Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day Twenty-Six: The Boomtown Rats - Mondo Bongo

Columbia Records ■ PC 37062

Released January 24, 1981¹
Produced by Tony Visconti and the Boomtown Rats
Engineered by Chris Porter and Tom Winter
¹Original tracklisting; UK release

Side One:Side Two:
  1. Mood Mambo
  2. Straight Up
  3. This Is My Room
  4. Another Piece of Red
  5. Go Man Go
  6. Under Their Thumb...Is Under My Thumb
  1. Please Don't Go
  2. The Elephant's Graveyard
  3. Banana Republic
  4. Don't Talk to Me
  5. Hurt Hurts
  6. Up All Night
Anyone who knows this album (and let's be honest, that's probably zero people I know, and thus zero people reading this) might see something a bit peculiar above. And there is something peculiar. Anyone who has done much research into British music in the 1960s--and it doesn't take much--will start to see a large volume peculiarities. There was no Yesterday and Today, no Beatles VI, no Who album titled Happy Jack--and the list goes on, and on, and on, and on. Even AC/DC (who were only British by birth, and even then only 3/5 of them) suffered this with the weird melding of the albums T.N.T. and High Voltage, with some tracks from these scattered around, and others lost until the release of the '74 Jailbreak EP in 1984, four years after the death of Bon Scott in 1980--to say nothing of the more minor fiddlings with the other albums cannibalized to encompass that release. Bewildering re-arrangements and tossed-in-a-blender releases are a hallmark of U.S. releases of artists from other countries, and often done in fashions more like High Voltage, where the title stays the same and nothing else does--the tracklisting, the cover art, even the placement in the chronology of release. This is actually another tiny part of my frustration with blogs setting out to cover 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: if you are unaware, you may not actually be listening to the recordings you are being directed toward. If you are told to listen to Raw Power in the modern age, chances are you aren't going to hear David Bowie's mix, unless you know to seek it out. If you are told to listen to a number of Frank Zappa's albums with the Mothers of Invention, censoring, strange mixes and other alterations will occur (though you can be forgiven, in that case, for thinking perhaps they are intended in some cases).

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day Twenty-Five: The Blood Brothers - March on Electric Children

Erika Records¹ ■ ER2005

Released February 25, 2002
Produced by Matt B[ayles] and the Blood Brothers
Engineered by Matt B[ayles] (with assistance from Troy T.)
Mastered by Ed B.
¹Licensed from Three-One-G Records

Side One:Side Two:
  1. Birth Skin/Death Leather
  2. Meet Me at the Water Front after the Social
  3. March on Electric Children!
  4. New York Slave
  1. Kiss of the Octopus
  2. Siamese Gun
  3. Mr. Electric Ocean
  4. Junkyard J. Vs. the Skin Army Girlz/High Fives/LA Hives
  5. American Vultures
While I know people who frustratingly cannot seem to get a handle on entire genres like rap or metal, and, like me listening when I was younger, often take that almost as an out-of-hand, automatic cancellation of any interest in listening, there's another barrier that's more extreme and more difficult to deal with. There are some artists out there who get the words "difficult" and "uncompromising" thrown at them in an effort to appeal to those who see those as alluring, and sometimes as a means of quiet warning. Anyone who doesn't already know this band, but knows me is probably filled with dread already. But the object here isn't to scare people off--certainly, the idea of warning is one I am working with, but I own all the records I own out of interest, and most out of appreciation (and interest is generally just the predecessor of appreciation). I can't go out blaring records at anyone and everyone, and records in particular are kind of inherently a home-listening format these days. I obviously have friends with turntables, but not many, and not many I visit and hang around the homes of. So, with all that in mind: this wasn't an album I picked up because it means people will think or hear X, Y, or Z. I picked it up (three times now: the remastered CD from Epitaph, the original CD release from Three One G, and this picture disc) because I like the band and I like their sound--even if, yes, it's going to be (extremely) grating to some people.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day Twenty-Four: Blakroc - Blakroc

Blakroc Records ■ BR001-1

Released November 27, 2009
Produced by The Black Keys and Josh Hamilton
Recorded by Josh Hamilton
Executive Produced by Damon Dash

