Author: Scott Fendley

The Mamas & The Papas – The Papas & the Mamas

ARTIST: The Mamas & The Papas 220px-Cover_-_papas_and_mamas

TITLE: The Papas & The Mamas

YEAR RELEASED: 1968

CHART ACTION: #15 US

SINGLES: Twelve Thirty (#20 US), Safe in My Garden (#53 US), Dream a Little Dream of Me (#12 US, #11 UK), For the Love of Ivy (#81 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not from this one.

LINEUP: Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips. The Wrecking Crew provided the backing even though they moved studios

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: It was a downer year for all and this record was not bright and happy. But it was better than the last one by far.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Tensions were high within the group as they set about to record this album. John Phillips and Cass Elliot were feuding, the sessions for the album stalled out, and Elliot made plans to go solo.

Still, with all of this, the album aims high and mostly succeeds. “For the Love of Ivy” was a complex song with interlocking vocals. “Mansions” was another standout, and most of the second side was great but darker than their other material.

The times were changing here and the band was almost done. The public didn’t like their darker side and moved on. It less than three years, it was basically over.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The trouble may have started when John Phillips installed a studio in his house, and he could record as he wished. Which meant he diddled around and the vocals took forever thanks to Phillip’s perfectionism.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A-: Though it wasn’t well received at the time, it’s aged a lot better than you’d expect.

The Mamas & The Papas – Deliver

ARTIST: The Mamas & The Papas Deliver

TITLE: Deliver

YEAR RELEASED: 1967

CHART ACTION: #2 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Look Through My Window (#24 US), Dedicated to the One I Love (#2 US, #2 UK), Creeque Alley (#5 US, #9 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Covers of My Girl and Twist and Shout

LINEUP: Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips. The Wrecking Crew provided the backing.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: “Let’s Put On A Show!”

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Mamas & The Papas were still big business in 1967, with hit singles, album sales, TV appearances, and spearheading the Monterey Pop Festival. What happened was that when this album was put together, instead of seminal sunshine pop, it was time for show-biz! At least for side one.

Cover songs of well known songs and show tunes (though “Dedicated to the One I Love” is breathtaking), accompanying a kinda novelty that re-tells their story (“Creeque Alley” – charming in its own way). They exploit Cass Elliot’s natural charisma to propel the songs into something fitting for a variety show.

Which is kind of disappointing, really. Side two is much more in vogue with their other records – a combo of folk and sunshine pop with great harmonies, except for an instrumental (this was a vocal group, really, right?) Still, kind of a downer given the first two releases.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title is a sly reference to Elliot’s pregnancy and delivery of a baby in 1967.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 

GRADE B-: Could have been better. Some is great and some cringeworthy.

The Mamas & The Papas – The Mamas & The Papas

ARTIST: The Mamas & The Papas 220px-MamasPapas

TITLE: The Mamas & The Papas

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #4 US, #24 UK

SINGLES: I Saw Her Again (#5 US, #11 UK), Words of Love (#5 US, #47 UK), Dancing Bear (#51 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dancing in the Street (#73 US as a B-side)

LINEUP: Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips. Jill Gibson was in for Michelle Phillips for a spell. The Wrecking Crew provided the backing along with Ray Manzarek.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A sunshine-pop smash that masked inter-group turmoil.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ten of the 12 tracks on the self-titled second album by The Mamas & The Papas were written (or co-written) by John Phillips, as his creativity was hitting full stride.

The group was also hitting full stride, using inventive arrangements and production lead by Lou Adler. The harmonies were spot on, and Denny Doherty’s and Cass Elliot’s leads were sassy and sweet as needed. “I Saw Her Again” and “No Salt on Her Tail” were classics of the 60’s (even if the last wasn’t a single).

The album masked a lot of issues, though. Michelle Phillips had cheated on John with Doherty, upsetting the dynamic, and then when Michelle was caught in an affair with former Byrd Gene Clark, they booted her from the group. Jill Gibson came in, but was let go after three months. Songs were recorded, re-recorded, and re-re-recorded. What Gibson actually sang on was and is unknown. That really doesn’t matter. What matters is the end product.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The false start on “I Saw Her Again” (before the third chorus) was an engineering mistake by Bones Howe (a legend in his own right in Sunshine Pop), but Lou Adler kept it in.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A-: A classic of Sunshine Pop, deep cuts and hits all working well.

Firehose – Fromohio

ARTIST: Firehose 220px-FROMOHIO

TITLE: Fromohio

YEAR RELEASED: 1989

CHART ACTION: None.

