Month: September 2019

Velocity Girl – Copacetic

ARTIST: Velocity Girl  220px-Copacetic_(Velocity_Girl_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE: Copacetic

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Crazy Town, Audrey’s Eyes

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Archie Moore, Brian Nelson, Kelly Riles, Sarah Shannon, Jim Spellman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A shoe-gazey alternative rock band from DC that found its way through the grunge madness, even while on Sub Pop, the home of grunge (sorta).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After releasing singles and touring the East Coast, Velocity Girl was signed to Sub Pop and released their debut, a shoegaze-like record featuring hazy, distorted guitars and a vocalist (Sarah Shannon) whose bright voice was covered up in the crackly guitars.

That made Shannon’s vocals even more effective, as the listener had to focus on the songs as a whole to get the entire essence of the track. It revealed a band that wasn’t in step with the other Sub Pop bands, but found a niche in the market. The vocal melodies were enticing enough for radio, and the guitars and arrangements kept them firmly in the alternative camp.

The album has some missteps and clunks. For every great song like title track and the singles, there’s a song that goes on too long, or is an experiment that doesn’t quite work. In other words, a debut record.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Jim Spellman was a CNN reporter and is now a reporter on a DC based station.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B+: Some tracks went awry, but this is solid, solid shoegaze stuff.

Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – The Story of Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose

ARTIST: Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose R-3057605-1313699122.jpeg

TITLE: The Story of Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Charting: Treat Her Like a Lady (#3, #20 R&B), Too Late to Turn Back Now (#2, #5 R&B), I’m Never Gonna Be Alone Anymore (#37, #43 R&B), Don’t Ever Be Lonely (#23, #28 R&B), Let Me Down Easy (#96), I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (#104, #79 R&B), Big Time Lover (#88 R&B), Since I Found My Baby (#59 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Carter Cornelius, Eddie Cornelius, Rose Cornelius. Billie Jo Cornelius joined in 1972. Session musicians did the playing.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Classic vocal-pop style soul that specialized in family vocal harmonies and softer songs (except for their first hit).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Stomping out of the gate with 1971’s “Treat Her Like a Lady”, Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose (soon to add another sister), this Miami-based family band of singers had a nice chart run until 1973, and unlike their first hit they were smooth, mellow, and backed with copious strings and horns.

The songs and the arrangements were winners, though. Eddie Cornelius wrote the songs and Rose arranged the vocals. Yet their second album stiffed, and they quietly went away and broke up in 1976 when brother Carter joined a black Hebrew sect.

Unlike a lot of flash-in-the-pan groups with one or two hits, this record is solid from beginning to end. Sure some of the songs are derivative of each other, but there’s something there that elevates the lesser tracks away from filler status. For a brief time, this family was the sound of soul vocal pop.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Sister Rose was part of the Gospel Jazz Singers and went on Ed Sullivan.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B+: A solid album for fans of “Too Late to Turn Back Now

Margo Guryan – Take a Picture

ARTIST: Margo Guryan 220px-Margo_Guryan_-_Take_a_Picture

TITLE: Take a Picture

YEAR RELEASED: 1968

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Only promos

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sunday Morning (a hit for Spanky & Our Gang)

LINEUP: Margo Guryan, Kirk Hamilton, Buddy Saltzman, John Hill, Paul Griffin, Phil Bodner

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A lost sunshine pop classic, released and then buried because she refused to tour.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Margo Guryan’s child-like voice was perfect for sunshine pop, and her songs also fit that genre well. She had been a songwriter with songs placed with Spanky & Our Gang, Jackie DeShannon, Juilie London, and Bobby Sherman, and signed a solo deal with Bell Records.

Originally in the jazz scene, she moved over to pop after hearing “Gold Only Knows” and then began her pop songwriting career. Her demos got her signed to Bell, and this album came to fruition. Full of wistful melodies and lyrics, and sophisticated arrangements befitting her jazz roots, this album was a beautiful example of the potential of sunshine pop.

Yet Guryan did not want to tour, since her marriage to a jazz musician fell apart earlier and she didn’t want to be “owned” by others. So Bell said “FINE” and stopped promoting the album, letting it basically die on the vine.

That’s a shame, since this could have been a sunshine pop staple and had a couple of potential singles. Guryan still wrote and helped produce, but she never again recorded an album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Demo recordings were released in the 2000’s

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A few bonus cuts

GRADE A: At least this is in print. It still sounds fantastic.

 

Sepultura – Schizophrenia

ARTIST: Sepultura 220px-Schizophrenia_album

TITLE: Schizophrenia

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None unless you were a death metal head in the 80’s

LINEUP: Max Cavalera, Igor Vacalera, Paulo Jr. , Andreas Kisser

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A lineup change, better songs, and a better studio coalesces the band into a tight, taught unit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Andreas Kisser joined Sepultura as the new lead guitarist, and almost immediately the results showed. The change moved them into more of a traditional thrash metal, which suited them greatly. The songs became tighter and more controlled. The vocals also were more suited to this style. It was a change for the better.

