Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ms.45 DISCO SCENE

video

For some unknown reason we are in the middle of a trend that sees a positive re-appraisal of everything Abel Ferrara ever did. Well I call 'bullshit' on the Guardian, Mark Kermode and every body else. Ferrara is not a good film maker: His work is not dark broody, challenging and atmospheric, it is poorly lit, badly acted and dull. Before I remind myself this site is supposed to be about music let me throw a 'fuck you!' out there to Werner Herzog as well.

Right rant over, what is the end scene from Ferrara's instantly forgettable rape-o-revenge movie Ms.45 (also known as 'Angel of Vengeance') doing here?

It's here because of the awesome Halloween party scene!

I have no idea who the band is or who wrote the music and rather than do any kind of real research I will merely speculate. The band might be MIGHTY DON LIEDEN AND THE 3RD DEGREE BURNS and the song could be called 'Piranha.'

Either way I would shoot myself in the leg to be invited to a No Wave Halloween party as awesome as this one.

I used to have an original Warner 'big box' VHS tape of this film, I got lucky and found a copy for a few quid at a now extinct video rental store in Halesowen. At the time it was particulary hard to come across due to it being refused certification. Anyway, It got played a couple of times while I was at college specifically because of this end scene, the dancing skeletons, the moody nun but mostly the killer saxomophone attack!

If anybody does have any information on who the band really is, please keep it to yourselves. The truth will never be as kick ass as the MIGHTY albeit imaginary DON LIEDEN.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

STEVE REICH - OCTET MUSIC FOR A LARGE ENSEMBLE VIOLIN PHASE

I think this Jpeg is from the CD version because I'm pretty sure my record doesn't have the 'ECM New Series' writing at the bottom of the sleeve.

Important stuff out the way, the catchily titled 'Octet - Music For a Large Ensemble - Violin Phaze' came to my attention quite randomly a few years ago. I had illegally downloaded some Steve Reich stuff in the hope that it might somehow make me a better, fuller person, then I forgot all about it.

Then I was walking to work one day in Spring when I was living in New York and the first song/composition from the above came on my ipod. For the first few blocks I was to use the New York beat poet terminology of the mid to late Sixties 'Diggin' it' and then for the next few I was reaching around in my rucksack for the skip button, eventually I gave up on this and slowly got back to the 'Diggin' it'.

The first track sounds a bit like somebody playing the best bit from MIKE OLDFIELD's 'Tubular Bells' over and over again. The second track also sounds a bit like this. The third track sounds a bit like the first two tracks.

I am confident in the above being the least well informed and flattering review of Reich's music ever written. There is quite probably politics in there, something about being Jewish, something about his parents getting divorced early in his life and him being bullied into piano lessons. Sadly all I am hearing is what sounds like lots of violins playing the same passage over and over with very slightly differrent starting times (Quite possibly the reason for me not getting that job reviewing for WIRE magazine)... And I like it.

When I first heard the name Steve Reich I automatically assumed he was the lead singer of an early Eighties US punk group possibly called The Abortions. Despite having one of the coolest names in music he is a quite a serious modern classical composer by all accounts... And according to the internet he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music on monday so good work Steve... Even if it would have been so much more awesome if you had recieved that prize for the self titles 'The Abortions' album and not 'Double Sextet'.

Not only is 'Violin Phase' a wholly passable soundtrack to the early morning streets of New York city it is also perfect bathroom cleaning music. You can actually scrub mirrors, tiles and toilets in time to the bow being drawn back and forth across the strings. And if that isn't a solid gold 'buy me now!' endorsement I don't know what is.

Monday, April 20, 2009

LINDSTROM - WHERE YOU GO I GO

According to his website this was originally called 'Lindstrom Likes Them Boobies part 2' but in yet another attempt to suppress Lindstrom's party loving 'frat boy' image his record company insisted he change it. They seem to be in genuine fear of the truth reaching the hip 'new ambient space disco avanteurs' or whatever the dance music in-crowd is calling themselves this week. The truth that much like Kid Rock, Lindstrom can drink at least fourteen Heinekens is apparently not something that would sit well with the dance music chin rubbers.

