Month: May 2016

King’s X – Faith Hope Love

ARTIST: King’s X Faith_hope_love_album_cover

TITLE:  Faith Hope Love



SINGLES: It’s Love (#6 US Rock), I’ll Never Get Tired of You, We Are Finding Who We Are


LINEUP: Doug Pinnick, Ty Tabor, Jerry Gaskill

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: King’s X finds their groove, releasing their most commercial record without diminishing what they do best.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: King’s X struck it rich, as it were, with “It’s Love”, a wonderful metally dose of ear candy with great harmonies and musicianship. That song encapsulates King’s X to a “T”.

Most of Faith Hope Love fits in a similar vein. Harmonies comingle with riffs and chords that aren’t your normal metal progressions nor rhythms. For the most part, the whole album works well. But at over an hour, it does get a bit long near the end as songs that are somewhat similar are lined up next to another.

The final song, “Legal Kill” is an anti-abortion song that also tries to listen to the other side of the debate (more so than most pro-life groups). That song and the positive message (and faith) of King’s X propelled this album to the Christian Music charts, even if they most all of the songs were not overtly Christian.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Six Broken Soldiers” contains the first lead vocals for drummer Jerry Gaskill, though he is a significant part of their vocal style.


GRADE: A-: It’s consistent, and the first 2/3 are fairly varied. They got an airplay hit without compromising, which is always a good thing.



Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

ARTIST: Pavement  crooked

TITLE:  Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain



SINGLES: Cut Your Hair (#10 US Modern Rock, #52 UK), Haunt You Down, Gold Soundz (#94 UK), Range Life (#79 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nothing but the singles for airplay.

LINEUP: Stephen Malmkus, Scott Kannberg, Mark Ibold, Steve West, Bob Nastanovich

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The band grows, the songs become relatively poppier, but Pavement is still weird. It’s just the weirdness is left for many of the deep cuts. The music industry is a target for many tracks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Pavement became a lo-fi phenomenon in 1993, so when they released this second album they concentrated on including popper songs on some of the album, while still featuring the off-kilter construction and overall weirdness of Pavement.

Having a full time band helps as well, as they play together well and allow Malmkus and Kannberg to focus on the arrangements without worrying about playing almost everything themselves. The band has a sixth sense and can work with the songs and interesting tonality and structures.

This put Pavement in the mainstream, with “Cut Your Hair” still being played quite a bit, and “Range Life” a shout out / put down of the bands in the current scene that may have been more blatantly careerist than lovable slackers like them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The lead cut was known forever as “Silence Kit”, but that was due to bad printing on the back of the CD booklet. It’s actually “Silence Kid”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a 49-cut behemoth with plenty of B-sides, BBC sessions and live cuts.

GRADE: A-: Some cuts are just weird for being weird, but this is a pretty great alternative album that has even aged well.

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 1

ARTIST: Peter Gabriel          Peter_Gabriel_(self-titled_album,_1977_-_cover_art)

TITLE:  Peter Gabriel 1 (Car)



SINGLES: Solsbury Hill (#68 US, #13 UK), Modern Love

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Moribund the Burgermeister, Humdrum, Here Comes the Flood

LINEUP: Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, Steve Hunter, Tony Levin, Jozef Chirowski, Larry Fast, Allan Schwartzburg, Jimmy Maleen, Dick Wagner

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Former Genesis front man’s first solo album breaks out of the mold of Genesis, but is poppier than his old band, but still as challenging and intriguing as his work with the group.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Instead of long, long story-song suites, Peter Gabriel goes towards a poppier sound (“Solsbury Hill” is a definite pop song and the key track). However, that doesn’t mean he stopped moving forward artistically.

The sound scapes that Gabriel and his crack band come up with are arty, complex and varied. The talent surrounding Gabriel gives the songs a lot of depth and makes the album and arrangements vibrant. You know with players like Fripp and Levin that it will be arty, but not inaccessibly arty.

The nine tracks here give Gabriel and excellent start on his solo career. The songs and performances are excellent and for a while, he became bigger than his old band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This is called “Car” as for the longest while, he never titled his albums. In many guides, this is also called Peter Gabriel 1.


GRADE: A: Absolutely first class. He leaves Genesis behind him.

