Friday, January 20, 2017


Madness:  "Absolutely"
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Purchased at Last Stop CD Shop in Sioux Falls, SD
Original Release Date:  1980
My Rating:  4 Stars

Side One
Baggy Trousers
Close Escape
Not Home Today
On The Beat Pete
Solid Gone

Side Two
Take It Or Leave It
Shadow Of Fear
In The Rain
You Said
Return Of The Los Palmas 7.

   It's odd how often I refer to the past when writing about the albums I'm currently listening to.  Especially when one considers I'm just now hearing many of them for the first time. So much for being hip on the music scene.  I'm still catching up with tunes from the 1980's!
   That being said, the album, "Absolutely," by Madness is one that I can't help but feel nostalgic about.  This record reminds me of a time in my life when I realized to my amazement, "Oh my God, people are listening to things other than Grunge?!" This was an actual thought that ran through my head during my first year of college. Suddenly the idea struck me, "There are sounds coming from places other than Seattle?"  I found myself exposed to music that incorporated more complex that contained lyrics that one could interpret...lyrics that were recited in a decipherable manner. The most alluring aspect of these new sounds was the fact that I didn't want to flip my car in the Red River from sheer depression after listening to them. Yes, in college I realized there was another reality out there that was not wrapped in flannel, and I have to say I was rather happy because my current scene was getting awfully stuffy...not to mention sweaty.
   Among all the strange sounds I was introduced to during those days, I remember the genre of Ska being one of the most confusing for me.  I silently wondered, "So it's now cool to play horns and wear ties?  I thought that was just for band geeks." I'm proud to state that with time I developed a more mature comprehension of music and style.  I now understand that, "band geeks," can be seriously boss.   I also believe it was pioneers like the group Madness who made this concept possible.  Songs like, "Baggy Trousers," "Take It Or Leave It," and, "Overdone," make this listener blush for the naivete of a young woman who didn't have a clue when it came to alternative music.  I wish I could go back in time and hand her a copy of, "Absolutely."  I think that girl would have thrown off her uncomfortably warm flannel right then and there.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"Planet Waves"

Bob Dylan:  "Planet Waves"
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Purchased at Last Stop CD Shop in Sioux Falls, SD
Original Release Date:  1974
My Rating:  5 Stars

Side One
On A Night Like This
Going Going Gone
Tough Mama
Something There Is About You
Forever Young

Side Two
Forever Young 
You Angel You
Never Say Goodbye
Wedding Song

   Once upon a time a young pretentious art major refused to listen to Bob Dylan simply because everyone told her she should. Perhaps the term, "everyone," is a bit of an exaggeration.  Okay, once upon a time a young stubborn art major refused to listen to Bob Dylan because her then boyfriend constantly insisted that she must.  Yep, that statement sounds a bit more accurate.  
   No matter how much time goes by I can't help thinking about, "he who shall remain unnamed," when I listen to Dylan records.  I clearly remember his persistent argument, "I didn't like Bob Dylan's voice at first either!  You have to concentrate on his lyrics and the stories he tells! Besides, you love Neil Young and listen to his singing!"  While my ex-boyfriend is long gone his words still resonate with me and's freak'n annoying.  Of course, he was totally right.  Luckily, not long after the last gasp of that relationship, I lifted my Bob Dylan ban and since have become quite the fan.  I like to think of this occurrence as poetic more ways than one.  
   This all being stated, I don't recall most Dylan fanatics ranting specifically about the album, "Planet Waves," and lately I've been wondering, "Why not?"  This record is yet another magnificent collaboration between Bob Dylan and The Band.  I can truly think of no other ensemble to better compliment Dylan's storytelling than Robbie Robertson's group of talented musicians. My favorite moments on, "Planet Waves," include the intensely romantic ballads of, "Going Going Gone," "Dirge," and, "Wedding Song." Honestly, the sublime sounds of this album inspires my tears for multiple reasons, but none make me more sad than all the time I wasted not listening to, "Planet Waves," out of sheer spite.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Echo And The Bunnymen:  "Crocodiles"
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Purchased at the Fargo Record Fair
Original Release Date:  1980
My Rating:  4 Stars

Side One
Going Up
Do It Clean
Stars Are Stars

Side Two
Villiers Terrace
Read It In Books
Pictures On My Wall
All That Jazz
Happy Death Men

