Archive for June, 2006

Entry for June 30, 2006

June 30, 2006

 

Hi! Here’s a fun quiz!

The following is the first paragraph of a brand new record company bio I just received–plus a sentence I just added to it for kicks! Can you guess which sentence is mine?:

“High atop a mountain, somewhere in California’s Mojave desert, the members of Electric Skychurch are setting up their equipment in the dirt. Armed with generators, electronic drums and enough cable to wire a small town, James Lumb, David de Laski, Alex Spurkel and Roxanne Morganstern assemble what will eventually become the focus of a live electronic musical performance. Suddenly mean aliens–who historically tend to dislike overly dramatic bios–descend from the sky and skin them alive!

Yee-hah!

 

 ***

 

BREAD  Bread Retrospective (Rhino/Elektra Traditions) 4/5 JAMES BROWN Funk Power 1970: A Brand New Thang  (Polydor) 5/5  In many ways alike, these two packages 1) are CDs, 2) feature musicians who excelled at what they did during the ’70s, and 3)are being reviewed together for my own personal convenience! Bread were, in retrospect, cooler than most people gave them credit for–and this package absolutely proves it. Though the song line-up slightly changed from the initial advance cassettes Rhino had sent out–the track from early Uni Records group the Pleasure Faire, for instance, was dropped–you can’t argue the inherent rockin’ dudedness of Mr. David Gates! His famous songs such as “Make It With You,” “If,” and the always charming “Baby I’m-A Want You” not only laid the ground work for such later pioneers as Pearl Jam, but clearly wiped the floor with his fellow Breadwinners James Griffin and Robb Royer, who–try as they might–simply couldn’t write a tune that could match DG’s incredible gift for sheer hummability! Similarly, James Brown–heard here with Bobby Byrd and Bootsy Collins–is real good, too!

 

THE SIN EATERS Linoleum Years (Modulus Records) Apparently from San Francisco and featuring Stephen Siegrist–formerly of Thin White Rope–this abfab disc arrived unasked-for and accompanied by an actual slab of linoleum, which (believe it, baby!) can make all the difference in the world. An accomplished, well-recorded set featuring songs that bear the influences of (it says in the bio) Ray Davies, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Brian Wilson and Merle Haggard–and boy, weren’t they a great band?–this record is so fresh and invigorating it makes me want to suggest you call 415-647-3993 to find out more about it! Frankly, I was floored! 4/5

 

J.J. CALE Guitar Man (Virgin) J.J. Cale continues to make fabulous records, and this–his latest–is one of his better efforts. Opening with “Death In The Wilderness,” a futuristic-sounding churner decrying modern man’s role as destroyer of all things natural, Guitar Man actually sounds better than the 1972 Bread song bearing the same name! How’s that for inter-column irony? 4.5/5

 

GASTR DEL SOL Upgrade & Afterlife (Drag City)  Bearing the coolest cover picture you’ll see this year, this fine disc features the return of indie bigwigs David Grubbs and Jim O’Rourke. The latter previously spent some time “making a record” of the recent Faust reunion tour–and the effort he spent editing those zany Krautrockers’ atonal hijinks into something substantial has clearly paid off here. By no means a studio quickie, Upgrade & Afterlife shows depth, substance, and another descriptive noun–and also features a John Fahey tune! 4/5

 

OUTPOST The Samples (MCA) Confusingly, all the songs on this new sampler the new MCA-distributed Outpost label sound like they were made by the same band! Yikes! But, as always, any cover featuring the heads of cats and dogs superimposed on kids’ bodies ranks high with me! 2/5

 

(BAM, 6/1/96)

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Entry for June 30, 2006

June 30, 2006

 

Hi! Here’s a fun quiz!

The following is the first paragraph of a brand new record company bio I just received–plus a sentence I just added to it for kicks! Can you guess which sentence is mine?:

“High atop a mountain, somewhere in California’s Mojave desert, the members of Electric Skychurch are setting up their equipment in the dirt. Armed with generators, electronic drums and enough cable to wire a small town, James Lumb, David de Laski, Alex Spurkel and Roxanne Morganstern assemble what will eventually become the focus of a live electronic musical performance. Suddenly mean aliens–who historically tend to dislike overly dramatic bios–descend from the sky and skin them alive!

