Albums Jazz

The Modern Jazz Quartet Plays the Music From Porgy and Bess (BL7692) (1965)

SAM_1437It’s not a proper Garage Safari unless I pick up an MJQ record. Fortunately, the village-wide bootfair this morning in Elham (the next hamlet along towards Canterbury) was accommodating and I inch ever closer to the complete Atlantic canon (this one issued in Europe on Philips).

Question: Did anyone in jazz not cover “Summertime”?SAM_1438

80s Albums Punk

Hüsker Dü – Flip Your Wig (SST055) (1985)


(Columbus, Ohio) — After nearly a decade of mourning, Darren Wiggins has be able to come to terms with the death of his affection for Hüsker Dü. With the new-found sense of closure meaning that “a great burden has shifted from [his] soul” and allowed the 44-year-old video editor “to move on with [his] life”, Wiggins says he will no longer be listening to the half-formed, ostensibly pop, rants of the Minneapolis punk band.

“I’ve tried over the years, but the fact is there’s simply no spark left between me and Hüsker Dü.”

The cessation of emotional ties was bittersweet for Wiggins, who remembered with fondness the day his college chum Samuel Wenther gave him Zen Arcade for a birthday present during his sophomore year at Otterbein. “It was a sweet gesture, much appreciated,” recalled Wiggins. “But seriously, when was the last time I listened to Zen Arcade?”

“Or talked to Sammy, for that matter,” he added.

And so, with many, many better conceived and executed albums to choose from, the Columbus father of three no longer feels the compunction to cling hopefully, desperately to the remnants of his youth. “There’s so much ‘grown-up’ music out there to explore,” the beaming local man told reporters. “It really feels like I’ve finally left my young adulthood behind me.”

Wiggins cited the “same-yness of the performances and arrangements” and “the flatness of Spot’s drum production” as particular reason for his mid-life dismissal of what was once one of his favourite bands. “Both the overall ‘roar’ and Grant Hart’s drum sound are distinctive, no doubt about it,” Wiggins explained. “But over the course of an album, let alone seven, it becomes a bit much.”

“Obviously, I will be hanging on to my Hüskers records,” Wiggins added. “You know, in case I come back around to them.”


Editor’s note: I found this and Candy Apple Grey at a chaz in Truro last year, doubling my Hüskers collection at a stroke. I still listen to them when the mood hits.

Albums Disco Soul

The Supremes – High Energy (C062-97687) (1976)

SAM_1419The polar opposite of the individualistic vision exemplified by Laura Nyro below, this late-period Supremes disco outing is a thoroughly corporate number; the group, after innumerable personnel changes and, at this point, containing only one original member, reduced to little more than a Brand Name. This state of affairs is unwittingly (if amusingly) alluded to by the literally faceless trio of figures on the front cover and the fact that, while producers, engineers, conga player, etc. are named, the singers are not.

All of which is not to say High Energy is bad. As suggested in the recent Supremes article, part of the charm of the venture is its very commercial contrivance. And with various Hollands and Doziers back manning production/songwriting duties and budgets obviously high, this was never going to be a dud. Certainly, “You’re What’s Missing In My Life”, “I’m Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking”, “Don’t Let My Teardrops Bother You” are all examples of really good mid-70s disco-soul and if Motown had called the band High Energy (or something) instead of the album, they would have been seen more fairly in the continuum of the Supremes, with their orchestral filigrees and spoken love tokens, instead of in the parent band’s shadow.

SAM_1420A second Lp (and on relatively heavy vinyl) from Age UK this a.m., where I skipped on a good looking Nina and Friedrik album despite its being on Atco. I simply didn’t have the heart.

Albums File Under POPULAR: Female vocal Soul Wimpy Ass 70s Folk Rock

Laura Nyro – New York Tendaberry (63510) (1969)

Nyro WolfGod, Lucifer, New York City and someone known only as the Captain. These are the images, filtered through the  prism of Laura Nyro’s imagination, that crop up again and again on New York Tendaberry, the singer-songwriter’s third Lp, making it a concept album of sorts, but one so opaque as to defy clear description. It presages early Bruce Springsteen (et al.) in its obsession with The City as a romantic vehicle for character and dramatic (as well as personal) exploration.

As with Eli and the Thirteen Confession, one is jaw-dropped by the musical and lyrical audacity constantly on display. Therein lies a unique problem. So talented and creative, one gets the feeling that, with fewer histrionics/eccentricities, Nyro could have been a lot more popular than she was. Instead, she swoops and jives, the music slowing down and speeding up as the drama requires it, unconventionally alluding to R&B, Tin Pan Alley and Broadway, sometimes within the same song.

Even if Tendaberry is at times more stark (and piano led) than its immediate predecessor, this is not an easy listening record; I get self-conscious and can’t listen to this with other people around, it demands too much attention.

SAM_1445I got this record this morning at Age UK when I was running errands for the family in Folkestone. Well, I had to get something out of the trip.

12 inchers 7 inchers New Wave

Elvis Costello v. Margaret Thatcher


Thrifted lip from the one-time British DM* to the one-time British PM. “Veronica” was the Macca co-written single from Spike (1989), which also included the anti-Thatcher rant below. Robert Wyatt’s 1982 “Shipbuilding” single was, of course, penned by EC in reaction to the invasion of the Falklands. And finally, “Pills and Soap” was Costello’s oblique protest 7″, pseudonymously released on the eve of the 1983 British General election, to no apparent effect.


