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.

I Love You – I Love You

ARTIST: I Love You                            R-1746023-1323621424.jpeg

TITLE: I Love You

YEAR RELEASED: 1991

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Hang Straight Up

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Jeff Nolan, Chris Palmer, Tom Sweet, Mike Kossler

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Psychedelic tinged rock band’s debut sounds great, but is a victim of wrong time / wrong place.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With some heavy duty guitar riffs, a varied arsenal of songs that add psychedelic touches and interesting changes, and a decent amount of hooks, there should have been no stopping I Love You’s debut from climbing the charts.

Except the time, and place (and the fact the name of the band probably wasn’t such a wise idea…)

Their sound wasn’t grunge, punk, or hair metal – mostly straight rock-and-roll that would have fit in ten years before or after. Even with a killer single “Hang Straight Up” which got them on some TV shows and MTV, the record didn’t sell and now…good luck googling it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They evolved out a band called the Sinful Pigeons.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: A good-to-great rock record that’s kind of lost to time. Not streaming, either.

Tool – Undertow

ARTIST: Tool                                      undertow

TITLE: Undertow

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: #50 US, #22 UK

SINGLES: Sober (#13 Mainstream), Prison Sex (#32 Mainstream, #81 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Intolerance

LINEUP: Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Paul D’Amour, Danny Carey. Henry Rollins guests on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Full length debut from the progressive metal band established their credentials as a serious, conscious band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: In the midst of the decline and fall of hair metal, and the rise of grunge, came Tool – a progressive band with a socially conscious, outspoken lyrical bent and music that emphasizes musicianship in a metal context.

Maynard James Keenan’s lyrics and vocals are what intice the casual listener into Tool, but then the guitar work of Adam Jones and Danny Carey’s drumming keep you there. At the time, it was refreshing to hear a fresher take on progressive music and metal.

The album does drag, especially at the end. Tool wanted a long statement and they deliver, though the last cut is probably one that can be removed.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released an EP in 1992. Since none of their music is streaming, it’s only available as a CD though it’s still in print.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: At the end, it grows long, and the last cut could be left off, but it definitely makes waves in all the right areas.

 

Steve Miller Band – Brave New World

ARTIST: Steve Miller Band              220px-Steve_Miller_Band_-_Brave_New_World

TITLE: Brave New World

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #22

SINGLES: My Dark Hour (#126)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Space Cowboy.

LINEUP: Steve Miller, Lonnie Turner, Ben Sidran, Tim Davis. Glyn Johns plays a lot on the album, and Paul McCartney famously contributed to one song.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Shedding the overt psychedelic sound towards a more straight-forward blues rock foundation.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Two members left the Steve Miller Band after 1968, including Box Scaggs, and Miller re-focused his work more towards blues and rock, and came up with a winning album.

“Seasons” and “Celebration Song” still have some of a hippie vibe but definitely more in a traditional rock (and folk for “Seasons”) feel, and “Space Cowboy” became a Miller signature and it’s truly where the band gels, but the final track – a true duet between Miller and Paul McCartney – is the highlight.

“My Dark Hour” not only introduced a very familiar guitar riff to the Miller lexicon, but the presence of McCartney forced Miller tor really up his game, which resulted in a fantastic performance. This is a solid album from beginning to end – worth the exploration for sure.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “My Dark Hour” came about after McCartney was the sole member of the Beatles left after a huge argument regarding their management. Miller was in the studio as well, and they started to jam.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: A gem of an album that more Miller fans should know.

Imperial Teen – Seasick

ARTIST: Imperial Teen                                         Seasick

TITLE: Seasick

YEAR RELEASED: 1996

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Imperial Teen, Butch, You’re One

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, no.

LINEUP: Rodney Bottum, Will Schwartz, Jone Stebbins, Lynn Truell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Power-pop influenced band celebrates music and pop culture in a great hummable mix.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first three songs set the tone for Imperial Teen as a band – “Water Boy” is a hard-edged power pop song with an infectious chorus shouting “Bow down baby…bow down to me”. “Imperial Teen” is a quieter meditation that doesn’t make sense, not even “If I only had another hand / I’d cut it off and start a band”.
Then there’s “Butch”, a true power-pop song worthy of the Posies that’s rooted in gay culture with a great chorus line, “You like strawberries / I like you.”

All through this album are enjoyable melodies and enough rock to satisfy. It seems slight, and sometimes not all the way thought out – they were only together six months before recording this – but if you’re a power pop lover it’s worthy.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Rodney Bottum was / is in Faith No More and drummer Lynn Truell was in Sister Double Happiness.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: The more you play it, the more the songs sink in and reveal its charms.