Yee-hah!

 

 ***

 

BREAD  Bread Retrospective (Rhino/Elektra Traditions) 4/5 JAMES BROWN Funk Power 1970: A Brand New Thang  (Polydor) 5/5  In many ways alike, these two packages 1) are CDs, 2) feature musicians who excelled at what they did during the ’70s, and 3)are being reviewed together for my own personal convenience! Bread were, in retrospect, cooler than most people gave them credit for–and this package absolutely proves it. Though the song line-up slightly changed from the initial advance cassettes Rhino had sent out–the track from early Uni Records group the Pleasure Faire, for instance, was dropped–you can’t argue the inherent rockin’ dudedness of Mr. David Gates! His famous songs such as “Make It With You,” “If,” and the always charming “Baby I’m-A Want You” not only laid the ground work for such later pioneers as Pearl Jam, but clearly wiped the floor with his fellow Breadwinners James Griffin and Robb Royer, who–try as they might–simply couldn’t write a tune that could match DG’s incredible gift for sheer hummability! Similarly, James Brown–heard here with Bobby Byrd and Bootsy Collins–is real good, too!

 

THE SIN EATERS Linoleum Years (Modulus Records) Apparently from San Francisco and featuring Stephen Siegrist–formerly of Thin White Rope–this abfab disc arrived unasked-for and accompanied by an actual slab of linoleum, which (believe it, baby!) can make all the difference in the world. An accomplished, well-recorded set featuring songs that bear the influences of (it says in the bio) Ray Davies, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Brian Wilson and Merle Haggard–and boy, weren’t they a great band?–this record is so fresh and invigorating it makes me want to suggest you call 415-647-3993 to find out more about it! Frankly, I was floored! 4/5

 

J.J. CALE Guitar Man (Virgin) J.J. Cale continues to make fabulous records, and this–his latest–is one of his better efforts. Opening with “Death In The Wilderness,” a futuristic-sounding churner decrying modern man’s role as destroyer of all things natural, Guitar Man actually sounds better than the 1972 Bread song bearing the same name! How’s that for inter-column irony? 4.5/5

 

GASTR DEL SOL Upgrade & Afterlife (Drag City)  Bearing the coolest cover picture you’ll see this year, this fine disc features the return of indie bigwigs David Grubbs and Jim O’Rourke. The latter previously spent some time “making a record” of the recent Faust reunion tour–and the effort he spent editing those zany Krautrockers’ atonal hijinks into something substantial has clearly paid off here. By no means a studio quickie, Upgrade & Afterlife shows depth, substance, and another descriptive noun–and also features a John Fahey tune! 4/5

 

OUTPOST The Samples (MCA) Confusingly, all the songs on this new sampler the new MCA-distributed Outpost label sound like they were made by the same band! Yikes! But, as always, any cover featuring the heads of cats and dogs superimposed on kids’ bodies ranks high with me! 2/5

 

(BAM, 6/1/96)

Entry for June 29, 2006

June 29, 2006

 

Hokey smoke! Deadline!

That may mean nothing to you, but to me–a noted columnist–it means everything! Here I sit, well after midnight, starting a column that should have been sent in more than 12 hours ago!

Fraught with concern? You bet I am! Because now I’m supposed to be reeling off mini-reviews of The World’s Best New Records–and I have to admit that, uh, actually, I haven’t heard any lately!

Why? Because for the past two weeks–for reasons peculiar only to me–I’ve been listening to The Junk No One Ever Plays!

Share my joy!

                                              

****

 

TALL TALES AND TRUE Shiver (rooArt) OK, maybe there is a 1989 copyright date on this baby–but heck, that was the year I had my first kid!  Anyway, good stuff–plus, there’s a guy named Mark Snarski on this record that I know must be related to that singer from the Blackeyed Susans, who I now like loads! And get this: I wouldn’t have cared then! It’s good I never played this before! 3/5

 

PALE DIVINE Straight To Goodbye (Atlantic) So sue me that I never heard this in 1991!  At least I didn’t sell it! Not like those enquiring trade magazine writers who call me and say, “Hey, Binky, I just saw Love Spit Love last night and they were great and their guitarist used to be in Pale Divine do you remember what label they were on maybe I can still get one.”  At least take a breath, dude! 2.5/5

 

