Monday, September 12, 2016

Late-Summer Strange Music Fest!

* Waylon Jennings -- Lonesome On'ry and Mean. From GREATEST HITS. Wow, does he sound like Merle Haggard, or is it just me? Nice guitar.
* Billy Joel -- Vienna. From THE STRANGER. Heard this on the radio awhile back and it sounded pretty good. But maybe I just didn't pay attention the first time around. Why wasn't this a bigger hit?
* Queen -- I'm Going Slightly Mad. From INNUENDO and CLASSIC QUEEN. Haven't heard this since 1991. Still sounds pretty great, with some extra drama I could hear even back then. Slowly builds in tension and momentum, ending's a bit of an anti-climax. Do you realize Freddie Mercury would be 70 years old now?
* Queen -- The Show Must Go On. Now HERE'S some drama! This is a helluva vocal performance from a sick man. And the band's in great form. Nice but brief guitar from Brian May. Weak ending. I still think INNUENDO's one of Queen's solidest albums.
* The Brains -- Money Changes Everything. From NEW WAVE GOLD. Wow, this sure ain't Cyndi Lauper. Sneering new-wavey lead vocal by leader Tom Gray, good driving choruses, not as many melodic hooks as Cyndi's version. It rocks, and it's over too quick. Kinda sounds like a blueprint for Cyndi's hit version.
* Adam Ant -- Goody Two-Shoes. From NEW WAVE GOLD. Good Lord, haven't heard this since 1983. Hilarious lyrics, great guitar and horns. Lotsa fun. Where's "Stand and Deliver"?
* Tears for Fears -- Change. From NEW WAVE GOLD. Haven't heard this since '83. Not bad. Haunting choruses. Better playing than writing or singing. But these guys have potential, could go far.
* Yes -- Something's Coming. From the YESYEARS best-of. Good Lord, seven minutes of this? Starts with a dull-but-brief Bill Bruford drum solo, then the band joins in squonking, elaborating all over this tune from WEST SIDE STORY. Maybe they shoulda done "America" instead. Then they get to the theme, and it's not bad. Jon Anderson does his Frank Sinatra impression on the lyrics, and the group vocals sound young and excited. Kind of charming.
* Yes -- Everydays. BBC session from YESYEARS. Stephen Stills wrote this. I've always liked early Yes's fresh, young, excited sound -- I thought YESTERDAYS was full of great songs, though the selection from their first two albums could have been even better. Jon Anderson sings in a lower vocal register on some of this earlier stuff, and they sound just "progressive" enough.
* Yes -- The Gates of Delirium. From RELAYER. OK, The Big One. I've been putting this off long enough. Opening's rather pretty in a sort of heavy-ornate way. Then the singing starts -- and this is a million miles away from "Something's Coming." Nice guitar break from Steve Howe before things start moving faster -- this is the ferocious speediness I've heard about? It certainly MOVES. Patrick Moraz joins in on lightning-fast keyboards -- this must be the "battle scene." It SOUNDS like a huge, ugly battle. You can hear cannon-fire and swords clashing. Some very far-out guitar and keyboard work in a long and stately middle section. Then a break.... The "Soon" section has an especially beautiful melody at the end. ...But that's all? Where's the rest of it? ...I guess that's proof that it's all over too quickly. Hmmm, far out, but not as noisy as I'd expected.
* Cat Stevens -- If You Want to Sing Out Sing Out. From his CLASSICS best-of. Haven't heard this since I saw the movie HAROLD AND MAUDE sometime toward the end of highschool. Charming as always, and way light.
* Cat Stevens -- Remember the Days of the Old Schoolyard. Synthesizer on a Cat Stevens song? Wasn't this almost a hit? Light of course, but Cat was trying to lighten-up on purpose back in '77.
* Cat Stevens -- Katmandu. No, not the Bob Seger song. Definitely. This is Cat with acoustic guitar, keeping it simple back in 1970, before the production started taking over.
* Cat Stevens -- Oh Very Young. I pretty-much hated this back in the day, but it sounds like a classic now.
* Gentle Giant -- Think of Me With Kindness. From OCTOPUS. Still think the ping-ponging vocal midsection is lame, but the rest is pretty freakin' great. One of their best, and simple enough it coulda been a hit.
* Go-Go's -- La La Land. From GOD BLESS THE GO-GO'S. Opens with as big a rush as their great "Head Over Heels." They sound great! And of course this was 15 years ago. Why'd I never hear this?
* Go-Go's -- Unforgiven. As gutsy as anything on their great TALK SHOW, which is still my fave Go-Go's album. This is alive and energetic and pushy, driving. Great stuff.
* Go-Go's -- Kissing Asphalt. OK, not as impressed here. The lyrics are kinda dumb. But the energy level's still high, and it's over with quick.
* Steely Dan -- Only a Fool Would Say That. From VERY BEST OF. Light jazzy keyboard sounds and some tense lyrics.
* Steely Dan -- Show-Biz Kids. The "You go to Los Wages" backing-vocal chant has always annoyed me. And there isn't much else here. Though they did sneak the F-bomb into the lyrics once, if I'm hearing things right. To make room for this, I don't get "Berrytown" on their VERY BEST OF?
* Steely Dan -- Any World That I'm Welcome To. OK, this makes up for it. Not quite as great as "Any Major Dude Will Tell You," but in the same time-zone.
* David Bowie -- Heroes. From the CHANGESBOWIE best-of. My hero Bob Fripp's on guitar, somewhere in the heavy, loud mix. And though I was never much of a Bowie fan, I don't doubt that he means it here.
* Hawkwind -- Assault and Battery Part 1. From WARRIOR ON THE EDGE OF TIME. Moves nicely, nice washy synths, and Nik Turner's light flute adding just enough melody to separate them from your average sludgy heavy-space-rock band.
* Hawkwind -- Kings of Speed. Sounds like a Motorhead song title. And not unlike a Motorhead song -- simple and almost catchy. All it needs are vocals that stand out a little more....
* Hawkwind -- Motorhead. Speaking of which. This is bassist Lemmy's baby, before he was asked to leave this band. "Motorhead, remember me now...." Best part is actually Simon House's screeching violin. And it's over too soon.
* Jethro Tull -- Requiem. From MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY. One of Tull's lighter, folkier, more reflective pieces, much like "One White Duck" on the same album. I've always liked their lighter stuff more. This is the only thing on the first half of MINSTREL that I can get all the way through.

No comments: