Wednesday, January 30, 2013


YEAR:  1979
LABEL:  BBC Records
TRACK LISTING:  Genesis of the Daleks
IMPRESSIONS:  Before there was such a thing as a VCR, the only way to re-experience a favourite TV show was to plop your Radio Shack tape recorder in front of the TV speaker and tape it or else, if you were lucky enough, to find it on an LP.  I was doubly lucky to do both.  In 1979, just about a year and a half after I first discovered "DOCTOR WHO" (Thanks, Ronnie!), I came across this BBC record either in Wee Three Records or Sam Goody in the Moorestown Mall.  Naturally, after having a conniption, I purchased it and raced home to spin it.  The LP does a really nice job of editing down the entire multi-episode storyline into about an hour of vinyl time.  Things are helped along enormously by the narration of Tom Baker himself; giving the album the feel of one of those story-telling records we all grew up with (unless you're one of those know-nothing tots who missed out on all the goodies from the 70s).   Now, of course, we can watch the entire series on our HD TV on DVD but there's something really nice about hearing this recording which is quite a different experience entirely.  I think it goes back to the "old-time radio" concept of the "theatre of the mind's eye" because, having already seen the episodes on TV one can then listen to the record and conjure up images in one's mind of special effects that were never dreamed of at the BBC in 1975!  How great is that?!?!? 
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  There's only one.
BONUS TRACKS:  In 2001, "GENESIS OF THE DALEKS" was released on CD accompanied by another DOCTOR WHO radio play entitled "EXPLORATION EARTH". 
FACT SHEET:  DOCTOR WHO:  GENESIS OF THE DALEKS is an audio recording featuring the soundtrack from the television episodes with expository narration by Tom Baker.  Also in the cast are Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan and Michael Wisher as Davros.  The storyline concerns the Doctor and his companions being sent back in time to the planet Skaro in order to prevent the creation of the Daleks.  The cover sleeve design was by Mario Moscardini.  Music and sound effects were provided by the BBC Radiophonic Orchestra.  In 2001, when "GENESIS OF THE DALEKS" was released onto compact disc, it was re-edited using the original master tapes for the audio; some dialogue additions were added and the narration audio was taken from Tom Baker's own copy of the original LP. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013


YEAR:  1991
LABEL:  Red House Records
TRACK LISTING:  Chocolate,  La Bamba (An English Translation),  A Change Is Gonna Come,  Roadmaps,  Mama I Wanna Make Rhythm,  The Wind,  Sally's Advice,  Is It True Albert?,  Hummin' To Myself,  A Chill in the Air,  I Am A Can of Tuna,  Big Hair
IMPRESSIONS:  I'm trying to remember when I first heard the Chenille Sisters.  I think it was on Gene Shay's folk music radio programme.  Whether that's right or not, I know which song it was:  "Chocolate".  The Chenille Sisters hymn to the joys of chocolate.  A funny song which also had that three part harmony so influenced by my beloved Boswell Sisters (whom at this point I had only heard in the wacko early 30's musical "THE BIG BROADCAST".  But I loved them and consequently also had to track down the album which such a Boswell-sounding female trio put out.  This I did and the album even contains a cover of a song Connee Boswell recorded ("Hummin' To Myself").  The Chenille Sisters (not actually sisters in the great music tradition) do serious folk songs as well as silly ones and they also cover songs ranging from Sam Cooke's soul hymn "A Change Is Gonna Come" to a comic rewrite of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba".  Also, like They Might Be Giants, they veer between albums recorded specifically for children and albums meant for the grown-ups (this one).  Such recorded schizophrenia perhaps confuses the listening public (it shouldn't) and that's why the Sisters aren't more well-known.  Allmusic's William Ruhlmann makes the point that the song sequencing on this very album may be sonically confusing to the unsuspecting:  "Funny as that song ('La Bamba') is, its placement on the album, following the equally comic lead-off number, 'Chocolate', illustrates the problem the Chenille Sisters still have shifting gears from silliness to sincerity.  The third track is a cover of Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come', and the listener hasn't yet got through chuckling at 'La Bamba' when it comes on, so it takes a verse of the solemn soul song before the realization sets in that on this song the group wants to be taken seriously."  Now, I can certainly see Ruhlmann's point . . . if you weren't already familiar with the Chenille Sisters' modus operandi.  However, if you bought the album in the first place I'm pretty sure such tonal shifts will not come as a surprise to you.  And myself, who is a notoriously "eclectic" song sequencer who routinely programmes playlists where Metallica follows Sarah Vaughan who followed Spike Milligan, I don't see a problem here.  As the aforementioned Boswell Sisters are obviously a huge influence (as they are on the similar-sounding Puppini Sisters), the Chenilles tend to have a sound which recalls the late 20's/early 30's sides made by the Boswells (who actually WERE sisters).  Songs like "Hummin' To Myself", "Mama I Wanna Make Rhythm" and even, to some extent, "Chocolate" are definitely in this oeuvre.  Despite several weaker songs, this album is just a lot of fun.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Chocolate,  La Bamba (An English Translation),  A Change Is Gonna Come,  Mama I Wanna Make Rhythm,  Hummin' To Myself,  I Am A Can of Tuna,  Big Hair
FACT SHEET:  MAMA, I WANNA MAKE RHYTHM is the Chenille Sisters' fourth album.  The Chenille Sisters are Cheryl Dawdy, Connie Huber and Grace Morand.  "La Bamba" is a cover of the Ritchie Valens hit which itself was a cover of a tradition Mexican folk song; here the Chenille Sisters write new comedy lyrics.  "A Change Is Gonna Come" is a cover of a Sam Cooke song.  "Hummin' To Myself" was writte by Sammy Fain, Siegel Magidson and Monty Siegel and has been previously recorded by Connee Boswell, Kay Starr and Linda Ronstadt among others. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


