Thursday, September 29, 2011

DUSTY IN MEMPHIS - Dusty Springfield

YEAR: 1969

LABEL: Atlantic

TRACK LISTING: Just A Little Lovin', So Much Love, Son of a Preacher Man, I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore, Don't Forget About Me, Breakfast In Bed, Just One Smile, The Windmills of Your Mind, In the Land of Make Believe, No Easy Way Down, I Can't Make It Alone

BONUS TRACKS: (on the 1999 Deluxe Edition cd) What Do You Do When Love Dies, Willie & Laura Mae Jones, That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho), Cherished, Goodbye, Make It With You, Love Shine Down, Live Here With You, Natchez Trace, All the King's Horses, I'll Be Faithful, Have A Good Life Baby, You've Got A Friend, I Found My Way

IMPRESSIONS: Dusty's well-known perfectionism coupled with her real insecurity about recording in the same studio as so many soul greats led her, in Jerry Wexler's own words, to approve "exactly zero" of all the songs recorded for this session. Springfield herself disputed this by saying that she actually approved two songs: "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Just A Little Lovin'" as being what she had in mind. While the album originally wasn't a huge commercial hit, it has become an undisputed classic and appears on most lists of greatest albums of all time.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Just A Little Lovin', So Much Love, Son of a Preacher Man, I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore, Breakfast In Bed, Just One Smile, The Windmills of Your Mind, In the Land of Make Believe, No Easy Way Down, I Can't Make It Alone, Willie & Laura Mae Jones, Make It With You, All the King's Horses, You've Got A Friend, I Found My Way

GUEST ARTISTS: The Sweet Inspirations (backing vocals), The Memphis Cats (backing band)

FACT SHEET: DUSTY IN MEMPHIS is Dusty Springfield's fifth album. Dusty signed with Atlantic Records because it was her musical idol Aretha Franklin's label and she wanted to pump new life into her career by utilizing the "Memphis Sound". The album was produced by Arif Mardin and Jerry Wexler and engineered by Tom Dowd. Bonus tracks "Cherished" and "Goodbye" were produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and arranged by Thom Bell. Brill Building stalwards Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil wrote "Just A Little Lovin'" while Gerry Goffin & Carole King wrote "So Much Love", "Don't Forget About Me", "No Easy Way Down", "I Can't Make It Alone" and bonus track "That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)". "I Don't Want to Hear It Anymore" and "Just One Smile" were written by Randy Newman. "The Windmills of Your Mind" was written by Alan & Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand. "In the Land of Make Believe" was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote "Cherished", David Gates of Bread wrote "Make It With You" and Carole King wrote "You've Got A Friend" solo.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PORTRAIT - The 5th Dimension

YEAR: 1970


TRACK LISTING: Puppet Man, One Less Bell To Answer, Feelin' Alright, This Is Your Life, A Love Like Ours, Save the Country, Medley - The Declaration - A Change Is Gonna Come - People Gotta Be Free, Dimension Five

IMPRESSIONS: I used to spin the record on my black portable record player which closed up and could be carried like a suitcase. In 1970, the 5th Dimension was the ding dang diggety fershnizzle, ya'll. And this wasn't even the first album by the group I had; their first LP had been around the house since I was five seconds old. The song "The Declaration" is actually the Declaration of Independence set to music; and like SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK it is the reason why I can recite the entire document to this day. And if you need any more validation for the pop supremacy of the 5th Dimension . . . Nick Drake loved them!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Puppet Man, One Less Bell To Answer, Feelin' Alright, Save the Country, Medley - The Declaration - A Change Is Gonna Come - People Gotta Be Free

FACT SHEET: PORTRAIT is the 5th Dimension's fifth album. The group consists of Billy Davis Jr., Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore and Ron Townson. This is the group's first album on Bell Records after leaving Soul City Records. PORTRAIT is one of the first albums recorded on a 16-track recorder. The impressionistic cover painting is by LeRoy Neiman.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FRANCOPHONIC VOL. 1 & VOL. 2 - Franco & le TPOK Jazz

YEAR: 2008/2009

LABEL: Sterns Music

TRACK LISTING: Esengo Ya Mokili, Tika Kondima Na Zolo, Anduku Lutshuma, On Entre O.K. On Sort K.O., Tcha Tcha Tcha De Mi Amor, Mosala Ekomi Mpasi Embonga, Sansi Fingomangoma, Bato Ya Mabe Batondi Mboka, Bazonzele Mama Ana, Bolingo Ya Bougie, Ku Kisantu Kikwenda Ko, Tozonga Na Nganga Wana, Annie Ngai Nalinga, Marie Naboyi, Boma L'Heure, Nzube Oleka Te, Likambo Ya Ngana, Infidelite Mado, Azda, Mambu Ma Miondo, Minuit Eleki Lezi, Mabele, Kinsiona, Alimatou, Cherie Bondowe 2, Liberte, Lisolo Ya Adamo Na Nzambe, Nalingaka Yo Yo Te, Tokoma Ba Camarade Pamba, Bina Na Ngai Na Respect, Sandoka, Princesse Kikou, Nostalgie, Cooperation, Suite Lettre No. 1, Missile, Pesa Position Na Yo, Kimpa Kisangameni, Mario, Testament Ya Bowule, Sadou

IMPRESSIONS: In my top 10 favourite music of all-time, Franco is right there. No matter how bad a mood I am in the music of Franco will never fail to make me feel better; and practically no other music has that kind of power over me. With more than 150+ albums released over his career, Franco presents a problem of which album to choose to put up here first. Even so-called "best ofs" and collections are plentiful and hard to choose between. So I went with this fairly recent collection which is actually readily available to buy from amazon, itunes or indeed the Sterns Music website. But even this big honkin' 4 cd set has many huge favourites missing. Because Franco is in fact one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and his relative anonimity in this country is criminal. For all the yuppies who fawned over Paul Simon's GRACELAND that might want to know whose sound he stole, that would be Franco's. The entire sound of Afro-Cuban music is derived from Franco and not the other way around. Franco is indeed the "Sorceror of the Guitar" (during his lifetime there was much speculation about deals with the devil) or, as his indispensible biography calls him the "Congo Colossus". His music is too great to go unheard. In an unprecedented move on this blog, I'm going to post two links to Sterns Music (the publishers of this collection) where you may hear excerpts from every song on this 4 cd set. The first volume can be sampled here and the second volume can be sampled here. You owe it to yourself to rush right over and listen. Then buy as much Franco as you can lay your hands on. Thankfully in recent years quite a substantial number of Franco albums have turned up on itunes so you have no excuse not to enrich your life today! Buy buy buy!!!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: On Entre O.K. On Sort K.O., Tcha Tcha Tcha De Mi Amor, Bato Ya Mabe Batondi Mboka, Bazonzele Mama Ana, Ku Kisantu Kikwenda Ko, Boma L'Heure, Likambo Ya Ngana, Azda, Mambu Ma Miondo, Mabele, Kinsiona, Cherie Bondowe 2, Liberte, Cooperation, Missile, Pesa Position Na Yo, Kimpa Kisangameni, Mario, Sadou

