A collection of posts from my original weblog...or the inscrutable rantings of a madman...could be both...

Friday, May 30, 2003

Whew! Has it been almost two weeks already? Sorry, musos....I haven't had much time for posting lately...

I've been listening to the latest Spiritualized disc, The Complete Works--Volume One, a double-disc set (I hadn't expected that) which covers some alternate versions and forgotten B-sides from the band's inception in 1990 up through the Pure Phase record, released in 1995. That's the album where I became aware of the band--ironically due to a positive review in "Rolling Stone" (yes, I still had a subscription at that point--I can't even stomach that magazine anymore--it's become an even bigger marketing tool for eMpTy-Vee than it was previously). I had no idea of the band's origins, and had never heard of Spacemen 3, the group that Spiritualized leader Jason Pierce (a.k.a. J. Spaceman) had been in with Pete Kember (a.k.a. Sonic Boom)..or heard their Velvets/Stooges drone-rock that Pierce would carry over into Spiritualized. I was curious really only due to one line in the review "This is the type of album Pink Floyd should be making" (referring to the "Division Bell" record released in 1994)..so I bought "Pure Phase" and was immediately hooked by the positive druggy vibe that Pierce and his band-mates induced in the grooves (especially on tunes like "Lay Back In The Sun" and --no one was doing that in '95, aside from The Orb, The Grid and a scattered few others. I went out and bought Lazer Guided Melodies, the first full-length from 1992..and somehow managed to find the Fucked Up Inside EP, a live recording from 1993 that was supposed to be for fan-club members only, and to me contains the definitive version of "Take Good Care Of It", a track that later appeared on "Pure Phase". "The Complete Works.." is set up as a continuous mix--the way all Spiritualized records are..and both discs are identified by a red and blue line on each, which corresponds to the song list on the back cover (the UK version has a cardboard slipcase). At first it seems the discs will drag along, because two or three different versions of the same tune will follow each other. Thankfully, each version is so unique, that it seems you're just listening to an extended mix of the track--it all flows nicely, too. Pierce even includes a bit of minimalist nonsense with the version of 200 Bars that begins the second disc..it's just Kate Radley counting out and a long squelch of feedback for a couple of minutes..not the highlight of the set by a long shot--but interesting. It's a must-have for the Spiritualized completist--as any set like this would appeal to the fanatics. Those new to the group may want to purchase "Pure Phase" or "Lazer Guided.." first. There's a Complete Works--Vol. 2 that's been promised which will cover the Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (generally regarded as their best record), At The Royal Albert Hall (a live set from 1997) and Let It Come Down (the studio record from 2001) era. There's rumours of a brand-new studio album to be released in a couple of months, and possibly a tour. That would be alright with me--I have yet to see them live!!

...and Wire are back with a brand new full-length, their first since the highly disappointing "Manscape", released in 1990 (drummer Robert Gotobed left after that and the remaining three: singer Colin Newman, bassist Graham Lewis and guitarist Bruce Gilbert continued on for a couple of electronic-influenced records as Wir). They re-united two years for a few one-off shows in London and New York and released an EP on a small label last year. The new album, Send, has been released on their own Pinkflag imprint--it could be an offshoot of Newman's Swim Records label. This time around they've taken a "back-to-basics" approach, and left the New Order-isms of their 80s output behind. Gilbert has his guitar amps set to 11, and Newman's voice has a consistent growl throughout most of the tunes--particularly on the opener, In The Art Of Stopping, which could've easily fit onto their '77 debut--it's what Wire do best--Gilbert's crunching, economic guitar riffs, Gotobed's one-two drum patterns with Lewis locking in the rhythm on bass, and Newman delivering some abstract lyrical fancy on the top. In classic Wire fashion, there are no spaces between the tracks, so it jackhammers ahead with no time even to take a breath...and that would be about my only complaint. Wire are trying so hard to rock your ass into submission, they forgot to include some of the moments that made Chairs Missing and 154 and even some of their 80s tracks so enjoyable--there's nary an "Outdoor Miner" or "I Am The Fly" or "Map Ref.." on the whole thing. By the time you get to Spent, with Newman's industrial-coated screams and Gilbert's insistent riff--you're impressed that these blokes can still get their rage on--but it seems more an exercise in showing the young'ins how it's done than going against a trend or fashion statement. Still, for all of that--"Send" improves on the 80s/90s albums, and though it won't restore Wire's cred with the hipsters and critics--I'm happy they're still around and make music, even if it's for mostly their own enjoyment.

And tomorrow is..yep, the 36th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...almost 40 years ago..I shall be playing it in honour of Messrs. Lennon and Harrison..rest in peace, both of you!! I shall also be gathering with my crew--and I'll give an early shout-out to C-Dog and thank him for the Gentle Giant "Civilian" CD and the Flaming Lips "Yoshimi Wins" CD..big ups to him!! I'll see the rest of you tomorrow!

Next week, Sunday June 8th is another record show in East Hartford, I will be there selling again--so stop by if you can...I've still got some good stuff at bargain prices..my mate Ian will have his scads o' vinyl and some at really good deals also. It's at the P&W hall on Clement Street..from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hope to see you there!!!