YEAR:  1996
LABEL:  Shanachie
TRACK LISTING:  Andy Breckman tells us how he really feels  -  Andy Breckman,  Don't Get Killed  -  Andy Breckman,  The Cheneille Sisters give us their Bob Dylan Update  -  The Chenille Sisters,  Blowin' In the Wind (A Female Perspective)  -  The Chenille Sisters,  Welcome To New York Don White  -  Don White,  Rascal  -  Don White,  Vance Rants  -  Vance Gilbert,  Country Western Rap  -  Vance Gilbert,  Act I:  Patty Larkin channels Marlene Dietrich  -  Patty Larkin,  Act II:  Marlene "hums" La Vie En Rose  -  Patty Larkin,  Act III:  At the Mall starring Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda & Ethel Merman  -  Patty Larkin,  Blow 'Em Away  -  Chuck Brodsky,  Potato  -  Cheryl Wheeler,  Welcome to New York Greg Greenway  -  Greg Greenway,  Massachusetts  -  Greg Greenway,  Dave's True Story asks:  Thinking of majoring in English Literature?  -  Dave's True Story,  Trollope  -  Dave's True Story,  Microwave Life  -  Megan O'Donough,  What is bothering Cliff Eberhardt now?  -  Cliff Eberhardt,  Good For Nothing Saint (Mr. Christopher)  -  Cliff Eberhardt,  Double Yodel  -  Lou & Peter Berryman,  Rob Carlson demonstrates the art of the international insult  -  Rob Carlson,  God Loves the Irish  -  Rob Carlson,  TV Talk  -  Sally Fingerett,  David Buskin goes out on a limb  -  David Buskin,  Hotline  -  David Buskin,  Slap Bang  -  Betty,  Dave Van Ronk gives himself advice - Dave Van Ronk,  Garden State Stomp  -  Dave Van Ronk,  I'm Bored  -  Christine Lavin,  Every Man For Himself  -  The Foremen,  Debi Smith on the bodhran, The Hags and Irish Pizza  -  Debi Smith,  Sleep  -  Debi Smith,  Tom Paxton explains the 80s  -  Tom Paxton,  Yuppies In the Sky  -  Tom Paxton and Company
BONUS TRACKS:  Laugh Track WFUV Laughers  -  Audience,  (These Eggs Were) Born To Run  -  Rob Carlson,  The Jackie O. Auction  -  Tom Paxton
IMPRESSIONS:  Folkie Christine Lavin has spearheaded many many cd collections of modern folk singer/songwriters for the last couple decades and she's still doing it (hence the recent holiday compilation "JUST ONE ANGEL").  They are usually formed around a central theme of songs about winter or autumn or food and here we have her mid-90s "funny folk songs" 2 cd set which were all recorded live during two nights at the Bottom Line.  As with any such collection, the "funniness" of the songs vary to mildly amusing to downright hilarious.  The presence of my beloved favourite Cheryl Wheeler doing her famous "Potato" song (to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance and only using the one word "potato") made the collection a must buy but there are quite a few more funny songs which make the collection worthwhile (if probably better suited to a cherry-picked single cd of the funniest songs).  Other funny highlights include Patty Larkin's three-act "At the Mall" during which she channels Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda and Ethel Merman with schizophrenic glee.  Rob Carlson's "God Loves the Irish" interposes the annual St. Patrick's Day parade with the Gay Rights parade with humorous results:  "And when we say 'Up the Irish'...that isn't what we mean!"  The charming Chenille Sisters (whom I've been a fan of since 1991) update Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind (A Female Perspective)" with such lines as "How many roads must a man drive down before he admits he is lost."  Cliff Eberhardt laments the desanctification of St. Christopher in "Good For Nothing Saint (Mr. Christopher)" while David Buskin's "Hotline" sidesplittingly examines the effects of budget cuts when the suicide hotline is combined with the information number of the public library.  In order to make your own edited-down single cd of the best stuff, I offer my favourite tracks listing below.  However, regardless of the laughter-quotient of some of the songs, the championing of current little-known but worthy folk singer/songwriters and the perpetuation of live performance makes any Christine Lavin compilation worthy.  In her own words from the liner notes:  "Some of the artists on these disks may be familiar to you, some may be discoveries, all of them are hard-working, talented singer/songwriters who have recorded many terrific albums.  I hope 'LAUGH TRACKS' will lead you to their full-length recorded works and to their fabulous live shows."  You certainly can't fault her motives.  As a side note, I actually saw a mini-concert similar to this one when my ex-girlfriend SFB bought tickets to see Cheryl Wheeler performing live locally in tandem with Patty Larkin, John Gorka and Cliff Eberhardt and that evening is one of the few things which I am indebted to her for.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Don't Get Killed  -  Andy Breckman,  Blowin' In the Wind (A Female Perspective)  -  The Chenille Sisters,  Act I:  Patty Larkin channels Marlene Dietrich  -  Patty Larkin,  Act II:  Marlene "hums" La Vie En Rose  -  Patty Larkin,  Act III:  At the Mall  -  Patty Larkin,  Potato  -  Cheryl Wheeler,  Trollope  -  Dave's True Story,  (These Eggs Were) Born To Run  -  Rob Carlson,  Good For Nothing Saint (Mr. Christopher)  -  Cliff Eberhardt,  Double Yodel  -  Lou & Peter Berryman,  God Loves the Irish  -  Rob Carlson,  Hotline  -  David Buskin,  Garden State Stomp  -  Dave Van Ronk
FACT SHEET:  LAUGH TRACKS is a 2 cd set of live performances by various folk artists instigated by Christine Lavin.  The concerts were recorded at the Bottom Line in New York City on the nights of June 22 & 23, 1996.

