Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Members Journal
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-30-2012, 05:12 AM   #1671 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by stp View Post
Should have realised I would find it here . My Floyd days are well behind me but I will still have to check this one out.
Hey welcome stp, and thanks for the compliment!
As you'll see from the review, I wasn't overly impressed by this. Not that the album isn't good --- if you're an Orb fan I'm sure it's great --- but Gilmour's contribution to it was a lot less than I had expected, and apart from a few isolated flashes of brilliance, it could have been any guitarist really.

Still, let me know if you can't find it and need me to hook you up.

TH
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2012, 07:03 AM   #1672 (permalink)
Horribly Creative
 
Unknown Soldier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: London, The Big Smoke
Posts: 8,220
Default

Upto Page 148:

Nice reviews of Tank and Saxon as part of your NWOBHM section. Also liked your review of Zoom one of the few ELO albums that I haven't heard.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by eraser.time206 View Post
If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
Metal Wars

Power Metal

Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History
Unknown Soldier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-31-2012, 08:49 AM   #1673 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

What better way to close my reviews of albums released in 2012 than with another effort from a relatively young Irish band?

Although together since 2007, Northern Irish band Two Door Cinema Club only released their first album, "Tourist history", in 2010, to some great acclaim. They've taken their time over the followup too, though not quite as long has elapsed between albums, and this year they released their awaited second album. When I reviewed "Tourist history" in March, as part of Irish Week (how original, eh?) I pointed out that Irish music in general, unless it's the big names like U2, Gary Moore, Rory and the godawful Westlife tends to get ignored outside our island. Christ! To think we're now synonymous with those arsewipes Jedward! But I noted that bands like Two Door Cinema Club are helping to reshape that thinking, and even making an impact on the charts outside their home country. This practice continues with their second album.

Beacon --- Two Door Cinema Club --- 2012 (Kitsune)



Not entirely sure why a band like this has to be signed to a label I originally assumed to be Japanese, but which I now see is French? Are the big names not interested? They should be. However, to be fair, Kitsune have supported 2DCC since the start, releasing and promoting their debut, and I'm gratified to see that this, their second album, has made a much more impressive showing, both here and abroad. Whereas "Tourist history" hit the top 20 in Ireland and just scraped into the top 30 in the UK, "Beacon" debuted at number 2 in the UK and took the top slot in Ireland. Not bad for a band with only two albums and no hit singles to their credit.

There's an electronic, dancy start with "Next year" before the vocals of Alex Trimble come in against just low synth and then the whole band pile in on a real poppy rocker with a great hook, Trimble's voice kind of reminding me of Ricky Ross or Paddy McAloon. There's some technical guitar work from Sam Halliday and a nice bassline from Kevin Baird holds things together nicely. The band worked on this album with Irish producer Garret "Jacknife" Lee, who has worked with the likes of Snow Patrol, The Cars and Robbie Williams to name but a few, and his input on the album shows in a much more polished, professional feel and sound. This is more than just three guys trying to get their music out there; this now sounds like a proper band with a proper plan. And that plan is to take the world by storm with their music. Not a terribly original one, granted, but one they have every chance of achieving on the strength of this album.

The tracks on the album follow the same basic pattern as the debut, all short with only one, the opener, over four minutes. They're catchy, memorable pop/rock songs, most of which you can dance to and most of which you are probably likely to remember, or at least recognise when they come on, surely half the battle. "Handshake" is a mostly keyboard driven song with some very trance-style drumwork from Trimble, the true multi-instrumentalist, who plays guitar, piano, synth, drums and of course also sings. "Wake up" rides on an infectious little bassline joined by multiple guitars and bops along at a fine pace, with a sense of U2 and Big Country while the second single, "Sun", opens on soft digital piano with an almost acapella vocal from Trimble before the busy bass again kicks in and the song becomes a funky little rocker with some really nice hooks. Halliday proves he's no slouch on the guitar here, running off some fine riffs almost in a Steely Dan style, while Trimble's vocal presence is lighter and more carefree than on the previous tracks. Quite a happy song really, probably a good choice for a single, with some interesting brass lines thrown in on the synth.

