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30 April 2009

Amon Düül - 'This is' (Metronome)

Source: Ross.

You ever wonder why Amon Düül split? I'll tell you the answer - "chops". Amon Düül II, which we'll get to soon, are total wizards with their instruments. I mean, it ain't King Crimson but it ain't the Ramones either. But you listen to this one, and it makes the Ramones look like Yngvie. I'm never one to fellate musicians for their technical ability, and in fact, it's the utter lack of it that makes this record interesting and compelling. The first track is the quintessential hippy strumjam. It goes on and on and on, sounding like a loop of a jam band being filtered through a kazoo. It shifts only so slightly, but mostly stayed locked to it's (somewhat irregular) ryhthm. When the track finally ends (it's hard to tell since the bands aren't clearly marked on the vinyl) it switches to a Teutonic guitar riff for a few moments before the familiar heavy rhythm lurches back into place. Bonehead German hippies - whose fashion on the sleeve make them look more like a biker gang, membership restricted to te back rows of the classroom. Stereo effects galore, mangled vocals, and megathick warm fuzz make a pretty sick blanket to picnic on. Side two "varies" a bit: the pieces open up and changes are actually recognizable. The vocals and synths sound haphazard, if not random, though the songs still don't go anywhere. At the very end we get some heavy tape manipulations overtop of a somewhat more frantic strum; it's fucking amazing and meatheaded and trippy, and unfortunately just too short. I did some Internet "research" to discover that this is the same album usually called Psychedelic Underground, just repackaged/retitled. That is a better title because it really sounds underground, as in covered in dirt and never seeing any sunlight. This (and the two subsequent records) all came from one big jam in '68, supposedly. I like how the songwriting credits on every track are all 'Amon Düül/Amon Düül' - lyrics and music?

29 April 2009

American Analog Set - 'Promise of Love' (Tiger Style)

Source: Paul's, bought new when it came out.

After The Golden Band, the American Analog Set changed labels and direction a bit with 2001's Know By Heart. That's a more sing-song approach, with Andrew Kenny emerging as a frontman (whereas one would have to be a true nerd to pick him out from their previous records). Promise of Love maybe turns and looks backward a bit, as there's some long, drawn-out jamming at the ends of songs like 'Come Home Baby Julie, Come Home' (which is just totally fucking ace, by the way), and the thick organ swells that hearken back to The Fun of Watching Fireworks. Though 'Fool Around' has just the slightest rockstar attitude in Kenny's singing; close your eyes and imagine it's Huey Lewis. The title track is as close as AmAnSet ever get to writing a punk rock stomper, though it's still gentle (but not fey); hey guys, maybe listen to '12XU' a few times before trying this again? The last song, 'Modern Drumming' ends with a 'Health and Efficiency'-style demo tape of the opening track. Maybe one of the reasons I love this band is that they play their instruments like robots but they're still full of feeling. The cover cops out on the LP format by concentrating the nice two-layer print-job in the center at the same size it is on the CD, with craploads of "padding" (as it's called in CSS) - the photo on this post is the CD version but it's close enough that I'm not gonna bother scanning. I never bought their last album but I've been digging Kenny's stripped-down, all-songs-sound-the-same Wooden Birds album.

28 April 2009

American Analog Set - 'The Golden Band' (Emperor Jones)

Source: Bought at Paul's, new, when it came out.

You'll find lots of love for the American Analog Set at Dislocated Underbite Spinal Alphabetised Encourager Templates - without apology, without shame, these are records we keep going back to: pop music of the highest class. And this may be their finest statement, a midpoint of their career, shifting from shut-in navel-pickers to the more lyric-oriented later records. Lyrically we're dealing with cities, cultures, and a context long-gone from my life but I still connect with the moody buzzing keyboards and basslines of the 'New Drifters' suite or the subtle but essential handclaps in 'The Wait'. After a million listens these songs still sound like the familiar new. 'The Golden Band' is heavy breathing and household appliances; 'A Good Friend is Always Around' equals fallen leaves crunching underfoot. It ends with 'Will the Real Danny Radnor Please Stand?', which steps along with a maudlin elegance, perhaps the eulogy for my own adolescence. A treasure.