Friday, January 18, 2013


YEAR:  1992
LABEL:  Continuum
TRACK LISTING:  Yakety Sax (Intro),  Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In the West),  Bianca,  Gypsy Dance,  New York Rap,  Star Names,  Just Wanna Be In Your Band,  Down On the Farm,  Unlucky Luke,  Pepys' Diary,  Older Women,  Cafe Ole,  Graffiti,  Lifeguards,  Go Round Again,  Yakety Sax
IMPRESSIONS:  This is a cd that came out shortly after Benny Hill's death.  I remember picking it up at the local Strawberries and being totally stunned to see it; the last thing I expected to see was a new Benny Hill album (especially so soon after his death).  Earlier in 1992, Benny went to Abbey Road Studios and recorded brand new versions of many of his old songs (including his early 70's hit single "Ernie" whose original recording I prefer) and, for a man who would shortly suffer a heart attack, kidney failure and death, Benny's voice sounds as strong as it ever did.  Benny's long-time producer Dennis Kirkland, in the liner notes written on one month after Hill's death, reveals that Benny was still full of life and fun at the time of recording:  "When we were recording this album at the Beatles' original studios in London's Abbey Road our Musical Director shouted out 'Let's take it from Letter B."  The drummer shouted back, "From where?" and, quick as a flash, Benny sang "Letter B, letter B, letter B..." to the tune of "Let It Be".  I think the Fab 4 would've liked that."  Granted, the old songs we're used to hearing time and time again on countless repeats of "THE BENNY HILL SHOW" but Benny does manage to sneak in a topical reference as in his revised first verse of "Bianca" which runs "Now Bianca McBrown weighs 300 pounds/ she got eyes like risoles in the snow/she comes from St. Kit's/got a big pair of . . . mitts/she could lay Mike Tyson out with one blow...".  Yet, amongst the familiar sounds newly-recorded Benny included a couple new songs ("Star Names", "New York Rap") and it was certainly nice to hear probably the last new material Benny would give us.  The wonderful "Star Names" has lyrics utilizing puns on famous female celebrities' names (and I, for one, was thrilled to hear Benny reference favourite Kate Bush) and the surprising "New York Rap" actually uses a contemporary hip hop backing track on it.  Benny was always a lover of music and it seems till the very end he was listening to new forms of music.  It saddens me to think what Hill's life must've been like at this point in time when the ogre of rampant political correctness had seen him summarily dismissed from Thames television (which frankly owed it's entire success and survival to Benny Hill) and the banishment of his programmes from television.  Ever hopeful, Benny must've thought that recording an album (after so many decades) would allow him to reach his fans who were now cut off from his television work.  As such, "THE BEST OF" is something of a friendly greeting as well as an unintentional farewell to Benny Hill fans.  This is made particularly poignant by the final song on the album (aside from his theme song "Yakety Sax" performed sans Benny by Ronnie Aldrich and his musicians).  The last song Benny included was a re-record of one of the most touching lyrics he ever wrote:  "Go Round Again".  The song appeared decades ago on "THE BENNY HILL SHOW" and in the new recording here follows the same cod-Bob Dylan impression by Benny as the singer recounts his entire life until his own death.  The final verse goes like this as the singer is breathing his last:  "Please let me go 'round again, Lord/please let me go 'round again/I can't believe that I'll never see your sky or your trees again/the girls and the wine/and the living was fine/and I shouldn't complain but then/you give damn short rides on this fairground of yours, Lord/Oh please let me go 'round again".
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Bianca,  Gypsy Dance,  New York Rap,  Star Names,  Down On the Farm,  Unlucky Luke,  Pepys' Diary,  Older Woman,  Cafe Ole,  Graffiti,  Lifeguards,  Go Round Again,  Yakety Sax
FACT SHEET:  THE BEST OF is Benny Hill's final album; I know of two others.  It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, St John's Wood, London and mixed at New York City's 39th Street Music.  The album features Benny Hill's long-time musical director Ronnie Aldrich.  The Beatles tribute cover photo was by Barry Breckon.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


YEAR:  1951
LABEL:  Decca
TRACK LISTING:  Runyonland Music/Fugue For Tinhorns/Follow the Fold  -  Stubby Kaye/Johnny Silver/Douglas Deane/Isabel Bigley and the Mission Group,  The Oldest Established   -  Stubby Kaye, Sam Levene & Johnny Silver,  I'll Know  -  Robert Alda & Isabel Bigley,  A Bushel and A Peck  Vivian Blaine and the Hot Box Girls,  Adelaide's Lament  Vivian Blaine,  Guys and Dolls  -  Stubby Kaye & Johnny Silver,  If I Were A Bell,  -  Isabel Bigley  My Time of Day  -  Robert Alda,  I've Never Been In Love Before  -  Robert Alda & Isabel Bigley,  Take Back Your Mink  -  Vivian Blaine and the Hot Box Girls,  More I Cannot Wish You  -  Pat Rooney Sr.,  Luck Be A Lady  -  Robert Alda and the Guys,  Sue Me  -  Vivian Blaine and Sam Levene,  Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat  -  Stubby Kaye with Chorus,  Marry the Man Today  -  Vivian Blaine & Isabel Bigley,  Reprise:  Guys and Dolls  -  Viviane Blaine & Isabel Bigley
BONUS TRACKS:  (On the CD reissue 4 tracks from the 1955 film version are included):  I'll Know  -  Marlon Brando & Jean Simmons,  If I Were A Bell  -  Marlon Brando & Jean Simmons,  A Woman In Love  -  Marlon Brando,  Luck Be A Lady  -  Marlon Brando and the Guys
IMPRESSIONS:  Several very strong connections with this musical.  Firstly, from the time I was knee-high to a zygote, my mother used to sing me "A Bushel and A Peck" as a lullaby at bedtime.  Much later in high school, the first of two school plays I was involved in was "GUYS AND DOLLS" so I became very familiar with that play and that is when I bought the LP reissue of the original Broadway cast album.  As part of the Concert Choir I also helped as a stagehand and various other dog's body tasks while my best friend Paul starred as Nicely Nicely Johnson who delivered the shopstopping "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat"; this same friend Paul would later become the successful casting director/acting coach Paul Russell.  There is no part of this album I can hear without immediately being catapulted back to junior year on the stage of Cherokee High School.  Just call me Brandy Bottle Bates!
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Runyonland Music/Fugue For Tinhorns/Follow the Fold,  The Oldest Established,  A Bushel and A Peck,  Adelaide's Lament,  Guys and Dolls,  If I Were A Bell,  Take Back Your Mink,  More I Cannot Wish You,  Luck Be A Lady,  Sue Me,  Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat,  Marry the Man Today,  Reprise:  Guys and Dolls
FACT SHEET:  GUYS AND DOLLS is the original Broadway cast recording from 1951 starring Robert Alda, Isabel Bigley, Vivian Blaine, Sam Levene and Stubby Kaye.  The play is based on a story by Damon Runyon with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


