Shuffle of the week #9

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

[singlepic id=111 w=80 h=50 float=left]1. Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention – Let’s make the water turn black (We’re Only in It for the Money, 1968)

Surprising start this time, this one being an album that I urgently had to discover for real. Zappa’s experimental charge against everyone wearing flowers and breathing the psychedelic air of San Fransisco, including a parody on the Sgt. Peppers’ album cover. This cover featured among others Zappa’s friend Jimi Hendrix, whose song ‘Hey Joe’ was used as inspiration for ‘Flower Punk’, another song to be found on the album.

2. Swan Lake – The Pollenated Girls (Beast Moans, 2006) [singlepic id=115 w=80 h=50 float=left]

This album to the contrary does not have many secrets to me anymore, having spent many months on my mp-3 player last year. It’s the debut album from this all Canadian supergroup, consisting of Frog Eyes singer Carey Mercer, Daniel Bejar (Destroyer, New Pornographers) and of course Spencer Krug, one of my favorite musicians of today (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Frog Eyes).

3. Moby Grape – Fall On You (Moby Grape, 1967) [singlepic id=112 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Over to some typical sounds of 1967, with this band originally founded by some former Jefferson Airplane members. A must have for the lovers of the genre, so without any doubt a true favorite for Frank Zappa.

4. Fleet Foxes – Innocent Son (Sun Giant, 2008) [singlepic id=110 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Some beautiful vocals then from the first EP of Fleet Foxes, although you might also think it’s one of My Morning Jacket’s songs when you don’t know that.

5. Sunset Rubdown – Stadiums and Shrines II (Shut up I’m Dreaming, 2006) [singlepic id=114 w=80 h=50 float=left]

And there’s Spencer Krug again! This really is a fantastic album that I’m gonna put on that mp3 player once more. I guess this album will never bore me, definitely being one of my favorite albums from the past 10 years. Points me to the fact that I finally have to get Dragonslayer (2009) also.

6. Velvet Underground – Pale Blue Eyes (Velvet Underground, 1969) [singlepic id=116 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Talking about true rock jewels? This must be one of the best Lou Reed compositions, whose  genius was discovered way too late by me. But I have to admit, I’m seriously catching up with that.

7. Tindersticks – Talk to me (Tindersticks (II), 1995) [singlepic id=70 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Another track from Tinderstick’s magnificent second album.With decliciously driving string part in the end.

 

8. dEUS – Secret Hell (Worst Case Scenario, 1994) [singlepic id=58 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Song that I heard more often lately, as I listened to it again during a couple of weeks following an earlier shuffle of the week .

9. The Electric Prunes –Wind-up Toys (Underground, 1967) [singlepic id=109 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Surprisingly, exactly the same goes for this one. Good album.

 

10. Motörhead – Stay Clean (No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith, 1981) [singlepic id=135 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Starting and closing with a little surprise this week, as this is the only abum in my collection from this band. Factually, it’s not even a real one, as it’s a live album. I acquired it after reading some lyrical reviews about it; good album, nothing more (update: this rocks).

“I need your pain killer, Doc, shot inside of me”: Vincebus Eruptum (Blue Cheer)

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Year: 1968

Genre: Blues Rock, Psychedelic Rock

Preceded by: –

Followed by: Outsideinside (1968)

Related to: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin, The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced

 

Fortunately for the development of music in all its variation, especially the heavier genres, there were always bands out there that asked themselves if things couldn’t be played a little louder. Blue Cheer certainly was such a band.

It’s 1968 and a big part of the music scene was embracing the progress technology had made with regard to improving amplifiers and electric guitars. Especially the possibility to significantly amplify the sound of the bass guitar made it possible for bands to play as loud as possible without losing the sound of the bass. This was the deciding development that notorious blues rock artists like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix were waiting for to form their own power trios, consisting of guitar, bass and drums. Bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who in fact used the same concept, adding a seperate singer. 1967 subsequently brought us Hendrix’ Are You Experienced?, 1969 Led Zeppelin’s debut album and 1968 had Blue Cheer’s impressive debut: Vincebus Eruptum.

Just like those two acts, Blue Cheer reinterpreted old blues songs and took them to higher and louder levels using loads of amplifiers. Hendrix ofcourse added the psychedelic influences that were characteristic for those times. With Blue Cheer being located in San Francisco and being called after a kind of LSD (at its turn called after a washing product), it may not be surprising that those influences are also present on their debut. If you’re looking for extensive improvisation, hyperamplification and lots of distortion, this is the album that definitely should be in your record collection. No other band of that time in my opinion had the raw intensity and energy of Blue Cheer, making them blow up their complete equipment the first time they tried to record this album.

