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Monday, December 30, 2013

Annie Cordy - "Cigarettes, Whisky et P’tit’s Pépées" EP

Annie Cordy - Cigarettes, Whisky et P’tit’s Pépées EP

One of the greatest recordings I heard this year, and it came somewhere in the internet and onto my computer.  For the past two years I have been trying to track down French EP’s because I like the format and design of these precious objects of desire.   Nevertheless, and sadly I can only find the music through other’s blogs.  Finding a copy one can hold is not impossible, but takes a great deal of time to track down.  Annie Cordy’s ep Cigarettes, Whisky et P’tit’s Pépées is such a haunted piece of recorded music.   My guess is the recording is from the early 50’s and what stands out is Cordy’s great vocal, but with an understated organ, and a crisp electric guitar.  The other three songs are not that special, but the leading track is a real ‘wow’ to me. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Andy Chango - "Boris Vian"

Andy Chango - Boris Vian

This is an album I know very little about, except that Andy Chango is from Buenos Aires and it seems he likes Boris Vian’s music.   Chango covers all the Vian hits on this very respectful album to his aesthetic or style.  And that is why I have trouble with it.  The music is well-arranged, well sung, and very properly respectful, and this is the problem.  I think Vian needs a John Zorn or an artist of that range to really transfer the Vian aesthetic to another plane on this planet.  The only singer (besides Vian) that I think does a proper job on his songs is Serge Reggiani, who odd enough reminds me of Bryan Ferry.  Still, the Vian world is a small one, and for the collection one must have this album, no?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Animals - "The Best Of The Animals"

The Animals - The Best Of The Animals
CD, Compilation, Download
ABKCO Records

I never liked an actual Animals album due to the fact that they were slaves to the R&B sound, when in fact I loved their ‘hit’ singles.   “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” to me is close to perfection as a pop masterpiece.  The Best Of The Animals in all honesty is a good compilation of their different early sounds.  And one has to separate the Eric Burdon & The Animals, from just the plain Animals.  

In many ways, The Animals remind me of Manfred Mann, the same strong organ sound that runs through their material, and their very basis of Rhythm and Blues is very much part of their foundation as well.   But I prefer the voice of Paul Jones over Eric Burdon.  Perhaps because Jones played the pop star better than the very serious Burdon?  Nevertheless this is like comparing apples to oranges, The Animals were pretty great. 

“We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” is essential rock anthem.  The great thing about The Animals is that they had good taste in material.  They wrote very little, yet they had the natural talent in finding the  right song that is suitable for Burdon’s voice.  The producer Mikie Most is also an underrated genius.  He just understood the nature of a good pop hit.  Not exciting, but a guy who I think by instinct knew how to fill a record with sound, and the right sound with the right artist.  Not always an easy thing to do.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

André Popp - "If You Go Away"

André Popp - If You Go Away
Vinyl LP, UK, 1972
Circle of Sound (Download)

Probably the worst album in my collection that is still, somewhat interesting due to the fact that he knew Boris Vian.  André Popp was one of the key arrangers during the post-war years in France.  Worked with Bardot and Gréco on their recordings and also with Boris Vian, right before he passed away.   Popp in the Fifties made almost experimental ‘lounge’ music, especially for the hi-fi market that was a big thing at the time.  Vian, without a doubt, being an mechanical engineer, had an interest in new recording equipment and developments in that world.  Would he liked the CD format?  Nevertheless this is not an important album to own. In fact it is on my computer, so it is almost not really here in physical space. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

André Almuro - "Poésie de Cruauté"

André Almuro - Artaud, Genet, Lorca, Cocteau, Larronde, Almuro - Poésie de Cruauté
Vinyl LP (Download), 1962
Disques Mouloudji

A mysterious album that I downloaded from god knows where, but what a cool piece of vinyl.  I’m on the hunt for it.  The little I know is that André Almuro worked in radio, and was or is (he’s still alive at 82) a figure in the French Music Conncréte world.  He met a 15 year old Pierre Clémenti and worked together making films, and recording Clémenti’s poetry.  Eventually in the 40’s he hooked up with the legendary Pierre Schaeffer and joined his Radio Télévision Française.  

Poésie de Cruauté is a fascinating piece of work.  Here Almuro makes music behind the narration of various poems by Artaud, Lorca, Genet, Cocteau and Olivier Larronde, who I don’t know at all.  The poems are read by Jean Bollery and Pierre Frilay, with a certain amount of vocal effects for their voices.  A great album, and without a doubt I am going to look for Almuro’s films.  Fascinating.