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Hey musos! It's been a couple of weeks, hasn't it? First off..Happy Belated Beltane, everyone!! Or..if you're a worker-bee, Happy Belated May Day (uh oh..that's one o' them Commie thangs, ain't it? ;) )

The Record Show in Hartford was so-so for selling..but I did find a few more goodies to add to the collection. I generally avoid Beatles bootlegs--just because there's so much stuff available dredged from the EMI vaults over the years that unless you've got more money in your bank account than you need, you'll *never* get absolutely everything. I did find a couple of interesting 2-disc sets, though. Both were purported to be companion volumes of the Anthology series that were released by Capitol/EMI in the mid-90s. These clever bootleggers even had the artwork match the official "Anthology" artwork and the quality of some of the out-takes/live songs is pretty stunning--with the tracks running in chronological order also. Of course, the best ones to me are the "psychedelic" out-takes--from '66 to '68--the highlights being an alternate version of Flying (called "Aerial Tour Instrumental"), an instrumental version (backing track) of George Harrison's T.M. ditty The Inner Light, the orchestral score to Strawberry Fields Forever and some others. I also found a disc of BBC sessions by The Incredible String Band. The disc is comprised of three different sessions, all from 1970. They were in their "going electric" phase at this point--and the tunes reflect the change. The quality on some of the tunes leaves something to be desired, and some of the performances do as well (they nearly butcher their own ode to love, Everything's Fine Right Now, with a sloppy arrangement and none-too-subtle electric guitar). There are some tunes that they never included on any of their official recordings--so that makes having the disc a treat--it's called Unbroken Circle, for any of you String Band fanatics looking to score a copy. Some other finds are a live Donovan show, supposedly from the U.S. tour in 1968--I do think it is--the set list definitely *looks* the sort that he'd be playing around then....a show by the mighty E.L.O., from Portsmouth, England in 1976..I had to buy it--it's got a live version of the *entire* title track from On The Third Day, in it's 13+ minute glory--that disc's called Strange Magic, for anyone interested--quality's not bad, either....a Flaming Lips show from Trees, in Dallas in 1999--quality is excellent and a surprise performance of The Gash (off the "Soft Bulletin" record)--a real rarity on their current tours.

I bought another Pixies show for my dearest Flaming Pixie--this one a show from Bristol, England in 1989--I'll ask her how the quality is when she's listened to it...I believe it's called Return Of The Fat Man. She's an Elliott Smith fan, too--so I found a collection of B-sides and out-takes called No Name--that concludes with Smith appearing on the "Morning Becomes Eclectic" KCRW radio show, doing some interviews and singing a few tunes--quality is very good throughout.

Speaking of The Lips, I finally bought the new EP, Fight Test, this past week. It's definitely a stop-gap for Wayne & The Boys, not really pointing to a new direction but just buying some time until the next full-length. It starts, of course, with the tune "Fight Test"--though, to my ears--it sounds like a bit of a re-mix, not identical to the version on Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. After that, is their version of Radiohead's "Knives Out"--which would be a surprise, if I didn't have a copy of the show they played last October in Boston, in which they performed this also. I will say that the "Fight Test" EP take on "Knives..." is a lot tighter than the one in Boston. Next up is the Lips taking on Kylie Minogue and Can't Get You Out Of My Head--which they transform from Top 40 confection to an almost Wagnerian epic--Wayne Coyne sounding like he's near the end with every "I...just..can't get you out of my head.."--and they don't change the gender of the intended, either--which makes it comical. Scott Hardkiss' 9-minute DJ/club re-mix of Do You Realize?? comes after that--and it's pleasant enough, if not a revolutionary clashing of Okie space-jockeys and dance-floor production...they could've chopped the length by a couple of minutes and it wouldn't have taken anything away..it is amusing to hear Coyne's drawl amidst the thumping beats and clubby keyboards, though. The next two tracks are the "brand-new" Lips songs: the first, The Strange Design Of Conscience, is a possible signpost to the Lips next record..it's a better merging of The Lips orchestral-pop and electronica than the Hardkiss re-mix..subtle beats and Coyne's vocals soaring over the top..not too bad. The final track, Thank You Jack White (For The Fiber-Optic Jesus That You Gave Me), is really just a novelty track--a faux-country ditty about Jack White (of The White Stripes) giving a jesus toy to Wayne after a show in Detroit (I don't know if this actually happened, you never know with The Lips). It's got that goofy Lips charm though, with lines like "Jack and Meg, they've got a real liberal family code.." Well, the EPs not the mind-blower that some were expecting--but it's interesting enough to keep most Lips junkies held over until the new release (possibly the Christmas On Mars soundtrack)-and that's good enough for me.

Alright, kids..that'll do it for this one--I'll be back with some more stuff--I just got the newest Spiritualized disc, The Complete Works--Volume One (courtesy of Flaming Pixie)--so I'll review that..and more...Peace Out, Musos!!