Tag: 1987

Chumbawumba – Never Mind the Ballots

ARTIST: Chumbawumba                      Chumbaballots

TITLE: Never Mind the Ballots

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: #2 UK Indie

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Hahahahah, um…no.

LINEUP: Lou Watts, Harry Hamer, Mavis Dillon, Alice Nutter, Danbert Nobacon, Boff Whalley, Dustan Bruce, Simon Lanzon, Neil Ferguson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Politics and elections!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A musical play or anarchist agit-prop opera or whatever you want to call it – Chumbawumba’s second album is all about electoral politics featuring two candidates, the public, and how the two supposedly opposite sided candidates seem to want the same thing in the end

Funny how that’s appropriate now as well.

Musically, this is a much better and more commercial (sounding, commercial sounding, people) record. The band really can play well, and the arrangements are complementary to the lyrics and messages.

The messages, themes, and motifs are radical commentary on the UK’s issues in the late 80’s, but the political messages rather much fit to any political system. Candidates will be about one thing, mainly. That’s power. No matter what they say, that’s what they want.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had promo T-shirts in English and French that said “THE VOTE CHANGES NOTHING! THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. This isn’t streaming, but it’s available on You Tube.

 GRADE B+: You probably need to somewhat agree with their politics to really enjoy it, but it’s good.

Sonic Youth – Sister

ARTIST: Sonic Youth                        220px-Sonic_youth_sister

TITLE: Sister

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Schizophrenia, (I Got A) Catholic Block

LINEUP: Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Where Sonic Youth’s promise intersects with its reality.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Finally, an album that fulfilled Sonic Youth’s vision and promise. While Evol was a great leap forward, Sister is the culmination of their SST career and put them at the precipice of greatness.

The trend towards recognizable song-structures is there, and they utilize structures to make an impact in lyrics and sound. Still, they allow Kim Gordon to recite powerful feminism over what sounds like free-form noise (but definitely isn’t). The drumming by Steve Shelley is propulsive and evocative (and really drives songs like “Stereo Sanctity”).

The band was able to construct haunting songs (“Schizophrenia”), first person observations (“Tuff Gnarl” and a combo of creepy first person songs (“Pacific Coast Hightway”). It peters out a bit at the end (after a cover of a song by Crime) but really, the cover is probably the cause of the letdown. Had they re-sequenced it and ended with the cover, it would have been nearly perfect.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The first versions, in the UK, had the final two cuts spelled “Kotton Krown” and “White Kross”, while later versions had it as “Cotton Crown” and “White Cross”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The CD version appends “Master=Dik”, the first appearance of the Ciccone Youth sound.

 GRADE A: Of course not for everyone (it IS Sonic Youth), but this is one of their must-haves. A great mix of rock song structures and avant-garde tuning and sounds.

Primal Scream – Sonic Flower Groove

ARTIST: Primal Scream                               220px-Sonic_Groove_Flower_album_cover

TITLE:  Sonic Flower Groove

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: #62 UK

SINGLES: Gentle Tuesday (#86 UK), Imperial (#86 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Streams of Whiskey

LINEUP: Bobby Gillespie, Jim Navajo, Robert Yount, Andrew Innes, Dave Morgan.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: UK band sounds like a refugee from the Paisley Underground in their debut.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sounding like they transplanted from LA in 1965 (or in 1982), Primal Scream’s debut is definitely in the jingly, psychedelic motif. The guitar jangle and swirl, the vocals are gentle, almost too gentle, and the melodies have a psychedelic, raga tinge to them.

The opening cut, “Gentle Tuesday” is quite good and promising, and a few other tracks have the same kind of edge, but most of tracks fall into a rut where the song isn’t hooky enough, and the guitar jangle blurs together from one track to another.

Even though this charted, and isn’t half bad, the band went on hold and emerged a different type of group, leaving the jangle mostly behind.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Mayo Thompson of the ‘famous’ Red Krayola produced the album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B-: If you are into Byrdsy stuff, it’s fine, but it’s got some great stuff and some stuff that’s just a meh genre exercise.

