Month: June 2017

Guster – Parachute

ARTIST: Guster                    Guster_-_Parachute

TITLE: Parachute

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Window (maybe)

LINEUP: Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, Brian Rosenworcel and a lot of friends

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Acoustic trio’s first album is an earnest effort.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Two acoustic guitars and a bare-handed percussionist sounds like a throwback to the hippie days of the 60’s, and in a way, it is. Guster, though, is more rooted in alternative and folk than the trippier psychedelic stuff and their harmonies and songwriting are definitely earnest.

A lot of their friends contributed on the album, which makes it sound fuller than just the base trio, but the acoustic guitars, the bongo-heavy percussion, and the harmonies are still at forefront no matter what else is behind them.

Over the course of the album, it does all begin to blur together. “Oh, this one has the acoustic guitars and bongos and the harmonies, he said…” Still, it was a refreshing change at the time to the bro-heavy grunge imitators.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They were originally called “Gus”, but another artists went by that name, so they had to change.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B: A good effort, but there’s not much variety.

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The Everly Brothers – It’s Everly Time

ARTIST: The Everly Brothers                                 Itseverlytime

TITLE: It’s Everly Time

YEAR RELEASED: 1960

CHART ACTION: #9 US, #2 UK

SINGLES: So sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad) (#7 US, #4 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not now, no.

LINEUP: Don Everly, Phil Everly, Chet Atkins, Sugarfoot Garland, James Clayton, Floyd Chance, Floyd Cramer, Buddy Harman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First set for Warner Brothers by the Everly Brothers is a bit more polished than their Cadence Records, but still has the same feel as their 50’s work.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While there was only one hit single on this album (released to fight off some singles from their old company), this 12-song set from the Everly Brothers is every bit as quality as their older material.

The close harmonies, the spare-ish production, and the heartfelt feel of the songs are all there. The brothers show their penchant for love songs, happy and sad, but also faster numbers like “Just In Case”. Warner’s could have presented most of these songs as singles and made bank.

It’s only 27 minutes long, but well worth the effort to stream or buy.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their old record company had released a hits package in 1959, and then another record of older material right when this was coming out.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A: A hidden gem in the Everly Brothers’ catalog.

Elton John – 11-17-70

ARTIST: Elton John                                                     220px-171170UK

TITLE: 11-17-70 (17-11-70 for most of the world…)

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #11 US, #20 UK

SINGLES: Not from this album

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Take Me to the Pilot and Burn Down the Mission, though this draws from his 2nd and 3rd records.

LINEUP: Elton John, Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Taken from a live radio broadcast in a recording studio, John and his band run through a set of his early work.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Elton John was an ascending star, with two charting albums and a big hit single. He and his band meshed into a tight trio with bass and drums supporting the piano man (no doubt inspiring Ben Folds later on).

Most of the performances are sharp, with John displaying his piano skills and evocative singing. Murray’s bass work provides a great counterpoint to the piano, and Olsson’s drumming is sharp and propels the songs forward.

His cover of “Honky Tonk Women”, and the covers thrown into “Burn Down the Mission” (extending that song to 18 minutes) don’t seem necessary, and throw me off a bit. John also uses those opportunities to show off a bit more. Yet this is a great performance of his originals.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original radio broadcast had thirteen songs but is only out on bootlegs and as vinyl released on Record Store Day.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: They added the fantastic “Amoreena” on the CD issue, and the new vinyl issue has the entire concert (keeping the original running order and just adding the other songs on side 3 and 4), but the entire concert, in order, hasn’t been released.

GRADE: A-: A few points off for the covers, but the band cooks through his originals and John sounds fantastic.

Bang – Bang

ARTIST: Bang                                                                  bang

TITLE: Bang

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #164

SINGLES: Questions (#90)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wow, no.

LINEUP: Frank Ferrara, Frank Glicken, Tony Diorio.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Heavy Philly proto-metal bands first release was met with mostly indifference, but now is looked at as proto-doom.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Throw this into the proto-metal power trio hopper – Bang features a bassist and vocalist singing in a high (but not shrieking) register, along with a guitarist and drummer. But the music was sludgy and heavy, more like Sabbath than anything.

