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!!!