GUEST ARTISTS: Sam Mangwana (vocals on "Cooperation"), Tabu Ley (vocals on "Suite Lettre No. 1"), Madilu System (vocals on "Sadou")

FACT SHEET: FRANCOPHONIC is a 2 volume 4 cd set of the music of Franco & le TPOK Jazz from "le Grand Maitre's" earliest sides beginning in 1953 to his death in 1989. Franco began appearing on records when he was 15 and would craft his own big band called OK Jazz to become the biggest, most respected and most influential musicians in Africa. He would add the "TP" letters to the name which stands for "Tout Puissant" making the name "The Almighty OK Jazz". There is no way to overstate Franco's importance to 20th century music. FRANCOPHONIC does a good job sampling from the many different eras of OK Jazz's history from the early rumba recordings on 78 to the 1960's "more steadily rhythmic and ebullient Zairian sound" of the longer dance records to the later grooves which would last to epic lengths. Franco did not follow musical trends but created them seemingly effortlessly with neverending creativity and joy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

HEADS & TALES - Harry Chapin

YEAR: 1972

LABEL: Elektra

TRACK LISTING: Could You Put Your Light On Please, Greyhound, Everybody's Lonely, Sometime Somewhere Wife, Empty, Taxi, Any Old Kind of Day, Dogtown, Same Sad Singer

IMPRESSIONS: You're telling me this is yet ANOTHER of those records from my childhood on Linwood Avenue. Yup. My parents' record collection strikes again. Harry's first album is really strong and seesaws between confessional songs with simple arrangements and operatic epics thundering forth from your speakers. Particular favourites are "Any Old Kind of Day" (one of those quiet simple arrangements), "Dogtown" (the creepy Wagnerian operatic barnstormer) and "Same Sad Singer" (which combines quiet loneliness with bombastic Phil Spectorish orchestral swells).

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Could You Put Your Light On Please, Greyhound, Sometime Somewhere Wife, Empty, Any Old Kind of Day, Dogtown, Same Sad Singer

FACT SHEET: HEADS & TALES is Harry Chapin's first album. The album contains Chapin's first big hit "Taxi" which I do not like. The original vinyl record I grew up with had a diecut cover; the middle square containing Harry's photo is actually a square hole cut out of the album cover with the photo from the interior liner notes booklet showing through giving the illusion of Harry as a cabbie sitting inside his taxi. The song "Taxi" was incredibly released as a single totally uncut at 6:44! Unheard of in 1972.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


YEAR: 1972


TRACK LISTING: Waking Up Alone, I Never Had It So Good, We've Only Just Begun, That's Enough For Me, Perfect Love, An Old-Fashioned Love Song, Let Me Be the One, Simple Man, When I Was All Alone, My Love and I, Gone Forever

IMPRESSIONS: Another album that I've heard as long as I can remember from my parents' record collection. Yep, the wood panelling, the lime green bean bag chair and the house on Linwood Avenue are back every time I hear it. This is the one and only Paul Williams album I've ever heard but I've seen it said that's it's his strongest album. . . and that's for sure. The songwriting on here is exemplary; even with the occasionally dated early-70s arrangements and instrumentation. But the songs are strong enough to leave those small worries behind. I'm frankly surprised more songs from this album haven't been covered by other performers. Of course, the Carpenters had a smash with "We've Only Just Begun" as well as covering "Let Me Be the One" and Three Dog Night hit it big with "Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song". However, there are incredible, sometimes shatteringly poignant songs like "Waking Up Alone", "That's Enough For Me" and "Gone Forever" which somebody should've had a hit with. The introspective loneliness of the cover photograph perfectly captures the mood of many (but not all) of the songs here. A classic 1970's singer-songwriter album that nobody's ever heard.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Waking Up Alone, That's Enough For Me, Let Me Be the One, Simple Man, When I Was All Alone, My Love and I, Gone Forever

FACT SHEET: JUST AN OLD-FASHIONED LOVE SONG is Paul Williams' fifth album. This album is so little-known or remembered that I could really find nothing of note about the production or background to the album. It's simply a great listen, that's all.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


YEAR: 1977


TRACK LISTING: Bat Out of Hell, You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night), Heaven Can Wait, All Revved Up With No Place To Go, Two Out of Three Ain't Bad, Paradise By the Dashboard Light, For Crying Out Loud

IMPRESSIONS: One of the most famous and ubiquitous albums of the rock era, it still holds up today and both Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman have been dwelling under its shadow ever since. Wonderfully bombastic and operatic, one can see how Richard Wagner has been cited as an influence. Producer Todd Rundgren said he agreed to do the album because he found it hilarious. Meat Loaf quotes Rundgren as saying: "I've got to do this album. It's just so out there!" There has also been a tendency to drunken sing (or bellow) the song "For Crying Out Loud" at parties.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Bat Out of Hell, You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night), Heaven Can Wait, Two Out of Three Ain't Bad, Paradise By the Dashboard Light, For Crying Out Loud

GUEST ARTISTS: Jim Steinman (composer, keyboards, percussion), Todd Rundgren (producer, guitar, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals), Roger Powell (synthesizer), Edgar Winter (saxophone), Phil Rizzuto (play-by-play on "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"), Ellen Foley (vocal on "Paradise By the Dashboard Light", backing vocals), members of the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra (orchestra on "For Crying Out Loud")

FACT SHEET: BAT OUT OF HELL is Meat Loaf's second album and the first in collaboration with composer Jim Steinman. At 43 million units, it is the fifth best-selling album of all-time selling approximately 200,000 copies each year. The album has gone 14 times platinum. The album derived from a Jim Steinman's musical called "NEVERLAND" which was a science fiction version of PETER PAN. While touring with the National Lampoon, Steinman and Meat Loaf decided the songs were "exceptional" and converted them into an album. Steinman's musical influences on BAT OUT OF HELL have been attributed to Richard Wagner, Phil Spector, The Who and Bruce Springsteen (although Steinman himself is bewildered by the Springsteen comparison). Meat Loaf and Steinman spent two and a half years auditioning the album and being rejected (including by Clive Davis). Even when picked up by their label, almost everyone at Epic hated the album. The famous cover painting is by comic book illustrator Richard Corben.