I was also lucky enough to see out takes from the photo session that the sleeve shot came from, they are further revelation. In the three negatives taken before the shot they settled upon (above) Lindstrom has his track top undone to reveal a LIMP BIZKIT shirt. Add to that his well concealed 'Party Cake Forever!' tattoo (no I have no idea what that means either) and the real Lindstrom, the one I know, couldn't be further from the DJ hype magazine friendly one portrayed to the disco boogie woogie masses.

It's a lot like seeing those smiley happy pictures of Oasis, the ones taken before their photographer had the idea to make them into the mono-browed sneering volcanos of Northern attitude that we all know and erm...know, or like the revelation that NWA's (Nigger's With Attitude and not North Western Airlines) manager was a white Jew. In all cases, some of the magic dust has been forever vacuumed away.

But would the ability to make those pictures of Lindstrom and Fred Durst hanging out at a titty bar mystically vanish into the ether make this album any less awesome? Probably not.

Lindstrom delivers, Lindstrom always delivers, he's like a musical paper boy, he know's what we want. We want the soundtrack to a 70's soap about doctors who used to be in love but aren't anymore and who in an attempt to forget themselves go on endless trips in east european car's to foggy destinations by rivers made out of Campari. He delivers this, just like I for a very brief period in the mid 80's delivered the news. Unlike me, Lindstrom does not however quit after a week and owe the paper shop three pounds forty due to mis-deliveries.

I think if Lindstrom called me up and said:

'Hey! If I let you change one thing about my new album what would it be?' 

I would say,

'Hey Lindstrom! That's a good question. I think the one thing I would change would be the size of the album...I would make it slightly bigger.'

'What you mean like 13"'

'No Lindstrom you panty stealing partyboy idiot, I mean make it a triple album with maybe four additional slightly shorter tracks, y'know, material that could act as a way in for some, a compromise for others and appeasement for the dance music idiots who want to 'play you out'...and some sleeve notes, I have a genuine desire to read about what you are doing... but not in a gay way.'

And Lindstrom would be all like

'So do you wanna do a bong shaped like the leaning tower of Piza?'

Thursday, April 16, 2009

BIG BLACK - ATOMIZER

it's a sign of the times when you 'google' BIG BLACK and the first image is of some fat rapper and a skinny white skateboarder. not sure where it all went wrong. Steve Albini's 'that was then this is now' attitude doesn't help. Steve is sat on the kind of musical history that anyone in their right mind would shoot themselves in the cock to whore out. But no. No remastering, no posthumous live albums, demo's or unreleased material. It all ends with the final chords of 'Bombastic Outro' form 'Songs About Fucking'....Well okay 'Pigpile'.

Anyway, now Steve's got the often disapointing SHELLAC and his seemingly wayward producing career and he's made it clear he doesn't need me or any one else stuck in 1986 to tell him it should be otherwise. Fact remains BIG BLACK top my list of bands I would do anything to see live.

I came to Big Black fairly late in the day and it would have been 1991/2 by the time I bought the Blast First re-issue of this. It was from Nottingham's mighty Selectadisc, back when they pretty much owned that entire street with a singles shop at one end and the collossal three story enormo-store at the other. Then a trip to Nottingham was a proper twice yearly treat: Endless wandering, fish and chips somewhere a pint or two, some record shopping ending at Selectadisc and then a few happy hour cocktails at the now defunct Old Orleans. I remember carefully slipping the insert out of the sleeve and feverishly reading the sleevenotes while sipping from a particularly gay looking, long strawed and umbrella stuffed cocktail. No doubt the epitomy of the end consumer the band had envisaged.

Anyway, I went home listened to it and I'm still listening to it, my copy is battered and fucked from late night scream alongs and early morning wake up calls. it's survived a million cullings and will no doubt still be there in however many more years. It's just such a fucking solid album, even if it does end on a random live version of 'Cables'. It's one of those records that you can never listen to loud enough, the kind of record that they haven't built a stereo powerful enough to fully accomodate yet. The thing is fucking artillery, I have to believe that it paid no small part in at least one of the two Iraqi wars.


To this day, the only song that I am garanteed to dance to on a night out is 'Kerosene'.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PHIL SPECTOR VERDICT - GUILTY!








