Author: Scott Fendley

Huey Lewis and the News – Huey Lewis and the News

ARTIST: Huey Lewis and the News         Huey_Lewis_&_the_News_-_Huey_Lewis_&_the_News

TITLE: Huey Lewis and the News

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #203

SINGLES: Some of My Lies Are True (Sooner or Later), Now Here’s You

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Trouble in Paradise

LINEUP: Huey Lewis, Chris Hayes, Johnny Colla, Mario Cipollina, Bill Gibson, Sean Hopper

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Unremarkable first album from the 80’s icon.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sometimes debut albums shape a band’s career. And sometimes a band’s first album is ignored, even if it establishes their sound and style. The latter is the case with Huey Lewis and the News.

There’s nothing odd, weird, or out of place here when comparing this record to the rest of their output. They had a couple of songs that could have been hits if they broke right, and a couple of other tracks that would have sounded fine on Sports or something like that. But this was only successful in that they got more gigs on the West Coast and lived to make a second album.

The issue is consistency – they are pretty tight and their later-famous harmonies are here, too. The songs, though – it’s no wonder their next record had help from the outside.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Huey Lewis and Sean Hopper were in Clover, who went to the UK in the 70’s, and, without Lewis, backed Elvis Costello early in his career. Lewis played harmonica with Thin Lizzy live.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: C+: I’m not exiling this, but sub-par Huey Lewis & the News is sub-par.

Bo Diddley – The Chess Masters 1955-1958

RTIST: Bo Diddley                                                                     R-4114170-1355710021-1595.jpeg

TITLE: I’m a Man: The Chess Masters 1955-1958

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Bo Diddley (#1 R&B), Diddley Daddy (#11 R&B), Pretty Thing (#4 R&B, #34 UK), Diddy Wah Diddy, Who Do You Love, Cops and Robbers, Hey! Bo Diddley, Say! Boss Man, Hush Your Mouth, Willie and Lillie, I’m Sorry (#17 R&B), Crackin’ Up (#62 US, #14 R&B), Say Man (#20 US, #3 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m A Man, Before You Accuse Me

LINEUP: Bo Diddley, Jerome Green, Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, Lafayette Leake, Frank Kirkland, Clifton James, Little Walter, Billy Boy Arnold, Lester Davenport, Jody Williams, Little Willie Smith, the Moonglows, Peggy Jones, the Flamingos.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: BO DIDDLEY!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While this collection has alternate versions (which are just as fine as the released versions) that may cause one to skip on occasion, this…this is Bo Diddley.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Chuck Berry, blah, blah. Bo Diddley’s the man. A great songwriter, performer, guitarist, comedian (no, really, he’s funny – you can’t have done “Say Man” without being a comedian) you name it. If nothing else, you know the rhythm – the African rhythm that’s ubiquitous in rock-and-roll to this day.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: His first few album covers had him playing a regular-shaped Gibson, not his cigar box guitar which was his trademark.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A+: HEY! BO DIDDLEY!

Fatboy Slim – Greatest Hits – Why Try Harder

ARTIST: Fatboy Slim                                                         220px-Whytryharder

TITLE: Greatest Hits – Why Try Harder

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: #6 US Dance, #2 UK

SINGLES: Top 30: Going Out of My Head (#28 Alternative, #57 UK), The Rockafeller Skank (#76 US, #39 Modern Rock, #21 Mainstream, #2 Dance, #6 UK), Gangster Trippin (#3 UK), Praise You (#36 US, #2 Alternative, #22 Mainstream, #1 UK), Right Here, Right Now (#2 UK), Sunset (#9 UK), Demons (#16 UK), Slash Dot Dash (#12 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not here – UK of course.

LINEUP: Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) and his arsenal of samples and production tricks

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The casual fan’s best bet for a Fatboy Slim collection.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Full albums of Fatboy Slim could be a tiring ordeal for a non-devotee of electronica, thus this collection is probably the best way to grab what you want from him. WhyTryHarder-AmericanVersion

For the most part, this collection uses the single versions of the songs, which condense the tracks towards a radio length and not a dance-floor length, and while Cook is a skilled innovator, 60-70 minutes of electronics, samples, and production whiz-bangs can get boring especially if it seems the same ideas are being offered.