Friday, September 23, 2011


YEAR: 1976

LABEL: Caedmon

TRACK LISTING: How To See Ghosts or Surely Bring Them To You, A Hornbook For Witches, Witches On the Heath, The Ballad of the Jabberwock, All-Saints' Eve, Dreamland, The Sands of Dee, Thus I Refute Beelzy, Don't, The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall

IMPRESSIONS: "Stories and Poems For Halloween" for sure. But since Halloween is 365 this is an album you can enjoy year-round. Vincent Price's 70's era melifluous voice carries you away on these wonderful poems and horror tales -- some of which have been favourites of mine my entire life. "Thus I Refute Beelzy", for instance, was included in my much-loved hardcover of horror short stories called "HAUNTINGS" with illustrations by the great Edward Gorey; I have had this book forever and my mother used to read to me from it before I could read! Ahhh, you say, so THAT'S what's wrong with me! Then there's "The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall" which I bought at school from the Scholastic Book Club catalogue (or some equivalent) in the first or second grade entitled "THE ARROW BOOK OF GHOST STORIES". Then there's such fun and informative flights of ghostly folklore like "Don't" and "How To See Ghosts...". This album is a treasure -- and there are several more on Caedmon by Vincent Price from the same time period I'll discuss at some later point.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: How To See Ghosts or Surely Bring Them To You, A Hornbook For Witches, Witches On the Heath, All-Saints' Eve, Dreamland, Thus I Refute Beelzy, Don't, The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall

FACT SHEET: A HORNBOOK FOR WITCHES is a spoken-word album recorded by Vincent Price featuring short stories and poems described on the cover as "Stories and Poems For Halloween". The title of the album is taken from the Arkham House book of poems by Leah Bodine Drake published in 1950. The book was Drake's first book and the only one published by H.P. Lovecraft-inspired Arkham House publishing company. It was released in a very limited edition of 553 copies of which 300 were given to the author; this make it one of the rarest Arkham editions out there. Four of Drake's poems are included on the album: "A Hornbook For Witches", "Witches On the Heath", "Ballad of the Jabberwock" and "All-Saints' Eve". Maria Leech's "How To See Ghosts..." opens the album and Edgar Allan Poe's "Dreamland" and John Collier's "Thus I Refute Beelzy" also appear.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


YEAR: 1955

LABEL: Capitol

TRACK LISTING: Love Is Here To Stay, A Handful of Stars, This Can't Be Love, A Little Street Where Old Friends Meet, Autumn Leaves, Let's Fall In Love, There Goes My Heart, Dinner For One Please James, Almost Like Being In Love, Tenderly, You Stepped Out of a Dream, There Will Never Be Another You

BONUS TRACKS: Too Much, A Thousand Thoughts of You, If You Said No

IMPRESSIONS: In my collection, Nat King Cole isn't much of an "album" artist since I have tons of "greatest hits" collections and box sets. However, I still managed to get a couple actual albums and this is probably my favourite. It contains a great many songs which I loved already from my grandmother's vinyl box set I'd been listening to since the 1970s. Some of my all-time favourite Nat King Cole hits are on here but there are also lesser-known songs which also count as my favourites: There Goes My Heart, A Handful of Stars, Dinner For One Please James and A Thousand Thoughts of You. While Cole himself didn't think he had a good singing voice, I (and the rest of the world) beg to differ. Nat King Cole is one of the greatest interpreters of the song form in the history of the universe, already!
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Love Is Here To Stay, A Handful of Stars, This Can't Be Love, A Little Street Where Old Friends Meet, Autumn Leaves, Let's Fall In Love, There Goes My Heart, Dinner For One Please James, Almost Like Being In Love, Tenderly, You Stepped Out of a Dream, A Thousand Thoughts of You

FACT SHEET: NAT KING COLE SINGS FOR TWO IN LOVE is Nat's 10th and 13th album. 10th in the sense that it was originally released as a 10" LP at the dawn of long-playing record albums and then it was subsequently released as a 12" proper LP with some added songs. The album cover above is not the original LP cover; it is in fact the early 90's cd reissue which was released with additional bonus tracks as well. The album was arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


YEAR: 1955

LABEL: Capitol

TRACK LISTING: Something Cool, It Could Happen To You, Lonely House, This Time the Dream's On Me, The Night We Called It A Day, Midnight Sun, I'll Take Romance, A Stranger Called the Blues, I Should Care, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, I'm Thrilled

IMPRESSIONS: The mono version is the best (but the stereo version is good too). There are very few song standards which are as epic as "Something Cool" and there's no mystery as to why the song immediately became Christy's signature song. This is another perfect late-night "sitting-at-the-end-of-the-bar-enveloped-in-cigarette-smoke-and-sour-depression" albums (like Sinatra's "IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS"). The spectacularly fitting "all-blue" album cover matches the mood perfectly (and is ruined by the addition of other colours on the 1960 stereo reissue). While Christy never had the instrument of an Ella or a Sarah, she sings with a smoky, husky voice which perfectly matches these kinds of torch songs. It's the emotion in her voice that carries her through; not the technical perfection. June Christy replaced the founder of the "Cool School" style of singer Anita O'Day in Stan Kenton's orchestra from 1945 to 1949. After recorded her monumental single "Something Cool", Christy persuaded the powers-that-be at Capitol to let her construct an album around the song (long-playing record albums were relatively new at the time). When the album came out, it took everyone by surprise by becoming a huge hit. The album sold and sold but nothing she ever did came close to the amount of success engendered by this one album -- and the epic song that opens it.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Something Cool, Lonely House, The Night We Called It A Day, Midnight Sun, I'll Take Romance, A Stranger Called the Blues, I Should Care, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

BONUS TRACKS: The cd reissue also includes the entire 1960 stereophonic re-recording; the song list is exactly the same in the same order as above

GUEST ARTISTS: Maynard Ferguson (trumpet), Jimmy Guiffre (tenor sax)

FACT SHEET: SOMETHING COOL is June Christy's first album. It was originally released in 1954 as a 10" mono LP containing only seven songs. In 1955 it was re-released as a 12" mono LP containing 11 songs. The album became a surprise big hit. With the advent of stereo, June Christy re-recorded the album in stereo with slightly different musicians and an altered album cover. The album was arranged and conducted by Pete Rugolo who composed for television as well as released his own classic lounge music albums.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


YEAR: 1971

LABEL: Nonesuch

TRACK LISTING: Trugnal Mi Yani Sandanski Lele, Jofcharche Mlado, Ne Treperi Bela Koprino, Gujgo Le Gujgo Yunache, Tsar Murat Mara Dumashe, Moma Sedi Na Chardak, Kostadine Mili Sino Le Dzhabum, Koinali, Karshi Barchina, Dali Tsurni Ochi Nemam, Vchera Minah Libe Dzhanum, Pusti Bili Yane, Planino Pirin Planino Dzhanum

BONUS TRACKS: On the cd reissue which came out in 1995, this album is paired with the album "A HARVEST, A SHEPHERD, A BRIDE: VILLAGE MUSIC OF BULGARIA (which will be discussed in a separate post).

