Thursday, November 19, 2015

Del Amitri

The funny thing about the 1990s was the wide selection of music that still could be found on the charts.  While rock radio would like you to remember everything Nirvana or Alice In Chains, bla blah, the fact was that contemporary pop rock was still a norm.  Somehow to the left of Madchester alternative rock and the Seattle Grunge and to the right of hair metal lies the pop rock style of Del Amitri or better known to me as simply the Dels, easier to remember and easier to spell than Amitri. 

The band goes back to 1984 when Justin Currie advertised for musicians to play in his new band and ended up getting Iain Harvie to be the other half of this band and they got signed to Chrysalis and put out a very good debut that bordered on Elvis Costello and Aztec Camera but with a Cockney accent sound to beat, it's probably more on the same scale as The Housemartins.  Hugh Jones produced the debut and even if Justin Currie was a wee lad of 16 17 years old, his word play was much older and although I brought up the Elvis Costello reference, Justin may have listened to Graham Parker as well.  The album didn't sell very well and only when Del Amitri managed to get hits was when EMI decided to reissue it in 1995. Hammering Heart and Sticks And Stones Girl are the highlights.

After a three year absence, and a new label, Del Amitri's next album Waking Hours revealed a much different sound.  Gone was the wicked Cockney voice, replaced by a more smoke strained and laid back vocal from Currie as he had a hit with Kiss This Thing Goodbye, in a way, the left field song with banjo sounded out of place with the hair metal craze of 1989 and while Hugh Jones still was on as producer, the band was more stripped down and to the point.  You wouldn't know they were from Scotland.  Their type of rock was more straight ahead (Stone Cold Sober) but the ballads like Nothing Ever Happens or Move Away Jimmy Blue, was more of The Band rather then U2.  Although you don't hear much from this record, it was just as important as say U2's Rattle And Hum, just not as pretentious.

But every album that the Dels did do, Currie would find enough hooks and melody to come up with an hit single.  The Last To Know from Change Everything is one, and the throwaway Roll To Me, (the mix from Twisted sounded like Currie thought of it on the spot and Al Clay the producer recorded it that way) turned out to be their biggest hit, since it continues to be heard on soft rock and classic rock radio for that matter.  And later, Not Where It's At another mainstay of the radio.  Currie could compose it and Iain Harvie could think up a nice guitar riff and melody, but the strange thing about this was that they could have that big hit single on these albums but the rest of the songs would not be as attention grabbing. All of their albums really do have moments although while critics lambasted  Twisted, I thought it worked quite nicely as the Dels went for a harder rocking sound.  Change Everything might get a slight nod over Waking Hours as best overall album for the A&M years, but to me, Twisted is their "twisted' classic, to which the madness of Justin Currie comes into full fury glory, Bring Somebody Else they channeled their inner Crazy Horse among the ballads.  On original hearing Change Everything took a few listens to get used to, Gil Norton's production might be too polished but no doubt the songs do stand out from Be My Downfall, to the blues rock of Just Like A Man up to the Rolling Stones riff of The Ones That You Love Lead You Nowhere bleeding into the cowbell 123 of The Last To Know and even to the finale Sometimes I Just  Have To Say Your Name.  Which, in the end is their best studio album.

A long layoff after the failure of Twisted making a disappointing showing on the charts, the Dels came back with a whole new lineup, only Currie, Harvie and Andy Alston remained from the previous album and Some Other Sucker's Parade tried to return back to the glory days of Change Everything, while the title track and Not Where It's At managed to hit the radio, the rest of the album was a hit and miss, Mark Freegard's production wasn't a very good fit, and David Bianco's mix job was even worse.  A&M wasn't exactly promoting it either, they were in the process of being brought out by Universal and Universal really showed a lack of caring.  But even if it's their lesser of the US A&M albums (2002's Can You Do Me Good never saw a US release) there are still some decent songs that could have been better had they been recorded better (Medicine).  Sensing a end to things, Universal put together Hatful Of Rain, a 17 song best of which gives us the best songs and two new songs, one is the crappy Cry To Be Found, a very bad attempt for radio airplay but failed miserably, the other Don't Come Home Too Soon a much better song which was adopted by the Scotland soccer team in their world cup appearance.    Justin Currie would later follow that the the outtakes Lousy With Love (B Sides compilation) soon afterward.  A&M would then edit Hatful Of Rain with the uneven 20th Century Masters Collection.  Hatful Of Rain, The Best Of The Dels is a uneven mess but perhaps the best overview of what they could do, and makes a valid point that they were a good singles band, but the inclusion of Here And Now and Cry To Be Found drags this down a bit. But if you find it for under two dollars its worth a listen or two.

After Can You Do Me Good, Justin Currie pretty much retired the band and has gone solo, most of the albums worth a listen but without Iain Harvie kinda lacks the spirit and focus of the Dels.  That said, in the late 80s and early 90s Del Amitri was the alternative to hair metal, although Justin Currie's sense of humor might have labeled him a punk rocker in a pop aritst's skin. They might have missed the boat in New Wave in 1985 but in 1989, they found their mark in Scottish rock and pop.  And for their effort, got a radio classic with Roll To Me as well.


Del Amitri (Chrysalis 1985)  B+
Waking Hours (A&M 1989) B+
Change Everything (A&M  1992) A-
Twisted (A&M 1995)  A-
Swimming With Your Boots On-Live Dels (Oxygen Import) B+
Some Other Suckers' Parade (A&M  1997) B+
Hatful Of Rain-The Best Of Del Amitri (A&M 1998) B+
B Sides-Lousy With Love (A&M Import 1998) NR
20th Century Masters (A&M 2002) B
Can You Do Me Good (A&M 2002) NR

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Rockets

Consider this.  The late 70s are not looked upon fondly as it once was.  While classic rock radio tends to favor AC DC or Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin to satisfy the advertisers, plenty of other bands were a part of the rise of album rock.   But in the late 70s there are bands that you never hear anymore.  Prism comes to mind, the Canadian rockers who made about five albums for Capitol, which would be unheard of in this day and age.  Duke Jupiter who bounced between Mercury, Coast To Coast and Motown,  Nantacket, who made three albums for Epic and one for RCA.  All pretty much gone from the radio,  on only remains on the minds of serious collectors looking for something other than Back In Black.

The Rockets, started out years ago as part of Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels, basically Jim McCarthy and Johnny Bee, one of the best unknown drummers ever.  His beats on Jenny Take A Ride and the obscure Turn On Your Lovelight  sounds like a freight train running down the track.  Later, Johnny Bee Bandzerak and McCarthy would reunite with Mitch Ryder for Detroit, the 1971 album for Paramount that featured a wild version of Rock And Roll.  MCA reissued that album on CD in the late 80s.  McCarthy also worked in Cactus, the offshoot of Vanilla Fudge with the late Rusty Day (Amboy Dukes) doing lead vocals but their hardline boogie has not aged very well.

The Rockets (no relation to the band that would become Crazy Horse and made one album for White Whale) is more straight line boogie rock related than the bombast of Cactus and finally came together around 1976 to create an album called Love Transfusion for Tortoise International/RCA records and produced by Don Davis (Robin Trower, Motown).  With Johnny Bee and Jim McCarthy being the main focus and songwriters (Johnny Bee was also lead vocalist for a while) they ended up getting Dave Gilbert as vocalist.  Gilbert, had that Midwestern growl of a vocal that gave The Rockets a distinct sound.  Picking up Donnie Dackus as keyboardist this is considered the classic lineup although various bass players would come and go.  Another key member would be Dennis Robbins to give a twin guitar attack.  Moving over to RSO they recorded Turn Up The Radio which would give them their biggest hit with a cover of Peter Green's Oh Well.  Ably produced by Johnny Sandlin (Allman Brothers, Elvin Bishop)  it's a good place to start if you want to hear what The Rockets were all about, music to dance to.  The followup album No Ballads was somewhat lesser, there were some cool songs (Desire, Takin It Back) and a cover of Sally Can't Dance and like the title says there was no ballads unlike the one off Turn Up The Radio (Lost Forever Left For Dreaming).

While it's considered that Turn Up The Radio is their bona fide classic, I like the two albums that they did for Elektra,  Back Talk and Rocket Roll.  Certainly Back Talk was a rebound from No Ballads, with the Title track and Can't Get Satisfied  and even Johnny Bee takes a vocal on a couple numbers. Better production came from Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Graham Parker) on Back Talk.  Dennis Robbins would leave for a up and down career in country music, having a solo album for MCA in 1986 and co writing songs with a up and coming guitarist by the name of Warren Haynes, then Robbins recorded with Billy Hill for an album for Reprise before doing three albums for Giant Records.  Despite the oddball recording Glen Kolotin did on Rocket Roll, that record remains my favorite Rockets album.  The Detroit rock boogie is in full force on songs like Rock And Roll Girl and Rolling By The Record Machine. Somehow the record flopped, Elektra didn't pay much attention to the band and The Rockets would find themselves on Capitol for their final effort Live Rockets which had a minor hit with Open The Door To Your Heart.  Then the band broke up, and Dave Gilbert eventually would die in 1999 after years of heavy drinking from liver cancer.