His choice of samples is great and obscure, as you really have to dig for the sources – that’s great. This highlights his strengths and allows the listener to focus, and shuffle, as they see fit.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He was the bass player in the great Housemartins.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but there are re-mix collections around.

GRADE: A-: Fantastic, but small doses for me, please.

Pavement – Wowee Zowee

ARTIST: Pavement                      220px-WoweeZowee

TITLE: Wowee Zowee

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #117 US, #18 UK

SINGLES: Father to a Sister of Thought (#148 UK), Rattled by the Rush (#91 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you love Pavement

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

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The one where Pavement sheds their casual fans, for better or worse.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Those listeners expecting an album full of the more pop-oriented and tuneful songs of Pavement’s ‘hit’ singles were in for a surprise when this came out in 1995.

“Rattled by the Rush” is a song in that mode, with a catchy chorus, but the song itself sounds cobbled together from several left turns (doesn’t mean it’s not great), and the rest of the album defied pop expectations. It’s a quieter album for the most part; one where Stephen Malkmus sounds like he just woke up from a THC-induced nap to record his vocals.

I didn’t get this a bit at first, but time and distance have helped me embrace this a little more. The melodies are there, just hidden a bit. It did shed the fans that weren’t along for Pavement’s eclectic ride, and that may have been the intent.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title is a homage to the first Mothers of Invention album, which had a cut called “Wowie Zowie”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a huge expansion with live cuts, B-sides, and other outtakes.

GRADE: B+: I was all set to give this a “C” before I listened to this again. It’s a good listen if you know it’s going to be a little off and a little mellower at times.

 

Neil Young – Time Fades Away

ARTIST: Neil Young                   Timefadesaway.jpeg

TITLE: Time Fades Away

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #22 US, #20 UK

SINGLES: Time Fades Away

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Don’t Be Denied, Journey Through the Past

LINEUP: Neil Young, Ben Keith, Jack Nitzsche, Tim Drummond, John Barbada. David Crosby and Graham Nash show up a couple of times.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Live album of new songs is fantastic, but hated by Young because of the memories of the tour.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After Harvest, and the success of Harvest, Neil Young took everyone on a huge veer to the left. First, he released the soundtrack to his movie Journey Through the Past, which isn’t streaming, has never been on CD, and is…well…not worth reviewing anyway or complaining about the fact it’s missing. (In a word, it’d be my first F if I decided to review it). Then he went on tour with a group he called the Stray Gators, full of session whizzes, and played a bunch of new songs, loudly.

The tour was a mess. Everything that went wrong, from band members getting fired, to Young getting a sore throat, to animosity throughout the band, to heavy drug and alcohol use, to indifferent receptions to some great new songs, soured Young on this whole era. The album that resulted, though, shows these songs are among Neil’s best.

The star cut, in my ears, is “Don’t Be Denied”, though all eight songs are fantastic. Young’s ballads are heartfelt and intimate even if he’s playing in arenas. The rockers are raucous, and even if Young’s voice is a bit shaggy it still carries emotion.

After many, many, years in the wilderness due to Young’s bad feelings about the entire tour and experience (and personally, an MP3 I procured via a torrent of a vinyl copy), it’s now out there, warts and all. A must have.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Crosby and Nash came along at the end of the tour because of Neil’s sore throat.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A: I’m probably upping this a notch high because I’m so glad it’s out there, but it’s excellent despite the raggedness.

Elton John – Friends

ARTIST: Elton John                        Friendsalbum

TITLE: Friends

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #36

SINGLES: Friends (#34)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, this one’s buried for good reason.

LINEUP: Elton John, Caleb Quaye, Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and session vocalists.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A slight film soundtrack to a slight teen-romance that’s all but forgotten.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Elton John’s creative burst (or the release of songs he had cooking up when he got signed) hit a speed bump with this album, a goopy soundtrack for a forgotten teen sex drama.

Like soundtracks, there’s some instrumental tracks (or mostly instrumental – variations of themse and all that), and then there’s a lot of sentimental fluff here.

I exiled all but three – “Can I Put You On” is the track that’s most like other John tracks from the time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This isn’t streaming alone – it’s part of the Rare Masters collection.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: It’s probably best to just skip this one.

