Monthly Archives: November 2009

BEAK> – BEAK>

January 01, 1970

(Ipecac)

 

www.ipecac.com

 

Portishead might not be renowned
for their work-rate, but lately Geoff Barrow has kept busy running his Invada
label, co-producing the Horrors and, most recently, getting together with
BEAK>. Despite his high profile, though, Barrow isn’t at the top of the
pecking order in BEAK>, an equal partnership with two fellow Bristol
musicians: keyboard/synth
fiddler Matt Williams (Team Brick) and bassist Billy Fuller (Fuzz Against Junk;
Malakai). Barrow takes a literal back seat, at the drum kit, and while he contributes sporadic vocals, they’re not
exactly conventional front-man fare; rather, his disembodied, reverb-treated
Damo Suzuki-style moaning gives the impression that he’s in a different room
from the other musicians.

 

BEAK> blend Krautrock homage
with a tangential kind of psychedelia — think Terry Riley, Silver Apples and
early Floyd (the spacey variant, not the whimsical one) — all interspersed
with Conradian drones, some proggy organ, a contemporary noise sensibility and
rumblings of doom metallurgy. It’s a heady mixture. However, this is hardly new
territory for Barrow, Fuller and Williams, and the material shows kinship with
their other endeavors: there’s continuity with Team Brick’s cacophonous
experimentalism and the occasional cosmic weirdness of Fuzz Against Junk, and
the record also revisits a few key influences on Portishead’s Third and the Horrors’ Primary Colours in its affection for the
Teutonic motorik and Simeon Coxe’s primitive electronics.

 

Given the band members’ pedigrees,
BEAK> qualify as a supergroup of sorts. But whereas such entities are often
infamous for bloated projects involving endless hours in various studios,
perhaps in different countries, BEAK> wrote and recorded this album in under two weeks, in one
room, without overdubs or after-the-fact finessing — just some editing. In
fact, a couple of the tracks were only ever performed twice. It’s tempting to
see this no-frills, less-is-more approach as a reaction to some of their own
previous experiences: Fuller played on Robert Plant’s Mighty Rearranger and the never-ending, still-in-progress fifth
Massive Attack album; the perfectionist Barrow, of course, worked for four
years or so on the last Portishead record.

 

The
immediacy of BEAK>’s modus operandi leaps out at listeners. Befitting the
material’s essentially live genesis and construction, there’s a strongly
organic, jam-based feel to much of it. For the most part, the individual
contributions quickly coalesce and attain critical mass. Propelled by Fuller’s pulsing bass, “Iron Acton” gets into a
straight-ahead “Mother Sky” groove, while the Silver Apples-esque
“I Know” hits its stride with a more syncopated, Barrow-powered
drive. “Pill” kicks off like Tony Conrad and
Faust before gathering momentum to suggest PiL playing “Church of
Anthrax.” Indeed, someone trying just a little too hard might go so far as
to say that Lydon’s outfit is playfully referenced in the track title,
“Pill,” which is actually a village near Bristol. (Like many other
Bristol artists, BEAK> show a sense of place, something that’s conveyed here
in most of the titles, which borrow the names of West Country locales. There
even seems to be a pub among them: “The Cornubia.”)

 

Not everything here centers on
hypnotic, repeating patterns: the almost idyllic “Battery Point” is a
more melodic exercise in Mogwai-like slow-building intensity, and the mildly
distressing “Ham Green” lumbers along, punctuated with doomy riffs
and fleeting cartoon-metal solos; the unhinged, chaotic interlude “Barrow
Gurney” more than lives up to its title, which — aside from incorporating
the vocalist’s name — namechecks a defunct West Country psychiatric hospital
(also immortalized by Somerset’s legendary Wurzels in their magisterial “Drink up Thy Zider“: “We’m off to Barrow Gurney / For to see my brother Ernie”).