Wow! so Phil Spectrum creator of the early 80's super computer, battery powered idiot cart and collector of awesome wigs is GOING DOWN for 20 to 10 in the pen!

...Wait, I just Googled this guy and it turns out he's actually somekind of musical alchemyst from yesteryear, an American Joe Meek if you will. Ha! Only kidding, I knew that already, I was just fucking with you. Fucking with your head...kind of like Phil Spectrum did in the above pictures. i can picture the verdict:

'Mr Spectrum, you have been found guilty of murder, with a gun...to the face, of a woman. the maximum sentence for this crime is death but given your awesome and ever changable hair I have recommended that this sentence be reduced to life imprisonment, Monday through Friday, giving you the weekends to go see your wigmaster in order to continue the now rich tradition of blowing peoples minds with your choice of hairpiece.'

'Thankyou your honor, you are as fair as you are wise.'

I honestly thought this guy was untouchable given the proverbial bullets he has dodged in the past but it appears not.

What really saddens me is the fact that the last thing he did, the cherry on his proverbial producers cake was his work with musical abortions STARSAILOR. I wonder if they will let him work from prison?

Anyway, good luck in there Phil Spectrum, can't wait to hear that wall of sound now theres barbed wire on top of it and guard towers at either side.



Monday, April 13, 2009

POSSIBLY THE GREATEST RECORD SHOPS IN THE WORLD (#1 in an occasional series) JUMP JUMP RECORDS OF PORTLAND OR




I know what your thinking. Your thinking 'This looks like an empty campaign office'. The perfectly centered Barrack Hussein Obama sticker in the window and matching door and roof. Set on tree lined road of trees in one of the less fashionable suburbs of Portland what else could it possibly be?

Even though I had already called the guy to check he was open, scribbled the address in black biro on the back of my hand and checked it against the door number and street it wasn't until I pressed my face against the (locked) door and saw the racks inside that I was sure...

This was 'Jump Jump Records'.

Jump Jump records is basically a guy's front room filled with records. It's kind of like my front room but with no regard for the practicalities of seating or allowance for a coffee table.... and it's got way more records.

I forget the guys name but he was most helpful and he had a friendly record shop dog (record shop dogs are hugely underrated) allowing for the dreadful dixieland jazz he insisted on playing and the Woody Allen references he was the perfect host right down to the bulk discount.

The first time I went to Jump Jump it was pretty much an exercise in kicking myself. I had been living in Portland for nearly three years and I had decided to wait until my final week in the city before getting around to paying the guy a visit. By stark contrast in the same time period I had managed to get to Crossroads Records approximately fifteen times, each time leaving disappointed and empty handed. (It's a bit shit). My reasoning was two-fold: ten years proir my cousin had had a most succesful visit to said shop and on first arriving in Portland I witnessed a guy pull an underpriced copy of Rastakrautpasta from the racks. This led me to believe that there was magic, however well hidden at Crossroads Records... There is not.

Anyway, I bid farewell to the fair city and vowed that on my return Jump Jump would be my first port of call. Four months later I was true to my word. I arrived in Portland in the middle of the night, got a few hours sleep and headed straight for Jump Jump, just in time for opening.

I could describe the entire episode in lurid adult magazine readers letters detail. I could talk about the arousing and heady aroma of mildly musty cardboard sleeves mixed with the occasional record from a smoking household or running my hands across the racks, the edges of the rigid plastic sleeves caressing my palms as I rubbed their length.

I could tell you about the sensation in my finger tips as I began to slowly at first flick through the racks, speeding up only when I was sure I had exhausted everything that each section had to give. The slowly growing pile of horizontal records, their plastic sleeves rubbing against each other sliding around in danger of toppling.

I could do that but I wont because there is something fundamentally incorrect about masturbating to record shop reviews... no matter how right it feels.
Jump Jump Records is my favorite record shop in Portland Oregon. It is a contender for best record shop in the Pacific West.