Also of great interest is that this album was released on the great Left-Bank (Vian pal) Mouloudji’s record label.

Blues Incorporated - "R&B From The Marquee"

Blues Incorporated - R&B From The Marquee
CD, Album, UK, 1962

Ground zero for British blues.  On paper it is a weird image of Europeans singing American black music.  But then again, why not?   What is important to me is the location.  And the title of this album says it all for me.  The Marquee Club.  Nevertheless this album is recorded in a recording studio somewhere in North London, and not in the legendary club.  But the pop/cultural monster that is in me pretends that this is a live recording in a rainy Soho night. 

Musically I don’t think it’s an important record, but on a historical cultural level super important.  So many British musicians probably owned or seen this band that it is probably tattooed on their DNA in some form or fashion.   The key players in this group is Alexis Korner on acoustic guitar, Cyril Davies on harmonica and vocal, Long John Baldry on vocals, and Dick Heckstall-Smith on saxophone.  A super band of sorts in the early era of Cliff Richard mania U.K.  

One thing I do imagine, and I think it is real, is these characters must have been a fascinating bunch.   Total obsession of a certain music, always makes a great character.  I will always love this album cover and the name of the band.  It is very romantic to me. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Blue Stars Of France - "Lullaby of Birdland & Other Famous Hits"

The Blue Stars of France - Lullaby of Birdland & Other Famous Hits
Vinyl LP, 1952

I just purchase this album from the Pasadena Record Swap Meet, and I have been looking for this on vinyl for an awhile now.  I have a secret passion for Christiane Legrand, whose brother is Michel the great soundtrack composer, songwriter and damn good piano player.  She is not the easiest to find.  In Japan there is a CD collection of her solo recordings, and she is even a guest vocalist on Procol Harum’s Grand Hotel album.  But there is not a lot of information that is out there on this vocalist.  She is also a key member of the Swingle Singers.  But before all that she was part of the The Blue Stars, or as they say in  France Les Blue Stars.  A vocal group started up by the legendary Blossom Dearie.  Also in this group is Christian Chevallier and Roger Guérin, very noted and great French jazz musicians.  So one can think of the Blue Stars as an early super-group.

Jazz vocalizing is not something I have a great passion for, but alas, once I opened up my ears to these voices, oh my oh my, a magnificent experience.  It is not just the vocals, but also the tasteful instrumentation behind them that is fantastic.  A lot of the music was arranged by Michel Legrand, and it shows the master’s touch.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

British Electric Foundation - "Music Of Quality and Distinction Volume 3

British Electric Foundation - Music of Quality and Distinction Volume 3
16 x File, MP3, Album, UK, 2013
Wall of Sound

I thought the chances would be very slim that this would even be listenable, but alas, it’s a fantastic album.   It guess it took British Electric Foundation 20 some odd years to recover from Volume 2, which, without a doubt,  I tremendously disliked with a certain amount of passion.  But Volume 3 which came out of nowhere, well basically a typing mistake on Spotify, it came up upon my eyes. 

Like the other two volumes, British Electric Foundation (Heaven 17) chose specific artists to cover a song, and usually the song choices are really good, but sometimes I feel there is a subtext to their choices as well.  Nevertheless we Boy George doing Lou Reed’s “Make Up” and surprisingly The Stooges’ “I wanna Be Your Dog.”  Now that sounds like a strange mash-up of singer and song, but George does it well, and its a great track on this album.  

The one that really made me go gaga is someone named Maxim, who is a Russian pop singer.  He does the fantastic “The Day Before You Came” a masterpiece song from late ABBA.  His performance of the song resembles Joel Gray’s character in Cabaret.  Campy as hell and it works.  Glenn Gregory, who is the Heaven 17 singer comes up quite nicely with Frank Sinatra’ middle-age angst “It Was A Very Good Year” and a beautiful piano version of Billy MacKenzie’s (Associates) “Party Fears Two.”   And do we need another version of “God Only Knows?”  Sure, why not.  It is such a beautiful ballad, a Brian Wilson piece of genius work.  Overall this is a great collection of songs re-thunk by Martyn Ware.  In other words New Wave’s revenge.