Blue Cheer was founded in 1966 with the original line up consisting of Dickie Peterson on bass (which he played since the age of 13) and vocals, Leigh Stephens on guitar (ranked 98 on Rolling Stones’ 100 greatest guitarists of all time) and Eric Albronda on drums. Albronda was subsequently replaced by Paul Whaley and the band recruited some extra members on guitar, keyboards and harmonica. But, according to the myth, they brought the band down to a power trio after witnessing Hendrix’ mind blowing performance with his Experience at Monterey. So Dickie Peterson, Leigh Stephens and Paul Whaley remained as the line-up for the first album, consisting of 6 songs with a total length of about half an hour. But don’t worry, just turn the record over again.

The LP starts with the bands only real hit, a cover of Eddie Cochran’s blues song ‘Summertime Blues’. This must be the ultimate example of transforming a classic blues song into blues rock, played that hard that it’s drawing the outlines of hard rock. The first part of the song combines an extremely pounding rhythm section with a crying guitar, immediately giving you the opportunity to test your own sound equipment. The riff in the middle of the song reminds of Hendrix’ ‘Foxy Lady’, after which the guitar becomes a rollercoaster, steadily taking off and at its peak crushing down at high speed. This version beats The Who’s interpretation of the song hands down if it comes down to muscular strength and roughness.

An even greater blues classic follows quickly, when B.B. King’s ‘Rock Me Baby’ sets in. Also covered amongst others by Otis Redding (a great idol of singer Peterson), this song sticks to the typical blues sound of the guitar with another pumping combo of bass and drums adding the rock here. If not already taken place, everthing goes mental on the third track, Dickie Peterson’s self-proclaimed drug anthem ‘Doctor Please’. Peterson experienced a lot of funny feelings in his head at the time and sings about them after a rough intro of Paul Whaley. The song is about 8 minutes long and offers you the best definition of the term ‘power trio’. The energy drips out of your speakers when guitar solos, kicking drums, the screaming voice of Peterson and heavy bass sounds keep interchanging before exploding together now and then. This also reminds of later stoner rock from bands like Kyuss.

The next song, ‘Out of Focus’, lasts four minutes but was written in ten minutes according to Peterson. This song also has some psychedelic lyrics about angels in mystic dreams, propelled by a haunting guitar riff from Stephens. The roughness of the instruments and Petersons howling voice on this track marks the difference between Blue Cheer and more polished power trios like Clapton’s Cream. It’s followed by another cover, ‘Parchment Farm’, from jazz and blues pianist Mose Allison. This song offers some space for some extensive jamming just when you think the song has ended, while Peterson sings sightly funny lyrics like “I’ve been sitting over here on Parchment Farm. Ain’t ever done nobody no wrong. All I did was shoot my wife. She was no good! “. ‘Second Time Around’ offers you one last chance to pick up your air guitar, as the riffs are very sweet again. Towards the middle of the song, Paul Whaley throws in a wild drum solo, after which all the remaining distortion and psychedelic effects out there are used to close the album, definitely a personal favorite.

After their debut album, the group was confronted with a lot of personnel changes, with their style developing towards a more commercial sound during the seventies and eighties. Periods of activity and temporary break-ups followed eachother, before breaking up for once and for all in 2009 after the death of Peterson, the only continuing member troughout the years. But Vincebus Eruptum remains an essential album to understand the concept of a power trio. Enjoy.

Top Tracks:
1. Doctor Please
2. Second Time Around
3. Summertime Blues

Shuffle of the week #8

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. Rolling Stones – Dead Flowers (Sticky Fingers, 1971) [singlepic id=108 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Opening with the Stones this week, which is already quite remarkable, considering the two albums being in my collection. However, this famous one (with possibly even more famous sleeve from Andy Warhol) is an absolute gem. This song from it was covered later by Townes Van Zandt, which version was used in The Big Lebowski.

2. Electric Light Orchestra – Starlight (Out of the Blue, 1977) [singlepic id=101 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Delighted of course with this choice, from one of my favorite albums. Written and produced by Jeff Lynne, obviously. Although you might think that the Bee Gees are also some kind of involved.

3. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges (Evil Urges, 2008) [singlepic id=107 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Title track of the homonymos album from 2008. Just like I said last time about Wilco, one of those bands that try to transcend the contemporary mediocrity by searching for new directions. Sometimes of course this ends up wrong (like on this album imho), but they would strike back hard three years later with one of their best albums (Circuital). Great band.

