Thursday, January 27, 2005

ANOTHER Michael Franks Album Review? Okay, If You Say So.

Michael Franks - Tiger In The Rain (Warner Brothers-1979)

Slowly but surely, the debauchery of the 70's is catching up with M.F. He hasn't hit rock-bottom yet, but the album opener, "Sanpaku", is one helluva hangover song. He used to chew the root until his brain was fried, chop the line, wake up red-eye from the wine. He can't even remember all the highs he tried! A regretful string-section lies quietly in the brush and Paul Griffin lets loose with a lovely organ solo. An exotic jungle lay-dee takes him by the hand and warns him away from the low life. (F.Y.I.-For better or for worse, Rousseau is one of M.F.'s fave painters and is praised in the sleeve-notes for his "innocent directness". Lock up yer daughters, America.) "When It's Over" is the shortest, sweetest kiss-off you've ever heard: "All those books on your shelf...Did they teach you how to cure yourself? Not even Sigmund Freud can save you from the love you destroyed." Ouch! "Living On The Inside" is a much more tranquil and domestic scene. The tea is from Tibet, Michael plays the scales, and his lady protects the whales. They make love listening to Satie, they paint the rooms, the pumpkins bloom. "We're so francais/With lime & Perrier." Ooh baby baby. Stellar slow jam cast too: Ron Carter, Bucky Pizzarelli, Kenny Barron, and weeping (with joy) string-section. This is just a great getting away from it all jazz-pop album. The emphasis is definitely on the "jazz" too. Beautiful arrangements for brass and the (regretful & weeping) strings. "Tiger In The Rain" is -sigh- a love song to Michael's cat, but it's such a pretty tune with such a strong melody that it more than transcends its precious/homely sentiments. Sick of the zombie trains, and stews and critics that are too acidic, M.F. ends up in Brazil under a banana tree by the end of side one. By side two he's underneath an apple tree (In, hey!, whaddya know, a song called "Underneath The Apple Tree".) shooting up summertime and drinking tea instead of wine. In the nude. Most memorable lines award would have to go to either: "Let's play pin-the-tail-on-the-bunny/Let's play grizzly bear finding honey/Let the lukewarm milk of precaution be spilt-It's full-tilt." OR "When I saw you there in your Danskin/Then the wolf jumped out of the lambskin/And a blush came over your cheeks/In the room filled with freaks". The overlong cliche-riddled "Lifeline" that closes the record is the only dud. The nautical metaphors used to describe a love-affair sink this leaky ship. M.F. doesn't sound at ease on the sea. He's a bossa nova baby at heart and needs to be on the beach to really make his luverly ditties swim.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Top 11 Of The Day

1. Heavenly Bodies - Stars Collide

2. Altered Images - I Could Be Happy (12 Inch Version) (As if there IS another version.)

3. Scritti Politti - The Word Girl (Flesh & Blood) (Scritti Crush Crew C/O Reperata M/C, P.O. Box 120, London NWIOJD)

4. China Crisis - The Highest High

5. Nick Haeffner - You Know I Hate Nature

6. Blue Orchids - The Long Night Out

7. One Plus One - Nite Time Rhythm (Like Softcell. From New Jersey! From 1982! And they do a synth & drum machine version of "Time Has Come Today"! Viva local yokel new wave!)

8. The Lemon Pipers - Catch Me Falling

9. George Michael - Father Figure

10. Cocteau Twins - Shallow Then Halo (when they were true stoner doom!)

11. The Collins Kids - Rock Boppin' Baby (A toss-up between this and "Soda Poppin' Around")

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Scott's Saturday Night Hit-Parade

Here is what I listened to last night. All the songs are the last songs on an album/single. Okay, I was bored. Some are throwaways and some are goofy and some are great songs that should have been first.

Coven - One Tin Soldier (The Legend Of Billy Jack) - Why wasn't this first on the album?? Nothing else even approaches it in terms of greatness on the album. I'm seriously considering getting Coven's Sunshine Snake Records logo as a tattoo.

