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Friday, December 18, 2020

David Bowie - Ouvrez le Chien (Live Dallas 1995) ISO Records


It was not exactly a redesign of David Bowie, but of a re-think, or a new charge of energy and thought into his career and music in 1995.  For me, this is when Bowie got back his groove, and he became fascinated with the world around him.   After hitting a creative (and perhaps commercially) dead-end in the late 1980s, he started up with a band, Tin Machine. A guitar-driven band that reminds me at times of a rave-up era of The Yardbirds. All that is missing are songs by Graham Gouldman. Still, Bowie actually filtering the great British hitmaker in supplying or co-writing songs with fellow band members that are retro in the sense of the importance of being in a band.  In a manner, it is very much Bowie losing himself as a brand being part of a band.  The truth is, Bowie has always been a collaborator with every musician he has worked with in the past. 

"Outside" (1995) was the album that gave him an entrance back to the avant-garde, and re-invent a new approach in recording that album.  For example, almost every song is written by all the musicians during the recording of that music.  If not, co-written by Eno.  It's a late Bowie masterpiece, and when he went on tour to support "Outside," he put together a new band, except for his guitarist (and co-writer) Reeves Gabriel, Mike Garson, and Carlos Alomar.  The new star of the show is bassist and backup singer Gail Ann Dorsey, who is amazing. Lucky us there are live tapes of the shows.  "Ouverz Le Chien" is a show that took place in Texas, and it's a refreshing listening experience. 

For one, Bowie does only a handful of his older songs, and they are usually not done live at the time or deep cuts in his excellent catalog of material.  What is remarkable are the live versions of music from "Outside."  In the studio, it sounds very much like work produced in a laboratory.  Here, they come off as songs of great force and grace.  He does a re-work of "The Man Who Sold The World" without the major guitar riff until the end as a quiet reminder that is faint as a loving memory.  This must have been a remarkable show to witness, but at least we have a great recording, for those who weren't there, or a few that lives with that evening as a ghost-image of a wonderful performance. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Declan McKenna "Zero" (Sony Music)

In a crazed lockdown period in my life (and ongoing, of course), I randomly found Declan McKenna's album "Zero" on the streaming station, as well as seeing his video of his song "Beautiful Faces."  Everything is shit, yet hearing a proto-type glam artist in 2020 brought me hope and salvation.  What more can we ask from music or an artist?

Not knowing anything about McKenna, I was drawn to what to me is, a suburbian glam rock style that has traces of classic Blur thrown in the mix.  McKenna and company recorded in Nashville, and it is probably the most unlikely Nashville album ever made.  Keep in mind, I'm a Californian, so anything outside the state is a bit of a mystery to me.  Every song on "Zero" has a catchy hook and a beautiful build-up to the chorus.  If there were still hit singles being made and processed through the music business, then "Beautiful Faces" would be that song.  Instantly aware that is a classic song in the lines of Mott and Bowie's "All The Young Dudes."  As I write, the earworm chorus is stuck in my brain, and I feel it won't leave me until sudden death. 

The rest of the album is as strong as "Beautiful Faces," especially after repeated listens.   I rarely fall in love with a contemporary pop sound, and maybe this is a retro-world. Nevertheless, Declan McKenna is an artist that can go anywhere from this on with "Zero."

I'm looking forward to the adventure, but meanwhile, I'm going to play this album a few times a day, for nothing else but to see the world in a better and bright light.  

Saturday, November 21, 2020

New York Dolls - "A Hard Night's Day" (Norton)


"A Hard Night's Day" is my favorite New York Dolls album.  The first two official Dolls albums issued by Mercury Records are excellent, but these series of demos they did in 1973, are essential listening experience.  Their mixture of classic rock n' roll, 60's girl groups, and blues, with incredible and insightful lyrics, is a combination that never fails me. 

At the time of their recording these demos, they did every song that they knew at that point. They are just important as the Velvet Underground, in that they tied in many important communities into one package.  The demos are beautifully recorded, and the performances are lively, precise (in that Dolls' manner of preciseness), and inspirational.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Tosh's Favorite Albums of 2020

 Keep in mind these are albums I purchased in the year 2020. Some of the music is old, but it's new to me. And in no special order - My favorite albums of 2020 are:

The Bachelor Pad -"All Hash and Cock"
Ennio Morricone - "Peur Sur La Ville"
Jack Nitzsche -"Jack Nitzsche"
The Quick - "Untold Rock Stories"
Jarvis Is... - "Beyond the Pale"
Dan Penn - "The Fame Recordings"
Sparks - "A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
Egisto Macchi - "Sud e Magia"
V.A.- "Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets from the WEA Vaults"
A Raincoat - "Digalongamacs"
The Preachers -"Moanin'"
Various ‎– "More Lost Legends Of Surf Guitar"
Charlie Parker ‎– "The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection"
David Bowie - "Is It Any Wonder?"
Extended Organ ‎– "Vibe"
King Crimson ‎– "THRAK"
Vince Taylor & His Playboys* ‎– "Vince Taylor Rocks!"
Marc Bölan* ‎– "Electronic Musik"
Kenny Graham And His Satellites ‎– "Moondog And Suncat Suites