None of these songs would be out of place on your local dancefloor, and if that's how 2DCC are to get their exposure and have people buy their records then all the best to them. However "Someday" is much more a rocker, again quite in the Big Country mould with a sharp, fast guitar and ticking bass, and a punchy, thumping beat. A great midsection led by bass, percussion and some growling guitars would seem to provide a point where the traditional "introduction of the band" would take place onstage, amid much hand-clapping, and this takes us into "Sleep alone", the lead single from the album, which sadly did terribly when released. Still, singles are secondary to album sales, and since "Tourist history" went gold, on the basis of sales and chart positions this album should equal if not improve on that. It's another fast rocker with great guitar that to be fair owes a lot to The Edge and the late Stuart Adamson, but then the guys do appear to be influenced by bands like Big Country and U2. Nice big synth passage near the end, adds a lot of emotion to the song before it closes.

A somewhat introspective song without being anywhere close to a ballad, "The world is watching" features sparse guitar and a great hook in the chorus, heavy percussion and moves along at a nice fast pace without being too fast. Great backing vocals from someone called "Valentina", but don't ask me who she is. Has a lovely voice though and really supports Alex Trimble well here. Bubbling keyboard run from Sam Halliday gives the song a lot of commercial appeal, and I'd wonder if, along with its again dance-oriented rhythm, it might end up being another single? "Settle" comes across to me as the most similar to Big Country yet, with a thrumming bass and squealing keyboards at the beginning, then it breaks out into a great guitar powerslam with the synths backing it nicely.

"Spring" has a lovely busy little guitar riff going through it, with a gentle vocal from Trimble, more fine bass from Baird, the song pumping up as it goes along, and "Pyramid" then built on Baird's bass and Halliday's swirling keys and pizzicato strings in a sort of striding boogie tune. Some great brass touches again on the synth, elements almost of swing in the song, and certainly one of the standouts: very catchy and with a great hook in the chorus again. Ends way too abruptly though unfortunately. The album then ends on the title track, pure eighties new wave with great vocal harmonies, reminds me of Fiction Factory or Depeche Mode in places. Even the guitar, when it cuts through, sounds electronic and synthesised. Nice digital piano from Sam Halliday; another catchy little tune but perhaps a shade weaker than some of the better songs on this album, and not one I would have chosen to have ended on.

TRACKLISTING

1. Next year
2. Handshake
3. Wake up
4. Sun
5. Someday
6. Sleep alone
7. The world is watching
8. Settle
9. Spring
10. Pyramid
11. Beacon

There are definite signs of Two Door Cinema Club improving here, though perhaps they need to move slightly away from the over-influence of the bands I mentioned and find their own unique sound. That said, this is a good album though not really what I'd class as a great one. The placing of the title track at the end is for my money a bad move, as I have already forgotten what it sounds like, but I remember the prior track, so I think "Pyramid" would have been a better closer. But they're getting there. Certainly, the chart positioning and album sales would seem to indicate that this little-known band from 'cross the border will soon be taking their first steps out onto the wider world stage.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-31-2012, 08:59 AM   #1674 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default A last word of thanks...

So that's it for another year. I'd like to thank everyone who has stopped by and read my ramblings, whether you visited once and never came back, dropped in occasionally or indeed became a regular reader here. Whether you posted comments or lurked in the background, thank you. This journal would be a waste of time if no-one read it, so you have my gratitude and appreciation for taking time out of your day to read what I write.

I hope it's been interesting, maybe informative, or at the very least entertaining. I will endeavour to improve on all fronts in the coming year, and as ever, your comments, suggestions, feedback, advice or even criticisms are warmly welcomed and encouraged.

If you're going out tonight, enjoy yourselves but remember if you're drinking leave the car: no point in starting the new year in the emergency room, or making someone else start theirs there. That's why we have taxis. Toast the new year, ring in 2013 and get home safely.

Thank you again for your continued patronage of this journal, and we hope to look forward to your ongoing support in the coming year.

__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2013, 01:27 PM   #1675 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Hope you all had a great New Year's Eve, and aren't feeling the effects of partying and ringing in 2013 too badly today!

All that reviewing of 2012 albums over the last few months has left me feeling a little drained, so I'm taking a trip back to my favourite decade, with an album from one of my favourite artistes.


Against the wind --- Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band --- 1980 (Capitol)


Bit of musical trivia for you: what was the album that knocked Floyd's phenomenal classic "The Wall" off the number one spot in the US Billboard charts? Yeah, this is it. Bob Seger's only ever number one album, and it's not even one of my favourites, though there are a lot of things about it that I like, not least the beautiful painting of the wild horses on the cover. It's his eleventh album overall, and even now, thirty years and some later, sounds pretty damn fresh to me. It features both his longtime band, The Silver Bullet Band, as well as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section who, in case you don't know them, are one of the busiest and most famous bands of session men, who have played with a plethora of stars. They were even inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, fifteen years after playing on this record. As well as being semi-regulars with Seger, they have played with people as diverse as Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boz Scaggs, The Oak Ridge Boys, Elkie Brooks, Rod Stewart and JJ Cale, to name but a very few.