 

Just as improvisation and jamming
can lend themselves to some transcendent creative synergy, they can also spawn
some less than interesting work, and a few tracks fall into that category,
meandering and failing to come together in any compelling way: “Dundry
Hill,” for example, lurches aimlessly for too long, and “Ears Have
Ears” calls to mind Can’s “Yoo Doo Right,” a song that was
tiresome enough the first time around.

 

But these quibbles are incidental
to the overall strength of the material. With BEAK>, Messrs Barrow, Fuller
and Williams have hatched a fine album.

 

Standout Tracks: “Backwell,”
“Iron Acton,” “I Know” WILSON NEATE

 

Thee Midniters – Complete: Songs of Love, Rhythm & Psychedelia!

January 01, 1970

(Micro Werks)

 

www.ccmusic.com

 

You can hear their influence in
the contemporary likes of King Khan & the Shrines and Reigning Sound, not
to mention such rock legends as Los Lobos and the Plimsouls. From vintage
R&B and psychedelic soul to raveup garage and multi-culti Latino rock: Thee
Midniters, a little ol’ band from East L.A.,
had it all down and then some, and though they never really broke nationally,
to crate diggers and ‘60s aficionados they remain legendary and among the
toppermost. Thanks to the smartly-packaged four-CD boxed set Complete: Songs of Love, Rhythm &
Psychedelia!
(Micro Werks) the group’s recorded legacy now gets a shot at a
larger appraisal beyond the admiration of collectors.

 

Who were Thee Midniters? As
outlined in archivist Richie Unterberger’s incisive liner notes (Unterberger
previously did an in-depth profile of the band in his 2000 book Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers:
Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of ‘60s Rock
), the Chicano
band formed in East Los Angeles while most of the members were still in high
school, playing the covers of the day at the usual teen dance parties,
eventually graduating to the recording studio where they cut their first album,
1965’s Whittier Blvd., which
contained a pair of regional hits, the title track – “a warped mutation of the
Rolling Stones’ ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue’,” is how Unterberger describes it
– and a rousing cover of “Land Of A Thousand Dances.” Armed with the killer
instinct and soulful lead vocals of Willie Garcia (a/k/a Little Willie G, who’d
go on to work with Los Lobos, Ry Cooder, Los Straitjackets and others) and
possessing an uncanny ability to both channel and transcend their influences,
Thee Midniters served up a heady stew, one that was primarily rock and
soul-based but occasionally spiced up with touches of their Mexican-American
musical heritage (although to this day the surviving musicians will insist that
they were not playing Latin rock per se; they just happened to be Latinos who rocked).

 

Observes Lobos’ Louie Perez in
Unterberger’s liners, “Thee Midniters didn’t stay in one predictable place.
They were willing to push the envelope of what was expected by a band that was
from East Los Angeles… [They] were the best
band around at the time. They became our Beatles; all the stuff that was going
on in Beatlemania, we translated into Midniter mania. It gave young kids who
would eventually become musicians like myself inspiration to pursue a career in
music.”

 

It’s not hard to hear why, based
on the four complete LPs and assorted B-sides and rarities represented on Complete. The first album primarily
comprises cover tunes, standouts ranging from the swaggering R&B of Marvin
Gaye’s “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow” and street-corner group the Concords’ smooth
“Come Back Baby” to the aforementioned “1000 Dances” and signs-of-the-times
rockers “Slow Down,” “Money” and “Johnny B. Goode”; anyone who grew up on this
material can picture him- or herself crowding down front at the local high
school hop, freed for an hour or two from parental constraints and cutting
loose while going through the rituals of teenage courtship. The bonus material (seven
songs) yields its own trove of gold, including a swinging “Heat Wave” and a
two-part live version of “1000 Dances.”