British Electric Foundation - "Music Of Quality and Distinction Volume 2"

British Electric Foundation - Music of Quality and Distinction Volume 2
CD, Album, UK, 1991
10 Records

No.  Just plain no.  Compared to volume one, this is a major disappointment.  Not due to the talent that is involved with the album, but the arrangements and the song choices I feel are mediocre at best.  Even the great Billy MacKenzie comes off so-so, and a man of his talent should never ever be in that taste bracket.   The album reeks of middle-age thinking with a great lack of passion.  Imagine going to the worst yuppie bar on the planet, and this album being played - it will be the perfect soundtrack for that environment.    In theory this could have been an interesting album, with the Heaven 17 guys doing their take on soul music, but alas, it is passionate music done un-passion like.  No.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

British Electric Foundation - "Music Of Quality & Distinction Volume 1"

British Electric Foundation - Music Of Quality & Distinction Volume 1
I-Tunes, British, 1981

For a brief time in my world, Heaven 17 were a very important band.   For one I was totally caught up in their juxtaposition of politics and pure electro-pop music.  To me they were an updated version of folk-music from Greenwich Village New York, but with suits and keyboards strapped on.  Also I liked their concept that their parent company was or is called British Electric Foundation, that sort of issues the Heaven 17 brand.  At the time they were in theory sort of the more commercial version of Public Image LTD.    One of the projects from the British Electric Foundation was their Music Of Quality & Distinction series, and this being number 1.  

When I got this album, I was totally intrigued on numerous levels.  On one level, it is Heaven 17 with interesting cast of characters doing their favorite songs.  But knowing their political point of view, I also saw it as a political statement of some sort, which to this day is very vague.  Nevertheless this album recorded in 1981, features songs from the ’60’s to the early ’70’s.   The ’70’s work being David Bowie and Lou Reed songs.  So there is a glam aspect to the package, with Reed, Bowie, and having Gary Glitter (the king of  glam?) doing an Elvis cover.  

I get the feeling that B.E.F. chose their artists for this album for both musical reasons as well as a cultural iconic stance.  A statement of some sort.  Tina Turner’s recording of “Ball of Confusion” started her even bigger career in the ’80’s and also brought forward ’60’s icon Sandie Shaw as well to the soup that is this album.  The Shadows’ legendary guitar player Hank Marvin plays on “It’s Over,” the great Roy Orbison song, here sung by the equally fantastic Billy MacKenzie.  

The talents of Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware (with their singer Glenn Gregory) made an interesting observation on music-past.  All the song selections are very much in-tuned to the world of Human League as well as Heaven 17 (of course).    A fascinating record of its time that still sounds good.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Brigitte Fontaine - "Prohibition"

Brigitte Fontaine - Prohibition
I-Tunes, France, 2009

Older, and still beautiful.  “Prohibition” is Brigitte Fontaine going forward.  She strikes me as total ‘now’ person, and not someone who really looks back.  The album has the electronica sound with middle -eastern flourishes but it is still 100% Brigitte.  With Grace Jones as well!  

It’s funny but i never heard of her till my friend Howard request that I locate a specific CD for him, that was only released in France and Japan.  And since I was in Tokyo at the time, his request lead me to discover her music.  But one cannot really be exposed to her by one album, you have to suck up and get everything by her.  She is an unique artist, and gone through many changes over the years.  In that sense she is like Gainsbourg, who was always true to his identity, but changed musically with the times - and in most cases, not getting buried under the weight of change, but rolling with it.  Fontaine is superb, and “Prohibition” is a strong ‘pop’ album.  Pretty great considering she was around 70 years old during this recording. 

Brigitte Fontaine - "Comme a la Radio"

Brigitte Fontaine - Comme à la Radio
I-Tunes, France, 1971

One of those great mood shifters, where France meets American avant-jazz that equals a French sensibility.  Magnificent percussion with the low sounds of a stand-up bass is a very seductive sound. Middle-eastern sounds creep into the framework, and Brigitte Fontaine is simply part of the landscape.  I often think of her as the French Grace Jones, due to her going into unknown territory with no fear.  The music is wonderful and The Art Ensemble of Chicago offers layers of sounds that suits Fontaine’s  voice perfectly.  Torch singing for the adventuress and those who lurk in the 3 AM night. 