IMPRESSIONS: This is some haunting folklore music which evokes the mystery of Eastern Europe and the forests and mountains to be found in the Balkan regions. I am not Bulgarian myself but I found myself captivated particularly by the sound of the female vocalists. Kate Bush became fascinated when she heard the sound as well and teamed up with the Trio Bulgarka on a few albums. If you want to know what this album sounds like, head on over to the song "Rocket's Tail" on Kate Bush's "THE SENSUAL WORLD" album to find out. The instrumental tracks are less interesting to me; they resemble the Romanian folk music heard in the SUBSPECIES movies; good but not haunting like the female vocalists heard here.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Trugnal Mi Yani Sandanski Lele, Jofcharche Mlado, Gujgo Le Gujgo Yunache, Tsar Murat Mara Dumashe, Moma Seda Na Chardak, Dali Tsurni Ochi Nemam, Vchera Minah Libe Dzhanum, Planino Pirin Planino Dzhanum

FACT SHEET: IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOUNTAIN was recorded in 1968 by Ethel Raim and Martin Koenig with the assistance of the Music Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Bulgarian Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries; the album (and it's companion "A HARVEST, A SHEPHERD, A BRIDE") were released in 1970/1971 respectively. The album is subtitled "Songs & Dances of Pirin-Macedonia". This region is in the southwest of Bulgaria. From the liner notes on the back of the LP: "During the long years of Turkish rule, the Pirin Mountain became a factor of central importance in the consciousness of the Bulgarian people, who superimposed onto its geographical contours a mythical and symbolic quality. The dense forests covering the mountain provided sanctuary for some of their great folk heroes, known as hajduks -- revolutionary fighters, frequently outlaws, and always the embodiment of popular rebellion against the Turks." The distinctive paired sound of the female vocalists is explained as well: "It is common in the villages for girls at an early age to develop close friendships and then to sing only with this 'soulmate'." This special relationship can be among friends or family members as well and this explains the very close homogenous sound of the vocals.

Monday, September 19, 2011

GOREY BY GRIMES - Tammy Grimes

YEAR: 1980

LABEL: Caedmon

TRACK LISTING: The Listing Attic, The Osbick Bird, The Deranged Cousins, The Gashlycrum Tinies, The Evil Garden, The Untitled Book, The Eleventh Episode, The Bug Book, The Pious Infant, The Listing Attic (some more), The Listing Attic (yet more), The Wuggly Ump, The Disrespectful Summons, The Gilded Bat, The Doubtful Guest, The Inanimate Tragedy, Story For Sara, The Salt-Herring, The Listing Attic (still more)

IMPRESSIONS: Once upon a time, Caedmon Records were the place to go to get spoken word on vinyl. I remember I bought this record (for vinyl it is and remains) at the Wee Three Records in the Moorestown Mall around the time it came out in 1980. I was already a huge Edward Gorey fan possessing the Amphigorey volumes as well as a few other tomes so imagine my surprise and delight when I saw this in the record bin. I plucked it from its nest like a poisoned comfit and wrestled it home. Indirectly, this album is also responsible for my love of funereal organ music by the likes of Bach and Frescobaldi; there are several instances of such Bach organ music on this album notably behind the collection of limericks masquerading as "The Listing Attic" tracks. This album is out of print and apparently impossible to get; illustrating how utterly brainless the recording industry is nowadays. The album cover featured above is not the one I know; my copy has a gray-bordered cover with an Edward Gorey line illustration of three top-hatted men departing a scene in some distress.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: (By all rights, I should say all the tracks are my favourite. But I shall be judicious.): The Listing Attic, The Osbick Bird, The Deranged Cousins, The Gashlycrum Tinies, The Evil Garden, The Eleventh Episode, The Pious Infant, The Listing Attic (some more), The Listing Attic (yet more), The Wuggly Ump, The Disrespectful Summons, The Doubtful Guest, Story For Sara, The Salt-Herring, The Listing Attic (still more)

FACT SHEET: GOREY BY GRIMES is a spoken word album of stories and poems by Edward Gorey read by actress Tammy Grimes with occasional accompaniment by classical music from composers like Richard Wagner and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


YEAR: 1984

LABEL: Island

TRACK LISTING: A Sort of Homecoming, Pride (In the Name of Love), Wire, The Unforgettable Fire, Promenade, 4th of July, Bad, Indian Summer Sky, Elvis Presley and America, MLK

IMPRESSIONS: This is definitely a Rustler record. Huge at the time of release, this is what brought U2 a major mainstream audience in the US. The following megahit album "THE JOSHUA TREE" may make people forget exactly how huge "THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE" was and frankly it's a better album than the later one. I love the song "Bad" but this is not the one I listen to; the definitive "Bad" is the live version on the "WIDE AWAKE IN AMERICA" EP. And also, what could give this album higher Rustler status than the fact that Cheeks and I once sang "MLK" at the top of our lungs in the backroom after closing time with the lights out promptly co-worker Quie to stick her head around the corner and call us weird! Impeccable credentials for ANY album, I'd say!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: A Sort of Homecoming, Pride (In the Name of Love), The Unforgettable Fire, Promenade, Bad, Indian Summer Sky, MLK

FACT SHEET: THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE is U2's fourth album. It was produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois because the band wanted a more experimental, less "rock and roll" album then their previous "WAR". The album was recorded at Slane Castle and finished at Windmill Lane Studios. The title of the album comes from an art exhibit the band saw in Japan concerning the atomic bombing of Hiroshima called "The Unforgettable Fire". Two songs ("Pride" and "MLK") are about Martin Luther King Jr. The cover photograph is by my favourite photographer Sir Simon Marsden.

Friday, September 16, 2011


YEAR: 1995

LABEL: Capitol

TRACK LISTING: Dreamboat Annie (Fantasy Child), Dog and Butterfly, (Up On) Cherry Blossom Road, Back To Avalon, Alone, These Dreams, Love Hurts, Straight On, All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You, Crazy On You, Seasons, River, Barracuda, Dream of the Archer, The Road Home

IMPRESSIONS: This is a splendid, intimate live performance much in the "MTV Unplugged" style featuring Ann and Nancy Wilson returning to their hometown accompanied by a small chamber orchestra. The feel of the set is very warm and relaxed with a palpable sense of homecoming. Their slowed-down revamped version of "Alone" is the way the song SHOULD have been recorded originally and it's frankly the only version to listen to. The sisters obviously feel the same way because they've performed it this same way ever since.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Dreamboat Annie (Fantasy Child), Dog and Butterfly, Alone, Straight On, Crazy On You, Seasons, River, Barracuda

GUEST ARTISTS: John Paul Jones (piano, bass, mandolin, producer)

FACT SHEET: THE ROAD HOME is Heart's 14th album. It was produced by former Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones. The album is a live accoustic set from a 1995 club performance in the group's home town of Seattle, Washington. The set includes cover versions of Nazareth's "Love Hurts", Elton John's "Seasons" and Joni Mitchell's "River". A DVD of the show was also released.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


YEAR: 1974

LABEL: Motown

TRACK LISTING: You Took Me Wrong, Mary Mary, State of Mind, Everybody Wants To Be Somebody, Haiku, My Love, Now That You Love Me, Concept of Her, N.Y.C.