 

1966’s Thee Midniters Bring You Love Special Delivery, though, is where
things start to heat up. Still dominating the setlist are covers, notably
smoking takes of “Do You Love Me,” “Good Lovin'” and “Gloria” (the latter has a
punkish vocal snarl and angular guitar attack that very nearly tops the Van
Morrison/Them original) plus the obligatory soul outings (“When A Man Loves A
Woman” passes the audition) and at least one stab at pure schmaltz (“Strangers
In The Night,” which no doubt was strategically deployed at those dance hops to
melt the hearts and part the thighs of sweet young things). But with torrid
originals like “Love Special Delivery” (penned by Garcia and bassist Jimmy
Espinoza, it’s on fire with surging horns, a Who-worthy rhythm section and
searing lead guitar; I’m betting King Khan has heard this a time or two) and
funky, loony R&B raver “I Found A Peanut,” you get a clear sense of how
rapidly the band was evolving. There’s also an astounding band-penned instrumental
among the four bonus cuts titled “Thee Midnite Feeling,” which with its
cinematic/psychedelic funk vibe demands to be covered in the modern era by the Budos
Band or the Dap-Kings.

 

Sure enough, with the stage duly
set, on 1967’s Unlimited the band
comes out firing masterfully with all guns. Opening track “Everybody Needs
Somebody To Love” may be remembered by most as a Solomon Burke tune
subsequently covered by the Rolling Stones, but here it’s a throbbing,
churning, hormone-drenched garage anthem worthy of any Nuggets or Pebbles collection that totally demolishes the Stones’ version. And this time around
the LP primarily consists of originals; no slight to “Devil With A Blue
Dress”/”Good Golly Miss Molly” (an overwrought take of the Beatles’ “Yesterday”
is best ignored), but with such gems as brown-eyed soul weeper “Making Ends
Meet,” the jaunty, swinging “Cheatin’ Woman,” Yardbirds/Sonics pastiche
“Welcome Home Darling” and horn-powered, Latin rock instrumental “Chile Con
Soul,” it’s a real head-scratcher to think that Thee Midniters never really
notched any significant national chart action. A whopping eight bonus tracks
round out the disc, notably the rambunctious, speed-rapping (in Spanish)
mariachi rocker “The Big Ranch (El Rancho Grande)”; the Mexican folk-flavored
“The Ballad of Cesar Chavez” (two versions, one in English and one in Spanish);
and a track that Unterberger rightly pegs as “one of the greatest
R&B-grounded garage rockers ever waxed,” the positively riotous – but unerringly
groove-driven – “Jump, Jive, and Harmonize.”

 

Hell, that song alone is worth the price of admission to
this box.

 

Thee Midniters’ swan song came in
1969 with Giants, a kind of
odds-and-sods affair released in the aftermath of Garcia’s departure from the
group. By this point the inability to make much headway beyond their SoCal base
of operations was taking its toll; Thee Midniters recorded for a pair of
regional operations, the Chattahoochee and Whittier labels, that suffered from
limited distribution, and for some reason the group’s management passed on a
chance to ink a deal with RCA. Still, Giants has its share of wonderful moments. Some material is reprised from earlier
releases, including “Whittier
Boulevard” and a live “Land of A
Thousand Dances.” A five-minute instrumental cover of “Walk On By” is
revelatory, its part-spiky/part-lush horn charts lending a twinned edgy/sensual
feel that, had the tune been released a year or so later, would have been
perfect for the soundtrack of a Blaxploitation flick. And original “Breakfast
On The Grass,” though somewhat anomalous for the band, is a classic slice of
psychedelic pop that might have found a home on Top 40 radio; peace, love and
flower power, anyone? A final single, included here among the three bonus
tracks, was recorded by the band in ’69, a defiant yet buoyant Latin rocker
titled “Chicano Power” that ranks alongside Santana and War. Speaking of which,
also included is the previously unreleased “Baila Cinderella,” a Spanish language
Hubert Laws cover that, with its lead guitar and Latin percussion, makes for a
satisfying Santana doppelganger.