Port O’Brien – The Wind and the Swell

ARTIST: Port O’Brien             MI0000693566

TITLE:  The Wind and the Swell



SINGLES: I Woke Up Today


LINEUP: Van Pierszalowski, Cambria Goodwin, Caleb Nichols, Joshua Barnhart

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Bay area duo (later expanded) releases an album of their home brewed and single tracks before moving into a full band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Van Pierzalowski, an Alaskan Native, collaborated with Cambria Goodwin on a set of folky songs that are loose sing alongs, kind of goofy and strange and somewhat fun.

A lot of the songs feature just Pierzalowski and Goodwin, but some have a whole gaggle of folks singing in the back, while just a couple include the full band. They sound like they’re having fun and enjoying playing together. Because some of these are home recordings it’s a bit roughly recorded but that doesn’t detract a lot.

Port O’Brien moved to a full band after this, but at the heart they’re a loose, fun, folky songs.

 NOTES & MINUTIAE: M. Ward called Port O’Brien his favorite new band in 2007.


GRADE: B: Some sing-alongs with some fun songs.

Joan Jett – Bad Reputation

ARTIST: Joan Jett       220px-Bad_reputation_-_joan_jett,_1981

TITLE:  Bad Reputation



SINGLES: You Don’t Own Me, Make Believe, You Don’t Know What You’ve Got, Bad Reputation (#48 US Rock), Do You Wanna Touch Me (#20, #21 US Rock),

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: She covered Shout and Wooly Bully

LINEUP: Joan Jett, Lea Hart, Jeff Peters, Paul Simmons, and on many tracks others helped out from the UK and US.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Former Runaway releases solo album that dies at first, then gets a second life with another record company, and later, a third life after she hit it big.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: More of a cult performer at first, Joan Jett survived the Runaways with her head held high and with help of her producer Kenny Laguna recorded her debut album and independently released it. It was finally picked up by Boardwalk records and re-released in 1981, but still languished until Jett became a mega-star.

Jett and her band (members of the Roll-Ups, but help from others) roll through 12 tunes with fervor. “Bad Reputation” is THE highlight – just a powerful broadside against the record company machinery and public images. The rest of the songs are more energy than anything, though her cover of Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Touch” has the most radio friendly sound.

It’s not pretty, not polished – just rock and roll but you know, that’s all you kind of need if you’re reaching for Jett.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It’s finally back streaming…along with the rest of her material.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some other covers and a live cut.

GRADE: B: She don’t care about her reputation, and it shows. It’s a decent debut.


Johnny Cash – Songs of Our Soil

ARTIST: Johnny Cash          220px-JohnnyCashSongsOfOurSoil

TITLE:  Songs of Our Soil



SINGLES: None (!)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Five Feet High and Rising, My Grandfather’s Clock

LINEUP: Johnny Cash, Luther Perkins, Marshall Grant, Marvin Hughes, Morris Palmer, the Jordanaires. Buddy Harman drums on one.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Cash’s second album is about death and loss. The ‘soil’ in the title is about where you’re buried.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While there wasn’t a theme for the albums Sun put together, his Columbia albums, at least early on, are centered around a theme. This one is death and dying and loss and tragedy. Fun stuff, but he was on his way to becoming the Man in Black.

There aren’t any traditional Cash classics here, except “Five Feet High and Rising”, and I think his version of “Great Speckled Bird” has been in some compilations. A few of the tracks don’t quite measure up to his better work, but many of them are great examples of Cash’s way with a story, whether originally penned (seven of the 12 came from him) or from others.

It didn’t chart (the country album chart didn’t exist, I don’t think), and no singles were released from it, but I’m sure country LP fans bought it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “I Want to Go Home” is a version of “The John B. Sails” which most music mavens know as “Sloop John B”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a couple of tracks recorded around that time.

GRADE: B+: It’s not going to be the first Cash album you grab for, but you should grab it eventually.

Nine Inch Nails – Broken

ARTIST: Nine Inch Nails Nine_Inch_Nails_-_Broken_(1992)

TITLE:  Broken



SINGLES: Happiness in Slavery (#13 US Alternative), Wish (#25 US Alternative)


LINEUP: Trent Reznor, with some drum help by Martin Atkins and Chris Vrenna

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Reznor starts to consolidate his sound and image with this EP, and this is a much darker and industrial sound than his first album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The leap from Pretty Hate Machine to Broken is pretty large. Here, Reznor uses guitars and machinery to create a loud, powerful attack that really moved him towards the Ministry end of the music spectrum.