GUY FROM 'RECORD FRIEND' AMSTERDAM

"Hi, I'm the dude from 'Record Friend' where Matt got his 'Earth and Fire album', my shop is pretty awesome even if my Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums are a bit over priced. Anyway, come visit me in my shop and then we go fuck hookers yes? ...I like it mostly when they make sexy piss in my beard."

EARTH AND FIRE - SONG OF THE MARCHING CHILDREN

I grew up thinking this was the first 'Earth, Wind and Fire' album, the one before 'Wind' joined. By the same logic i assumed there was a 'Wind' solo album out there somewhere, I had spent hours imagining what the sleeve could look like and what it might be called but sadly it does not exist.

When I eventually learned this had absolutely nothing to do with Chicago soulsters and champions of the classic chemical compound table I assumed that given the title and use of font it was some wayward forerunner to the whole NER neo-folk /'were not nazis honest' scene. Again assumption, wonderful as it is failed me as this has nothing to do with DEATH IN JUNE what so ever.

Earth and Fire are from Holland. This isn't a great start, unintentional comedy act GOLDEN EARRING and there 33 album back catalogue are from Holland, U2 sound-a-likes and all-round musical spastics BLOF are from Holland. Brainpower is from Holland, BEEF are from Holland... I could go on but I won't.

Needless to say the Dutch contribution to the broader spectrum of what can be considered as 'Popular music' has been fucking embarrassing. The God of music, if he exists is way beyond the point of appeasement with a mere virgin sacrifice. He would be quite within his rights to call upon Poseidon and demand he swallow up the entire sorry little country, a watery grave for every man, woman and child. I imagine the only thing stopping him is the twice annual record fair in Utrecht.

This then came as a pleasant surprise. Musically it fills a gap between the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA's self titled album and 'Cauldron' by FIFTY FOOT HOSE. The singer has a very listenable voice, one sufficiently tainted by Americanisms to ensure that she is unable to conjour any nightmare images of rat infestation, shit food, collaboration or windmills. In fact the only thing that gives this away as Dutch is the writing on the rear of the sleeve. 

'Song of the Marching Children' relies heavily on a repeat marching drum motif but unlike say one of those Grenadier Guards albums your Granddad used to have it does seem to work. Nice bit of organ and analogue synth as well. Combine that with track after track of utterly ridiculous lyrics and what sounds like a Theremin and you have really nice little album. 

Then there's the picture on the inside of the gatefold sleeve: A one eyed triangle giving birth to giant sky babies in front of an evil unicorn drowning in a sea of blue flames and skulls. This obviously gets a big 'thumbs up'.

'When will be the crack of doom?
Is it tomorrow? 
Is it tomorrow?'

...Dude I have absolutely no idea.

If you want to buy this album it comes up on Ebay from time to time and isn't super expensive. I got mine from 'Record Friend' in Amsterdam for 25 Euros, fat guy with a beard sold it to me. Unlike the majority of record shops left in Amsterdam 'Record Friend' is well worth a visit, they have listening facilities and if you have any money left the red light district is just over a minutes walk away.






Thursday, April 9, 2009

TANGERINE DREAM - CYCLONE

I think if I was a robot I would like this even more.

The best way of describing it might be ‘Space aged Tubular Bells done by slightly angry sounding Germans’.

Why does it sound like a space aged Tubular Bells? Because it was made by awesome German robot-men with a penchant for phaser-heavy ambient electronic soundscapes.

Why are the German’s slightly angry sounding? In 1978 the year of the album’s release Germany was a seriously fucked up place, bang smack in the middle of the ‘Iron Curtain’ chapter of country’s history and only months away from a summer of terror at the hands of the Baader Meinhof gang. A vast majority of those responsible for the Third Reich would still be alive and the ‘apologist’ era would be in full swing.

Edgar Froese and Klaus Schulze the group’s most prominent players were members of Germany’s first post war generation. That is as I am sure you will agree some seriously heavy shit.

Perhaps then heavy shit is what is needed to produce good music. Perhaps lack of heavy shit can be cited as a reason for the endless stream of wretched and pointless guitar music that washes up like vomited from the shores of Great Britain? Maybe if we had just got our asses kicked and the world hated us THE CRIBS, THE KOOKS, THE ARCTIC MONKEYS and all their acne skinned, twat haired and gym pump wearing counterparts might not sound so secondary and pointless. The inherent shame and guilt by geographical association might be reason enough for these idiots to do something believable and new.