   It's not uncommon for me to have a preconceived notion of what an album is going to sound like.  Sometimes the expectation I've constructed in my head does not accurately define the actual sounds emanating from my stereo.  When this happens it takes this blogger more than a few listens to form an honest opinion.  Otherwise I simply find myself entangled in the idea, "Wait, this isn't right. Where's my 80's New Wave?  I want angst damn it!  Angst!"  These were the exact sentences running through my head upon the first listen of, "Crocodiles," by Echo And The Bunnymen.  
   Eventually, after my initial confusion, I reminded myself most musicians experience an evolution process throughout their body of work.  One can't judge a group's entire discography by their greatest hits collection.  Basically, every band has to start somewhere.  Apparently, by the sound of their debut album, the starting point for Echo And The Bunnymen was somewhere between Prog Rock and Punk.  No wonder after my first listen I was left thinking, "Wha?"
   Despite these feelings of disorientation, I eventually found myself warming up to this new concept of a rather old band.  In particular, it was the psychedelic soaked songs of, "Going Up," "Do It Clean," and, "Happy Death Men," that convinced me that this group's later, more Emo based work, is not necessarily their best.  In conclusion, don't always trust the, "Crocodile," tears of Echo And The Bunnymen.  They weren't always so brooding.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Strange Weather"

Marianne Faithfull:  "Strange Weather"
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Purchased at the Fargo Record Fair
Original Release Date:  1987  
My Rating:  5 Stars

Side One
Stranger Intro
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
I Ain't Goin' Down To The Well No More
Sign Of Judgement
Strange Weather

Side Two
Love Life And Money
I'll Keep It With Mine
Hello Stranger
Penthouse Serenade
As Tears Go By
A Stranger On Earth

   I'm happy to report that, for the most part, I'm able to shop for vinyl among others without fighting. Please note that I wrote, "for the most part."  Unfortunately, sometimes wishlists overlap.  It's these occasions that can get a little competitive...a titch intense...okay, freak'n cut-throat. However, what can one expect when dealing with hard to find, often out of print albums?  Sometimes a collector just has to get aggressive.
   Thankfully, I didn't have to resort to violence when finding Marianne Faithfull's, "Strange Weather," at the Fargo Record Fair.  At the time my father was distracted by his own quest for treasures.  Actually I just yelled, "SQUIRREL!" and pointed in another direction before hastily paying for this album and stashing it in my tote bag.  Like I said folks, vinyl shopping can get rough. I wasn't about to give this selection to my equally interested father.  
   While I do feel slightly guilty for hoarding a prize both of us would certainly covet, I have to state, "I'M SO HAPPY I DID!"  "Strange Weather," is an album featuring Marianne Faithfull's unique, and often haunting, interpretation of a selection of songs whose origins range from the 1930's to the 1980's.  The most notable pieces on this album include a stark a cappella version of Leadbelly's, "I Ain't Goin' Down To The Well No More," the serene bohemian feel of Bob Dylan's, "I'll Keep It With Mine," and the ballroom swank of, "Penthouse Serenade."  Mostly this blogger was amazed at how cohesive an album Faithfull was able to accomplish, despite the wide range of material she covered.   Of course, having the the help of one of my favorite guitarists, Bill Frisell, along the way sure didn't hurt.  
   Yep, it's albums of this quality that don't make me feel so bad about not sharing with dad.  Besides, he owes me for all of those Donovan records he stole from me.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

"Nativity In Black"

Nativity In Black (A Tribute To Black Sabbath)
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Purchased at the Fargo Record Fair
Original Release Date:  1994
My Rating:  4 Stars

Side One
After Forever:  Biohazard
Children Of The Grave:  White Zombie
Paranoid:  Megadeth
Solitude:  Cathedral

Side Two
Supernaut:  1,000 Homo DJ's
Iron Man:  Ozzy Osbourne w/ Therapy?
Lord Of This World:  Corrosion Of Conformity

Side Three
Symptom Of The Universe:  Sepultura
The Wizard:  Bullring Brummies
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath:  Bruce Dickinson w/ Godspeed

Side Four
N.I.B.:  Ugly Kid Joe
War Pigs (Live):  Faith No More
Black Sabbath:  Type O Negative