Melvins – Gluey Porch Treatments

ARTIST: Melvins                                220px-Gluey_orig

TITLE:  Gluey Porch Treatments

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Hahahahaha, yeah right

LINEUP: Matt Lukin, Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: If not the spawning pool for grunge, at least one of the catalysts.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Eye Flys” opens up this, the first full length, and the true Melvins spirit is imbued in this track. A simple, slow, repetitive bass line, drums sound on the 2 and 4, and a feedback wall of guitar that builds up into an actual riff and then a song 4 ½ minutes in, and then vocals (slowly yawping at that), and it’s over less than two minutes after the song really kinda starts. It’s the Melvins, man. They don’t get anywhere and their not in a hurry.

There are a lot of tracks here. Many are short – under a minute even. Many are slow, a slowly building wall of noise but sometimes they have get up and go. Do they make sense? Can you understand them? Who cares? 71wAECAVcxL._SX355_

 

This probably is the best thing to check out to wonder why they became such a beloved band in the grunge scene. It’s pretty scuzzy, and sometimes brilliant.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They appropriated “Leeech” from Green River, since that band never played it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, so many bonus tracks from demos on the CD version. 

GRADE: B+: By no means is it flawless – but the flaws are pretty much the reason to listen to it.

 

Bill Lloyd – Feeling the Elephant

ARTIST: Bill Lloyd

TITLE:  Feeling the Elephant cover_elephant

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Er…no

LINEUP: Bill Lloyd with some help from David Russell, Scott Sullivan, Marc Owens, Jim Hodgekins, and Kim Richey

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A set of power-pop demos recorded over a four year period is a hidden gem for a singer-songwriter who was about to break big in country.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: In a few months after this was released, Bill Lloyd would become famous in the country music as part of Foster & Lloyd, but these songs were firmly in power-pop territory, and they hold up a lot better than that country duo’s tracks.

Most of these tracks are self-recorded as a one-man band, and date from a four year period. Yet they sound cohesive, tight, and very much like a self-contained album project.

Lloyd’s sense of melodies and arrangement are demonstrated on each track, and he’s well known as a rock and country guitarist and that’s also in evidence here. The only drawback is some of the production – very 80’s sounding at times. Still, it’s a must for power-pop lovers.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He’s an in-demand session guy and also tours as a sideman besides his solo work.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A: It’s surprising how good this is. A very much hidden power-pop gem.

The Rainmakers – Tornado

ARTIST: The Rainmakers       R-1368277-1213474079.jpeg

TITLE: Tornado

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: #116

SINGLES: Small Circles, Snakedance (#31 Modern Rock), No Romance

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wages of Sin

LINEUP: Bob Walkenhorst, Steve Phillips, Rich Ruth, Pat Tomek

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Follow up to their snarky debut has more bile than snark and really doesn’t connect with audiences.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Musically, the second album by the Rainmakers is more diverse, and has better and more varied arrangements than their debut record. Yet, the songs on this go around seem bitter, a bit detached, and less humorous for the most part.

Bob Walkenhorst also tries to be a bit more serious at times, and there he’s more heavy handed than poignant, and that takes away from the musical improvement.

Still, “Wages of Sin” and “Rainmaker” are pretty good 80’s alternative / college rock, and some of the other cuts only falter because they do sound dated a bit. Yet, it’s still kind of a disappointment after the way the college crowd jumped on their first one.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Stephen King (the author, not the asshat congressman) was a fan and quoted their lyrics in a couple of his books.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, leftover cuts and B-sides 

GRADE: B-: Enough decent stuff to make it passable, but it’s still rather much a lyrical disappointment.

La Bamba – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

ARTIST: Various (Mostly Los Lobos)                         220px-Labambasounds

TITLE: La Bamba

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: #1

SINGLES: Come On, Let’s Go (#21 US, #18 UK), La Bamba (#1 US, #1 UK), Donna (#83 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: All of them but not these versions.

LINEUP: Los Lobos (8 tracks) with cuts from Howard Huntsberry, Marshall Crenshaw, Brian Setzer, and Bo Diddley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Big, huge soundtrack (at least sales wise) to the move about the life of Ritchie Valens.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you weren’t going to use the original songs by Ritchie Valens and others (and just WHY NOT – I mean, they sound great now), then having Los Lobos record the Ritchie Valens was the least you could do.

It struck gold. The movie made a big box office impression, and the soundtrack hit the charts and made Los Lobos a household name, at least for a summer.