Sadly, short of becoming a cult of personality, instigating an ambitious land grab with a nice sideline in ethnic cleansing there is little I can do to fix the great British music scene.

Cyclone is consistent, three songs long and well worth the three Euros I paid for it.

I’m pretty sure that ‘Bent Cold Sidewalk’ the album’s opener was originally called ‘Brent Cross Sidewalk’ after the London shopping center.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

EROC - IV

now this isn't anywhere as crazy as it looks. you see a man wearing a winter cardigan, headbutting a xylaphone in what looks like a cave and you would be forgiven for thinking 'this is going to spazz.' it does not 'spazz'.

rather misleadingly we have a strictly spazz free ambient/accordian x-over album and bad as it sounds, it's actually quite enjoyable.

eroc is the guy that used to roll with 'krautrockers' GROBSCHNITT, i use '' because people seem to label everything to come out of germany between 1969 and 1983 as krautrock. i'm pretty sure there are qualifying factors other than ethnicity otherwise strictly speaking ACCEPT are also krautrock. anyway, much as i enjoy the genre i do not know specifically what defines it, i mean, when does it start to become 'rock' rock, 'prog' rock or plain shit? from my listenings GROBSCHNITT undoubtedly also fall into the latter sub-genre.

anyway, onto eroc, formerly a member of said band. this is very different to EROC 1 and 2 which are quirky, 'krauty' and interspersed with spoken sound-bites.

when i first put this on i walked off to the kitchen and started doing kitchen stuff, unloading the dishwasher, wondering why the hob looked so dirty and trying to find a mysterious odour. then i was distracted by the music, something i had put on with the full intention of it being 'background'.

you really don't expect something 'pretty' to live within this sleeve but it does. eroc IV is like the soundtrack to some romantic parisienne adventure. listening to it i am wearing a black and white striped sweater and chewing on some french bread between hearty swigs of red wine. i am having sex with a particularly enthusiastic french girl in islington back in 2000, i am on a camping holiday with my family in marseille aged 12, a few years later i am backpacking and drunk wondering how long 100 francs will last me if i factor in buying pornography...

then the music stops and the smell from the sink brings me back to 2009.

for a long time i resisted buying anything from this guy for two reasons, first that fact that his previous band was so underwhelming and second because of his name. E ROC: he always sounded like some particularly bad circa 87 west coast rapster. anyway, i'm glad i got over both of those sticking points because much as this seems to be sidelined in favour of the guys first two or three albums its really rather good even if it is sadly spazz free.

whilst i do fully endorse EROC IV i cannot guarantee that listening to it will make you think you are having sex with an attractive french girl.

Monday, April 6, 2009

DAVID BOWIE - LOW

so this recorded followed the coke fuelled 'station to station'. bowie called it low due to the fact he had curtailed his gak intake to a much more managable degree and was because of this feeling a little bit low.

so i listened to 'low' with a tomato flavored cup-a-soup to see if it might enhance the experience. to be honest it didn't make much difference. i had kind of hoped it might take things to the next level but aside of the warm tomatoey taste in my mouth it was bowie based business as usual. i mean the soup was nice, watery but still totally drinkable, it just didn't do anything to re-contextualize the music.

i've had conversations with pink floyd idiots about the time they took *INSERT DRUG HERE* while listening to 'dark side of the moon' and they had somekind of out of body experience, a cosmic revalation that made them re-evaluate not just music but the very fabric of their existence. the sad reality is that pretty much anything could improve both 'dark side of the moon' and 'the wall'.

'yeah, i listened to dark side of the moon whilst repeatedly punching myself in the face and y'know what? it sounded soooo much better.'

the answer is, stop listening to 'dark side of the moon'. stop listening to 'the wall' they are dispicable records and roger waters is so fucking ugly just looking at his face on the sleeve of 'piper at the gates of dawn' (admittedly a great record) makes me want to build a time machine go back in time to mr and mrs water's house and forsively sterilize them to provent the world having to see such an ugly, ugly, ugly child. seriously how many teeth does he have? he looks like the guy that played jaws in the bond films but only less attractive. he looks like he has eaten everybody elses teeth. i need to find a happy place so i dont google him and start spitting at the monitor again.

