Category: Grade: C

Joe Jackson – Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive

ARTIST: Joe Jackson

TITLE: Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive  220px-Jumpinjive

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #42 US, #12 UK

SINGLES: Jumpin’ Jive (#43 UK), Jack You’re Dead

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: All of these are swing-era hit songs

LINEUP: Joe Jackson, Pete Thomas, Raul D’Oliveira, Nick Weldon, Dave Bitelli, Graham Maby, Larry Tolfree.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After he broke up his angry-young-man band, Jackson goes swing (!?!) It was probably a fun record to make.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The swing music era always has affectionados, and revivals every now and then pop up in space and time. Joe Jackson loved the jump blues and swing, so why not put out an album of covers of his favorite songs.

Featuring songs made famous by Louis Jordan, Glenn Miller, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, and others, Jackson leads a competent swing band through the paces in what sounds like a fun time.

Yet after a couple of plays, what you want to do is find the originals (which is now much, much easier in the streaming world) than listen to Jackson’s versions. (His voice isn’t always built for these songs). So a fun concept, the tour was probably a hoot, but these aren’t the originals and that’s what you really want.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this tour, Jackson changed directions again, keeping Graham Maby as the only continuum between his first band and 1982.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE: C+: It’s fun, but it doesn’t have staying power since the originals are the ones you need to seek out.

The Dirtbombs – Horndog Fest

ARTIST: The Dirtbombs                    220px-Horndogfest

TITLE:  Horndog Fest

YEAR RELEASED: 1998

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Can’t Stop Thinking About It

LINEUP: Mick Collins, Tom Lynch, Eric Wheeler, Chris Handyside, Joe Greenwald

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Retro garage and soul band, record an album after a bunch of singles. It’s hit or miss in a big way.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After releasing a bunch of singles, and before they found their groove in the early 2000’s, the Dirtbombs mastermind Mick Collins accepted an offer to record an album and treated it like a single, except there was a lot more B-side material than A-side stuff.

“I Can’t Stop Thinking About It” is one of those coulda shoulda songs that really should be rescued (it was in a TV commercial, though). There are a couple of other tracks that deserve to hang around, but most of the rest is a bit puerile or obtuse, or way way overcome by noise. Though I dig Joe Greenwald’s guitar settings.

They’d get their mojo around the turn of the decade, but this one is a pass except for a couple of tracks.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had released five singles by the time this was put out, and had an EP come out in 1999 as well.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: C-: A couple tracks save it from total ignominy

Rick Derringer – Playlist: The Very Best of Rick Derringer

ARTIST: Rick Derringer                     71++RgMezdL._SX425_

TITLE:  Playlist: The Very Best of Rick Derringer

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Charting: Hang on Sloopy (#1 US, #5 UK), Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo (#23 US), Teenage Love Affair (#80 US), Let Me In (#86)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Still Alive and Well

LINEUP: Rick Derringer and various session people, plus his own group called Derringer, which existed in the mid-70’s

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Guitarist and vocalist for the McCoys, Johnny Winter, and Edgar Winter’s solo career is compiled in a single disc that illustrates the problems he had sustaining a solo career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s no doubt Rick Derringer’s a good wingman, as his worth with both Winter brothers and Weird Al show. He’s also got a good rock-and-roll voice. But as a songwriter, he’s got few highlights outside of “Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo”.

“Still Alive and Well” works well, and various dribs and drabs from his group Derringer are decent enough. But his 70’s solo albums found him straddling glam and hard rock, with no real purpose, and some of his tracks are just cringeworthy (who the hell thought “If I Weren’t So Romantic, I’d Shoot You” was a song title that would be both a single AND the title of an album???)

I was quite disappointed here – but it illustrates why you’ve not heard much besides his big solo hit.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He recorded a version of “Real American” for Alex Jones’ show. I don’t need to say more.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: C: Many tracks exiled. Just not great

The Monkees – Head

ARTIST: The Monkees                                     220px-Monkees-Head

TITLE:  Head

YEAR RELEASED: 1968

CHART ACTION: #45

SINGLES: Porpoise Song (#62)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Circle Sky

LINEUP: Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and lots of session musicians and actors

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The soundtrack to the Monkees gobsmackingly odd movie is just as odd as the movie.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Porpoise Song” and “Circle Sky” are amongst the Monkees’ best tracks. Peter Tork has a couple of nice songs here as well, and a lot of session and LA musician heavyweights play on this. But it’s…strange.

