Kate Bush – The Kick Inside

ARTIST: Kate Bush                               The_Kick_Inside_(Album_Artwork)

TITLE:  The Kick Inside

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #3 UK

SINGLES: Wuthering Heights (#108 US, #1 UK), The Man with the Child in His Eyes (#85 US, #6 UK), Moving, Them Heavy People, Strange Phenomena

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not over here

LINEUP: Kate Bush, Ian Barinson, Paddy Bush, Duncan Mackay, Andrew Powell, David Paton, Stuart Elliott, Morris Pert.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Nineteen year old songwriter and dramatic soprano becomes a UK phenomenon with her evocative voice and literary songs. The_Kick_Inside_(alternative_cover)

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Featuring songs written throughout her teenage years, 19-year old Kate Bush became a phenomenon in the UK and Europe with a dramatic single retelling of “Wuthering Heights”.

The album sold well, and has some fantastic tracks (such as the opener “Moving”) and some tracks that cover a lot of subject matter than normal 19-year olds don’t cover.“Them Heavy People” covers religion, and the title track is a child and murder ballad based on a child and murder ballad about a murderous brother, though Bush gives it a twist.

Some tracks, though, sound like they don’t belong, and use different studio musicians. A few probably had to make up the numbers, but for the classic tracks this is definitely one to check out.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She formed a band to tour a bit and get ready for the studio, but only used one of those musicians (her brother) on the album itself.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 

GRADE: A-: There’s some really outstanding tracks here and you can skip through some of the others without a problem.

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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.

The Pogues – Red Roses for Me

ARTIST: The Pogues                                        220px-Red_roses_for_me

TITLE:  Red Roses for Me

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: #89 UK

SINGLES: Dark Streets of London, Boys form the Country Heil

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Streams of Whiskey

LINEUP: Shane MacGowan, Jem Finer, Spider Stacy, James Feamly, Cait O’Riordan, Andrew Ranken

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Punks make traditional Irish music. It works.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Punk rock can be played with a tin whistle, accordion, and banjo. Five traditional Irish songs, jigs, and reels, a song from the great author Brendan Behan, and originals by Shane MacGowan that combine punk attitude with Irish music make up this record. It definitely opens your eyes and ears on what can be considered ‘punk’.

The album is lively, raucous, and spirited. Many songs are drinking songs, or related to drinking, because, Irish, you know. Most punters know “Dark Streets of London”, but every track can be thrown into the mix as a good time track. Well, not every track as “The Auld Triangle” is a great sad Irish track.

It’s great to hear a band with a fresh sound (even though it’s rooted in an old style) put themselves out there with enthusiasm and fervor. Irish music purists may find flaws, but heck, it’s fun record with or without a pint.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: MacGowan, Stacy and Finer were in a band called The Millwall Chainsaws before they evolved into the Pogues.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, B-sides of their singles, including one of their best known songs, a cover of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. 

GRADE: A: It’s dubbed “Celtic Punk”, which is a great description. A fine debut.

Kiss – Dressed to Kill

ARTIST: Kiss                                                 220px-Dressed_to_Kill_(album)_cover

TITLE:  Dressed to Kill

YEAR RELEASED: 1975

CHART ACTION: #32

SINGLES: Rock and Roll All Nite (#68), C’mon and Love Me

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The deep cuts stayed deep

LINEUP: Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Third album from the made-up marvels improves the sound and the songwriting, but the sequencing buried their classic song at the end.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Recorded with label boss Neil Bogart, the third album by Kiss has better sound, which helps the band tremendously. The guitars of Ace Frehley stand out now above the mix (frankly, that’s the best thing about the band if you want to be honest). The vocals are out there as well, which is good and bad, since the vocal range of this band isn’t that dynamic. You do hear Paul Stanley’s harmonies better, though.

As for the tunes, it has some decent deep cuts that didn’t get any traction, probably because no one listened to the first side. “Rock and Roll All Nite”, THE Kiss song, is stuck at the end of the record, which seems odd. Put it on side one, and flip, say “Getaway” to the end, then it’s probably a stronger album just by moving a couple of tracks around.

This still didn’t propel them in the stratosphere, not yet. They were too hard or scary for AM radio, and FM radio thought they were juvenile until the kids decided “Rock and Roll All Nite” was the tune.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was a short record. Just over 30 minutes, and that’s with a two minute acoustic intro to “Rock Bottom” which seems gratuitous. Not a value proposition, but this was their third record in a short amount of time.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B+: Better production made a big difference.