24 April 2009

Alternative TV - 'The Image Has Cracked' (Deptford Test Company)

Source: Ross.

One of the all-time great albums I'd say, for it opens with 'Alternatives', probably the most gestalt side 1 track 1 of the punk era. Making their arguments, armed with Situationism Xeroxes and jagged biros, the 'movement' is intellectualised --- or is it just wryly shown to be another simulacra? Then the rock kicks in and the three-chord truth is taken to extremes, with a certain shifting riff making itself felt on almost every song. Mark Perry shows his roots in the back cover with Zappa, Forever Changes, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere and my favorite - Van Dyke Parks' Clang of the Yankee Reaper. The jammier rock parts, especially on side 2, actually anticipate stuff like Bitch Magnet and Tar, though maybe this is just coincidence. The kids should have all been singing 'Action Time Vision' in the streets instead of whatever Sham 69's latest single was. I thought the guy from Psychic TV was on this record but I think he joined for Vibing up the Senile Man, an LP I thought that I owned but apparently don't.

23 April 2009

Daevid Allen - Bananamoon (Charly)

Source: Ross, a couple of bucks, in 2002.

There's a much better version of this album cover but sadly it's not the one I have. This is a nice-sounding pressing on Charly with gatefold cover and amusing-confusing liner notes. Side one is the 'song' side and a few of the tunes approach classic status, like 'All I Want is Out of Here', though true greatness is usually subverted by a humorous singing accent or other unchecked frivolity. Still, this record is much beloved for good reasons, though the majority of that reputation probably comes from the 'Stoned Innocent Frankenstein / and His Adventures in the Land of Flip' combo that makes up most of the second half. It's a good jam, with lots of layers (but not too many, so it doesn't sound like waxed paper) and some actual songwriting underneath to keep changing direction and prevent the adventure from being stalled. Their take on 'Memories' (with Wyatt on wah-wah guitar) is probably the definitive version that doesn't feature Whitney Houston, and I like how the locked groove at the end of side 1 is given a running time of 12:32 (I followed these instructions, with a stopwatch). There's a surprisingly funky vibe to the bass playing here. I keep imagining the rampant surrealism must have been really annoying to to whomever was in charge of actually engineering this album (Phil Dunne). I imagine Pyle and Daevid Allen giggling like children while one of them tries to play the guitar with a fish or a bowl of fruit, and the frustrated Dunne clearing his throat awkwardly. But I'm sure it was all a good bit of stoned Canterbury Jarry-lovin' reality-bending bluesy good times.

21 April 2009

Byron Allen Trio (ESP)

Source: Jerry's, 4 May 2002, priced at $7 but discounted to $6. Thanks, Jerry!

I'll let you in on a secret about Dislocated Underbite Spinal Alphabetical Encourager Templates: those images you see on every post, of the album under discussion, are mostly stolen from elsewhere on the Internet. I only bother to snap a photo if I can't find an existing image that matches my album cover. So this pristine b&w jpg to the left is actually from Amazon and probably represents the CD issue. My LP, an original on ESP from '65, has this image on a yellowing piece of paper pasted on a thick warped black cardboard sleeve. The vinyl itself is in terrible condition -- probably rated "poor" if I was a collecting type -- and sounds accordingly fucked. The surface noise actually overpowers the music, and let's be honest - this wouldn't be anyone's favorite ESP record anyway. Though that may be because the Byron Allen Trio are a bit overshadowed by some of the label's other big names. I don't know any of these guys but they play well, finding a post-Ornette vibe that keeps taking three steps forward and then two steps to the side. Drummer Theo Robinson plays like a trappier Sunny Murray, and Allen's alto is a sneaky one. Maceo Gilchrist is the bassist but like many of these early ESP sides, the recording doesn't do any favors to the low end so there's points where I have to strain to hear. During his solos the surface noise destroys any hope of understanding but it's cool - it's like hearing a record from 100 years ago. The cover art is actually pretty cool in an introspective/freaky way.

