Live And Lou’d(GDLIYWI) #38

This album, from 1978,was recorded during May at The Bottom Line in New York and contains ad libs by Reed during and between songs, among them a detailed story of the origin of Walk on the Wild Side, and a rant against rock music critics, particularly Robert Christgau (who said it was “essentially a comedy record. Lenny Bruce is the obvious influence. And I thank Lou for pronouncing my name right.”)

Reed later said, “everybody said I never talk. I was in my home town of New York, so I talked…I thought of even titling it Lou Reed Talks, And Talks, And Talks… but we called it Take No Prisoners because we were doing a job, a phenomenal booking in a tiny hotel in Quebec. All of a sudden this drunk guy sitting alone at the front shouts, ‘LOU!! MAN!! TAKE NO PRIS’NERS, LOU!!’. And then he took his head and smashed it as hard as he could to the drumbeat. And that was only halfway through!”

Lou spots a rock critic on the front row.

I was never the biggest Lou Reed fan: sure, I had the first Velvet Underground LP and heard Berlin a couple of times but for the most part I never really clicked with old Lou. So coming into this album I was a little apprehensive; I vaguely remember an old Kerrang! magazine (when it used to be published fortnightly) had a regular article called Strickly For Konnoisseurs (sp) and Mick Wall was praising this as a great album to hear Lou banter, bicker and berate the audience; and this was the first time I heard the phrase ‘toe-fucker’ in relation to the aforementioned Christgau, so that piqued my curiosity in this album but until now I’ve never actively sought out this record (and I have heard Metal Machine Music several times!)

As a casual (read: very, very casual) Lou Reed listener, I liked the ‘songs’ where Lou is berating and being antagonistic towards the audience more than the ‘proper’ songs being played; which is a bastard mix of Mott the Hoople/Bowie/Rocky Horror Picture Show, although I love the heavy bassline halfway through Street Hassle which rouses the song out of its stupor. The songs are OK but appear tired and lame when compared to the long songs were Lou talks. The 16 minute story of Walk On The Wild Side, where the song is played briefly in passing, is thd highlight here as Reed lambasts rock critics, the rock’n’roll lifestyle and all the (true) characters in the song.

It is indulgent, to be honest; 4 of the 10 tracks are over 10 minutes but they are, for me, the best tracks on here (I’ll give Street Hassle a pass for the great bassline). Honestly, if the whole double album was 10 tracks of Lou Reed just talking and venting over music, I’d probably score it higher. As Christgau points out, it is a comedy album and maybe it acted as an inspiration for the likes of Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins to do talking albums.

It’s not for the casual Lou listener, but I do recommend that you listen to it at least once for the humour. If I were going to re-listen to this, it would be for the talking. 6/10

Next time, we travel by bus to Babylon! TTFN!

Tubes Snake Boogie (GDLIYWI) #37

What Do You Want from Live is The Tubes debut live album released by and was recorded at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon, London during the height of the punk rock era in 1977. Despite their somewhat out-of-step musicality, the band’s humorous and manic stage show found favor all over the country. The cabaret-like shows lasted over an hour, ending with Waybill – in character as “Quay Lewd”, a parody of a drug-addled rock star – getting crushed to death by a giant stack of (fake) speakers. NME pronounced the tour a great success, writing: “They came, they outraged, they conquered.”

What I know about The Tubes could be written on the back of a postage stamp and after listening to this double live album, I’m quite happy to be in my ignorance. It’s not a bad album; it has a nice mix of Todd Rundgren/The Cars/A.O.R radio friendly rock, with some occasional jazz-rock moments; the show has a very theatrical/musical bent (particularly Game Show and Smoke) which showcases how great a frontman Fee Waybill is, but ultimately whilst it’s enjoyable for a couple of listens, it’s not a record that demands repeated plays.

The band is great, the songs are OK but nothing outstanding (even White Punks On Dope doesn’t hit as hard as the studio version), although I did enjoy them using the Damned’s New Rose riff for their cover of I Saw Her Standing There. Ultimately, this album didn’t excite me or make me want to check out anything more from the band, so I can’t really recommend this and wouldn’t want to re-listen to it.

Not the worst live album I’ve heard but not the most inspiring one either. 4/10.

Revealing my inner beauty

Handsome looking fella, aren’t I?

I created a video of these lovely ‘self-portraits’ (which are just pictures of a tree trunk knot and manipulated using the GlitchLab and MirrorLab apps) on Vimeo. If you have a moment, then please check it out. (yes, I know this is shameless self promotion, but if I dont promote my self who else is going to do it?)