SINGLES: Time With You

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: What Gets Heard

LINEUP: Ed Crawford, Mike Watt, George Hurley. Kira Roessler played and sung too.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A record much like their previous, except a couple of solo spots for George Hurley.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Unlike If’n, Fromohio (taken from Ed Crawford’s sometime nom-de-band – Ed Fromohio) isn’t a leap forward, more like a retrenchment towards what worked previously. That’s OK, and some of the songs were pretty good (“What Gets Heard”, “Time With You”), but others seemed just repeated themes from their previous records.

They also had two drummer showcases, and a guitar exercise. Those would be OK had not the other material been as strong as the previous album – but it really wasn’t.

All in all, it seemed like Firehose was marking time here. A better record than most of their contemporaries, but still marking time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Watt started calling his bass “Thunder Broom”. Plus, the title track from the previous album is on this one.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B: I didn’t think it was as good as any of their other SST records.

Firehose – If’n

ARTIST: Firehose 220px-Ifn_Firehose_Album_cover

TITLE: If’n

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: None.

SINGLES: Sometimes

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: For the Singer of REM

LINEUP: Ed Crawford, Mike Watt, George Hurley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A coalescence of the band strengths. This has the playfulness of the Minutemen, but definitely is its own thing.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a tentative first record, Ed Crawford fits in with his bandmates and turns out an excellent album with hardly any shadow of D. Boon in it.

Crawford’s guitar now fits in fully with Watt and Hurley, and allows Crawford’s natural swing and phrasing to come through, and it opens up a lot of possibilities to the trip. They branch out into different modes and motifs seamlessly here. Crawford’s voice is more confident, and Watt’s around to growl a bit too.

This record also contains one of the all-timers of the 80’s “For the Singer of REM”. The lyrics send up and tribute Michael Stipe, and the guitar parts from Crawford are definitely Peter Buck-ian. That track is where Firehose all comes together.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The album cover shows a picture of Husker Du, who recently left their record company, SST.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A: A much better and more cohesive effort, with an all-timer in “For the Singer of REM”.

Firehose – Ragin’ Full-On

ARTIST: Firehose 220px-Ragin',fullon

TITLE: Ragin’ Full-On

YEAR RELEASED: 1986

CHART ACTION: None.

SINGLES: Nope

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Brave Captain

LINEUP: Ed Crawford, Mike Watt, George Hurley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Surprise! Watt and Hurley, grieving after D. Boon’s death and the loss of the Minutemen because of it, regroup with Minutemen fan Ed Crawford and form Firehose.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: NOTE: NOT FIREHOUSE.

From seemingly out of nowhere (at least to those not plugged into the West Coast punk scene) came Firehose, which gathered Mike Watt and George Hurley along with Minuteman fan-boy / guitarist Ed Crawford (from Ohio).

This, their first effort, sounds a bit tentative since the trio was just learning to work together. Watt and Hurley knew each other, but had to figure out how to play with Crawford, who was a bit more conventional than D. Boon, though he tried to be a bit outside.

That was one of the issues – Crawford tried too much to be in the spirit of D. Boon’s guitar work and that was not his strength. He did work well on some tracks, especially his tracks like “Brave Captain”, “The Candle and the Flame”, and “Choose Any Memory”.  The ones that Watt wrote (or-cowrote with his wife Kira Roessler) he struggled a bit with.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: THIS ISN’T FIREHOUSE.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE B: For a band just coming together after a tragedy, it’s surprisingly good, but there was room for improvement.

Au Pairs – Stepping Out of Line: The Anthology

ARTIST: Au Pairs Steppingoutofline

TITLE: Stepping Out of Line: The Anthology

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None. Their original albums did chart in the UK

SINGLES: You, It’s Obvious, Inconvenience

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: We’re So Cool, Come Again

LINEUP: Jane Munro, Lesley Woods, Paul Foad, Peter Hammond

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Mined from the same vein as the Gang of Four, the Au Pairs jagged punk funk was focused mostly on feminism and sexuality.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The guitars are sharp and pointed, dishing out short small riffs, while the bass and drums keep up a funk rhythm. The vocals are strident, sometimes more commanding than singing (especially later), and no, this isn’t the Gang of Four – it’s Au Pairs. 220px-Playingwithadifferentsex

Lesley Woods spouts rails against sexism and advocates for feminists, with a touch of politics, while other guitarist Paul Foad tries to answer the best he can. Meanwhile, the stars are bassist Jane Munro and drummer Peter Hammond, who keep the grove going and the dance floor hopping.

