Tag Archives: album

Weekly Vinyl – Before and after Science

19 Apr

Before and after Science
Brian Eno
(1977)
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I have no idea what happened to this album. When I took it out of the sleeve it was stuck to the plastic insert. Did the plastic melt? Did some sticky sweet liquid infiltrate the album and cause this mess? A flashback memory hit me and I saw my mom washing records and having them drip dry in the drying rack. I shook my head got the record cleaner out, carefully cleaned the album and let it spin.
Oh boy, that didn’t work too well. The sound was horrible and the needle was slipping around. Yes. I washed the record with very mild some and lukewarm water. No. I did not leave it in the drying rack to drip dry.
Now that the record is playing normally IO can concentrate on the music. There is earnestness to Brian Eno’s music especially when he is singing. His voice has this deliberate melodic charm, which is quite unique. This is a calming record even when it does try to take it up a notch, like in the song Backwater, there is a subdued intensity. The songs are exquisitely crafted. No wonder he is such a fine producer. This was one of the albums that introduced me to Brian Eno. It is a fine example of this artists work.

Weekly Vinyl – The Best of Mario Lanza

22 Mar

The Best of Mario Lanza
Mario Lanza
(1960)

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I pulled this our of my collection and I have no idea how I got this album. I have seen it around when I scroll through the collection, my wall of records is in no order – blissfully unorganized, but have never listened to it. I was tempted to go visit the Mario Lanza museum when I was in Philadelphia but I went for a cheese steak instead. Gotta say, Mario Lanza had an amazing tenor and this recording shows the voice well. The backing music is a bit too saccharine laced for my liking, but it is very period. Lanza died in 1959 so this album has that late fifties sound. This music just begs to be listened to on vinyl with a bit of hiss and the odd pop thrown in.

Weekly Vinyl – Forever Man (Maxi Single)

15 Mar

Forever Man (Maxi Single)
Eric Clapton
(1985)
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I was a bit surprised when I pulled this out. I don’t recall acquiring this maxi-single. I must have gotten it as a package with other albums at some garage sale.
Whatever the case this disk features three songs. One of the songs, Forever Man appears on Clapton’s Behind the Sun album. It appears alone on side A and is one of Clapton’s big hits. I’m actually quite lukewarm to this song. It has the aura of a big band production. It also reminds me a bit of the song Layla, Clapton’s big hit with Derek and the Dominos.
The song that really stands out, for me, is Too Bad. This song was produced by non-other than erstwhile Genesis drummer/frontman Phil Collins. It has a great simple blues feel to it. The production is simple and very honest. This makes it stand out and makes holding onto this disk worthwhile.
The final song is Behind the Sun and the less I say about it the better.

Weekly Vinyl – Cajun Paradise

8 Mar

Cajun Paradise
Wayne Toups and the Crowley Aces
(1979)
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It’s hard for me to differentiate the quality of Cajun music. It all goes to the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever heard any bad Cajun music. I have heard excellent music in this genre. The worst I could say about any Cajun music is that it is typical. Not bad, but OK. Wayne Toups and his Crowley Aces are not in the excellent category. They seem to lack flair in this recording. Their playing is measured and has a feel that the band is holding a lot back in terms of energy and excitement. To be fair, this music has to be experienced live to really come out. This album was recorded when he was just 21, and was released in Europe before he made a career for himself in his native USA. I picked this up in a bin in Switzerland where I got a lot of good interesting albums to be sure.

Weekly Vinyl – The Romantic Cello Music of Spain

1 Mar

The Romantic Cello Music of Spain
Janos Starker
(1968)
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When I pulled this album out of the stack I though that this was just going to be a run of the mill classical album. I like the cello. I like the sound it makes – the deeply melodic, soulful sound. I gave it a listen and was impressed. The music was not as “romantic” as I thought. I was expecting much more saccharine pap and what I heard was quite pleasant but not entirely memorable. The album has descriptions of the musical pieces presented on this recording and this makes for some interesting reading. I did a quick search on Wikipedia in a vain hope that I would find out something more about the cellist, Janos Starker, than was given in the notes on the cover. Behold, this is not some little vanity project by an obscure cellist. This guy, Starker, has over 160 recordings to his name and apparently recorded all works composed for the cello.