Skids - Peaceful Times - Backwards masking! Maybe the Skids were satanists like Coven. I like the backwards guitar action. I like the Skids! More than Big Country anyway. Although I was a fan of that first album when I was young. Hey, did satan have anything to do with Big Country's success? Ah, but then Stuart Adamson died kinda young, so maybe not. Anyway, this one verges on throwaway.

Smiths - Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want - No throwaway here! But it is short and sweet and quite a contrast to "How Soon As Now" the song that precedes it on the 12-inch. Heck, you couldn't ask for two greater b-sides to a single. Could you? No, I don't think you can. Mine even has the original Rough Trade cover! One more thing: Sire can blow me for the crappy
sound on u.s. Smiths vinyl and the crappy packaging and the crappy u.s. single covers. They deserved better than that. Okay?

Section 25 - Up To You - Almost a throwaway, but i dig this band so much that I enjoy even their sketchiest b-sides. The perfect band for people who are too lazy to be Wire fans. You don't really have to pay attention too hard. Just let the bass and guitars wash over you.

F.U.'s - Rifle - Throwaway! And it's actually just an ok "punk" cover of "We're An American Band" by Grand Funk. With Cowbells. Punkers are famous for ending their records with sloppy covers and other such detritus. They just can't help themselves.

The Phones - Comme L'Amour - Dutch post-punk from 1982 is cooler than me or you. And that's even before the horns and the shortwave radio noise comes in.

Hermeto Pascoal - Cherry Jam (Geleia De Cereja) - Noodle-noodle-skronk!-ding-ding-ding! Maria: "Can you put something else on? Or maybe you could close the door?"

Orpheus - Of Enlightenment - Short! Sweet! Nerd-psych! Okay, it is kind of a throwaway too. But a pretty one. And very brief like I said. And, listening to the rest of the album, there is virtue in this.

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Hippie Boy - Dated silliness! Complete throwaway. And not even very funny actually. The rest of the album is pretty fab though.

Rigormortis - Noise Addict - Punky punk punk from U.S. punks circa 1986. "Does your mind die when your body's stiff?" Um, yeah, it does. And sometimes when you are playing generic hardcore in 1986 too.

The Fall - Cab It Up! - I heart Brix! No throwaway here.

Adolescents - Kids Of The Black Hole (Live) - Did you know that Steve Soto, bass player for Adolescents, was the original bassist in Agent Orange?

James White & The Contortions - Bedroom Athlete - I admire his pep.

Stockhausen - Carre: Fur 4 Orchester Und 4 Chore - Und 4 sofa und 4 lager. Did you know that Stockhausen and Yellowman have recently collaborated on a piece entitled: "Zungguzungguguzungguzengagotterdammerung"? It's true!

Battles - Dance - Snazzy!

David Blue - Train To Anaheim - Shaggy!

Hollies - Mighty Quinn - Spirited!

Point Blank - Waiting For A Change - Slow groover from backwoods screenporch skeeter beaters. Git yer twang on. (I'm more partial to their rockers though)

Wishbone Ash - Phoenix (Live) - You don't have to dig the mystical rural progressive boogie grooves to appreciate Wishbone Ash. Actually, you might. If it's a problem I can dig it for you. For all of you.

Slapshot - Killing Frost - Oh yeah, and if it isn't a cover then the 80's hardcore band will sometimes put their longest slowest song last too. To take up room when they realize they only have 13 minutes worth of songs. or maybe they would like to play slower, but they don't want to alienate their fans who will be too jacked up on crystal meth to even PLAY the second side. Or something. But mostly I think it's a time-killer to fill up a side. Not a bad tune though. Boy, did this bunch have rocks in their heads. Hahahahahaha!! Ah, to be young and pissed-off in Boston with a hockey stick in your hands. Good times.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Last Mix-Tape I Made (89 Minute Running Time On A C90 Cassette) And What I Had To Say About It

Side A

1) Teen Dream - *Slip-Slide (Extended Remix)* Teen Dream are underrated by many, long forgotten by many more, and never remembered or heard of by many many more than that. This doesn't have to be the case though. They had some fine 12 inch singles that are well worth the dollar you will pay for them. "Slip-Slide" in particular benefits from the ace R&B disco dance teen-pop remix machine. A fine song made finer. Where are Teen Dream now? They are undoubtedly somewhere.

