Wednesday, August 31, 2011


YEAR: 1968

LABEL: Pye/Essential

TRACK LISTING: The Village Green Preservation Society, Do You Remember Walter, Picture Book, Johnny Thunder, Last of the Steam-Powered Trains, Big Sky, Sitting By the Riverside, Animal Farm, Village Green, Starstruck, Phenomenal Cat, All Of My Friends Were There, Wicked Annabella, Monica, People Take Pictures of Each Other

BONUS TRACKS: The Village Green Preservation Society (stereo), Do You Remember Walter (stereo), Picture Book (stereo), Johnny Thunder (stereo), Monica (stereo), Days (stereo), Village Green (stereo), Mr. Songbird (stereo), Wicked Annabella (stereo), Starstruck (stereo), Phenomenal Cat (stereo), People Take Pictures of Each Other (stereo), Days (mono single)

IMPRESSIONS: I first heard this album while shopping at Tunes in Turnersville, NJ in 1998. They were playing the album overhead in the store and it was obviously the Kinks but an album I was not familiar with. The 15-song mono version of the album has songs which average about 2:30 so I shortly had heard the entire album which was then followed by the 12 track stereo version (also included on the same cd). When I asked what album this was, I was told it was the new remastered album reissue of "VILLAGE GREEN" and I promptly bought it. This was Ray Davies at my most "veddy veddy English" mode heard on such songs as "Two Sisters" and their masterpiece "Waterloo Sunset" from their previous album "SOMETHING ELSE" which I had owned for years. Despite the digital remastering the sound is very "trebly" (even on the stereo mixes) but apparently that's the best that can be culled from the source material; either way what we have here is a classic album.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Village Green Preservation Society, Picture Book, Animal Farm, Phenomenal Cat, All of My Friends Were There, Wicked Annabella, People Take Pictures of Each Other

FACT SHEET: THE KINKS ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY is the Kinks' sixth album. It is the last album to feature the original band members as bassists Pete Quaife left the group in early 1969. A trip to Devon by lead singer/songwriter Ray Davies was the inspiration for a concept album about English rural town and hamlet life as well as a nostalgic lament for the passing of old-fashioned English traditions. The album failed to chart upon its original release but has since become one of the Kinks' best-selling albums (over 100,000 copies) as well as being generally considered one of the most important and influential albums the band ever made. Guitarist Dave Davies at the time called it "the best thing we've ever done".

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

GETZ/GILBERTO - Stan Getz & João Gilberto featuring Antonio Carlos Jobim

YEAR: 1964

LABEL: Verve

TRACK LISTING: The Girl From Ipanema, Doralice, Para Machuchar Meu Coração, Desafinado (Off Key), Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars), So Danço Samba, O Grande Amor, Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer)

BONUS TRACKS: The Girl From Ipanema (45 rpm issue), Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars) (45 rpm issue)

IMPRESSIONS: This is the A-bomb that exploded the craze for bossa nova first in the U.S. and then all around the world. The performances of Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto are flawless and the songwriting of Antonio Carlos Jobim (both he and Gilberto being preeminent creators of the style) is vital but I find the most electrifying aspect to be the inclusion of Astrud Gilberto's vocals (on all too few songs but the ones that mattered obviously). Astrud was a housewife with no previous recording or performing experience and was included on the album against her husband's and Jobim's objections but Stan Getz and his wife Monica fought for her inclusion (despite her rather charming tendency to sing flat). How right they were! Astrud quickly became an immediate sensation and a global star.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Girl From Ipanema, Para Machuchar Meu Coração, Desafinado (Off Key), Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars), So Danço Samba, Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer)

FACT SHEET: GETZ/GILBERTO is the first jazz bossa nova album released by American jazz saxophonist Stan Getz teamed with Brazilian guitarist Joao Gilberto featuring songwriter/pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim and vocalist Astrud Gilberto. The album won 3 1965 Grammy Awards including one for Album of the Year; the first jazz album to ever win Album of the Year. The personnel for the recording are Stan Getz (tenor saxophone), Joao Gilberto (guitar, vocals), Antonio Carlos Jobim (piano), Astrud Gilberto (vocals), and Milton Banana (drums). There seems to be some confusion over who plays bass with Tommy Williams credited on the cd reissue but Sebastiao Neto getting credit elsewhere. The album was produced by orchestra leader Creed Taylor (famous for his "Shock" and "Panic" lounge albums). The cover painting is by Olga Albizu.

Monday, August 29, 2011


YEAR: 1968

LABEL: Deram

TRACK LISTING: Departure, Ride My See Saw, Dr. Livingston I Presume, House of Four Doors, Legend of a Mind, House of Four Doors (Part 2), Voices in the Sky, The Best Way To Travel, Visions of Paradise, The Actor, The Word, Om

IMPRESSIONS: Here we have another of my favourite albums and one which I've been listening to as long as I can remember. It was my Dad's record and we played it to death when I was growing up. And yes, we played BOTH SIDES of the record!!! Why this is such a big statement is because my Dad had this strange habit of only playing one side of a new record when he bought it; the rationale was that only playing one side of a record for the longest time would mean that, in the future when you finally did play the other side, you would have what amounted to a "new album" (or half an album) and it would be something new and exciting to hear. Hey, it never made any sense to me either but it was the early 70s and money was tight so one did what one must. This album is also another of those instances of those "concept" albums with tracks running together into one long song suite which I love (and this album is one of the reasons why my musical proclivities formed that way, surely). Especially as a kid in the early 70's, hearing this album was like one of those cliched "musical journeys" which I could embark upon in my mind every time the needle touched down on the vinyl's outer groove.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: This is another of those albums where I'm tempted to say "all of them" but I will refrain and choose among them: Departure, Ride My See Saw, Dr. Livingston I Presume, Legend of a Mind, Voices in the Sky, The Best Way to Travel, The Actor, The Word, Om

FACT SHEET: IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD is the Moody Blues' third album. It is a concept album which follows the search for the mythical "lost chord" which is revealed to be the word "Om" at the end of the album; the lyrical subject matter of most of the songs also deals with the search for spiritual fulfillment. After using the London Festival Orchestra on their previous "DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED" album, here the Moodys play all their own instruments; over 30 of them and some very unusual ones including sitar, mellotron, tambura, cello and oboe among many others not utilized before by the group. The lineup of the group at this time includes Justin Hayward (vocals, guitars, sitar, harpsichord, piano, mellotron, bass guitar, percussion, tablas), John Lodge (vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, cello, tambourine, snare drum), Graeme Edge (vocals, drums, timpani, piano, tambourine, tablas, spoken word), Ray Thomas (vocals, flute, saxophone, oboe, French horn, tambourine) and Mike Pinder (vocals, piano, harpsichord, mellotron, acoustic guitar, cello, autoharp, bass guitar, tambura). All the band members also share songwriting credits. "Dr. Livingston, I Presume" refers to jungle explorer Livingston who was found by Stanley after his disappearance. "Legend of a Mind" refers to Dr. Timothy Leary.