Brigitte Fontaine - "Brigitte Fontaine Est...Folle"

Brigitte Fontaine - Brigitte Fontaine Est…Folle
I-Tunes, MP3, France

The beautiful marriage between voice/thought with arrangement.  Brigitte Fontaine, along with the great arranger Jean-Claude Vannier made a 1968 classic, that is slowly crawling across to the English language world.  Vannier of course is greatly responsible for Gainsbourg’s Melody Nelson album, as well as countless others.  The beauty of his work is his playfulness and being true to the material on hand as well.  Its a balancing act that he never ever trips over that thin clear rope.  Fontaine, I think, is an artist who likes to work with others, and for her, that is her strength in that she doesn’t lose her identity or sense of purpose.   A classic piece of music making.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Brigitte Fontaine - "13 Chansons Décadentes et Fantasmagoriques" CD Album

Brigitte Fontaine - 13 Chansons Décadentes et Fantasmagoriques
CD, Album, France, 2002 (originally recorded 1966)
Disques Jacques Canetti

What planet is this woman from, and why am I not born on this same planet?   Brigitte Fontaine, is a force that goes forward and rarely looks back.  But for me who just discovered her maybe five years ago, I have a lot to catch up on.  So I believe this may be her first album.  Chansons Décadentes et Fantasmagoriques.  Fontaine, who I know very little of, with respect to her background, but I have a strong suspicion that she is the bohemian’s bo-ho.  A chanson singer by trade, but one who took that form into another world.  Her singing style is very theatrical with a tinge of contemporary feeling or soul.   What is interesting to me (among a lot of stuff regarding her) is that Jimmy Walter arranged this album, and also worked with Boris Vian.   And she also did an album of recordings of Vian’s music as well.  So that thread between Saint Germain des Prés culture is very much part of Fontaine’s world, yet different because it is being made for the May ’68 generation.  This is an artist who didn’t stand still. I want to belong to her cult.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Brigitte Bardot - "Show" CD

Brigitte Bardot - Show
CD, Album, France, 1999
Magic Records

Now this is the ultimate and great Bardot album.  I think the material on this CD is all based on her TV show she did in the late ’60’s  - in other words hardcore Gainsbourg period.  I’m not even sure if this was an official release by her or her record company.  The great retro garage rock Yé-Yé label Magic Records put this out, and it has a bootleg feel to the packaging, but nevertheless this is the Bardot to get. 

For one it has the classic electro-funk “Contact” written by Gainsbourg, and even though the recording is around, not many are aware of this Brigitte gem.   Another stunner is “Le Diable Est Anglais” both the English(“The Devil’s In Town”) and the French version.  The English version sounds sort of pissed off, and her accent is very strong which adds a certain amount of charm to the track.  But it is also has a touch of menace as well. It is one of my favorite all-time recordings.    “Le Soleil” is just a great lazy sounding track.  It pours sex that is so natural from Bardot.  When you get down to it she just has the ‘it’ quality that you have to be born with.  So yes, ignore the others, and get this one if you want to have  that special Bardot as pure sensual sound that will eat you up.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Brigitte Bardot - "La Madrague" CD, Compilation

Brigitte Bardot - La Madrague
CD, Compilation, France, 1991

One can criticize Brigitte Bardot, but it won’t be from me.  For one, she was the first movie star I have ever seen on a big screen.  I may have been in a movie theater before, but seeing Roger Vadim’s “A God Created Woman” was my first experience, and in a sense Bardot was my first woman, besides my Mom, in acknowledging a female presence in my life.  A lot of women are beautiful, but Bardot somehow went even beyond that.  

This collection of Bardot’s hits are a part of an interesting series that France Philips put together called ‘Actrices.’   A collection of releases by iconic actresses who happened to make music, and it looks like every major French female movie star made a recording of some sort.  Most of them were lucky enough to have the talents or arrangers Alain Goraguer, Andre Popp and the writing talents of Serge Gainsbourg.  Bardot had them all, well at least musically.  

Still, this is not a great collection, because they left out major Bardot recordings like “Contact” and avoided some of her more ‘odd’ recordings.  But all have the Bardot personality stamped on the grooves, and she doesn’t disappoint as a vocalist.  A limited vocalist yes, but her personality and sexuality comes through as if it was transparent paper.   Her work with Gainsbourg are noting but masterpieces.  Her version with Serge of the classic erotica Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus is a must and worth the price of this CD/Vinyl.  Much more lush than the Birkin version, this is one of the key songs by Serge, and Bardot adds an equal amount of sexuality on this record.  Essential.  Not an easy find anymore, but there are better Bardot collections out there, but still it does have Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus, the original version.  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Beatles - "Free As A Bird" 45 rpm vinyl single

The Beatles - Free As A Bird
Vinyl 7” 45 rpm, U.S. 1995
Apple Records

Doctor Frankenstein  made this album.  John Lennon recorded this demo in 1977, and the Fab Three did overdubs, etc in 1995.  Morbid?  The weird thing for me is to pretend that somehow someone can come back from the dead to make a new recording.   Death is final.  But not in the pop music world.   But beyond that it’s a nice Beatle record.  The additional Paul like chorus or bridge is pure magic in conjunction with this being a Beatle record. Nevertheless it is a depressing record on many accounts.  The B-side is quite interesting.  The Beatles through out most of the 60’s made Christmas greetings on record for their fan club, and this one I believe was done in 1967, has a slight psych touch to it. 

