Month: August 2020

Green Day – Kerplunk!

ARTIST: Green Day 220px-Green_Day_-_Kerplunk_cover

TITLE: Kerplunk!

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They re-recorded Welcome to Paradise for their major label debut.

LINEUP: Billy Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool. Johnathan Kiffmeyer played on the EP that was appended as a bonus.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Dookie before Dookie.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: From the first notes of “2000 Light Years Away”, and on through the record (except for one jokey cut), the last indie record for Green Day sounds almost exactly like their major label debut, especially in sound and songs. The mixture of power pop and punk is pretty much complete here.

In fact, the punkier and faster recording of “Welcome to Paradise” on this album (the only song that crossed over) may be better than the more sweet and polished version on Dookie. New drummer Tre Cool is an added bonus, as he’s a solid and imaginative drummer.

This record is punkier than what will follow, and poppier than their previous records. Had just a few tracks been better songs (and / or that joke cut left for box sets or B-sides), it probably could have been the best record of their career. As it is, it’s pretty damn good.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This sold 10,000 copies on the first day of release, and 50,000 within a few months. That’ll get the majors talking.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, their Sweet Children EP (named after the first incarnation of the band) that had their previous drummer playing on it.

GRADE A-: Power pop punk hit the sweet spot.

Depeche Mode – Some Great Reward

ARTIST: Depeche Mode 220px-Depeche_Mode_-_Some_Great_Reward

TITLE: Some Great Reward

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION:  #51 US, #5 UL

SINGLES: People Are People (#13 US, #44 Dance, #4 UK), Master and Servant (#87 US, #49 Dance, #9 UK), Blasphemous Rumours (#16 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sometbody was the B-Side to Blasphemous Rumours and charted in a few countries.

LINEUP: David Gahan, Martin Gore, Alan Wilder, Andrew Fletcher

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A darker and moodier, yet inconsistent album that had an out-of-left-field US hit as well as a cringy song that seemed out of place.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out with the energy of “Something to Do”, the classic Depeche Mode sound of “Lie to Me”, and the hit “People are People”, Some Great Rewards sounds like its going to be the consistent album Depeche Mode had in them all along.

Nah.

In the middle of the album, the band gets slower and moodier, yet the cuts are rather uninteresting and more of a slog than anything. Then you get to “Master and Servant”, which is seemingly for teenage boys to wonder about than a true exploration of a sub-culture. However, the band pulls out of it for “Blasphemous Rumours”, which shows that they can be dark, moody, slow, and interesting.

Ending it on a powerful song such as that boded well for Depeche Mode, and while they’d not have another US pop hit for a while, their cult status was cemented by that one track.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Alan Wilder wrote on track on the album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the usual live cuts, B-sides and remixes.

GRADE B: It could have been a lot better.

Massive Attack – Blue Lines

ARTIST: Massive Attack 220px-MassiveAttackBlueLines

TITLE: Blue Lines

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION:  #13 UK

SINGLES: Daydreaming (#81 UK), Unfinished Symphony (#13 UK), Safe from Harm (#35 Dance, #25 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They covered Be Thankful for What You Got

LINEUP: Robert Del Naja, Grantley Marshall, Andrew Vowles. Shara Nelson, Tricky, Horace Andy, Neneh Cherry, Claude Williams, and Mikey Taylor contributed vocals.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Bristol (UK) DJs form a collective, and happen to ‘invent’ trip-hop after they finally got to the studio.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Breaking out of the ‘sound system’ culture (that also produced Soul II Soul), Massive Attack emerged from the Wild Bunch, and after some prodding got to the studio to record this album. Oh, and they rather much came up with a new genre when it came out.

“Trip Hop” is a mash up of hip-hop, soul and funk, samples, electronica and dub, and is more for chilling out and vibing to than dancing. The vocalists they use, like Shara Nelson and rapper Tricky, add excellent coloring to the tracks. This record is one you just put on and let flow over your mind and body.

The only issue is a nice, but un-revelatory cover of William DeVaughn’s classic “Be Thankful for What You Got”. It doesn’t seem to propel the album forward, as the other tracks around it do. That’s kind of a minor quibble.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded some of this at Neneh Cherry’s house.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE A: With just one small stumble, this is not only a seminal record but tremendous to boot.

Midnight Oil – Essential Oils

ARTIST: Midnight Oil Essential_Oils_cover_art

TITLE: Essential Oils

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION:  None in the US

SINGLES: Several of the songs not listed were singles in Australia and NZ. Charting in the US and UK: The Dead Heart (#53 US, #11 Mainstream, #62 UK), Beds Are Burning (#17 US, #6 Mainstream, #6 UK), Dreamworld (#37 Mainstream., #16 Modern) Blue Sky Mine (#47 US, #1 Mainstream, #1 Modern, #66 UK), Forgotten Years (#11 Mainstream, #1 Modern, #97 UK), King of the Mountain (#20 Mainstream, #3 Modern), Truganini (#10 Mainstream, #4 Modern, #29 UK), My Country (#66 UK), In the Valley (#60 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The above probably covers it.

LINEUP: Peter Garrett, Jim Moginie, Martin Rotsey, Rob Hurst. Andrew James was the original bassist. Peter Gilford replaced him for a few years and Bones Hillman replaced him.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Australia’s best band ever? Maybe! They’ve been at it since 1976 in one form or another with the same four core members since 1977. They are highly political, tremendous live, and always seem to evolve their sound.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A band that’s been around since the mid-70s (and are back and touring again) had to sound stale at some point, right? No, not Midnight Oil. They always pushed their music forward – from a punk-ish roar to experimenting with electronics and distortion. But they are always determined to make an impact both politically and socially.

This collection grabs tracks from each studio album and even Eps. By their second album, they were tight and fierce as any band going, and that never really changed as they moved forward. Always political, and always advocating for social change (and Peter Garrett isn’t their sole lyricist, in case you were wondering), Midnight Oil became the conscious of the Australian rock world – all while delivering great and challenging music and killer live shows.

They split up when Peter Garrett got more involved in Australian politics, but have reunited and have toured around with much of the same fire and fury as they had before. This is an essential collection for an essential band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “The Dead Heart” is their highest charting single in Australia, at #$

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE A+: It’s an essential compilation that will make you want to dive in for their entire catalog.