Archive for the ‘Opinion/Editorial’ Category

ALAN PARSONS, FREE OF THE PROJECT, TRIES ANYTHING ONCE ON HIS PREMIER SOLO ALBUM

September 13, 2019

The first solo album by Alan Parsons. Fresh from a feud-riddled Freudiana with Eric Woolfson.

Before I begin the review I would like to extend a hearty congratulations to Alan Parsons for his Grammy win for the 35th Anniversary Box Set release of Eye In The Sky. It’s always affirming when Parsons get some recognition for his work outside of the dreadful Pink Floyd album and the even more banal Beatles works. I would have liked to have seen him get more recognition for his I Robot album than he got for the other projects. This is yet another unpopular opinion I am sure, but if you want popular opinion, there are millions of other reviewers towing the label dictate. Read them!

Now…

Rock operas are no damn good! If we learn nothing else from this review, we should be at least advised that rock operas can destroy (what the modern music industry would consider) a golden goose. Imagine, you are the head of a record label. Some guy and his pal come to you with a crazy idea that they are going to do a concept album (a good thing), about Edgar Allan Poe. Now, seeing as the median reader age is just a touch younger than I am, Poe was considered the grandfather of Goth. So that would mean dark, forbidding tales of murder, mayhem, deceit, set to catchy prog-rock style tunes.

You would kick their asses right out of the building, never mind your office…

Except ‘some guy’ is Alan Parsons, fresh off of working with Pink Floyd on Dark Side Of The Moon, and having just hung out with The Beatles during their infamous ‘Rooftop Concert’ (the bloke in the orange shirt). Not to mention Al Stewart’s Year Of The Cat album, and Pilot’s debut album From The Album Of The Same Name. If that’s not familiar to you, I KNOW you have heard the Pilot song “Magic” if in no other form, it was bastardized in the commercial for the drug Ozembic. The other guy? Eric Woolfson who was a minor music mogul in that he was managing several bands. Most notably and recognizably Carl Douglas whose song “Kung Fu Fighting” became an annoyance in the mid-seventies. But most importantly, Woolfson was a songwriter. Something Parsons was still finding his way around, but gaining ground quickly being around Woolfson. They share credit on many Parsons Project songs.

And the label was 20th Century Fox. Now the faithful readers of this rag (all two of you) know how I feel about movie production companies owning record labels. I know each and every band member of Miracle Legion will say the same thing; no damn good. As I alluded to before, 20th Century was given a concept album about Edgar Allan Poe and after it, they gave Parsons/Woolfson the boot.

It was at this point, The Alan Parsons Project would truly begin…

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OFF THE RECORD: TONES ON TAIL SLOG AND SHRED AT THE GALLERY, MANCHESTER, MAY 28, 1984

January 5, 2019

A deceptively good disc. The performances and Ash’s antics are abundant.

Daniel Ash, David J. and Kevin Haskins salvaged a working relationship once the Bauhaus were finished. There was still a fresh flow of material oozing out of Ash. To this day, Ash is releasing music as a solo artist and with Haskins and Haskin’s daughter Diva Dompe as POPTONE. Long time readers of this blog will remember the Great POPTONE Fiasco of 2017. Despite what Ash’s ‘management’ claims, I felt I wrote one of the best reviews of my life for that show (at the over-hyped Stone Pony) and I continue to stand by that review today. Frankly, I don’t care what the POPTONE camp has to say.  Would I have liked the band to see my review? Sure! I always want the band to see my review. I feel I can relate to them, they can identify with me, we speak the same lingo (you readers don’t really want me to go into hyper-specifics about key, chords, scales, nodes, technology, equipment, processes, so on, you’ve told me so).

But most musicians DO want to talk specifics.

None of that matters. This blog has recommitted itself to enjoying the process of composing reviews that lead to insight, glancing insider knowledge and minimal technical speak. That last one will resurface, I know it.

This is one from our soundboard recording specialist Craig. We’ll get to how you can own this nifty prize yourself later.

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WE RING IN THE NEW YEAR WITH A PRIVATE RESERVE: WITH TOO MANY SONGS AND NOT ENOUGH BAND, BILL SPOONER LAUNCHES FIRST CHUD!

December 29, 2018

The first solo album by Tubes founder Bill Spooner. It is disputed as to whether or not it is truly Spooner’s first as he recorded and released an album under the name of Warren S. Richardson on Cotillion Records in 1969. We’ll be focusing on First Chud.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I see they have added banner ads to the content on this site. I guess the economy is SO great under Trumonomics, the host site has to make my already annoying content even more annoying with pop-down banner ads. I do not begrudge them. This host site has been great to me for many years. I hope to be able to continue my relationship with them for years to come. But please know it is not my personal preference. However, if that’s what it takes to keep this site going and to maintain the archive of atrocities from my feeble, drug-addled, vitriolic brain, so be it. Additionally, as this is the first Private Reserve review, the concept behind it is, I will review vinyl, imports, rare stuff I have or find for my own collection that might be exceptionally unknown, an artist of personal favor or a piece of artistic quality. The hope is I can turn folks on to things they may not know are out there, and to hopefully resurrect interest in these otherwise lost treasures.

