Friday, January 11, 2013

Day Eleven: At the Drive-In - Vaya

Fearless Records ■  F040-1

Released July 13, 1999

Recorded and mixed by Mike Major [1,5,7], Alex Newport [2,4], and Justin Leah & Bobby Torres [6]. Tracks 3,6 produced by Sean Cummings

Side One:Side Two:
  1. Rascuache
  2. Proxima Centauri
  3. Ursa Minor
  4. Heliotrope
  1. Metronome Arthritis
  2. 300 MHz
  3. 198d
I originally decided, because I was starting with an artist that had the same split of releases in my collection, that I would leave EPs by the wayside for artists for whom I owned a full length LP. I decided to skip that "rule" on this occasion simply because I know a number of people who are big fans of this band--other than me, I mean. It also tends to come with a love that drives adamant opinions, and occasionally divides. When At the Drive-In broke up in 2001, it was the only time I really noticed or felt the loss of a band--I'd never seen them live (to be honest, even when they reunited ten years later, I did not rush out for the very distant and often festival-based events, either). It also led to the rise of two groups--they'd just released their Nevermind in popularity terms, or maybe just the hint toward it, and that was that--Sparta and the Mars Volta. When I last wrote about them, I was disinclined to make my rather well-known, passionate opinion on that split known. I'm still disinclined: too many times, I've seen expressed opinions on this front devolve rapidly into swearing, shouting matches, and insults. It has left me with a bad taste in my mouth a lot of the time as regards all three bands, which does not make me very happy. As a result, I tend to avoid discussing that as much as I can, even if I still occasionally feel the desire to talk about it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day Ten: Leon Russell & Marc Benno [The Asylum Choir] - Asylum Choir II

Shelter Records ■  SW-8910

Released November 15, 1971
(Recorded April, 1969, originally intended for release that year)

Produced by Leon Russell and Marc Benno

Side One:Side Two:
  1. Sweet Home Chicago
  2. Down on the Base
  3. Hello Little Friend
  4. Salty Candy
  5. Tryin' to Stay Alive
  1. ...Intro to Rita...
  2. Straight Brother
  3. Learn How to Boogie
  4. Ballad for a Soldier
  5. When You Wish upon a Fag
  6. Lady in Waiting
This is basically cheating, in a sense. While Look Inside the Asylum Choir was originally credited to "The Asylum Choir", though when its cover art changed it was credited to "Leon Russell and Marc Benno" as this album is. Of course, the labels on that release actually still said "Asylum Choir". Anyway, the point is, this might technically belong in the "R" section of my alphabet, but out of respect to the original album, I keep it in the A's--sort of a goofy talisman toward eventually pairing it with its sibling-release. Except in the CDs--there I keep it next to the rest of Russell's solo output. Which is also where I file One for the Road, credited to Leon and Willie Nelson, as well as The Union, his album from two years back with Elton John. Nothing against Elton or Willie, I just like Leon more (most places file them by the other artists, who are more popular).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day Nine: The Association - Greatest Hits!

Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Records ■  WS 1767

Released December, 1968

Produced by Bones Howe [1,2,3,4,5,9,10,12], The Association [7,13], Curt Boetticher [6,11], and Jerry Yester [8]

Side One:Side Two:
  1. The Time It Is Today
  2. Everything That Touches You
  3. Like Always
  4. Never My Love
  5. Requiem for the Masses
  6. Along Comes Mary
  1. Enter the Young
  2. No Fair at All
  3. Time for Livin'
  4. We Love [Us]
  5. Cherish
  6. Windy
  7. Six Man Band
I've never understood this about a lot of compilations, particularly in the 1960s: if you're going to list every single song on the record on the front, why would you list them in an order different from the order they are actually pressed in? I'd almost suspect it's a matter of graphic design, but "Like Always" kind of goofs up the formatting at the bottom (and "Windy" being placed above "Cherish" would've completed the sort of "arrow" shape better). It's not really even a quibble, just something I find bizarre.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day Eight Point Bonus Track(s): Barry Andrews - "Rossmore Road" b/w "Win a Night Out with a Well-Known Paranoiac"

Virgin Records ■ VS 378

Released: September, 1980

Produced by Barry Andews and John Strudwick

  • Rossmore Road
  • Win a Night Out with a Well-Known Paranoiac
NOTE: I don't normally review singles (or most EPs, live albums, etc) but I'm going to use smaller releases to take up time when I feel like it.

I found this single when I was out hunting around on Record Store Day last year, and grabbed it only because Barry Andrews was originally keyboard player for XTC.

I've found that 7"s in general have their own kind of community (45cat is a database exclusively of 45rpm 7" releases, primarily going only through the 1980s or 1990s in terms of what it contains) and tend to have cult followings--especially for artists who lack full album releases, and Mr. Andrews didn't release an album with exclusively his name on it for another 23 years after this single came out. There are some cool songs out there that never got released in any other fashion (I do have one of my dad's copies of Chris Hodge's "We're on Our Way" b/w "Supersoul" that was released on the Beatles' Apple Records), so it always makes this kind of thing a bit fun.