YEAR:  1973
LABEL:  Asylum
TRACK LISTING:  There's A Rugged Road,  The Kiss,  The Pearl,  Down Where the Valleys Are Low,  The Vigilante,  Soldier of the Heart,  The Phoenix,  When the Bridegroom Comes,  The Donor
IMPRESSIONS:  Another of those tragic figures of rock who died relatively unknown and years later became celebrated a la Nick Drake.  I first heard (and saw) Judee Sill on the DVD of "THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST" where she performed what I consider her greatest song:  "The Kiss".  For someone who wrote and sang such vulnerable music, Sill was rather tough and no nonsense.  On the programme, she asked people to please buy her record so she wouldn't have to open for all those snotty rock stars anymore.  When she was 15, Judee became involved with an armed robber and held up liquor stores before being sent to a reform school and learning how to play the organ.  Her natural talent emerged and she would become the very first artist David Geffen would sign to his new Asylum record label.  Unfortunately, her first album didn't go anywhere and neither did her second a couple years later.  Long addicted to heroin and in a state of depression over her lack of success, Sill died of a drug overdose in 1979.  It's really intriguing to think what her music would've evolved into had she been more successful and lived to work at it.  "HEART FOOD" has a more mature sound than her debut album whose sound I've always described as Elton John's "FRIENDS" album crossed with Dory Previn.  Her lyrics here still evince her fascination with Christian imagery mixed with occultism but several songs (like the Bach-like "The Kiss") display a sure melodic hand.  Musically, Sill was heavily influenced by Bach's metric forms and hymnody while also managing to include several country-western influences (on the album opener "There's A Rugged Road" and "The Vigilante") as well as more pop sounds (as on the rather disappointing "Soldier of the Heart").  Unlike her previous album where an outside arranger was provided, Sill arranged all the orchestral strings herself and the stress of making this album apparently started her back on heroin and discouraged her from wanting to create more music.  She did write and record demos for a never-realised third album (which has since been released in recent years) but essentially this second album was it for Judee Sill.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  There's A Rugged Road,  The Kiss,  The Pearl,  Down Where the Valleys Are Low,  The Vigilante,  The Phoenix,  The Donor
FACT SHEET:  HEART FOOD is Judee Sill's second album.  The lyrics to "When the Bridegroom Comes" were written by Sill's then-boyfriend David Omer Bearden; to whom the album is dedicated. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


YEAR:  1989
LABEL:  Rhino
TRACK LISTING:  Take Me Out To the Ballgame (excerpt) - Doc & Merle Watson,  Who's On First?  -  Abbott & Costello,  Joltin' Joe DiMaggio  -  Les Brown & His Orchestra,  Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)  -  The Treniers,  I Love Mickey  -  Mickey Mantle & Teresa Brewer,  Van Lingle Mungo  -  Dave Frishberg,  D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song (Oh, Really? No, O'Malley)  -  Danny Kaye,  Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?  -  Count Basie & His Orchestra,  Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech July 4, 1939  -  Lou Gehrig,  Move Over Babe (Here Comes Henry)  -  Bill Slayback,  Take Me Out to the Ball Game  -  Bruce Springstone,  (Love Is Like A) Baseball Game  -  The Intruders,  Willie, Mickey & the Duke (Talkin' Baseball)  -  Terry Cashman,  The Land of Wrigley  -  Stormy Weather,  A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request  -  Steve Goodman,  The Ball Game  -  Sister Wynona Carr,  Baseball Dreams  -  The Naturals with Mel Allen,  Baseball Card Lover  -  Rockin' Ritchie Ray,  Tommy Lasorda Talkin' About Dave Kingman  -  Tommy Lasorda,  We Are the Champions  -  Big Blue Wrecking Crew,  Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World October 3, 1951,  Casey at the Bat  -  DeWolf Hopper
IMPRESSIONS:  I hate baseball.  As someone once said, it's like watching farming.  Only less exciting.  So why on earth would I have not one but TWO volumes of BASEBALL'S GREATEST HITS.  Well, because I like music.  And BASEBALL'S GREATEST HITS contains music.  And some really fun songs too.  One day I may get around to posting about Volume Two but Volume One here has some major musical stars (and some really minor ones, too) as well as some historic radio broadcasts.  I don't care if you are apathetic about baseball (as am I); no one can listen to Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" broadcast without getting a thrill!  Some great novelty songs by major acts are here like Les Brown's catchy "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio" or Teresa Brewer's duet (?!) with Mickey Mantle himself.  Or how about Danny Kaye doing what he does best twisting his tongue into pretzels; my late friend Peg liked that song.  And this cd contains one of the greatest songs ever in Dave Frishberg's "Van Lingle Mungo" which has one of the best stories behind it:  jazz pianist Frishberg was going to make his first ever vocal album in 1970 and he wrote two different lyrics to some music which both were rejected by the record label.  At a loss, Frishberg spied a copy of "THE BASEBALL ENCYCLOPEDIA" lying nearby and he decided to use as lyrics some of the goofiest names of real ball players; only two words in the song are not baseball players' names!  Magic!  Steve Goodman was actually dying of cancer when he made his both funny and poignant "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" for his perpetually losing team.  So there's no need to have even the slightest interest in baseball to enjoy this terrifically entertaining album. 
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Who's On First?  -  Abbott & Costello,  Joltin' Joe DiMaggio  -  Les Brown & His Orchestra,  Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)  -  The Treniers,  I Love Mickey  -  Mickey Mantle & Teresa Brewer,  Van Lingle Mungo  -  Dave Frishberg,  D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song (Oh, Really? No, O'Malley) - Danny Kaye,  Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?  -  Count Basie & His Orchestra,  Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech,  A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request  -  Steve Goodman,  Tommy Lasorda Talkin' About Dave Kingman,  Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World
FACT SHEET:  BASEBALL'S GREATEST HITS is the first of two cd collections put out by Rhino Records featuring songs and audio clips about baseball.