Akita/Azuma/Haswell/Sakaibara - 'Ich Schnitt Mich In Den Finger' (Mego)

Source: I got this from Gil on 22 May 2003 as part of a complicated trade.

Played at 33rpm. In the years since this record was produced, the, er, innovative packaging has shrunk a bit and made it really difficult to get this record out of the sleeve without gripping the surface of the vinyl in a way that I was schooled to never do. But this is a record of aberrations anyway so a little finger oil can't make things worse. Despite four names being listed everyone is restrained enough so it actually could just be a duo. Side one has its share of squiggles and blips but Azuma's ascending theremin is behind everything to play anchorman. It's a bit like a pinata, with more pieces breaking off as it goes along and all kinds of surprises inside. Tetsuo Sakaibara is rocking the jews harp though I'm not sure where to hear it. Gotta love the credits: Masami Akita on DD1100 and "Devices"; Russell Haswell on SU 10 and "stuff". Quite a lot of the records in my collection are made of nothing but Devices and stuff but this one is wise enough to accentuate them with DD1100 and SU 10. Side two fires it up again (with more gurgling sounds) but these shorter tracks all end in (silent) locked grooves, so it's like you're still hitting the pinata from side 1, but every time you smack it you feel the pinata stick hitting you in the back of the head. It's really Azuma who rules this thing but maybe I'm just saying that cause he's the only one who I can pick out. This record does manage to tick both the "sounds like a Mego release" and "sounds like a Merzbow release" boxes, while being quite distinct on its own.

Air - '80º Below '82' (Antilles)

Source: Ross, in August 2002.

A new decade, a new label, and finally the Gauntlet of Air records comes to an end here at Dislocated Underbite Spinal Alphabetised Encourager Templates. Maybe this is a mark of my musical immaturity but I look at the 1980s as the Zyklon B of artistic jazz. It's kinda sad to hear the bug creeping into even fine purveyors of musical exploration such as Messrs. Threadgill, Hopkins and McCall but it's there. I don't know what's happened in the three years since Lore but we got them opening with another Jelly Roll Morton piece, smashing through it in an absolutely dull fashion. Things pick up a bit on the Threadgill originals but there's just a little bit too much sheen on things for my tastes. I keep this in on the shelves for the last piece, 'Do Tell', a circular jam with the bass thumping it along that reminds me a bit of Can or that one Buzzcocks jam. Its a bit lunkheaded (given the high pedigree of these musicians) and maybe that's why I love it. I think this album is some sort of conceptual work about Chicago freezing into stasis (at least from what I can tell by the cryptic poetry scrawl at the bottom). You always have to like a record that uses the front cover image on the back, only in negative.

20 April 2009

Air - 'Air Lore' (Arista Novus)

Source: Ross. Honestly, I didn't get all of my records from one source, just a lot of the A's.

Can you hear the 80s on the horizon? For their sixth album, these innovators decided to 'explore not only the roots of American black music, but their roots as well', conincidentally making a very commercial record of standards just before the dawn of an era when avant-garde jazz went into remission. Well, Roots was big in '78, I guess. I don't mean to knock the effort - you can't deny that a musician might want to convey soul and feeling and not just write obtuse weird shit their whole career - but there's something a bit heartless in the Scott Joplin pieces here. They take on Jelly Roll Morton with a bit more life, though it's still missing something. Or maybe my ears are slightly occluded by the cover art, which is actually pretty incredible and maybe the best cover yet in this project. It's not the sepiatone aspect that I love the most, nor is is the suits, shoes, or glasses of white wine. It's the plants - and it's a shame the florist isn't credited on the back (since the shoe outfitter and stylist were) because I've love to spruce up the piano at Vinyl Underbite HQ with a similar species, but I don't know who to call. Anyway, side 2 is more Jelly Roll and then a Threadgill composition right in the middle that's all flute and bowed bass and McCall stepping lightly on clouds, and then it's more Joplin to close out on a high, or at least upbeat, note. Weird to kill the momentum with the Threadgill jam and it's also weird to spoil the conceptual purity of your "back to the roots" record but, hey, that's how the Air blows.