The Beatles - "Baby It's You" Vinyl 7" EP

The Beatles - Baby It’s You
Vinyl 7” EP, 45 RPM, Mono, U.S., 1995
Apple Records

The fab four on BBC radio.  Four songs on this EP, each track features all four Beatles’s lead vocals. The key track here is their version of the Bacharach & David classic with a great Lennon vocal.  Overall this EP covers the Beatles love for the American girl group sounds.  Besides the title cut they also cover “Devil In Her Heart” (George sings it), and Ringo’s “Boys.”  Paul being the spoil sport does his “I’ll Follow The Sun.” 

The EP is a nice snapshot of a time, and one wonders if they knew, at the time of these recordings,  that they could never go back there again.  When I hear early Beatles material, I think of it as a time capsule, and it doesn’t place me in that time frame or point in history, but I feel that they were living for the moment, and they truly didn’t know what will happen around the corner. 

Arthur Lee & The American Four/ Arthur Lee & The Grass Roots - Unissued 1965 Demos 45rpm single

Arthur Lee & The American Four/ Arthur Lee & The Grass Roots - Unissued 1965 Demos
Vinyl 7” 45 RPM, Single, U.S., 2006
Norton Records

These very early demos by Arthur Lee and Love before they were Love, shows that he always had that “it” quality.   “Stay Away” is him and The American Four doing that garage rock thing that doesn’t really himt towards the classic Love sound.  But his voice is there, and it is fascinating to hear the raw Arthur, but then again I don’t think he was ever raw.   On one level it reminds me of  The Stooges “Shake Appeal” with the hypnotic hand-clapping which does give the recording a sense of urgency.

The b-side is  Arthur Lee and the Grass Roots, performing “You’ll Be Following” which is actually a Love song from their first album.  Different lyrics, perhaps “Signed DC?”  The lyrics are fascinating because it is a day in the life of Arthur with his band - of sorts.   His death was a real lost to music in my opinion.  He had that incredible mixture of styles that is only him.  He was an one-of-a-kind cocktail.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Albert Schweitzer - "Bach Volume 5" Vinyl LP

Albert Schweitzer - Bach Volume 5
Vinyl, LP, U.S.
Columbia Masterworks

I’ve been searching for Bach organ music for awhile now.  Specifically Glenn Gould, but can’t find that  on vinyl yet, but I do have this Albert Schweitzer album.   The only thing I knew about Dr. Schweitzer was that he spent time in Africa and he wore a pyth helmet.  I had not the foggiest notion that he was a musician and played Bach on the organ.  Therefore when I found this album in the bargain bin at Amoeba it was a great find for me.  

The fact that this is Volume 5 and therefore must be four other volumes floating in some store’s $1 bins is an exciting thought for me.  But what about his playing or the music?  Well, he is a doctor and therefore must be good with his hands.  The music is played beautifully with that rich sound from the organ that has to be such a heightened experience to hear something like that live.  When he recorded this album is a mystery to me.  There are no dates on it and there is a very long liner notes, that he wrote, but it is all about the music not about the recording of the album.   The pieces played on the album are “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” “Prelude and Fugue in A Major,” “Prelude and Fugue in F Minor,” & “Prelude And Fugue in B Minor.”  It’s a beautiful recording, and I do wish there was some information about the actual album.  Perhaps he recorded it in the jungle with his pyth helmet on?

Andy Starr - "Rockin' Rollin' Stone" 2 x Vinyl 45 RPM EP (Record Store Day)

Andy Starr - Rockin’ Rollin’ Stone
2 x Vinyl, 45 RPM, EP, Limited Edition, Gatefold, U.S. 2013
Sundazed Music

“Hey R-rrr-oo-c-k, R-rrr-oo-c-k” pretty much says it for this limited edition double  45 rpm vinyl set.  Andy Starr is an artist I know noting about, nor have I ever heard of him till I looked up the Sundazed website to see what they were offering  today on Black Friday Record Store day.   Once I saw the cover, I rolled down to Rockaway Records to pick a copy up.   It’s a fantastic set.

