Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Le Noise

Le Noise 2010 - Neil Young

So I sold my soul to the devil by buying this record.  The act of purchasing vinyl from Amazon.  As my alibi, I did it solely for the price.  Local stores were retailing this one for about $37, and I cannot justify paying that much for ONE record (unless is has been encrusted with gold plated rubies).  I honestly feel awful for small record stores, because I have no idea how they are supposed to sell new vinyl to folks who aren't rich or stupid, or both?

The album is, as far as I can tell, strictly guitar and vocals which are melded into a feedback drenched apocalypse.  The guitar is full of grit and static, and just might be played in an echo room vortex.  Neil is exorcising some real demons in the form of an "end of the world/end of his rock life" rock out explosion of ennui.  I mean, Eddie Vedder must be just pooping his pants right now.  That is not a dis.  Neil is doing what he does best.  He is dissecting himself and everything around in the most basic and honest ways.  Having really feasted on Neil's back catalog lately (most recently the really obscure 80's cannon) this is refreshingly diverse, odd, and unencumbered by anything resembling bullshit.  It is totally legit.

Produced by fellow Cannuck Daniel Lanois, the two Northerners kick up a good deal of drift and side winding washed out fuzz.  It works, I'm really not sure why, but it seems Neil really was just digging doing his thing.  There are flourishes of spanish guitar, tidbits of tunes long lost, and a slew of nimble/catchy odes to the art of singing about love and war.  He even gives a shout out to the greatest Neil Young album of all time, "TRANS" during the song, "Hitchhiker" where he lifts the hook from "Like an Inca".  Way to go Mr. Y, sampling your own work.  Neil has this strange knack for sounding like he is doing things on purpose; the purpose of making music that is interesting to him.   If you can tune into that, then you're golden.  He's jumped into all sorts of genres over the years and certainly had his share of drug induced/producer induced WTF moments committed to record, but this one seems truer than true. My question is does anybody actually still care?  For some reason I feel like Neil may have just blown straight past any actually radio format.  Will he ever get play again and really, does it matter?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fabulous Poodles - Mirror Star

Fabulous Poodles - Mirror Star 1978

Ok, it's important to note that this album is hot pink vinyl. A demo copy, found in the twenty five cent bin at the Deep Groove Records in Richmond, VA, and it's hot pink. How do you refuse an album like that? Not knowing anything about the band had me close to second guessing, but I am certainly glad that I went through with my big purchase. Did I mention the pink vinyl?

What happens musically here is really a treat. You get tinges of 70's Rolling Stones (Chicago Boxcar), early Elvis Costello (B Movies), and some new wave as well.  Flashes of 50's era "strum and tumble" show up here and there also.  It's a spare affair, with a few dashes of just about everything rock and roll that had come before.  I can imagine that "turn off, turn off, turn off my microphone!" would have been a great sing-along before leading into a wicked drum/synthesizer breakdown.  Some of the tunes even get into country and doo-wop territory (Roll Your Own).  It is all here.  Lead man, Tony de Meur has traces of Bowie, Thorogood, and Jagger.  This particular record is a combination of the first two releases from the UK which seemed to be enough to propel them stateside as opening act for Tom Petty, The Ramones, and even as the backing band for legendary Chuck Berry.  So what the F#&^$% happened to these guys!?!  Was it because they were called the Fabulous Poodles?  Probably, but the internet tells me it was more a case of the music business (relentless touring, a lack of label support, and an evil overlordish manager) and who am I to argue with the internet?  Well, the internet isn't saying much.  Seems this group's three album achievement wasn't enough to garner the attention of the modern media.  Did I mention hot pink?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Plain Brown Wrapper

The Best of Peter and Gordon

How can you resist buying this record for $0.99 from Joe's Record Paradise?  Someone back in the day clearly cared enough about this album to create a new handmade painted cover made from a paper bag.  Did this record lose its sleeve or do we have an arts and crafter who did this to all their vinyl?  Regardless, this cover is awesome and deserves a blog.  The music is good, nothing to write home about.  The Beatles wrote for these guys, so the album is a cross between the Fab Four's lyrics and guitar and the harmony of the Everly Brothers. Not too shabby.  But seriously, back to the cover.  I can see the pencil of the cursive handwriting as the first draft of the cover before the owner painted it.  The paper is even shellacked or finished in some way to keep it from aging.  Nice craftsmanship.  
Turn over this stellar cover and it details not only the names of the tracks, but also their playing time.  Take notice of the Capital Records logo in the lower righthand corner.  Now that takes commitment.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Whole Thing Started With Rock & Roll Now It's Out of Control

Ray Manzarek - The Whole Thing Started With Rock & Roll Now It's Out of Control - 1974

Curiosity about the former keyboardist from The Doors led to the purchase of this one from CD Cellar in Falls Church, VA, and its definitely worth a spin, or two, or three (getting the idea?).... The record starts off as you would expect with classic Door-sy sounding keyboards and vocals. Who knew that Mr. Manzarek could sing too? He sounds strangely like he's doing his best Jim Morrison impersonation, and this is in no way depressing. It all works well, but give it til track 3, "Whirling Dervish" where you will realize you've found something special. Steve Reich-esque minimalist scaling, featuring clarinets and sax, morph into what sounds like a middle eastern Hava Nagila inspired break from the main loop. Wait for the end of Side A with "Begin the World Again" that funkifies the whole album.

This record is spattered with Manzarek's deep voice which falls somewhere in the range of Johnny Cash or Glen Danzig especially on the catchy "I Wake Up Screaming" and "Bicentenial Blues" (which features Manzarek's liberty in including the hook from "Light My Fire"). It's a dancing disco tinged affair that is well worth your time and boogie.

On a side note, if you care what your neighbors think, don't play the end of Side B during the summer with the windows open in the middle of the day. It starts off innocent enough, but quickly takes a turn for the worse, when it vividly could double for the soundtrack to a raunchy 70's porn.

Of Note: the sleeve give a special thanks to Iggy Pop and credits Patti Smith as Poetress. Nice.