Gonna hope we can cut down on these author’s notes in the new year. And happy new year to you! Let’s launch First Chud…

Some times a band hits a brick wall. Try as they may, try as they might, nothing puts them back on the track they were originally on. For Bill Spooner, that band was the Tubes. For the Tubes, that track was success. I’ve gone on and on about the role Todd Rundgren played in the demise of not one but two recording contracts with two separate labels for the Tubes. For the uninitiated, the first time was after Remote Control on A&M in 1979. Then after the tumultuous Love Bomb sessions, not only were the Tubes dropped by Capitol Records during the 1985 tour, while Rundgren’s Utopia was opening for them, Utopia’s label Passport/Jem/Utopia records just up and folded.

It came around to bite Rundgren on the ass.

While Bill Spooner was on Team Rundgren when it came to the production of Love Bomb, lead vocalist Fee Waybill rallied for the return of David Foster. It was Foster who had spoon-fed the Tubes hits by bringing in ‘ringers’ to write and even record parts on songs! While Roger Steen reproduces the solo on one of their hits, “Talk To Ya Later” from Completion Backward Principle with more passion than the recording, it was actually Steve Lukather who played on recording. Foster brought in Tom Snow to co-write some songs, brought in Martha Davis of the Motels to duet on the cover of “Monkey Time” and more that I’m forgetting most likely.

The only guest Rundgren ever brought in was himself.

Spooner loved having Rundgren around. Spooner picked up a lot from Rundgren. Rundgren would co-opt keyboardist (the late, great) Vince Welnick for tours and recording for years until Welnick would get caught up in that whole worthless Grateful Dead-centric universe that, I feel, would ultimately cost him his life.

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FUCK THE SYSTEM! DARON MALAKIAN TURNS DICTATOR!!! THE FIRST IN OUR NEW CATEGORY VINYL IS FINAL!

November 10, 2018

The colored vinyl still sounds good in 7.1 surround… Photo courtesy Coming Age

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This review was delayed due to flooding in the Coming Age Recorders room. I have been doing ALL the remediation by myself. As a result of that, I have ingested copious amounts of mold (all the colors of the mold rainbow, White, Green and Black) and became seriously ill. Thanks to some dubious medical care, I have (finally) gotten better and am returning to reviewing full speed ahead. I do apologize for falling off the radar, but, it’s tough to listen, hear and discern when all you can hear is a constant ring in your head (in the key of G). Not an excuse, a reason. Now on to Scars on Broadway!

Where is all the good music these days? With the music industry in the turmoil that it currently festers within, truly talented artists languish behind less talented artists who have what the industry calls ‘The Look’, meaning, ‘we’ll fix their crappy vocals with autotune, ProTools, harmonizers, vocal processors, etc.’. Now one would think the record companies would want to get less attractive artists (so to speak) who can spend less time in a studio and thus cost less. But in their infinite wisdom, they want attractive people who spend hours of studio time (cost) so they can market them more easily. Screw talent, their face appeals to the common denominator.

Fortunately, right before that mindset (the American Idol/Got Talent mindset) a group of Armenian gentlemen started a speed-thrash metal group out of L.A. called System Of A Down. They have about five albums out, each is worth the purchase price. Speed metal about Armenian Genocide, you can’t beat it.

However…

System Of A Down drummer John Dolmayan more or less recently let it slip that he is not expecting a recording reunion of the band anytime soon. Singer Serj Tankian is busy with his activist work trying to get the United States as well as other countries to recognize the Armenian Genocide that was executed by the Turkish in the early 1900’s.  It was May 1915 when the Ottoman Empire started hauling in those in (Old World) Constantinople and sent them to Ankara. All in all, just shy of 275 Armenian intellects and civic leaders were systematically rounded up, arrested, and deported to Turkey where they were executed. The exact numbers of the genocide are always in flux by a few hundred.