Todd-A-Doodle-Doo (GDLIYWI) #36

Recorded during week-long stints in New York City (The Bottom Line), Los Angeles (The Roxy), and Cleveland (The Agora) Back To The Bars features music from Todd Rundgren’s albums Something/Anything?, A Wizard, a True Star, Todd, Initiation, and Faithful with a couple of Utopia numbers thrown in for good measure. Sides 1 and 4 feature Todd with his Utopia cohorts (Roger Powell, Kasim Silton and John Wilcox) whilst sides 2 and 3 feature other musicians with only drummer John Wilcox playing on the whole album. This album features some of his best blue-eyed soul/pop-rock songs and is a real delight to listen to. I’d only ever had The Hermit of Mink Hollow and a couple of the later years Todd albums, so I was coming to this record with fresh ears.

Todd voice is great and his knack for writing catchy, soulful songs is undisputed; the way he uses hooks would make a Cenobite jealous! It’s hard to pick out the highlights as it’s all great for the most part but Initiation, The Last Ride and Black Maria are all fantastic, as is the soul medley of I’m So Proud/Ooh Baby Baby/La La Means I Love You /I Saw The Light.

It’s not all fun and games: there’s nothing from the aforementioned Hermit of Mink Hollow and the songs Never Never Land and Zen Archer fall a little flat for me but these are minor-ish quibbles. There’s no drum solos on here, the band, Todd and the crowd sound like they’re having fun and, other than the medley, no song is over 10 minutes long. So for all those reasons I’m giving Back To The Bars an 8/10 and would recommend this album to listen to. TTFN!

In The Light

And if you feel that you can’t go on


And your will’s sinking low.


Just believe, and you can’t go wrong


In the light, you will find the road.

——————————————————

Lyrics: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones.

Digital artwork inspired by the Led Zeppelin song In The Light taken from the Physical Graffiti album released on the Swan Song label in 1975.

Artwork created digitally using the MirrorLab app to digitally alter a photograph I took of the sun and clouds.

For Whom The Bell Tulls (GDLIYWI) #35

I used to be a narcissist, but look at me now.

Bursting Out is a 1978 live album by the rock band Jethro Tull. It was recorded at various locations during the European Heavy Horses Tour in May and June 1978. Though the specific recording dates and locations are not credited, the liner notes and stage introduction indicate that at least some tracks were recorded at the Bern Festhalle in Switzerland, on 28 May 1978. spelling error on the spine of the first US, Spain and Sweden LP pressings listed the title as “Busting Out”.

Thanks to my school friend taping some of his older brother’s record collection for me, Bursting Out was my first introduction to Jethro Tull and it has remained my go-to record when I need my Tull fix. For a live record you can ask for much more than what is contained on here: strong, dynamic versions of their classics (Locomotive Breath, Thick As A Brick), classic banter from a front man who has the audience in thd palm of his hand, top-notch musicianship and a surprisingly decent six-minute flute solo! I didn’t even hate the drum solo in Conundrum!

For me it’s pretty much a perfect live album, all the members get to shine and flex their muscles but also they combine their talents to form one ferocious rock and roll band. I got to give it a 10 because I can listen to this on repeat for ages and not get bored.

Up next is a live album from a wizard, a true star but until then TTFN!

Birthday (TSTRTS) #10

Today is my birthday! 🎉 So in honour of this momentous (?) day, this The Song Title Remains The Same post will feature three songs all entitled Birthday.

Felt cute. Might delete later.

First up is a song from four lads who heard the fantastic news of my birth and wrote a song about it that same year.

Secondly, Iceland’s Sugarcubes release a song that’s not exactly about cake and ice cream.

Finally, runners-up in the ‘Brit-Pop War’ (where Pulp were the obvious victors) Blur round off the proceedings.

Whilst the Beatles track has a little bit of a goofy rock n roll vibe to it, it’s upbeat and fun (which is what birthdays are supposed to be, right?) and a thousand times better than the ‘Happy Birthday’ dirge that is usually sung at these occasions.

The Sugarcubes track in English tells a rather disturbing tale, in its original Icelandic (which I present here because I’m hipster like that) it becomes a more etheral song with Bjork’s powerhouse vocals and screams over the band’s sinister sounding jazz style backing.

Surprise package for me is Blur’s song from their debut album, Leisure. The band plays a slow, psychedelic Beatles-esque number, as if I Am The Walrus and A Day In The Life had a baby, whilst singer Damon Albarn tells us of his uncomfortableness about getting another year older: “I don’t like this day, it makes me feel too small.” It’s mellow, reflective and a great ‘come-down’ track to help even you out.

Going into this I had the Sugarcubes winning this easily, however the more I listen to the Blur song the more I’m vibing with it. In the end, as it is my birthday, I’ve decided that all three tracks are worthy of the top spot and so it’s cake and ice cream for all with lashings of ginger beer! Huzzah!