Eventually, Johnny Bee and McCarthy decided to reform The Rockets with a new vocalist Jim Edwards but McCarty decided to return to Cactus and after a 4 song EP this decade, The Rockets have been silent once again. 

In some ways The Rockets  could have been a bit better known, perhaps fate didn't do them favors by bypassing Bruce Springsteen's Fire for a potential hit single and countless fights did split the band up. But between the grooves The Rockets did provide some classic Detroit rock and roll, to next to Bob Seger The Rockets were very good at what they did.  With the exception of Love Transfusion, the RSO and Elektra albums have been issued as 2 on 1 CD, although the Renaissance reissue suffers from a harsh midrange remaster.  Still, they should have done better and unfortunately the ongoing fights splintered the band up.  Still when they were on their music, they were just as good as anybody else and even if David Gilbert had major demons with drink and drugs, he was a damn good vocalist. But the world won't know their music outside of Oh Well.  This is where you the music collector comes in and seeks out their back catalog.

The Albums:

Love Transfusion (Tortoise 1977)  B+
The Rockets: Turn Up The Radio (RSO 1979) B+
No Ballads (RSO 1980) B-
Back Talk (Elektra 1981) B
Rocket Roll (Elektra 1982) A-
Live Rockets (Capitol 1983) B-

The Rockets/No Ballads (Renaissance 2009) B+
Back Talk/Rocket Roll (Wounded Bird 2005) A- 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Curve, Lush And The Shoegazer Music Boom of 1991-1992

I might be in the minority but I always liked shoegazer music, which really was alternative music back in the early 1990s.  Terms of feedback guitars, straight ahead beats and words that nobody could make out what they were saying.  My Bloody Valentine might be considered the best of the shoegazers but that is debatable.  Jesus And Mary Chain could be considered the pioneers of shoegazer  music but that's also terms of discussion. Even The Stone Roses are considered shoegazers although they're more Brit Pop than MBV.

In the scope of shoegazer, Ride to me offered the best of this type of music.  While critics call Nowhere their best album, Going Blank Again is their classic to these ears.  The continuing swirl of sounds on Leave Them All Behind is the best indication that you could get lost in the noise.  Still, it seems that Ride got tired of this sound and tried to venture out into different directions with Carnival Of Light before ending their career as purveyors of guitar rock on the forgotten Tarantula and broke up, Andy Bell moving on to Hurricane #1 before joining Oasis.  The longest lasting of these bands, The Charlatans UK started as Madchester  beats, which is part of Shoegazer music and their first two albums Some Friendly and Between 10th And 11th were part of the original alternative radio before Corporations like Clear Channel turned that into Modern Rock but even they got tired of Shoegazer and with Steve Hillage producing changed course with Up To Our Hips and eventually The Charlatans became the modern Rolling Stones, the highlight Tellin Stories before losing their keyboard player in a auto accident and their drummer in 2013 from cancer.  The lesser known The Darkside made two shoegazer albums that borderline more on psychedelia of the 60s rather than the Madchester sounds of The Charlatans UK. All That Noise, shows The Darkside's fondness of The Velvet Underground. The Seeds  and The Charlatans (US Version that is), but perhaps their shining moment was the 9:52 song Rise from their final album Melomania.  Out of all the shoegazer bands The Darkside were the most trippiest.  Fellow labelmates The Dylans may have bit more straight ahead rock and roll, like The Stone Roses, their best moment was the dreamy Godlike from their first album.  And like the Stone Roses, The Dylans couldn't build upon their first album, Spirit Finger finding them spinning their wheels and poor sales and indifference and the band was no more.

Which leaves us with the Inspiral Carpets, a band best known with a organ sound similar to The Doors. They started out pretty good with the almost hour long Life, but each album was less and less interesting.  Picking up their best of is the better buy, like The Doors The Carpets could get very wordy and lose focus, which makes getting The Very Best Of Inspiral Carpets the best deal, but I'll stand by Life as probably the only Inspiral Carpets album you would ever want to own.