Air - 'Montreux Suisse' (Arista Novus)

Source: Ross's, the same day I got all my other Air records.

They must have liked Muhal Richard Abrams so much in Montreaux that they asked his associates Air to come the next year. And I'm sure they were excited, but it sounds a bit weird to me. I'm gonna put forth a theory: something about Swiss Air's in-flight catering - I'm talking about the airline here -- disagreed with Fred Hopkins' stomach. And so he took to the stage in a rather punchy mood, bashing outbursts of double-bass pain followed by calm sections (as his stomach cycled through pain and contentment). I dunno, maybe even diarrhea is involved somehow but I don't want to be presumptous. So, Threadgill tries to hold down the fort but is concerned for his friend and colleague, and you can hear it in his playing. Steve McCall continues the lumbering vibe heard on Open Air Suit throughout the remainder of the performance - hey, it's all he can do -- before Hopkins recovers and lays down a total moustache-combing bass solo. It's a statement of "I'm fine guys, it's passed - now let's get down to business." Redeemed, the trio launches into 'Suisse Air' on side 2, their tribute/complaint to the airline that nearly derailed their entire set. As it starts, Threadgill is mostly quiet -- maybe not even present -- as the rhythm section offers their comments on Swiss neutrality from 1674-1945. He comes back and they get into some of that Air magic that made the jazz-loving Montreuxiens tender their offer in the first place. But it's over all too quickly (a quarter hour) and that's all there is to say.

19 April 2009

Air - 'Open Air Suit' (Novus)

Source: Ross, 22 August 2002.

Another group of AACM-related records that fall into the 'A's, Air is Henry Threadgill, Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall, a stripped down trio (and not the French artistes that found their fame 20 years later). Hiding behind the erotic animal stylings of the front cover, Air attempt a Cobra-style game piece here, something based around a deck of playing cards. Four of the five pieces that emerged are presented here; gotta love the wordplay between 'suit' and 'suite' ... I'm not so clear on the rules but it's a surprising listen cause McCall is doing his best Drumbo impersonation. Maybe this is the 'open' feeling hinted at in the title and liner notes- lots of space, where Threadgill and Hopkins stab at each other and dabble in melodic themes. Henry switches to the flute for a bit at the end; it's more Herbie Mann than Aqualung but I'm cool with that. I generally like the Threadman though this showcases his improvisational abilities more than this writing; when paired with McCall though, there's always a strong connection to groove on.

Agitation Free - 'Malesch' (IRI)

Source: Ross, 22 May 2002, about $5.

This is the sound of six hairy Germans holed in a Berlin recording studio, conveying Orientalist sounds of psychedelic excess with maximum shimmer. Notes bend and bongos pulse but it holds to a center, while guitar tentacles merge with synth butter to make one of the best records of the genre. The cover art and the samples of the Middle Eastern street market really help to set the vibe of this album, but the melting organ swells and distant crying voices also drench this in desert sun. I wonder if this was actually recorded while Berlin was covered in snow. When the groove sets in these dudes don't let the mellow buzz their harsh; the drones are deep and the guitars continue to pierce. Maybe it's just my French pressing but the recording is a bit dull - I want the sounds to leap out and grab me but everything sounds slightly murky, like it's under a thick cloud. Maybe it's just the pot smoke.

The Adverts - 'Crossing the Red Sea with' (Bright)

Source: Got it from Ross for a few bucks in January 2003.

'No Time to Be 21' somehow hit the charts hard, though it's not nearly as catchy as 'Bored Teenagers' or the cheating multichord 'One Chord Wonders'. The blueprint was set for a million suburban garage bands while the Jay Reatards to be, not even yet an embryo, would have their work cut out for them. The formula works, except when they drop to half-time and lay on weak semi-psychedelic solos ('On Wheels'). 'Bombsite Boys' is my pick, I think what people mean by a 'deep cut'; 'The Great British Mistake' (insert joke here) closes it out with a repetitive stompdown that ends before it even gets going.

17 April 2009

David Ackles - 'Subway To the Country' (Elektra)

Source: Jerry's, probably around 2000, for maybe $4 or $5.