This record was recorded in a better studio than the previous record, and that also helped the band form its sound and vision far beyond their debut. It’s a great leap forward.

There are still some issues, though, with the songs sometimes blending together and the ideas outreaching their execution, but this album showed that path forward for Sepultura.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Kisser’s parents were European (Slovene and German), though he is a Brazilian native.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A few bonus cuts and demos

GRADE B: Much better, more focused, and the groundwork for the band going forward.

 

Liquid Liquid – Slip In and Out of Phenomenon

ARTIST: Liquid Liquid R-1389990-1272761207.jpeg

TITLE: Slip In and Out of Phenomenom

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: Nooooooo

SINGLES: All tracks were singles or EPs

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Cavern was used in a sample

LINEUP: Salvatore Principato, Dennis Young, Richard McGuire, Scott Hartley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A no-wave funk, dub, and dance outfit inspired later dance rock bands and one track was the basis for one of the best known early hip-hop tracks R-63186-1178240397.jpeg 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: They were name checked by the Rapture and LCD Soundsystem, and were mentioned in the same breath as ESG, A Certain Ratio, and Konk, Liquid Liquid’s sparse, percussion heavy funk was part of the no-wave scene as well as a burgeoning underground dance scene in New York.

The sparseness of the tracks (mostly bass, drums, and percussion with some other instruments and vocals as another instrument) allows you to focus on the grooves, and the grooves were intense. R-7635628-1562536341-5762.jpeg

If you love the groove and the sparse funk of early 80’s underground dance, this is revelatory.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “White Lines” By Grandmaster Flash used “Cavern” as a basis for the track. This also includes almost everything they recorded except for a 1984 single.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No R-95988-1389150472-1382.jpeg

GRADE A-: This may be too sparse for some, but it’s the basic building blocks of the 2000’s dance rock scene in NYC.

Steppenwolf – At Your Birthday Party

ARTIST: Steppenwolf  220px-SteppenwolfAtYourBirthdayParty

TITLE: At Your Birthday Party

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #7

SINGLES: Rock Me (#10), It’s Never Too Late (#51)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Jupiter’s Child

LINEUP: John Kay, Michael Monarch, Goldy McJohn, Nick St. Nicholas, Jerry Edmonton

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The gas had run out of the Steppenwolf engine at this time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Rock Me”, an all-time classic, was released on the Candy soundtrack, and became a big hit with a great B-side in “Jupiter’s Child”. But when it came time to create a new album, John Kay was almost tapped out of tunes. Kay only wrote or co-wrote two other tracks (which are the best of the rest) and the others came from producer Gabriel Mekler and other band members.

Kay didn’t even sing on some of the tracks. Bassist Nick St. Nicholas and guitarist Michael Monarch had their turns at the mic, and, well, Kay was much missed. There were a couple of throw away short trackss, a country spoof, a couple of horrible ballads, and basic tomfoolery in the studio.

The band regrouped a bit the next year, with a great single and a good protest record, but this killed the momentum of the band for the most part. It was half-crap and the fans knew it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Monarch left the band a few months after this came out.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE C-: Had “Rock Me” and “Jupiter’s Child” not been here, it definitely would have been a “D”…

Suzanne Vega – Solitude Standing

ARTIST: Suzanne Vega 220px-Pongnan21-1-

TITLE: Solitude Standing

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: #11 US, #2 UK

SINGLES: Gypsy (#77 UK), Luka (#3 US, #23 UK), Tom’s Diner (#58 UK), Solitude Standing (#94 US, #79 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Calypso

LINEUP: Suzanne Vega, Marc Shulman, Anton Sanko, Michael Visceglia, Stephen Ferrera. Help from Shawn Colvin, Mitch Easter, and others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The breakthrough record contained the hit, the novelty which later became a signature, and solid folk rock.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The tracks on this, the second Suzanne Vega full-length, were written during the 80’s and polished in the studio by the backing band. The musicians added a great deal of depth and adventure to the tracks, which helped this albums overall mood.

Vega’s warm alto is mixed well with the backing, and the lyrics and melody work for the songs and arrangements. Foremost is the title track, with its twists and key changes, and the big hit “Luka” which is a big-sounding song that is intimate as well.

“Tom’s Diner” was the out of left field hit – an acapella version became the basis of remixes and another album entirely. But here, it fits in well as an opener and as an instrumental coda to one of the best folk albums of the 80’s

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They tried to figure out the day Vega wrote it or was referencing, and the best guess is most of it was November 18, 1981.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A: An interesting folk album deeper than the hits and novelty.