I saw a newspaper picture from the political campaign
A woman was kissing a child, who was obviously
in pain
She spills with compassion, as that young child’s
face in her hands she grips
Can you imagine all that greed and avarice
coming down on that child’s lips

Well I hope I don’t die too soon
I pray the Lord my soul to save
Oh I’ll be a good boy, I’m trying so hard to behave
Because there’s one thing I know, I’d like to live
long enough to savour
That’s when they finally put you in the ground
I’ll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down

When England was the whore of the world
Margaret was her madam
And the future looked as bright and as clear as
the black tarmacadam
Well I hope that she sleeps well at night, isn’t
haunted by every tiny detail
‘Cos when she held that lovely face in her hands
all she thought of was betrayal

And now the cynical ones say that it all ends
the same in the long run
Try telling that to the desperate father who just
squeezed the life from his only son
And how it’s only voices in your head and
dreams you never dreamt
Try telling him the subtle difference between
justice and contempt
Try telling me she isn’t angry with this pitiful
When they flaunt it in your face as you line up
for punishment
And then expect you to say “Thank you”
straighten up, look proud and pleased
Because you’ve only got the symptoms, you
haven’t got the whole disease
Just like a schoolboy, whose head’s like a tin-can
filled up with dreams then poured down
the drain
Try telling that to the boys on both sides, being
blown to bits or beaten and maimed
Who takes all the glory and none of the shame

Well I hope you live long now, I pray the Lord
your soul to keep
I think I’ll be going before we fold our arms
and start to weep
I never thought for a moment that human life
could be so cheap
‘Cos when they finally put you in the ground
They’ll stand there laughing and tramp the
dirt down

*Declan McManus

Albums Compilations Soul



80s Albums New Wave

Talking Heads – Little Creatures (1985)

King's Lead HatReleased after several albums of successful sonic and rhythmic experimentation, Little Creatures was something of a retrenchment and Talking Heads commercial peak. Though hailed as a return to their “classic” pre-Eno form at the time, hindsight reveals an okay, fussy album of forced wackiness/bizarro cuteness (see requisite “kooky” outfits on the back cover) more akin to latter-day B52’s. The genuine innovations and unique vision of previous incarnations long gone, stale genre excercises in country and pop suggest the band self-consciously playing at being Talking Heads. Even the “naive” cover painting by  Howard Finster seems a little behind the curve.

And although I remembered Little Creatures as such, I was still kind of hoping for better when I picked it (along with concert movie soundtrack Stop Making Sense) up at the Hythe Cricket Club bootfair this morn.


Albums Classic Rock

Cheap Trick – In Color (1977)


(Gahana, Ohio) — Local carpet fitter Carl Claybourne announced yesterday that Cheap Trick should “definitely appear as themselves” on the long-running Fox animated series, The Simpsons. While Cheap Trick have been alluded to several times on the show, by actually appearing on The Simpsons, they would be joining such music business luminaries as Lady Gaga, Tony Bennet, Sir Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Mick Jagger, Elvis Costello, Michael Jackson and Sting, among many others. Claybourne believes that could be just the shot in the arm the Illinois quartet’s career needs.

“They should be in Springfield for a gig at the Isotope’s stadium,” explained Claybourne, “when they somehow lose their drum tech or perhaps he quits after an argument over something humorously trivial. While pondering their dilemma over a Squishee, they meet Homer at the Kwik-E-Mart. When he tells them he used to be a musician (At this point we can maybe get a flashback to his time with the B-Sharps and also the ‘That 90s Show’ episode when he was a grunge guitarist), they hire him in desparation.”SAM_1423

“After that,” Claybourne continued, “the episode writes itself with Homer managing to mess up Bun E. Carlos’ drums, getting Tom Petersson to quit again, taking Rick Nielson’s hat off revealing his heretofore unknown baldness (and whose pate should resemble exactly Homer’s) and joining the band onstage as auxiliary keyboardist where he plays Argent’s ‘Hold Your Head Up’.”

“Oh, and Marge has an affair with pretty-boy Robin Zander,” he added.

At press time, no-one from the Fox network or the Simpsons production team had contacted Claybourne to develop his treatment.

This is not the first time Claybourne has made headlines. Last year, he suggested Michael Bublé should appear on The Big Bang Theory as himself and go on a date with Penny, who rejects him because he only wants to date her for her “small town Nebraska ways” and not for herself.SAM_1424

Albums Soul

Al Green – Explores Your Mind (SHU 8479) (1974)

SAM_1419Also had yestiddy in Cantos, Explores Your Mind represents the last of Green’s premier league run of albums prior to a superb summing-up Greatest Hits (1975) and a virtual complete capitulation to the Word. SAM_1420 1I used to own (purchased second-hand from Used Kid’s Records in Cols, OH) but then somehow lost my Mind, so was more than happy to replace this excellent Lp, leaving only Livin’ For You (1973) and Gets Next To You (1971) on the Al Green want list.

Albums Soul

The Immortal Otis Redding (588113) (1968)

OtisClassic soul score in Canterbury this afternoon with the purchase of the above posthumous comp of previously unreleased Otis Redding. Remarkably, the Immortal Lp is as strong as or stronger than any released during the soul great’s lifetime–has that ever happened before or since? I don’t think so.

SAM_1419 1

Of interest is the passionate scrawl adorning the back cover: “You are the only man I’m in love with because you’re dead in body, not in soul. You can’t hurt me. I love you. Love, Mary.” I’m not sure if this dedicated to a deceased lover or Redding himself; either way, it’s a bit scary, Mary.