The curls of Dylan, the subject material of Scott Walker, the pipes more like Tim Buckley and a vibe that is part Frank Sinatra ... David Ackles is an odd one. I'm always up for records about transportation though this one is a mix between limp 60's AOR songwriting and really dark, fucked up shit like 'Candy Man'. I've never been able to view this album as anything but a showcase for this song, which is about a deranged vet opening a candy store and hiding porn in his stock for kids to find. The generally average backing band lays on the cheese when this climaxes, but it's all good - dark organ swirls give it the psychodelic atmosphere it deserves. It's an amazing song but not particularly well-written, if you get my drift. The rest of the record has a few duds, which come off as either lounge act posturing or lame blues-rock ballads (such as 'Out on the Road') ;; still, the session musicians sneak in some nice details. The whole album is only 8 songs, 4 to a side, and side 2 is probably stronger (or at least more fun to follow along on the lyrics sheet). 'Woman River' is probably the sleeper, as it bends and melts like a wax kiss on champagne. 'Inmates of the Institution' seems to warrant some mention because it's all shouty and serious and Malthusian, yet when it's over I just want to go back and listen to 'Candy Man' again.

16 April 2009

Muhal Richard Abrams - 'Lifea Blinec' (Arista Novus)

Source: Ross, of course, on Aug 2, 2002 (the day that 3 MRA albums entered my life a la fois)

Muhal Richard Abrams really rips it up as bandleader, here flanked by Douglas Ewart and Joseph Jarman. I don't know what a "lifea blinec" is but I'm into invented languages, so why not? The Bud Powell tribute is enough to wake the guy from the dead - it ain't Chicago Eye and Ear Control style-energy but rather AACM alumni at their best. It bounces just right without that sheen that takes over jazz just a few years later. Whenever Amina Claudine Myers' voice pops into the mix it's great, though her contributions are more percussion and piano . Jarman and Ewart slice each other apart liked waxed-paper kazoos and Abrams has his moments too. It might be a bit easier to excel on a record when your solos are here and there (instead of 40 straight minutes of solo). The ending duos are maybe even the highlight; 'Duo 1' actually sounds a bit like Third Ear Band or some Swedish prog-folk band if they were trying to pay tribute to Coltrane. I was gonna try to end this with a horrible joke somehow involving the punchline "Muhal-land Drive" but instead I'll just quote the sleeve: ALL THERE IS OR IS NOT USING MUHAL AS A CHANNEL. Blinec, blinec!

Muhal Richard Abrams - 'Spiral: Live at Montreux 1978' (Arista)

Source: Got it from Ross on August 2, 2002 for a few dollars (I think).

This is a promo DJ copy of a record but I don't know how many radio stations play 20 minute long live solo piano tracks. Well, it was the 70s so what do I know? Muhal does the speedy tinkle tinkle, then a bit of the breathing space percussion stuff, plucking away at the stringboard of his piano. He rumbles and lurches and changes direction and the high ivories sound like glass frosting over. Back cover has a bit of prose about truth and infinite change manifesting itself, my favorite kinda of jazzcat glossolalia. Though I'm into his style (being an ex-pianist myself), I can't help but wonder if the audience of French-speaking Swiss were a bit bored at times.

15 April 2009

Muhal Richard Abrams - 'Sightsong' (Black Saint)

Source: Not sure, but I think I got it from Ross for a couple of bucks in 2002, maybe around 2 August?

This album by the AACM founder and president isn't really a solo album, as its 'featuring Malachi Favors' and thank heavens for that because Favors is the real icing on the cake. While Abrams goes off on some shimmery runs, Favors thumps his bass (which sounds like it's been intonated by a drunk man). His solo sounds like a bowl of oatmeal that's been left in the sun to dry, hardened to the point where you have to really bang it with your spoon to break through. The dark curtains are the best bits here and the last track, "Unity" is the most explosive, but I think Abrams piano work benefits the most from some breathing. A lot of the pieces have this real satisfying ending, tinkling around like the "land of make-believe" trolley. You can hear the 80's breathing in the distance.

