Wednesday, February 28, 2018

All new Strange Music marathon!

OK, here's the scam: I have this HUGE pile of previously-unheard Strange Music piled up here for a book project that may never get finished, and what I'm gonna try to do now is listen to a bunch of it and review it off the top of my head as it plays, and see how much I can take. Three hours is usually my drop-dead point, but I'm pretty bored musically right now, so let's see.
But first, something to warm up the turntable....
* Steppenwolf: Move Over, from MONSTER (1970) -- Hilarious lyrics about how that impatient younger generation is pushin' ol' John Kay to the brink. Nice screechy guitar. OK organ, too. Production seems a little muddy and bass-heavy.
* Touch: We Feel Fine, from their first album (1969) -- Loud organ and guitar fanfares, high-pitched vocalist. All I know about these guys is that keyboardist Don Gallucci later became a record producer. Psychedelic, a little crude, one nice lyric about "watching L.A. fall into the sea." A lot going on here in late-'60s heavy! fashion. OK group vocals on the "We feel fine" chorus-line. At least there was no drum solo. Nice spacey album cover, by the way.
* Touch: Friendly Birds -- This is as quiet as "We Feel Fine" was loud. Acoustic guitar and hushed vocals. Briefly sounds like it's gonna turn into a Broadway show-tune, like something from HAIR. Then nice guitar-and-piano mid-section. Meanders. Some talent, but a good snappy tune would help.
* Touch: Miss Teach -- No. Sounds like Pink Floyd's THE WALL cut down to 3-1/2 minutes.
* Touch: Seventy-Five -- This is the album's 11-minute magnum opus. Sounds like the Stories' Ian Lloyd on vocals. About dreams and dreaming -- nice spacey organ, if you're into "freaking out." Ah, so THIS is where the drum solo is. That repeating police-siren organ riff is really annoying. Made it through, tho. Eleven minutes I'll never get back. And a waste of $8. What else have we got?
* Trapeze: Black Cloud, from MEDUSA (1970?) -- This sounds like bad Deep Purple. I heard an earlier Trapeze album that was gentle and folky and psych-ish, and this is way cruder. Occasional flashes of a lighter touch, but not enuf. They're a power trio. And the singer's annoying. How did this end up on the Moody Blues' Threshold label? Produced by John Lodge of the Moodies. Glenn Hughes ended up in Deep Purple, didn't he? Lotsa cowbell, if you care.
* Trapeze: Medusa -- This is lighter, and moodier. And of course it's the last track. And the singing's still annoying. And then they heavy it up.... No.
* Funkadelic: Standing on the Verge of Getting it On, from the album of the same name (1974) -- Opens with squiggly comedy vocals, then into a funky dance groove with group vocals. Makes me want to move. Middle-break call-and-response vocals sound like James Brown. This is pretty nice -- I was actually expecting something heavier.
* Funkadelic: Jimmy's Got a Little Bit of Bitch in Him, from STANDING ON THE VERGE.... -- Sly, low-key vocals. The message seems to be -- you name it, it's OK! Over too fast.
* Funkadelic: Good Thoughts Bad Thoughts, from STANDING.... -- Opens with 6+ minutes of nice, spacey solo guitar, by either Eddie Hazel or Gary Shider. Then a low-key vocal offering Cosmic Advice, among which is: "Free your mind and your ass will follow. Good thoughts bring forth good fruit. Bullshit thoughts rot your needs. Think right and you can fly." Nice, laid back, very pleasant. Who knew?
* The Roches: The Hallelujah Chorus, from KEEP ON DOING (1982) -- Yes, THAT one. The Roches did some great stuff on their first album (1979): "Hammond Song" is heartbreakingly gorgeous, "Quitting Time" is almost as good, "We" is funny, and "The Married Men" is worth hearing. This is an impressive a capella exercise. And that's all. It's not funny, it's just odd.
* Roches: Losing True, from KEEP ON -- THIS is more like it. Gorgeous trio vocals, eventually followed by Bob Fripp's ghostly guitar. Maggie Roche was some songwriter. Fripp produced, of course. More songs like this and they woulda been world famous.
* Roches: The Largest Elizabeth in the World, from KEEP ON -- Cute, funny, silly.
* Roches: Sex is for Children, from KEEP -- Overlapping vocals with Fripp's guitar. Kinda noisy, at first. Then becomes a guitar duo. I can't really hear the words, and they're not included on the lyric sheet.
* Roches: Keep on Doing What You Do/Jerks on the Loose -- Their vocal blend was really magic. This is like the album's big production number -- it almost sounds like there's strings on here. Hey! Three-quarters of the '80s King Crimson is on this album! Says Bill Bruford's here, wonder where? OK, the vocals are fine and the playing's good, but I didn't really notice the words. For a Big Closer, I wonder if that's good. Two out of three?
* Mimi and Richard Farina: Pack Up Your Sorrows, from CELEBRATIONS FOR A GRAY DAY (1965) -- Wow, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Only Bob would never be this sweet. Charming.
* Nektar: Marvelous Moses, from RECYCLED (1975) -- Opens with lotsa keyboards, then wordy verses and choruses. Mildly funky. Then a keyboard fanfare. Which builds rather nicely. And gets cut off so we can go back to the verses. The Girlfriend points out there's nothing in the first half of the song to warrant the instrumental build-up. The vocals and the tune seem to be out of time just a bit. Not their best.
* Peter Gabriel: Here Comes the Flood, from his first album (1977) -- Wow, pretty dramatic. And I thought I didn't like him....
* Peter Gabriel: Moribund the Burgermeister, from the CAR album -- Hmmm. Could be Genesis. The mid-section is evil, mechanical music. GF says it sounds like Peter's making fun of something. Playful. Funny.
* Syd Barrett: Dark Globe, from AN INTRODUCTION TO.... (2017) -- "Won't you miss me at all?" RIP.
* Steve Hackett: Please Don't Touch, from the album of the same name (1978) -- Whiny, slidy guitar followed by light Mellotron-style keyboards and more twiddly guitar. Cover says to play this at maximum loudness; I was expecting something heavier. Inoffensive background music.
* Steve Hackett: The Voice of NECAM/Icarus Ascending, from PLEASE DON'T TOUCH -- Singer sounds vaguely like Peter Gabriel. This could be a Genesis song. Then more inoffensive background guitar....
* Justin Hayward: Tightrope, from SONGWRITER (1977) -- OK, I'm cheating here. I heard this once or twice about 40 years ago. Now it sounds thin, ESPECIALLY the horrible tinny whiny keyboards. Hayward's voice is OK, but his singing style is subtly different from how he sang with the Moodies. Not bad, but a bit self-referential. Does anybody really care about a rocker's hard times? Did anyone care back then? And the audience effects are silly. Bit of Hayward's tasteful guitar toward the end. But not enough.
TOMORROW: Three more hours of off-the-cuff reviews. If I feel up to it....

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