Perhaps the best shoegazer bands were the ones lead by women. Although fans and critics have spoken highly of Slowdive, I wasn't impressed with the album that I heard, they reminded me of a noisy Cowboy Junkies.  Lush on the other hand started out as a shoegazer type of band. Led by Miki Berneyi's breathy vocals and the songwriting  and backing singing of Emma Anderson, their debut album Spooky and the EP collecting Gala are perfect examples of shoegazer dream pop. They recorded for 4AD, one of the top alternative labels out there in the early 90s, home to The Pixies and Breeders as well.  It also helped that Robin Guthrie (Choctaw Twins) produced Spooky.  But unlike the Dylans, Lush followed Ride's trail and started making albums not so much shoe gazer but more alternative rock, with mixed results.  Split, like Ride's Carnival Of Light is Lush trying to find a new sound that will fit them better but not quite getting there yet.  Their final 1996 effort Lovelife, they went for a sound that was somewhat like Elastica, getting minor hits like Ladykillers and a duet with Pulp's Jarvis Crocker on Ciao. a disjointed version of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra for the 90s. The record was probably their best seller but drummer Chris Acland's suicide ended Lush once and for all.   Their best of Ciao! captures most of their highlights.

Certainly the nosiest has to be Curve, who existed right in the middle of the shoegazer craze of 1991 and 1992 and perhaps the most related to My Bloody Valentine and Jesus And Mary Chain of noise music.  They made three albums for Charisma/Anxious,  Doppelganger, Pubic Fruit and Cuckoo. Led by Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia, they were produced by Flood and Alan Moulder, Moulder would greatly in the mixing of albums from Ride, if anybody gave Shoe Gazer music its sound, that would be Moulder.  Doppelganger takes a while getting going but toward the end of the album the angry guitars and looping drum tracks take hold on Wish You Were Dead and Fait Accompli, the latter track would be expanded and added on, as well as three EPs that comprised Pubic Fruit, to which like Gala from Lush, composes Curve to be a very noisy dance shoe gazer band. Cuckoo, as uneven as it is, still is remarkable, the title track one of their best overall songs.  Curve would later break up and then reunite through the years although I have not heard anything outside of Cuckoo.  Kevin Sheilds of MBV fame did play on their 2002 album.  Overall fact remains that while Curve may have been a noise band and their sound did base an influence on the more popular US band Garbage in the mid 90s that underneath the noisy guitar and blurred singing from Halliday, Curve, like Lush was a very good pop band.

By all accounts Shoe Gazer pretty much fell apart around 1992 when Nirvana and grunge took over the alternative airwaves although some bands did try to keep that sound going. Blind Mr. Jones put out Stereo Musicale on Cherry Red (Herb Cohen's Bizarre/Straight issued it two years later).  Blur started out as dance shoe gazer with Leisure but then Damon Albarn and company started writing Kinks influenced songs before changing gears with the Pavement tribute S/T album of 1998.  And Catherine Wheel  Frement album for Fontana is their most hypnotic album, with their classic Black Metallic, before they abandoned Shoe Gazer with a more mainstream modern rock album of Happy Days.  Ocean Colour Scene, late to the party, their 1992 S/T album probably the final noteworthy of the shoe gazer music as we knew it back then, before they went with a more soulful direction.  I'm sure I'm missing a few bands from all of this but these were the most noteworthy of bands.  But in any case The Shoe Gazer Music was perhaps the final music genre that I gave much thought about. Alternative Music today is nowhere near as varied as it was back in the early 90s.  But in any case, you really didn't need much thought into playing this music. Just hit the play button start the beat and let the music take you where it leads.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Alison Moorer-Down To Believing

Perhaps the bigger story of this year was not of the new Steve Earle Terra-plane album which had the Earlster putting out a blues album but rather his new ex wife's album Down To Believing which came after she filed for divorce after 7 years of being with him.  In some ways it's not a answer record in the matter of Richard And Linda Thompson's 1982 farewell Shoot Out The Lights.  Moorer's is more subduded and not as venomous.    She can rock out like Miranda Lambert on lead off track Like It Used To Be, to which Moorer sangs Don't want to say goodbye but it will set me free.  I think the key track is the 2 and half minute next song Thunderstorm/Hurricane which probably a more read between the lines of washing herself away from the strains of her marriage.