CHAGALL GUEVARA Chagall Guevara (MCA) Maybe I played this advance tape and thought it was good in 1991, then didn’t like the album cover! Or maybe it’s just because I’m from Miami and I involuntarily fail to pay attention to commonly-heard Cuban last names!  Either way, I know now that if I’d have given these guys the review they deserved four years ago, they’d be the next Mariah Carey or something! Darn! 4/5

 

WORLD ON EDGE World On Edge (Charisma) Maybe you read this band’s bio in 1990. Maybe you know if they came from Canada or West Germany. It’s hard to tell!  All I know is, the artwork’s crappy, the lead singer sounds like Barry Holdship, and–the big bummer–U2’s famous guitarist is not the slightest bit involved! And they could’ve been bigger than Fugazi! 2/5

 

DOUGHBOYS Happy Accidents (Restless) In 1990, all my pals were telling me I’d like the Doughboys–but did I care?  No! I had things to do! And listening to Canadian bands signed to labels that would send their CDs out with those cheap, crappy clear plastic jewel boxes that always broke was not included! 3.5/5

 

THE NYMPHS The Nymphs (DGC) Hey, don’t I live here or something?  Why didn’t I play this four years ago?  Was it because they were signed to their label by the same guy who signed Guns N’ Roses and were going to be huge so it didn’t matter? I forget! And the nutty babe who sings “your Velvet Underground records won’t help”–she’s the same one who pissed on that guy’s desk?  Guess what she just did in my ears! 1/5

 

TOTO Kingdom Of Desire (Relativity) OK, I confess! This is sort of a new one, even though it’s got a 1992 copyright on it!  The main reason I like it is because of the guitarist’s last name! Steve “Lukather.” It’s so handy! What did one guy say to the other guy when the beautiful girl walked by? “Hey, man, `lukather’!”  What did the psycho killer say to the district attorney?  “I had the axe in my hand, and suddenly I just wanted to `lukather’!” What do you get when you break this CD really hard on your forehead? Seven years’ bad “lukather”! All this and I get to listen to Can, too! I love my job! 5/5

 

(BAM, sometime in 1996)

Entry for June 29, 2006

June 29, 2006

 

Hokey smoke! Deadline!

That may mean nothing to you, but to me–a noted columnist–it means everything! Here I sit, well after midnight, starting a column that should have been sent in more than 12 hours ago!

Fraught with concern? You bet I am! Because now I’m supposed to be reeling off mini-reviews of The World’s Best New Records–and I have to admit that, uh, actually, I haven’t heard any lately!

Why? Because for the past two weeks–for reasons peculiar only to me–I’ve been listening to The Junk No One Ever Plays!

Share my joy!

                                              

****

 

TALL TALES AND TRUE Shiver (rooArt) OK, maybe there is a 1989 copyright date on this baby–but heck, that was the year I had my first kid!  Anyway, good stuff–plus, there’s a guy named Mark Snarski on this record that I know must be related to that singer from the Blackeyed Susans, who I now like loads! And get this: I wouldn’t have cared then! It’s good I never played this before! 3/5

 

PALE DIVINE Straight To Goodbye (Atlantic) So sue me that I never heard this in 1991!  At least I didn’t sell it! Not like those enquiring trade magazine writers who call me and say, “Hey, Binky, I just saw Love Spit Love last night and they were great and their guitarist used to be in Pale Divine do you remember what label they were on maybe I can still get one.”  At least take a breath, dude! 2.5/5

 

CHAGALL GUEVARA Chagall Guevara (MCA) Maybe I played this advance tape and thought it was good in 1991, then didn’t like the album cover! Or maybe it’s just because I’m from Miami and I involuntarily fail to pay attention to commonly-heard Cuban last names!  Either way, I know now that if I’d have given these guys the review they deserved four years ago, they’d be the next Mariah Carey or something! Darn! 4/5

 

WORLD ON EDGE World On Edge (Charisma) Maybe you read this band’s bio in 1990. Maybe you know if they came from Canada or West Germany. It’s hard to tell!  All I know is, the artwork’s crappy, the lead singer sounds like Barry Holdship, and–the big bummer–U2’s famous guitarist is not the slightest bit involved! And they could’ve been bigger than Fugazi! 2/5

 

