Month: May 2019

Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Bachman-Turner Overdrive

ARTIST: Bachman-Turner Overdrive

TITLE: Bachman-Turner Overdrive

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #70

SINGLES: Gimme Your Money Please, Little Gandy Dancer, Blue Collar (#68)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nope

LINEUP: Randy Bachman, Tim Bachman, C.F. Turner, Robbie Bachman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Brave Belt becomes BTO

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After leaving the Guess Who, and then forming Brave Belt with his brother Robbie and former Guess Who singer Chad Allan, Randy Bachman lost a record deal, and got another one as he simplified (or dumbified) his sound and added another brother and C. F. Turner.

The result was a simple rock album that didn’t show any of the inventiveness or lyrical bite of Randy Bachman’s work with the Guess Who. It was basic rock, and this debut didn’t even have some of the hooks or riffs that highlight their later work.

There’s a really bad song from Tim Bachman (ooof), a weird pre-chorus in “Don’t Get Yourself in Trouble”, and leaden songs throughout, except for “Blue Collar”, and that lasts about two minutes too long. This one is a slog even at 35 minutes and half of the eight songs exiled.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The demo tape was labelled Brave Belt III.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 

GRADE C-: They’d do worse, but that’s not praise.

Alacrán – Alacrán

ARTIST: Alacrán 

TITLE: Alacrán

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Sticky

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, hell to the no

LINEUP: Ignacio Egana, Fernando Arbex, Oscar Lasprilla

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Spanish group records a psychedelic blues album ala Santana.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Well, well, well. Listening to obscure compilations helps. This record was kind of big in Brazil, and the single did well in Spain, but it wasn’t released anywhere else and the band soon ended when Lasprilla left to go to London.

What we have here is enjoyable bluesy, psychedelic rock, sung in English, that wouldn’t have been out of place in the playlists of 1970 FM radio here in the US. The single “Sticky” definitely has the certain catchiness that could have been a radio staple.

For crate diggers or compilation weirdos (like me), finding something like this is impressive. This is only six tracks, and it’s not the best thing ever. It’s good enough and entertaining enough that I’m keeping it in the catalog.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Arbex and Egana formed Barrabas, which had some hits in Europe with a revolving lineup and a US record deal.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE B: Not a bad find.

The Fiery Furnaces – EP

ARTIST: Fiery Furnaces                                 

TITLE: EP

YEAR RELEASED: 2005

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Single Again, Tropical Ice-Land

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah

LINEUP: Matthew Friedberger, Eleanor Friedberger with others on drums

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A stop gap release with singles and b-sides

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The UK wanted something to play on the radio, so the Fiery Furnaces recorded “Single Again”, a modern take on folk songs (which was chilling and gave me a lot of pause), then released this full of B-sides and new tracks. It’s called EP, but it’s really 41 minutes, so that’s a misnomer.

Always challenging and inventive, the songs aren’t just tossed off B-sides and extras, but well-crafted and musically challenging songs, with the siblings working together and Matthew even singing a few cuts as well.

The songs mostly link together, which is good, but a little frustrating for mix-tape or playlist makers. But as a stop-gap, this works well, and allowed the Furnaces to create challenging works later.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I’m counting this as a 2005 release since the singles were new enough and the album cohered enough to be a contemporary release.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE A-: “Single Again” gives me chills. The rest are good examples of the tuneful oddness of the Furnaces.

Meryn Caddell – Angel Food for Thought

ARTIST: Meryn Caddell                              

TITLE: Angel Food for Thought

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: The Sweater, Barbie

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, no.

LINEUP: Meryn Caddell with contributions from Tim Vesely, John Gzowski, Dave Clark, Jim Creeggan, Stepehn Taub, Curtis Wehfritz, Bruce Evans and Tom Third

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Avant garde spoken word album got some airplay, somehow, thanks to its inventiveness.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Meryn Caddell, a Canadian performance artist, released this work in the early 90’s with 20 tracks of poetry and prose. Somehow “The Sweater” got to the Canadian Top 40 and was on college radio in the US, and inspired Rivers Cuomo to write “Undone (The Sweater Song)”. That’s quite true.