This collection grabs everything they recorded, including BBC sessions. For the most part, there’s quality and distinction here, but the material tails off in both performance and quality during their second album (Woods sounds hoarse.) They broke up before their third album sessions in 1983, and that may have been for the best since their first statements were their best. 220px-SenseAndSensuality

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They delivered a rousing “Come Again” during Urgh! A Music War.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B+: A sadly forgotten band except for post-punk scholars and die-hards. It brought feminism and discussions of sexual freedom to the scene.

The Exploding Hearts – Guitar Romantic

ARTIST: The Exploding Hearts 220px-Guitar_Romantic

TITLE: Guitar Romantic

YEAR RELEASED: 2003

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Modern Kicks, I’m a Pretender

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Matt Fitzgerald, Adam Cox, Jeremy Gage, Terry Six. King Louie Bankston helped on keyboards.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Hearkening back to the late 70’s UK, The Exploding Hearts had a lo-fi UK punk sound and were poised to break out, until tragedy struck.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sounding like a lost record from 1978 UK, full of hooks and attitude, The Exploding Hearts burned up Oregon and the West Coast with their sound and style.

They were definitely punk, but in the mode of Buzzcocks crossed with the Rubinoos. The production of the record was a bit raw, but it fit perfectly. The songs stuck with you as they were full of hooks and verve.

Sadly, they never got their deserved breakout due to tragedy. On their way back from a show in San Francisco, they were about 100 miles way from Portland when their van had an accident, causing the death of three members, leaving just guitarist Terry Six behind.

They had a lot of potential, and it snuffed out just like that. We still have this record to remember them by, though. ehearts

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Singles, compilation songs and alternate mixes are captured on Shattered, which includes a few songs destined for their next album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A: It’s a damn shame they’re gone as this record is top-notch.

 

Deep Purple – Deep Purple in Rock

ARTIST: Deep Purple Deep_Purple_in_Rock

TITLE: Deep Purple in Rock

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #143 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Speed King

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Child in Time

LINEUP: Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Jon Lord

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After changing their lineup, and indulging Jon Lord’s symphonic jones, Deep Purple’s classic combo records their first album and, well, it’s good.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Seeing their fortunes dwindle, and their US record company go belly up, Deep Purple jettisoned their singer and bass player – adding Ian Gillan and Roger Glover. The classic lineup was born, and the first thing they did was….the symphonic record (covered in quickie form on the site).

Cranking out of the gate with “Speed King”, and moving through seven tracks that are mostly driving rock with progressive flourishes (especially the epic “Child of Time” – where Jon Lord gets his money’s worth), Deep Purple in Rock established the band once and for all in the UK. Later, the band toured the world and set the stage for their later success, wiping away their former status as the UK’s answer to Vanilla Fudge.

Tracks like “Flight of the Rat” and “Bloodsucker” are prime examples of Deep Purple, and are a developmental step in the music that soon became heavy metal. This record definitely shows that a band can re-invent itself to play off its strengths mid-career, and not have a ponderous pretentious record stall them out.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Black Night” was released as a single apart from the album and was a smash in the UK (#2) and a minor US hit (#66)

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A version with “Black Night” plus outtakes.

GRADE A-: Welcome, Deep Purple! We’ll mostly forget your earlier stuff.

Tame Impala – InnerSpeaker

ARTIST: Tame Impala  220px-Tame_Impala_-_Innerspeaker

TITLE: InnerSpeaker

YEAR RELEASED: 2010

CHART ACTION: Heatseekers #28, UK #144

SINGLES: Solitude Is Bless, Lucidiy, Expectation, Why Don’t You Make Up Your Mind

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Desire Be Desire Go was the lead track on their (his) EP

LINEUP: Kevin Parker, Dom Simper, Jay Watson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Australian multi-everything channels the acid and psychedelic rock of the 60’s to near perfection.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After an EP and a single set some tastemakers aback with the back-to-the 60’s psychedelic vibe, Tame Impala (really Australian Kevin Parker and some friends helping here and there) released their debut album. It really channels the psychedelic era with fuzzed out guitars, echoey vocals that sound like their through a Leslie, and just a fabulous sound all together.

Sounding like John Lennon singing in a canyon, Parker’s vocals hearken back to the 60’s, as does his instrumentation. But there’s something modern sounding as well. The production is excellent, and the use of a breadth of sounds and studio effects make this a homage instead of a straight copy.

While the album loses steam a bit at the end, it’s still a fabulous record, and reminds one of a psychedelic Todd Rundgren since he did almost everything himself.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The self titled EP and the “Sundown Syndrome” single are streaming. There was also a 2008 EP with three songs and three remixes, though two carried over. The streaming of the 2009 EP just has four of the six tracks, since one is on this album and the other was cut.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There is an EP with B-sides streaming separately.

 GRADE A-: A great tribute / homage to the psychedelic sound from a modern studio hound.