“I Wanna Go South” is the key cut for me, because it really builds, builds to a slow burning intensity.  There is something nasty in these tracks and I mean nasty in the right way.  The rhythm is a slow train heading towards the South, where our singer will eventually start his own church and it seemed he made a few X-Rated comedy records as well (according to the liner notes). 

Starr is the real deal.  It is odd of a man such wonderful talent comes to only two EP’s and eight songs in all.  But perhaps that is all needed to light up the world.  The two EP’s were recorded in different times from each other.  The first one is just voice, one guitar, stand-up bass, and drums.  The second disk has back-up vocals, and if you compare the two, the second disk is Elvis at RCA, and the first one is Sun.  Nevertheless it was a mood that made me buy this record, and it shows one needs to be in tuned with one’s mood.  It never fails man.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Master Musicians of Joujouka - "Brian Jones Presents The Pipes Of Pan At Joujouka" Vinyl LP

The Master Musicians of Joujouka - Brian Jones Presents The Pipes Of Pan At Joujouka
Vinyl LP, U.S., 1971
Rolling Stones Records

For me, Brian Jones is the musician that made The Rolling Stones be the Stones.  One can argue forever with respect how important he was to the band’s make-up, but to me when he left the band (as well as Andrew Loog Oldham) it became a very much of a different music group.  I might add not as one as interesting, because with Brian Jones you get a sense of exploration as well as adventure.  This album pretty much represents the adventure aspect of Brian and his world. 
Sadly I don’t have this record anymore, but Paul Bowles for Folkways or The Library of Congress, was the first one to record The Master Musicians of Joujouka, which in turn inspired a lot of musicians from the West.  Including Brian Jones who at the time must have been looking for something beyond the world of Mick and Keith.  The music here is hypnotic and rhythm orientated.   Brian went to Joujuka with a two-track portable recording machine to capture the magic, and he did.   When he got back to London, he added some stereo effects and did a re-mix of the album.  Its interesting because it is clearly how a western artist looks at another culture, specifically their music. 

It would be a mistake to see this as only music from this particular tribe, because Brian added his sensibility to the mix as well.  Paul Bowles probably captured the essence that is the Musicians, but Brian Jones with this recording added a footnote of sort.  A footnote that is an entrance to another world.   It is tragic that he died, because i suspect he would explore this sort of music more, as well as matching it with the intensity of the blues.  I believe we lost a visionary with the death of Brian Jones.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Brian Eno - "Music For Films" CD

Brian Eno - Music For Films
CD Album, Remastered, UK, Europe & U.S., 2005

An interesting concept that this album was made in thought to be soundtracks to films that are imaginary or doesn’t exist.  Eventually over time Producers have used this music, but the original concept is music that is for film, but alas it is only music.   

This is a good but not great album, but I suspect that a lot of the tracks were recorded during Eno’s masterpiece Another Green World but somehow didn’t make it to the final record.  I am not sure about this, and I’m totally guessing - but when I hear this album that is the first thought that comes to my mind. 

Brian Eno - "2: Vocal" 3 x CD Box Set

Brian Eno 2: Vocal
3 x CD, Compilation, Box Set, UK, 1993

This is a very good compilation of Eno’s vocal recordings in one package.  The essential aspect of the box set are the singles that never made it onto the official albums released by Eno.  “Seven Deadly Finns” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” are important early Eno recordings.  As well as the record he made with Snatch “R.A.F.   The rest of the songs  are pretty much available on his other albums, but I think the key thing here is the packaging.  One who is a fan will want the box set of his vocals as well as the Instrumentals package.  It is sort of like owning and controlling the yin & yang.   So this, basically is a great present for the one who doesn’t have Eno’s recordings.  But I think for the hardcore fan, they would be happy to have the original albums as well as trying to locate the 45 singles.  

If one is on a strict budget, I would settle for the instrumental set, because I think there is a great deal of unreleased or hard-to-find tracks in that package.  The Vocal box set is not that obscure with respect to finding the original albums and recordings. 

Also keep in mind that at first look one would presume that his package would represent the entire early albums, but this is not the case.   Getting the original albums are much more of a desire, because those albums are nearly perfect.  Including the sequencing of the songs, which flows beautifully as an album.  

So in the nutshell, good gift item for the person who needs to hear Eno, but for the fan, I would settle for the original albums.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Brian Eno - "1: Instrumental" 3 x CD Box Set, UK

Brian Eno - 1: Instrumental
3 x CD, Compilation Box Set, UK, 1993

The completest that is in my DNA core needs this box set of instrumental cuts from Eno.  Even though I have some strong doubts about his instrumental work in the long run.  Discreet Music and the instrumental parts of Another Green World are masterpieces, but everyone has their peaks and valleys, and although Eno’s work in general is very successful with the music world, I find it a tad conservative. 