Now for Tankian, this is no ‘charity for the sake of a tax break’ cause for him. Or any other member of System Of A Down (SOAD). You see, for those of you who aren’t knowing of SOAD, all four members, Dolmayan, Tankian, bassist Shavo Odajian and guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian are all of Armenian descent (Dolmayan being born in Beirut to Armenian parents) and have a passion about making the world accept that yes, that genocide was real and it was perpetrated by the Turkish. The United States needs to recognize and deal with that fact since the country is all ‘tariff this and tariff that, sanctions here, sanctions there’, why not sanction a country that deserves/requires it, as opposed to picking fights at summit meetings? Because The Great Orange Leader (TGOL) doesn’t like dealing with women such as Merkel and May, and is jealous of Macron’s popularity in France, as well as other petty grudges throughout the G8-20. ‘Tis better to sanction those who were our allies years ago in order to obtain and propagate crude oil, than to use sanctions and tariffs to uphold what is decent, what is honest, what is true, what is law… Not to mention Turkey’s recent accusation that the US (TGOL) ‘stabbed an ally in the back’. Then there’s the whole Khashoggi issue. Turkey is tough, so that puts the Armenian cause squarely in the underdog position…

This is where Malakian steps in.

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DAVID FITZPATRICK GREETS US WITH A WHIRLWIND THAT IS PARACHUTES IN HURRICANES

August 10, 2018

David Fitzpatrick puts his name on the line for Parachutes And Hurricanes. Photo courtesy the internet

I love Gary Tanin. I really do. He’s been a fan of this blog way back before it was this blog. The history between us goes back to when I was writing for Princeton Record Exchange. I don’t recall what review I wrote that garnered his attention there, but he came along when I decided to blow off the other two stores I was writing for and forge out on my own.

For that I will always be grateful. But I fear this is where all good things must end.

All throughout this blog’s history, I have made every effort to look for the unusual, the out-of-the-way, off-the-beaten path stuff. Having first been born and raised in the NJ/NY area, I was influenced by that fringe that was all around then. Free radios in cars blasted new and unusual stuff with the birth of FM radio. WPLJ, so on etc. So while I was getting the fresh info and news and new music, my family was imploding and my mother had to take me away from all that culture…

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ROXY MUSIC- A LOOK AT THE PREMIER PROG-GLAM BAND WITH THE VIDEO STORY MORE THAN THIS

July 21, 2018

Gaze upon the glam! You can with the DVD More Than This, The Story Of Roxy Music. Photo courtesy of Amazon

My long time mentor back in the 80’s (Storkasaurus Maximus) had introduced me to one Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, RDI, mostly through his Ambient works. If you feel like you are harried, unravelling, uncontrollable, put everything you have aside and just listen to any of his Ambeint series, Music For Airports is a particular pulse calmer. A more commercial route to Avant Eno would be his Music For Films, Vol. 1. There are shorter “songs” with equal amounts of signal-mutation, time-altering melody mangling but in three to five minute increments.

So Imagine my shock when I saw my first Roxy Music video (Virginia Plain) and I was hooked. Then, as the shots hop around the band FOLY FUCK THAT’S ENO! A long blond-ish-colored hair, heavy glam make up, and an outfit to rival future co-conspirator, the late David Bowie. And if that weren’t enough, and by gawd it ought to be, every time the song comes to the measure or so of rest, it’s Eno raping a synthesizer unaccompanied!

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OFF THE RECORD: FRIPP/SYLVIAN CAUGHT LIVE, BUT WITHOUT DAMAGE!

July 3, 2018

This is what you want if you want to hear some alternate versions of Sylvian/Fripp songs from the live CD ‘Damage’.

Robert Fripp and David Sylvian collaborated in the 2000’s to bring us two albums, The First Day, and the follow-up live disc Damage. Those are the two commercial releases that the combo put out. However, we have our hands on an off-market release called “Live From Massey Hall” from our supplier of all things off-market, Live Gig Recordings (look for their link later on in this review).

The history between Fripp and Sylvian initially didn’t progress as Fripp would have liked. At that point Fripp had asked Sylvian to join another (double-trio, six person) version of King Crimson (it appears as though he’d been seeking to usurp Adrian Belew from his long-standing role as lead vocalist and front person for King Crimson for a long time, only having done so within the past couple of years, filling his shoes is Jakko Jaoidsgfilsuxghfp). Sylvian already had a reputation as his own artist and felt he would only be able to collaborate so far under the Crimso moniker. So they settled for a remarkable collaboration that resulted in one of the most catchy prog songs ever recorded (“Jean The Birdman”, with a close second to “God’s Monkey”). We’ll delve into those songs when we get there.

First, I have something to say about the removal of Adrian Belew from King Crimson. Belew claims to be good with it, Fripp claims his status is the honorary 9th member of the new, eight member, three drummer configuration of King Crimson, as Tony Levin was during the Trey Gunn years in the early 2000’s. Belew is not idle by any means. His power trio just played the Irridium in NYC , and he is part of the David Bowie tribute act that is casually touring the world. I do see Fripp’s point about Belew as the front person. The fact is, he was too cheery, too happy in demeanor for the usually dower music that is/was King Crimson.