4. Grinderman – Go Tell the Women (Grinderman, 2007) [singlepic id=103 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Going back one more year with this debut album from Nick Cave’s project Grinderman. Strange strolling song that nonetheless draws your attention when your shuffle hits it on a lost Tuesday afternoon.

5. Monks – Oh, How to Do Now (Black Monk Time, 1966) [singlepic id=106 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Another curious song from an album I one day had to add to my collection because, just like 1000 others, it would be one that I absolutely had to hear before I die. It still has to prove that.

6. Jackson Browne – Rosie (Running On Empty, 1977) [singlepic id=104 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Track from the album with the famous live ending. This song, to the contrary, was recorded backstage.

 

7. Golden Earring – Turn the World Around (Naked III, 2005) [singlepic id=102 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Song from Holland’s rock pioneers that originally appeared on their 1989 album Keeper Of the Flame, when the band’s success was shrinking. That success returned in the nineties with the acoustic live trilogy, of which this is the final part.

8. Booker T. & The MG’s – Stranger on the Shore (Green Onion, 1962) [singlepic id=100 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Way back in time then with this song from a classic album. The atmosphere of this song perfectly describes the scene of a stranger standing on the shore.

9. Mogwai – Sine Wave (Rock Action, 2001) [singlepic id=48 w=80 h=50 float=left]

We’re still instrumental, but have travelled some 50 years in time meanwhile. Remarkably enough, this song also describes the atmosphere of a stranger standing on the shore, although the wind rages a little harder.

10. Lemonheads –  Rockin Stroll (It’s a Shame about Ray, 1992) [singlepic id=105 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Another recommendation from my album bible, leading me through life by telling me how to walk through history. Gonna give this album also a next try.

Shuffle of the week #7

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

[singlepic id=91 w=80 h=50 float=left]1.    Arctic Monkeys – When the Sun Goes Down (Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, 2006)
If the shuffle is trying to give hints the past couple of times, than it wants me to start listening to the Arctic Monkeys again for some reason. It’s been a while, but I’m gonna listen to this album the next couple of weeks (update: never underestimate a good debut album, this still is a great one).

2.    Wilco – Poor Places (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2002) [singlepic id=98 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Penultimate track of the album I basically don’t know good enough (update: fan!), while I did  play the life out of their last album (The Whole Love) last year. For me this is one of those rare contemporary bands that keeps improving itself throughout their career and explores new directions.

3.    Arcade Fire – My Body Is A Cage (Neon Bible, 2007) [singlepic id=90 w=80 h=50 float=left]
The shuffle keeps floating through the recent past with the third track from the zeroes in a row. A band that made a great impression with its debut, but of which I actually can’t say whether they continued in the same way. I realize at this actual moment that a lot of recent albums are catching dust in my virtual record cabinet.

4.    Tame Impala – Solitude Is Bliss (Innerspeaker, 2010) [singlepic id=97 w=80 h=50 float=left]
On the other side, new recent albums are still added from time to time. This one for example, from a band that released its second album last year. However, for me personally, this debut album was one of the albums of that year, since I discovered it with a two-year delay thanks to DJ Grinder. At its best when cycling through a sunny city.

5.    Beirut – In the Mausoleum (The Flying Cup Club, 2007) [singlepic id=92 w=80 h=50 float=left]
The shuffle really makes a survey of the past ten years, not missing out this wonderful song from Beirut.

 

6.    Pink Floyd – See Saw (A Saucerful of Secrets, 1968) [singlepic id=95 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Finally we jump into the rich past of music history with this mysterious track from an even more mysterious album. I’m listening to this album some couple of weeks now, and it has really become one of my favorite Floyd albums. It incited me to make a poll about this, so please share your opinion.

7.    Grizzly Bear – Southern Point (Veckatimest, 2009) [singlepic id=93 w=80 h=50 float=left]
And back to our musical overview of the past ten years with this track from the third album of this Brooklyn-based band. It’s the opening track, and also one of the best with some nice instrumental parts.

 

8. Ray Charles – One Mint Julep (single, 1961) [singlepic id=96 w=80 h=50 float=left]
At first I thought Booker T. and the MG’s were kicking in again, but it turned out to be mister Charles. This is the version that finally claimed some fame for this song, in a swinging instrumental way. Original song by Rudy Toombs.

9. Meat Puppets – Violet Eyes (Too High to Die, 1994) [singlepic id=94 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Abrupt transition than when we suddenly land into the grunge of the Meat Puppets. Also the opening track of the album.