 

Each original album is presented
as a tri-fold digipak featuring reproductions of the original sleeve art plus
images of rare 45s and track annotations for the non-LP material. The four
digis along with Unterberger’s liner notes are housed in a handsome 5″ x 6″ x 1
½” box, making it an artifact that no self-respecting fan of Thee Midniters’
oeuvre will want to pass up – it’s not for the iTunes crowd, although individual
tracks are clearly worth cherrypicking next time the urge to make a
garage-tilting mixtape strikes. The collection was compiled from “best
available” vinyl sources, meaning that in places you will indeed hear surface
noise and minor pops and ticks, but don’t let that deter ya: think of it as
your personal gateway to an authentically recreated experience.

 

Star rating note: If pressed to assign a starred rating, out of 10
I’d be forced to give the caveat-minded “8.” Let me say that on purely musical and
archival terms, this deserves a “9” and possibly even the full “10” monty; it’s
that invaluable. And the packaging, as suggested above, is pure collector
catnip. Unfortunately the compilers opted to include, in lieu of a booklet, a
16-panel, 9″ x 19″ fold-out poster that features credits and liners on one side
and a photo montage on the other – and the photos on that are criminally obscured by large red lettering that reads
“Thee Complete Midniters.” Budgetary concession or otherwise, it was a bad
call, hence the “8”: having to unfold the contraption whenever you want to
check the liners and then fold it all back together in order to place it back
in the box is a bit annoying, and over time those liners will additionally wind
up with a series of text-obscuring wear lines, which will be even more
annoying.

 

Casual consumers might call this
much ado about nothing, but Complete:
Songs of Love, Rhythm & Psychedelia!
ain’t aimed at casual consumers. My
guess is that anyone who’s read this far is already frothing at the mouth – or
at least experiencing a mild case of Pavlovian drip. So with the above caveat
duly noted, l will still advise, and wholeheartedly, to run, don’t walk, to your nearest record emporium, and purchase on
sight. Those already in the know will cheer, and newcomers will find a whole
new universe opening up to them. Señoras y señores, start your low riders…

 

Standout Tracks: “Jump, Jive, and Harmonize,” “Whittier Boulevard,” “Love Special
Delivery,” “Walk On By,” “Chicano Power” FRED MILLS

 

 

 

Ed Note: Micro Werks does not appear to have an official website, just
a Facebook page, located here:

 

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Micro-Werks/111358362034

 

The URL at the top of this review will take you to Collector’s Choice
Music where you can order the fine archival products offered by Micro Werks.

 

Amy Millan – Masters of the Burial

January 01, 1970

(Arts & Crafts)

www.arts-crafts.ca

 

Given the ever-shifting conglomerate that bolsters Canada’s Broken
Social Scene and the shared billing of her ongoing ensemble, Stars, it would be
easy for singer Amy Millan to simply accept a lower profile and resign herself
to supporting status.  However, with her
2006 solo debut, Honey From The Tombs,
Millan made the wise decision to bring her gently burnished vocals front and
center via a quietly alluring set of songs that affirmed her role as a true
folk chanteuse. 

 

Her new album allows a belated return, and while her hushed
vocals and deliberate reserve tend to instill these songs with a somewhat hazy
bearing, the subtle and supple arrangements gain traction after only a couple
of listens.  A song like “Old Perfume”
(“You’re like an old perfume/ That brings back memories/ An old forgotten
tune…”) injects its remorse with heart-stoked sentiment and tattered desire.  Indeed, Millan tends to tug at the
heartstrings with an easy drift and a gentle ramble, and on some songs – “Run
For Me” and “Day To Day” in particular – she’s even content to settle for a
naked strum and a syncopated beat alone. 
Millan adapts full country regalia for her final bow, applying fiddle
and pedal steel to the soulful, sassy “Bound,” but ultimately her soft,
shimmering vocals and seductive charms provide every track with an irresistible
embrace.