L’il Kim – Hard Core

ARTIST: L’il Kim                      Lil_Kim_-_Hard_Core

TITLE:  Hard Core

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: #11 US, #3 R&B, #116 UK

SINGLES: No Time (#18 US, #9 R&B, #1 Rap, #45 UK), Crush on You (#23 UK), Not Tonight (#6 US, #3 R&B, #2 Rap, #11 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Big Momma Thang, Queen Bitch

LINEUP: L’il Kim, Puff Daddy, Notorious BIG, Jay-Z, L’il Cease, Junior MAFIA, Jermaine Dupri,  Lamarquis Mark Jefferson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut from the Junior MAFIA rapper who was in the Puff Daddy / Notorious BIG orbit. It’s absolutely filthy.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Oh, my stars and garters, this one will peel the boxers off anyone listening to it. L’il Kim’s raps, over solid beats and rhymes, and featuring the NYC rap elite of the mid-to-late 90’s, made her a star and somehow got on the radio, too. (How the heck could “Not Tonight” get on the radio, much less hit the Top 10? How? Oh, yeah, there was a remix.)

At times, the relentless hardcore raps gets wearing, but L’il Kim seemingly has a one track mind. She’s got some good flow, and does a pretty good job of being creative with her lyrics.

Working with Biggie, Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, and other helped Kim get success and this is probably her legacy work. Remove the skits (what a plaque on the rap house in this time), and it’s solid.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The remix of “Not Tonight” also had Da Brat, Left Eye, Missy Elliott and Angie Martinez

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B+: I run hot and cold on this, but really, it’s pretty decent, and it’s FILTHY.

 

Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam – Super Hits

ARTIST: Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam      R-1750416-1392531071-6785.jpeg

TITLE:  Super Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: I Wonder If I Take You Home (#34 US, #6 R&B, #1 Dance, #12 UK), Can You Feel the Beat (#69 US, #40 R&B, #6 Dance, #97 UK), All Cried Out (#8 US, #3 R&B), Head to Toe (#1 US, #1 R&B, #1 Dance, #82 UK), Lost in Emotion (#1 US, #1 R&B, #8 Dance, #58 UK), Someone to Love for Me (#78 US, #7 R&B), Little Jackie Wants to Be a Star (#29 US, #3 R&B, #90 UK), Let the Beat Hit ‘Em (#37 US, #1 R&B, #1 Dance, #17 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That’s 8 of the 10 tracks.

LINEUP: Lisa Velez, Alex Moseley, Mike Hughes, other studio players (including Full Force, of course)

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A compact selection of a short-term hit maker that seems to have faded from view.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: 1987 was the year of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. Their 1985 debut  (credited with Full Force as well), was a minor hit until “All Cried Out” became a smash. Then “Head to Toe” and “Lost in Emotion” hit #1 and they were huge in that one year.

Two more records came and went, and while there was a couple of great tracks (“Let the Beat Hit ‘Em” and “Something ‘Bout Love” (not a single!)), they fizzled out.

There’s nothing revolutionary about Lisa Lisa – they were typical late 80’s pop hitmakers in the dance / R&B style. Just put this one and remember, remember, remember.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Full Force was a band and a production team that wrote the first three records for the group and half of the last one.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: B-: Well crafted 80’s dance pop that’s good for short nostalgic bursts.

Kraftwerk – Radio-Activity

ARTIST: Kraftwerk                                     220px-Kraftwerk_Radio_Activity_album_cover

TITLE:  Radio-Activity

YEAR RELEASED: 1975

CHART ACTION: #140 US

SINGLES: Radioactivity

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Ralf Huitter, Florian Schneider, Karl Bartos, Wolfgang Flur

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Kraftwerk begins to forge out its commitment and vision to melding pop music to avant-garde electronics.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Beeps and bloops abound. Voices put through synthesizers to make them sound scary (especially in German). But, there’s melody, musicality, and lots of stuff that was sampled by all sorts of bands. 220px-Radio-Activity_2009

Kraftwerk was moving electronic music away from the ‘hey look at what this machine can do’ towards making it a real creative asset to music. The single, “Radioactivity” was a simple-sounding song that made the synthesizer a palette for musicianship.

Not every track works – which happens when you are experimenting. But unlike their first big album, everything is worth keeping as they fit together as a whole thematic piece, and the shorter tracks are intros and codas which captures the essence of the work.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They used an Orchestron, a synthesizer that used pre-recorded sounds much like a mellotron.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE: B+: Surprisingly listenable even with the interludes and experiments.

 

Johnny Cash – Now Here’s Johnny Cash

ARTIST: Johnny Cash                              220px-JohnnyCashNowHere'sJohnnyCash

TITLE:  Now Here’s Johnny Cash

YEAR RELEASED: 1961

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: So Doggone Lonesome (#4 Country), Cry! Cry! Cry (#14 Country)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Hey Porter

LINEUP: Johnny Cash, Al Casey, Luther Perkins, Marshall Grant, maybe others

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Sun Records mines its vaults again.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thanks to some foresight by Sam Phillips and the prolific nature of Johnny Cash, Sun Records was still able to release records by Cash well after he left the label.