David Bowie - "Metrobolist (Nine Songs By David Bowie)" Parlophone, 2020


In our reality, David Bowie is Elvis Presley. Not only do they share the same birthday and both recorded songs called "Black Star," but also in death, their music is released and looked as new. Tony Visconti, a significant figure in Bowie's career and music, has done a series of classic Bowie work remixes. One may think this is nothing but exploitation or a grasp to make more money in the memory of David Bowie. The truth is, Visconti has done magnificent work as a remixer as well as the original producer of these recordings. It's an artist (as producer) going back to his canvas to clean or refresh the imagery on one level. "Metrobolist" (Nine Songs by David Bowie)" is such a work. Most of us fans and consumers know this album as "The Man Who Sold The World," but it seems that wasn't the original title that Bowie given this record. At the last moment, the label changed titles without Bowie's knowledge at the time. 

"TMWSTW" has always had a muddy sound that made the songs heavy and mono-orientated sounds. It's like someone taking a shovel of mud and throwing it in your face. My first reaction to the album in 1972 was that this is a hard rock record compared to "Hunky Dory," his next album at that time. It's obvious to a listener in the early 70s can see Bowie worked from a broad landscape of different worlds sound-wise. "TMWSTW" is a great album and will always be an essential recording from a legendary artist. Including the contributions from Mick Ronson and Visconti knew how to take Bowie to the next level. "Metrobolist" is a mirror reflection of that album but cleaned up and allowing more textures to be added for the supreme listening experience. 

Nuances show up, more than 'ah-ha' moments while listening to "Metrobolist." The vocals have a touch of more echo. Still, the drums' presence mixed to another volume is especially lovely, and hearing the layered guitars from Ronson and the acoustic guitar work from who I think is Bowie. The Moog is also clearly heard in these new mixes. When you hear "Metrobolist," I hear or more aware of the arrangements. It sounds like a work from a band (Visconti, Bowie, Ronson, drummer Mick Woodmansey, and Ralf Mace, who is credited for the Moog playing and Mick Ronson) than a solo artist. 

"The Supermen" is incredible here, with the galloping drums by Woodmansey. If you're a Bowie fan, this is a must-hear or buy. Beyond that, both albums are superb, and now both in print. The world is a better place with "The Man Who Sold The World" as well "Metrobolist." 

Thursday, November 12, 2020


The David Bowie estate is releasing numerous albums, both remixes (by Tony Visconti on some) and unreleased live albums. Cynics will think of these reissues and 'new' releases on the same wavelength as Bowie's one time RCA label mate, Elvis. On the other hand, that may be true; "OUVREZ LE CHIEN is a magnificent live recording of Bowie and band in 1995.  Bowie finished an ambitious album "Outside" and wanted to clear the way to focus on this record with a much more challenging but textural sound.   I love this record because there are traces of "Diamond Dogs," I think, due to the backup singing of George Simms, who gives it a Broadway feel to the material.  I suspect that he was the secret ingredient or weapon in that touring band.  The songs are newly arranged, and "Andy Warhol" is a tough piece with a beautiful melody.  A great selection of tunes with a superb band backing the master.  And on top of that, we get The Walker Brothers (Scott) "Nite Flight."  


Monday, October 26, 2020

Joe Meek - "The Emotional, The Cosmic & Occult World of Joe Meek (Mississippi Records)

For the past 30 years I have been obsessed with the sounds and narrative of Joe Meek. There are many compilations out there, but what I suspect is a bootleg, "The Emotional, The Cosmic & Occult World of Joe Meek" is magnificent. Not a bad cut here, and extremely well curated collection of Meek's productions, mostly from the early to mid 1960s. My favorite is Blue Rondos's "Little Baby" which is Roy Obrison magnified in the Meek surroundings into something huge and beautiful. The compressed sound of Meek's production makes it sounds like the band are in a box with tiny air holes to keep them alive. Therefore there is an aural intensity of the sound. The Moontrekkers's "Night of the Vampire" is the ultimate horror instrumental, from the creeking of a casket opening to the female screams, a superb marching riff which I suspect on guitar is played by Richie Blackmore. There is only one mega-hit on this compilation and it's John Leyton's "Johnny Remember Me," a death song bordering on Meek's sense of eros. If you look hard enough one can find this 12-song compilation online. I'm not sure what the sound source is from - CD? Master tapes? Still, it sounds good on my hi-fi. A must for the Joe Meek fan.