Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The Cult:  “Love”
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Original Release Date:  1985 Beggars Banquet
(My Rating:  3 Stars)

Side A
Big Neon Glitter
Brother Wolf, Sister Moon

Side B
Hollow Man
She Sells Sanctuary
Black Angel

   To begin, I want to state that the title of this album perfectly describes how I feel about it.  Not that I’m in total, “Love,” with every song presented here.  I guess I think of this record as more of a complex relationship.  When there are good times they’re extraordinary, but the bad times well…they’re pretty terrible.  However, that’s love right?  To put it simply, sometimes it can really suck.
   Keeping this in mind the album, “Love,” by The Cult is no different.  Being introduced to this record is like meeting an attractive person for the first time.  Initially what drew this listener in was it's outer appearance.  I have to give major kudos to the individual who designed the album art for this band.  Not only did this artist have a firm grasp on the appeal of a cohesive theme, they managed to execute one that reflected The Cult’s vision of hippie dipped metal.  Nothing says, “I’m a head banger dancing among the hyacinths,” like an artistic tribute to ancient civilizations.  Basically, when it comes to photography, font, and overall packaging, "Love's," cover design deserves 5 pharaohs for its’ Egyptian theme.
   However, like most relationships, this review is not based on appearance alone.  While song’s like, “Nirvana,” “Revolution,” and, “Love,” (the title track) are for the most part agreeable, this listener can’t help but be disappointed by the underwhelming feeling she gets upon hearing the actual content behind such a pretty piece of artwork.   It’s like discovering the, “hot guy,” at the party is really boring. 
   Of course, one prefers boring to just plain bad, which is also presented through the songs, “Big Neon Glitter,” and, “Hollow Man.”  Listening to these tunes I can’t help but smirk at their extremely silly, sing song rhymes.  This is a real shame because despite the pretty perturbing lyrics, there’s some real guitar talent going on here.  I guess this listener simply can’t get past vocalist, Ian Astbury, continually telling her to, “Drag Me Back, Drag Me Back, Drag Me Back…”  How about we, “drag back,” to a better song like, “Rain?”
   Which brings me to the highlights of the album.  “Phoenix,” is without a doubt the best example of The Cult’s, “guitar god,” status.  Not only are the instrumental solos awesome but Astbury’s vocals on this song are like a slow burn that ultimately sparks enough excitement at the end to literally raise a Phoenix from the ashes.  Cheesy…maybe, but I believe it to be true.
   In addition, songs like, “Brother Wolf, Sister Moon,” and, “Rain,” (my personal favorite) are the perfect complement to the aforementioned album art.  Not only do these tunes create an inkling of ancient mystery and drama, but they make this listener want to do a crazy rain dance in the middle of a mosh pit.  Who says metal heads can’t wear moccasins?  It’s certainly not this critic or The Cult. 
   Lastly, what can one say about a song like, “She Sells Sanctuary?”  I mean, it’s the reason everyone bought the album, “Love,” in the first place.  I guess one can think of it like this the, “hot guy,” at the party finally comes across the room and says, “The sparkle in your eyes keeps me alive,” and all of a sudden you find yourself in, “Love,” even though a lot of what he has to say is ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"She's So Unusual"

Cyndi Lauper:  She’s So Unusual
30th Anniversary Limited Edition Album (Remastered)
Original Release Date:  1983 Epic Records
(My Rating:  5 Stars)

Side 1
Money Changes Everything
Girls Just Want To Have Fun
When You Were Mine
Time After Time

