Category: Grade: D

Husker Du – Land Speed Record

ARTIST: Husker Du 220px-Land_Speed_Record
TITLE: Land Speed Record
SINGLES: Well, MTC as a studio version was on a B-side
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Two songs were on the next release, and Data Control was always in their live set.
LINEUP: Bob Mould, Greg Norton, Grant Hart
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Minnesotapunkrockbandreleaseslivealbumwheretheybasicallyplayforthirtyminutesstraight

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Whoosh – whir – wham – into a song – out of that – into the next one – no acknowledgement – no breaks – just get to the next one – step to the mic and sing – go fast – always go fast until the end – calm down for “Data Control” – that’s the only song you can remember.

It’s roughly recorded, hard to swallow, and basically what it would be like to be at a Husker Du concert in the early years except 10 times louder, and I guess faster as time went on. There’s no breaks, just Side A and Side B or jamming all of the titles together. I don’t think the LP was banded, even.

I love, love, love Husker Du but I’ve never had any kind of positive relationship with this record, no matter how hard I’ve tried. It’s justtoofastandnonstopandrecordedpoorly.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded this at the famous First Avenue in Minneapolis for $300.


GRADE: C-: I’d have LOVED to hear proper recordings of these songs, especially “Data Control”. I think there’s some good ones in there – somewhere. But man, I just can’t…

Fee Waybill – Read My Lips

ARTIST: Fee Waybill R-2663602-1303832174.jpeg
TITLE: Read My Lips
SINGLES: You’re Still Laughing, I Don’t Even Know Your Name (Passion Play)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh no. Not even Tubes fans bought this.
LINEUP: Fee Waybill and twenty three others. No one from the Tubes, but 2/3 of Toto is one here. So is Richard Marx. And John Cale co-wrote a song about Caribbean Sunsets. JOHN M’FN CALE!?!?!?! He must have needed the cash.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The singer of the Tubes, who were once satirists and at this time careerist rockists, records a solo album that’s so 1984, in a bad way, that it obscures any decent songs that could be lurking here.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Fee Waybill’s first solo album is something you should put in the time machine as an example of all of the mid-80’s mainstream pop/rock records. Keyboards abounding – keyboards as bass – keyboards as horns – keyboards as piano – keyboards as strings – keyboards as drums. Electronic drums. Guitar riffs that scream for no reason. Everything sounds…generic. Even the really fast one.

Waybill’s not technically a good singer, but he was good enough for the Tubes especially when they were more of a satirical band. Here, he’s trying to sing seriously, and he’s straining at every word. He doesn’t have the oomph for the fast ones nor the range and touch for the ballads.

This was a bad idea, poorly executed. It sounds slick and pristine, of course. David Foster produced this and it sounds like a hacky movie soundtrack. Why did I have this? Someone mixed one of the songs from this record for me and I liked it enough I kept it around. I’m regretting that.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Waybill wouldn’t release another solo album for 12 years. The Tubes were practically done as well. Oof.


GRADE: D: I could live a long and full life not having to listen to this ready-made 80’s pop-rock drivel again.


The Moody Blues – The Magnificent Moodies

ARTIST: The Moody Blues The_magnificent_moodies
TITLE: The Magnificent Moodies (Go Now – The Moody Blues #1 in the US)
SINGLES: Go Now (#10 US, #1 UK), I Don’t Want to Go On Without You (#33 UK), From the Bottom of My Heart (#93 US), Stop! (#98 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You probably know all but a few, since they did a lot of covers (as usual)
LINEUP: Denny Laine, Mike Pinder, Clint Warwick, Ray Thomas, Graeme Edge
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Moody Blues start as a typical UK Beat group, with one big single, a bunch of other stuff, and what seemed to be a short, forgettable career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Um, let’s cut this short. This is a quick LP job to support a hit single. It’s by a version of the Moody Blues that has really no connection, sonically, to their later material. Warwick and Laine both quite the group in 1966, and they were in a jam until Justin Heyward and John Lodge joined, and they ultimately scrapped this style (for the better). R-5779871-1402437695-4850.jpeg

“Go Now” is a nice hit. The rest is a no-go for me. Their originals aren’t anything special, and they really aren’t a band that can cover US R&B.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Laine, of course, was Paul McCartney’s foil in Wings in the 70’s.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, combining the UK and US versions with other singles and tracks. Listen to their version of “Time Is on My Side” versus the Stones’ version and see what you think. Some of the bonus tracks are decent, like a re-mastered version of “Go Now”.

GRADE: D+: This is the way albums used to be made for groups with their first hit. I wouldn’t even have reviewed this, except I know people may be interested because it’s the “Moody Blues”. I just wanted to warn folks. The bonus cuts would have made this a C-, but no better.

The Surfairs – The Best of the Surfaris

ARTIST: The Surfaris MI0003887849
TITLE: The Best of the Surfaris
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
SINGLES: Charting singles: Wipe Out (#2, #10 R&B), Surfer Joe (#62), Point Panic (#49)
LINEUP: Ron Wilson, Jim Fuller, Bob Berryhill, Pat Connolly, Jim Pash
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Band gets a fluke national hit, sustains enough of a career to have several albums and compilations. I chose this one. It’s all you need and a LOT more.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Wipe Out” was a fluke hot, thanks to a hypnotic guitar line and a great drum solo. “Surfer Joe” is a novelty that isn’t that great – and was just a B-side that people flipped on occasion.

The rest of these songs follow along the “Wipe Out” formula somewhat or trying to write songs similar to the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean. (“Hot Rod High” – oh, God) Some have drum solos, some don’t. Do you need any more than “Wipe Out”?

