Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Penthouse and Pavement

 


The original album cover painting for Heaven 17's Penthouse and Pavement album is being auctioned off.

Purchased directly from the artist Ray Smith (British, 1949-2018) by Martyn Ware, founding member of The Human League and Heaven 17, and offered for sale by him.

Penthouse And Pavement was Heaven 17's debut album, released in September 1981. The imagery of the cover satirises the early 1980s' emergence of the 'yuppie' and the idea apparently came from a Toshiba advertisement spotted by band member Ian Craig Marsh. The band are pictured as suited, deal-making, successful businessmen, contrasting with the traditional perception of musicians as boho types.

 I'm sad that Mr. Ware is selling this and I hope it is because of good reasons only. It's a very thoughtful painting, and the satire lands perfectly. You don't see works of this depth come out very often, certainly not as they relate to the early New Wave movement. The colors and the designs of the suits they are wearing - absolutely priceless. This screams 1981 at you, it really does.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Love is the Law

 


Well, I liked it. 

The Seahorses lasted about five minutes and then the band blew up. They barely made it past their unreleased second album. All of the songs on their debut album, Do It Yourself, are excellent and they left behind a slew of B-sides and a non-LP single, the equally brilliant You Can Talk to Me.

Love is the Law is indulgent, silly, and doesn't go on long enough. It's as Led Zeppelin as you're going to get in the Nineties and it sounds like the Kinks opened up the gates of hell and let everyone interesting out.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Beast

 


It sounds like someone has produced a proper, well-researched biography of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and that's a good thing. What is desperately needed, as far as music icons of the 60s and 70s are concerned, is for someone to clear up all of the misconceptions and bullshit and just tell the truth about the people who lived and made music during that era.

Dave Grohl has written the forward for the book:

“John Bonham played the drums like someone who didn’t know what was going to happen next – like he was teetering on the edge of a cliff. No one has come close to that since, and I don’t think anybody ever will. I think he will forever be the greatest drummer of all time.

“You have no idea how much he influenced me. I spent years in my bedroom – literally fucking years – listening to Bonham’s drums and trying to emulate his swing or his behind-the-beat swagger or his speed or power. Not just memorising what he did on those albums but getting myself into a place where I would have the same instinctual direction as he had.

Beast: John Bonham And The Rise Of Led Zeppelin is set to tell the story of Bonham’s rise from being a self-taught drummer at the age of five to being in one of the most successful rock bands all of all time. He died in 1980 at the age of 32. 

To this day, Bonham is posthumously described as one of the most important and influential drummers in rock – often topping best-of lists. Adam Budofsky, managing editor of Modern Drummer, once wrote [via Blabbermouth]: “If the king of rock ‘n’ roll was Elvis Presley, then the king of rock drumming was certainly John Bonham.”

There's no question about the impact of Bonham's drumming. What I hope the book can do is separate the man from the myth and just tell the truth of what went on in those days.  

Monday, April 12, 2021

Moby is a Scumbag

 

I remember reading this and my initial reaction was, wow, what a scumbag:

Moby has discussed the controversy behind his claims that he once dated Natalie Portman in a new interview.

Back in 2019, an excerpt from Moby’s book, Then It Fell Apart, heard the musician recount taking the actor for a drink and, later, kissing her while visiting her at Harvard.

Soon after, Portman refuted the musician’s claims that she was involved in a romantic relationship with him, saying she found it “disturbing” that false stories were being used to promote the book.


This is why you should believe women when they tell you things:

Portman released a statement about Moby’s anecdote yesterday (May 21), saying: “I was surprised to hear that he characterised the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school.

“He said I was 20; I definitely wasn’t. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18. There was no fact checking from him or his publisher – it almost feels deliberate. That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn’t the case. There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact check.”

Are there any other women out there? It would be shocking if there weren't.


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Mockingbirds

 


Mockingbirds from Grant Lee Buffalo is a song of unmatched beauty and grace. If you have never heard this song before, all I can do is hope it lands at precisely the right moment and delivers a few moments of inner peace and awareness.


Saturday, April 3, 2021

Cry

 


Noctorum is an ongoing project from Andy Dare Mason and Marty Willson-Piper. They come together with a handful of other musicians and create incredible music that does not get enough attention or acclaim. To say that these records are overlooked is an understatement. Noctorum albums arrive infrequently but with tremendous love and care attached to them.

There are numerous tracks that I could highlight, but let's go with Cry from Honey Mink Forever. An absolute stunner of a track, so beautiful as to not be believed. Who melds progressive rock chops, broken hearted vocals, and the smooth sound of Seventies soft rock? Who has the comprehensive knowledge and ability to create something like this? Well, these guys did it and they make it sound effortless.




Friday, April 2, 2021

The Connells '74-'75

 


Here's a wonderful version of '74-'75 by The Connells. This is one of those songs that always kicks me in the gut when I hear it. I can't believe it wasn't a bigger hit and I am trying to process how it was the third single from Ring, which was their fifth album. Released in 1995, it was as close to a hit single as the band would get, which is a crime in and of itself.



Normally, your baby boomer/Seventies nostalgia turns me into a bit of a jackass. I love laughing at the misery of people who had a hand in ruining the world. This song is nothing if not clearly, and lovingly exempt from pithy navel gazing and hoary memories about getting buzzed on cheap beer. It's such a great song.

We had it so good in the 1990s. These kids today, they'll never really understand how close we came to perfection. And then the fucking Internet ruined everything.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Aural Sculpture

 



If you were going to look at all of the albums released by the Stranglers in the Hugh Cornwell era of the band's history, Aural Sculpture is one of the best examples of how their musical proficiency delivered the goods. It's one of my favorites, and it is part of a run of three albums that were very commercially appealing (it's the one after Feline and right before Dreamtime). These are complex, well recorded songs that outshine much of what was released at the time. In the mid-1980s, everything was plastic and overwrought with foolishness. The Stranglers were having none of that.

In America, the Stranglers were completely overlooked and ignored. They were writing whole entire albums of classic songs and received none of the attention that went to The Clash and Duran Duran. But, somewhere in the middle of all that, they were coming up with better ideas and catchier hooks. They were writing serious songs and delivering them with every single member working at the very top of their game. It's listed as their eighth album and I don't know how anyone gets to that point in their career without some friction and tension. You could not be in The Stranglers and not have something to offer. No one coasted on anything. The end result is a dynamic that can't be described. 

Yeah, the misogyny has always bothered me. The Stranglers were part of that movement in England that was punk, then post punk, then  new wave, then whatever came after. They should have left that stuff in the rehearsal room.

Their label at the time, Epic, rejected the first pass at these songs. I can't imagine why since there isn't a bad one in the bunch. Laurie Latham came in and offered up some softer edges but, really, none of that detracts from the fact that the album itself is a sonic masterpiece. There's no running from the drum effects, the horns, the guitars, or the keyboards. Everything is filled, nothing is left out, no one is spared a chance to shine.

I have no idea why it isn't more popular. What the hell is wrong with people?