2) Gangsters Of House - *Let's Play House (The Remix)* Jack Mix on Obscure Records by Farley Jackmaster Funk & Mickey Mixin' Oliver. If I had to do it over again, I would have taped the instrumental instead. The music is jackalicious to be sure, but the perfunctory jackin' exhortations, while never ruining a good track, aren't really needed (by me!) unless you are having a really hard time getting properly motivated to jack.

3) The Brat Pack - *So Many Ways (Do It Properly II - The Wild Style Dub)* This track is fucking intense. Fucking. Intense. Lemme say that one more time: It's fucking intense. Cole & Clivilles attempt to reach the godly heights of their original anthem and while that's all fine and good and good luck to them, this freestyle slice & dice courtesy of the godly Chep Nunez and Luie Rivera blows everybody out of the water. I probably peaked too soon. It shouldn't be the 3rd track on a mix-tape Oh well. By the time the bongos come in at around 6/7 minutes and the little kid sez: "If You're good you'll live forever, and if you're bad you'll die when you die" you will be ready for the emergency room.

4) Princesa - *Nasty Girl (Sky's Underground Mix)* This is one of my fave rap/club hybrids courtesy of 4th & Broadway. Princesa's got attitude to spare, namechecks The Beatles, declines to eat meat, and Gail "Sky" King lays down some seriously slinky techno grooves underneath. What could be simpler?

5) Peter Brown - *Crank it Up (Funk Town) (Radio Disco Mix)* This is disco. T.K. Disco! And it's very economical and minimal. It will fit in your pocket. Nice drum breaks and cool as ice synth sounds. To Be specific: B.P.M.-135, Drum break intro-1:28, Second drum break-1:28, Total time-8:00 SPIRALS INDICATE DRUM BREAKS

6) Espresso - *Ping Pong* Espresso make ping pong noises with their synthesizers. And they do it very well! On the other side of this Maxi Records single there are two mixes of the song Let's Get Down. One is the Bleep Mix. And it has lots of bleepy sounds in it! And the other mix is the Drum Mix. It has extra drums added to it! But Ping Pong is cooler. It doesn't ACTUALLY go "ping pong ping pong". It's more of a "boop, bloop, beep, bloop" sound. File this under: Table Tennis Techno.

7) Trance Trax - *Odd Flute (Original Mix)* This is one my fave singles. I bought this and another Trance Trax single at Sound of Market in Philly when they came out and I had no idea what they were. I took a chance. I don't have that other single anymore. That makes me sad. It was the one with the great "!" chorus on it. This isn't like that sample-heavy Belgian newbeat stuff. This shit is grinding. I love the way they grind! You could put the vocals of the song "Grindin'" over "Odd Flute" and you would have the grindingest techno-rap song ever made! I always mean to look for more Trance Trax stuff, but then I forget. The U.K. remix on this single by one "scotty t.jones" isn't as hot as the original though. He smooths it out to much. I think he was on aceeeeed or something. If I were a dj I would play "Odd Flute" EVERY NITE! I really would.

Side B

1) Tone Band - *Germany Calling* Wacky German electro with lots of radio/shortwave sounds and a super-catchy chorus. I need everything they ever did. For Telex fans and the people who love them.

2) Jungle Wonz - *Jungle Mix* This is Marshall Jefferson after he popped something really grooooovy. The "Jungle Mix" is better than the more breathy vocal side "The Jungle". Plus "Jungle Mix" has lots more jungle noises. Which is always a bonus. It's a dreamy and druggy delight.