 

10. Yim Yames – Long, Long, Long (Tribute To, 2009) [singlepic id=99 w=80 h=50 float=left]
And the shuffle closes in a beautiful way with this cover from Jim James, the lead singer of My Morning Jacket, of this White Album track from George Harrison. This album, which is an entire tribute to this former Beatle, is hardly recommended by yours truly. If you’re not acquainted with it, only imagine this guy singing songs like ‘My Sweet Lord’ en ‘Love You  To’.

“You are your mother’s only son and you’re a desperate one ”: The Smiths (The Smiths)

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Year: 1984

Genre: Alternative Rock, Indie Pop

Preceded by: –

Followed by: Meat Is Murder (1985)

Related to: not available yet

 

 

No history book gives a better insight into the UK of the 1980’s than The Smiths’ self epynomous debut album: a country under the reign of Thatcherism and confronted with dangers like AIDS and crimes like the Moors murders. Besides, the album reintroduced the guitar in a world of synthesizers, laying the groundwork for how music would sound like in the UK of the 1990’s. Like that isn’t enough for an album review.

Thank God The Smiths were there during the mid-eighties, reshaping the musical landcape while standing on the remnants of post-punk, a genre pioneered by bands like Joy Division. The charts were ruled by bands like Culture Club, and there simply wasn’t a way out of this decade yet, it was only 1982! There was only one option left: be an eigties band in the sense of being against it. Call upon this lost generation you see around you and see how many followers you can get. It happened to be a very successful call, as it meant the birth of alternative rock in the UK, more specifically indie pop, which means it principally sticks to melodies. ‘Indie’ basically means they did everything themselves, according to punk’s DIY-strategy: make your own records with your own artwork, release them by yourself and write your own fanzine about it.

To be a little more specific, it was down in Manchester where Steven Patrick Morrissey and Johnny Marr met each other, being both children of Irish immigrants. The first one had already fronted a punk rock band (and would soon drop his first names) and the latter was a guitarist-songwriter. After recruiting Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce as definite band members on bass and drums respectively, Morrisey called them The Smiths, as it was the most ordinary name out there. The recipe for their sound was a great dose of post-punk filled up with sixties rock, a straight outcome of Morrisey’s and Marr’s background. It’s well-known that Morrissey is a huge fan of punkrockers New York Dolls, but also of sixties icons like Dusty Springfield and Marianne Faithfull, while Marr’s jangly guitar sound was obviously influenced by The Byrds‘ Roger McGuinn and (by consequence) George Harrison.

After releasing some singles, the band would come up with their debut album in 1984: The Smiths, featuring the actor Joe Dallesandro on the cover. The album met with a lot of controversy, as a number of songs would deal with the theme of pedophilia, which was always denied by the band. If you give the songs a closer look, the central theme of the album would rather be the loss of innocence instead. Let’s run over them.

It all starts with a short drum intro before Morrissey’s voice kicks in on opening track ‘Reel Around The Fountain’, the longest track on the album. Morrissey sings about losing your innocence with someone who just sees you as a sexual object, while Marr’s Rickenbacher quietly follows on the background. The main character knows this other person just wants sex from him, but his love is too big to refuse another 15 minutes of pure lust. ‘You’ve Got Everything Now’ also has this solid rhythm section, with some really fantastic lyrics. Some people will without any doubt recognize themselves in this story of a guy leaving school feeling he has more talents than his peers, but ending up jobless while these other people have success. But are these people actually happy? Because ‘I’ve seen you smile, but I’ve never really heard you laugh’.

Another favorite of mine is the next one: ‘Miserable Lie’. It all starts off slowly with a some smooth guitar playing and drums, but suddenly explodes when Morrissey lets free all his rage about the lie love often is, when just being an excuse to get in somebody’s pants as fast as possible. In a third section, the vocals become much higher (sounding desperate) and an occasional guitar solo is added. Alltogether, this is an awesome track which still has that raw Joy Division sound, revealing the bands post-punk roots. In case you wondered if Morrissey had any confidence in women left, the fourth track gives you the answer: ‘Pretty Girls Make Graves’. More than any other song on this album, it really idealizes the concept of innocence, guided by a delicous funky bassline and closed by a very melancholic solo riff from Marr.

It seems that this riff continues in a more amplified way on the next track: ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’. This is another song meeting a lot of controversy, which isn’t surprising if you listen to the slightly repulsive lyrics for a first time. Of course it could as well be about just protecting your children, I leave the interpretation to the listener. ‘This Charming Man’ (you got to love Morrissey’s song titles), didn’t appear on the original release, but it did on all other versions that followed. Marr wrote this up-beat song with very catchy guitar riff, while Morrissey added this mysterious story about an encounter with a stranger using a very vulnerable voice.