Monday, January 14, 2013


YEAR:  1997
LABEL:  Rhino
TRACK LISTING:  Smells Like Cartoon Planet,  The Cartoon Planet Story,  Big Head,  I Love You Baby,  A Nugget of Joy from Zorak,  Zingor,  Hero In His Own Mind (Part 1),  Don't Touch Me,  Ordinary Guy,  The TV,  I Love Beans,  Minkey Boodle,  Everyone Needs Lovin',  Brak's School Daze:  Trust A Monkey,  What Day Is It,  I Love Almost Everybody,  The Song That Doesn't End,  Down To the River,  Oh Fun Kee Bay Bee,  Fluffy,  Hoodleehoo,  Everybody Wants To Be Space Ghost,  Another Nugget of Joy from Zorak,  Put Your Sox On Mama,  Ramblin' and Wanderin',  Brak's School Daze:  Gym Class,  Crazy Lovesick Fool,  Hero In His Own Mind (Part 2),  Water,  It Stunk,  Don't Send In the Clowns,  Muh Nuh Muh Nuh,  Highway 40 Unplugged,  Space Ghost's "Something To Think About",  De Der Down,  I Love You Baby (Karaoke),  Zingor (Karaoke),  Bye-Bye Goodbye Goodbye Everybody
IMPRESSIONS:  Back in the mid-1990s, I used to drive home from work on wings of glory so that I'd be in time to watch Cartoon Planet on cable TV.  The 90's were something of a renaissance for children's programming that we adults liked as well.  If you remember there was REN & STIMPY, SPACE GHOST COAST TO COAST, CARTOON PLANET, WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO?, MATHNET, ANIMANIACS, BATMAN:  THE ANIMATED SERIES, CRASHBOX and countless others.  I would be a little obsessed with each of these shows at one point or another and my co-workers would be just as devoted as I was.  CARTOON PLANET was a really great way to show those old cartoons we all grew up with but the major draw was the fake "variety show" starring Space Ghost and his old enemies Zorak and Brak; that was what we really tuned in for.  One silly song was catchier than the other and their frequent repetition allowed us to sing along when they came on; thus an album collecting the songs and skits (many ad-libbed) was a natural and there would be a few in this series with SPACE GHOST'S MUSICAL BAR-B-QUE being only the first.  Space Ghost, Brak & Zorak proved daily that they were the true heirs to the Beatles!
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Smells Like Cartoon Planet,  The Cartoon Planet Story,  Big Head,  I Love You Baby,  A Nugget of Joy from Zorak,  Hero In His Own Mind (Part 1),  Don't Touch Me,  The TV,  I Love Beans,  Minkey Boodle,  Brak's School Daze:  Trust A Monkey,  What Day Is It,  I Love Almost Everybody,  The Song That Doesn't End,  Down To the River,  Oh Fun Kee Bay Bee,  Fluffy,  Hoodleehoo,  Put Your Sox On Mama,  Brak's School Daze:  Gym Class,  Water,  It Stunk,  Muh Nuh Muh Nuh,  Space Ghost's "Something To Think About",  Bye-Bye Goodbye Goodbye Everybody
FACT SHEET:  SPACE GHOST'S MUSICAL BAR-B-QUE is the first album derived from the Cartoon Network programme CARTOON PLANET.   The show debuted in 1995 on the cable TV channel TBS Superstation and moved to Cartoon Network from 1996 to 1997.  CARTOON PLANET was a spin-off of the SPACE GHOST COAST TO COAST programme; it began as an hour-long block of cartoons hosted by Space Ghost, Zorak and Brak during which the trio would perform many songs and skits in between cartoons from the Turner Entertainment library, Hanna-Barbera and Space Ghost's own 1960s cartoons.  New material stopped being made in 1997 and the show was re-edited into half-hour programmes sans cartoons.  THE BRAK SHOW was another spin-off from CARTOON PLANET.  Space Ghost was voiced by George Lowe, Zorak was voiced by C. Martin Croker and Brak was voiced by Andy Merrill. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013


YEAR:  1993
LABEL:  Philo
TRACK LISTING:  Prince Charles,  We Are the True Americans,  Dear Dan,  Bald Headed Men,  What Was I Thinking?,  I blab about celebrities I have spied on at my local health club,  Doris & Edwin:  The Movie,  Alternate endings to the above song if the one here is too scary for sensitive you,  Intermission,  The Dakota,  Regretting What I Said...,  How the Lord helped me rewrite a troublesome line in "Regretting What I Said...",  Shopping Cart of Love:  The Play,  Katy Says Today Is the Best Day of My Whole Entire Life
BONUS TRACKS:  What Was I Thinking? (The Dance Mix)
IMPRESSIONS:  Christine Lavin has a LOT of live albums but this is the first one I ever heard and it's, I think, her best.  On occassion, Lavin's folky humour can be a bit twee but here it's all laugh-out-loud funny (except for the one or two serious folk songs) and her songwriting is particularly strong here.  Lavin adeptly switches from making fun of Prince Charles or Dan Quayle (remember him???) to revealing her passion for bald men to the genuinely touching moment when Katy tells her Aunt Christine that today was the best day of her whole entire life.  In between we have the epic tales of Doris & Edwin and the Shopping Cart of Love.  Speaking of epic, there is also "Regretting What I Said..." which originally appeared on her 1984 album "FUTURE FOSSILS" and is the longest known song title:  "Regretting What I Said to You When You Called Me 11:00 on a Friday Morning to Tell Me That at 1:00 Friday Afternoon You're Gonna Leave Your Office, Go Downstairs, Hail a Cab to Go Out to the Airport to Catch a Plane to Go Skiing in the Alps for Two Weeks, Not That I Wanted To Go With You, I Wasn't Able to Leave Town, I'm Not a Very Good Skier, I Couldn't Expect You to Pay My Way, But After Going Out With You for Three Years I DON'T Like Surprises!! Subtitled A Musical Apology".  All that and the absolutely hilarious title track!
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Prince Charles,  Bald Headed Men,  What Was I Thinking?,  Doris & Edwin:  The Movie,  Regretting What I Said...,  Shopping Cart of Love:  The Play,  Katy Says Today Is the Best Day of My Whole Entire Life
FACT SHEET:  LIVE AT THE CACTUS CAFE:  WHAT WAS I THINKING? is Christine Lavin's eighth album.  It was recorded live at the Texas Union's Cactus Cafe at the University of Texas at Austin on January 16, 1993.  Lavin is a New York City-based folk singer/songwriter who is also a major promoter of contemporary folk music; she not only records her own albums and tours extensively (releasing many live albums as well) but also puts out many many compilation cds of other contemporary folk artists (sometimes on a single theme i.e. CHRISTINE LAVIN PRESENTS LAUGH TRACKS, ON A WINTER'S NIGHT, WHEN OCTOBER GOES:  AUTUMN LOVE SONGS, ONE MEAT BALL or the recent holiday collection JUST ONE ANGEL) as well as being a founding member of the folk super group "Four Bitchin' Babes".