IMPRESSIONS: I know next to nothing about this album but it's another one of those records I was listening to since I was a little kid. This was my dad's album and another case of one we only listened to one side of: side two this time. It is a heavily jazz-infused soul record. There are a couple Puzzle songs on youtube and somebody quite rightly described Puzzle's sound as "Motown's answer to Chicago"; it does have that same early Chicago sound with the heavy use of brass and the jazz sound. Of course, this album has never EVER been issued on cd and it's not about to be anytime soon.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: State of Mind, My Love, Now That You Love Me, Concept of Her, N.Y.C.

FACT SHEET: This is Puzzle's second album, natch. Puzzle was a group created by singer John Valenti (aka John LaVigni) who had a solo hit "Anything You Want"with Motown in 1976 which peaked at #37 on the Billboard charts. The sound of Puzzle has been described as funk/soul-jazz fusion. The band consists of John LaVigni (vocals, drums), Anthony Siciliano (bass), Bobby Villalobos (lead guitar), Ralf Richert (trumpet, rhythm guitar), Joseph Spinazola (piano, organ), Larry Klimas (saxophone, flute) and Bob Williams (trumpet, wind chimes). Strings were arranged by Bobby Scott. The album was produced by Bob Cullen.
PARTY OF ONE - Nick Lowe

YEAR: 1990

LABEL: Reprise

TRACK LISTING: You Got the Look I Like, (I Want To Build A) Jumbo Ark, Gai-Gin Man, Who Was That Man?, What's Shakin' On the Hill, Shting-Shtang, All Men Are Liars, Rocky Road, Refrigerator White, I Don't Know Why You Keep Me On, Honeygun

IMPRESSIONS: I love this album. It has a sound like no other (especially for 1990) and all I can say is that it reminds me of the song "Bimbombey" by Jimmie Rodgers which I've loved all my life. The sound of the music Nick Lowe makes on this album puts me in a faraway magical place where the Big Rock Candy Mountain probably looms in the background behind the cigarette trees and the sawed-off water fountain. At the time, PARTY OF ONE made scads of "best of" lists for 1990 but somehow it never became the hit it deserves to be. I guess Nick Lowe's no Michael Jackson. And for that -- and this album -- we can be greatful. This album also contains one of my official theme songs: "What's Shakin' On the Hill" which was also awarded the very first Penguin Award for Song of the Year 1990. It also brings back vivid memories of setting up the salad bar every morning at Sizzler; I used to hook up my boom box to the overhead speakers and play music before we opened and this tape was in constant rotation at the time.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: You Got the Look I Like, (I Want To Build A) Jumbo Ark, Gai-Gin Man, Who Was That Man?, What's Shakin' On the Hill, Shting-Shtang, All Men Are Liars, Rocky Road

GUEST ARTISTS: Paul Carrack (piano, organ), Ry Cooder (electric guitar, mandolin), Dave Edmunds (electric guitar, producer)
FACT SHEET: PARTY OF ONE is Nick Lowe's 8th album. It is one of only two Nick Lowe albums that does not contain a cover song. Friends Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds agreed to produce each others albums that year. PARTY OF ONE was re-released in 1995 with a different cover and two additional bonus tracks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


YEAR: 1976

LABEL: Mercury

TRACK LISTING: A Dream Within A Dream, The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, The Fall of the House of Usher, To One In Paradise

IMPRESSIONS: Like Mike Oldfield's OMMADAWN and Frank Zappa's JOE'S GARAGE, I first heard this album because of family friend Ronnie whose eclectic tastes have helped shape my own since I was a kid. The original album I came to know was the "Orson Welles-less" version; it was only later I got the remixed album which included Orson's recitations. Before I even went to kindergarten, my mother taught me to read. And what did she teach me to read on?: TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION by Edgar Allan Poe! So any album featuring song adaptations of Poe tales just had to be a winner with me.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, The Fall of the House of Usher, To One In Paradise

GUEST ARTISTS: Orson Welles (narration), Leonard Whiting (narration, vocals), Arthur Brown (vocals)

FACT SHEET: TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION is The Alan Parsons Project's first album. All the songs are based upon short stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe. "The Raven" was the first rock song to use a digital vocoder. The prelude of the instrumental piece "The Fall of the House of Usher" is based on Claude Debussy's operatic fragment "La chute de la maison Usher" composed between 1908 and 1917. The original version of the 1976 album was remixed in 1987 with added narration by Orson Welles, additional guitar passages and altered production techniques including added 80's-style reverb. According to the album's liner notes, Welles never met Alan Parsons or Eric Woolfson (the nucleus of the Project) but sent them a tape of his performance after the album came out in 1976. Leonard Whiting is a British actor best known for appearing as Romeo opposite Olivia Hussey in the film "ROMEO AND JULIET" as well as playing Victor Frankenstein in "FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY". In July 2010, Classic Rock magazine named the album one of the "50 Albums that Built Prog Rock".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

MUSIC TO SUFFER BY - Leona Anderson

YEAR: 1958

LABEL: Unique Records

TRACK LISTING: I Love Paris, Chloe, Hep Cat, Habanera from Carmen, Il Bacio, Tell Me A Tall Tale, Indian Love Call, Limburger Lover, Giannina Mia, Rats In My Room, Yo Ho the Crow, Italian Street Song

IMPRESSIONS: As a tiny tot, I stumbled upon this musical massacre in my grandparents' record collection slumbering deep inside their 5 foot long record player (from the days when record players were considered furniture). This was at their Pennsauken 3 storey Victorian house on Westfield Avenue. With a title like that and a broken record (actually a demolished record) on the cover, how could a warped little hockey puck like myself resist playing it?!?!? I couldn't and I didn't. Even though the 1958 record was probably only about 15 years old at the time, it seemed like a window into some bizarre and ancient past called the fifties and I was fascinated. Combine this with the Spike Jones and Yogi Yorgesson records I also discovered there, the past was one wacky time for music in my eyes . . . er. . .ears. What exactly went on in the world before I was born???

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I Love Paris, Chloe, Hep Cat, Limburger Lover, Rats In My Room, Yo Ho the Crow, Italian Street Song

FACT SHEET: MUSIC TO SUFFER BY is Leona Anderson's first (and only) album and she didn't make it until she was 75 years old. In recent years the album has become an almost legendary comedy classic as "the worst record ever made" outdoing Mrs. Miller in the horrible singing department. Anderson was an actress who has appeared in everything from Charlie Chaplin shorts to the William Castle spookfest "HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL" with Vincent Price; she's the scary housekeeper whose sudden appearance in the cellar provides the one and only genuine scare in the movie. Anderson was also a favourite of comedian Ernie Kovacs who used her on his ground-breaking early television programme; Anderson's 1955 single "Fish" appears on the cd "THE ERNIE KOVACS RECORD COLLECTION" released in 1997.