YEAR: 1999

LABEL: Island/Psychopathic

TRACK LISTING: Intro, Jake Jeckel, Bring It On, I Want My Shit, Bitches, Terrible, I Stab People, Another Love Song, Everybody Rize, Play With Me, Jack Jeckel, Fuck the World, The Shaggy Show, Mad Professor, Assassins, Echo Side, Nothing's Left

IMPRESSIONS: I was introduced to ICP through Cheeks, naturally, when he included songs from RIDDLE BOX and THE GREAT MILENKO etc. on various Cerpts Tapes. Between MILENKO and JECKEL BROTHERS the band had become widely known and, at the same time, panned by critics and not taken seriously as rappers. It seems to me that people to this day miss the entire point of the band; especially those who think that what they do is in any way similar to what Eminem does. Eminem has no sense of humour while ICP is solely about humour. That's the reason I liked them in the first place -- because they're very funny. The fact that people to this day think ICP is trying to sound "gangsta" is hysterical to me; they're wearing CLOWN MAKEUP for fuck's sake! Did you happen to miss that fact? While this album is debatably their best musically (even some critics gave it good marks), this is also their last really good album. The final sixth Joker's Card, in which they reveal the not-all-that-concealed "secret" fact that Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are actually Christian rappers (their lyrics from day one have always telegraphed this "non-secret" to true fans), was rather a letdown musically and everything after that has been pretty abysmal. However, it is a fact that this album won ICP their Penguin Award for 1999's Song of the Year given to "Nothing's Left" which remains their most serious and heart-felt statement on record.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I Want My Shit, Bitches, I Stab People, Another Love Song, Fuck the World, The Shaggy Show, Mad Professor, Nothing's Left

GUEST ARTISTS: Snoop Dogg (rap on "The Shaggy Show"), Ol' Dirty Bastard (rap on "Bitches"), The Jerky Boys (perform on "Bitches" and "Assassins"), Twiztid (perform on "Echo Side")

FACT SHEET: THE AMAZING JECKEL BROTHERS is the fifth album from Insane Clown Posse (not counting their numerous EPs). It is the fifth "Joker's Card" in ICP's "Dark Carnival" which will "cause the end of everything as we know it" once the sixth Joker's Card is released. It is a "concept album" of sorts which lyrically focuses on the Dantean 9 circles of Hell. Jack Jeckel and Jake Jeckel represent the opposite choices humanity makes between good and evil; the balls they juggle represent the sins committed during life. This album was more hip hop oriented than their previous major label debut THE GREAT MILENKO (the 4th Joker's Card) which was more rock-sounding and had been deleted by Disney-owned Hollywood Records only hours after release after complaints from the Southern Baptist Church. Island Records picked up MILENKO and released it uncensored and the follow-up fifth Joker's Card would be released by them later. THE AMAZING JECKEL BROTHERS debuted at #4 on the Billboard charts and certified platinum. "Assassins" is a cover of a Geto Boys song. "Another Love Song" is based on the Beck song "Jack Ass" which in turn is derived from a sample of Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue". Island Records released two versions of the album: one with cover art of Jake "The Just" and one with a Jack "The Sinister" cover.

Friday, August 26, 2011


YEAR: 1976

LABEL: Columbia

TRACK LISTING: Say Goodbye To Hollywod, Summer Highland Falls, All You Wanna Do Is Dance, New York State of Mind, James, Prelude/Angry Young Man, I've Loved These Days, Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)

IMPRESSIONS: This is the album released right before Joel's blockbuster hit album "THE STRANGER" which really brought him worldwide attention. While this isn't quite as strong an album as the next one, TURNSTILES still contains some of my favourite Billy Joel songs; most notably "I've Loved These Days" and "Summer, Highland Falls" which I rank among his best. The epic post-apocalyptic "Miami 2017" has become much better known in recent years than it once was (since Joel has played it often live since September 11, 2001). "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" and most certainly "New York State of Mind" have been overplayed much too much for me to include them as favourite tracks nowadays.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Summer Highland Falls, Prelude/Angry Young Man, I've Loved These Days, Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)

FACT SHEET: TURNSTILES is Billy Joel's fourth album. The album was partially inspired by Joel's return to New York after living in California. Three of the album tracks ("Summer, Highland Falls", "New York State of Mind" and "Miami 2017") are directly about New York. The musical style of "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" is a direct homage to Ronnie Spector; that song, as well as "I've Loved These Days" reference Joel's farewell to the bohemian decadence of California he's leaving behind. The album was originally recorded at Caribou Ranch with members of Elton John's band and produced by James William Guercio. Joel wasn't satisfied with the results, fired Guercio and re-recorded the album as his own producer.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

12 GREATEST HITS - Patsy Cline

YEAR: 1967/1988

LABEL: Decca

TRACK LISTING: Walkin' After Midnight, Sweet Dreams (Of You), Crazy, I Fall To Pieces, So Wrong, Strange, Back In Baby's Arms, She's Got You, Faded Love, Why Can't He Be You, You're Stronger Than Me, Leavin' On Your Mind

IMPRESSIONS: While other "greatest hits" cds might include many more songs, the brevity of this collection distills the magic that was Patsy Cline down to a pure diamond. This is also the first Patsy Cline album I ever owned so it's sequencing of songs is particularly potent and familiar to me.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I don't think it's too much of a cop out to say ALL OF THEM. There are only 12 tracks and I can't think of any I'd leave off the list of faves. Every song here is a stone classic!

GUEST ARTISTS: The Jordanaires (background vocals)

FACT SHEET: 12 GREATEST HITS is the 1988 repackaging for cd of the original 1967 album simply entitled "PATSY CLINE'S GREATEST HITS" with no variation in the song order. The album contains hit singles released between 1957 and 1963 and was released four years after the singer's death. The greatest hits LP is one of the biggest selling albums of all-time by a female country artist and the first double platinum album for a female country artist. The album has the Guinness world record for staying the most weeks on the US country music charts by a female artist; in 2001 the album was still on the charts 722 weeks after it originally entered the charts. The version of "Walkin' After Midnight" heard here is actually the 1961 re-recording of her original 1957 single.
HALLOWEEN STOMP - Various Artists

YEAR: 1990


TRACK LISTING: The Haunted House - Ray Noble & His Orchestra, Shivery Stomp - Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra, Mysterious Mose - Harry Reser & the Radio All-Stars, The Boogy Man Is Here - Tom Gerun & His Orchestra, Haunting Blues - Red Nichols, Jimmy Dorsey & Eddie Lang, Bug-A-Boo - Red Nichols & Wingy Mannone, Got the Jitters - Don Redman & His Orchestra, The Boogie Man - Todd Rollins & Chick Bullock, The House Is Haunted (By the Echo of Your Last Goodbye) - Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra, Zombie - Gene Kardos & His Orchestra, Mr. Ghost Goes To Town - Louis Prima & Pee Wee Russell, Skeleton In the Closet - Nat Gonella & His Georgians, The Goblin Band - Glen Gray & His Casa Loma Orchestra, Hell's Bells - Sid Peltyn & His Orchestra, With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm - Rudy Vallee & His Connecticut Yankees, The Black Cat - Ozzie Nelson & His Orchestra, Strange Enchantment - Gil Evans, The Ghost of Smoky Joe - Cab Calloway & His Orchestra, Ol' Man Mose Ain't Dead - The (Nat) King Cole Trio, Swingin' at the Seance - Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, "Horror Fantasia For Spooks and Wild Indians": Fanfare/Cherokee/Old Man Mose Is Dead/Pompton Turnpike/Redskin Rhumba - Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra featuring Peggy Lee, Haunted Heart - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra, The Headless Horseman - Kay Starr, Dry Bones - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra

IMPRESSIONS: This is one of my favourite Halloween cds since the day I bought it. A lot of great music here. Undoubtedly my favourite song is "Mysterious Mose" by Harry Reser. The song "Zombie" by Gene Kardos is a version of a song "White Zombie" by The Joel Shaw Orchestra which was inspired by the Bela Lugosi film of the same name; the definitive version is the Shaw found on the cd "LUGOSI: HOLLYWOOD'S DRACULA" but the Kardos version is pretty good. The tune for Louis Prima's "Mr. Ghost Goes To Town" was appropriated for the soundtrack of the Don Knotts film "THE GHOST & MR. CHICKEN" by composer Vic Mizzy -- without credit, as far as I can tell! "Mr. Ghost Goes To Town" has been much covered as has "Skeleton in the Closet" most notably by Louis Armstrong. Rudy Vallee's version of the much-covered tale of Anne Boleyn's ghost "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm" is serviceable but cannot compare to the marvelous Stanley Holloway version which I first heard on Dr. Demento's Halloween radio programme circa 1978; the Kingston Trio later covered the song as well. "The Black Cat" is by band leader Ozzie Nelson who is indeed THAT Ozzie Nelson from TV's "THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE & HARRIET". "The Ghost of Smoky Joe" is sort of a Halloween sequel to Cab Calloway's megahit "Minnie the Moocher". Glenn Miller's "Swingin' at the Seance" is taken from a film soundtrack (I can't remember where at the moment) as is Charlie Barnet's "Horror Fantasia" medley which comes from the audio of a George Pal "Puppetoon" short subject. While the version of "The Headless Horseman" performed by Bing Crosby in the famous Walt Disney animated feature is a classic, Kay Starr's cover of the song matches it and I'm hard-pressed to declare a preference between the two classic versions. HALLOWEEN STOMP is one of the best ways I know to jump-start a Halloweeny party and get the skeletons shaking their bones on the dancefloor! One of the greatest Halloween compilation cds out there!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Haunted House - Ray Noble, Mysterious Mose - Harry Reser & the Radio All-Stars, Bug-A-Boo - Red Nichols & Wingy Mannone, Got the Jitters - Don Redman, Zombie - Gene Kardos, Mr. Ghost Goes To Town - Louis Prima & Pee Wee Russell, Skeleton In the Closet - Nat Gonella & His Georgians, With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm - Rudy Vallee, The Ghost of Smoky Joe - Cab Calloway, Ol' Man Mose Ain't Dead - The (Nat) King Cole Trio, Swingin' at the Seance - Glenn Miller, The Headless Horseman - Kay Starr