Anyway, Barry left XTC after the release of Go 2, their second full length, and possessor of one of my favourite album covers ever, unsurprisingly designed by Hipgnosis, who designed many a classic album cover. The album was a bit peculiar in that it marks the only occasion that the band ever released an album with songs explicitly written by someone other than frontman Andy Partridge or co-conspirator, bassist Colin Moulding. Those songs--"Super Tuff" and "My Weapon" were written by Barry Andrews, who was trying to find his voice as a songwriter, but was somewhat wrestled out of the band by the paranoid Partridge (who feared he might lose control). They were odd songs, not sounding like most of the band's output even to that point, and not the greatest by any stretch. I grabbed this single because I thought Barry might turn out differently without the strictures or expectations of an XTC record to constrain his songwriting.

It turns out I was right. "Rossmore Road" and "Win a Night Out with a Well-Known Paranoiac" are both interesting songs, with a sound a bit like a slightly over-"hip" band in a club, with a walking bassline in the A-side behind woodwinds--but also strange electronic noises. Barry describes Rossmore Road (apparently in Marylebone, London) in a sing-song fashion, joined in chorus by others when he sings the name of the road, until the song builds and explodes into a heavily punctuated and more full sounding chorus, which repeats "All humming now" to describe the amenities located in and around the road itself. 

"Win a Night Out" apparently got actual radio play, and is a much stranger song, though it sounds much like another band in a small club in the way I envision (perhaps inaccurately, but based primarily on television and movies in the 1980s and 1990s, usually in semi-period settings from earlier decades, like 1990's Dick Tracy), but is dominated by Barry Andrews speaking out his notion of nights out with the theoretical winner, each of which goes off in strange and dark, awful directions. They're all punctuated by a group of voices singing "Win a night out!" which Barry finishes for them, adding a bit more singing for those moments, but continuing primarily to operate his voice by rhythm.

This isn't a release you're going to stumble into, so give it a listen here:

Day Eight: Aspera Ad Astra - Peace

AudioInformationPhenomena ■ AIP 003

Released: ??, 1998

Produced and Recorded by Carmine Degennaro

"let the uplifting messages bring joy and goodness to your life and those surrounding. peace and love."
[From the insert included with the album]
Side One:Side Two:
  1. Taking to Waking
  2. Sick N' Sad
  3. Step Into Me
  4. [Untitled]
  5. Scannin' Lights
  1. The Yellowed Skin
  2. This Whim Breathes
  3. Fat in the Eye
  4. Takin' It Easy
I touched on this band on my previous/other blog, but didn't say too much about the album proper. Of course, I've forgotten over the years (repeatedly, actually) that this is yet another release (see also: Provocation and Kali Yuga Bizarre)with goofed up track listings. The back of the sleeve (as well as the CD case, I've just confirmed) lists the tracks as "Taking to Waking", "Sick N' Sad", "Step Into Me", "This Whim Breathes", "Fat in the Eye", "Scannin' Lights", "The Yellowed Skin", and "Take It Easy". The label on Side Two lists them in the order above, and, as usual, the lyrics are the giveaway. It appears the listing I've given in my standardized form is the most correct one ("fat in the eye" is completely audible and intelligible in the third track on Side Two, rather than the fourth track on Side One). "Takin' It Easy" could go either way, but seeing as the order appears correct on the label, I'll go with the title that appears in the same place. I know at various times I've also had the first track titled "Talking to Walking," though I'm not sure why. I think it may have been in the metadata of my initial digital copy.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Day Seven: Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92

 R&S Records ■ AMB LP 3922/AMB LP 3902

Released: November, 1992

Produced by Richard D. James

Side A:
Side B:
  1. Xtal
  2. Tha
  3. Pulsewidth
  1. Ageispolis
  2. i
  3. Green Calx
  4. Heliosphan
Side C:
Side D:
  1. We Are the Music Makers
  2. Schottkey 7th Path
  3. Ptolemy
  1. Hedphelym
  2. Delphium
  3. Actium
While high school was the time I began to really delve into music in general, it was also the time at which I began to seriously explore beyond that which I'd heard and was now beginning to identify. I had a brief period (as seemingly many in recent generations do) of clinging to music from the past as means to identify myself: bristling and holding people at bay by judging whether they were familiar with Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd before anything else. Seemingly unlike modern generations in this state, my friends and I did not explicitly reject modern music as inherently inferior or devoid of quality. Indeed, the modern bands we listened to most in the midst of high school were played  happily on the radio, and some were just a few years back and were part of our more formative years and already carried a sense of personal nostalgia.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day Six: Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies | SAP

Columbia Records ■ C2 57804
January 24, 1994
Jar of Flies
Produced by
Alice in Chains
Engineered by Toby Wright
Produced by
Alice in Chains and Rick Parash[a]r
Jar of Flies
Originally released January 25, 1994
Side One:Side Two:
  1. Rotten Apple
  2. Nutshell
  3. I Stay Away
  4. No Excuses
  5. Whale and Wasp
  1. Don't Follow
  2. Swing on This
Originally released February 4, 1992
Side One:Side Two:
  1. Brother
  2. Got Me Wrong
  3. Right Turn
  4. Am I Inside
  5. [Love Song Take 1]
[Etching of
Alice in Chains Logo]
No two ways about it: this is a weird release. If you expand the image above by clicking on it, you can see the etching I refer to on side four (no, I didn't "play" it, I just flipped the second record over for the picture). Even outside the fact that it's a 3-sided release on a format that can only be manufactured with even numbers of sides, this is a combination of two EPs that, in total runtime, would necessitate two records even if they weren't split one on a record or were re-configured to maximize the space on each side of a record.
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