Of the 14 original tracks, only six are real songs, and one is their “War Chant” which has more significance in the movie than on this soundtrack. One of the real songs is yet another tribute to music of vaudeville – making it the third such ‘tribute’ in a year.

The dialogue in oddly placed, and just makes no sense in context without the movie. I guess this could have been an EP, but the strategy was to have a multi-media experience. But the movie was buried and mostly unseen, and thus this album made no sense to a lot of people and was way way over the head of many of their fans. It’s sad, because “Porpoise Song” and “Circle Sky” deserve more than this.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Jack Nicholson was the one who compiled the dialogue and wrote the script for the movie.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: As usual, Rhino documents the heck out of this group. There is a nice live version of “Circle Sky” which shows that the band was competent out on the road.

 GRADE: C-: This is best picked apart, and the good tracks saved and the other stuff just shunted off.

Die Kreuzen – Century Days

ARTIST: Die Kreuzen               220px-Die_Kreuzen_-_Century_Days

TITLE:  Century Days

YEAR RELEASED: 1988

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That’s a negative

LINEUP: Keith Brammer, Brian Egeness, Dan Kubinski, Erik Tunison. Help from Tim Cole and Peter Balistrieri

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Die Kreuzen slows it down. Dan Kubinski doesn’t scream as much. Eh.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Die Kreuzen had good notices and a decent live show, but it seemed never to really get over on a record. On this third full-length, vocal shredder Dan Kubinski slows down and actually sings some songs, and the band reduces the tempo away from being mostly hardfastrules.

Somehow, though, that didn’t improve the proceedings. It seems turgid and bloated at times, and the production from Butch Vig doesn’t do the band any favors (though the band is also credited with co-producing, so he may have just made sure the tape was rolling properly…) By the time “Halloween” comes on to liven up the place a bit, it’s too late.

Whatever the wags were saying, and how good the press WAS in the day, I’m not hearing it. So I’m off the Die Kreuzen train after exiling this.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released their last record in 1991, but have reunited for shows. Why wouldn’t they?

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: C: I may be missing something, but I’m just not feeling this. They seem to be running in place on this one.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

ARTIST: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah     Clap_Your_Hands_Say_Yeah_(Front_Cover)

TITLE:  Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

YEAR RELEASED: 2005

CHART ACTION: #16 US Indie, #26 UK

SINGLES: Is This Love (#74 UK), In This Home on Ice (#68 UK), The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth (#149 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe if you were tuned into indie or college stations.

LINEUP: Alex Ounsworth, Sean Greenhaigh, Robbie Guertin, Lee Sargent, Tyler Sargent..

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Indie rock sensations in 2005, in retrospect it’s a lot of whiny stuff.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you were a whiny skinny white boy, then 2005 was the year for you. In the UK, and over here, bands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah got airplay and noticed.

Alex Ounsworth is the brains behind the band, and he has a good knack for melodies and arrangements, mostly. But my goodness, his voice. He’s got a natural whine, and not in a good way. It’s high pitched, pleading, and grating at times.

Mind you, there is some decent stuff on here, if you can forget the voice. I really can’t, but I’m keeping some anyway. Going forward, I’m forgetting their other records.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This record was self-released and sold by the band here in the US before it was released in the UK on a proper label.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. 

GRADE: C+: There’s some material that Ounsworth’s voice doesn’t take away from, but it’s a detriment on many, and I can’t deal. Those songs are exiled.

Broken Social Scene – Feel Good Lost

ARTIST: Broken Social Scene          220px-Broken_Social_Scene-Feel_Good_Lost

TITLE:  Feel Good Lost

YEAR RELEASED: 2001

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That’s a big no

LINEUP: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Brodie West, Justin Peroff, Charles Spearing, Bill Priddle, Jessica Moss, Evan Cranley, Leslie Feist (barely).

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A mostly instrumental (and the vocals are just ethereal really) record that’s good to put on while cleaning your bathroom, but that’s not a recommendation.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: At first, they were an ambient instrumental group founded by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning and they gathered some friends and recorded this record of ambient doodlings.

It’s alright if you’re into that kind of thing, but I kept waiting and waiting for something to pop out at me and give me a reason to keep going. I didn’t find it.