FACT SHEET: HALLOWEEN STOMP is a compilation cd put out by Jass Records in 1990 subtitled "Jazz & Big Band Dance Music For A Haunted House Party". The songs are sequenced in chronological order from Ray Noble's 1931 "The Haunted House" to Tommy Dorsey's "Dry Bones" of 1950. The striking cover illustration is by Milton Knight. The cd also includes "hidden tracks" in between songs which are taken from the audio of vintage spooky cartoons. A legend on the cd booklet reads "WARNING! This CD is haunted! Mysterious aural apparitions appear in front of tracks #2, #4, #5, #9, #11, #13 and #17. Are they friendly spirits? Friendly? To exorcise them, simply forward directly to the track number desired and they disappear like magic. Amaze your friends!"
THE JAZZ SINGER - Neil Diamond

YEAR: 1980

LABEL: Capitol

TRACK LISTING: America, Adon Olom, You Baby, Love On the Rocks, Amazed and Confused, On the Robert E. Lee, Summer Love, Hello Again, Acapulco, Hey Louise, Songs of Life, Jerusalem, Kol Nidre/My Name Is Yussel, America (Reprise)

IMPRESSIONS: In the mid-to-late 80s, some friends and I headed to Atlantic City to see a show; I forget but I believe it was Nunsense. Anyway, Paulster was driving but for some reason he had to use his father's car instead of his own. Unfortuately, no one thought to bring tunes and the only music in the car was a single cassette tape containing Liza Minnelli's "Liza With A Z" album on one side and Neil Diamond's "The Jazz Singer" soundtrack on the other. As you can imagine, we heard both albums QUITE a few times over and over during the ride to and from Atlantic City. No one complained and if I didn't already love the albums (I did), I loved them even more now. For some reason. You'd think I'd be tired of them after that but the opposite was true. This is just a really, really nice listen.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: America, Love On the Rocks, Summer Love, Hello Again, Jerusalem, Acapulo

FACT SHEET: THE JAZZ SINGER soundtrack is Neil Diamond's 14th album. The film was only moderately successful and got mixed reviews but the soundtrack album became Diamond's highest selling album at over 5 million copies with three top 10 singles: "Love On the Rocks", "Hello Again" and "America". Critically the album is also considered one of Diamond's finest works.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


YEAR: 1972


TRACK LISTING: Take 54, Remember (Christmas), Joy, Turn On Your Radio, You're Breaking My Heart, Spaceman, The Lottery Song, At My Front Door, Ambush, I'd Rather Be Dead, The Most Beautiful World In the World

BONUS TRACKS: In 2006 the album was remastered and released with the following bonus tracks: What's Your Sign?, Take 54 (Alternate Take), Campo de Encino, Daybreak, It Had To Be You (Jam Session)

HIDDEN TRACKS: On the original album there were two brief songs inserted between tracks which were not listed on the song list. Between "Take 54" and "Remember (Christmas)" is a horror movie-type track I have always called "Son of Schmilsson". Between "The Lottery Song" and "At My Front Door" is a false start comedy intro to "Remember (Christmas)".

IMPRESSIONS: Generally SON OF SCHMILSSON is considered to be something of a failure because of the dissipated (read: drunken) condition Nilsson was in at the time as well as the fact that it is a very eccentric (read: uncommercial) album. I contend that it is his best album in spite of the former and very much because of the latter. This is, after all, the album which contains Nilsson's very own "Imagine": "Remember (Christmas); one of the most beautiful songs ever written. "The Most Beautiful World In the World" is both silly and very beautifully written and performed. "Spaceman", "The Lottery Song" and "I'd Rather Be Dead" remain some of my favourite Nilsson songs as well and "You're Breaking My Heart" is hilarious fun with a nice touch of venom. Critics constantly make me laugh by bemoaning the absence of anything new and then, when an artist gives it to them, they condemn it. This album goes to the "humour in music" question once again that Frank Zappa (and later Ween) would address and vindicate; Nilsson does the same with this wonderfully written and performed gem.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Remember (Christmas), You're Breaking My Heart, Spaceman, The Lottery Song, I'd Rather Be Dead, The Most Beautiful World in the World

GUEST ARTISTS: Klaus Voorman (bass, saxophone, electric guitar), Peter Frampton (electric guitar, acoustic guitar), Ray Cooper (percussion, tambourine, congas), George Harrysong aka George Harrison (slide guitar on "You're Breaking My Heart"), Chris Spedding (bouzouki on "Remember (Christmas)"), Red Rhodes (pedal steel guitar on "Joy"), Paul Buckmaster (orchestral arrangements on "Spaceman"), Richard Perry (percussion, arrangements), Senior Citizens of the Stepney & Pinner Choir Club No. 6 London England (choir on "I'd Rather Be Dead")

FACT SHEET: SON OF SCHMILSSON is Harry Nilsson's 8th album. Nilsson was being pressured to come up with a quick follow-up to his megahit Grammy-winning 1971 album NILSSON SCHMILSSON which featured the monster hit "Without You". Paul Buckmaster, who arranged the orchestra on "Spaceman" previously provided the same function on early Elton John albums. The cover photo derives from the filming of "Son of Dracula" starring Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr from which the bonus track "Daybreak" is taken.
LOVE IT TO DEATH - Alice Cooper

YEAR: 1971

LABEL: Straight/Warner Bros.

TRACK LISTING: Caught In A Dream, I'm Eighteen, Long Way To Go, Black Juju, Is It My Body, Hallowed Be My Name, Second Coming, Ballad of Dwight Fry, Sun Arise

IMPRESSIONS: After two rather sloppy psychedelic albums that failed commercially, this is the one that rocketed the band to the mainstream; most credit is usually given to producer Bob Ezrin who tightened things up. The monster hit "I'm Eighteen" was originally a much longer psychedelic jam which was shortened and tightened up into the teen angst anthem it has now become. Is it just me or is the album cover very reminiscent of Paul McCartney's BAND ON THE RUN album cover? And speaking of album covers: the original LOVE IT TO DEATH cover was altered (read: censored) because lead singer Vincent Furnier's thumb was sticking out of the zipper of his pants giving the impression that a naughty bit was on the cover. The offending digit was airbrushed out.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I'm Eighteen, Long Way To Go, Black Juju, Second Coming, Ballad of Dwight Fry

FACT SHEET: LOVE IT TO DEATH is Alice Cooper's third album and the first to gain commercial success mainly due to producer Bob Ezrin's efforts. Originally issued on Frank Zappa & Herb Cohen's Straight Records label, by the time the album had become a hit it was already reissued on Warner Bros. The album was generally well-received. Critic Robert Christgau called "I'm Eighteen": "as archetypal a hard rock single as you're liable to hear in this flaccid year, or maybe ever" while Rolling Stone's critic John Mendelsohn said the album "...represents at least a modest oasis in the desert of dreary blue-jeaned aloofness served up in concert by most American rock-and-rollers". And yes, it bears mentioning that Alice Cooper is not a person; it is the name of the band (a la Jethro Tull, folks). However, bowing to the same kind of pressure which refers to the Frankenstein Monster by it's creator's name, Vincent Furnier has embraced the name as his own. While we're on the subject of incorrect names, "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" features a misspelling of the name "Dwight Frye". Frye was an actor who appeared in many of the classic Universal horror films of the 1930s and 1940s including Dracula (as Renfield) and Frankenstein (as Fritz the servant who purloins the "criminal" brain).