Saturday, January 12, 2013


YEAR:  1993
LABEL:  Columbia
TRACK LISTING:  No Man's Land,  The Great Wall of China,  Blonde Over Blue,  A Minor Variation,  Shades of Grey,  All About Soul,  Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel),  The River of Dreams,  Two Thousand Years,  Famous Last Words
IMPRESSIONS:  These were the last words he had to say.  Billy Joel's last rock album before embarking on the classical music trail (which yielded one album and then nothing) is not as good as I'd like it to be.  However, half the album contains some of Joel's best songs.   The explosive album opener "No Man's Land" is a terrific rocker.  After that, though, we get a string of rather uninspired songs before we reach the wonderful "All About Soul" which doesn't seem like much but worms its way into your head until you love it.  "Lullabye" obviously was written for his daughter Alexa and the song is one of the major catalysts in Joel's mind for abandoning his rock career; the piano bridge (and indeed the music to the entire song) is more classical than pop and Joel wondered why he was continuing to try to shoehorn rock lyrics into the more classical-sounding music he was writing.  Nevertheless, the song stands as one of Joel's most emotional songs and one of the best lullabies you're likely to hear.  Fittingly, this lullaby seques into the title track as if the listener has fallen asleep and is now dreaming.  "The River of Dreams" was justly celebrated at the time for its joyous abandon and it's Joel's very own "Lion Sleeps Tonight".  Next we have "Two Thousand Years" which is an OK song but the version on Joel's live "MILLENIUM CONCERT" cd is better.  Finally, we have my favourite song on the album and Joel's farewell to the world of rock music:  "Famous Last Words".  There is something just so autumnal about the song -- images of a summer resort closing down for the season are vivid -- that I find myself constantly listening to the song every late August/early September.  It never fails.  Joel sings "...these are the last words I have to say" and pretty much since then they were (aside from his 2007 single for his wife "All My Life") and as such it is a fitting way to take his leave.  Not a classic album but still a very good one.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  No Man's Land,  All About Soul,  Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel),  The River of Dreams,  Famous Last Words
GUEST ARTISTS:  Color Me Badd (backing vocals on "All About Soul").  Really?!?!?
FACT SHEET:  RIVER OF DREAMS is Billy Joel's twelfth album and his last rock album to date.  The album was nominated for the Grammy Award for "Album of the Year" and "The River of Dreams" was nominated for 3 more Grammys.  The album cover was painted by Christie Brinkley.  In 1994, a 3 cd box set entitled "A VOYAGE ON THE RIVER OF DREAMS" was released only in Australia, New Zealand and Japan (yes, of course I own it) which includes the regular "RIVER OF DREAMS" cd as well as a live cd EP featuring "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "No Man's Land", "The Ballad of Billy the Kid", Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel),  "The River of Dreams" and "A Hard Day's Night" and a third cd of a lecture tour recorded at Princeton University called "AN EVENING OF QUESTIONS & ANSWERS...AND PERHAPS A FEW SONGS" in which Joel takes questions from the audience about his songwriting.   

Friday, January 11, 2013


YEAR:  1993
LABEL:  Columbia
TRACK LISTING:  Rubberband Girl,  And So Is Love,  Eat the Music,  Moments of Pleasure,  The Song of Solomon,  Lily,  The Red Shoes,  Top of the City,  Constellation of the Heart,  Big Stripey Lie,  Why Should I Love You?,  You're the One
IMPRESSIONS:  Kate Bush's "Santana Supernatural" album almost a decade before Santana.  What I mean by that is "THE RED SHOES" features a ton of rock star cameos which was quite unusual for a Kate Bush record.  That may explain why it's somewhat of a mishmash.  Still a great record (a so-so Kate Bush album still outdoes 95% of everyone else's albums), Kate herself knew, I think, which were the best songs because those are the ones she chose to include in her film "THE LINE, THE CROSS AND THE CURVE" which she wrote and directed and is basically a retelling of "THE RED SHOES" fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen starring herself, Miranda Richardson and Lindsey Kemp.  The album itself I don't think can really be called a "concept album" based on the tale because listening to it without having seen the film one would be hard-pressed to see the connection between the songs.  In fact, Bush at the time was contemplating actually going on a live concert tour again (which she hadn't done since 1979) so she conceived the album as more "live band" friendly than her previous albums.  Sadly, the tour never happened (and Bush has still never toured except for that one and only time).  The time period around the making of this album was also a very traumatic one for the singer as her mother Hannah died very soon after the album was released, her long-time guitarist Alan Murphy died, director Michael Powell (whose 1948 film "THE RED SHOES" co-directed with Emeric Pressburger was also an inspiration for the album and with whom she had discussed working with) had recently died in 1990 and her long-time relationship with bassist Del Palmer had also come to an end.  Things must've been very raw because she would not make another album again for 12 years.  While about half the album is rather forgettable (relatively speaking), the other half contains plenty of gold.  The album actually did surprisingly well in the U.S. for a change mostly due to the surprise hit "Eat the Music" which got substantial MTV airplay.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Rubberband Girl,  And So Is Love,  Eat the Music,  Moments of Pleasure,  Lily,  The Red Shoes,  Why Should I Love You?,  You're the One
GUEST ARTISTS:  Jeff Beck (guitar on "You're the One"),  Gary Brooker of Procol Harum (Hammond organ on "Constellation of the Heart", "And So Is Love" and "You're the One"),  Eric Clapton (guitar on "And So Is Love"),  Lenny Henry (vocals on "Why Should I Love You?"),  Michael Kamen (orchestration on "Moments of Pleasure"),  Nigel Kennedy (violin on "Big Stripey Lie", violin and viola on "Top of the City"),  Lily (narration on "Lily"),  Prince (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals and arranger on "Why Should I Love You?"),  Trio Bulgarka (vocals)
FACT SHEET:  THE RED SHOES is Kate Bush's seventh album.  The album concept was inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale and the 1949 Powell & Pressburger film.  The album went platinum in the U.K.  Bush re-recorded several songs from this album on her 2011 album "DIRECTOR'S CUT" stating she had not been happy with the production sound on the originals.        