3) The Reel - *Percussion* I wasn't gonna put this on the tape cuz it's kinda cheesy and their are sax solos and horn sections, but there is just something about it that captivates. I think it's about half-way through when the italo-disco (by way of Germany) vibe devolves into some weird space invaders drum machine spiral until you kinda forget how the thing started. That and the female chorus of "I like to feel percussion/Per-cush-in tonight!" put it over the top enough to merit repeated listenings.

4) Maria Venchura - *My Heart Holds The Key (Charlie's Heart Attack Dub)* Long long before Omar Santana was making some of my fave death-techno mixes (Hardcore For The Headstrong series) he was a lil' latin rascal making cool freestyle singles for the kids. Omar's dub mix on this single is great, but the real winner is this one. It's another fucking jawdropper. Courtesy of Charlie "Dee" Diaz. He slices, dices, mixes, flips, rearranges, and disfigures this song until you are begging for mercy! The man's a fucking surgeon! It'll bring a tear to your eye.

5) Full Beat featuring Afroside & Jovanotti - *Beat Bop To Bicycle (Fleshy Mix)* Even the stoopid "Axel F" synth fart on this tune can't kill it. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when Afroside, Jovanetti, and Faber Cucchetti got together to discuss their plan for world domination via a weird house piano and horn heavy African/Italian answer record to "Pump Up The Volume".

6) The Mood - *Don't Stop* Don't be fooled by this single! Judging from the cover, The Mood want you to think that they are good friends with Duran Duran or Spandeau Ballet. New wave suits, ties, and haircuts. Meanwhile, "Don't Stop" is a total Moroder-inspired disco stomper! With new romantic vocals, but still..... I like it anyway.

7) P-Funk All Stars - *Hydraulic Pump Part III* As if the first two parts of this Hump Records single aren't weird enough, the third part is just fucking chaos. This song is literally the sound of mounds and mounds and mounds of cocaine. Sly Stone is on here doing something. Crying, maybe? Don't know if this is a proper end to a tape, but what the hell.

8) Telex - *Temporary Chicken (Dub Version)* This is the actual end. The only thing within reach that fit. But it's fitting. Lunacy, chickens, men in love with their shiny computers.

Hey Scott, What Have You Been Listening To The Last Few Days?

I'm so glad you asked! Lots of stuff. First of all, I really need a CD burner. Something simple and reliable. I need to be able to burn vinyl onto CD. I really do. I've put it off long enough. I've been digging around trying to find stuff for a cool electro mix-tape and it suddenly dawned on me that I am still making mix-tapes. Oh, and latin freestyle stuff too. The 80's were wild, weren't they? I can't locate my "Bugger Groove" 12-inch. I found some other phat stuff though. As well as lots of non-electro, non-freestyle singles. I also seem to have a large number of singles that aren't that great, but are apparently not horrible enough for me to get rid of. Anyway, single-wise, here is what I have been spinning in Der Haus Ov Wax. And hey, it looks like Maria and I will have our own radio show soon on the new local low power FM station that is starting up here in Paradise City. (A small island off of the coast of Cape Cod.) But, alas, they are not planning on streaming/webcasting cuz they are worried about fees to pay and such. Oh well. You will have to be one of the lucky people within the 3.5 mile radius that the transmitter reaches. (Which does mean that summer resident Spike Lee will be grooving to my japanoise rock blocks!) So, this weekend:

Fonda Rae - Heobah (Hey-O-Bah) - (Posse -1983)

Jedi Knights - Intergalactic Funk Transmission (?) - (Clear - 1995) I don't like this. A dollar bin thing I picked up. I have no idea what the deal is with it. Mid-90's 80's-retro electro funky like a robot monkey stuff, but it's just boring.