 

Standout
Tracks:
“Old Perfume,” “Finish Line,” “Bruised Ghosts” LEE ZIMMERMAN

 

 

Holopaw – Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness

January 01, 1970

(Bakery Outlet)

 

www.bakeryoutletrecords.com

 

After two solids
records on the Sub Pop label this Florida
band, led by John Orth, has released another low-key gem here. At this point it
would seem that Orth, however, is more well-known for his side project with
Modest Mouse’s Issac Brock, Ugly Casanova, than he is for Holopaw. Hopefully
with the release of Oh, Glory. Oh,
Wilderness
that will all change.

 

This record like
the previous two, still has plenty of off-kilter folk rock to weave around but
this time there’s less electronic bits and more strings. Orth still
occasionally sings like a tender, wounded soul but sounds much more hopeful
here and the songs more often burst out into glistening, crystalline waves. On
“P-A-L-O-M-I-N-E” the song begins like a mid-tempo folk tune but then adds some
gorgeous strings and the song begins a real rollercoaster ride while first cut,
“The Art Teacher and the Little Stallion” is equally as swooping and
orchestral. The thing is the record doesn’t run out of steam as they keep the
surprises coming until the end as both the hushed “The Cherry Glow’ and the
curvy, left turn only “Black Lacquered Shame” is as confident as a Corvette
owner on his final test run. I’m not sure if Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness will win Holopaw the fan base they
deserve but they’ve poured their hearts out for you nonetheless.

 

Standout Tracks: “The Art Teacher and the Little
Stallion”, “The Last Transmission”, “The Cherry Glow”, “Black Lacquered Shame”
TIM HINELY

 

 

Trust: Photographs of Jim Marshall

January 01, 1970

(Vision On/Omnibus)

 

www.omnibuspress.com

 

BY FRED MILLS

 

The title, we learn in the introduction, is instructive.
“Without trust between the subject and myself,” legendary photographer Jim
Marshall writes, “I couldn’t work the way I did and still do. I have to have
total access, be allowed where I want, when I want, and do my thing the way I
do.”

 

You know Marshall’s work: iconic images of Jimi Hendrix and
Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop festival; LP sleeves for Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, The
Allman Brothers At Fillmore East
and the first Moby Grape album (the
classic photo of Johnny Cash flipping the bird at the camera is also Marshall);
photos both onstage and off- of the Rolling Stones from their ’72 American tour
(particularly if you’re old enough to remember Life magazine, which put one of Marshall’s shots of Jagger on the
cover); some of the most penetrating portraits ever taken of Miles Davis –
former president Bill Clinton owns a 
print of Miles backstage at the 1970 
Isle Of Wight Festival, resplendent in crimson shirt and silver-studded
jeans and staring off into space while clutching his horn.

 

The 166-page, coffeetable-sized Trust: Photographs of Jim Marshall chronicles a life in music
photography, in particular illuminating that total access Marshall was lucky enough to be granted (or
insist upon, take your pick). The photos aren’t arranged chronologically or
thematically, but merely according to what was satisfying to Marshall himself; for
most of them he adds brief anecdotal or explanatory text. Some are live,
capturing his subjects in full flight – the aforementioned Jagger, Redding and
Hendrix photos, a pair of Janis Joplin images depicting her framed against an
astonishingly bright blue sky, a multiple-exposure take of jazz great Rashaan
Roland Kirk for the Bright Moments album cover, a black-and-white shot of BB King at the Fillmore West in ’68
whose uncharacteristically grainy and blurred-action quality is what lends it
authenticity (King has just thrust his arms wide and Marshall captured the
motion of his hands and guitar headstock). And some were specifically posed for
some project or assignment, such as a backstage shot of Dr. John in full voodoo-shaman
regalia, the Grateful Dead in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park forming a circle
and staring down at the camera, and more contemporary photos of Velvet
Revolver, John Mayer, and (ahem) Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst.