   Basically, "Nativity In Black," is the first album of many at the Fargo Record Fair that spawned the reoccurring thought, "Well, this is definitely coming home with me."  I instantly recognized this record's cover from my time spent working for the Barnes & Noble music department.  Back then I remember looking at it and thinking, "Man, that looks like a kick ass line up of bands for a Black Sabbath Tribute!"  Unfortunately, at the time I never got around to actually listening to this album.  Today I regret this since I'm now convinced it contains music I could really party to. However now, many years later, I can truthfully state that, "Nativity In Black," is a record that's even fun to hear while sober.
   I feel I must clarify I love a good compilation album.  In fact, these types of records have been the springboard for much of my music collection.   While I don't anticipate buying a whole lot of Heavy Metal in the future, I do believe this now annoyingly strait-laced listener could use a little loosening up from time to time.  Nothing says lack of control more than headbanging to Megadeth performing the song Paranoid.  Not that I would ever do such a thing...
   In this listener's opinion the highlights of, "Nativity In Black," include the recognizable rollicking guitar style of White Zombie, the smarmy sass of Ugly Kid Joe, and of course, the heavier than heavy vocals of Type O Negative that persuade even the most devout Christian listener to flash a little bit of the devil horns. However, when doing so make sure you've got your other hand free.  As stated earlier, this is music that makes one want to slam a beverage or two and then crush the container on your forehead...even if that container says Starbucks on its' side.




Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Bauhaus:  "Mask"
Reissued Vinyl Album:  (Gift)
Original Release Date:  1981  Beggars Banquet
My Rating:  (5 Stars)

Side One
Hair Of The Dog
The Passion Of Lovers
Of Lillies And Remains
Hollow Hills

Side Two
Kick In The Eye
In Fear Of Fear
Muscle In Plastic
The Man With X-Ray Eyes

   One of the first things I noticed about the album, “Mask,” by Bauhaus was the summary that was written on the inside cover.  It read, “This is for when your sex is full of Voodoo.  This is for when your clothes are imaginary.  This is for when your flesh creeps and never comes back.”   “SOLD!” I thought as I anxiously put the album on my turntable.  Honestly, at the time I doubted this record could live up to such a glowing, (or perhaps in Goth speak it would be glowering,) review.  However, within the first thirty seconds of the opening song I realized I was about to experience something special.  Not only did this intoxicating mix of Goth and Punk fulfill the promise of making my, “flesh creep,” it excited me so much I almost felt like my skin was on fire. 
   In my opinion the above summary’s nod to Voodoo is an accurate description of the music found on, “Mask.”  The whole album possesses a sort of dangerously alluring, “black magic,” vibe that overshadows any weaknesses that may otherwise be present.  Despite the fact that this blogger found herself deeply entranced with these songs, I was able to identify some flaws on the album.  The main one being I didn’t care for the lead singer’s voice.  In fact, I found it to be fairly generic.  While the vocalist was clearly passionate about what he was singing, his voice lacked the type of range I would have liked to hear partnered with these compositions.  To be totally honest I felt that when the lead singer wasn’t actually singing he was at his best.
   An example of this can be found during the magnificent song, “Of Lillies And Remains.”  This piece begins with an artsy spoken word introduction that is paired with staccato percussion and random electric guitar picking.  The lyrics recited in choppy speech state, “To hide from Peter, who has fallen to the old cold stone floor, wheezing and emitting a seemingly endless flow of ectoplastmic goo from ears and mouth.”  Between these obscure lyrics and catchy beats a listener can’t help but feel like doing something crazy like dancing creepily by firelight.  Let me repeat that.  This band inspires one to dance, simply by spoken word.  It’s a confusing but fantastic feat. 
   Of course the next song continues this theme with the title, “Dancing.”  The sounds of this piece create a delightfully out of control feeling through the use of bass lines and abstract horn trills.  At the same time Bauhaus is able to display impressive mastery over their music through the use of mimicry and repetition.  The singer screams, “Dancing on flick knives, Dancing a stiletto groove, Dancing our nine lives away, Dancing in the Louvreoeoeoeoe….” trilling the last word of this phrase much like the horns that accompany him.  It’s subtleties like this that elevate a good band to a great one.
   Some of the most accessible songs on the album include, “The Passion Of Lovers,” and, “In Fear Of Fear.”  During, “The Passion Of Lovers,” a listener is inspired to participate in the, “sing-song,” chorus.  More than once I found myself uttering, “The passion of lovers is for death said she, The passion of lovers is for death.”  All the while this addictive verse is combined with what sounds like low monk chanting.  Of course, Bauhaus is too interesting of a band to leave it at simply that.  Instead they intermix peaceful chants with the sounds of tense guitar jangles.  In the end an intense juxtaposition of serene calm mixed with the disturbed is displayed.  In addition, this feeling of mainstream accessibility continues during the song, “In Fear Of Fear.” The track begins with a Punk rock introduction that would make any stick in the mud want to fist pump along to the strangeness.  Of course, the fact that this is the, “black magic band,” Bauhaus is enough to make a listener a tad paranoid that one’s arm may mysteriously fall off during the process.
   Finally, this blogger found the last song on the album to be the most remarkable.  The title track, “Mask,” possesses a sludgy, almost pulse-like, beat that conjured images of someone trying to painfully crawl up a mountain.  Halfway through the piece this song inconceivably transforms into something seriously beautiful.  I use the word inconceivable because I simply don’t understand how Bauhaus does it.  I guess its just songs like, “Mask,” that prove that this band is definitely into the dark arts and they’re quickly recruiting.    