Side One:Side Two:
  1. Coochie
  2. On the Vista
  3. Hard Times
  4. Dollaz & Sense
  5. Why Can't I Forget Him
  6. Stay off the Fuckin' Flowers
  1. Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)
  2. Hope You're Happy
  3. Tellin' Me Things
  4. What You Do to Me
  5. Done Did It
I'm always inwardly leaping for joy at moments of silly synchronicity. All kinds of connections just have their sort of appeal to me--it's that love of crossover, patterns, references, and in-jokes that I can't resist, if achieved via skill or pure coincidence. That Blakroc's lone album happens to follow Rádio do Canibal in my collection, alphabetically, is pure coincidence, but it's kind of an amusing one. It would be clever if it were planned in some way. Largely, though, I've left the album alone for reasons similar to the reasons I left Rádio do Canibal alone--it felt like it would end up a mishmash of disjointed sounds due to the "varied guests per track" approach. There's a seeming human tendency to identify most with the voice in any given musical act, one that means that the vocalist is seen as the star by the majority, regardless of their actual role in creating the music. I don't know that anyone has actually studied this, but I'm inclined to think it relates to the fact that we all are capable of making noise with throat and mouth, so there's a base to start the understanding from. In any case, I often swing either way when it comes to voices, sometimes nearly ignoring them, but often clinging to them as much as anyone. It means that albums like these make me kind of wary, even as the idea of them attracts me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day Twenty-Three: BK-One with Benzilla - Rádio do Canibal

Rhymesayers Entertainment ■ RSE0114-1

Released: October 6, 2009

Produced by BK-One and Benzilla ["Mega" co-produced by Brother Ali]

Side One:Side Two:
  1. Ivan Tiririca (Intro)
  2. Gittit
  3. Mega
  4. Caetano Veloso (Interlude)
  5. The True & The Living
  1. Here I Am
  2. Tema do Canibal
  3. Ivan Tiririca (Interlude)
  4. Philly Boy
  5. Blood Drive

Side Three:Side Four:
  1. A Day's Work
  2. Face It
  3. Love Like That
  4. Hyldon (Interlude)
  5. Blue Balls
  1. Eighteen to Twenty-One
  2. Call to Arms
  3. American Nightmare
  4. Tom Zé (Outro)
This is the kind of album that's the reason for doing this blog in its entirety, in more than one way. To the left: I've left this album alone a lot. Being "required" to sit and devote some time to it lets me really give it the attention it deserves for me to form any opinion on it. It also stops me from skipping to a favourite track automatically (which I've tended to do both with this copy and my CD copy). And, to the right: it is something new to expose most people to, as it is far from a famed work of any kind, but deserves more attention than it gets (at the very least).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day Twenty-Two: Big Star - Radio City

Ardent Records ■ ADS-1501

Released January, 1974
Produced by John Fry and Big Star
Engineered by John Fry

Side One:Side Two:
  1. O My Soul
  2. Life Is White
  3. Way Out West
  4. What's Going Ahn
  5. You Get What You Deserve
  1. Mod Lang
  2. Back of a Car
  3. Daisy Glaze
  4. She's a Mover
  5. September Gurls
  6. Morpha Too
  7. I'm in Love with a Girl
I was left in a vague lurch on this one: I got seven people to vote on which Big Star album I should talk about, and 3 picked #1 Record, 3 picked Radio City, and one lone voice (which I very well might be able to guess) picked 3rd. In the end, my friend Brian suggested I consult my friend George¹, and so the dilemma was resolved. Honestly, it indicated to me basically exactly what I'd suspect. I don't know, naturally, what motivated any votes (not even a single one, this time)--whether it was familiarity or gut reactions to titles or research or what. Still, it tends to be a very thin line between #1 Record and Radio City if you ask anyone who knows, and then a decent minority that prefers the frustrated, misanthropic nihilism of 3rd (aka Sister Lovers, but the version issued and reissued on vinyl bears the title 3rd). I was stuck myself--I have personal attachments to either, songs I love on both, a very mild preference and contrasts in stories of acquisition (one's interesting, one isn't). I couldn't complain about ending up with any of them (though I'd stumble a bit more with 3rd, if I'm honest). If one marked out a ratio of amount of recordings versus listneing time, Big Star would likely be at some absurd height in my listening record. The only known set of statistics comes from my listening habits. You'll note Big Star comes in quite soon, and behind artists that released at least twice as many albums.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day Twenty-One: Big Country - The Seer