Don’t ponder too long. I heard all of these. I know the answer. At least all the songs are short.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The sounds at the beginning of “Wipe Out” were supposed to be a surf board breaking – and it was a board broken by Berryhill’s dad. The maniacal laughter came from their manager.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. But watch for re-recordings, etc.

GRADE: D+: If this didn’t have “Wipe Out”…but if it didn’t have “Wipe Out” it wouldn’t exist. Just find an original copy of “Wipe Out”

George Harrison – Electronic Sound

ARTIST: George Harrison Electronic_Sound_(George_Harrison_album_-_cover_art)
TITLE: Electronic Sound
SINGLES: None – only 2 tracks on the thing
LINEUP: George Harrison (and allegedly Bernie Krause)
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Area man buys synthesizer, records himself farting around on it.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While my new Moog bloops and bleeps…

This is the sound of George Harrison and his brand new Moog (and maybe Bernie Krause demonstrating the capacity of the Moog to George) and him fiddling around with it. There’s no melody, no songs, just sound.

It sounds like what I would do if I got a new synthesizer. The difference is that in 1969 they could make only one sound at a time – so George overdubbed some of this. The only reason this was released on anything but for a demonstration is that it was a Beatle that did this. Otherwise it’s just a man playing with a new toy.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was the second LP released on Zapple – the Apple subsidiary for avant garde music (John & Yoko released the first one on Zapple with one of their ‘recordings’.). When Allen Klein became Beatles manager he shut that shit down, pronto.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. I don’t think we could take another track of this, really.

GRADE: D-: I don’t mind weird or odd sounds, but I do want some resemblance to a song, please.

Robert John – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Robert John 614oTKwJRYL
TITLE: Greatest Hits
SINGLES: Most were singles
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The two you know were Sad Eyes (#1, 1979) and The Lion Sleeps Tonight (#3, 1971)
LINEUP: Robert John, his falsetto, and faceless sessioneers.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A compilation of a two (ok, three, since he had another Top 40 single) hit wonder from the 70’s that reveals how soulless some AM radio and adult contemporary music was in the 1970’s.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: You know Sad Eyes. Everyone knows that song. I’m keeping it, even though you groan when you hear it.

You know the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight. You should know the Tokens version, but children of the 70’s probably have heard John’s version. Maybe they heard it first. Technically it’s good – but there’s no magic since you know he’s singing all the parts.

You know the songs Hey There Lonely Girl (Eddie Holman) and Sherry (Four Seasons). You don’t want to hear John’s version of them. Especially not Sherry. It’s putrescent.

You don’t know his other originals. They’re…they’re not good. Not good, bad.

You never ever ever want to hear the disco remake of The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He also released a version of Greased Lightning as a single. It’s not on this comp. I can only imagine. The horror. The horror.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Thank goodness no.

GRADE: D-: Absolutely no reason to grab this when you can type in Sad Eyes and find a 1970’s compilation that has the original version. Sad Eyes saves this from the dreaded F.

Susanna Hoffs – When You’re a Boy

ARTIST: Susanna Hoffs 220px-Susanna_Hoffs_When_Youre_A_Boy
TITLE: When You’re A Boy
SINGLES: My Side of the Bed (#30 US, #44 UK), Unconditional Love (#65 UK), Only Love
LINEUP: Susanna Hoffs and a bunch of studio hotshots like Jim Keltner, Benmont Tench, Randy Jackson and…John Entwistle??? Donovan???
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Bangles lead singer continues down the pathway of eternal flame into the pit of despair. Figuratively, not literally.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Susanna Hoffs had one bomb to her name (that…movie…what was it??? Oh, the Allnighter. Don’t watch it, ever). After the Bangles broke up, she released this. Bomb number two.

Eternal Flame was really, really bad, as you know. Roll your eyes, bad. Many of the songs here are better than that, but barely. And they’re not redeemed at all by the production, which is very 80’s and not reminiscent at all of what the Bangles were good at in their heyday. The one thing I can say about it is that it’s very professional. Too professional, really. Slick as black ice.

She covered Bowie’s Boys Keep Swinging. Yeah….no. This one was bad enough to derail her career on every level (both as a solo artist and an actress).

NOTES & MINUTAE: In 1993, she married movie director Jay Roach, and then joked around in a faux 1960’s British band with Mike Myers and Matthew Sweet called Ming Tea. That’s where Myers first developed the Austin Powers character, and Roach directed the movies.

Also, one of my favorite Robbie Fulks songs is about her -That Bangle Girl.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Thankfully, no. Twelve songs of this is enough.

GRADE: D : Well produced hackery is still hackery.

Sepultua – Morbid Visions

ARTIST SepulturaMorbid_visions
TITLE: Morbid Visions
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None, unless you’re a death metal freak and then maybe Troops of Doom
LINEUP: Max Cavalera, Igor Cavalera, Jairo Guedes, Paulo Jr.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Brazilian teenagers try to be the South American version of Venom, and fail, but succeed at starting a band that was one of the best metal bands of the 90’s.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I don’t really mean to be harsh, especially since Sepultra’s 90’s records are so vital, but, oof, this was a hard slog to listen to. They were just kids that were only together for a year. They didn’t really know English well and they had to borrow equipment just to record. The sound is bad – but they didn’t have much money at all.

It’s really far removed from the great sound they had in the 90’s. This is just generic death metal that has a lot of technical flaws. Some glimmers were there in a few songs, but they didn’t take off until they stopped aping groups and started to create their own sound and legacy.

NOTES & MINUTAE: In fact, Max Cavalera said that they didn’t tune their guitars for the session. Oh.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Kind of. The release has their 1985 EP Bestial Devastation appended to it. It was a split release with another Brazilian band.

GRADE: D+ – If you’re really into Sepultura and need EVERYTHING. Otherwise, no.