 

It’s the candid, unscripted portraits, however, that form
the heart and soul of this wonderful volume; they’re indicative of what
photographers mean when they say they try to capture the essence of their
subjects. Three here in particular stand out to this longtime lover of music
photography:

 

 

  • A
    black-and-white shot of Miles Davis at a San Francisco gym, interrupted in the
    middle of a workout and talking intently on a pay phone – clutching the
    receiver while still wearing his boxing gloves.
  • John
    Coltrane looking pensive while standing in the back yard of his Queens
    home, illuminated from behind with what appears to be late afternoon
    sunlight; the photo shoot was for an album, but a different image was
    ultimately selected, and this particular one evokes that “what is he
    thinking about?” feeling in the viewer.
  • Frank
    Zappa (also color), sitting up in bed in the morning sun, shirtless with
    mussed hair, a quizzical smile on his face; Marshall’s note indicates that
    he’d made Zappa sit up long enough to take a couple of shots, then the
    musician went back to sleep. Talk about trust. It’s not particularly composed other than to ensure the
    natural lighting was good, and its charm comes from the very fact that you
    realize it is indeed spontaneous and totally candid; I don’t know if I’ve
    ever seen a picture depicting Zappa with that exact type of smile.

 

 

 

Marshall,
whose first album cover was for a Horace Silver LP (Prestige Records paid him
the princely sum of $75), indirectly summarizes his experience in his
introduction:

 

“I had the trust of
the artist, I would work with them, and they knew I wouldn’t fuck around or do
anything they didn’t like… No one I’ve shot, not Dylan, not Miles, not Cash,
has ever complained about how my pictures of them have been used.”

 

One can’t help wondering whether that long, rich journey Marshall traveled would
have been a different one in another era, one marked by the elbowing, intrusive
antics of paparazzi and a corresponding lack of trust from the artists. In their heyday, Marshall and his peers –
virtuoso lensmen and lenswomen like Baron Wolman, David Gahr, Annie Liebowitz,
Ethan Russell, Elliott Landy, etc. – unquestionably broke new ground. Some
would say they broke the molds, too.

 

 

Many of Marshall’s classic images
can be viewed (and purchased) at his official MarshallPhoto.com site.

 

Harper Simon – Harper Simon

January 01, 1970

(Tulsi Records)

 

www.myspace.com/harpersimon

 

Harper Simon’s debut recording Harper Simon is a quirky mix of polished
modern pop studio creations (occasional hints of an Aimee Mann or Jon Brion
influence), alt-country rockers, and folk ballads. To his credit, he wasn’t shy
in inviting his famously talented friends and family to the party: father Paul
Simon, Petra Haden (daughter of master jazz bassist Charlie Haden), John Lennon
and Yoko Ono’s son Sean Lennon, legendary Bob Dylan producer Bob Johnston,
chameleon 1st call guitarist Marc Ribot, British artist and Turner
Prize nominee Tracey Emin (her cover art is titled “Get Ready For The Fuck Of
Your Life”), and a host of storied old-school Nashville session artists all
take part.

 

The short opener “All To God” (under two
minutes) is a reworked Shaker hymn: “No,
I never did believe/That I ever would be saved/Without giving my all to God/So
I freely give my whole/My body and my soul/To the good Lord/Amen
.” The
Shaker hymns are heartfelt, beautiful, and spiritual works by a deeply peaceful
and religious people. Are we to take this as an avowal of religious faith from
Simon? It’s a bold move as an opening statement on a limelight folk-rock debut.
Whether sincerely religious or not, it’s the only cover tune among nine other
Simon originals. Opening reverentially with a lightly strummed acoustic guitar
and delicate falsetto voices, Simon quickly adds distorted electric guitars
bringing an eerie edge to the already dark, minor key tune.      

 

The more representative “Wishes And Stars”
follows and is an easy tune to like with its breezy, ambling country-folk vibe,
catchy melodies, and hooks that stick like glue. The lyrics are heartfelt, yet
add up to somewhat disconnected observations on fortune and self-satisfaction.
The tune’s catch-phrase “There are more
wishes than stars”
is an excellent turn of phrase and an insightful
observation. But in the context of the tune it’s not clear what it pertains to.
It would be easy to simply label it a free-floating observation but it doesn’t
feel intended that way. The lyrics seem culled from bits of unfinished tunes
each deserving their own separate follow through. The lines “I’m not too certain about many things/I’m
not so sure who I am”
bear witness to this while still, ironically, being
engaging and well written. If Simon were to write an entire tune focused on
this specific lack of identity it would likely be an excellent one.
Interestingly, the mandolin line ending the solo section of “Wishes And Stars”
is a direct lift from Bob Dylan’s “I Want You” and is likely an influence of
working with producer Johnston.