Thursday, January 10, 2013


YEAR:  1993
LABEL:  Capitol Records
TRACK LISTING:  The Lady Is A Tramp,  What Now My Love,  I've Got A Crush On You,  Summer Wind,  Come Rain or Come Shine,  New York New York,  They Can't Take That Away From Me,  You Make Me Feel So Young,  Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry/In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,  I've Got the World On A String,  Witchcraft,  I've Got You Under My Skin,  All the Way/One For My Baby (And One More For the Road
IMPRESSIONS:  The other duets album of 1993.  The genesis for this album may well have been the similar duet between Frank Sinatra and Cyndi Lauper of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" which appeared on the benefit cd "A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS VOLUME 2" in 1992.  Regardless, old blue eyes got some flak for not actually being in the room with his duet partners but having them sing to pre-recorded Sinatra vocals.  This frankly never bothered me.  The man was up there in age and only had another 5 years to live so I think a good deal of slack can be cut here.  And despite this fact, Frankie's vocals are surprisingly OK which leads to a rather enjoyable group of songs; the only downside is pairing Sinatra with execrable performers like Anita Baker and Kenny G (kryptonite to my ears).  Ah, the ignominy!  How could they do that to Frankie?!?!?!!!!  Again, this kind of album is bound to be something of a mixed bag.  Some of the performers seem to stiffen up a little when confronted with dueting with Sinatra but some manage to conjure a genuine warmth (Streisand, Minnelli) or good-natured humour (Bono).
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  What Now My Love,  I've Got A Crush On You,  Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry/In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,  I've Got the World On A String,  I've Got You Under My Skin
GUEST ARTISTS:  Luther Vandross (vocals on "The Lady is a Tramp"),  Aretha Franklin (vocals on "What Now My Love"),  Barbra Streisand (vocals on "I've Got A Crush On You"),  Julio Iglesias (vocals on "Summer Wind"),  Gloria Estefan (vocals on "Come Rain or Come Shine"),  Tony Bennett (vocals on "New York New York),  Natalie Cole (vocals on "They Can't Take That Away From Me"),  Charles Aznavour (vocals on "You Make Me Feel So Young"),  Carly Simon (vocals on "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry/In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning"),  Liza Minnelli (vocals on "I've Got the World On A String"),  Anita Baker (vocals on "Witchcraft"),  Bono (vocals on "I've Got You Under My Skin"),  Kenny G (cacophony on "All the Way/One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)")
FACT SHEET:  There's no way I'm gonna try and figure out what number Sinatra album this is!  The album features duets with performers from all different musical genres personally selected by Sinatra himself.  DUETS sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. and is the only Frank Sinatra album to date that has gone triple platinum.  The album was produced by Phil Ramone.  Sinatra's duet partners did not record in the same room with him but instead sang along to pre-recorded Sinatra vocals.  The album cover painting is by LeRoy Neiman specially commissioned by Frank Sinatra. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


YEAR:  1993
TRACK LISTING:  Teardrops,  When I Think About Love (I Think About You),  The Power,  Shakey Ground,  True Love,  If You Were Me,  A Woman's Needs,  Old Friend,  Go On and On,  Don't Go Breaking My Heart,  Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing,  I'm Your Puppet,  Love Letters,  Born To Lose,  Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me (Live),  Duets For One
IMPRESSIONS:  Coming out the same year as Frank Sinatra's "DUETS" album, it's not really possible to know who had the idea first since Elton's "DUETS" was released on November 30 and Sinatra's was released on November 2; obviously both albums were in production at the same time to have release dates so close to each other.  However, the word at the time was that Elton had the idea first owing mostly to the number one success of the live version of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" with George Michael in 1991 (which is included on this album).  Regardless, Elton's album pips Sinatra's in the simple fact that Elton and his duet partners sang together in the same room!  That having been said, Elton's "DUETS" is a remarkably hit-and-miss affair featuring some truly wonderful collaborations (k.d. lang, Marcella Detroit, Kiki Dee, Nik Kershaw, Bonnie Raitt, Leonard Cohen and the aforementioned George Michael) and some unbelievably forgettable duets which should've been MUCH much better (Little Richard, Tammy Wynette, Gladys Knight).  Elton and RuPaul reprising "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" is actually quite funny and worthwhile while the Don Henley and Paul Young duets are OK but unspectacular.  There are a great deal of covers here as well as some John/Taupin originals but you really need to use the skip button for this one.  
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Teardrops,  True Love,  Old Friend,  Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing,  I'm Your Puppet,  Love Letters,  Born To Lose,  Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me (Live),  Duets For One
GUEST ARTISTS:  k.d. lang (vocals on "Teardrops"),  PM Dawn (vocals and producers on "When I Think About Love (I Think About You)"),  Little Richard (vocals on "The Power"),  Don Henley (vocals on "Shakey Ground"),  Kiki Dee (vocals on "True Love"),  Chris Rea (vocals on "If You Were Me"),  Tammy Wynette (vocals on "A Woman's Needs"),  Nik Kershaw (vocals and producer on "Old Friend"),  Gladys Knight (vocals on "Go On and On"),  RuPaul (vocals on "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"),  Marcella Detroit (vocals on "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing"),  Paul Young (vocals on "I'm Your Puppet"),  Bonnie Raitt (vocals on "Love Letters"),  Leonard Cohen (vocals on "Born To Lose"),  George Michael (vocals and producer on "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me (Live)"),  Don Was (producer),  Stevie Wonder (backing vocals, all instruments, producer and songwriter on "Go On and On", synclavier programming on "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"),  Narada Michael Walden (producer on "True Love"),  Giorgio Moroder (producer on "Don't Go Breaking My Heart")
FACT SHEET:  DUETS is Elton John's 24th album and was certified platinum. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


YEAR:  1993
LABEL:  Matador Records
TRACK LISTING:  6'1",  Help Me Mary,  Glory,  Dance of the Seven Veils,  Never Said,  Soap Star Joe,  Explain It To Me,  Canary,  Mesmerizing,  Fuck and Run,  Girls!  Girls!  Girls!,  Divorce Song,  Shatter,  Flower,  Johnny Sunshine,  Gunshy,  Stratford-On-Guy,  Strange Loop
IMPRESSIONS:  One of the most famous landmark albums in the so-called "alternative" music genre.  Liz Phair had written and recorded these songs and circulated them on cassette tapes DIY-style under the name "Girly Sound" in the summer of 1991 around Chicago.  The 4-track demo cassette began to get serious buzz in the underground music scene and independent music press bringing Phair to the attention of the head of indie label "Feel Good All Over" John Henderson who brought in producer Brad Wood to help develop the songs.  Artistic differences led to the dismissal of Henderson while Wood and Phair worked on what would become the album "EXILE IN GUYVILLE" after the cassette eventually made its way to the head of Matador Records.  The songwriting and performing here are particularly strong with the drum patterns and bass lines structuring around Phair's vocals as opposed to recording the musicians first; this gives the album a really sympathetic and intimate feel.  Like a comet flashing across the sky, Liz Phair would never create anything so groundbreaking or memorable again.     
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  6'1",  Help Me Mary,  Glory,  Dance of the Seven Veils,  Never Said,  Mesmerizing,  Fuck and Run,  Girls!  Girls!  Girls!,  Divorce Song,  Flower,  Johnny Sunshine,  Gunshy,  Stratford-On-Guy
FACT SHEET:  EXILE IN GUYVILLE is Liz Phair's first album.  The cover photo was taken by Nash Kato of the band Urge Overkill and the album title was partially inspired by the Urge Overkill song "Guyville".  The original cover concept by Liz Phair was a collage involving "a fat lady in a pool" which was rejected by Matador Records as uncommercial.  The interior cd booklet layout was inspired by the 1952 album "THE JOYS AND SORROWS OF ANDALUSIA" by Lopez Tejera.  The concept of the album was famously described by Phair as a song-by-song response to the Rolling Stones' 1972 album "EXILE ON MAIN STREET"; while to connection between the two albums may be tenuous at times, Phair deliberately sequenced her songs in such a way as to match the song order and pacing of the Stones album. By 1994, EXILE IN GUYVILLE had become Matador's biggest selling album to date and it was also named "Album of the Year" by Spin magazine as well as making many year-end "best of" lists.   

