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Crowded House - Together Alone

Sitting here bored in my hotel room on a rainy night in Vegas, thought I’d throw out a Reconsideration. Ever since hearing the newest Prefab Sprout album “Crimson/Red” for the first time a few weeks back (which, BTW, I’d suggest you seek out and listen to immediately, it’s the best thing Paddy’s done since “Jordan”) I’ve been on a bit of a jangle-pop track…


I tend to bounce back and forth between “Woodface” and “Together Alone” as my fave Crowded House albums, and the contrast between the two couldn’t be more obvious. Where “Woodface” is crisp and tight, “Together Alone” is relatively stark (although it does still rock in spots), with an atmospheric, layered feel brought to the surface by Youth’s flawless production. Highlights include “Kare Kare”, “Nails In My Feet”, “Fingers of Love”, “Private Universe”, “Distant Sun” and “Catherine Wheel”. Brilliant…

Bruce Wheeler

Polygon Dropout Media: What we do.

We don’t usually do reposts, but this is just fucking cool!

roseaposey:

My tribute to one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Bob Dylan.

Paul McCartney- “Band On The Run”

I would like to recommend for your reconsideration what I seem to remember as Sir Paul’s first post-Beatles effort. And while I’m not sure that this record meets Mikey’s criteria (was it maligned when it was released?) I distinctly remember it being compared unfavorably to the rest of the Beatles’ ouevre as well as John Lennon’s IMAGINE, which came out a couple years before.

At any rate, it boasts some pop classics, with lush, complicated arrangements and Paul’s powerful, dynamic voice. Some of the tracks - Band on the Run, Jet, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five - are as good as anything the Beatles put out. Pure musical genius.

Richard Sloane

 

Teenage Fanclub- Thirteen

Instructions!

Play this track while your read;

Every band has a great album inside them. Problem is, in order to get to that killer album, the listener usually has to follow the band as their baby steps of badly-advised cover versions and cringe-inducing lyrics ripped in whole from the singer’s 17 year old diaries set to 3 chords with collective crossed fingers somehow progresses to giant steps and artistic greatness before the genuine classic emerges. This can take a while. Some bands never manage it at all. Some bands go on to fluke it as much as twice in their lifetime. A select few manage a trio or more. The truly great, at some point in their life, will go on an amazing run of 3/4/5 defining albums. The Beatles between Rubber Soul and Sgt Peppers. The Stones between ’68s Beggars Banquet and ’72s Exile on Main St. David Bowie, in his majestic run of ’70s albums tops the lot. Era-defining, trend-setting and truly brilliant, every one of them. 

Teenage Fanclub do not fall into this category.

However, had they had the decency to provide us with a shinier, radio-friendly follow up to the bubblegum grunge of Bandwagonesque (Spin magazine’s Album Of the Year in 1991, the year of Nevermind lest we forget), they might have been on to something. Sandwiched betwixt and between Banwagonesque and the sun-kissed, chiming beauty of ’95s Grand Prix and its ‘97 doppleganger Songs From Northern Britain, Teenage Fanclub saw fit to release Thirteen. Not a bad album. Not a bad album, at all. But, when compared to the TFC’s ridiculously high standards, it’s something of an accepted let down, the band included. 

It’s in the production. Not for Thirteen the radio-friendly high-gloss grunge of Bandwagonesque (Marshalls turned up to 11 and recorded inside cupboards) nor the ringin’, dingin’ Big Star-isms of Grand Prix (Fender Deluxes, no distortion), but a sludgy, muddy, lo-fi production that can’t decide if it needs the Marshall stack or the Fender Twin. And there’s yer problem. The band didn’t know if they wanted to be the long-haired slackers of Bandwagonesque or the four-geography-teachers-with-slightly-cool-haircuts-do-a-band of Grand Prix. The songs are there. Good songs. Great songs, even. The band take equal writing shares, play as a band and step up to the mike in glorious 3-part harmony. Gene Clark. Norman 3. Radio. Hang On. The Cabbage. Escher. All truly great Fanclub classics, forgotten in time for appearing on the wrong Fanclub album. It’s time to reconsider, baby.

Craig McAllister

 

Urge Overkill- Saturation

Is it possible to get overshadowed…by yourself? Just one of the many strange possibilities in Rock & Roll. Urge Overkill formed in Chicago back in 1985. Their first few releases built up their reputation in the Chicago scene, and eventually led to them getting opening spots on tours with Pearl Jam and Nirvana, during the peak grunginess days of the early 90s. In 1993, they released “Saturation”. While it had some critical success, a couple of singles (“Sister Havana” and “Positive Bleeding”) and some airplay in the “Alternative” music scenes, they quickly became known for their cover of “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack (which was actually from an earlier EP of theirs). Their next album (“Exit The Dragon”) didn’t chart very well, and following some internal issues and the arrest of their drummer on drug charges, the band soon broke up. Later in the 2ks, they did start gigging again, and released a new album in 2011.

But in all that mid-90s commotion, “Saturation”…an album deep in quality songs, slipped through the cracks, and into the used Cd bins of the world. Besides the singles mentioned, tracks like “Stalker” (my favorite), “Crackbabies”, “Woman 2 Woman”, and “Bottle of Fur” showed their ability for heavy rock, humor, and general strangeness. When you listen to this album, you’ll soon be transported back to the early 90s and with the catchiness of all the music, you’ll forget you had a skip button as the album finishes up. This album was never far out of regular rotation for me, and giving it a second (or first) listen my get you hooked as well.

Jeff Smith

 Video for “Sister Havana”

Video for “Positive Bleeding”

Supergrass- “Life On Other Planets”

Tooling around my library and rediscovered this gem.

This is was the 4th record from the power trio from Oxford, who officially became a power quartet with this release with the addition of Rob Coombes and his keyboards.