 

Of many enjoyable tracks, the imaginative folk
waltz “Ha Ha” may be the best. Co-written by Haden, Harper and Paul Simon, it
strikes the right balance of humor and self-deprecation (as does “Tennessee,” another
track co-written with his father). It gives off the light-headed, open horizon
feeling at the beginning of a punch-drunk love affair: “Ha ha ha/Laughing is all I do/But you’ve only known me since I’ve been
lonely/So you don’t believe it’s true.”
The tune spins out sophisticated and ornately detailed harmonies and
melodies (string section included) camouflaged by its lyrical and instrumental
playfulness. Petra Haden shines here on vocals and puts it over the top. Her
role recalls the similarly meta-linguistic contribution she made on the film
score to the wildly underrated and unfairly maligned Hurlyburly.     

 

While overall a promising debut and very
enjoyable listen, some of these tunes feel like they’re holding back; like
confessionals that don’t quite confess. The listener is left with the sensation
of watching for the other shoe to drop and having to wait for the next
recording to get the full picture. The view is good so far, but feels
incomplete.

 

The closing “Berkeley Girl” is hard not to hear
as a direct tip of the hat to his father’s more straight forward 60s/70s, NYC
folk-bohemia touchstones. This indulgence should not only be allowed, but
encouraged. It’s one of the best tunes on the record and though it’s the most
obvious in its influence, it’s also one of the most personal.

 

Standout
Tracks:
“Tennessee,” “Ha Ha,” “Berkeley Girl” JOHN DWORKIN

 

 

El Perro Del Mar – Love Is Not Pop

January 01, 1970

(The Control Group)

 

www.controlgroupco.com

 

Actually, love is still pop on El Perro Del Mar’s latest
effort. It’s just bummed-out, slow and wounded pop, from the heartbreaking
chamber-pop opener, “Gotta Get Smart,” where she eases some poor bastard into
the talk they need to have with a sighed, “I’ve got something to tell you;
don’t want to make you sad,” to “Change of Heart,” a track swimming in
atmosphere, echo and sadness.

 

The innocent charm of her earlier work is replaced here by a
world-weary darkness, turning downright creepy on the claustrophobic “Let Me
In,” with its echoing plea of “Baby, open up the door; don’t make me have to
break the lock.” But the pop sensibilities remain. And give the girl some
credit for “Heavenly Arms,” a Lou Reed song that feels more like a Yoko song as
Kate Bush might have done it here.

 

Standout Tracks: “Gotta Get Smart,” “Let Me In.” A. WATT

 

Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter

January 01, 1970

(Mute)

 

www.mute.com

 

Short of having himself cloned and bronzed on Sheffield’s street corners, Richard Hawley is synonymous
with his hometown, titling albums after its landmarks, recording there, and describing
its beating urban heart in lush romantic song. This time, however, to suit
darker narrative fare, he’s pared back the orchestration; much of Truelove recalls Hawley’s haunting early
releases before he turned the swelling strings up to 11. Sparse arrangements
and uncommon instrumentation-saw accompaniment on “Don’t Get Hung Up on Your
Soul,” and megabass waterphone and crystal baschet elsewhere-define this
record, though two nine-minute-plus tracks drag on indulgently without commensurate
payoff.

 

On the other hand, the intriguing “Soldier On” heads into un-Hawley-like
territory with a momentous crescendo that would make the Mogwai lads smile. But
these different directions add up to something that feels rudderless at times.
It’s as though Hawley knows he’s bled the orchestral swoon dry, but isn’t quite
sure whether to go forward or back.