Weekly Vinyl – Party

22 Feb

Party
Iggy Pop
(1981)
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This is a strange one as I’m not a big Iggy Pop fan. This album is probably the reason I’m so lukewarm to this artist. Mind you, I like artists that reinvent themselves and experiment with new sounds and genres. But this… At times I had to get up and look at the spinning record to make sure that this was Iggy Pop on the turntable. Take for example Happy Man, a faux ska-like ditty that follows the passable tune called Pumpin’ for Jill. What were they thinking? 1981 was the year that New Wave was cresting on the shores of popularity and some of these tunes are obviously attempts to cash in on this music trend that it is quite embarrassing. Just listen to the final track, Time won’t let me – sheesh… Party is a muddled album that is more suitable to be background music to everyday activities than to actually party to.
NB: After writing this, I listened to it again. Does not get any better … it gets worse.

Weekly Vinyl – The Big Sounds of the Drags

15 Feb

The Big Sounds of the Drags: Volume 2
Jim Economides
(1964)
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Another car racing themed album popped out. I picked this up at a garage sale many years ago. On the cover it promises, “The hottest things on the strip come to life in this thrill-a-second recording!” It is overselling itself. I dosed off listening to the second side. The announcer, although using very dated hyperbole, is very muted. In fact, the whole album is very peaceful. Kind of like white noise. I remember listening to football and hockey on the radio when I was a kid and remember that it was fairly interesting. Listening to this is fascinating in a hipster-ironic kind of way. There are many moments of silence punctuated by engines revving for about eight seconds. Then just the popping and hissing of the album. Unlike watching drag racing on TV (which is a dubious viewing experience anyways), listening to this you have absolutely no idea what is going on. There is no modern context, as 1964, when this album was released, was the very early days of drag racing as an organized competition. Does this album give me the feeling that I’m “there as the top car drivers and mighty engines come screaming past the checkered flag”? No. But I enjoyed the quizzical looks I get from my family as I listened to this.

Weekly Vinyl – Peter Gabriel

8 Feb

Peter Gabriel #3 (Melt)
Peter Gabriel
(1980)
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I’m not really sure why Peter Gabriel made a German version of his fourth album, but I’m glad he did. I have the English version as well, but I did not search for it as I did not want to do a comparison and it would be against my self imposed “review at random” approach to this. I don’t understand German, I’m limited to ordering beer and a few basic food items, but I appreciate how the language works with the music.
The album sounds dated and fresh at the same time. I remember it being a landmark album when it came out and it still holds up very well for the most part. The sound is very 80s though simply because a lot of the musical ideas on this album were emulated by other 80s artists. Some of the songs really hold up. Keine Selbstkontrolle (No self control) is one. The big hit Spiel ohne Grenzen (Games without Frontiers) has also stood up very well. Although Biko, one of my favourite Gabriel songs loses a bit in this album. German lyrics and bagpipes do not do it for me. But really, great album to discover again after some 33 years.

Weekly Vinyl – Schlager Rennen

31 Jan

Schlager Rennen
Orchester Roy Robbins
(1981)
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I got this one in Switzerland many years ago. If I recall correctly it was at a flea market in Wintertur. What intrigued me was the cover. A Formula One car. A Brabham BT48. The driver is Nelson Piquet. Three times World Champion was he. But not in this car. This car was a dog as I recall.
If you think that the cover’s F1 means that there is high paced energetic music inside then you will be disappointed. Although not quite elevator music, this music is flaccid. It is a typical orchestral arrangement of “hits.” Are there highlights? Well, the first song on this album is called Dance Little Bird. We all know it as the chicken dance. I am glad I have it in my collection because I might just spin it for my kids. They will have a laugh at their parents sake.
There are 28 songs here each blander than the one before. That being said, I still love the cover.

Weekly Vinyl – Live from Paris…

19 Jan

Live from Paris…
Go
(1976)
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I was intrigued by this cover due to the depiction of a pack of Gitanes on the cover. And the fact that keyboard wizard Klaus Schulze was in the band.
Here is an example of an obscure 1970s supergroup. This is a double album as was the custom. The band is actually called Stomu Yamashta’s Go. He is a percussionist-pianist who is credited with composing all the tacks on the album. Besides Schulze, other notables are Steve Winwood (he of Traffic, Spencer Davis group fame), Al Di Meola and drummer Michael Shrieve (Santana’s drum master).
This is really an eclectic album with each musician pulling his way. There are the eerie atmospherics of Klaus Schulze in some songs and then, without warning, what would amount to radio friendly FM tunes of the 70s. It doesn’t really work as a whole package. While listening to this album I was thinking at times, is it ELP lite? Is it Eric Clapton on an off night?
That being said, there are some great tunes on this album. Side one, which is currently playing as I write this, is quite compelling. Very prog rock – mixing influences of jazz, fusion, electronica, into a very nice bit of music.
The sticker on the cover indicates that I paid $4.99 for the album. I’d say it was worth it.