Monthly Archives: July 2011

IMPORTANT ALBUMS #2: The Slits – Cut

Original Riot Grrrl Group Take No Musical Ability And Craft Amazing Debut! And Own 1979!

One of the many, many, many groups that sprung up in the immediate aftermath of seeing the Sex Pistols live. The difference is that The Slits were an all teenage girl group among the precious boy groups who tended to sideline them at first except for The Clash and of course John Lydon who married the lead singer’s mum.

Ari Up(vocals), Viv Albertine(guitar), Tessa(bass), and Palmolive(drums), with no musical ability went on the road with The Clash in ’77 and thrashed their way to musical talent. Palmolive left to join The Raincoats and was replaced by Budgie(possibly not his real name) on drums, later to join Siouxie & The Banshees in ’81 and become Mr. Siouxie Sioux. Continue reading “IMPORTANT ALBUMS #2: The Slits – Cut” »

The ORIGINAL Beatles Box Sets!

Sometime ago, our illustrious host here at Music By Day once said that The Beatles were relatively late to the box set game, however I would like to point out that The Beatles were in fact the first to the Box Set game. 12 years in fact before the 1990 Led Zeppelin box set that started off the modern day trend of boxed collections.

There was a stereo box, a mono box, an E.P. Box, a singles box and a 8 LP (equivalent to 4 CDs) career overview. These sets are of course LONG LONG LONG out of print but if you have kids and a house you can mortgage, you can sometimes pick up these desirable collections on ebay and such places.

So, since The Beatles seem to be staggeringly popular around this manor Squire, here’s a brief bed time story for all you kiddies in Beatle-land:

THE STEREO BOX (1978)

This collection was issued in 1978. Included were all the original U.K. albums plus the American Magical Mystery Tour LP and an album called “Rairities” which was essentially a few difficult to find B-sides and a few mixes that were different from around the world.ie. an extra measure left in here, a bar edited there, a longer count in etc…

Cassette Version

The interesting thing about this set is that this is the first time most Americans would have encountered the albums in their original U.K. form. And also, “Past Masters”  didn’t exist yet so  lots of singles tracks were not included.

For me, having been used to Beatles ’65, it was a bit weird listening to Beatles For Sale for the first time.


THE MONO BOX (1982)

This included 10 mono albums up to and including Yellow Submarine. Now, that album wasn’t released in mono but evidently was mixed for mono for a proposed Yellow Submarine EP that was never released. This does explain, at least to me why the four Yellow Submarine tracks are included in the new mono box set on the Past Masters.

Again, lots of singles missing from this collection. Now the Biggie:

FROM LIVERPOOL: THE BEATLES BOX (1980)

The last Beatles item to be released in John Lennon’s life time, this was a chronological overview of their career over 8 LPs in nice new sleeves. This was only available by mail order from the T.V. though it was produced by EMI. It was a nice looking set with lots of detailed liner notes on the back of each sleeve, and the strange thing is that a few different mixes of certain songs appeared on here that weren’t available anywhere else in the world which made this collection essential!

I thought I’d do a public service for you and enable you to “own” this 1980 box set by giving you the track listings and through the wonder of digital music storage, you can, with a few clicks of the mouse, create your own play list to match the box set. When your friends ask you why the Beatles songs are being played in that order, you can nonchalantly mention, “oh, it’s the 1980 box set don’t you know”. Amaze your friends. Be the zaniest kid on the block. Here goes: Continue reading “The ORIGINAL Beatles Box Sets!” »

IMPORTANT ALBUMS #1: Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick

Critics Label Tull as Prog. Label “Aqualung” as Concept Album. Jethro Tull React! Over the Top, Bombastic Prog Silliness Ensues!


A friend of mine at school knew I liked adventurous music and said to me that I should check out a 45 minute song that he had. A 45 bloody minute song? So, he taped it for me and I loved it. I had to go out and buy my own copy and experience the full adventure that is Thick As A Brick(1972). This album is in my top 10 favorite albums of all time. Let me explain to you why it should be yours too.

Briefly; Jethro Tull denied that they were a prog band and that “Aqualung” was a concept album. The critics thought otherwise. So the band decide “They want prog? We’ll give them prog!”, and proceeded to assemble the most over the top prog creation and the most ludicrous concept they possibly could. Their spoof on prog. Their “Scary Movie” to, say, Genesis’ “Scream”.

The lyrics are still a regular (though well written) “railing against the system” type, but the premise of the album which includes the fake newspaper cover, is Jethro Tull setting a poem, by an imaginary kid, Gerald Bostock, to music. The cover story on the paper is that 8 year old Gerald was disqualified from winning a poetry prize because the judges felt that his poem was obscene and that little Gerald might be a bit, perhaps, unbalanced in his mind. And a 14 year old girlfriend buddy of his(pictured) claims to be pregnant with little Gerald’s child.

The Newspaper itself is a spoof on British provincial small town newspapers and is full of little jokes and references that carry on throughout the paper. Also includes a (naturally) good review of the new Tull album-Thick As A Brick.