Winner of two Grammys, I still see albums such as "Stranger in town", "Night moves" and the later "Like a rock" and "The distance" as far superior to "Against the wind". It suffers, in my view, from some pretty pedestrian and weak tracks, though it backs that up with some proper classics. The former is in evidence as we open on the very country-influenced "The horizontal bop", which features Bob's often risque sense of humour and his desire to have a good time. Great honky-tonk piano line from the legendary Dr. John, with a happy blast of sax from Alto Reed, and it's good rockin' fun, but comes very close to the later --- and far superior --- "Betty Lou's gettin' out tonight". Things soon settle down though for the beautiful ballad "You'll accomp'ny me", which features Seger's trademark drawl as he paints a scene of a quite calm night and the absolute certainty of his love. Driven on a low acoustic guitar melody, the song is typical of the ballads Seger had become known for, and would continue, through the eighties, to be associated with. Great percussion from David Teegarden backed by soft piano from Bill Payne, who also adds some powerful organ and solid keyboards to the song. The final layer is added by the female backing vocals from Laura Creamer, Ginger Blake and Linda Dillard, a sound which would also become identified with Seger's work.

Totally different then is "Her strut", swaggering with a hard guitar from Seger and a bouncing beat, as Seger marks the line between feminism and femininity --- "Oh, they do respect her but/ They love to watch her strut!" --- also accepting that the woman in the song uses her womanly wiles when needed to get what she wants. Not a new idea, certainly, but it's a great song and drives along on twin guitars from Seger and The Silver Bullet Band's Drew Abbot. The Muscle Shoals come in on the next track, their first appearance on the album, with a lovely acoustic guitar from Pete Carr joined by upbeat piano from Barry Beckett which itself is joined by Randy McCormick's swiring organ work, the whole thing running on a mid-paced beat courtesy of Roger Hawkins. Seger's vocal as usual hold court over everything, and his voice is instantly recognisable, that slightly gruff Michigan growl that can as easily roar out a chorus as whisper a ballad. Great little guitar solo to end, and we're into the standout of the album, indeed one of my favourite Seger tracks of all time.

Bouncing along on a jangly guitar line and hopping piano with a driving beat and searing organ, "Long twin silver line" is an ode to the great steam trains of yesteryear, and just oozes joy and freedom. Really great piano work from Beckett, with Seger counting off the train's stops --- "Through Chicago, rolling into Kansas too/ Rolling into Denver doing all she'll do/ And she hangs a big left in Salt Lake City/ Southwest to the Nevada line/ Rollin' into California right on time!" Really gives you a sense of the power and beauty of those old transcontinental trains when they were in their heyday. One of the most uptempo, rocky tracks on the album. It's followed by what Bob himself describes as "the title cut" on the live album "Nine tonight", and it's another soft ballad with lush organ and piano from the returning Silver Bullet Band, a reflective song as many of Seger's are, looking back at his life, the loves left behind, the decisions made whether good or bad, and a realisation that things can never stay the same, and that love, while it might seem at the time eternal, is as fleeting as time itself.

Beautiful piano solo from Paul Harris, who also backs up his playing with some droning organ, the song very much a keys-oriented one. In ways, the lyrical content here would be mirrored six years later in again the title track to another album, 1986's "Like a rock". Seger calls in the help of three Eagles to assist on backing vocals on this album, and here it's Glenn Frey who adds his unmistakable voice to the lead-out of the track, the whole thing riding along on Harris's superb piano melody and soft percussion from Teegarden. Interestingly, "Against the wind" is followed immediately by a second ballad, which doesn't happen that often on Seger albums. "Good for me" is a very much gospel influenced piece, with almost church organ from Randy McCormick as the Muscle Shoals come back in, and the three ladies add their heavenly voices to the backing vocals.

The percussion is harder than in the previous track, and there's a real sense of gratitude and thanks in the lyric, with a hard piano helping out courtesy of the returning Barry Beckett. The end part features a great slow buildup which culminates in an almost spitirual outpouring from the three girls, raising the song to the heavens, then fades out on simple piano and guitar. Everything rocks back then for the already mentioned "Betty Lou's gettin' out tonight", with a real fifties rockabilly feel, great driving piano in another fine almost Jerry Lee Lewis performance from Paul Harris, while Alto Reed makes sure his horn is heard loud and clear, and there's a great energy and enthusiasm about the song: no deep lyrics, just the boys gettin' ready to fight cos Betty Lou's finally gettin' out tonight! Great fun, though as I mentioned the basic melody does pull a lot from the opener.