YEAR: 1958/1990

LABEL: Verve/EmArcy/Polygram

TRACK LISTING: Embraceable You, Aren't You Kinda Glad We Did, They All Laughed, Looking For A Boy, He Loves and She Loves, My Man's Gone Now, I Won't Say I Will, A Foggy Day, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, Things Are Looking Up, Do It Again, Love Walked In, They Can't Take That Away From Me, 'S Wonderful, Soon, But Not For Me, Isn't It A Pity, Of Thee I Sing, I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise, Someone To Watch Over Me, Bidin' My Time, The Man I Love, How Long Has This Been Going On, My One and Only (What Am I Gonna Do), Lorelei, I've Got A Crush On You, Summertime, Fascinatin' Rhythm, Maybe, Embraceable You

IMPRESSIONS: Sarah Vaughan is my favourite jazz vocalist hands down. The first time I really heard the Divine One and took notice was when I heard her sing "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" and it floored me; the voice was superb but then the vocal choices she made to convey the song were astounding to me. Every song she sang she made more interesting with her tasteful sonic invention. Ella Fitzgerald might have had a purer, exquisitely beautiful instrument but she lacked the emotion and invention of Sarah Vaughan. Both women (along with Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington) remain my "Mt. Rushmore of Vocalists" which someone needs to carve out of a mountain and quick! Here in this 2 cd set of Gershwin tunes, Sassy gives classic interpretations of even the most obscure and unknown songs such as the relaxed cowboy-tinged "Bidin' My Time" or the teasing coquettish "I Won't Say I Will". There's the high-kicking chorus line bombast of Sassy's "I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise", the mournful yearning of "My Man's Gone Now", the warm embrace of "I've Got A Crush On You", the soaring stature of "A Foggy Day" or probably the seminal version of "Summertime" from "Porgy and Bess".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Embraceable You, They All Laughed, My Man's Gone Now, I Won't Say I Will, A Foggy Day, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, They Can't Take That Away From Me, But Not For Me, Isn't It A Pity, I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise, Someone To Watch Over Me, Bidin' My Time, The Man I Love, Lorelei, I've Got A Crush On You, Summertime, Embraceable You

FACT SHEET: THE GEORGE GERSHWIN SONGBOOK is a 2-cd set which was based on the 1958 LP entitled SARAH VAUGHAN SINGS GEORGE GERSHWIN; here is has been expanded in 1990 to include other Gershwin songs.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

2:00 AM PARADISE CAFE - Barry Manilow

YEAR: 1984

LABEL: Arista

TRACK LISTING: Paradise Cafe, Where Have You Gone?, Say No More, Blue, When October Goes, What Am I Doin' Here, Goodbye My Love, Big City Blues, When Love Is Gone, I've Never Been So Low On Love, Night Song, Paradise Cafe (Reprise)

IMPRESSIONS: Barr has said that the concept for the album came to him in a dream and its the album for which he'd most like to be remembered. Critically acclaimed at the time like no other album in his career, PARADISE CAFE has the feel of a late night bar filled with cigarette smoke with Frank Sinatra requesting the barman to "Set 'em up, Joe". This album first came to my attention through my good friend Paulster who played the tape during one of our million late night road trips. It was the dead of winter (the album came out in November 1984) and I remember loving it the first time I heard it. The process of recording each album side live in the studio in one single take with all the songs melding together was a brave one (one false note and they'd all have to start over at the beginning of song one again) and fits perfectly the style and mood of the piece. This is definitely a late night album (in the spirit of Sinatra's "IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS" or "FRANK SINATRA SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY" which was the perfect accompaniment for a late night drive on an icy winter's road trip.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Paradise Cafe, Where Have You Gone?, Say No More, Blue, When October Goes, What Am I Doin' Here

GUEST ARTISTS: Sarah Vaughan (vocals on "Blue"), Mel Torme (vocals on "Big City Blues"), Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone), Bill Mays (piano, Fender Rhodes), Mundell Lowe (acoustic guitar, electric guitar), George Duvivier (double bass), Shelly Manne (drums, percussion).

FACT SHEET: 2:00 AM PARADISE CAFE is Barry Manilow's 14th album. The spark which brought the project to life was when the widow of Johnny Mercer gave Manilow a stack of the legendary songwriter's lyrics which had never been set to music (as per the late lyricist's wishes) so they could be turned into songs. While Manilow would set many of the lyrics to music (including the exquisite "Just Remember"), the only Mercer song appearing on this album is "When October Goes"; something of a modern standard which has also been recorded by Rosemary Clooney, Diane Schuur and Nancy Wilson. PARADISE CAFE was rehearsed for three days and then recorded live in the studio in one take with no overdubs. The album was a major departure from Manilow's patented easy listening pop and, though it never went very high on the charts, paradoxically went platinum. The album was arranged and produced by Barry Manilow.

Friday, August 19, 2011


YEAR: 1982

LABEL: EMI/Columbia

TRACK LISTING: Invaders, Children of the Damned, The Prisoner, 22 Acacia Avenue, The Number of the Beast, Run To the Hills, Gangland, Total Eclipse, Hallowed Be Thy Name

BONUS TRACKS: "Total Eclipse" did not appear on the original album

IMPRESSIONS: I came to this album fairly late so consequently I don't have any deep impressions of it to relate. It is considered one of Iron Maiden's greatest albums and is routinely voted one of the top metal albums of all time.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Children of the Damned, The Prisoner, The Number of the Beast, Run to the Hills, Hallowed Be Thy Name

FACT SHEET: THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST is Iron Maiden's third album and the first with lead singer Bruce Dickinson. This is one of the few albums that doesn't feature a song written by Dave Murray and the only album to have songwriting by drummer Clive Burr; it is also the first album with songwriting by Adrian Smith and the "new style" Steve Harris -- not to mention the first Maiden album that doesn't have an instrumental track. The album stirred up a lot of controversy for its supposed "satanic" message which bassist Steve Harris (who wrote the title track) found "laughable". The album cover art was done (as usual in the 1980s and early 90s) by Derek Riggs and features (as usual) the band's mascot "Eddie". The original vinyl album cover featured a misprinting of the background sky in light blue; it has since been corrected to black for the cd. The inspiration for the title track (and consequently the album title) was from Steve Harris having a nightmare after watching the movie "DAMIEN: OMEN II"; he found the satanic business both frightening and funny so he used it as an inspiration. The title track features a spoken introduction by actor Barry Clayton which uses the King James version of Revelations 13:18 and is reportedly inspired by Robert Burns' "Tam O'Shanter". "Children of the Damned" seems to have been based on the films "VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED" and its sequel "CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED" which were based on John Wyndham's novel "THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS"; however in recent years on a BBC Radio interview Bruce Dickinson told Ronnie James Dio that the song was actually inspired by Black Sabbath's song "Children of the Sea". "The Prisoner" was inspired by the Patrick McGoohan TV series of the same name; when asked permission to use dialogue from the show in the song, McGoohan reportedly asked: "What did you say the name was? Iron Maiden? Do it." Bruce Dickinson apparently was greatly involved in the songwriting for such songs as "Children of the Damned", "The Prisoner" and "Run To the Hills" but was unable to received co-writing credit due to contractual problems with his previous band "Samson" at the time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


YEAR: 1990

LABEL: Shimmy Disc

TRACK LISTING: The Power of Pussy, Great Radio, What If?, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, Chicken Pussy, White Rental Car Blues, Nick Cave Dolls, Bedazzled, Obscene & Pornographic Art, Connie, What Kind of Man Reads Playboy?, I Need A New Tape, Women Tied Up In Knots, Junior, Mystery Hole, Time Is Coming, Folk Song