YEAR: 1969

LABEL: Island

TRACK LISTING: Time Has Told Me, River Man, Three Hours, Way To Blue, Day Is Done, Cello Song, The Thoughts of Mary Jane, Man in a Shed, Fruit Tree, Saturday Sun

IMPRESSIONS: If he had only known. Nick Drake's sublime music would only strike a chord a quarter century after his death. All his musical hopes and dreams were wrapped up in this first album which sold practically nothing. What should have been the start of a wonderful career actually marked the beginning of the end of Nick Drake. The title "FIVE LEAVES LEFT" is tragically ironic since Nick would only live 5 years after the release of this album. Many grumble about the "syrupy" strings imposed on the album and, while I could do without them in most cases, they don't bother me or marr the album in the slightest. FIVE LEAVES LEFT after all includes some of Drake's greatest songs including "River Man", "Three Hours" and my all-time favourite "Fruit Tree".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Time Has Told Me, River Man, Three Hours, Way To Blue, Day Is Done, Cello Song, Fruit Tree

GUEST ARTISTS: Richard Thompson (electric guitar), Robert Kirby (string arrangements), Clare Lowther (cello), Rocky Dzidzornu (congas)
FACT SHEET: FIVE LEAVES LEFT is Nick Drake's first album. It was recorded while Drake was still attending Cambridge University. Aside from the string arrangements by Robert Kirby, Drake is also accompanied by members of Fairport Convention and Pentangle. The album title is a reference to Rizla cigarette papers; a printed paper near the end of the packet would read "Only five leaves left" warning you to buy a new packet soon. Nick Drake's sister is the actress Gabrielle Drake whom I was watching decades before I ever heard of Nick Drake in her role as comedian Kelly Monteith's wife in his late-70s British comedy series. In 1968, an unknown singer named Elton John recorded a series of demos pursuant to recording his first album; these demos shockingly include several Nick Drake songs from "FIVE LEAVES LEFT".

YEAR: 1973


TRACK LISTING: Old Admirals, Warren Harding, Soho (Needless To Say), The Last Day of June 1934, Post World War Two Blues, Roads To Moscow, Terminal Eyes, Nostradamus

IMPRESSIONS: This is another of those albums I seem to have been listening to since I was knee high to a grasshopper. It is also another of those albums which I only listening to one side of because of my father's strange practice of listening to only one side of a new album. The album side, however, is a great one consisting of "Roads To Moscow", "Terminal Eyes" and the epic "Nostradamus"; all of which had that nicely mystical quality which went down very well with me as a kid growing up in the early 70s. PP&F is a concept album with each song representing a decade in the 20th century culminating in the song about the seer Nostradamus.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Old Admirals, Roads To Moscow, Terminal Eyes, Nostradamus

GUEST ARTISTS: Rick Wakeman (keyboards), Dave Swarbrick (mandolin), Roger Taylor (percussion)

FACT SHEET: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE is Al Stewart's fifth album. This is considered his first "major" or "mature" album work. In the concert programme for his U.K. tour at the time, Stewart states: "My first four albums have been, for me, an apprenticeship. The new my thesis". Stewart moved from the prog-rock sound of his previous albums to a new more folk-based sound which indulged his interest in history. The album cover actually depicts Marvel Comics' character Doctor Strange using his cloak of levitation to travel through into another dimension.

Monday, September 12, 2011


YEAR: 1988

LABEL: Warner Bros.

TRACK LISTING: Pop Song '89, Get Up, You Are the Everything, Stand, World Leader Pretend, The Wrong Child, Orange Crush, Turn You Inside-Out, Hairshirt, I Remember California

BONUS TRACK: The album ends with an untitled hidden track. The band actually copyrighted the song as "11".

IMPRESSIONS: This seems to be the forgotten R.E.M. album. This was the first actual R.E.M. album I ever bought (although I had gotten singles before this) probably because it's the band's major label debut and had the promotion behind it. I bought the vinyl LP at Strawberries on Route 70 in Marlton. One night while I was driving in my 1975 copper Ford Granada with butterscotch leather interior bopping to the song "Orange Crush", a car next to me motioned to roll down my window and tried to sell me a kicking car stereo -- all this while we both continued to drive down the highway. I assured him that I already was listening to a kicking car stereo and proceeded to turn the song up and blow his doors off.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Pop Song '89, Get Up, World Leader Pretend, Orange Crush, Hairshirt, I Remember California

GUEST ARTISTS: KRS-One (rap on "Pop Song '89")

FACT SHEET: GREEN is R.E.M.'s sixth album and their major label debut when the band went from I.R.S. to Warner Bros. The band deliberately shook up their process of recording so they would not keep making the same album. To that end, the members learned each other's instruments and switched up during the recording sessions. Also Michael Stipe altered his songwriting process: before he would write lyrics to the complete music but now he wrote during or before the music was written. This was the first album to feature Peter Buck's mandolin which would become a major part of R.E.M.'s sound with "Losing My Religion". Michael Stipe sang "Orange Crush" using a megaphone. GREEN reached double platinum in the US and was the first R.E.M. album to reach gold in the U.K. making it the band's European breakthrough. The album was produced by Scott Litt and recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The cover art is by minimalist painter John McCafferty. It may seem odd that the album cover artwork is orange when the album is called "GREEN"; however when you stare at the cover for about 30 seconds and then look at a blank white wall the after-image appears green.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ROLLERBALL - The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andre Previn

YEAR: 1975

LABEL: United Artists Records

TRACK LISTING: Toccata & Fugue for Organ in D Minor BWV 565, Symphony No. 8 in C Minor Op. 65 (Stalingrad): First mov't (excerpt), Glass Sculpture, Executive Party, Symphony No. 5 in D minor Op. 47: Third mov't (excerpt), Adagio for Violin, Strings & Organ in G minor, Sleeping Beauty Waltz, Executive Party Dance, Symphony No. 5 in D minor Op. 47: Fourth mov't (excerpt)

IMPRESSIONS: One of those movies which I watched all the time on television as a kid in the mid-1970s was ROLLERBALL; what could be cooler than a futuristic sport involving a steel ball, motorcycles and gloves with spikes on 'em?!? However, we also had the soundtrack album ever since it came out in 1975 and it was probably my first exposure to classical music on long-playing record. It wasn't until high school that I truly got into classical music and started amassing a classical record collection. Combine this with the wacky, loungy "wacka-wacka" sound of Andre Previn's mid-70's musical score and the superb album cover artwork by Bob Peak and what's not to love about this soundtrack which was played very often in our wood-panelled living room in Maple Surple. The music went really well with the lime green bean bag chair, too!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Toccata & Fugue for Organ in D Minor BMW 565, Executive Party, Adagio for Violin, Strings & Organ in G minor, Sleeping Beauty Waltz

FACT SHEET: ROLLERBALL is the soundtrack album to the 1975 United Artists film starring James Caan and John Houseman. The album is pretty evenly divided between classical pieces by Bach, Shostakovich, Albinoni (hold it a minute. . .see below) and Tchaikovsky and original scoring by Andre Previn. 18th century composer Tommaso Albinoni's most famous piece is undoubtedly the "Adagio" but the piece we know was actually derived only from a music fragment (a mere bass line and six bars of melody); it was "reconstructed" in 1945 by musicologist Remo Giazotto into the piece we know today.