Reznor’s melodies are there despite it all, and the main songs definitely have a quality where you can sing along to the pain. But the main emphasis is the organized cacophony.

This is a great bridge between early Nine Inch Nails and the most popular incarnation in the mid 90’s. It’s a powerful record, and it’s brevity makes it even more so.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The video for “Happiness in Slavery” was banned by MTV. There was a film entitled Broken that hasn’t been officially released that has many disturbing scenes.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Not really, but two covers (an Adam & the Ants song and a Pigface track) were not listed on the cover, and were tracks 98 and 99

GRADE: A: A perfect use of the EP format as a transitional bridge between records and a powerful statement in itself.


Lamb of God – As the Palaces Burn

ARTIST: Lamb of God      220px-AsThePalacesBurn

TITLE:  As the Palaces Burn



SINGLES: Ruin, 11th Hour, As the Palaces Burn

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Fans of 00’s Metal sure know this.

LINEUP: Randy Blythe, Mark Morton, Willie Adler, John Campbell, Chris Adler

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Riffs and growls. Riffs and growls.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The death growl is still there, as are the riffs that don’t just recycle old tropes. Lamb of God’s second album under that moniker consolidates the sound and motif from their first, but really don’t move forward.

Blythe’s growl is menacing, and for some songs it is effective. At times, I think a lighter touch may have been needed, where the melody is more pronounced that just the riffage. The fact that they have melody is a step forward in this genre.

If you want some new riffage, yeah, this band’s for you.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After a lot of tinkering early in their career, this version of Lamb of God has remained constant.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Three demos are appended.

GRADE: B: It’s great in small to mid-size does, but is wears on you over time

King Missile – Fluting on the Hump

ARTIST: King Missile        220px-Fluting_on_the_Hump_(King_Missile_album)_cover_art

TITLE:  Fluting on the Hump




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe if you followed college radio that played boho stuff

LINEUP: John S. Hall, Dogbowl (Stephen Tunney), RB Korbet, Alex DeLaszio, George O’Malley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Stream-of-consciousness boho poetry and stories recited to music.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: John S. Hall writes and recites strange poetry and stories, and he asked a friend to put together a backing band. Hall and the band started to become very popular at poetry readings, so they made a record in 10 hours.

Most all of these poems and stories are humorous, but some are more humorous than others. In the end, three cuts stand out, and the true winners are “Sensitive Artist” and “Take Stuff from Work” (since we all want to do this).

The sound is a bit rough, as the producer Kramer used low-fi techniques. That also detracts a bit.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After just three readings at the Backfence, Hall became a ‘featured’ poet.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  Kramer deleted a track from the CD and now from streaming..

GRADE: C+: I really like three songs, the rest are just OK or juvenile.

The New Grass Revival – Best of the New Grass Revival

ARTIST: New Grass Revival                     Best_ngr

TITLE:  Best of the New Grass Revival

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Unconditional Love (#44 Country), Can’t Stop Now (#45 Country), Callin’ Baton Rouge (#33 Country), You Plant Your Fields (#58 Country()

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover Angel Eyes & I’m Down

LINEUP: John Cowan, Bela Fleck, Pat Flynn, Sam Bush

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Premier progressive bluegrass band’s compilation focuses on their most virtuostic and popular lineup.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Progressive bluegrass bands roiled the establishment with their long(er) hair, regular clothes, song choices and arrangements. The New Grass Revival, started in 1972, found a lineup for about a decade that broke the molds further, especially by employing Bela Fleck, the absolute master of the banjo.

While some of these tracks seem like normal country songs, or traditional bluegrass, tracks like “Metric Lips”, a Fleck showcase, show the innovation and the chances they took.

Fleck would go on to bigger and better things in the world of jazz, with the Flecktones and a solo career that has him examining classical and world music. This is a decent compilation that shows where we started and how he worked in a more traditional setting, marred by the lack of the singles from their 1986 album (for some reason).

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bush broke up the band in 1989 after their most popular album, and he and other band members have some frosty relationships between Flynn and Bush.


GRADE: B: Song selection is a problem. There’s no reason for “Ain’t That Peculiar” not to be on this.