IMPRESSIONS: Not only did I meet my good friend Ernest (aka Weaverman at Fleapit of the Mind et. al.) on the old Monster Club forum but also got in contact with friend Roxor (aka Barry). Happily I am still in contact with Ernest but Roxor dropped off the face of the planet after a few years. His plans for world domination probably fell through and he had to hightail it out of the galaxy. But not before exchanging boxes of strange music and movies with me. Amongst a cache of cassette tapes Roxor sent me was the complete "Box of Bongwater" set. Somehow I had never come across Bongwater's music but I was sure glad I did when I heard it. Trippy and bizarre with heavy guitars, Ann Magnuson monologues and sound effects tape tricks, Bongwater was a listeners buffet for the earholes!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Great Radio, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, Chicken Pussy, Nick Cave Dolls, Bedazzled, I Need A New Tape, Women Tied Up In Knots, Time Is Coming, Folk Song

GUEST ARTISTS: Fred Schneider (vocals)

FACT SHEET: THE POWER OF PUSSY is Bongwater's third album. Psychedelic rock group Bongwater is the brainchild of (Mark) Kramer (founder of Shimmy Disc) and actress/vocalist Ann Magnuson. The group only lasted from 1985 to 1992 and produced four albums (and a couple EPs) but was a huge hit during the height of "alternative college radio". They used a bizarre form of psych rock combined with cutting social commentary and wacked-out humour. Magnuson specialized in many songs feature her doing a monologue over an instrumental while she was immersed in many types of bizarre characters. Another feature of Bongwater albums was the inclusion of several off-the-wall covers of songs by artists as varied as The Monkees, Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore and Harry Nilsson.
JOE'S GARAGE - Frank Zappa

YEAR: 1979

LABEL: Rykodisc

TRACK LISTING: Central Scutinizer, Joe's Garage, Catholic Girls, Crew Slut, Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt, On the Bus, Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?, Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up, Scrutinizer Postlude, A Token of My Extreme, Stick It Out, Sy Borg, Dong Work For Yuda, Keep It Greasey, Outside Now, He Used To Cut the Grass, Packard Goose, Watermelon In Easter Hay, A Little Green Rosetta

IMPRESSIONS: Family friend Ronnie has been surreptitiously influencing my intellectual development since I was a kid. I think I got my first example of "ecclectic tastes" in music and books from him. I'm sure he doesn't know it. The first I heard this album (or any other Frank Zappa) was from Ronnie because he was a major Zappa nut. He recorded JOE'S GARAGE as well as SHEIK YERBOUTI for my dad on reel-to-reel tape in 1979 and that's when I first got to listen to the albums in toto. The spooky voice of the Central Scrutinizer was all I needed to be hooked into listening to this strange tale of governmental oppression and muffins. Several years later, my friend Cheeks and I started listening to it a lot after I put some of it on a Cerpts tape; therefore JOE'S GARAGE now has a strong "Cheeky" connection as well. The entire concept of governmental outlaw of music is taken the usual Zappaesque comic route but Frank also made sure to point out: "If the plot of this story seems just a little bit preposterous, and if the idea of The Central Scrutinizer enforcing laws that haven't been passed yet makes you giggle, just be glad you don't live in one of the cheerful little countries where, at this very moment, music is either severely restricted . . . or, as it is in Iran, totally illegal". That was in 1979, folks. Sadly, since Frank has been gone we've gotten a lot closer to that eventuality.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Central Scrutinizer, Joe's Garage, Catholic Girls, Crew Slut, Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?, Dong Work For Yuda, Watermelon In Easter Hay, A Little Green Rosetta

FACT SHEET: JOE'S GARAGE ACTS I, II, & III is Frank Zappa's 28th album. The album was actually released separately as ACT I and then later ACTS II & III were issued as a double album; the three LPs were collected into a box set and later the album was issued as a double cd. JOE'S GARAGE is a rock opera which, according to Zappa's liner notes " a stupid story about how the government is going to try to do away with music (a prime cause of unwanted mass behavior)". The "hero" of the story is a teenager named Joe who goes from a garage band to the labyrinthine maze of the music business; all the while haunted by an interior/governmental voice called "The Central Scrutinizer" who narrates the tale as well as providing McCarthyesque diatribes and "scrutiny" of Joe's behaviour. The "cast" features Frank Zappa as the Central Scrutinizer, Larry, L. Ron Hoover, Father Riley & Buddy Jones, Ike Willis as Joe, Dale Bozzio as Mary, Denny Walley as Mrs. Borg, Al Malkin as Officer Butzis, Warren Cucurullo & Ed Mann as Sy Borg, and Terry Bozzio as Bald-Headed John.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

SATAN IS REAL - The Louvin Brothers

YEAR: 1959

LABEL: Capitol

TRACK LISTING: Satan Is Real, There's A Higher Power, The Christian Life, The River of Jordan, The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea, Are You Afraid To Die, He Can Be Found, Dying From Home and Lost, The Drunkard's Doom, Satan's Jeweled Crown, The Angels Rejoiced Last Night, I'm Ready To Go Home

IMPRESSIONS: Before we go any further, look at that cover!!! That has to be the most bizarre, oddball album cover in the history of popular music! Whew! The music of the Louvin Brothers didn't feature the usual sugar-coated Christianity usually found in popular country gospel records; their songs featured that ole time religion and the fire-and-brimstone spirit of Jonathan Edwards who assured people that if'n they weren't saved they would surely burn. However, unlike Edwards there was no malice or terror in the Louvin Brothers' music because they also assured everyone that they'd be fine if only they'd see the light. Whether or not you agree with the Louvins' spiritual belief is irrelevant when listening to the music; it has a clean, no nonsense approach which is refreshing and strangely not pushy. They aren't somehow trying to force their beliefs on others but merely stating what they believe in songs featuring keening harmonies and straight-forward songwriting. Even a non-believer can appreciate the songs without being annoyed by the message. Sadly, the only drawback of the album is that it doesn't contain my favourite Louvin song: "The Great Atomic Power" which can be found on the brothers' 1962 "WEAPON OF PRAYER" album.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Satan Is Real, There's A Higher Power, The River of Jordan, The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea, Satan's Jeweled Crown, The Angels Rejoiced Last Night, I'm Ready To Go Home

FACT SHEET: Charlie and Ira Louvin went into the recording studio in August 1958 with producer Ken Nelson and recorded enough songs for two albums: "COUNTRY LOVE BALLADS" came first and then the country gospel classic "SATAN IS REAL" followed in release. All the songs (over 20 of 'em) were recorded in only seven days. If the Lord could do it, why not the Louvin Brothers! The infamous cover photo received at least as much comment as the music. The cover shot was conceived by Ira Louvin and features the brothers in a burning rock quarry with a 12 foot plywood Satan smiling down on them. The fires were aided by some tires soaked in kerosene. Emmylou Harris recorded a superb cover of "Satan's Jeweled Crown" on her "ELITE HOTEL" album. Other famous Louvin covers include the Byrds' 1968 cover of "The Christian Life" on their "SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO" album as well as Johnny Cash's 1998 cover of "THE KNEELING DRUNKARD'S PLEA" (itself a Carter Family cover by the Louvins) on his "UNCHAINED" album.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


YEAR: 1994

LABEL: Elektra

TRACK LISTING: Take Me Away, Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down), Freedom of '76, I Can't Put My Finger On It, A Tear For Eddie, Roses Are Free, Baby Bitch, Mister Would You Please Help My Pony?, Drifter In the Dark, Voodoo Lady, Joppa Road, Candi, Buenas Tardes Amigo, The HIV Song, What Deaner Was Talkin' About, Don't Shit Where You Eat