Monday, January 7, 2013


YEAR:  1993
LABEL:  Arista
TRACK LISTING:  God Shuffled His Feet,  Afternoons & Coffeespoons,  Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,  In the Days of the Caveman,  Swimming In Your Ocean,  Here I Stand Before Me,  I Think I'll Disappear Now,  How Does A Duck Know,  When I Go Out With Artists,  The Psychic,  Two Knights and Maidens,  Crash Course
IMPRESSIONS:  Crash Test Dummies usually get dismissed as a 90s one-hit-wonder which is hilarious since they had several hits in the early 90s.  I think the major problem with the public conception of this band is that the sound of lead singer Brad Roberts is very distinctive and can tend to make the songs sound very similar.  In fact, while there are some really excellent songs on this album, there are also a few songs that (songwriting-wise) sound very much like a few OTHER songs on the album.  Be that as it may, the good songs here are really excellent and make the album very worthwhile.  My favourite song on the album is without doubt "Afternoons & Coffeespoons" which manages to reference T.S. Eliot (directly and with the quote that gives the song its title).  The title track and "Two Knights and Maidens" are also stand-outs.  The hit single "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" has always left me cold.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  God Shuffled His Feet,  Afternoons & Coffeespoons,  Swimming In Your Ocean,  How Does A Duck Know?, Two Knights and Maidens, Crash Course
GUEST ARTISTS:  Adrian Belew (synthesized guitars on "God Shuffled His Feet")
FACT SHEET:  GOD SHUFFLED HIS FEET is Crash Test Dummies' second album.  The cover features the painting "Bacchus and Ariadne" by Titian with the band's faces superimposed over the figures.  The album reached triple platinum status and was number one in New Zealand and Austria.  It reached the top ten on the Billboard album chart but only reached #17 in the band's native Canada.            

Sunday, January 6, 2013


YEAR:  1993
LABEL:  Arista
TRACK LISTING:  All That She Wants,  Don't Turn Around,  Young and Proud,  The Sign,  Living In Danger,  Dancer In A Daydream,  Wheel of Fortune,  Waiting For Magic (Total Remix 7"),  Happy Nation,  Voulez-Vous Danser,  My Mind (Mindless Mix),  All That She Wants (Banghra Version)
IMPRESSIONS:  There's a slightly embarrassing story to this one.  More embarrassing than the music, I hear you wonder?  Yes indeed.  And in fact, I'm not even going to tell you about it.  So there.  Let us just say that this album (particularly the tracks "Living In Danger", "Dancer In A Daydream", "Wheel of Fortune" and "Waiting For Magic") immediately bring back to mind a certain ex-girlfriend and a certain time in my life.  Suffice it to say that Ace of Base was ABBA for the 90's . . . but with a reggae beat. . .and released in Denmark.  The first song I heard from the band was "All That She Wants" and I loved it; this was followed by the smash hit "The Sign" which I quite liked and "Don't Turn Around" which I didn't.  It wasn't really the singles that I liked as much as the aforementioned album tracks and those are the ones I play nowadays whenever I dip into this album.  Those songs played in a row are my ultimate nostalgic dance song sequence and after playing them I usually put the album away.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  All That She Wants,  Living In Danger,  Dancer In A Daydream,  Wheel of Fortune,  Waiting For Magic
FACT SHEET:  THE SIGN is Ace of Base's first album.  Actually it isn't.  The album originally released in Denmark by Mega Records was titled "HAPPY NATION" and had a different selection of tracks and in different order as well.  "THE SIGN" was the album version released in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Mexico and some Latin American countries and is listed by RIAA as one of the 100 best selling albums of all-time selling more than 23 million copies and reaching number one in over 14 countries.  Not bad for a group whose main creative songwriters are named Joker and Buddha!   

Saturday, January 5, 2013


YEAR:  1993

LABEL:  Capitol Records
TRACK LISTING:  Too Much Information,  Ordinary World,  Love Voodoo,  Drowning Man,  Shotgun,  Come Undone,  Breath After Breath,  UMF,  Femme Fatale,  None of the Above,  Shelter,  To Whom It May Concern,  Sin of the City
IMPRESSIONS:  I thought I'd start the New Year here in the Dark Forest with a week (or so) of album which came out 20 years ago.  1993 was a pretty fun year musically for me; the Penguin Awards were strongly established after a tentative start in 1990-1991, the grunge thing (the REAL grunge thing) was in full swing and was in fact winding down by 1993 while many other established artists were releasing reinvigorated music.  Here's a fine example.  It's really hard to believe that Duran Duran's comeback album came out 20 years ago!  But there we have it.  Duran Duran was well and truly dead - a relic of the 80s which no one was interested in.  Cue the single "Ordinary World" which took everyone by surprise.  Duran Duran was back and stronger than ever, it seemed.  "Ordinary World" was quite a nice single and "Come Undone" topped it by being one of the greatest songs Double D ever released.  Ever.  Add to this a fine cover of a Lou Reed song and some super album tracks and we have the unofficially-titled "Wedding Album" -- "written around the globe, recorded in privacy, London" --  to treat your ears.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Too Much Information,  Ordinary World,  Come Undone,  UMF,  Femme Fatale,  None of the Above,  Shelter
FACT SHEET:  DURAN DURAN is Duran Duran's seventh album and the second eponymously-titled album; DURAN DURAN is usually referred to as "The Wedding Album" because of the cover art by Nick Egan featuring wedding photos of the parents of the 4 band members.  Incidentally, the band at this point consisted of Simon LeBon (vocals), Nick Rhodes (keyboards), John Taylor (bass) and Warren Cuccurullo (guitars).  The album had been completed in early 1992 but Duran Duran's new management Left Bank pulled the release from the schedule due to perceived "lack of enthusiasm" by Capitol Records for Left Bank's efforts to revive the careers of perceived "old bands" like Duran Duran and Meat Loaf (both of whom would have spectacularly successful comebacks that year).  Milton Nascimento co-wrote and sang backing vocals on "Breath After Breath".  "Femme Fatale" is a cover of a Lou Reed song.