Side 2
She Bop
All Through The Night
I’ll Kiss You
He’s So Unusual
Yeah Yeah

   I’m ashamed to admit that there was definitely a period of time where I would have never fessed up to adoring a Cyndi Lauper album.  I was simply too, “complex,” to be entertained by such frivolous things.  I put the word complex in quotation marks because now that terminology just seems idiotic to me.  Basically, what it comes down to is, I was a stuck up hipster of the 90’s who couldn’t admit to liking anything that was remotely considered mainstream.  In other words, this girl did NOT want to have fun.
   Thank God, I eventually hit my thirties and realized the quest to be cool was over.  Currently, my new mission is to get through each day by enjoying whatever little amusements might come my way.  Hello, Cyndi Lauper!  Where you been girl?! 
   Thinking about it now, 1983 was a long time ago.  Certainly, it's a long time for this album to finally become a regular in my listening rotation.  However, each time I listen to Cyndi Lauper’s, “She’s So Unusual,” I'm surprised at just how current it is.  Despite the dated heavy synthesizers, it is undeniable to this listener that Lauper’s voice is, “so unusual,” it’s timeless.  There simply is no one else who can successfully copy her off the wall, hiccupping style. 
   Not that this listener hasn’t tried.  Songs like, “Money Changes Everything,” and, “She Bop,” possess such notable examples of her unique vocal trademarks that one can’t help feeling compelled to give Lauper’s crazy vibrato a spin.  I think everyone should try belting, “Money Changes Everythinginginginginginging.”  In addition, I believe a semi forgettable track like, “Witness,” is transformed solely by the addition of Lauper’s voice.  Suddenly, a rather mediocre piece takes on an unexpected Reggae type beat that I attribute to this vocalist's quirks.  Is that Reggae sound really there, or is this album just so fun one feels like they’re on vacation?
   I guess my only answer is when I was trying to think of how to photograph this album cover for my blog all that came to mind was, “Where the heck are my purple sequin heels?”  Because that’s what one wears when listening to, “She’s So Unusual.”  Even if it’s when you're alone in your sewing room.
   In conclusion, my favorite track from this album is without a doubt, “When You Were Mine,”  (Originally written and performed by Prince).  Not only is this tune interesting with the sexually ambiguous tone that is created by a woman singing it, it’s also an awesome display of Lauper’s voice.  During this song she hits an ear piercing note that literally made my otherwise totally uninterested cat actually open his eyes!  It’s moments like this that make me wish Cyndi, “was kindasorta my best friend.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Five Years"

   The five year anniversary of my sobriety is coming up this spring. If asked even six years ago if I thought this fact was possible I would have said, "Why would I want to do that?"  Now that this momentous day has almost arrived I can't begin to fathom who I would be had I not stopped drinking. To put it simply, I wouldn't be a blogger.     
   Since I quit drinking I have a new confidence. I now acknowledge my talents and have a motivation to not only explore them, but share as well.  Mostly, I have several interests that require coherent thought and clear execution.  Oh yeah, and it's also nice to listen to music without getting all weepy at every slow song.  Basically, if I'm going to cry about something I want it to be worth the tears. Which admittedly, some songs are. 
   The last statement brings me to the real topic of this blog. Listening to music is undoubtedly one of the only interests I stayed loyal to throughout my many years of abusing alcohol.  My entire life I've been obsessed with, "listening to tunes."  I can spend hours zoning out to records and daydreaming little scenarios in my head. I was delighted to learn that this statement remained true even after I quit drinking.  Who knew staring at a wall and listening to Tears For Fears could be so much fun sober?!  
   Recently, I decided I would start a blog featuring the albums I'm listening to, the thoughts these songs provoke in me, and undoubtedly a bunch of other random nonsense that may pop into my head. I titled this blog, "Filling In The Gaps," because the majority of the music I find myself buying these days seem to be the albums I missed the first time around...when my thoughts were kinda fuzzy. Unfortunately, I feel like I missed a lot of things back then.  Keeping this in mind, I find it interesting how vividly I recall what I was listening to during those times.  Due to this fact, it just made sense for me to incorporate the topic of my sobriety with my passion for music.  
   Finally, during this quest to refine my vinyl collection I also hope to, "fill in the gaps," of my memory as well.  If not by actually recollecting the past, then by making new memories I can go back and read in the future.  I'm going to think of this blog as the sober girl's guide to Rock & Roll, or Jazz, or whatever finds it's way onto my turntable that day.  Sounds like a party, right?
   In closing, "Filling In The Gaps," is a blog about what this lady is listening to.  It's also a personal tribute to my five years of sobriety. It's strange, but writing this post makes me remember an ex-boyfriend of mine who once stated to me upon breaking up, "Never stop listening to music, Rayna.  You love doing that." I sometimes wish I could tell him, "I didn't." 

David Bowie performing, "Five Years":