IMPRESSIONS: I don't shock easily. It takes a lot to make my jaw drop. But when Cheeks first put "Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)" on a Cerpts Tape, that did it. Along with the rest of the CHOCOLATE AND CHEESE album, I was soon in love with the warped humour and monster hooks of Gene and Dean Ween. Purists may scoff but Ween trod the same musical territory as Frank Zappa; that is, with the whole "does humour belong in music" debate. Ween, in their poppy way, was asking the same question as Zappa did in his rock/jazz/classical music way. They write really good lyrics (whether witty or deliberately coarse) and superb music. This is probably why every radio DJ loves Ween; they're fun and rewarding to play. Also their ability to parody the musical styles of well-established artists is uncanny. Here on this very album they nail 1970's Sound of Philadelphia soul, Paisley Park-era Prince, Roger Milleresque country (to be fully explored on their next all-country/western album), spacey soft rock (to be fully explored on their WHITE PEPPER album), Afropop and more. They also fearlessly walk the line of bad taste from the jaunty cheerfulness of "The HIV Song" to the unbelieveably creepy "Spinal Meningitis". Frank Zappa proved that humour does belong in music and one can make very good music doing it; Ween is merely showing that the great Frank was right. In fact, the tribute song "A Tear For Eddie" sounds very much like some of the quiet Zappa guitar instrumentals like "Watermelon In Easter Hay".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down), Freedom of '76, A Tear For Eddie, Roses Are Free, Baby Bitch, Mister Would You Please Help My Pony?, Drifter In the Dark, Voodoo Lady, Buenas Tardes Amigo

FACT SHEET: CHOCOLATE AND CHEESE is Ween's fourth album and their first recorded in a professional recording studio; their first three were done on home recordings using only a four-track. As usual, almost all the instruments are played by Dean & Gene. The album was dedicated to comic actor John Candy who died while the album was in production. "A Tear For Eddie" is a melancholy guitar song written for psychedelic funk guitar pioneer Eddie Hazel who died in 1992. In an 2011 interview, Gene Ween insisted that "Buenas Tardes Amigo" was inspired by a Sesame Street Spanish lesson. The album cover was originally supposed to have a "gay sailor theme" but the label thought it would be politically incorrect so the boys changed it to the (equally politically incorrect but apparently alright with the record label) headless torso of model Ashley Savage -- which is in itself a biting comic statement against the selective PCness of the label. The cover itself is also an homage to the Commodores' 1982 album cover for "ALL THE GREAT HITS".

Monday, August 15, 2011

DAZED AND CONFUSED - Various Artists

YEAR: 1993

LABEL: The Medicine Label

TRACK LISTING: Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo - Rick Derringer, Slow Ride - Foghat, School's Out - Alice Cooper, Jim Dandy - Black Oak Arkansas, Tush - ZZ Top, Love Hurts - Nazareth, Stranglehold - Ted Nugent, Cherry Bomb - The Runaways, Fox on the Run - Sweet, Low Rider - War, Tuesday's Gone - Lynyrd Skynyrd, Highway Star - Deep Purple, Rock and Roll All Night - Kiss, Paranoid - Black Sabbath, Free Ride - The Edgar Winter Group, No More Mr. Nice Guy - Alice Cooper, Living in the U.S.A. - The Steve Miller Band, Never Been Any Reason - Head East, Why Can't We Be Friends - War, Summer Breeze - Seals & Crofts, Right Place Wrong Time - Dr. John, Balinese - ZZ Top, Lord Have Mercy On My Soul - Black Oak Arkansas, I Just Want To Make Love To You - Foghat, Show Me the Way - Peter Frampton, Do You Feel Like We Do - Peter Frampton

IMPRESSIONS: The movie depicts the last day of school in 1976 and, for those of us of a certain age, is stuffed full of nostalgia. Even though I'm too young even to have been one of the youngest of the junior high school students shown (I would only have been in 5th grade at the time), it still looks veeeeeeeeery familiar to me and what it was like back then. The soundtrack fits the time and feel of the film perfectly and, unlike most films which plug popular songs into them to merely exploit nostalgic recognition, every song in the film derives from the action itself and has an internal source because the kids are listening to them on their car radios, at their hangouts or elsewhere. Even when there isn't a direct source for the music (such as at the baseball field, for instance), one can rationalise quite easily that someone's got their puke-coloured Camaro parked just outside the camera's viewpoint with the motor running and the car door open.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Slow Ride - Foghat, School's Out - Alice Cooper, Stranglehold - Ted Nugent, Fox On the Run - Sweet, Low Rider - War, Tuesday's Gone - Lynyrd Skynyrd, Highway Star - Deep Purple, Paranoid - Black Sabbath, Free Ride - The Edgar Winter Group, Living in the U.S.A. - The Steve Miller Band, Why Can't We Be Friends - War, Summer Breeze - Seals & Crofts

FACT SHEET: DAZED AND CONFUSED is Richard Linklater's second film as director. The soundtrack album was actually released as two cds with the second being entitled "EVEN MORE DAZED AND CONFUSED" but here I treat them as one soundtrack album cuz they are, ya dig? The name of the film is taken from the Jake Holmes song covered most famously by Led Zeppelin. Linklater asked the surviving members of Zep for permission to use the song in his film but while Jimmy Page said yes Robert Plant said no. When first released in 1993, the film only grossed less than $8 million but since then it has grown to become a huge cult film on video. Quentin Tarantino has placed it on his list of 10 greatest films of all time in a 2002 "Sight and Sound" article.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

GREATEST HITS - Johnny Horton

YEAR: 1961
LABEL: Columbia
TRACK LISTING: North To Alaska, Whispering Pines, Johnny Reb, The Mansion You Stole, I'm Ready (If You're Willing), When It's Springtime In Alaska (It's Forty Below), Honky Tonk Man, The Battle of New Orleans, All For the Love of a Girl, Sink the Bismarck, Comanche (The Brave Horse), Jim Bridger, Johnny Freedom (Freedomland)
IMPRESSIONS: As a kid, I kept a huge stack of old 45s and a portable record player from the 1950s (which had been my mother's) at my grandparents' huge old Victorian house in Pennsauken for my usual weekend visits. Among the 45s was Johnny Horton's "Whispering Pines" single and I always loved that song. Fast forward many years later to the mid-1980s. It was my birthday and my best friend Cheeks decided to go all out by buying me presents and balloons and a score of other things to celebrate. This was actually the first time in my entire life when a non-family member had done anything like this for me and I was truthfully very moved. At some point earlier in our friendship, I must've mentioned Johnny Horton's "Whispering Pines" because among the gifts Cheeks had gotten me a cassette of "Johnny Horton's Greatest Hits". Of all the gifts, that one meant the most to me since I hadn't heard the song in years and the thoughtfulness of my friend truly touched me. I still have that cassette -- even though I've long since replaced the album on cd. As much as I loved "Whispering Pines" already, this has added an entire new dimension to the song and it's now one of my all-time favourites.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: North To Alaska, Whispering Pines, The Mansion You Stole, When It's Springtime In Alaska (It's Forty Below), Honky Tonk Man, The Battle of New Orleans, Sink the Bismarck, Comanche (The Brave Horse)
FACT SHEET: Johnny Horton was a popular country singer in the late 1950's who specialized in "story songs" which often had an historical focus. His biggest hit was the #1 chart topper "The Battle of New Orleans". After having premonitions that he would be killed by a drunk, Horton tried to back out of touring dates, invited his mother to visit for a week and asked his sister to look after his wife and children. Unable to back out of a date playing the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas, Horton at first remained in his dressing room saying that a drunk would kill him if he went near the bar. After the gig, Horton was driving near Milano Texas around 2 am when a 19-year old drunk truck driver collided with Horton's cadillac while they were crossing a bridge. Horton died on the way to the hospital.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

MIRAGE - Fleetwood Mac

YEAR: 1982

LABEL: Warner Bros.