Yet, now, it seems unnecessary. Every song on here is found easily on the web in the original forms, and while Los Lobos does a great and reverent job with the Valens tracks, they’d be the first to tell you that you need to have the originals.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I don’t need to tell you the title track was Los Lobos only #1 hit.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C-: Not necessary in this day and time.

The Fastbacks – …And His Orchestra

ARTIST: Fastbacks                                     R-1370941-1213725016.jpeg

TITLE: …And His Orchestra

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Wrong, Wrong, Wrong; In the Winter

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The select few and possibly those who listen to KEXP

LINEUP: Kurt Bloch, Lulu Gargiulo, Kim Warnick, Richard Stuverud

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut long-player for a long-standing Pacific NW band illustrates their power-pop charm and hooks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Fastbacks were more legendary than anything. Every write-up of the Seattle scene mentions the Fastbacks, yet until the 90’s very few heard them outside of the area even though they’d been gigging since 1981.

You can definitely tell the joy and fun they have playing. Kurt Bloch’s songs fit the group like a glove, and Kim Warnick’s vocals, while maybe not technically elite, convey the spirit of the lyrics and songs perfectly. Bloch and Lulu Gargiulo’s guitars seem sinple, but go beyond the regular three-chord monte and add some metal flourishes at time (no, really). fastbacks saturday

Music like this always bring a smile to my face, and it’s kind of a shame that they receded into the background as the Seattle scene became THE SCENE.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They formed in 1979, and went through a shit-ton of drummers, including a young Duff McKagan..

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Two of their early EP’s are appended at the end. Even though they’re from the mid-80’s they have the same spirit. R-2233040-1271317037.jpeg

GRADE: A:  If you need a fun record that illustrates the joy of playing in a band, this is it.

Los Lobos – By the Light of the Moon

ARTIST: Los Lobos                             220px-bythelightofthemoonalbumcover

TITLE:  By the Light of the Moon

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: #47 US, #77 UK

SINGLES: Set Me Free (Rosa Lee) (#99 UK), Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: One Time One Night

LINEUP: David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez, Conrad Lozano, Steve Berlin

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A let down after their brilliant 1984 album, but there are some decent tracks here.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It took a while for Los Lobos to release their second album. “One Time One Night” was under the opening credits for Colors, but the rest of the album didn’t come out until 1987.

They struggled with material, seemingly. It was an attempt to try to replicate the success, but the songs weren’t as vital or fresh as their previous set.

A couple tracks (“Set Me Free (Rosa Lee”) and “One Time One Night” are stellar, and it’s not like the other tracks are bad. But it is kind of disappointing compared to their first full-length.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their first two full length albums hit the same number on the Billboard charts.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B:  It’s OK, but not one of their best efforts..

Julian Cope – Saint Julian

ARTIST: Julian Cope        220px-juliancopesaintjulian

TITLE:  St. Julian

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: #105 US, #11 UK

SINGLES: World Shut Your Mouth (#84 US, #22 Mainstream, #19 UK), Trampolene (#31 UK), Eve’s Volcano (#41 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Planet Ride

LINEUP: Julian Cope, Donald Ross Skinner, James Wiler, Chris Whitten with Kate St. John and others

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After two ‘fried’ albums, as it were, Cope moves to a more commercial rock sound with some success both commercially and artistically.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With a new manager, and a brain free from LSD (at least he wasn’t taking it daily), Julian Cope turned away from his introspective psychedelic material and towards a more modern-rock sound.

The result wasn’t anything like the Teardrop Explodes or his first solo albums, for better or worse. Cope has a lyrical fixation with space (at least three cuts definitely link to outer space), and his melodies and some of his vocals still have a little of a freak-out bend to them. But in cuts like “Trampolene” and “World Shut Your Mouth”, he embraces rock.

That last cut made a big splash on MTV and on college radio, and made Cope somewhat of a rock star. The album as a whole wasn’t as deep or good as that cut (which shines to this day), and Cope was really more of a reluctant rocker than anything.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He used a pseudonym (Double DeHarrison) for the keyboards he played on the record. He also played a unique nine-string guitar (a 12-string with single low E, A and D strings)

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but in the UK “World Shuts Your Mouth” starts side two.

GRADE: B:  Some of the material sounds like Cope’s forcing himself to rock, but “World Shut Your Mouth” is absolutely an all-timer.