"The Passion Of Lovers": 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Mind Games"

John Lennon:  “Mind Games”
Reissued Vinyl Album:  (Purchased from
Original Release Date:  1973  Record Plant Studios
My Rating:  (4 Stars)

Side 1
Mind Games
Tight A$
Aisumasen (I’m Sorry)
One Day (At A Time)
Bring On The Lucie (FredaPeeple)
Nutopian International Anthem

Side 2
Out The Blue
Only People
I Know (I Know)
You Are Here
Meat City

   I don’t think it’s false to state many people believe Yoko Ono destroyed The Beatles.  While this accusation may not be entirely untrue, it’s this blogger’s opinion that she perfected the individual, John Lennon.  I’ll freely admit to the fact that I’m not always wild about Lennon singing with The Beatles, but when John sang to Yoko it’s a whole different story.  It’s a story about something more than simply a music legend.  In my opinion, the John Lennon who wrote about Yoko Ono was someone more relatable.  During this period of his career he came across as just a man who obviously loved a woman.  As a result he created some absolutely beautiful music for her. 
   During the album, “Mind Games,” my favorite example of Lennon’s unapologetic devotion to Yoko can be found during the song, “Out Of The Blue.”  This fantastic ballad features a simpatico relationship between not only piano and guitar, but also man and woman.  Lennon passionately breaks into the lyrics, “Every day I thank the Lord and Lady,” emphasizing a rather forward thinking opinion towards gender equality.  Later he continues with an almost primal growl, “All my life’s been a long slow knife  I was born just to get to you  Anyway I survived long enough to make you my wife.”  It’s lyrics like this that make a blogger’s knees go weak.  The song, “Out Of The Blue,” is an example of one of the world’s largest superstars unabashedly stating he lives only for a woman.  At the time John Lennon was a 1970's rock star without machismo!  Instead, he was a man with a modern way of expression.
   Continued future concepts can be found in several songs on the album.  A good example of this is the piece, “Bring On The Lucie.”  This song features the futuristic floaty sounds of guitar mixed with horns.   As a result, Lennon created the perfect euphoric composition to compliment yet another one of his peace anthems.  In addition, more contemporary sounds can be found during the song, “One Day At A Time,” where dreamy vocals lull a listener into John and Yoko’s seemingly Utopian love affair.  While this blogger will admit that some of this pair's combined work can come off as pretentious, it’s my opinion that the songs featured on the album, “Mind Games,” does this while still encouraging a listener to, “Come and be pompous with us.”
   Of course, no other piece on the album makes me want to join the John and Yoko, "commune," more than the title track, “Mind Games.”  I have to admit that it places at least in my personal Top 50 songs ever.  I love the music’s’ mantra sound.  I also adore the drippy idealism of the lyrics. However, mostly I admire the conviction John Lennon displayed towards the topics of love and peace.  He sang, “Love is the answer and you know that for sure.” A person hears this and walks away thinking, “Damn it, he’s right!  How can it be so simple?” 
   Of course after the album, “Mind Games,” is done playing reality returns to a listener.  “The answer,” is not so simple.  Even for a huge star like John Lennon things obviously did not go perfect.  However, while listening to this record of love and peace this blogger can’t help but get caught up in its’ promises.  While I'm admittedly not an expert in the actual history of John Lennon, I do know that he composed stunning songs that displayed extreme humility when it came to the topic of love.  This is something even modern day male performers rarely do.  In addition, Lennon focused a lot of these forward thinking tendencies toward the concept of peace.  He sang, “I want you to make love not war  I know you’ve heard it before.”  I want to answer him by stating, “Yeah, I’ve heard it before but I’ve never wanted to believe it so bad.”