DOUGHBOYS Happy Accidents (Restless) In 1990, all my pals were telling me I’d like the Doughboys–but did I care?  No! I had things to do! And listening to Canadian bands signed to labels that would send their CDs out with those cheap, crappy clear plastic jewel boxes that always broke was not included! 3.5/5

 

THE NYMPHS The Nymphs (DGC) Hey, don’t I live here or something?  Why didn’t I play this four years ago?  Was it because they were signed to their label by the same guy who signed Guns N’ Roses and were going to be huge so it didn’t matter? I forget! And the nutty babe who sings “your Velvet Underground records won’t help”–she’s the same one who pissed on that guy’s desk?  Guess what she just did in my ears! 1/5

 

TOTO Kingdom Of Desire (Relativity) OK, I confess! This is sort of a new one, even though it’s got a 1992 copyright on it!  The main reason I like it is because of the guitarist’s last name! Steve “Lukather.” It’s so handy! What did one guy say to the other guy when the beautiful girl walked by? “Hey, man, `lukather’!”  What did the psycho killer say to the district attorney?  “I had the axe in my hand, and suddenly I just wanted to `lukather’!” What do you get when you break this CD really hard on your forehead? Seven years’ bad “lukather”! All this and I get to listen to Can, too! I love my job! 5/5

 

(BAM, sometime in 1996)

Entry for June 28, 2006

June 28, 2006

 

It’s only natural for a rock critic who’s been writing for any length of time to arrive at, for want of a better term, a “slow period.” You know, to start pondering the actual worth of writing about someone else’s work–in this case pop music–and attempting to “judge” it.

It’s also only natural, if you’re a writer, to start repeating yourself stylistically–to start employing the same clichés, the same, cutesy one-two verbal punches that once might have seemed clever, but now seem hollow and, well, even dim-witted. How many times and in how many different ways can you say that something is good–or, more to the point, that something really and truly STINKS? A dilemma? Yes. Insurmountable? No.

The answer? Have kids!

You want proof?

Which of the following two sentences best gets my point across about this summer’s Kiss reunion?:

1) Kiss are money-hungry and talentless

OR:

2) Kiss probably like Barbie!

I vote for Sentence 2!

How do you like me now?

 

***
                              

SPIRIT Willie Nelson (Island) An astounding parody of country music from the acid-fried geezers who brought us “I’ve Got A Line On You” and “Mr. Skin,” this welcome comeback may rival Prefab Sprout’s Steve McQueen for coolest album title ever! Only bummer is the turn-off cover picture of some old guy who–and I know they’ve been around for a while now–couldn’t possibly be Randy California! Yoo-hoo–paging Island Records’ marketing department! 4/5

 

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO Subliminal Sandwich (Nothing/Interscope) If you’re like me, you probably think most of this stuff sounds the same–and that any artist performing under the name “Jack Dangers” probably changed his name from Francis Peiken or something! And you’d be wrong on both counts! A “stunningly diverse” double-CD “chockfull of sophisticated, artful playing” by the likes of guitarist Joe Gore, among others, this record rocks hard, babe! I like it better than nearly anything else I’ve heard in this genre! And hey–I’ve seen Nine Inch Nails live! 4/5

 

BEDHEAD Beheaded (Trance Syndicate) Texas dudes who manage to borrow extensively from the tone and mood of the third Velvet Underground album without sounding like slavish copycats, these guys play rock ‘n’ roll with the verve and mercurial speed of, I dunno, an MGM movie or something! Incidentally, did you know that one of the meanings of “cotillion” is “a formal ball”? Cool! 5/5

 

SLOBBERBONE Crow Pot Pie (Doolittle) Even more Texans–reviewed here per my agreement with that state’s former governor–Slobberbone are hampered by a dopey name but saved by some of the finest countrified-rockin’ I’ve heard since the enactment of the No More Letter “G” Rule 12 years ago! Publicist alert: New albums due from Sheryl Crow, Black Crowes, and Counting Crows; the soundtrack to The Crow: City Of Angels coming soon; inevitable retrospectives on the Cro-Mags, the Necros, Cro-Magnon, and Crow themselves waiting to be written! And now… Crow Pot Pie! Get moving!  4.5/5

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS The History Of Dot Records Vol. 1: Young Love (Varese Sarabande) There are few thrills greater than hearing a song you once liked again for the first time in 30 years or so. And so it is with me, this odds ‘n’ ends collection of Dot Records recordings, and Robin Ward’s hit, “Wonderful Summer,” which entered the charts the same month President Kennedy was shot! Man, was that a bummer! 3.5/5

 

(BAM,  6/1/96) 

Entry for June 28, 2006

June 28, 2006

 

It’s only natural for a rock critic who’s been writing for any length of time to arrive at, for want of a better term, a “slow period.” You know, to start pondering the actual worth of writing about someone else’s work–in this case pop music–and attempting to “judge” it.