9 April 2009

A R Kane - 'sixty-nine' (Rough Trade)

Source: Jerry's, sometime around 2000 or 2001.

Veer into the London acid-house/trip-hop scene for a bit. Or maybe just a tiny bit, cause I don't really know what A.R. Kane are. A bit of dub, a bit of Ash Ra Tempel, and a bit of whatever Seal is? I always thought it was weird that this trippy psychedelic dance band with all of these seriously artistic lyrics named their album 'sixty-nine' - I mean why not call it 'reacharound' or 'the admiral' or 'the tired totem pole'? But I get it, this is sex music -- dynamic sex music. Some tracks would be good for anonymous sex, and others for the kind of really sensual erotic experiences, like whatever Tim Robbins' character in High Fidelity is into. Cause these rhythms and drones just make me wanna light some candles, maybe change into a creepy robe, and just let things open up, baby. These dudes apparenty influenced Flying Saucer Attack, which is why I bought this about a decade ago, and I didn't hear it much at the time but now I do. But they sound like they influenced stuff like Long Fin Killie and Seefeel even more, and that's A-OK because I think that stuff is due for a revival.

8 April 2009

A Tribe Called Quest - 'People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm' (Jive)

Source: Actually no idea - maybe bought at Brave New World at some point in college? Definitely bought brand new.

The presence of this record in my accumulation is a dead giveaway of my age, race and socioeconomic background. Yeah, I watched a lot of MTV from 1991-1993 so there's going to be weird reverence for things like this, the 'Mind is Playing Tricks on Me' video, Black Sheep, etc. But I don't actually care about rap music music, as you will see as this project slowly unfolds til Z. Here we get a vision of the black urban experience that is all smiles, flat-tops, and liberal arts degrees. It's like I'm transported to Brooklyn circa 'Do the Right Thing' as soon as I hear the first beat. There's a recurring sketch/chatter thing going through this album that gets annoying quick, though it cuts suddenly at the end of sides with a tape splice. Gotta love 'Footprints' because I think someone is shouting out 'Ron Paul! Ron Paul!' in the background. I now think The Low End Theory is a better album but it's not exactly on my "must have" list.

A Certain Ratio - 'To Each...' (Factory)

Source: Ross, of course, 22 May 2002 for a couple bucks.

Another gatefold, though I'm not so down with the paintings (by Ann); Peter Christopherson
is credited with 'Cover co-ordination' so hooray for that. These moody Mancunians went to New Jersey to record this and maybe this setting is what pumped a little American disco life into their veins. The bass and clattery drums drive the songs, which to be honest lack a bit in the songwriting department. Things get a bit Seinfeld and there's some porn guitar, but the vocals remind you that this is a record from a Manchester band in 1980. Always gotta love the slight fascist overtones on these things, both in the band name and the weird photo of uniformed men surrounded by red borders (Sleazy's co-ordination again!). This is a great record to listen to if you live in the North, wear mostly black, and have your own club night where you don't play anything made after 1981 except for 'Da Da Da' by Trio. Certainly the long Kraftwerky moments are to be appreciated but you don't know for sure because they aren't as direct as you'd like. A Certain Ratio are probably one of the most interesting 'big' bands from this era but I never completely clicked with them- maybe it's too funky or maybe this was just a consolation prize cause I don't have any Crispy Ambulance albums.

25 Rifles - 'Third World War' (no label)

Source: I'd guess that I got this from Ross on 22 May, 2002.

I don't know anything about 25 Rifles or why this 4-song EP is in my accumulation, but this is ripe territory for one of those 'Messthetics' compilations (if they aren't already on one). Side 1 opens with 'Hey Little Girl' which is not a Syndicate of Sound cover, but instead a wimpy college rock tune with a posturing Elvis Costello ripoff singer. The second song picks things up a bit, attempting to combine a slowed-down Clash vibe with some R.E.M. jangle, but stuck on infinite loop. Side two begins with the title track and the Costelloposter is back with another limp yet bouncy tune, managing to anticipate the Violent Femmes or the dBs yet a bit more British. The final track, definitely a keeper, is a cover of Neil Young's 'Revolution Blues' in party-rock mode, modified a bit with some subpar soloing. The band's name is a lyric in this song. The back cover just contains a big scrawl of "Dead soldiers" with soldiers crossed out and 'bored!" written instead. And at the very bottom, a smaller "Don't forgret to vote!" Yes, we can.

