Friday, May 21, 2010

Human Highway...

So, we went out of our way to rent the stupidly hard to find, and notoriously bad "Human Highway", a film by Neil Young, featuring Devo. Once again I will state that Vinyl Vagabonds is a vinyl records blog, but occasionally it happens that a certain vinyl purchase or two will send us venturing away from the vinyl medium to experience something... other. A vagabond of a film like "Human Highway" is something other alright. Not available on DVD and hard to track down on VHS (thank you for coming through Potomac Video), we gave this 80's trash monsterpiece a viewing. Can I recommend it? Not really. The centerpiece of the film is a completely psyched out performance of "Hey, Hey, My, My" by Neil and played with Devo. A rarer performance would be hard to imagine. The film itself has barely a shred of redeeming script, acting, or visuals. Neil does play the role of a the gas station simpleton very well and if you want to have a chuckle, that's probably where you will find it.

The story revolves around residents of a small town in the dessert of the west dealing with tough economic times whilst ne'er do wells from the local nuclear plant plot to dump nuclear waste into the nearby land. Dennis Hopper is a complete freak-out in this, Also there is a large nuclear missile, but I really have no idea where that comes from.

Oh, I almost forgot. The film features great music! That's why we sought it out in the first place. It has cuts from "Trans" by Neil. A great album of techno/rock wizardry before anybody but Kraftwork was even doing that sort of thing. Also featured are several great tracks from Devo of the early 80's, the best type of Devo for sure (unless you have had a chance to check out the new album "Something for Everybody", which from what I've heard so far is going to be a return to greatness).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kurtis Blow, 1980

I've been waiting on writing about Kurtis Blow's self titled 1980 album because I wasn't sure where to take it after this, it could go to his second album Deuce, Run DMC, or the Fat Boys.... So now that I've given a preview of upcoming reviews.... THESE ARE THE BREAKS!

The Good: "Rappin Blow (Part 2)", "The Breaks", and "Way Out West", which is all of Side A. Blow's lyrics encouraging the listeners to interact with the music is kinda revolutionary. This might be the first time we hear "Throw your hands in the air, and wave em like you just don't care", "Somebody scream!", and "Just do it just do it just do it do it do it." The single, "The Breaks" is epic, especially with the drum solos, which I'm pretty sure is actually someone playing the buckets. You really cannot listen to Side A and not get up and dance.

The Bad: SIDE B. Its really not good. In fact, you really have to ask what he was thinking recording "All I Want in this World." The lyrics are ridiculous: "A cute one, a shy one, a slim one, a sly one, a big one, a small one, a real off the wall one, all I want in this world is to find that girl." I don't believe I actually just listened to this song twice to write these lyrics down. His cover to "Takin Care of Business" is a clear display that he should stick to rapping. It's fucking horrendous! It's kind of great awful, but you should probably not be sober for it.

The Ugly: Back Cover. Do not look at it. In fact hold it very far away from your face when trying to read the track titles. Pretty sure Kurtis Blow's face is larger than life size, unless he is a giant. Not attractive.

This album is really a bridge between funky 70's disco and 80's rap and hippity hop. The catchy flows and sweet lyrics really make this album, whether they are good or bad (mostly good). He seems like he's not really all that interested in making any particular type of album, he's experimenting a lot. Dangerously bad results ensue on side B, but the good stuff cannot be ignored and is pretty damn funky. Although Blow's "The Breaks" is often mentioned with Sugar Hill Gang's "Rappers Delight" it's sort of amazing that Blow laid the track as a solo rapper instead of a group. These singles are cited as being the birth of modern hip-hop. Pretty boogaloo awesome.