TRACK LISTING: Love In Store, Can't Go Back, That's Alright, Book of Love, Gypsy, Only Over You, Empire State, Straight Back, Hold Me, Oh Diane, Eyes of the World, Wish You Were Here

IMPRESSIONS: This album has special meaning to me because it contains my favourite Fleetwood Mac song "Wish You Were Here". The calibre of the songwriting for about half the album is a little lax and "soft rock" but I have a real soft spot for MIRAGE despite that fact. And there are still some of the best Fleetwood Mac songs to be found on this album: the Stevie Nicks country/western styled "That's Alright" is one of my favourites and Lindsey Buckingham's 50's-sounding "Oh Diane" is sweet and fun. Then, of course, there's the major video hit single "Gypsy" which ranks with their best and the aforementioned sublime "Wish You Were Here" which nobody's knows but, when I play it for them, everyone falls in love with. Fleetwood Mac would return in a couple years with some radio hits and a differing line-up but this album really marks the end of the "second great era" of the band which emerged in the mid-70's.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: That's Alright, Gypsy, Oh Diane, Wish You Were Here

FACT SHEET: MIRAGE is Fleetwood Mac's 13th album released after the hiatus following the release of their experimental (and commercially disappointing) TUSK album in 1979. In the interim Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie all embarked on solo careers and this was intended at the time to be the last Fleetwood Mac album (at least with this lineup). This was the first Fleetwood Mac album to top the charts since monumental megahit RUMOURS in 1977.

Friday, August 12, 2011

MOONTAN - Golden Earring

YEAR: 1973

TRACK LISTING: Candy's Going Bad, Are You Receiving Me?, Suzy Lunacy (Mental Rock), Radar Love, Just Like Vince Taylor, Vanilla Queen

IMPRESSIONS: Uncle Donald borrowed this album and didn't return it for over a year! Finally I had to insist that my father ask him to return it because I wanted to play it and it was never around. After several visits to our house empty handed, Uncle Donald one day appeared at the door brandishing the record in his hands. At last, I could listen to the album once again! Uncle Donald was cool and I miss him. But he had good taste. The MOONTAN album of course features the perennial radio hit "Radar Love" but that's not the best song on the album by far. "Candy's Going Bad" is a raunchy rocker that would certainly be my favourite song on the album if it wasn't for "Vanilla Queen"; the trashy epic which features that splendid instrumental break in the middle. Said instrumental break was actually played over the loudspeakers of a little rollercoaster called "The Matterhorn" at Seaside Heights, NJ when I was a boy. This was a "kiddie" rollercoaster, not the regular adult kind. Basically, you went round and round on an enclosed incline at faster and faster speeds. All during the ride that summer, they would play the instrumental section of "Vanilla Queen" because frankly it's perfect rollercoaster music. Tasty to drive to as well! "Candy's Going Bad" and "Vanilla Queen" are simply two of the pinnacles of 70's glam rock and I don't care WHO knows it!
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Candy's Going Bad, Radar Love, Vanilla Queen

FACT SHEET: MOONTAN is Golden Earring's 9th album. Golden Earrings (they later dropped the 's') is a Dutch band formed in 1961. The group is one of the oldest existing bands in the world still performing with the same lineup. In August 2011, a postage stamp was issued commemorating their 50th anniversary. MOONTAN reached #12 on the US album charts in 1974. The US version of the LP had a different song lineup; my original vinyl LP I grew up listening to had a song called "Big Tree, Blue Sea" and did not include the songs "Suzy Lunacy (Mental Rock)" and "Just Like Vince Taylor". MOONTAN was voted the best Dutch pop album ever by Oor magazine in 2008. While the internet seems to insist there was a different cover for the US version, the LP bought off the shelves by my dad in 1974 always had the "nudie" cover art on it. So there!
NICK OF TIME - Bonnie Raitt

YEAR: 1989

LABEL: Capitol

TRACK LISTING: Nick of Time, Thing Called Love, Love Letter, Cry On My Shoulder, Real Man, Nobody's Girl, Have A Heart, Too Soon To Tell, I Will Not Be Denied, I Ain't Gonna Let You Break My Heart Again, The Road's My Middle Name

IMPRESSIONS: This is a camping album. Every year from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, we used to go camping with Cindy & Rob up to various State Parks usually in September/October during the off season. Consequently, we would usually have the entire state park all to ourselves. Every trip there would always be particular music which got played A LOT; either stuff I'd never heard before or stuff we all loved and played during the camping trip for some reason. I like to think it was the great cosmic head of lettuce dictating the soundtrack of our fun. Be that as it may, the NICK OF TIME album was huge at the time and we were fans of it just like everyone else. So even though this is one of those great albums which I rarely play any more (probably because I listened to it so much back then), whenever I do put it on I am immediately transported back to those campgrounds when we were all wacky and young, when textures were EVERYTHING and when a hammock was the only way to travel. This is dedicated to Cindy & Rob, to the Queen, to Paulster, to Cheeks, to Dee and to all those happy campers of days gone by. Love and mittens!

MY FAVORITE TRACKS: Nick of Time, Love Letter, Cry On My Shoulder, Real Man, Too Soon To Tell

GUEST ARTISTS: David Crosby (background vocals), Ricky Fataar (drums), Herbie Hancock (piano), Graham Nash (background vocals), Don Was (keyboards)

FACT SHEET: NICK OF TIME is Bonnie Raitt's 10th album. After meeting producer Don Was during the recording of the STAY AWAKE Disney tribute album and being pleased with his production of her cover version of "Baby Mine", Raitt asked Was to produce her next album. Up until then, Raitt was something of a well-kept secret but NICK OF TIME blew up into a megahit which won three Grammys and rocketed the singer to worldwide fame.
MUSIC OF MY MIND - Stevie Wonder

YEAR: 1972

LABEL: Motown

TRACK LISTING: Love Having You Around, Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You), I Love Every Little Thing About You, Sweet Little Girl, Happier Than the Morning Sun, Girl Blue, Seems So Long, Keep On Running, Evil

IMPRESSIONS: It's thanks to the Colding that I have this album. He recommended it to me one day when we were working at the Hellmouth. Oddly, I always think of this as Stevie Wonder's first album even though he had been pumping out albums for Motown for a decade. It's more accurately his first "adult" album in which he had creative control upon reaching the age of 21 and having those terms in his recording contract. The mood of the album is totally unlike anything Stevie had released for Motown before.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You), I Love Every Little Thing About You, Happier Than the Morning Sun, Evil

FACT SHEET: MUSIC OF MY MIND is Stevie Wonder's 14th studio album. This is the first real album Stevie made after turning 21 in which he had true creative control. It is generally regarded as the start of his 1970's "classic" period. The album showcases Wonder's synthesizer experimentation as well as the use of longer songs in his songwriting.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


YEAR: 1991

LABEL: Elektra

TRACK LISTING: Enter Sandman, Sad But True, Holier Than Thou, The Unforgiven, Wherever I May Roam, Don't Tread On Me, Through the Never, Nothing Else Matters, Of Wolf and Man, The God That Failed, My Friend of Misery, The Struggle Within

IMPRESSIONS: This album broke my neck. Actually, it only strained the muscles in my neck after headbanging to "Sad But True" in the backroom at Sizzler. "The Guppy" was the one who got me into the album very quickly by merely playing the tape at work. After not seeing my best friend for a long while, I think I startled him a little by my sudden conversion to headbanging listener to Metallica on our first road trip back after his return. We were out riding in the legendary puke-coloured Camaro when I popped the Metallica Black Album tape in. The look on my doddy's face was priceless; I took him completely by surprise by my headbanging enthusiasm. He probably thought of me more a fan of things like Elton John than someone who would wholeheartedly turn into a metalhead. Shortly after starting the tape, the sky opened up in the most violent thunderstorm one can imagine. This is, in fact, the effect my personal music choices have on the universe around me. Be warned.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Enter Sandman, Sad But True, The Unforgiven, Wherever I May Roam, Nothing Else Matters, My Friend of Misery

FACT SHEET: METALLICA is Metallica's fifth album. Although popularly known as "The Black Album", METALLICA is the official title of the album. The addition of producer Bob Rock and the band's determination to make shorter songs make this the transitional album between the epic length thrash metal of the past and the more commercial period of their later career. Michael Kamen arranged and conducted the orchestra on "Nothing Else Matters"; a song which won the Penguin Award for Song of the Year.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


YEAR: 1966

LABEL: Warner Bros.