Monie Love - Grandpa's Party (The Love II Love Remix) - (Cooltempo - 1989) Awww, Monie! How could you not love her? Sooooooooo adorable. Where is she now? Where is Nellee Hooper? That's kinda rhetorical actually. I don't really need to know where Nellee is. But if you see Monie, tell her hi from me!

Divine Styler - Concept Design Deflon - (Mowax -2000) He's my hero. What can I tell you? I didn't PICK him to be my hero. It just turned out that he was my hero.

Future Now - Space Games - (Salsoul - 1982) I actually didn't play this. Can't remember what it sounds like, but I think I dig it.

Maggotron - Return To The Planet Of Bass - (Atlantic - 1988) I wonder how Atlantic made out with Maggotron? It's a good question, isn't it? The a-side is treated with permajam, the b-side is not.

M.C. Holiday - The Gucci Man - (Fever - 1986)

Baroque Bordello - Today - (ALG - 1984) This is not electro. It sounds like the Cure with a girl singer. How do I know this? Because someone wrote "Like the Cure with a girl singer" in magic marker on the cover of my copy. That's how I know. Plus, it was produced by Lol "Laughing Boy" Tolhurst of the Cure.

Girls On The Block - Little Bicho - (Criminal - 1988) This is so genius there oughta be a law against it. Holy frijole! I loveitloveitloveit. Gawd, the girlz would eat J-Lo for breakfast. Freestyle mania and the a cappella girlz talk on the b-side is worth its weight in gold. Inspirational and funny as hell.

A Certain Ratio - Blown Away - (Factory - 1980) I had forgotten how groovy this single is. Psych post-punk drum splatter and heavy bass fun. I still don't think I'm much of a fan of their later funkier stuff, but maybe I'm wrong. I will have to listen to the later stuff again sometime.

Freez - I.O.U. - (Streetwise - 1982) The album. Not the single. Although that, of course, is on the album. "Pop Goes My Love" is great. Aw hell, I could mainline this stuff. Somewhere I have John Rocca's 1987 I.O.U. remixes, but for the life of me I can't remember what he did to the song to make it sound like 1987. Probably didn't make it any better. I'll put money on that.

Warp 9 - Beat Wave - (Prism - 1983) Nice John Jellybean electro track. The instrumental being my preferred listen. Vocals are a little hokey.

Raw Dope Posse - Listen To My Turbo - (Show Jazz - 1988) This is not electro. It's your so-called hip-hop rappity rap kinda stuff and the music is fierce and it will cut you up and leave you bloody. I play the instrumental side of this thing really loud and my smile just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It's like magic!

Scorpio - (Go Michael) Air Jordan - (Criminal - 1986) Again with the non-vocal versions. But I can't help it. I like the Jordan mythologizing and all, bbbbbbut Arthur Baker is cutting shit up with Jazzy Jay and it is SO DAMNED dope. I'm sorry. Sue me.

That's it for now. Oh, I could go on for days and days with rhyme displays that engrave as deep as x-rays. No, really, I could!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Your One-Stop Shop For Michael Franks Record Reviews

Michael Franks - Objects Of Desire (Warner Brothers - 1982)