It’s also only natural, if you’re a writer, to start repeating yourself stylistically–to start employing the same clichés, the same, cutesy one-two verbal punches that once might have seemed clever, but now seem hollow and, well, even dim-witted. How many times and in how many different ways can you say that something is good–or, more to the point, that something really and truly STINKS? A dilemma? Yes. Insurmountable? No.

The answer? Have kids!

You want proof?

Which of the following two sentences best gets my point across about this summer’s Kiss reunion?:

1) Kiss are money-hungry and talentless

OR:

2) Kiss probably like Barbie!

I vote for Sentence 2!

How do you like me now?

 

***
                              

SPIRIT Willie Nelson (Island) An astounding parody of country music from the acid-fried geezers who brought us “I’ve Got A Line On You” and “Mr. Skin,” this welcome comeback may rival Prefab Sprout’s Steve McQueen for coolest album title ever! Only bummer is the turn-off cover picture of some old guy who–and I know they’ve been around for a while now–couldn’t possibly be Randy California! Yoo-hoo–paging Island Records’ marketing department! 4/5

 

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO Subliminal Sandwich (Nothing/Interscope) If you’re like me, you probably think most of this stuff sounds the same–and that any artist performing under the name “Jack Dangers” probably changed his name from Francis Peiken or something! And you’d be wrong on both counts! A “stunningly diverse” double-CD “chockfull of sophisticated, artful playing” by the likes of guitarist Joe Gore, among others, this record rocks hard, babe! I like it better than nearly anything else I’ve heard in this genre! And hey–I’ve seen Nine Inch Nails live! 4/5

 

BEDHEAD Beheaded (Trance Syndicate) Texas dudes who manage to borrow extensively from the tone and mood of the third Velvet Underground album without sounding like slavish copycats, these guys play rock ‘n’ roll with the verve and mercurial speed of, I dunno, an MGM movie or something! Incidentally, did you know that one of the meanings of “cotillion” is “a formal ball”? Cool! 5/5

 

SLOBBERBONE Crow Pot Pie (Doolittle) Even more Texans–reviewed here per my agreement with that state’s former governor–Slobberbone are hampered by a dopey name but saved by some of the finest countrified-rockin’ I’ve heard since the enactment of the No More Letter “G” Rule 12 years ago! Publicist alert: New albums due from Sheryl Crow, Black Crowes, and Counting Crows; the soundtrack to The Crow: City Of Angels coming soon; inevitable retrospectives on the Cro-Mags, the Necros, Cro-Magnon, and Crow themselves waiting to be written! And now… Crow Pot Pie! Get moving!  4.5/5

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS The History Of Dot Records Vol. 1: Young Love (Varese Sarabande) There are few thrills greater than hearing a song you once liked again for the first time in 30 years or so. And so it is with me, this odds ‘n’ ends collection of Dot Records recordings, and Robin Ward’s hit, “Wonderful Summer,” which entered the charts the same month President Kennedy was shot! Man, was that a bummer! 3.5/5

 

(BAM,  6/1/96) 

Entry for June 27, 2006

June 27, 2006

 

Hi! Just to assure you that you get your critical money’s worth by reading my every single word of this fabulous BAM column, check this out!

Recent issues of both the Village Voice and BAM have featured exciting 1995 Critic’s Polls–in which critics from all planets (including mine!) submitted lists of their 10 favorite albums, the results tallied, and the final list o’ winners then provided.

The results, you’ll be pleased to learn: Of the Voice‘s Top 40 and BAM’s Top 25 winners, not a single album I voted for showed up at all!   

Therefore, from this point forward, I now pledge to listen to every album I review at least once, unless something comes up!