 

Standout
Tracks:
“Ashes on the Fire,” “Soldier On” JOHN
SCHACHT

 

 

Grant Lee Phillips – LIttle Moon

January 01, 1970

(Yep Roc)

 

www.yeproc.com

 

 

Despite a storied history that includes Grant Lee Buffalo
and its short-lived successor Shiva Burlesque, Grant Lee Phillips’ considerable
talents as a singer and a songwriter have yet to elevate him above the radar. Recorded
in a mere four days, Little Moon ought to be the effort that takes him over the top and thrusts him into the
public mindset.

 

It’s a giddily accessible set, brimming with pop perfection
and tunes that effectively take hold even on first hearing. The cheery welcome
of “Good Morning Happiness,” the sparkling “Strangest Thing,” a surging “Seal
It with a Kiss” and a quietly compelling “One Morning” maximize the melodic
appeal through tasteful yet subdued arrangements and effusive but assured
performances. Likewise, the jaunty twosome, “It Ain’t the Same Old Cold War
Harry” and “The Sun Shines on Jupiter,” parlay a cocky confidence even as
hushed ballads “Violet” and “Buried Treasure” show his sensitivity. 

 

In a word, it’s wonderful. Or in several… charming,
iridescent and a pure delight.

 

Standout
Tracks:
“Good Morning Happiness,” “Strangest Thing” LEE ZIMMERMAN

 

 

Genesis – Genesis Live 1973-2007

January 01, 1970

(Rhino)

 

www.rhino.com

 

Boxed sets most often than
not are fodder for die-hard fans, and 11 live discs is really something not
meant for the casual listener. Genesis
Live
marks the fourth boxed set Rhino has released in an attempt to upgrade
the group’s catalog. Following the reissue of 14 Genesis studio albums (Genesis 1976 – 1982, Genesis 1983-1998 in 2007, and Genesis 1970 – 1975 in 2008), Genesis Live 1973 – 2007 is probably as
much live material as you could ever desire from the British group.

 

Housed in an impressive
package, the boxed set includes four individual releases. Genesis Live features the classic line-up of Tony Banks, Phil Collins
on drums, guitarists Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford, and singer Peter
Gabriel. The disc, presented for the first time in 5.1, was in recorded at
shows in Leicester and Manchester for broadcast
on the “King Biscuit Flower Hour” radio show also includes bonus material from
a Los Angeles
show at the Shrine Auditorium.

 

The double set Seconds Out was recorded in Paris 1977 and features
Collins on lead vocals following Gabriel’s departure in 1975. Exclusive to this
boxed set, Seconds Out is presented
in stereo and 5.1 versions.

 

Three Sides Live showcases the band already as a powerhouse trio performing shorter, not
quite as complex songs. The original was first released in 1982 as a double
vinyl set with a fourth side of studio B-sides including “Paperlate.”

 

The Way We Walk was previously released as two separate live recordings (Vol 1: The Shorts, and Vol 2: The Longs) in 1992. This time
around the songs have been combined as per the show’s original set list.

 

Live At The Rainbow 1973 also features the band’s classic lineup during a London concert and was
recorded during the group’s Selling
England By The Pound
tour.

 

This comprehensive
collection also includes space for the most recent live Genesis release – the
2-CD set Live Over Europe 2007. All the
discs feature brand new stereo mixes created by Tony Banks, Nick Davis, and
Mike Rutherford.

 

The set’s 69 tracks feature
Genesis in all of its incarnations. And while the Collins’ led recordings
sonically sound better, it is great to have access to material sung by Peter
Gabriel. Genesis has always been a leading band in concert so you’re only
getting half of the live experience with only the audio but then again, that’s
why this is for the die-hards to cherish and proudly add to their beefy collection.

 

Standout Tracks: “Supper’s Ready”, “Domino (In The Glow Of The Night/The Last Domino)”,
“In The Cage” JOSE MARTINEZ