On the opener, "Jealousy", Michael swallows a meat-hook. The slightly airless - like someone cracked the can but didn't let enough light in - horns echo his dyspepsia. On "Ladies' Night", Bonnie Rait joins Michael at the bar of the Wishing Well Saloon for some 50 cent drinks. The sessioneers are strutting their well-honed stuff. Or sleeping. One or the other. How could you tell by this point in their careers. Sessioneers? And then some: The Bros. Brecker, Larry Carlton, Mark Egan, Steve Khan, David Sanborn, Lew Soloff, Luther Vandross and many more. You get the picture. The deck is stacked for no-surprise smooth. Michael doesn't fool around when he calls in the pros. And his toothbrush may be gone, but he's still got a tank full of laughing gas. Too bad his vocals were recorded on an MRI machine. But it was the 80's. People were in love with their shiny new machines and their Arps and their OB-Xa's and their Prophet-5's and their digitally processed flugelhorns. Michael fries up rice in a pan in "Wonderland", where the jills ain't jokin' when they take you to heaven for a subway token. "Wonderland" is actually a dream. Hypnotic and warm to the touch. Sometimes that Moog bass can really come in handy. Slow jam as narcoleptic nod-out. While Michael's hot buttermilk vocal tones aren't in any way curdled on Objects Of Desire, there is a weary 70's hangover vibe that invades the material. Even his Tahitian sweety hands him a note that reads: "Love is the pain you can't refuse." M.F. is the king of food and drink as metaphor and reminder of sex/love and on this album he sounds like he's gone on a diet. There is no tea steeping in the pot. He sits under a mango tree, but does he partake in this exotic fruit? Man cannot live on fried rice alone. "Flirtation" has some pep in its step, but it's not very convincing pep. There is no essential vim in its strenuous vigor. "Love Duet" is a lyrical dud. The disco strings and Arthur On The Rocks saxophone begin to take their toll on the listener. The whole thing ends with "No One But You". A pretty little ballad that would sound great coming from Blossom Dearie. M.F.'s best ballads all sound as if they were made to be sung by cabaret veterans in a hotel lounge at midnight. And I mean this as a compliment. Not that he can't sell them on his own. He can. Overall, on this album it sounds like Michael was in need of a long nap (No mean feat for a singer who often sounds like he has recorded his vocals in bed.). Maybe the sexy seventies had caught up with this often horizontal blue-eyed soulman with the bedroom mustache. Lovers can't always be rockin'. Not essential - with the exceptions of the two lovely little trifles that end each side - but the picture on the inside sleeve where Michael looks like Frank Zappa is worth a buck or two.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

I Can Live With This

Singles get tougher and tougher for me every year as I retreat further and further into a netherworld of moldy oldies. My new year's resolution is to see what the kids are up to. More Fuse, MTV, VH1, BET, and CMT. I will report back later. When I lived in Philly I just sort of inhaled pop and rap and the like cuz it was everywhere and I bought a fair share of it as well. Living in the sticks makes it easier to succumb to the cave-like jugband haze that so many of my hipster elders have found themselves enjoying. I bought that Fiery Furnaces album for Maria thinking it would be her kind of thing, and it turns out that it is really really my kind of thing. I'm in with the in crowd when it comes to that album. I'm a little addicted to it. Anyway:

Scott Seward, your votes have been recorded.

Your Pazz & Jop albums ballot was submitted as follows:

1. Big & Rich - Horse Of A Different Color - Warner Bros. (30 points)
2. The Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat - Rough Trade (10 points)
3. Keren Ann - Not Going Anywhere - Metro Blue (10 points)
4. The Homosexuals - Astral Glamour - Messthetics (10 points)
5. 15.60.75 - Jimmy Bell's Still In Town - Hearthan (10 points)
6. David Thomas & Two Pale Boys - 18 Monkeys On A Dead Man's Chest - Smog Veil/Hearthan (10 points)
7. Orphaned Land - Mabool - Century Media (5 points)
8. Tarentel - We Move Through Weather - Temporary Residence (5 points)
9. The Gris Gris - The Gris Gris - Birdman (5 points)
10. Das Oath - Das Oath - Dim Mak (5 points)

Your Pazz & Jop singles ballot has been recorded as follows:

1. Destiny's Child featuring T.I. & Lil Wayne - "Soldier"
2. Gretchen Wilson - "Redneck Woman"
3. George Strait - "I Hate Everything"
4. Gretchen Wilson - "Here For The Party"
5. Destiny's Child - "Lose My Breath"
6. Jay-Z - "99 Problems"
7. Britney Spears - "Toxic"
8. Big & Rich - "Rollin'(The Ballad Of Big & Rich)"
9. Big & Rich - "Save A Horse(Ride A Cowboy)"
10. M.I.A. - "Galang"