 

***

 

THE MUTTON BIRDS Nature (Virgin U.K. import) Just caught this New Zealand quartet at Austin’s gleefully excessive South By Southwest fest, and they were the finest thing there. Sounding like Crowded House (good) being fronted by Roy Wood (fabulous), the Mutton Birds reek of both talent and commercial viability. There are at  least two songs on this new Brit compilation–“Dominion Road” and “Anchor Me” that could absolutely be American top 10 hits, if only some U.S. label was wise enough to pick ’em up! These guys could be the next Butt Trumpet! 5/5

 

KISS MTV Unplugged (Mercury) The most influential band of the ’70s or talentless money-sucking geeks who stink? That’s easy: both! Coincidentally, I had a tooth extracted last Friday! 5/5

 

TORTOISE Millions Now Living Will Never Die (Thrill Jockey)  Certainly among the finest of America’s indie bands–and how could any group that digs Can so much not be?–Tortoise takes sound and repetition and meld it together in a genuinely innovative manner. Odd, flaky, compelling, and–despite their name–not at all like “a more serious” Turtles! I was fooled! 4.5/5

 

HAMPTON GREASE BAND Music To Eat (Shotput/Columbia/Legacy)   Experts agree: It’s about time this legendary 1971 double-set was re-released. This fabled Atlanta band’s peculiar mix of sound–Beefheart, Zappa, even Grateful Dead–sounds years ahead of its time, and should easily appeal to fans of today’s rockin’-hip indie scene. Too bad few indie bands around today can actually play this well, but hey–at least they look cool! 5/5

 

MAXWELL Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (Columbia) Longtime fan of Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear will be thrilled to note that new artist Maxwell has replicated much of the sound–if not the lyrical thrust–of that mid-’70s masterwork here. Put this on your tapedeck, crank it up, cruise down the 405, and stare other drivers directly in the eye as you listen! Light a cigarette! Look out for that truck! 4/5

 

GIGANTAUR Gigantaur (World Domination EP) A spin-off of one of great unsung bands of the ’80s–Sea Stories, an Australian combo unfortunately then signed to IRS Records–Gigantaur the band is the fab rockin’ side of Simon Honisett and Penny Hewson; the pair separately perform as the quieter duo Sunglass. Saw Sunglass both at the Dragonfly a few months back (audience count: 11) and at the same SXSW gig featuring the Mutton Birds and Underground Lovers. Very good indeed. Call ’em Sunglass, call ’em Gigantaur–just don’t call ’em the last remaining hope for all mankind in case of unexpected nuclear war! 4/5

 

(BAM, 4/01/96)

Entry for June 27, 2006

June 27, 2006

 

Hi! Just to assure you that you get your critical money’s worth by reading my every single word of this fabulous BAM column, check this out!

Recent issues of both the Village Voice and BAM have featured exciting 1995 Critic’s Polls–in which critics from all planets (including mine!) submitted lists of their 10 favorite albums, the results tallied, and the final list o’ winners then provided.

The results, you’ll be pleased to learn: Of the Voice‘s Top 40 and BAM’s Top 25 winners, not a single album I voted for showed up at all!   

Therefore, from this point forward, I now pledge to listen to every album I review at least once, unless something comes up!

 

***

 

THE MUTTON BIRDS Nature (Virgin U.K. import) Just caught this New Zealand quartet at Austin’s gleefully excessive South By Southwest fest, and they were the finest thing there. Sounding like Crowded House (good) being fronted by Roy Wood (fabulous), the Mutton Birds reek of both talent and commercial viability. There are at  least two songs on this new Brit compilation–“Dominion Road” and “Anchor Me” that could absolutely be American top 10 hits, if only some U.S. label was wise enough to pick ’em up! These guys could be the next Butt Trumpet! 5/5

 

KISS MTV Unplugged (Mercury) The most influential band of the ’70s or talentless money-sucking geeks who stink? That’s easy: both! Coincidentally, I had a tooth extracted last Friday! 5/5

 

TORTOISE Millions Now Living Will Never Die (Thrill Jockey)  Certainly among the finest of America’s indie bands–and how could any group that digs Can so much not be?–Tortoise takes sound and repetition and meld it together in a genuinely innovative manner. Odd, flaky, compelling, and–despite their name–not at all like “a more serious” Turtles! I was fooled! 4.5/5