'low' is quite literally a work of two sides, the second side being (with the exception of some quite annoying wailing) entirely instrumental. i'm sure i read somewhere that he had intended to add lyrics but forgot or ran out of time or just got really bored and went partying around berlin with iggy and eno instead. i could look it up but being in posession of the facts isn't always as much fun and can, as i learnt with 'balaklava' actually have a damaging effect on the overall listening experience.

bowie's hair is looking particulary good here, the sleeve shot was originally taken as a promo photo for the 'the man who fell to earth' film. i've thought about trying to re-produce the bowie low hair but i just think it makes anyone who isn't bowie look like a ginger NED'S ATOMIC DUSTBIN fan. that aside, low ranks as bowie's second best album sleeve behind 'lodger'.

side one is owned by 'sound and vision' and 'be my wife'. the instrumental that closes the first side 'a new career in a new town' is also a winner. i have a question though, why not relegate this to side two if it's an instrumental? it would make for a much cleaner picture.

a lot of people go on about 'warazawa' the opener of side 2 and it's nice that joy division liked it so much they names themselves after it but it's never really grabbed me to be honest.

so in conclusion, great sleeve, bowies best hair, good album with or without cup-a-soup but bowie's best album? not sure.

in closing and i also have the 1999 remastered CD and it sounds way fucking better than my vinyl copy. there, i said it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

PEARLS BEFORE SWINE - BALAKLAVA

i have after years of searching finally found a decent early copy of this to replace my dirty italian reissue. it's a very nice clean dutch press on e.s.p/fontana. the sleeve is good as new and with the exception of the light fire-side crackle that lasts for the first half of 'translucent carriages' and the more than acceptable light sleeve rub on the rear its flawless.

i picked it up in amsterdam at a tiny record shop in one of the back streets of the jordaan. it was sold to my by a very cheery and cigar smoking dutch man who in the hour or so i was in the store managed to regale me with tales of the german occupation, most specifically the time he and his mother were hidden BY german soldiers from the baying dutch locals, who were at the time paid cash for every jew they turned over to the occupying army. i don't remember reading about that in the anne frank 'hide and seek' museum.

so anyway, it turns out that this is apparently an 'anti-war' concept album. i found out barely ten minutes ago when i was checking the release date on the internet.

 i thought the entire thing was supposed to be about the events at balaklava in 1850 whatever when lord cardigan led the truly stupid and massively fatal charge of the light brigade. turns out this theme only carries as far as the albums name and opening 17 second track a bugle call taken from a wax cylinder recording of one trumpeter lanfry (one of the original buglers from the battle). the rest of it is just loose anti-war statement, the kind that were in 1968 tired and ten a penny.

it's a real shame and i really wish i had stayed on the dark on this. i loved the willfully obscure idea of an entire album about the charge of the light brigade, the fact that it was recorded by some american hippies out of new york in the summer of love only added to this. it was brilliantly perverse.

i used to imagine that 'i saw the world' was the song of a dying horse soldier and the inclusion of leonard cohen's 'suzanne' a poem to a wife or girlfriend left at home. most of all i thought 'translucent carriages' was a song about the dead being taken away from a cold and dark theater of war, a field stinking of death; bits of horses, dying soldiers and beautifully tailored uniforms smeared with gore. the heavy breathing that runs through out the track the death rattle of some unfortunate. the line 'jesus...raise the dead' what else can it possibly be about?

turns out 'translucent carriages' is just some east coast hippy shit, probably about drugs, body painting or flip-flops. when tom rapp sings 'every time i see you, passing by, have to wonder whyyyy?' as much as i had grown up thinking this was the ghost of one of the dead soldiers asking lord cardigan why the 'charge' had been called, it is far more probably about some stoner guy who burnt tom's lentils.

and what a fucking shame.

i shouldn't bitch and moan too much. balaklava is still up there, i mean it's truly brilliant and 'i saw the world' is one of the best songs ever written, it's just that with what i though to be the original intent of the piece turning out not to be the case it's just lost a bit of it's sheen.