With its sound, Bang was definitely too heavy for real commercial success in the 70’s, despite the charting of a hit single. The production sounds muddy, as studios didn’t really know how to process a sound like theirs – lots of low end mud.

There’s some good stuff here, though, and you can see why “The Queen” is an influence on later doom metalists. It’s a curiosity, mostly, but metal guys would be served to take a listen for historical purposes.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had recorded an entire concept album that was put on the back burner by Capitol Records for later release. It didn’t get released until 2001.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B-: There’s something here, something compelling, that keeps me listening. Also, the cover is great.

Megadeth – Killing Is My Business…and Business Is Good

ARTIST: Megadeth                                   Combat_KIMB

TITLE: Killing Is My Business…and Business Is Good!

YEAR RELEASED: 1985

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Killing Is My Business

LINEUP: Dave Mustaine, Chris Poland, David Ellefson, Gar Samuelson.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from the band Dave Mustaine formed after being booted from Metallica. It displays chops, and is tightly wound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dave Mustaine took his anger and disappointment about being thrown out of Metallica into his new band, where he’s definitely the one in charge. 220px-Killingismybusinessremastered

The tight riffing, the speed drumming, and the yelped, growled vocals by Mustaine set a signature sound for the band, and through the entire record they revel in it. There’s some decent riffage and solo work. Also, “Mechanix” is very similar to “Four Horsemen” by Metallica, as Mustaine wrote the main part of that song for his former band.

What doesn’t work is the cover of “These Boots Were Made for Walking”, especially on the re-issue, where they beeped out all of the changed lyrics.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Mustaine sketched out a cover, and gave it to the record company. They lost it, and tried to ‘fake’ it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Demos, etc.

GRADE: B: I’ve never been a real of fan of Megadeth but this has some good riffs and definite headbanging. Mustaine just rubs me the wrong way vocally at times and they really should have left off the cover.

 

Butthole Surfers – Butthole Surfers / Live PCPPEP

ARTIST: Butthole Surfers                          220px-Butthole_Surfers_Front

TITLE: Butthole Surfers / Live PCPPEP

YEAR RELEASED: 1983 / 1984

CHART ACTION: #21 UK Indie (!!!!!)

SINGLES: None (these were two EPs)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave, Bar-B-Q Pope

LINEUP: Gibby Haynes, Paul Leary, King Coffey, Bill Jolly. Teresa Nervosa is on the live tracks. Brad Perkins drum son two tracks.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The first emittance from these weirdos from Austin is chaotic, shambling, and yet after a while it makes sense, sorta. 220px-Butthole_Surfers_Live_PCPPEP_Front

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first rule of Butthole Surfers is to not take them seriously. That’s kind of obvious, but most of what they do are ingenious genre parodies with unexpected twists and turns (the ending of “The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave where Paul Leary just keeps yelling “shut up” in a defeated way and some people may not get that and just hear chaos and noise.

There is definite some form and structure and some definitely advanced ideas here. It’s just sifted through a lens of demented weirdness. The live EP showcases the same kind of derangement, with more saxophone from Haynes that adds to the entire stew of madness and his golf commentary on “Bar-B-Q Pope” is pure genius.

It may take a while for you to grasp this. Heck, it took me a while.

Brown_Reason_to_Live

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band had a hard time keeping drummers and bass players until they found Coffey, and later Nervosa.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There are a few bonus tracks – more live material and a demo.

GRADE: B+: I get what they’re doing, and it’s fun, but…it’s not for everyone

Spearhead – Home

ARTIST: Spearhead                             220px-Spearhead_Home

TITLE: Home

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: #147 UK

SINGLES: Of Course You Can (#74 UK), People in tha Middle (#49 UK), Hole in the Bucket (#55 UK), Positive

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dream Team

LINEUP: Michael Franti, Mary Harris, Le Le Jamison, Keith McArthur, David James, James Gray, Charlie Hunter. Vernon Reid plays a solo.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Michael Franti forms a new group with studio musicians with a that gave his political messages a bit more grounded than the heavy Disposable Heroes of Hiphroprisy.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Michael Franti’s distinctive raps are political and social, and at times the heavy handedness turned off some listeners. Here, though, using a live band of session musicians, his socially and politically conscious messages are enhanced, and easy to embrace.