Ranking The Frank Zappa Albums #40 Meets The Mothers of Prevention

Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention is a 1985 album released in two slightly different versions in the US and Europe. The album’s title is a reference to the lobby group, the PMRC, who were campaigning to require record companies to put warning stickers on albums they considered offensive, and to Zappa’s former band, the Mothers of Invention.

Zappa’s own Warning/Guarantee sticker

The liner notes also contained a quote from Senator Ernest Hollings, who testified during the PMRC hearings: “…if I could find some way constitutionally to do away with it [foul language in music], I would”, as well as Zappa’s oft-repeated liner notes request for his fans to register to vote.

The original US version of the album contains the track Porn Wars – a sound collage featuring excerpts from PMRC hearings. This track was omitted from non-US versions, and replaced with three other pieces: I Don’t Even Care, co-written by Zappa and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson (who sings on the track) and two instrumental tracks – One Man, One Vote (a Synclavier composition) and H.R. 2911 which collates some of the backing music from Porn Wars, without the PMRC hearing excerpts and other dialogue.

I bought both versions of this album when they came out (I was a Zappa completist at the time) and it’s very much a mixed bag of songs; the instrumentals Alien Orifice and What’s New In Baltimore showcase the more intricate parts of Zappa’s music, and the guitar solos kill; it’s always fun to hear Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson sing with Zappa and there’s even a song with a dig at 80’s kids discovering 60’s psychedelic music and lifestyle (We’re Turning Again). The bad, as is often the case around this ‘era’, is the synclavier songs that seem to start off well and then just go nowhere- the exception being One Man, One Vote which sounds like a complete thought rather than just random noodling. The ‘star’ track, and main reason why this album was made, is Porn Wars a 12-minute song that mixes voices from the Congressional PMRC hearing with Uncle Meat-esque dialogue, a WOIIFTM chopped up/sped up voices/music and extracts from ThingFish (an album that Zappa’s former Barking Pumpkin distributor MCA Records refused to distribute). It’s a really good piece that captures a moment in time when (mainly white) politicians shat their collective knickers over young, white, innocent children listening to filthy, dirty ‘urban’ music and tried to make bad laws to control it and is probably Zappa’s most overtly political song since We’re Only In It For The Money. The album is an important document and I can see why he produced 2 different versions for different markets, Porn Wars is good but it does not have the longevity or repeat listening value of his 60’s songs. 2.5/5

Frank Zappa – vocals, guitar, Synclavier, producer
Johnny “Guitar” Watson – vocals, guitar on I Don’t Even Care
Ike Willis – vocals, guitar
Ray White – vocals, guitar
Bobby Martin – vocals, keyboards
Steve Vai – guitar
Tommy Mars – keyboards
Scott Thunes – bass
Chad Wackerman – drums
Ed Mann – percussion
Moon Zappa – vocals
Dweezil Zappa – vocals
John Danforth – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Ernest Hollings – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Paul S. Trible, Jr. – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Paula Hawkins – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
J. James Exon – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Al Gore – voice excerpts on Porn Wars
Tipper Gore – voice excerpts on Porn Wars

The Power of Love (TSTRTS) #9

Finding three songs with the same title is one thing, finding three songs with the same title all released quite close to each other is quite unusual. The U.K. Top Ten in 1985 had three songs titled The Power of Love from three different artists.

The Power of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was initially issued as a single in November 1984, and was taken from their debut album Welcome to the Pleasuredome. It followed its two predecessors, Relax and Two Tribes, to the top of the UK singles chart. It scored the band an early December number-one, stayed in the Top 40 for 18 weeks, and is often regarded as a Christmas song despite having no reference to Christmas within the song lyrics. However, the accompanying video features the Nativity, and the single cover was The Assumption of the Virgin.

Written for and featured in the 1985 blockbuster film Back to the Future, this song gave Huey Lewis and the News their first number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and a Top 10 hit in the U.K. where it appeared on UK editions of the band’s fourth studio album, Fore!

Like FGTH, Jennifer Rush’s hit also came from her debut album. The song (originally recorded in 1984) was released in June 1985 in the U.K. where it topped the chart for five weeks in October 1985 and became the best-selling single of the year.

Considering these songs are over 35 years old and have been played to death on TV and radio, it was quite difficult to pick a winner. Unlike their previous two raucous hits, the Frankie song is a slow, almost power ballad-esque number that highlights the band’s more sensitive side and at certain times it can move me to tears. I always enjoy the Huey Lewis song when I watch Back to the Future but I’m not fussed if I hear it outside of the movie. I never liked the Jennifer Rush song when it first came out but as I’ve gotten older I really appreciate this power ballad and Rush’s strong, throaty vocals. So after much too-ing and fro-ing, my choice is Frankie Goes to Hollywood over Jennifer Rush just for the power that song has over me.

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