 

HAMPTON GREASE BAND Music To Eat (Shotput/Columbia/Legacy)   Experts agree: It’s about time this legendary 1971 double-set was re-released. This fabled Atlanta band’s peculiar mix of sound–Beefheart, Zappa, even Grateful Dead–sounds years ahead of its time, and should easily appeal to fans of today’s rockin’-hip indie scene. Too bad few indie bands around today can actually play this well, but hey–at least they look cool! 5/5

 

MAXWELL Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (Columbia) Longtime fan of Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear will be thrilled to note that new artist Maxwell has replicated much of the sound–if not the lyrical thrust–of that mid-’70s masterwork here. Put this on your tapedeck, crank it up, cruise down the 405, and stare other drivers directly in the eye as you listen! Light a cigarette! Look out for that truck! 4/5

 

GIGANTAUR Gigantaur (World Domination EP) A spin-off of one of great unsung bands of the ’80s–Sea Stories, an Australian combo unfortunately then signed to IRS Records–Gigantaur the band is the fab rockin’ side of Simon Honisett and Penny Hewson; the pair separately perform as the quieter duo Sunglass. Saw Sunglass both at the Dragonfly a few months back (audience count: 11) and at the same SXSW gig featuring the Mutton Birds and Underground Lovers. Very good indeed. Call ’em Sunglass, call ’em Gigantaur–just don’t call ’em the last remaining hope for all mankind in case of unexpected nuclear war! 4/5

 

(BAM, 4/01/96)

Entry for June 26, 2006

June 26, 2006

 

Silly me! Here I was, convinced that 1995 simply couldn’t top 1994 for sheer musical wonderfullness–and I was wrong!

Puzzled?  Don’t be!  I’ve just received a press release notifying me that the Pavarotti And Friends II album will be in stores Tuesday, June 6–and, better yet, it will feature a guest appearance by Canadian superstar Bryan Adams!   

The kicker? “Highlights of the concert include Adams and Pavarotti singing Adams’ chart hit `All For Love’ and the same duo in a brilliant rendition of `O Sole Mio.'”     

Now imagine they’ll be singing it completely in the nude! 

Yee-hah!

 

***

 

TEENAGE FANCLUB Grand Prix (DGC) 4/5   POOH STICKS Optimistic Fool (Seed) 4.5/5 Well then, it’s agreed: To be truly hip, all bands must now emulate ’70s bands like Brinsley Schwarz, Starry Eyed & Laughing and massive super sellers Big Star!  It’s great!  And these albums–which come well into the careers of both of these Scottish wamboes, and represent a startling maturity, clarity of vision, and third thing–are among the finest collections of pop music you’ll hear all year!  It’s enough to make me randomly proclaim that somebody good stinks!

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS Bubblegum Classics Vol. 1 & 2 (Varese Vintage) both 4/5  Though there are a few bad calls and some missed opportunities here, this pair of late ’60s collections are the cheeriest records I’ve ever heard in stereo yet!  Offering big hits by such faves as Edison Lighthouse, the Cuff Links, the White Plains, and everyone who ever recorded for Buddah Records, these discs conclusively prove that all of rock history as we know it is wrong and it doesn’t even matter!  To quote T.S Eliot, if…oh, never mind.

 

UNDERGROUND LOVERS Dream It Down (Polydor) I have absolutely no idea who this Australian quintet is; ironically, they, too, have no knowledge of my own existence. Still, that wouldn’t stop me from highly recommending this album to anyone!  “Imagine a group that combines the best elements of the early Church and mid-period Cure,” I’d say.  “Now imagine that same group has been blown up!” I’d say exactly that, I think, and you would probably be mad at me. 4.5/5

 

TELEVISION PERSONALITIES Yes Darling, But Is It Art? (Early Singles And Rarities) (Seed)  Further proof that in the early ’80s I slid into a parallel world, this incredibly spectacular, much-needed, collector’s dream of an album will undoubtedly be ignored by nearly everyone on earth!  It’s weird!  That said, let me also add that this double-length CD featuring Brit cult legend Dan Treacy is an absolute necessity for anyone the slightest bit interested in music, dance, or that unsettling notion that an entire world of good times is passing you by while you sit alone shivering in a closet! 5/5