Mercury/Polygram Records ■ 826 844-1 M-1

Released July 14, 1986
Produced by Robin Millar
Engineered by Will Gosling
Mixed by Walter Turbitt

Side One:Side Two:
  1. Look Away
  2. The Seer
  3. The Teacher
  4. I Walk the Hill
  5. Eiledon
  1. One Great Thing
  2. Hold the Heart
  3. Remembrance Day
  4. The Red Fox
  5. The Sailor
I thought, for a moment, that I'd sorted out a pattern to how people vote in the polls. I thought it was a relatively simple matter: choose self-titled albums, choose "biggest" albums--but then that was ruined when someone I know who knows music said he chose The Crossing because it sounded cool. Which is fine with me--my object is not demanding an existing opinion from anyone, but rather to find a way to settle on a release where more than one is available from an artist. "Ooh, that title sounds good," is a perfectly legitimate reason for me, and it can offset the knowledgeable to some extent--whether they push for a "familiar face" or a comparative obscurity. Variety of response is helpful in getting a more complete aggregation of interest--after all, tastes vary wildly. If I didn't poll, I'd be choosing deliberately and people would or could lose interest--it's also like saying directly that I have no interest in some records I own, as well as occasionally (if not always) guaranteeing an avoidance of digging deeper into catalogues I intended to (hence buying the records) but never bothered to (and would, then, continue to fail to acknowledge). This is all a way of leading into the relatively middling response to the poll that led to this particular entry.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day Twenty: The Beatles - Abbey Road

Capitol Records ■ SO-383

Released September 26, 1969
Produced by George Martin
Recorded by Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald
Assistant Engineering by Alan Parsons

Side One:Side Two:
  1. Come Together
  2. Something
  3. Maxwell's Silver Hammer
  4. Oh! Darling
  5. Octopus's Garden
  6. I Want You (She's So Heavy)
  1. Here Comes the Sun
  2. Because
  3. You Never Give Me Your Money
  4. Sun King
  5. Mean Mr. Mustard
  6. Polythene Pam
  7. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window¹
  8. Golden Slumbers
  9. Carry That Weight
  10. The End²
  11. Her Majesty³
 ¹Tracks 3 ("You Never Give Me Your Money") through 7 ("She Came in Through the Bathroom Window") are often thought of as a medley
²Somewhat unbeknownst to me, 8 ("Golden Slumbers") through 10 ("The End") are also thought of as a medley. It does make sense, though.
³Unlisted on original issue. This pressing does not include it on the outer sleeve, but does list it on the label.

Yesterday, I was tasked--by either the gushing overconvidence in me or sadism practiced upon me by friends and family--with discussing the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. I'm not sure it turned out all that well, but I felt a bit out of place with it--many people seem to see me as quite knowledgeable musically, but I don't think that piece of writing bore that out. It tends to make patently obvious my limitations in the music theory sense. The iconic nature of the cover above--along with the overall reputation of the music within it--is not something encouraging insofar as escaping that same trap on this immediately following day. However, it occupies an odd place. The most iconic Beatles album remains Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and I would definitely feel about it the way I felt about Pet Sounds: a need to correctly place it in pop history and acknowledge that monolithic and kneejerk placement of it. It's the sort of thing that's generally no longer defended--it just is the greatest album of all time, or whatever. Whether it is or isn't doesn't get addressed in a lengthy way most of the time anymore: it's mostly the brainwashed kind of "Oh, Sgt. Pepper," or the "I refuse to be brainwashed" response of "Anything but Sgt. Pepper." As a result, despite being voted the best Beatles album with some regularity by both aggregated response and individual judgment on many occasions, Abbey Road often appears behind Sgt. Pepper, Revolver, and Rubber Soul in many a list of more general selections (the 1960s, all time, so on). That it is also my own personal favourite Beatles album does me no harm in my comfort.

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