At a time where material goods were paramount, and hip-hop was more about image than anything else, Franti stressed being active in the community, and love and respecting everyone. Also, he made people aware of what was happening in the world.

Franti’s shift to Spearhead was quite successful artistically, as the organic sound of the band works well with his flow and rhymes.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Based in San Francisco, this album was produced in Philadelphia.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: One of the landmarks of 90’s hip-hop and a leading light to a new movement combining live music and rap.

 

Earth, Wind and Fire – The Need of Love

ARTIST: Earth, Wind & Fire     Theneedoflovealbum

TITLE: The Need of Love

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #89, #35 R&B

SINGLES: I Think About Lovin’ You (#44 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Really…no.

LINEUP: Sherry Scott, Verdine White, Maurice White, Wade Flemons, Chet Washington, Alex Thomas, Michael Beal, Don Whitehead, Doug Carn, Yackov Ben Israel, Oscar Brashear

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by large horn-based soul ensemble is disappointing, and led to a breakup and a re-formation.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first track on this record is called “Energy”, and while it may have been interesting to play and conceive, it just seems more of a jazz jam session than a concise tune, which would have confused some expecting slow jams like their R&B hit.

That hit, “I Think About Lovin’ You”, is a sweetly sung ballad (penned and voiced by Sherry Scott) that deserved to be a hit, and the closing track is nice, but the jam was pointless, and the two other tracks were bleah and moored in their own sentimentality.

It seemed the band could go into many directions and either go jazzy or straight R&B, and what they did do was break up for the most part, leaving the White brothers with the name, and an idea.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They also recorded the soundtrack to the Blacksploitation movie Sweet Sweeback’s Badass Revenge.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: Redeemed, barely, by the last two tracks. It’s probably good that this version blew up in 1971.

American Music Club – San Francisco

ARTIST: American Music Club            Amc_sanfrancisco

TITLE: San Francisco

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Can You Help Me, Wish the World Away, Hello Amsterdam

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, and that’s a shame

LINEUP: Mark Eitzel, Vudi, Tim Mooney, Dan Pearson, Bruce Kaphan

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Moody and lachrymose band’s last album before a hiatus is their most accessible without sacrificing quality.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Mark Eitzel and American Music Club added some production elements and brightened their sound a bit for this album, and despite some carping, the new elements and clarity enhances the songs.

It’s also the same ol’ AMC, though, with a beautiful sadness that’s sometimes almost too much to handle at once. “It’s Your Birthday”, “Wish the World Away”, and “Can You Help Me” should have had some radio play, but the sophistication of the music ran contra to the post-grunge elements dominating the airwaves.

They went out on a good note, as they went on hiatus for nine or so years, and they were unfairly ignored by most.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They contributed “All Your Jeans Were Too Tight” for the No Alternative project.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A: In the wrong mood, this could be too much, but overall the music and tone are excellent, especially if you know AMC isn’t the happiest bunch of souls.

Slint – Tweez

ARTIST: Slint                      220px-Tweez

TITLE: Tweez

YEAR RELEASED: 1989

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: HAHAHAHAHAHAH

LINEUP: David Pajo, Brian McMahan, Britt Walford, Ethan Buckler

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Noisy Louisville band releases almost unheard and obscure record, but it gets them noticed in the Indy circles.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Slint got together as musical friends in Louisville, where they seemed to be about the only people who had an ear for bands such as the Minutemen. As teenagers, they developed originals, and by 1987 went up to Illinois to record with Steve Albini.

The music definitely sounds like Big Black’s cousin band, with shrieky, shreddy guitars and a rumbling bass. The lyrics, though, were written in studio or just conversations, such as the opening where Brian McMahan complains about his headphones. The song titles were the first names of each band member’s parents, plus a pet.

Slint would later record their classic album (not that they knew it at the time), and Tweez is just an interesting afterthought.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The album was released on their own label, paid for by a fan, Jennifer Hartman.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B: If you like Albini’s guitar and don’t mind some oddball meanderings and sounds (like someone drinking a glass of water), then by all means…