It is hard to criticize his work, because it is alway well-made and brilliantly played, but I find the concept or thinking behind the pieces not that strong or consistent.  Although not spoken, and perhaps this is totally from my perspective, I just don’t think he is challenging himself in the long run.  Which is a weird thought when you look at his career on a piece of paper or computer screen, but the first two Roxy albums, and of course the first four solo albums were such a great force, almost a kick in the stomach feeling - where things can never be the same anymore.   But alas, Eno has been dishing out the same material at least in style for a long time now.  There is no doubt that he is border-line genius and often hysterical in his work as well in interviews, but as an avant-garde artist he’s not out there like Christian Marclay or Rutherford Chang and I think someone in his field of interest should be really cutting-edge.  

Of course as an artist he should listen to his inner-voice, but as a listener I am often disappointed with the later results.   Especially the signs of his brilliance from the first Roxy Music to the Obscure record label releases, and now he produces Coldplay…

But still, this instrumental box set which came out in 1993 is an impressive package.   If you are a hardcore Eno fan you would need to own this. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Brian Eno - "Before and After Science" Vinyl LP

Brian Eno - Before and After Science
 Vinyl Album, U.S. 1977
Island Records

An album I like but never loved for some reason.  I think more in the context of what Eno was doing during this period of music activity.  At this time he had produced both Talking Heads and Devo’s first album, as well as Ultravox’s debut recording as well.   All albums he produced are very good, but the weak link in all of them is actually Eno’s production.  

I think he took his ideas to these other albums, and in one way they were wonderful, but also I got the feeling that he was more interested in what he can do with the band, then what the band can actually do.  For instance Devo, who I have seen numerous times before the first album was recorded, is much more of an intense force.  But through Eno’s assistance the sound is actually watered down, and I feel the same way about the Talking Heads albums as well.  I missed the noise out of the mix from his early recordings.  In other words his recordings became more respectable and ‘pleasant’ sounding.  The grooves on Before and After Science are funky, sound sonically great, but the genius aspect of Eno’s technique is missing.   Or perhaps it is me that lost the groove with Eno?  

The one classic song on this album is  “King’s Lead Hat” which when I first heard it in 1977, I thought it was a Devo reject.  The rest of the album flows like a flower in a glass of water, yet, I missed the tension of noise, sound, and melody of his earlier works.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Brian Eno - "Discreet Music" Vinyl LP

Brian Eno - Discreet Music
Vinyl LP, Album, Reissue, U.S. 1983 (Originally released 1975)
Editions EG (Obscure)

Discreet Music I imagine was a life changer for Brian Eno.  One gets the impression that he was saying goodbye to the ‘pop’ world with Another Green World.  As legend has it the ‘ah ha’ moment happened when Eno was ill and recovering in bed, and friend Judy Nylon brought him an LP of ancient music of some sort.  One of the stereo speakers went out and Eno was too ill to get out of bed to fix it, so he was forced to hear it in this particular situation.  This, inspired him to do Discreet Music, which is one of the great beauties out of the ambient music world.  

I use the music to write by, especially if I need to concentrate on the page, and having difficultly doing so.  It just creeps inside my head, but it doesn’t stop me from the thinking process while writing. I’m the type of writer that needs music while writing, and this album is without a doubt the top three titles to allow me space to do what I have to do on the page. 

There is a melody that floats over the electronics, and one can even hum it if they wished.  But it is best when it is sort of there, but you can’t define it.  Erik Satie invented ‘furniture music’ and Discreet Music (the title says it all) follows the great French eccentric’s point-of-view with respect how music can serve a location or place in mind.   Side two is another favorite of mine, where Eno goes after Pachelbel’s Canon and does his magic over it.  

One time i had the  entire Obscure record label collection, that was curated and owned by Eno.  Looking back this was a very important label, because it not only introduced new composers to the world as well as the standards (John  Cage) but also connected to the pop music world at the time.  Alas, something for me to look for again.  First love is sometimes the best love.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Brian Eno - "Another Green World" Vinyl LP

Brian Eno - Another Green World
Vinyl LP, Album, U.S., 1975
Island Records

The point of no return for Brian Eno and it is on this album that he discovered a new life of sorts as the glam years melt away and he took on a new identity, that to his day, he has kept up.  There is a natural progression from the first to the second and now third solo album in Eno’s career and music.  What strikes me now is how there is tension between the ambient sounds and the melody.  This is not a relaxing album to watch the seasons come and go, but more of an undercurrent of either sexual feelings or violence.  For me this is the last great Eno album. 