While the original premise is satire, the music is not! These musicians are top notch and a pleasure to listen to. The production is brilliant too. It sounds good!

If you liked The Decemberists - The Crane Wife, you should like this album. The Crane Wife on speed. More a musical suite than just a long song, there is solid folk type music leading into real rockin’ sections followed by more folk sections with a few odd instrumental interludes that run through strange time changes. And  there are plenty of memorable melodies for whistling or humming later. This is a hummable album sir!

It opens up and closes with the folky Thick As A Brick theme tune and in between is a hyper musical journey that out progs most other prog but never gets boring!

The basic “concept” was “oh so you think we’re prog do ya, well we’ll show yer!” but it wound up being a #1 album and one of their most popular releases ever! The whole package, Newspaper and all are an integral part of the Thick as a Brick experience and I believe that there is a lot there to enjoy for someone tired of the ordinary.

MORE BEATLES: Why Mono?

For those Beatles fans who joined the club in the last 30 years or so; You all wonder why The Beatles and George Martin spent so much time perfecting mono mixes. Why, when most of you feel (and often rightfully so) that the stereo sounds better? That the mono sounds claustrophobic with no space for the different aspects of the music to breathe? Here’s why:

This is our “sound system” as late as ’72 or ’73. One speaker! A monophonic needle! Have you ever tried to play stereo records on a mono player? It just tears the record to shreds. On “Stereophonic” records of the time, you often get notes at the bottom of the back sleeve saying that this record can be played on only Stereo record players.

But the good news is you can safely play your Mono records on a stereo player. They cannot become obsolete!

Maybe that dispels some of the mystery surrounding why more mono records sold in the early ’60s than stereo records, which were often the domain of semi-snobby audiophiles. And that’s the way most “fans” remember hearing those records. In the mono format on cheap speakers at teenage splash parties. And sleep overs.

To achieve the effect of listening to a Beatles record in the ’60s, take your iPod earbuds, set them on your desk, play a Beatles tune at full volume, and voila; you’re in the ’60s.

And on the topic of stereo Beatles records; They are not good headphone albums! Stereo mixing didn’t really become an art form in itself until the very late ’60s, early ’70s. Which is why Let It Be and Abbey Road are fairly good in Headphones. That’s all I really needed to say now. I just stumbled across the picture in an old family photo album and I felt the need to share! Soo00,,,,,

Don’t Drink and Drive!

Amy Winehouse dead at 27

Amy Winehouse, the musical mother of Adele, Estelle and Duffy was found dead in her London apt. on Saturday morning (July 23/11). The cause of death was not reported at the time of this writing but it seems likely obvious that her body gave up after a few short years of intense abuse by hard living. Yet another singer/musician to join the “27″ club along with Hendrix, Cobain, Morrison, Joplin and Brian Jones.

There will now be a resurgence of Winehouse radio play because that is the nature of business. People will naturally be curious now about her music and want to check it out, but now with a dead star on their hands, the record company will be in a good position to special edition her two albums, repackage in new covers, compile greatest hits and on and on it goes.

The sad thing is that she hadn’t realised her potential yet. She only had TWO albums. She wasn’t quite matured yet to her full potential as a singer/artist. Her career was also hindered by her personal problems that nobody seemed to be able to help her rise above. Or they were interfered with by other stronger bad influences in her life.

So with two “not quite there yet” albums and several aborted recording attempts over the past few years, her legacy will be tarnished by the greedy record company trawling the depths of the studio vaults to release anything with her name on it to cash in, however substandard or unusable the tapes are.

I’m not being cynical. I’m being realistic. It always happens. It’s different if the artist has a big back catalog but Amy Winehouse was not in that position so her legacy is at huge risk of being cheapened by substandard record company product.

Maybe that won’t happen. Maybe her two existing albums will get the “loving” treatment and left at that. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, if you were a fan or a casual observer, remember her for the good. The positive.  Her two good albums and  her positive contributions to music over the last decade rather than the train wreck stuff and her stupid dummy junkie friends and tabloid escapades! Get your mind out of the gutter and remember the good things about her life and career!

This is not “good copy” or entertainment, This is somebody’s life. Somebody’s DaughterSomebody’s Star! Enjoy the music and remember her as such!

Johann Johannsson – The Miner’s Hymns

Icelandic composer, Johann Johannsson (b.1969) is a modern composer with his hand in a few different sorts of ideas. He has been involved in performances, exhibitions, books, radio shows, films etc.,all in an effort to encourage and promote experimentation and cross media/genre pollination.

His albums of original music are absolutely beautiful in the most meaningful sense of the word. Gorgeously moving simple melodies combined with some electronic effects make this not your ordinary modern classical music by numbers. My favorite example is his album IBM 1401, A User’s Manual (2006 4AD). A piece based around a repeating tone generated by this old computer along with a tape recording of the original operator’s manual. The gorgeously sweeping strings! The music just makes the idea of a room sized computer sound so romantic. Very moving stuff!