 

Crabby Appleton – Crabby Appleton

ARTIST: Crabby Appleton     crabby

TITLE: Crabby Appleton

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #175

SINGLES: Go Back (#36)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Uh-uh

LINEUP: Michael Fennelly, Felix Falcon, Casey Foutz, Hank Harvey, Phil Jones

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Grabbing a singer from the Millennium, the band Stonehenge becomes Crabby Appleton and record a great debut that saddles them one-hit wonder status.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Crabby Appleton’s debut’s single, “Go Back”, is a great piece of 70’s rock with enough pop that it should have been cranking out of radios all over the country in 1970, but stalled at #36 somehow.

The album met the same, mystifying fate. Great reviews only gave it mediocre sales, and to this day, when listening to the record, one wonders why.

Sure “Go Back” is their poppiest tune, but the rest of the record is good-to-great rock for the era, with varied styles and textures that don’t rely on a formula nor “hit plus filler”.

Who knows, man. Maybe it was the name, but it was recognizable since Crabby Appleton was a villan on a cartoon shown during Captain Kangaroo. Ah, well. Listen to it now; it’s good.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Michael Fennelly met the drummer, Phil Jones, at an LA Club, and soon joined the band.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: You really could do worse, especially in 1970 one-hit wonders.

Superchunk – On the Mouth

ARTIST: Superchunk                                          Superchunk_onthemouth

TITLE: On the Mouth

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Mower, The Question Is How Fast, Precision Auto

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Don’t think so

LINEUP: Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance, Jim Wilbur, Jon Wurster

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Superchunk’s third album solidifies and diversifies their sound and becomes college radio favorites.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Cracking out of the gate with “Precision Auto”, an MTV 120 Minutes staple, Superchunk’s third album has a lot of attitude and spirit that made them beloved around the country. But it wasn’t all loud and fast.

They changed up at times, with brooding cuts like “Swallow That” and “Mower”, and the varied, pop-in-its-way “The Question Is How Fast” and “I Guess I Remembered It Wrong”. That’s a positive step, since they were running low of variations in the loud and fast category. Some of the faster tracks seem like they’re repeating previous ideas

New drummer Jon Wurster gave them a more versatile drummer that helped them when they changed from pure punk adrenaline. It’s a shame that not every song is as consistently good as in their previous record but the highlights are among their best.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The ‘title track’ was a B-side on the “Mower” single.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No\

GRADE: A-: The best songs, I love. I do think it runs out of gas when it comes to the punkier songs.

INXS – INXS

ARTIST: INXS                                    220px-Inxs

TITLE: INXS

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #164 (when it was released in 1984 here)

SINGLES: Just Keep Walking

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nooooope

LINEUP: Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Young Australian band records a derivative, yet pleasant, new wave record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s nothing absolutely horrible about the INXS debut album. Michael Hutchence already had the vocal charisma that would make him famous, and the band plays synth based new wave (with saxophone highlights) competently.

There’s nothing fresh or original here, either. You’ve kind of heard songs like this before, especially if you were of the era. The songs aren’t terrible either, but definitely show that the young band didn’t quite know how to keep the good ideas away from the bad.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their debut single, “Simple Simon”, isn’t included.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The US version is missing “Unloved One”, the closing track of the album. Meh.

GRADE: B–: I don’t know how much I’d play this, but I don’t think I’ll get rid of it, either.

The Posies – Dear 23

ARTIST: The Posies                         220px-Dear23

TITLE: Dear 23

YEAR RELEASED: 1990

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Golden Blunders (#17 Modern), Suddenly Mary

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Apology

LINEUP: John Auer, Ken Stringfellow, Rick Roberts, Mike Musburger

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Moving from acoustic to electric, the Posies major label debut established their power pop credentials.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Adding bassist Rick Roberts and drummer Mike Musburger, the Posies moved toward a power-pop sounds in a mixed bag of an album.

There’s some highly produced songs (“Apology”), some songs that show their love of the psychedelic era (“Flood of Sunshine”), and a few cuts that seem leftover from their acoustic days (“My Big Mouth”). When this album is on point, it’s great. There’s hooks, and harmonies, and definite channeling of Badfinger here (listen to the guitar under the verses in “Apology”).

However, it doesn’t hang together as an album in my ears – it’s a collection of songs, yes, and some are fantastic, but it caught them in transition. They’d evolve fully soon enough.

 

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Ringo covered “Golden Blunders” on an album

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B+-: I didn’t like the flow of the album, the songs were great but it seemed put together in a haphazard way.