Overall, Moorer has recorded off and on for various labels of varying degree.  Like Shelby Lynne, it's hard to pin Moorer as a straight country act or Americana one.  She employs the usual Nashville session folk on this record (Kenny Greenburg who produces, Fred Effingham, Chad Cromwell, Dan Dugmore, Michael Rhodes all play on this record, Ray Kennedy and Justin Niebank record and mix parts of this album as well).  Unlike her previous albums, Down To Believing is a bit more darker as Moorer, who has stayed very silent talking about her breakup in the press, chooses to express them in the songs at hand (Tear Me Apart, Blood, I Wish).  While the songs are fairly good, the Nashville Session hires don't exactly bring the anger into music, it's rather more passive then aggressive.  Her cover of CCR's Have You Ever Seen The Rain is like the original, note for note and not that all bad.  It does pick up better towards the end with perhaps the best song is I'm Doing Fine, to which throughout it all, she's getting on her life as best as she could be.  Second best song is probably Gonna Get It Wrong, which could describe our lives as well; as much as we all try to do our best, we all going to get it wrong somehow. 

Certainly Down To Believing might be Alison's most  emotional album to date although the jury is still out if it's her best overall (Alabama Song is considered her best).  But while her ex continues to play live and host his own XM radio show and still remains the ultimate outlaw singer songwriter, Down To Believing is Moorer's answer to it all, while she continues to live her life and bring her autistic son up in the world and make a new album that won't get noticed in the country world, this record has more brains than the average Luke Bryan song.  And I give it an extra point for being raw and emotionally honest.   She's keeping quiet on the social media set but the words and music on Down To Believing indicates she's speaking her mind.

Grade B+

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dillard & Clark

While critics and historians tend to think that Gram Parsons was the new visionary of the new country rock, Dillard And Clark are just as important to the legacy of the new and exciting world of Country Rock or Americana.  Of course 1968 was a new year.  A year earlier, Parsons and the International Submarine Band recorded Safe At Home on Lee Hazelwood's LHI label before joining The Byrds for the more well known Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.  Gene Clark, was once a part of that band, giving them a classic with I Feel A Whole Lot Better and a few others, Doug Dillard played in a band called The Dillards but he joined forces with Clark on Gene's first solo album with The Gosdin Brothers, which has remained in print off and on, most notably on Echoes, an album that Columbia put out in 1991 that had selected Clark tracks and the complete Gosdin Brothers output.  Anyway, Dillard and Clark decided to record together and A&M picked them up.

Although The Flying Burrito Brothers got better treatment from their label, Dillard And Clark put out two albums. The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard And Clark and Through The Morning, Through The Night, the latter album I managed to find used at a Goodwill store. The Fantastic Expedition, if you compare it to the Burritos or The Byrds is much more bluegrass than either band and features Bernie Leadon as a very important player in the band, helping out to write the songs and give it a more country bluegrass flavor. Clark wrote most of the songs except for a cover of Lester Flatt's  Git On It Brother (Git In Line Brother), a nice gospel bluegrass number.  Leadon helps co write 6 of the songs and Dillard 3.  The Eagles would cover Train Leaves Here In The Morning.  If nothing else, Leadon's presence on the first three Eagles album could be considered an extension of what he was trying to accomplished with Dillard and Clark, with him joining Eagles, they were more country rock before Don Henley and Glenn Frey decided to go more of a harder rocking direction.  The Fantastic Expedition is very hard to find album but one should pick it up since it's heart is in the right place, just like Sweetheart Of The Rodeo or Safe At Home.

While Doug Dillard was an outstanding banjoist in his own right, he didn't write very many songs, but rather be comfortable covering a Reno And Smiley song (No Longer A Sweetheart Of Mine), Everly Brothers (So Sad) or the famous Rocky Top (Donna Washburn, later a cookbook expert on the internet sang that song and backup on Through The Morning, Through The Night).  Which left Gene Clark being the main songwriter and he came through with a few great songs, the title track, Polly, and Kansas City Southern.  But the second album showed more of a slant toward electric music rather than the goodtimey Fantastic Expedition.  A trade of drummers, Mike Clarke went to the Burrito Brothers, Jon Corneal replaced him.  Dillard moved on after the recording, A&M tossed out Don't Let Me Down as a promo 45, it didn't sell.  Despite a bizarre number (Corner Street Bar) Through The Morning, Night still holds up.  Like the first album, that too was a failure and Dillard And Clark were no more, Clark moving on to a cult solo career and briefly rejoining Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn for the short lived Hillman, McGuinn Clark band in the late 70s. Doug Dillard continued on a solo artist till he passed away in May 2012 at the age of 75.  Second only to Earl Scruggs as one of best banjo players ever.