This collection featured 12 songs, nine of which were not on an album before, and two of them were hits for Cash very early in his career but had never been on a regular Sun album.

This odds-and-ends collection is better than most of these later Sun Records. There’s still three repeats, but the other nine cuts are pretty decent representation of early Cash.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After three albums in 1960, this was the only Cash album released in 1961.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There are some bonus tracks released later – Phillips hadn’t quite mined all of the tracks from his collection – though one is a very rough mix. 

GRADE: B: Downgraded for three repeat tracks, but otherwise pretty solid.

Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited

ARTIST: Bob Dylan                            220px-Bob_Dylan_-_Highway_61_Revisited

TITLE:  Highway 61 Revisited

YEAR RELEASED: 1965

CHART ACTION: #3 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Like a Rolling Stone (#2 US, #4 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, jeez. All of ‘em?

LINEUP: Bob Dylan, Mike Bloomfield, Charlie McCoy, Paul Griffin, Al Kooper, Frank Owens, Harvey Brooks, Russ Savakys, Joe Macho, Bobby Gregg, Sam Lay

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Dylan’s classic melds folk sensibilities with rock. He painted his masterpiece.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Long songs take patience, except when they’re brilliant and move you so that you don’t notice the time. In the 60’s, there weren’t many non-jazz or classical tracks that approached five minutes. This record has six of the nine cuts over the five minute mark, with the shortest at 3:19 – still long for the time.

These nine songs, packaged as one album, are absolutely brilliant. From songs that are serious and dour like “Ballad of a Thin Man”, to ‘lighter’ numbers like “Tombstone Blues”, to the massive “Like a Rolling Stone”, these all show the range of Dylan. His gift of melody and lyric at this time were unparalleled.

The final cut, “Desolation Row”, is brilliant and confounding. Over it’s 11+ minutes, it doesn’t wear out it’s welcome. This album doesn’t either – it keeps giving.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: All but “Like a Rolling Stone” were cut over four days in late July and early August in 1965.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. There are a lot of outtakes about though on his other compilations. 

GRADE: A+: One of the best records, ever.

The Miracles – The 35th Anniversary Collection

ARTIST: The Miracles

TITLE:  The 35th Anniversary Collection mircales 35

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 5: Shop Around (#2 US, #1 R&B), You Really Got a Hold on Me (#8 US, #1 UK), Mickey’s Monkey (#8 US, #3 R&B), Ooo Baby Baby (#16 US, #4 R&B), The Tracks of My Tears (#16 US, #2 R&B, #9 UK), My Girl Has Gone (#14 US, #3 UK), Going to a Go-Go (#11 US, #2 R&B, #44 UK), (Come ‘Round Here) I’m the One You Need (#17 US, #4 R&B, #13 UK), More Love (#23 US, #5 R&B), I Second That Emotion (#4 US, #1 R&B, #27 UK), If You Can Wait (#11 US, #3 R&B, #50 UK), Special Occasion (#26 US, #4 R*B), Baby, Baby Don’t Cry (#8 US, #3 R&B), Point It Out (#37 US, #4 R&B), The Tears of a Clown (#1 US, #1 R&B, #1 UK), Do It Baby (#13 US, #4 R&B), Don’t ‘Cha Love It (#78 US, #4 R&B), Love Machine (#1 US, #5 R&B, #3 UK), Crusin’ (Smokey Robinson solo) (#4 US, #4 R&B), Being with You (Smokey Robinson solo) (#2 US, #1 R&B, #1 UK), One Heartbeat (#10 US, #3 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Many, since a lot of tracks on this were also recorded by other Motown stars.

LINEUP: Smokey Robinson, Claudette Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marv Tarplin, Ronald White, Pete Moore, Billy Griffin with the Funk Brothers and other session players.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The heart and soul of Motown Records.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There are lots of other compilations around, but this gigantic set not only gets you the hits from the entire career of the Miracles, along with some Smokey Robinson hits, it demonstrates why they were so important to that label.

The Miracles not only were great performers, they all wrote and arranged material for Motown. All of the Miracles were key elements to the Motown sound, and their albums were chock full of deep cuts that were hits in waiting.

Without this group, Motown and the music industry wouldn’t be the same. It’s interesting that some great songs by them, like “The Tracks of My Tears” didn’t chart higher, but they were competing against their own songs at time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Tears of a Clown” was released as a single as Smokey Robinson was phasing out his involvement with the group. It was a mere deep album cut from 1967 that became their first #1 on the pop charts. Don’t sleep on the deep cuts.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. But there are 96 tracks to choose from! 

GRADE: A+: Maybe some of the early tracks are a bit shaky, but they hit it huge in 1960 with “Shop Around” and from then, they were a juggernaut.