The sounds behind the poems and prose is inventive – and some are just solo recitations. Cadell used to perform in a heating duct for reverb, so the sounds were something already in mind. There are a couple of ‘traditional’ songs but they fit the atmosphere. This may not be a ‘put on every day’ record, but it’s a good listen if you need some performance art poetry.

Cadell is now a professor of song lyrics and libretto writing at the University of Bristish Columbia, which is pert near perfect.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: KROQ used to play “The Sweater” and “Undone” by Weezer back-to-back.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of bonus tracks now.

 GRADE A-: Despite my reservations, this is a good listen, poignant and entertaining.

Death Cult – Death Cult

ARTIST: Death Cult (The Cult)  Death-Cult-EP

TITLE: Death Cult

YEAR RELEASED: 1983

CHART ACTION: No

SINGLES: It started as a 4-track EP, and added tracks in 1988 and 1996

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Horse Nation was on their debut LP

LINEUP: Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy, Jamie Stewart. Ray Mondo played drums in the first sessions, then Nigel Preston played on the later cuts.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Tentative start by the future Cult find them feeling their way around their early sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The guitars aren’t as big, the production is simple, and the songs aren’t that great, but still, when Ian Astbury opens his mouth, you know it’s The Cult, albeit way early in their career when they were known as Death Cult.

Migrating from a couple of other bands (one being Southern Death Cult), the band soon to be known as The Cult recorded a four track EP that at least got them a little notice. Later they recorded a single “God’s Zoo”, which was a marked improvement. That lead to their debut record, where they repurposed a song here and cast the rest into history.

There are some high points here, but the flat production, meandering tracks, and the lack of redeeming kitsch makes this EP disposable to all except the curious. Death_Cult_(EP)

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The lead track of the EP proper, “Brothers Grimm”, was written by Duffy and Steve Abbot from UK Decay when they both were unemployed from their previous bands.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Originally it was a 4-track EP, then they added the “God’s Zoo” single, and then a BBC session that led up to their Dreamtime album as the Cult.

GRADE C-: For the curious only, except for “God’s Zoo” and maybe “Brothers Grimm” if I’m generous.

Brinsley Schwarz – Surrender to the Rhythm

ARTIST: Brinsley Schwarz            R-3385050-1345775303-3534.jpeg

TITLE: Surrender to the Rhythm

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Country Girl, I Like It Like That, Silver Pistol, Happy Doing What We’re Doing, (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Trying to Live My Live Without You

LINEUP: Nick Lowe, Brinsley Schwarz, Ian Gomm, Bob Andrews, Billy Rankin

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pub-rockers collection shows why they’re a historical footnote.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Students of the UK New Wave scene know that Brinsley Schwarz, the band, connects to Rockpile, Elvis Costello, and Graham Parker and the Rumour. Nick Lowe, the bassist and main songwriter / singer, got popular on his own as a performer and producer.

The band was one of the leaders of ‘pub rock’ movement, which was a live alternative to prog and glam played in small venues. While they spawned a lot of compatriots and evolved into the the UK New Wave movement, the music by Brinsley Schwarz is…bland.

They’re competent, they play well, and they’re mellow. Too mellow at times. There’s not a lot of energy, and the cover versions seem lazy. They’re more useful as a reference point than something to put on.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Yes, the band is named after their guitarist. They also had a disaster of a gig at the Fillmore in 1970 that’s legendary.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 

GRADE C: Disappointing to hear a historical band be this…blah.

REO Speedwagon – R.E.O.

ARTIST: REO Speedwagon      220px-R.E.O.

TITLE: R.E.O.

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: #159

SINGLES: Keep Pushin’

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Flying Turkey Trot, (I Believe) Our Time Is Gonna Come

LINEUP: Kevin Cronin, Gary Richrath, Neil Doughty, Gregg Philbin, Alan Gratzer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After an exile, Kevin Cronin returns to REO, thankfully.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: For their sixth studio album, REO Speedwagon welcomes back Kevin Cronin, who wrote their best-known (to that date) song, yet was forced out (or quit) before it was released and the vocals re-recorded.,

The band had released half-hearted records, but the addition of Cronin gave Gary Richrath some songwriting competition and allowed the material to improve. It still was just mediocre Midwestern rock, but it was an improvement.