Returning to this project, the album’s cover photo for The First Day shows Sylvian AND Fripp having ridiculous, laughing smiles on their faces. No issue, they had a positive working relationship. Fripp has one with Brian Eno too, I don’t see them touring No Pussyfooting, or Evening Star, or Equatorial Stars, or Cotswald Gnomes, or…

A rare sight for the period. Robert Fripp laughing in a photograph.

Sylvian remains a solo artist. A fascinating one at that. Someone I hope to get more familiar with in terms of his work, straight away! Fripp is lumbering about with King Crimson. Two guitarists, a bassist/stick player, a keyboardist, a wind player, and three drummers. The samples I have heard from one of their many live performances sounded stiff, uniform and stilted.

I still contend Fripp is losing the plot…

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THE BEST ROCK AND BLUES BAND YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF, MEET DOUG AND THE SLUGS!

May 30, 2018

The Facebook Cover Photo for Doug and The Slugs 40th Anniversary. We thank them for this photo.

I was first introduced to Doug and The Slugs by MTV in the 80’s. Their first video grabbed my attention and I never looked back. Here was this portly, greasy haired singer (I thought that was the look for the video, nope) that, basically, in my head, I was seeing Squiggy from the Laverne And Shirley TV show. Remember him? David L. Lander was the actor’s name. But here in the U.S., he looked like the buffoon from the TV show.

America is stupid.

But the resemblance aside, this guy could wail! I mean the expression in Doug Bennett’s vocals were unmatched down here. No one was doing torch songs like “The River”. But when Doug did them, man you felt it. To be clear, I HATED Laverne & Shirley and really hated the Squiggy character. So for Bennett to make me love their music was an uphill battle but after the song “Real Enough” started to get rotation on MTV, it was hard to hold the grudge.

Then in 2004, the unthinkable would occur. As he was wont to do, Doug would be onstage with an adult beverage. It would lead to his demise is the word we have down here. He had toured with various incarnations of the band up until 2004-ish. He was 53.

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CONVERGENCE ALERT! ADRIAN BELEW JOINS WITH POLICE DRUMMER STEWART COPELAND AND LEVEL 42 BASSIST MARK KING TO FORM THE SUPERGROUP OF ALL TIME, GIZMODROME!!

May 26, 2018

What happens when a goofball drummer joins a funkoslap bass player, a happy-go-lucky noisemaker guitarist, and a virtuoso keyboardist? Gizmodrome! Photo courtesy Gizmodrome and the internet.

You hear me going on about convergence all the time. This artist I like works with that artist I like. Convergence. Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel, the artist who will no longer be named in this column and The Residents, Robert Fripp and Daryl Hall, Talking Heads and Eno, Eno and Devo, Fripp and Bowie, Bowie and the guitarist who is a member in this most unusual band we are about to review, Adrian Belew and if you want circular closure, Adrian Belew and Laurie Anderson.

Slap bassist extraordinaire Mark King has had his unique sound in every household guaranteed. If someone can honestly tell me they haven’t heard the song “Something About You” before, they are either VERY old (and I’m 55, so I know old) or live under a rock. King is one of those ‘taught-myself-how-to-make-a-living-at-this-thing’, type of players. Sophisticated playing with an innovative knack. I could go on about his co-collaborators outside Level 42, but this will be long enough.

The one member I know little about it Vittorio Cosma. He is the host of the band, in Italy. Italy is key to this band’s story as Copeland used the Italian backdrop to lure Belew to compliment the existing band Gizmo. King had opened for The Police back in the day, so Copeland recruited him and with those additions, the band Gizmodrome was born!

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LAURIE ANDERSON WEAVES TALES OF THE CANINE AND HUMAN EXPERIENCE WITH HER AWARD WINNING SOUNDTRACK “HEART OF A DOG”.

May 12, 2018

The album of the film about life, death and philosophy. An easy day
for Laurie Anderson. Photo courtesy of Nonesuch Records

Laurie Anderson has been around a while. Pioneering Avant Garde music and video with tracks like ‘Sharkey’s Day’ and her breakthrough underground hit ‘O Superman’, Anderson found a way to breakthrough to the mainstream while not shedding her true vision about what kind of artist she would become. She further sought to assume and maintain her place in the outer reaches of the pop culture by becoming more prolific with her vocals and vocal melodies. Her album Strange Angels was proof of that.

But you know me, I want the weird stuff. My favorite albums to date are the four disc, audio version of her live show United States Parts 1-4, and even her later work Homeland, which was reviewed in my column previously, that I likened to US Part 5, if you will.

But this album is a special one. Special in that it accompanied a movie, Heart Of A Dog which was about her dog Lolabelle (the sweetest rat terrier I had ever had the pleasure to meet!), and losing Lolabelle, and coming to grips with that tragedy.

Tragedy would not wander too far from Anderson as shortly thereafter, the love of her life (in human form), Lou Reed, left us suddenly. Toss in the death of her mother, and nothing else seems to have any point at that stage.

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