His new album, The Miner’s Hymns (June 2011) is actually a soundtrack for an independent film about the slow decline of the coal industry in Durham in northern England.

He is using brass apparently for the first time in several years and this is no doubt partly due to the history that brass bands have in Durham. I haven’t seen Bill Morrison’s film yet but this music can definitely stand on it’s own without the visual narrative. Cinematic, moody, slow moving, sparse in places, it is very big music coupled with the electronic sound effects that Johannsson usually uses.

This album was recorded in the Durham Cathedral also using the cathedral organ along with the brass orchestra.  The ambiance of the old building adds to the weighty moodiness of it all. This is moving music. And fairly easy to get into for people who think they’re afraid of classical orchestral music. Although I would recommend IBM 1401 as an introduction to Johannsson first.

Both great albums for headphones in the dark!

Also available on vinyl!

Rock on The Randos

Among the sea of small bands constantly rising and falling, here is a band that stands out somewhat and, dare I say it, may achieve greatness with the right decisions:  The Randos.

Out of Boston, comes this little surprise, a modern band with a taste for classic rock. When I first listened to the tracks that will be soon found on their upcoming debut, “We’re Not The Same”, I envisioned long-haired, tattoo’d dark souls with black eyeliner and skull-and-crossboned leather jackets. Not so! The Randos simply love to rock.

The Randos

At the risk of being labelled a feminist, I am thrilled to the toes of my cotton socks to find a rock band that is led by a female vocalist – and what vocals Rebecca Frank possesses! Pardon me for the pop references, but take Gwen Stefani’s vocal strength and range, add some sex appeal from Christina Aguilera, and pour in loads of dark, seething metal… and you have Rebecca Frank and The Randos. I doubt there is anything that Rebecca cannot do with her voice… and I’m just so pleased that she chose to rock. Continue reading “Rock on The Randos” »

Young Galaxy – Shapeshifting

Young Galaxy are a band from Canada based in Montreal. An ever changing line-up is centered around couple, Stephen Ramsay, his wife Catherine McCandless and long time associate Stephen Kamp. They have been labeled as shoegaze/dream pop. I’m not quite sure. They’re just Canadian! If you’ve been trawling around on line looking for something new to hear, then you’d better check these guys out.

They are generally a guitar/real instruments based band. Their previous album Invisible Republic is worth mentioning here first as it is easier with that background to describe where they have gone on their latest: Shapeshifting. Continue reading “Young Galaxy – Shapeshifting” »

Another Bloody Beatles Post! (The Rest Of Their Story!)

Is it reasonable to be a Beatles fanatic in this modern day and age? Why yes it is! And here’s some more stuff that you might’ve missed at some point over the last twenty years.

We were absolutely thrilled with the ’09 releases in,,,well,,,’09! Beautiful sound and MUCH better packaging compared with the ’87 issues! Abbey Road was the first one I bought and I was blown away!

Then I got the “White Album”. Out of all of them, I believe that it benefited most from the remastering. All of the albums sound really clear and beefed up and I’m thrilled, but,,,I was most pleased with the “White Album”. It was like, they did me a personal favour by making it sound so good! It sounded so clear and beefy that it made me cross! “Why does my favorite album sound so bloody good?” Continue reading “Another Bloody Beatles Post! (The Rest Of Their Story!)” »

A Young Person’s Guide To: BORIS

Formed in 1992 in Tokyo, Japan, Boris were a 4 piece band associated with the hard-core scene. They quickly realized that they didn’t quite fit in with the rather restrictive scene and immediately began to move away from it musically. In 1996 they went down to a three piece featuring at the time of writing(2011), Atsuo on drums, Takeshi on bass and guitar, and Wata(the girl) on guitar and when there is singing at all, Takeshi usuallly is the vocalist. None of them seem to have last names so their identity is kind of mysterious!

There are not many heavy guitar bands that genre hop as much as these guys. Over their 17 albums, 3 live albums and 11 collaborations, they cover hard-core, drone, doom, punk, electro, ambient, pop and regular old hard rock. Sometimes, on the same album!

Well, where does one start? How does one know what to buy first? Just what are they on about? Well, here’s a guide to 7 of the most diverse albums that are most representative of Boris. Because they have so many styles, 1 album just won’t do it! So pay attention!

THE DRONE ONE – Absolutego – 1996

Absolutego

This is heavy!!! This should not be listened to, but should be used to rest large buildings on! If you like waves of hypnotic guitar noise, a little bit of crashing drums and a psycho singer, this is for you.  There doesn’t seem to be much of a  beat. The bass drone alone at the beginning will cause your woofers to bubble and your windows to shatter! The 2001 CD re-release has  2 tracks. The original title track is 1 Hour and 5 minutes. The second bonus track is a concise 8 or so minutes and is sightly less musical. You have to lie down for this one, Mister! Continue reading “A Young Person’s Guide To: BORIS” »