Friday, September 9, 2011

WHIPPED CREAM & OTHER DELIGHTS - Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass

YEAR: 1965


TRACK LISTING: A Taste of Honey, Green Peppers, Tangerine, Bittersweet Samba, Lemon Tree, Whipped Cream, Love Potion No. 9, El Garbanzo, Ladyfingers, Butterball, Peanuts, Lollipops and Roses

IMPRESSIONS: In the 1960s, it was mandatory by law in the United States for every home to have at least one copy of this album! Who could resist that genuinely iconic cover and those loungy brass band arrangements of popular songs revolving around the theme of food?!?! Apparently nobody because everybody had this record.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: A Taste of Honey, Green Peppers, Bittersweet Samba, Whipped Cream, Peanuts

FACT SHEET: WHIPPED CREAM & OTHER DELIGHTS is Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass' fourth album. It practically abandons their previous Mexican-themed music in favour of covers of popular songs with a food theme. The album continues the tradition of including one "strip tease" number which is "Love Potion No. 9". The cover model is Dolores Erickson and she is actually wearing shaving cream. The food-themed songs was the suggestion of Alpert's partner Jerry Moss. The classic album cover has been parodied many times including on the cover of Soul Asylum's 1989 EP "CLAM DIP & OTHER DELIGHTS".

Thursday, September 8, 2011

PUMP - Aerosmith

YEAR: 1989

LABEL: Geffen

TRACK LISTING: Young Lust, F.I.N.E., Love In An Elevator, Monkey On My Back, Janie's Got A Gun, Dulcimer Stomp/The Other Side, My Girl, Don't Get Mad Get Even, Hoodoo/Voodoo Medicine Man, What It Takes

BONUS TRACKS: After "What It Takes" ends there is a brief instrumental hidden track which is untitled; it is written and performed by Randy Raine-Reusch.

IMPRESSIONS: The last good album Aerosmith ever made. Sorry, but it's true. After this it was poppy poppycock with Alicia Silverstone and Diane Warren looming on the horizon.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Monkey On My Back, Dulcimer Stomp/The Other Side, My Girl, Hoodoo/Voodoo Medicine Man, What It Takes

FACT SHEET: PUMP is Aerosmith's tenth album. It includes more keyboards and a horn section than usual for an Aerosmith album after the sound worked for their previous album's single "Rag Doll". The album produced the band's first number one single ("Love In An Elevator") and their first Grammy Award (for "Janie's Got A Gun"). "What It Takes" was also awarded the honourary Penguin Award for Song of the Year 1989.
MEGATOP PHOENIX - Big Audio Dynamite

YEAR: 1989


TRACK LISTING: Start, Rewind, All Mink & No Manners, Union Jack, Contact, Dragon Town, Baby Don't Apologise, Is Yours Working Yet?, Around the Girl in 80 Ways, James Brown, Everybody Needs A Holiday, Mick's a Hippie Burning, House Arrest, The Green Lady, London Bridge, Stalag 123, End

IMPRESSIONS: Here is an album which can always cheer me up whenever I put it on. Infectious beats and subtle humour infuse every track. "Rewind" has your head nodding sideways to the beat, "Contact" propels you along, "Baby Don't Apologise" gets your booty bopping, "James Brown" is a funky funny freakout, "Everybody Needs A Holiday" is one of my theme songs and for me is auditory prozac and "Stalag 123" cools you down with one of the best album closers you could ask for! Back in the day one summer, I was playing the album LOUD with all the windows open. My mother as usual was dancing to it; however we happened to look next door and the neighbour's daughter was also dancing to it in her back yard. THAT'S the booty-shaking power of this album! MEGATOP PHOENIX was also awarded the honourary Penguin Award for 1989 album of the year.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Start, Rewind, Contact, Baby Don't Apologise, James Brown, Everybody Needs A Holiday, Mick's a Hippie Burning, The Green Lady, Stalag 123, End

GUEST ARTISTS: Flea (sound effects)

FACT SHEET: MEGATOP PHOENIX is B.A.D.'s fourth album and the last to feature the original band lineup. B.A.D. is Mick Jones' music project after leaving The Clash; in 1990 Mick Jones would form Big Audio Dynamite II with an entirely different line-up. The title MEGATOP PHOENIX refers to Jones' near-death experience when he nearly died of pneumonia before the recording of the album. There is much use of sampling on the album as usual. "Start" includes the opening narration from the Powell & Pressburger film "A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH". "Union, Jack" includes samples from "Rule Britannia", Charlie Watts' drum solo from "Honky Tonk Woman", Shakespeare's "Richard II", and the films "BRITANNIA HOSPITAL" and "THE KNACK...AND HOW TO GET IT". "Contact" samples "I Can't Explain" by The Who. "Dragon Town" samples George Formby's "Mr. Wu's a Window Cleaner Now". "Is Yours Working Yet?" samples Alfred Hitchcock. "Around the Girl in 80 Ways" samples Bernard Cribbins' "Right Said Fred". "James Brown" samples "Living In America" by James Brown. "Mick's a Hippie Burning" samples Bernard Cribbins' "The Hole in the Ground" and "Withnail & I". "London Bridge" samples Noel Coward's "London Pride". "Stalag 123" samples the theme music and dialogue from "THE GREAT ESCAPE". "End" samples dialogue from "Listen with Mother".

YEAR: 1972
TRACK LISTING: Five Years, Soul Love, Moonage Daydream, Starman, It Ain't Easy, Lady Stardust, Star, Hang On To Yourself, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City, Rock 'n' Roll Suicide
IMPRESSIONS: My mother didn't raise me on Perry Como records; she raised me on Sly & the Family Stone and David Bowie! And THE Bowie album was ZIGGY almost as long as I can remember. A notation on the album cover suggested that the record be played at maximum volume and lord love a duck it certainly was! Especially "Hang On to Yourself" which is the major template for the later sound of the Ramones.  The mere thought of this album transports me back to Maple Shade and our little house there. We'd play the record in the living room with the wood panelling, the black and white striped couch, the modern black S-shaped lounging chair, the lime green bean bag chair and the string art on the wall! This is truly one of those albums which I've been listening to my entire conscious life and it still sounds fresh and new today. I will never tire of it. After almost 40 years listening to it, I think that's a safe bet.
GUEST ARTISTS: Rick Wakeman (harpsichord & keyboards)
FACT SHEET: ZIGGY is David Bowie's fifth album. The character of Ziggy Stardust has many origins. It is based on British rocker Vince Taylor who, after a nervous breakdown, thought himself to be a cross between God and an alien. The name also derives from The Legendary Stardust Cowboy (a song of whose Bowie would later cover on his "HEATHEN" album) and a tailor shop named "Ziggy's" which Bowie had passed on a train; because the name was one of the few beginning with the letter 'Z' as well as having the "Iggy (Pop) connotation", as well as the heavy importance of clothes with the character, Bowie thought it was very appropriate. This is another of those concept albums which I love so well: the album was intended to be the soundtrack to a stage show or television production which never came to pass. A lengthy explanation of the story of Ziggy Stardust by Bowie is too long to include here but can be found on the wikipedia entry for the album. The iconic cover photo was taken outside K. West furriers at 23 Heddon Street, London, W1. The cover was among 10 chosen by the Royal Mail in January 2010 for a set of postage stamps entitled "Classic Album Covers".

