have Changed

LINEUP: AC Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar, John Collins, Blaine Thurier, Kurt Dahle, Todd Fancey, Nora O’Connor

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Altrock royalties second album improves on their debut with some diversity while keeping the whimsy and camaraderie.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sure, anything with Neko Case is going to sound magical, but she’s part of a group here – a group that definitely sounds like its having fun playing songs by AC Newman and Dan Bejar.

The loose-knit collective (as in, they just get together when they can, and tour with whoever can) definitely hits its stride here. While Newman’s songs have his trademark on them, the playing by the band is such that it’s not just sidemen on a solo album. Bejar’s songs are a bit away from Destroyer as well.

The choruses are hooky, the melodies are memorable, and there’s musical twists and turns and interesting arrangements and production galore. A definite hit (except that whole sales thing…)

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Rolling Stone said this was the 79th best record of the 2000’s.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Japan, of course

GRADE A: You can’t argue with hooks and melodies like this.

David Gray – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: David Gray                  David_Gray_Greatest_hits_Album_Cover (1)

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: #96 US, #11 UK

SINGLES: Top 40: This Year’s Love (#20 UK), Babylon (#57 US, #5 UK), Please Forgive Me (#18 UK), Sail Away (#26 UK), The Other Side (#35 UK), Be Mine (#23 UK), The One I Love (#8 UK), Hospital Food (#34 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Shine (though this is live, another collection has a 25th anniversary version, which isn’t the original either. That’s on yet ANOTHER collection)

LINEUP: David Gray, Craig McClune, and others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: This collection captures his hit making era, mostly, and it’s a decent introduction to the singer-songwriter.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After struggling for years to make it in a more acoustic manner, producing some unheard songs for his cult, Gray moved into an electric and electronic milieu, combining electronica and lush production with his songs.

Commercially, in the UK, it was a hit. Here in the states, he’s still a cult artist. These things happen.

Gray’s got a touch for melody and sings from the heart, but while the sheen of his production may have gotten him on the radio, in my ears it sounds a bit busy and over-produced.

There’s another, later, collection which has a later version of the song that introduced him (“Shine”), and a collection of his folkier stuff (which I like “Late Night Radio”) but this is as good as you’ll get for the most part.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The British press dubbed him ‘folktronica’, though only a few songs really fit that, and that’s because it has electronic drums.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE B: The cult has all of his records, but for me, this is about all I need.

Great White – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Great White              GreatWhiteGreatestHits

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 40: Rock Me (#60 US, #9 Rock), Save Your Love (#57 US, #9 Rock), Mista Bone (#27 Rock), One Bitten, Twice Shy (#5 US, #6 Rock, #83 UK), The Angel Song (#30 US, #18 Rock), Call It Rock & Roll (#53 US, #4 Rock, #67 UK), Big Goodbye (#20 Rock), Old Rose Motel (#23 Rock)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Live versions of two hits; House of Broken Love and Desert Moon

LINEUP: Jack Russell, Mark Kendall, Audie Desbrow. Other guys, like Tony Montana, Lorne Black, Dave Spitz, and Michael Lardie all showed up at one point or another.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Derivative Zep / Ratt band hit it huge with a glam cover after four albums, and faded away after their fifth went splat.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The career trajectory of Great White was pointing towards a slog as a second rate metal band – openers on arena tours, and possibly headlining clubs and small halls. Then, they covered Ian Hunter, and, well, that escalated quickly.

Early on, they did sound like Ratt sometimes, and Zep others, with icky power ballads thrown in for the masses. “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, more intelligent and subtle than you’d think (because Hunter, you know), propelled them into the mega-star complex. It wasn’t really metal, but they had been metal and had hair, so, there you go.

But their next album, right as grunge was gurgling, stiffed, for a good reason. Ian Hunter wasn’t there to hand them another hit, and their brand of Zeppy-lite metal was nowhere near vogue. Alas, that leads to a breakup, reformations, and club dates in Rhode Island…

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Jack Russell, the singer, formed the band originally, but went away to prison for an armed robbery where he injured a maid.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE C: It ain’t bad, really, but there’s goopy ballads and needless live and acoustic cuts. There’s another straight compilation out there, too. Actually, several.

The Descendents – Milo Goes to College

ARTIST: The Descendents          220px-descendents_-_milo_goes_to_college_cover

TITLE: Milo Goes to College

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Myage, I’m Not a Loser, I’m Not a Punk, Subrban Home

LINEUP: Milo Auckerman, Bill Stevenson, Tony Lombardo, Frank Navetta

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A document of the innovative pop punk band before Milo actually went to college..

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The sound of disaffected youth, in punk rock? Yeah. Aside from a couple of unfortunate slurs (which is in character, I believe), the disaffection here is genuine, raw, and melodic.

In punk fashion, the songs don’t linger. There’s no extraneous solos or instrumental falderal. There are good riffs, and inventive bass playing from oldster Tony Lombardo. The songs are about hating the rich, going to Catalina, and other issues with youth. Milo Auckerman’s vocals are raspy and committed.

The concerns are the same that today’s youth have, but rooted in the 80’s sound. There are a couple of lyrics that wouldn’t pass muster now, but they’re in character and doesn’t take that much away from the message.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Milo did go to college – and the cover is a caricature of Milo.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE A: Classic poppy punk.

Laura Cantrell – When the Roses Bloom Again

ARTIST: Laura Cantrell       220px-when_the_roses_bloom_again

TITLE: When the Roses Bloom Again

YEAR RELEASED: 2002

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: It was a hidden gem

LINEUP: Laura Cantrell, Jay Sherman-Godfrey, Jon Graboff, Jeremy Chatzky, Doug Wygal, Kenny Kosek, and other session vocalists.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second full album from rising alt-country / regular country singer shines with originals and appropriate covers.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Still employed as a VP at Bank of America, Laura Cantrell’s second album sounds more confident, breezy, and complete than her fine debut album.

Her sound is more rooted in the traditionalist country where there’s no sweetening strings, syrupy backing vocals, nor does it sound like a southern rock band. It’s got a sweetness to it, but also has a genuine country sound.

Cantrell’s work doesn’t fit into Nashville, since it’s not big and bombastic and loud. It’s traditional country, meant for small rooms.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She married the founder of her small record company.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE A-: Another solid traditionalist country album for your collection.