13th Floor Elevators - 'Easter Everywhere' (Radar)

Source: Can't really remember but my gut tells me I got it from Ross for a couple of bucks around January 26, 2003.

Roky Erickson talks to zombies now but back in '68 he and Tom Hall combined for that rare perfect moment and they recorded this cornerstone. It's one part scraggly thumping psych-rock and one part underwater gurgling, held together by a glue that hasn't dried yet. Roky sings as if trying to move his mouth as little as possible, just keeping it opening and letting it rip. The back cover has a drawing of Chef Boyardee reaching englightenment, flanked with band photos and a big logo of International Artists, the original label that Radar licensed this reissue from. Stacy Sutherland takes lead for his shimmery "Nobody to Love" (the darker mirror to Jefferson Airplane?) and they end side one with (a marvelous, sprawling) "It's All Over Now Baby Blue". Dylan covers were mandated by law in '68 I guess, but I'd stake on this one outdoing the original, as it's well-roasted in Texas sun. The epics are what I always go back to - 'Baby Blue', 'Slip Inside This House' and especially 'Dust'. There's a desperation baked into every note and every lyric - a desperation that won't be realised for years to come - but its promising in '68, enough that I don't trust him when he sings 'I'm feeling fine' on the hippie-dippie 'I Had To Tell You' (which sounds like a Yahowa 13 outtake). When it's over, if you look at the picture of Tommy Hall, he seems to be saying "Sssh - don't tell anyone about how much acid I made Roky take."

10cc - 'How Dare You' (Mercury)

Source: not sure, but I think I got this for trade at Jerry's on 23 Aug 2003.

It's a demo copy, not a promo, according to the embossed gold stamp on the back cover of this (fab) gatefold cover, the inner spread of which was photographed by Hieronymous Bosch in the mid 1970's through a bizarre artist-in-resurrection program that 10cc led. Because 10cc are not just genius musicians, they are inventors.

After all, these Brits were in Hotlegs, who put out the brilliant Thinks: School Stinks LP in 1970, a masterpiece if there ever was one. Six years later, here's a set of mostly sunshine and breezes, made years later after the sweet taste of success. But 10cc aren't just the sound of wind - they are masters of the 'creeping breeze', which you can hear in 'Lazy Ways', 'I'm Mandy Fly Me', etc. Plenty of gobstoppers have recorded gentle breezes, but only a true apostle can make it creep - with just the right chord change or delicate shift, that breeze is up in your grill before you can fight it away, clinging to that surprise diminished 7th. I could live without the parts that sound like the Teletubbies' discussing an all-night Pac-man tournament, but again, those breezes, those breezes! Divorce-rock at its finest. Godley and Creme split after this one and made a triple LP concept album with Peter Cook featuring some primitive e-bow they built, sadly not in my collection.

7 April 2009

10cc - 'The Original Soundtrack' (Mercury)

Source: can't remember for sure, but I think I got it off Ross for a couple of bucks on 24 Aug 2003.

Music for people who have funny, expensive lamps that they bought with passion masquerading as a strong sense of irony. It opens with a three part suite about Paris, stroking every stereotype Americans might have of it (but these guys are limeys!), with the most genuis bits being the vageuly-'Propaganda' choral harmonies. The radio hit is here but it's like your radio is wearing a pair of Ray-Bans that have been painted over with that fake stone-finish paint. When they turn on the amps it's almost Blue Öyster Cult, except if they let their high school band teacher join the band. 'Another fish head in the dustbin' is a great opening lyric for any record's side two. Who doesn't love the crunching repetition of ringing piano chords? And who doesn't love a slathering of Altrincham soul? The autoharp jam at the end of 'Flying Junk' is just too, too good. Also, great gatefold though I find the cover art hard to actually look at beyond the moired shot of the band angled across the inner crease. 'That's the way the croissant crumbles, after all.'