This album benefits from its juxtaposition in the Grassie’s canon. The self titled 3rd record was such a disappointment that it felt like that may have been all she wrote for them. But they pull themselves up by the bootstraps with “Life On Other Planets”

There’s something about this album for me that represents a shift for Supergrass. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it exactly, it could be the keyboards, it could be the clear maturity bump in songwriting, it could be the new producer Tony Hoffer but it all amounts to a fine, tight, satisfying collecting of songs here.

And about those songs…

"Can’t Get Up" remains my most favorite Supergrass track to this day. Fantastic lead vocal and a great sing along chorus. They channel their inner Marc Bolan with "Seen The Light" and the pop ditty "Grace" is bright and excellent.

If you’re looking for something to re-listen to this week, you can do much worse than this! Give it a go!

Mike Patterson

Devo- “Duty Now For The Future”

Glad to see we’re back…


Devo’s second effort, ‘Duty Now For the Future’, may be my favorite by the boys from Akron. Released in 1979, it took on a decidedly more electronic tone then ‘Are We Not Men?’ Produced by Ken Scott (one of EMI’s engineers who worked with The Beatles in their later years), this collection did not receive rave reviews at the time as some scribes thought they were playing catch-up on their demos to rush a new album out. This may or may not be the case, but either way there are some gems here. All 13 tracks off the original release are strong, and the remaster throws an additional 5 at us. Definitely a Synth-Pop watershed. Enjoy Spuds!

Click on the image above to listen to "Duty Now For The Future" on Spotify

Bruce Wheeler

Simple Minds- “Sparkle In The Rain”

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Simple Minds are the kind of band that come along with shitloads of preconceived notions/prejudices when cursorily mentioned today. 

They are part of the phenomena of the 80s where established, influential artists had the unfortunate happenstance of a breakthrough top 40 smash that ultimately ended up “propelling” them to “one hit wonder” status rather the the vaunted and much more deserved status of “seminal”.

These Scots had quite a run between ‘80 and ‘82 virtually defining The New Wave with the triumvirate of “Empires and Dance” (‘80) “Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call” (‘81) and “New Gold Dream” (‘82). In ‘85 the smash happened with “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” from the OST of “The Breakfast Club” and the bands fate was sealed. But in between they collaborated with the Phil Spector of the age, producer Steve Lillywhite to put out a shining piece of loud, kick ass guitar rock called “Sparkle In The Rain” in 1984. 

So, Lillywhite was on fire in 1983, here a few of the records he’d produced around that time:

"Black Sea"- XTC

"Talk Talk Talk"- Psychedelic Furs

"War"- U2

"The Crossing"- Big Country

"Script of the Bridge"- The Chameleons

Yeah, right? Pretty damned hot!

He’d really kinda perfected this huge ass drum/guitar sound in an age where tinny, thin drum machines and synths ruled the day.

Simple Minds took full advantage of this and it’s evident from the first bombastic sounds on “Sparkle”

The opener “Up On the Catwalk” sounds like a formidable pugilist taking out his frustrations on your face…with a beat. “Book of Brilliant Things” features the rockinest use of a violin sound since “Kashmir” The other singles “Waterfront” and “Speed Your Love to Me” are just excellent aggressive slices of pop majesty. The whole damn thing still sounds other worldly today in very much the same way that U2’s “War” does. Not much else sounds like it.

The thing that kills me is how they steered the ship away from the new Wave they’d mastered, to this huge sound so perfectly and how awesome it still sounds.

It’s one of the many rock an roll ironies that the band never quite this good again (although I can probably do another post on the subsequent full length “Once Upon A Time” which is very good but nothing like Sparkle)

The point here is, listen to it. Forget that it’s Simple Minds, turn it up loud, annoy the neighbors and rock out.

I can think of worse ways to spend 40 minutes.

Click on the image above to hear the album on Spotify!

Mike Patterson

The Old Romantic Killer Band- “The Swan With Two Necks”

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In the late “aughts” there was an explosion of kick ass talent coming out of Leeds, England that seemed to take their cues and inspiration from the vaunted grunge era. It was pretty damned exciting. Kaiser Chiefs, Duels, Dinosaur Pile Up, Pulled Apart By Horses, all making a helluva racket!

One of those bands stood out for me from the rest, The New Romantic Killer Band.

They were a two piece Guitar/Vocals from Harry and Drums by Greg basically playing turned up blues inspired RAWK. They didn’t do the easy thing and ape the White Stripes. They crafted some really great songs and their debut “The Swan With Two Necks” captures the energy damned well. 

I could never understand why no attention was paid, it could have just as easily been them instead of The Black Keys, who were really just regurgitating the blues. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

TORKB were taking the elements and crafting some compelling stuff.

Check out the incendiary opener “Girl You have All The Fun” which comes over like a grungy Zeppelin. The single “Lover’s Pass” is just jumped up fun. “Your Girlfriend is A Drug Addict” is just as cheeky as you might imagine.

The thing that really takes this band over the top is Harry’s ridiculously talented voice which reminds me mostly of Paul Rodgers, and that’s damned fine “company” (sorry) 

Anyway, its a short affair, the whole album clocks in at something like 22 mins, but its bliss from start to finish. The band broke up in late 2009 with very little fanfare. I always felt like it was unfair. So much promise and no chance to shine.

After playing bass with Dinosaur Pile Up for a while, Harry has just self released a solo record called “Post Breakdown Blues” under the name Harry George Johns. A dark EP recorded in the wake of an actual nervous breakdown, but tender and poignant. I can’t recommend it enough.

But for now enjoy “The Swan With Two Necks” and let me know what you think.

-Mike Patterson

Click on the album image above to listen to the record on Spotify