“Keep Pushin’”, the lead cut, was the best track since “Ridin’ the Storm Out”, and “(I Believe) Our Time Is Gonna Come” is a pre-cursor to their huge 1980 hits. So, this is an improvement, and not an album you’ll throw out as soon as you hear it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band approached Greg Volz to be the new singer, but he became a Born-Again Christian (and later formed Stryper), thus the return of Cronin.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B-: It’s not horrible, just a bit blah.

Lush – Gala

ARTIST: Lush                                    220px-Lushgalalpcoverjpg

TITLE: Gala

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None – though Scar hit #3 UK Indie and Mad Love #55 UK Singles chart

SINGLES: Sweetness and Light  (#4 Modern Rock, #47 UK), De-Luxe (#14 Modern Rock)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover Hey Hey Helen 220px-Sweetness_and_Light_-_Lush

LINEUP: Miki Berenyi, Emma Anderson, Steve Rippon, Chris Acland. Phil Overhead helps on percussion.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the best of the first wave of shoegaze bands combines its early EPs into a compilation album.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Lush came out with several EPs before they recorded their first full-length, which was a pretty genius move since it allowed them quality control and development of their sound and material.

At first a UK Indie chart phenomenon, later they achieved mainstream success of sorts with “Sweetness and Light”and the Mad Love EP (which contained “De-Luxe”. The interlocking, hazy guitars of Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson give Lush a distinctive sound, coupled with the ethereal vocals of Berenyi. Unlike other shoegaze bands, the guitars are gentler, but still a wash of chords and distortion.  220px-Mad_Love_-_Lush

This collection whetted the indie rock appetite for Lush, as the shoegaze movement was gaining ground in the underground of the US even as grunge was taking over the alt-rock airwaves. It definitely is good to hear what the shoegaze fuss was about.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The collection is in reverse chronological order. 220px-Scar_-_Lush

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A-: Some cuts are a bit draggy but when they’re focused they make excellent, gentle, clatter.

Blur – Leisure

ARTIST: Blur                                      220px-LeisureUK

TITLE: Leisure

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION: #7 UK

SINGLES: She’s So High (#48 UK), There’s No Other Way (#82 US, #5 Alternative, #8 UK), Bang (#24 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sing

LINEUP: Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, Dave Rowntree

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A dour shoegaze album which didn’t win a lot of hearts and minds outside the singles.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Bands don’t always start off well. Blur is a great example of that.

Despite charting well and having a couple of hit singles, most of the record was turgid and boring. Yeah, Blur was boring – and they really sounded like any other shoegaze band except for a few moments of inspiration, and sometimes a boring track would have a minute where it seemed OK but then went right back to minor-chord turgidness. When they did wake up, they sounded like the Stone Roses’ little brothers.

This is about the last thing you need from Blur if you’re in an exploratory mode. Yeah, a few songs are OK but as the record goes on, you want to escape the minor key mud.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Sing” was on the Trainspotting soundtrack.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Some different running orders in the US and Japan.

 GRADE C: They got a hit, but they knew they needed a re-think.

Jen Trynin – Cockamamie

ARTIST: Jen Trynin           220px-Cockamamie

TITLE: Cockamamie

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: None (sigh…)

SINGLES: Better Than Nothing (#15 Alternative, #40 Mainstream), Happier

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really, unless you knew me then.

LINEUP: Jennifer Trynin, Paul Bryan, Jerry Deupree, David Gregory, Mike Levesque, Michael Rivard. Aimee Mann sang backup.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Boston based solo artists records a rockin’ alternative power pop-ish solo album with great songs and no reaction from the public for the most part.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Coming out of Boston, Warner Brothers released this album after local Squint Records put it out to raves in 1994. It deserved the accolades – it didn’t deserve the commercial freeze-out.

MTV played the video for “Better Than Nothing” at times, and that garnered some airplay. Yet the album has several great tracks like “One Year Down”, “Too Bad You’re Such a Loser”, “Knock Me Down and “Happier”. Her guitar tone is fantastically meaty and raw, which adds to the overall sound and mood. The production and her work with the rotating drummers is strong as well.

There are few dull spots or subpar tracks. It’s just a shame it didn’t resonate with the public or radio.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She later married her producer Mike Denneen.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A+: Unfairly ignored by the powers that be, it deserved a lot of play.