 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

BRIAN ENO - BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE

as usual i have no idea what brian's on about here, the lyric about sausages does not help his cause. that said, doesn't stop me thinking this is really good. it took me a while to get past his voice. i was at college in the fair spa town of cheltenham the first time i heard it. i bought a copy of 'taking tiger mountain (by force)' from a guy off loading his record collection on the floor of an independent mid-range stereo separates shop. it wasn't as random as it sounds he worked there and was 'up grading' to CDs. cheltenham was in retrospect a really nice place to go to college, not least because of the six or so record shops that peppered the town in 1995. anyway, there it was sandwiched between remnants of the HELDON back catalogue and from what i recall everything MOUSE ON MARS ever did.

the sleeve of 'taking tiger mountain' is enough to sell it on it's own but then this review isn't about 'taking tiger mountain' so i will shut up about it. for a while i left my eno based exploration at that one solo album and two of his roxy music records. it wasn't until i was, post college working in a used record shop that somebody played the (at the time) recently released CD box set and i heard 'needle in the camel's eye' that i resumed my search and sweep of all things ENO.

this is less coherent than the other albums from this period. both 'taking tiger mountain' and 'another green world' are a lot more successful at conveying there own more message, they flow more easily and play like concept pieces. this for me is a more blatant attempt at fusing the ENO magic with more pop based sensibilities, this is most obvious on 'king lear's hat'.

quite unfairly that is usually the track that gets singled out when people talk about this album. it's not bad if you like the annoying art-funk of TALKING HEADS, if you don't it's a skipper. for me the real magic's on side two, specifically the last three songs on here: 'by the river', 'through hollow hands (for harold budd)' and 'spider and i'. they sit on their own, airy, lush and perfectly formed making what proceeded them seem almost incidental.

i wonder if the hi-fi shop guy has managed to re-buy all of the records he sold yet? i do hope he didn't pay silly money for the richard pinhas related stuff.

...anyway, 'before and after science' - overall bitty but equally as good as three of the albums he made before this. i'm not including 'discreet music' (1975) here cos it's a bit shit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

ISAAC HAYES - HOT BUTTERED SOUL

It’s pretty obvious who would win in a fight between Isaac Hayes and Isaac Newton, Newton was a fat frilly-haired fuck. I wonder if Hayes would nail Newton in a side to side comparison of achievements as well? Gravity Vs Isaac Hayes’ version of ‘walk on by’… Luckily I am not on the panel of judges for that one particular bout as it’s going to be a close call.

The first time I heard this I was very much into the kind of short, punchy and instantly gratifying soul that the likes of the four tops, the supremes and the temptations would so effortlessly deliver. This was then something of a shock: Only four tracks two of which last about the same length as the entirety of THE DWARVES album ‘blood, guts and pussy’. Initially I dismissed it as elongated fuck music, a kind of exaggerated excursion into the realms of a leaner meaner BARRY WHITE. Then about then years ago I came back to it.

The production on ‘hot buttered soul’, the work of Stax long-timer Al Bell is so good that I can’t really talk about it without sounding like an excitable puppy dog faced with his first stick might if he could talk. Personally I can take or leave the two original tracks here, one is stupidly titled too funky and the other ‘one woman’ is good but obvious. To be fair, under normal circumstances they would probably hold up well but the fact is that they are sandwiched between two giant and sprawling monoliths of soul perfection, Hayes’ versions of ‘walk on by’ and ‘by the time I get to phoenix’. There is no doubt that both of those songs are on the tape God plays when he breaks up with a girlfriend.

For a long time this album was indescribably colossal, then in the early nineties a project co-sponsored by Stax records and the US government was undertaken. Experiments were conducted to see how big ‘walk on by’ would be if it were converted from music into land mass. The scientists eventually concluded that that one song was bigger than the whole of Spain. (Including Ibiza, Menorca and Majorca, but not Gibraltar.)

Add that staggering nugget to the fact that Hayes’ was also an early champion of the whole ‘beard and no hair’ look and my prediction is that Newton is going down in the third to a knock out punch.