Obviously, they’d change up and become the big ol’ Toronto collective histpers now and nod to, but this…this isn’t it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The duo formed the band in 1999 and it took a couple years to get this made.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: Be my guest if you like ambient noise scapes.

The Yardbirds – Little Games

ARTIST: The Yardbirds                       220px-Ylittlegames

TITLE:  Little Games

YEAR RELEASED: 1967

CHART ACTION: #80

SINGLES: Little Games (#51)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Drinking Muddy Water

LINEUP: Keith Relf, Jimmy Page, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty with session help.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: They fired Jeff Beck but had Jimmy Page. They hired Mickey Most as producer. The latter was a big mistake and basically ended the band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Mickey Most was a long-time producer in the UK and created some classic hit singles, but when he was brought together with the Yardbirds it was a mismatch.

The record company wanted hit singles, but the band had moved, on stage, to more of a blues-rock improvisational vibe, utilizing the strengths of Jimmy Page. They lost Paul Samwell-Smith, who was the musical director of the group, and that no doubt hurt them in the studio.

The singles (which only one appeared on the album) were by outside writers and not at all in the style of the band, and the other cuts were rushed through the entire process in just three days since Most thought albums were a waste. There’s not really much to recommend here, which is sad. The title track was OK, and a couple of tracks have good guitar and melodies, but it’s really short and incomplete.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This wasn’t even released in the UK after the single “Little Games” stiffed.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple. There’s one with outtakes, and demos, and one with the last singles appended (“Ha Has Said the Clown” (#45), “Ten Little Indians” (#96), “Goodnight Sweet Josephine” (#127). 

GRADE: C-: Only a couple will escape the exiling. This is just a sad way for the Yardbirds to leave the stage.

Yuck – Glow and Behold

ARTIST: Yuck                   Glow_Behold

TITLE:  Glow and Behold

YEAR RELEASED: 2013

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Rebirth, Middle Sea, Lose My Breath

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not any

LINEUP: Max Bloom, Mariko Doi, Jonny Rogoff

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second record from the shoe-gaze revivalist disappoints thanks to a lineup change.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Second albums are tough. Second albums after one of the leaders of the band bugs out are tougher. Yuck lost leader Daniel Blumberg right before they prepped the songs for this album, and while Max Bloom and Mariko Doi do adequate jobs on vocals, the songs….well…

There’s not anything horrible about them, but instead of adding something new and fresh to the shoegaze sounds they grew up on, it seems they’re content just to mimic them. They weren’t as edgy, either, so they really did sound like more of a tribute than an energetic successor.

Some tracks, like “Lose My Breath” shine like the old days, but as the record moves on, it become blander and duller, taking the album down with it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Daniel Blumberg went to record his own solo material, which finally saw the light of day this year.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: The first half is decent. The second half puts me to sleep behind a wall of just-so distorted guitars. We don’t need that, really.

Blink 182 – Cheshire Cat

ARTIST: Blink 182                     220px-Blink-182_-_Cheshire_Cat_cover

TITLE:  Cheshire Cat

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #187 UK

SINGLES: M+M’s, Wasting Time

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you wrote the Blink 182 Wikipedia pages, yes.

LINEUP: Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, Scott Raynor

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: San Diego punks embrace poppier motifs and run it into the ground.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Blink-182’s fan base in San Diego and related areas were large enough to get some demos released and distributed, and Cargo Records signed them. They wrote some newer tracks and reworked some and released this onto the public.

While this was a few years before they hit the mainstream big-time, the elements were all here. Punk sounds with poppy melodies, and in many cases, puerile and ‘humorous’ lyrics. At times, the tempo is a bit too fast to squeeze in all of the words without rushing over them. The tracks also, after a while, don’t sound unique at all – fast tempo, kinda spoken words about some injustice for teenagers or other, similar chords.

The lyrics wreck a few songs for me – they definitely sound ‘bro’ and firmly rooted in freshman high school boys’ mentality. I exiled a lot of those.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Wikipedia sites for the Blink-182 albums and demos are larger and more detailed than almost every other album Wiki site, and the prose is definitely more fawning over the band, especially for a record that has a lot of puerile throwaways.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: Oh, sure, there are some decent pop-punk songs, but man there are some ‘funny’ lyrics that should make anyone over 15 squirm. Plus, the songs all begin to sound alike.