‘Still Ill’ shows the melodious tandem that Morrisey-Marr certainly was, as vocals and guitar playing are perfectly adjusted to eachother here. The song reaches its peak for me personally on the line ‘If you must go to work tomorrow, well if I were you I wouldnt bother’, which is I believe a clear but subtle rejection of Thatcherism, which ideas were really hated by Morrissey. Another highlight (musically as well as lyrically) then, when ‘Hand in Glove’ starts. Seldomly was loneliness (Morrissey often was lonely and depressed during his adolescence, but this shouldn’t surprise you anymore by now) better portrayed than in this song. But wait a minute, what’s that sound on the background? Oh yes, in a time where even the guitar was almost replaced by synthesizers, an harmonica is suddenly thrown in, completely in Beatles‘ ‘Love Me Do’-style.

Three songs left then, but ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ (although featuring another nice guitar riff) and ‘I Don’t Owe You Anything’ are in my opinion among the least tracks. But the album closes in a beautiful way with ‘Suffer Little Children’. Although the theme is very sad, the Moors murders that took place between 1963 and 1965 near Manchester, it’s another fine example of the chemistry between Morrissey’s voice and Marr’s guitar.

After their debut, The Smiths would release another 3 albums (of which their second, Meat Is Murder, was their only to reach number one in the UK) before breaking up in 1987. Morrissey would pursue a solo career later on, while Marr started other projects with all kind of other atists. The Smiths would (and will) never reunite again, so please enjoy the music they left us.

Top Tracks:
1. Miserable Lie
2. You’ve Got Everything Now
3. Hand In Glove

Shuffle of the week #6

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1.    Tom Waits – Tango Till They’re Sore (Rain Dogs, 1985) [singlepic id=89 w=80 h=50 float=left]
We start in Café Lehmitz near the Hamburg Reeperbahn this week. That’s where the picture on the cover of this album was taken and Tom Waits is playing a dark song behind his piano in the back. If you look well through the smoke, you could see him play.

2.    The Smiths – The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (The Smiths, 1984) [singlepic id=88 w=80 h=50 float=left]
We’re staying in the eighties a little longer, going to the debut of the Smiths one year earlier. This song is characterized by Marr’s dreamy guitar riff and points me to the fact that it’s about time for a review of this album right here.

3.    Andrew Bird – Plasticities (Armchair Apocrypha, 2007) [singlepic id=81 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Listened a lot to The Swimming Hour last summer, but this third post-Bowl of Fire album still remains my favorite Bird. Still have to get the latest album.

 

4.    George Harrison – This Song (Thirty Three & 1/3, 1973) [singlepic id=85 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Cheerful song as there are so many on this sixth solo album from Harrison. Perfect to start a sunny spring day with.

 

5.    Booker T. & The MG’s – Hi Ride (Melting Pot, 1971) [singlepic id=82 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Time to stick around in the seventies now with the album that should have been introduced to me in a Greek van, cruising across the blue ocean. Unfortunately I ended up listening to it while strolling through a rainy city, but it was appreciated nonetheless.

6.    Moody Blues – Legend Of A Mind (In Search of the Lost Chord, 1968) [singlepic id=87 w=80 h=50 float=left]
For me personally hands down the best song from this band, appearing on one of my favorite albums of all time. Needless to say this was a splendid 6’40” for me, thank you shuffle. Comes with a great clip that was recorded in Brussels by the way.

7.    Golden Earring – Bombay (Naked II, 1997) [singlepic id=86 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Dutch glory on this track from the band’s second acoustic live album, released in the aftermath of MTV Unplugged. This track originates from their 1976 studio album Contraband.

 

8.    Guided By Voices – A Big Fan of the Pigpen (Bee Thousand, 1994) [singlepic id=66 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Another one from the album I started listening again after last time. Back then it must have sounded very good.

 

9. The Electric Prunes – You Never Had It Better (Underground, 1967) [singlepic id=83 w=80 h=50 float=left]
CD bonus track from the second album of this typical psychedelic late sixties band. Recommended to Airplane and 13th Floor Elevators fans, who don’t shy away from a little garage.

 

10. Fleetwood Mac – Sunny Side of Heaven (Bare Trees, 1972) [singlepic id=84 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Time to say goodbye with this instrumental from another all time favorite album of yours truly. Pity this is one of the more mediocre moments on the album.