Month: May 2019

The Raspberries – Capitol Collectors Series

ARTIST: Raspberries           220px-RaspCapColl

TITLE: Capitol Collectors Series

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Charting: Don’t Want to Say Goodbye (#86), Go All the Way (#5), I Wanna Be With You (#16), Let’s Pretend (#35), Tonight (#69), I’m a Rocker (#94), Overnight Sensation (Hit Record) (#18)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubtful, but some should be in the consciousness if the world was right.

LINEUP: Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, Dave Smalley, Jim Bonfanti. Scott McCarl and Michael McBride were on their last album, and played on a few tracks here.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Power-poppers made inconsistent albums, but this one collects the best tracks from each one.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After reviewing one individual album and listening to others, the Raspberries were not consistent track over track and seemed to be more of a singles band. An issue is that Eric Carmen tended to go to maudlin ballads to fill time (just like in his solo career), and the other Raspberries had about a 50-50 chance of writing a dream or a dud.

Still, with this collection, you get the good stuff, and not the dross. (Well, mostly, as there are a couple of draggy ballads still hanging around.) Their hits are fantastic power pop, and the contenders (“Let’s Pretend”, “Tonight”, “Hard to Get Over a Heartbreak”, “Nobody Knows”) are coulda shoulda been hits had they gotten the promotion (or weren’t regulated to a B-side or an album cut).

Power poppers should grab this right away – but they probably already have it. As for the rest of you, you need to experience the depth of Carmen and his group. They were fantastic when they were on.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band formed from the remains of Cleveland bands The Choir and Cyrus Erie with Carmen forming the Quick after Cyrus Erie disbanded.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A: I can take a mawkish ballad or two if it means the rest of this collection exists.

Soul Coughing – Irresistible Bliss

ARTIST: Soul Coughing                    220px-Irresistiblebliss

TITLE: Irresistible Bliss

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #136

SINGLES: Soundtrack to Mary (#37 Alternative), Super Bon Bon (#27 Alternative), Soft Serve

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Disseminated….

LINEUP: M. Doughty, Sebastian Steinberg, Mark de Gil Antoni, Yuval Gabay

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album is a bit tighter in arrangements and production, which caused some band discord and left some fans disappointed.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The much anticipated second album by Soul Coughing changed up their winning formula a bit. No longer did they throw the kitchen sink out there in samples and arrangements. This time, M. Doughty wanted a tighter record – even as they still combined all sorts of genres into one stew.

“Super Bon Bon” was the song on this record that has left a legacy, and it does harken back to their debut, though it is a bit slicker and polished. As the record moves along, the sense of wonderment and excitement from discovering new sounds didn’t seem to be there. It’s almost as if they were telegraphing their production and sampling tricks.

I wouldn’t call this a ‘slump’ or a bad record by any means. It’s just not as magical as the first one.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Doughty didn’t want to wait on Tchad Blake to produce, and enlisted David Kahne to produce most of the record. That didn’t go over well with anyone except Doughty, and bassist Steinberg quit for a few days.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. An EP with live cuts…in Japan (of course).

 GRADE B: By making the record tighter and less random, it takes away some of the more interesting aspects of the band.

Swans – Filth

ARTIST: Swans                                     

TITLE: Filth

YEAR RELEASED: 1983

CHART ACTION: Are you serious?

SINGLES: None, but the EP Swans is appended.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Um….

LINEUP: Michael Gira, Jonathan Kane, Roli Mosimann, Norman Westberg, Harry Crosby

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pummeling your senses into oblivion.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I’ve had issues in adding some really out there and art damaged records to my catalog (See Throbbing Gristle, Einstruzende Neubauten, Foetus, etc. on Ugggh!) but Swans makes the cut, even though it is also grimly difficult and damaged.

Michael Gira and his band of noise terrorists do have song structures, and even songs that you can move a bit too. What they also have is a holy clatter and noise made by two drummers, two bassists, and a guitarist interested in making sheets of noise. Gira sings, er, shouts his tales of degradation and real-life horror. The effect is heightened by the use of repetition in both music and lyrics.

This is not for everyone – probably not for most people. But if you get it (and it may take a while) it’s worth a ride. 

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Michael Gira said he wanted the music to obliterate, just because it felt good. Mission accomplished.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Several different packages, and some have their debut EP along with this album

 GRADE B+: I get this, not that I’m going to put it on to cook dinner (unless I have to tenderize something with a mallet).

The Alan Parsons Project – Tales of Mystery and Imagination

ARTIST: The Alan Parsons Project      220px-TAPP-TalesOfImagination

TITLE: Tales of Mystery and Imagination

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: #38 US, #56 UK

SINGLES: The Raven (#80 US), (The System of) Dr. Tarr & Professor Fether (#37 US), To One in Paradise (#108 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, no

LINEUP: Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson with work from a whole punch of people from Pilot and Ambrosia, vocals from Arthur Brown, Jack Harris, Leonard Whiting, and Terry Sylvester, and narration from Orson Welles (!).

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut record from the proggy standbys somehow got a top 40 single (and not even the poppiest cut) with an album revolving around stories from Edgar Allan Poe. TalesofMystery-_LP_alternate

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson combined talents in 1974 as engineer and manager, and then decided to record tracks that fit their personal musical tastes and direction. The result was a very proggy, highly engineered and produced, album that utilized stories from Edgar Allan Poe as inspiration.