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

LET IT BLEED - The Rolling Stones

YEAR: 1969

LABEL: Decca/London

TRACK LISTING: Gimme Shelter, Love In Vain, Country Honk, Live With Me, Let It Bleed, Midnight Rambler, You Got the Silver, Monkey Man, You Can't Always Get What You Want

IMPRESSIONS: I'm not the world's biggest Stones fan; in fact, besides "greatest hits" collections (of which I have several) I only have two Rolling Stones albums: this one and EXILE ON MAIN STREET. However, my Dad IS one of the world's greatest Stones fans and this album contains his favourite song of all time: "Gimme Shelter". He always knows when it's going to be a good day when he hears "Gimme Shelter" on the radio. In Stephen Davis' 2001 biography of the group, he describes the album this way: "No rock record, before or since, has ever so completely captured the sense of palpable dread that hung over its era". While that is certainly true of "Gimme Shelter", I don't think it really applies to the album as a whole because, to me, it sounds rather upbeat. There's the soaring choir of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" in which the comforting thought that "you get what you need" is an optimistic statement. Then there's the silly abandon of "Country Honk" which is actually a countrified version of "Honky Tonk Woman" and the wild craziness of "Monkey Man", the obvious fun had by all as they cover Robert Johnson's "Train In Vain" (retitled "Love In Vain" here) and the funky groove of "Midnight Rambler". A gloom and doom album it's really not. Sorry, Stephen.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Gimme Shelter, Love In Vain, Midnight Rambler, Monkey Man, You Can't Always Get What You Want

GUEST ARTISTS: Leon Russell (piano & horn arrangement on "Live With Me"), Ry Cooder (mandolin on "Love In Vain"), Merry Clayton (vocals on "Gimme Shelter"), Al Kooper (piano, French horn & organ on "You Can't Always Get What You Want"), Doris Troy (backing vocals on "You Can't Always Get What You Want"), The London Bach Choir (vocals on "You Can't Always Get What You Want")

FACT SHEET: LET IT BLEED is The Rolling Stones' 8th British album and 10th American album. It is the last album to feature founding member Brian Jones and the first to include Mick Taylor. Jones appears on only two songs: playing autoharp on "You Got the Silver" and percussion on "Midnight Rambler". The sculpture on the album cover is by Robert Brownjohn. The album cover was one of ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of "Classic Album Cover" postage stamps in January 2010.

YEAR: 2008

LABEL: A&M/Mercury

TRACK LISTING: Rockferry, Warwick Avenue, Serious, Stepping Stone, Syrup & Honey, Hanging On Too Long, Mercy, Delayed Devotion, I'm Scared, Distant Dreamer

BONUS TRACKS: Save It For Your Prayers, Oh Boy

IMPRESSIONS: The first time I ever heard Duffy was when I was flipping through radio stations in my car (that's when I could listen to the radio in my car. . . ahem, Fink!) and I landed on WFLN who shortly played the song "Stepping Stone". I immediately fell in love with the laid-back groove and sought out the album. Imagine my surprise when I found out the soul diva was a blond from Wales! Sadly, she turned out NOT to be Tom Jones long-lost daughter but instead turned out to be the Penguin Award winner for both Song of the Year ("Stepping Stone") and Album of the Year for 2008. Sadly, Duffy's output since ROCKFERRY has been less than overwhelming: the abysmal follow-up single "Rain On Your Parade" and her rather unspectacular second album have put a dent in her reputation but hopefully she can regroup and provide some better music in the future.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Warwick Avenue, Stepping Stone, Hanging On Too Long, Mercy, Delayed Devotion, I'm Scared, Distant Dreamer

FACT SHEET: ROCKFERRY is Duffy's first album. Duffy co-wrote all the songs on the album along with various other songwriters and the album took four years to record. The album title refers to Rock Ferry: a suburb of Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula approximately ten miles from the Welsh border and only three miles from Liverpool. Besides the more important Penguin Awards, the album has also won the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album, and three BRIT Awards including British Album of the Year.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


YEAR: 1978


TRACK LISTING: Hello There, Come On Come On, Lookout, Big Eyes, Need Your Love, Ain't That A Shame, I Want You To Want Me, Surrender, Goodnight Now, Clock Strikes Ten

IMPRESSIONS: While going to middle school, I was enrolled in an art class. The art teacher was cool and she let us play whatever records we liked (within reason) on an old record player in the classroom. The most frequently played albums that year for us in the class were the first album by The Cars and "CHEAP TRICK AT BUDOKAN". For some reason, though, we only played side two. I actually don't really know if I'e heard side one to this very day!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Ain't That A Shame, I Want You To Want Me, Surrender, Goodnight Now, Clock Strikes Ten

FACT SHEET: Cheap Trick gained a huge audience in Japan early in their career which led to this concert in Tokyo on April 28 & 30, 1978. The frantic audience of 12,000 nearly drowns out the band at times. The album was originally intended for a Japanese-only release but strong radio airplay and the sale of aproximately 30,000 import copies in the U.S. prompted an official release of the album here. It is Cheap Trick's best-selling album.

Friday, September 2, 2011

TRIAGE - David Baerwald

YEAR: 1992


TRACK LISTING: A Secret Silken World, The Got No Shotgun Hydrahead Octopus Blues, Nobody, The Waiter, AIDS & Armageddon, The Postman, A Bitter Tree, China Lake, A Brand New Morning, Born For Love

IMPRESSIONS: This album came out around the height of "THE X-FILES" popularity and it is the perfect soundtrack for that political paranoia programme! The opening track (my favourite on the album) is beautifully creepy and concerns the singer being picked up by a mysterious man (who is very "Men In Black"-like) in his unidentified black car. The album is filled with conspiracy theory/paranoia/government cover-up stuff and Baerwald's writing is razor-sharp and evocative.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: A Secret Silken World, The Got No Shotgun Hydrahead Octopus Blues, AIDS & Armageddon, The Postman, Born For Love

FACT SHEET: TRIAGE is David Baerwald's second album. Baerwald originally was one-half of the duo David and David which achieved great success with their one album "BOOMTOWN" before splitting up for unknown reasons. In 1992, Baerwald and producer Bill Bottrell co-founded the Tuesday Night Music Club which was instrumental in the launching of Sheryl Crow's career (but we won't hold that against him). His father was political scientist Hans Baerwald, his mother Diane was a psychiatrist and his son Beker is a nationally-ranked basketball player. The album TRIAGE is an concept album about America's paranoid fringe-dwellers. It was critically acclaimed but didn't do well commercially.