BGO managed to put together both albums and three songs that only made it to 45 for a two on 1 CD that is basically the Complete Dillard And Clark Output.  Why Not Your Baby was later covered by Velvet Crush, and yes it was another failed single.  Strange to hear the Strings come out of nowhere and drown out the band on the instrumental middle and fade out of the song.  It would have been a better fit on the second album rather than the first.  Rather than adding the songs between albums, they tacked them on at the end.  Still it's nice to have that song in any context.

In the end, while Dillard And Clark's albums never did much for chart showing, it's clear that they do hold their own against the Gram Parsons and The Byrds output.  Perhaps it may have been too bluegrass for the country rock fandom but they no less essential than Sweetheart Of The Rodeo or Gilded Palace Of Sin.  Even the clerk at the bookstore had no idea who they were and when I showed them the CD to buy, he asked me if these guys were from England and who were they?  I answered it's Gene Clark of The Byrds and Douglas Dillard of The Dillards joining up.

Somebody needs to brush up on their music history.

The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard And Clark (A&M 1968) (Reissued via Water 2008) A
Through The Morning, Through The Night (A&M 1969) B+
The Complete Dillard And Clark A&M Years (BGO 2011) A-

Later revision.

Sundazed Records issued Fantastic Expedition on vinyl in 2011, but the second album has not (judging from what I have seen from Amazon).  BTW, I bought the Through The Morning, Through The Night album at Half Priced Bookstore......for a dollar.

Train Leaves Here In The Morning/Out On The Side (A&M 995)
Why Not Your Baby/Lyin' Down The Middle (A&M 1087) (reissued as a Sundazed 45)
Don't Let Me Down/Rocky Top (A&M 1165)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: O.C.Smith-Together

Something found for a dollar.

The late O.C.Smith was one of the better baritone vocals of the 60s and early 70s and best known for Little Green Apples but 8 years later, he found himself on Caribou/Epic Records in search of one last hit that would keep him going.  Together turned out to be his final CBS effort.

For contemporary soul music of the late 70s, it's not bad.  Jazz drummer John Guerin along with Max Bennett gives Smith some decent uptempo soul music with I Found The Secret and Wham Bam (Blue Collar Man) along with the ballads that O.C. was famous for.  While the title track didn't chart in the states, it managed to hit number 32 on the British charts, not bad for a country that was more into punk rock than soul music.  Even Joni Mitchell helped co write side 1 lead track Just Couldn't Help Myself. Empty Hearts does sound a bit like Larry Graham's One In A Million You.  Like Brook Benton, Smith could phase a lyric and turn it into a romantic song such as Empty Hearts or Simple Life.

However in 1977, people were more interested in disco music rather than soft soul music and Together got lost in the shuffle and Together would be O.C.Smith's final album for CBS Records. It is a lost soul classic, professionally done by the session players (including Mike McDonald of the Doobie Brothers perhaps?, and David Foster).  Smith would continue to record off and on before passing away in 2001 from a heart attack at age 65.  While he'll be forever remembered for Little Green Apples, Together proves that he was more than a one hit wonder, still giving it his all despite public indifference and no record sales.  Even the dollar copy was a Promotional copy.

I give it a B Plus. 

Welcome Jaime Lee Fritze from A Sound Woman blogsite as our new follower.  I try my best to promote blogs that promote music and records and all things music. While Record World is bit more all over the map, The Review Consortium remains 100 percent committed to music and bands of interest.  For my readers please check out her site.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Pursuit Of Happiness

Power pop from Canada?  You don't say eh?

Actually Moe Berg and the jolly ranchers known as The Pursuit Of Happiness had a great debut back in 1988 with Love Junk with tongue in cheek songs like I'm An Adult Now and Looking For Girls.  Love Junk, produced by Todd Rundgren had them sound a lot like Utopia but with the female backing vocals of Kris Abbott and Leslie Stanwyck in tow, they compliment Moe Burg's world of sex and women.  The 13 songs don't vary much from your standard three chords and a straight ahead beat, but each song had their own different arrangement.  Nevertheless Love Junk remains their best.