Gathering musicians and actors, they put together the tracks meticulously. It was crafted and polished, and at times seemingly rote and mechanical (especially if you know the APP’s later work).

Somehow, somehow, there was a Top 40 hit in all of this heavy prog, but it was the 70’s. It’s a decent enough record that skimps on the Poe in place of pretty heavy progressive elements. But at least most of the tracks move along at a pace.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Orson Welles isn’t in the original mix, but in the 1987 remix by Parsons utilized narration that Welles recorded and sent to Parsons after the original album. Also, the drum sounds were updated.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Demos and guide vocals, and both the ’76 and ’87 mixes are in a package.

 GRADE B-: It’s bloated and bombastic, but it’s not terrible, and it is interesting in some places.

 

Devo – Freedom of Choice

ARTIST: Devo                                       DevoFreedomofChoice

TITLE: Freedom of Choice

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #22 US, #47 UK

SINGLES: Whip It (#14 US, #8 Dance, #51 UK), Freedom of Choice (#103 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Girl U Want, Gates of Steel

LINEUP: Mark Motherspaugh, Gerald V. Casale, Bob Motherspaugh, Bob Casale, Alan Myers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The ‘breakthrough’ thanks to a fluky single, but it was a decent album.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Regrouping after a disappointing second album, Devo moved toward a synth pop sound while keeping guitars for flourishes and fills. The heavy lifting was on keyboards and synths.

Starting off strong with “Girl U Want”, the album announced Devo as a vanguard of synth music in the 80’s. “Whip It”, a fluky hit (catchy as heck, and the meaning zoomed past everyone almost). The closest song to the old sound is the title track, a martial call to individualism and a condemnation of complacency. Normal Devo stuff, as it were.

The album has some filler, but there’s no stunning lows or head scrathers as on their last album. The high points, though (including “Gates of Steel” and “Mr. B’s Ballroom” along with the other cuts listed above) raise up the grade.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Gates of Steel” was co-written with two friends from the Akron music scene.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Live versions and demos..

 GRADE A-: There’s some real Devo gold here, as it were!

Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick

ARTIST: Jethro Tull                                                 220px-DirkvdM_thick_as_a_brick

TITLE: Thick as a Brick

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: None (for a good reason)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The opening part of the opening part (“Really Don’t Mind”) has been on comps, and last part of part three (“From the Upper Class”) has been on the radio.

LINEUP: Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, John Evan, Jeffery Hammond-Hammond, Barriemore Barlow

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The record where Jethro Tull says, “You want a concept album? HERE!”

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After denying that Aqualung was a concept album, Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull gave the wankers who claimed that it was what they wanted, a freakin’ concept album with two tracks – and only two tracks (though split into four distinct sections each with interludes).

The story is long (of course, it’s a nearly 44 minute album) and really, the story isn’t what it’s all about in my ears. The lyrics fall into normal Tull-dom with pronouncements and platitudes. What’s impressive, especially on the first side, is the playing. Tull really pulls out the stops on the first part, transitioning to each part seamlessly (also good work from the engineer), and Martin Barre and John Evan shine on guitar and keyboard.

The second side kind of falls flat with some spoken fragments intermixed and the last parts don’t have the same verve and pep that keeps a listener engaged. But it’s a damn audacious record and it works for the most part, and holds up.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original cover opened up as a 12-page newspaper.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Versions with a live track (only 11 minutes!), remixes, and one version that splits the saga into eight parts.

 GRADE A-: An A+ side, and a B side….really. The B-side is a B!

Adam & the Ants – Prince Charming

ARTIST: Adam & the Ants            220px-Adam_and_the_Ants_Prince_Charming

TITLE: Prince Charming

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #94 US, #2 UK

SINGLES: Stand and Deliver (#38 Dance, #1 UK), Prince Charming (#1 UK), Ant Rap (#3 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nope

LINEUP: Adam Ant, Marco Pirroni, Merrick, Terry Lee Miall, Gary Tibbs

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Oof. What a disappointment.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting with horn charts, “Scorpios” kicks off the record on a hopeful note, but soon, as the song devolves into a cluttered mess, you know something was up.

What was up? Instead of a record chock full of fun and exuberant songs, Prince Charming became a vehicle to deliver a great single (“Stand and Deliver”), a so-so single (the title track, way too repetitive), a good deep cut with a goofy name “Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios”, and unfished, hacky gunk and what sounds like leftovers from his previous albums.

On what planet would “Ant Rap” work? Not this one.

The songs are slight, repetitive, and unfocused. The production is messy. The second side grinds to a boring halt. Adam & the Ants weren’t supposed to be boring, but there’s even a song about sex that puts you to sleep.

The Ants split soon after, with Adam taking Marco along for a solo career. Thank goodness he had “Stand and Deliver”.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There’s a hidden cut called “The Lost Hawaiians” which isn’t really worth the mystery surrounding it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Demos. Joy. Unpolished demos of unfinished songs. Hooray!

 GRADE D+: Two good tracks, one fair track, dreck, and the mother-f’n “Ant Rap”.