TRACK LISTING: Tonsils, The Playground, Lumps, Go Carts, Chicken Heart, Shop, Special Class, Niagara Falls

IMPRESSIONS: As long as I can remember, I've been listening to Bill Cosby records. I took possession of a few of my parents' Cosby albums at such a young age I can't even remember a point when I didn't listen to them. WONDERFULNESS and BILL COSBY IS A VERY FUNNY FELLOW RIGHT! were the first two I played to death. Next up was I STARTED OUT AS A CHILD which I bought myself (or actually my grandfather bought for me at the Listening Booth record store in the Pennsauken Mart). Then I confiscated WHY IS THERE AIR? from my father's record collection. REVENGE eventually followed; picked up from a used record store. The scratches on the records illustrated the millions of listens and the fact that, to this day, I can quote every word of all of the albums only confirms it.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Tonsils, The Playground, Lumps, Go Carts, Chicken Heart

FACT SHEET: WONDERFULNESS is Bill Cosby's fourth album. It was recorded live at Harrah's in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The title word is taken from a catch phrase used by Bill Cosby's character on his TV series I SPY. All the tracks deal with Cosby's childhood memories except the final track which concerns a trip to Niagara Falls by Cosby's I SPY producer Sheldon Leonard. The track "Chicken Heart" is based on an actual episode of the old radio show LIGHTS OUT by Arch Oboler. In 1986, the comedy team of Sweet Cheeks and Rickster Rick recorded their own version of "Chicken Heart" called "Jello Mold" which can be found on the CERPTS XX 20th Anniversary cd collection.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

HEY LOVE... - Various Artists

YEAR: c. 1977 (?) / 2001

LABEL: Time-Life

TRACK LISTING: The Girl Don't Care - Gene Chandler, Let's Fall In Love - Peaches & Herb, Yes I'm Ready - Barbara Mason, The Touch of You - Brenda & the Tabulations, Together - The Intruders, Stay In My Corner - The Dells, La-La Means I Love You - The Delfonics, Hypnotized - Linda Jones, Going In Circles - The Friends of Distinction, Close Your Eyes - Peaches & Herb, Court of Love - The Unifics, Oh How It Hurts - Barbara Mason, Dry Your Eyes - Brenda & the Tabulations, Count To Ten - Franky & the Spindles, Break Your Promise - The Delfonics, Always Together - The Dells, So I Can Love You - The Emotions, Hey There Lonely Girl - Eddie Holman, Baby I'm For Real - The Originals, Have You Seen Her? - The Chi-Lites, Break Up To Make Up - The Stylistics, The Bells - The Originals, The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind) - The Dells, Cowboys To Girls - The Intruders, Somebody Loves You - The Delfonics, Love On A Two-Way Street - The Moments, Oh Girl - The Chi-Lites, Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul, Thin Line Between Love and Hate - The Persuaders, If You Don't Know Me By Now - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Dedicated to the One I Love - The Temprees, The Sly Slick and the Wicked - The Lost Generation, I Want To Pay You Back (For Loving Me) - The Chi-Lites, Leaving Me - The Independents, Hey! Love - The Delfonics, Stop Look Listen (To Your Heart) - The Stylistics, Betcha By Golly Wow - The Stylistics, Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling In Love) - The Main Ingredient, In the Rain - The Dramatics, I Gave To You - The Delfonics

IMPRESSIONS: I remember so well watching TV on some UHF channel (Channel 17, 29 or 48) back in the late 1970s and always seeing the commercial for this 2 record set. The advert was legendary: a dimly lit party where the soundtrack on the record player is the HEY LOVE... album. One man says to the host "Man, can I borrow that?" and the host shoots him down with "Naw, my brotha. . .you've got to get your own! Here's how." And the ordering information came on the screen. In school, this catchphrase was often heard. Listening to this album puts you right in the "Quiet Storm" mood with some well-known soul classics accompanied by a panoply of lesser-known but superb tracks.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Yes I'm Ready - Barbara Mason, The Touch of You - Brenda & the Tabulations, Together - The Intruders, La-La Means I Love You - The Delfonics, Going In Circles - The Friends of Distinction, Cowboys To Girls - The Intruders, Hey! Love - The Delfonics, Betcha By Golly Wow - The Stylistics, Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling In Love) - The Main Ingredient, In the Rain - The Dramatics

FACT SHEET: HEY LOVE... is a two-volume set that was hugely successful when released on LP in the late 1970's (selling over 350,000 copies). The album was sold on television as a mail-order only and the commercial is remembered fondly to this day. The songs are culled from top 40 R&B hits from the late 1960s-early 1970s and the album has the catchphrase "The Classic Sounds of Sexy Soul". Time-Life Music finally released the classic set on cd in 2001 with remastered sound and without tampering with the song sequencing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

PRINCE CHARMING - Adam and the Ants

YEAR: 1981


TRACK LISTING: Scorpios, Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios, Prince Charming, Five Guns West, That Voodoo!, Stand and Deliver, Mile High Club, Ant Rap, Mowhok, S.E.X.

BONUS TRACKS: On the original LP and cd, there is a hidden track called "The Lost Hawaiians". In 2004, the album was remastered and the following bonus tracks were added: Prince Charming (Demo), Stand and Deliver (Demo), Showbiz (Demo), Picasso Visits the Planet of the Apes (Demo), Who's A Goofy Bunny Then? (Demo), Scorpio Writing (Demo)

IMPRESSIONS: My mother was a huge Adam and the Ants fan. That's true. She bought the KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER album; not me. She beat me to it. In 1981, I was painting the back porch blue in the August heat in an attempt to earn enough money to buy my first top-loader VCR. Family friends Ronnie and Karen came over bearing a birthday gift for me: Adam and the Ants' PRINCE CHARMING album. I promptly played it to death. The album ventures away from the "punky" sound of their previous album and uses less of the "burundi drumming"; PRINCE CHARMING veers further into the "New Romantic" and softer sound that was becoming popular through MTV. However, I still have a great deal of affection for the album because I listened to it so much. The album also starts off with the full-on horn-blast of perhaps my favourite Ants song: "Scorpios". The more laid-back, summery-sounding "Picasso..." follows (translating into "Picasso Visits the Planet of the Apes") then comes the war cry of "Prince Charming" ("ridicule is nothing to be scared of"), the Western machismo of "Five Guns West" and the funky "That Voodoo!". Quite a nice side one. Side Two starts with the massive MTV hit "Stand and Deliver" featuring Adam's switch from Native American brave and pirate to "dandy highwayman". The weaker tracks commence with "Mile High Club", "Ant Rap" (which isn't really as embarrassing as people remember -- at least it's not as embarrassing as "Wham Rap" folks), and "Mowhok". Then however we get the nice quiet guitar tune "S.E.X." follows by the hidden track "The Lost Hawaiians" which wimoweh's the band into history as we hear the gently crashing ocean waves. KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER may be better musically but PRINCE CHARMING is my sentimental favourite.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Scorpios, Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios, Five Guns West, Stand and Deliver, S.E.X.

FACT SHEET: PRINCE CHARMING is Adam and the Ants' third and last album. This is the second incarnation of the band after producer Malcolm McLaren convinced original band members Matthew Ashman (guitar), Leigh Gorman (bass) and Dave Barbarossa (drums) to leave the Ants and form the group Bow Wow Wow with singer Annabella Lwin. The Ants Mach II consist of Adam Ant (vocals, songwriting), Marco Pirroni (guitar, songwriting), Merrick (drums), Terry Lee Miall (drums), and Gary Tibbs (bass); all band members are name-checked in the song "Ant Rap". The album is produced by future Tears For Fears producer Chris Hughes. The hidden track "The Lost Hawaiians" is actually an instrumental "Hawaiian" version of the song "Los Rancheros" from their previous album "KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER". The singles "Prince Charming" and "Stand and Deliver" both reached number one on the UK charts while "Ant Rap" reached the top ten. Singer Rolf Harris claims that the song "Prince Charming" has "musical similarities" with his 1965 song "War Canoe" and that an out-of-court settlement was reached in which he gets royalties from the song. Diana Dors (who is name-checked in the song "Scorpios") appears as a fairy godmother in the "Prince Charming" music video while singer Lulu has a cameo in the video for "Ant Rap". "Prince Charming" is also the first 1980's song which appears in the first series of TV programme ASHES TO ASHES when Detective Alex Drake wakes up to find herself back in time.