 

XAVIER CUGAT 16 Most Requested Songs (Legacy/Columbia) I’m not the first person in the world to compare the late Xavier Cugat and his wife Charo to Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, and Lord knows I won’t be the last.  Still, the comparison is striking. Like Nirvana’s late singer/guitarist, the affable Spaniard, known the world over as “Coogie,” took particular pleasure in detailing the grim realities of everyday existence. Heard here are 16 memorable Cugat recordings, including such soul-searing works as “My Shawl (Ombo),” the shockingly confrontational “You, So It’s You,” and the harrowing “South America, Take It Away,” a statement of personal politics certainly as deeply felt as Cobain’s own “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Also, both Cugat and Cobain had wives who were sort of hot.  4/5

 

(BAM, 5/16/95)

Entry for June 26, 2006

June 26, 2006

 

Silly me! Here I was, convinced that 1995 simply couldn’t top 1994 for sheer musical wonderfullness–and I was wrong!

Puzzled?  Don’t be!  I’ve just received a press release notifying me that the Pavarotti And Friends II album will be in stores Tuesday, June 6–and, better yet, it will feature a guest appearance by Canadian superstar Bryan Adams!   

The kicker? “Highlights of the concert include Adams and Pavarotti singing Adams’ chart hit `All For Love’ and the same duo in a brilliant rendition of `O Sole Mio.'”     

Now imagine they’ll be singing it completely in the nude! 

Yee-hah!

 

***

 

TEENAGE FANCLUB Grand Prix (DGC) 4/5   POOH STICKS Optimistic Fool (Seed) 4.5/5 Well then, it’s agreed: To be truly hip, all bands must now emulate ’70s bands like Brinsley Schwarz, Starry Eyed & Laughing and massive super sellers Big Star!  It’s great!  And these albums–which come well into the careers of both of these Scottish wamboes, and represent a startling maturity, clarity of vision, and third thing–are among the finest collections of pop music you’ll hear all year!  It’s enough to make me randomly proclaim that somebody good stinks!

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS Bubblegum Classics Vol. 1 & 2 (Varese Vintage) both 4/5  Though there are a few bad calls and some missed opportunities here, this pair of late ’60s collections are the cheeriest records I’ve ever heard in stereo yet!  Offering big hits by such faves as Edison Lighthouse, the Cuff Links, the White Plains, and everyone who ever recorded for Buddah Records, these discs conclusively prove that all of rock history as we know it is wrong and it doesn’t even matter!  To quote T.S Eliot, if…oh, never mind.

 

UNDERGROUND LOVERS Dream It Down (Polydor) I have absolutely no idea who this Australian quintet is; ironically, they, too, have no knowledge of my own existence. Still, that wouldn’t stop me from highly recommending this album to anyone!  “Imagine a group that combines the best elements of the early Church and mid-period Cure,” I’d say.  “Now imagine that same group has been blown up!” I’d say exactly that, I think, and you would probably be mad at me. 4.5/5

 

TELEVISION PERSONALITIES Yes Darling, But Is It Art? (Early Singles And Rarities) (Seed)  Further proof that in the early ’80s I slid into a parallel world, this incredibly spectacular, much-needed, collector’s dream of an album will undoubtedly be ignored by nearly everyone on earth!  It’s weird!  That said, let me also add that this double-length CD featuring Brit cult legend Dan Treacy is an absolute necessity for anyone the slightest bit interested in music, dance, or that unsettling notion that an entire world of good times is passing you by while you sit alone shivering in a closet! 5/5

 

XAVIER CUGAT 16 Most Requested Songs (Legacy/Columbia) I’m not the first person in the world to compare the late Xavier Cugat and his wife Charo to Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, and Lord knows I won’t be the last.  Still, the comparison is striking. Like Nirvana’s late singer/guitarist, the affable Spaniard, known the world over as “Coogie,” took particular pleasure in detailing the grim realities of everyday existence. Heard here are 16 memorable Cugat recordings, including such soul-searing works as “My Shawl (Ombo),” the shockingly confrontational “You, So It’s You,” and the harrowing “South America, Take It Away,” a statement of personal politics certainly as deeply felt as Cobain’s own “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Also, both Cugat and Cobain had wives who were sort of hot.  4/5

 

(BAM, 5/16/95)