One Sided Story, repeats the format and same producer and Burg continues to have his love sex blues with women.  Beginning with Food, which sounds cliched and Two Girls In One an uninspired followup to Adult. Some of the songs are even more crass (Shave Your Legs), as Berg comes across as a creepy nerd rocker who won't take no for an answer in his world of trying to pick up women and One Sided Story might have been deemed worthless if it wasn't for songs like All I Want or the return to Love Junk sound of filler tracks like Runs In The Family or Forbidden Fruit.  It's a better listen than the one and half star All Music guide rating but it is a Sophomore slump.

Nevertheless Chrysalis under new EMI ownership dropped TPOH and they found themselves on Mercury in 1993 with The Downward Road and perhaps their best known single Cigarette Dangles. By then Stanwyck left the band and Ed Stasium gave them a more metallic sound that contradicts the first two albums.  A better album than One Sided Story but the one two punch of Dangels and Nobody But Me, the album falls a bit short of inspiration and has about four songs too many.  Amazing how Stasium managed to get TPOH to sound like Living Colour on Nobody But Me.  Mercury wasn't interested in promoting this band and dropped them soon afterwards.

The next two releases were Canadian only issues and I never heard Where's The Bone, but The Wonderful World Of TPOH was a lackluster effort, not much to recommend it outside She's The Devil, the Moody Blues type of segmenting one song into the next forces the listener to hear below average power pop about sex and girls that most bands would have worked themselves out of 8 years into their career.  They never did break up, only releasing a song here and there up till a 2005 remake of When Doves Cry for a Canada best of.  When We Ruled contains both the 1988 and the 1986 version of I'm An Adult Now.  The Razor And Tie best of Sex And Food cherry picks cuts with live versions of Food and has a few b sides to offer (Let My People Go) but even that best of wasn't out very long.   In terms of theory, When We Ruled is the best overview of this band, but for myself the first three albums are their legacy and shows the good and bad side of Moe Berg.   But for Canada Power Pop, they were really pretty good when they got their act together.


Love Junk (Chrysalis 1988) A-
One Sided Story (Chrysalis 1990) B-
The Downward Road (Mercury 1993) B+
Where's The Bone (Iron 1995) B
The Wonderful Of TSOH (Iron 1996) C
Sex And Food-The Best Of TPOH (Razor And Tie 2000) B+
When We Ruled (EMI Canada 2005) B+

Sunday, May 3, 2015


Imagine my surprise when I found out that last month was the best month ever for the review consortium with 458 views.  Pretty damn good when I haven't posted much before putting up the Belly overview.  Of course I have reasons to believe it was inflated and probably less than half spent time here reading the archives. 

I really don't plan to post much in here, unless we get a repeat of last month's success.  Then I might post something new or off the wall.   For those who stopped by and read the post, thanks for reading. And be sure to check out the primary site Record World, where most of the action happens over there.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


The problem of alternative rock of 20 years ago is that it has dated badly, even by Bro Job Country standards or autotuned robotic vocals.  Let's investigate of a band that sold tons of CDs but most have been seen in dollar bins all across this fair land.

Best known for Feed The Tree, a nonsensical but hooky song, it basically captures Tanya Donnelly brilliantly. She started out in Throwing Muses and later The Breeders before striking out on her own with Belly.  In the death-thrones of MTV video music before boring the fuck out of everybody with reality crap, Feed The Tree couldn't be escaped from 120 Minutes or when MTV played videos.  As a whole Star was very uneven despite failed hits like Gepetto and Slow Dog. It is alternative rock but in the ears of mine, I prefer Lush a lot more.

The followup King, features Gail Greenwood on bass, Glyn Johns producer and a more rock and roll attitude although Donnelly continued to throw unlistenable stuff, but Super Connected was a pretty good song. King, the album didn't sell very well and in 1996 Donnelly retired the band.

You can basically find both albums for less than a dollar at thrift stores.  Even Sweet Ride, The Best Of Belly, the recommended album is full of b sides and questionable material. We really don't need a song sung in French for a best of.  This does have the radio mix and edit of Feed The Tree and with that gets my vote as the album to get.  Donnelly continues to write and play music as a solo artist.

Star (Sire/Reprise 1993) C+
King (Sire/Reprise 1995) B-
Sweet Ride The Best Of Belly (Sire/Rhino 2002) B