“Sky Saw” is one of the great opening tracks on an album ever.  John Cale’s shrieking amplified viola going against the sinister rhythms is the perfect set-piece mood for the rest of the album.  There are gentle moments through out the album, but there is always a sense of danger or intensity just on the other side of that relaxing moment.   Who would have known the great drumming on “Sky Saw” is actually Phil Collins!  This album is a combination of pure blissful beauty but overtures of changes taking place that one may not have control over.  For me a perfect album, but I don’t think Eno will be able to go beyond this.  In fact  he became more of a sound artist than anything else.  So one feels that Another Green World was a goodbye to a certain chapter in Eno’s life.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Brian Eno - "Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) Vinyl LP

Brian Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
Vinyl LP, Album, Gatefold, U.S., 1974
Island Records

The beauty of a classic Eno album are its textures.  Here Come The Warm Jets has great sonic touches that one can listen to it again and again, and still discover new things to hear in it.   Taking Tiger Mountain has the same quality, but it is very much a different type of album than the first Eno release.  In an odd way this album is sort of like a travel journal, where lyrically it hits areas (Asia?) of the world, but it is very much done in an abstract way, where you are not really that sure where this album is placed in the world.  Theme wise it reminds me of David Bowie’s Lodger of a foreigner going to a new land, mostly to escape from one’s own culture.  There are ambient sounds here, but instead of being in the background, it is way out front and it is like a strong beat.  I think of crickets used as a percussion instrument in “The Great Pretender.” 

I remember my friend Gary Friedlander buying this album at the same time I bought it when it was first released.  We rushed to his house to listen to it, and I think we must have played it at least four times. Right away it stuck me as a classic album.  The graphics are great, and the guitar work from Phil Manzanera is simply fantastic.  There should be a death sentence for those who don’t think Manzanera is one of the greats on that instrument.   His mixture of prog sensibilities with surf aesthetic is a unique one in the world of music.  There is not a bad or weak cut on this album.  The band Japan in their masterful Tin Drum record has taken a lot from this album and used the material in a more straight ahead fashion.  Also the Feelies first album has traces of Taking Tiger Mountain as well.  A true classic. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Brian Eno - "Here Come The Warm Jets" Vinyl LP

Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets
Vinyl LP, Album, U.S., 1974
Island Records

I was deeply shocked when I read in Rolling Stone Magazine that Eno left Roxy Music.  The most shocking part to me was Rolling Stone even acknowledging Roxy Music and Eno.  For sure i thought that they didn’t know the band.  At the time, only in the U.K. and perhaps Europe was there media coverage on Bryan Ferry and Company.  The second shock was Eno leaving Roxy Music.  How can that be?  I wasn’t worried about Roxy Music, but I was worried about Eno.  So in 1974 it was a duty for me to purchase his first (and perhaps last at the time) Here Come The Warm Jets.   Well, odd enough, I wasn’t prepared for the sound that came off the vinyl into my ears.  Sonically, I was totally sold.   The first cut off the album “Needles In The Camel’s Eye”  sounded to me like something out of The Velvet Underground’s second album White Light White Heat.  Just a mono sound of grinding guitars with his beautiful vocal fighting against the noise.  I loved it. I still love it.  In fact I love this whole album. 

The first Roxy album prepared me for the sound, and Eno continued using that mixture of sparse electronics and bleeps with distant surf guitar and strong melody.  Also the album is so beautifully planned out - there is not a bad or weak cut on it.  Each song in a sense introduces the next, and it strikes me now that this is a record can only be made in 1974.  Glam was slowly disappearing at the time, and here Eno was introducing a new sound that was glam-like, but yet, something else.  Maybe a hybrid of John Cage with a glam leaning.  I don’t know, all I know is this album is important the way Sgt. Pepper is important to the culture.  

And the one major influence I think is John Cale era Velvets.  Even the song title has a Velvets feel to it.  “Cindy Tells Me,” “Blank Frank,” “Dead Finks Don’t Talk” and so forth.  More New York than West London.   Nevertheless the beauty of “Some Of Them Are Old” and how it gently joins in the last song “Here Come The Warm Jets” is simply a wonderful series of moments.   Oh, and the cover is great as well.