"Fire Lake" then rides on a swinging, swaying country beat and features Frey and his fellow Eagles, Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmidt on backing vocals, with Seger in holiday mood on a happy, carefree song which then leads into the closer, "Shinin' brightly" , driven on organ and acoustic guitar, but for my money definitely one of the weaker tracks. Some great, Clarence Clemmons-like sax from The Muscle Shoals' Jimmy Johnson, and powerful organ from Randy McCormick, and some tinkly piano from Barry Beckett. A last hurrah for the three ladies on backing vocals, and they do a great job, but not the track I would have chosen as a closer.

TRACKLISTING

1. The horizonal bop
2. You'll accomp'ny me
3. Her strut
4. No Man's Land
5. Long twin silver line
6. Against the wind
7. Good for me
8. Betty Lou's gettin' out tonight
9. Fire Lake
10. Shinin' brightly

As I said at the start, I do like this album but pretty much only certain tracks. There are Seger albums I listen through to all the way, but this is not one of them. I do find myself wondering how this scored his biggest hit while others which I consider far better fared a lot worse. I suppose you'd have to say this was the pinnacle of Seger's career then, although 1982's "The distance" gave him his biggest hit single and did well enough, hitting the number five slot, while the followup, 1986's "Like a rock" not only got to number 3 but also had its title track featured in a Chevy commercial, and another song in the TV series "Miami Vice". No doubt people were asking, what is that song? But that's Bob Seger for you: you may not know him, or of him, but chances are you've heard his music somewhere, even if you haven't recognised it.

And as he moves this year into his forty-fourth year in the business, chances are you'll continue to hear from him.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2013, 10:42 AM   #1676 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Brothers in arms --- Dire Straits --- 1985 (Vertigo)


Although it would not prove to be their last album, "Brothers in arms" was such a monster success for Dire Straits that it essentially became almost both their comeback album and their swansong. The release of "On every street", six years later, and the subsequent breakup of the band, would almost pass off quietly, unnoticed as Mark and the boys faded from the public eye after ten years making great music. But this album would give them two massive hit singles, re-establish them as masters of their craft and technological innovators, and also turn out to be one of the all-time biggest selling albums in the world, ever, selling at the time of writing over thirty million copies, and turning nine times platinum. It was also one of the first albums to specifically target the emerging market in CD releases, pushing the CD factories into overdrive to cope with the massive demand for it.

Their previous studio effort, 1982's "Love over gold" was an odd beast. A beautiful album but possessing only a total of five tracks, one of which ran for over fourteen minutes. Although Dire Straits would never be considered to be a progressive rock band, there were definite progressive leanings on "Love over gold", particularly the mostly instrumental "Private investigations" and the epic "Telegraph Road". This album though would return them to their more basic rock leanings, while also allowing them to place a foot gingerly into the world of pop, and see them produce one of the first ever totally computer-animated videos for the huge hit single, "Money for nothing". Rough by today's standards, certainly, but back then we were in awe as to how the mouths of the cartoon characters moved in concert with the music. Amazing!

But to the album itself. It starts with the lazy, laidback guitar and keyboard of "So far away", before Knopfler's laconic vocal comes in and some fine slide guitar joins the proceedings. For an album which was to have such a huge impact, both on their career and on the music world in general, it's a deceptively slow start. Almost country in flavour, it's a relaxed little song with a hint of bitterness in the lyric, and would in fact be one of the five singles released from the album, doing reasonably well and hitting the number 20 spot, which would of course pale in comparison with the next track, the chartbusting "Money for nothing", which featured that video I spoke of earlier. Everyone knows the song by now, with its characteristic wail from Sting that opens it, as he pines for his MTV, then there's a buildup of percussion and synth, lots of busy keyswork in the background before Knopfler's heavily-miked guitar breaks through, almost talking, and the song takes off.

This was the only Dire Straits song to feature another artist, and Sting also got a co-writing credit, which again was unheard of for this band, where the lion's share of songwriting was taken by Knopfler. With a great bouncy beat, and that squawking, talking guitar plus its gentle poking of fun at the rock lifestyle (and thus themselves) --- "Shoulda learned to play the guitar/ Shoulda learned to play them drums.../That ain't workin'!/ That's the way you do it!" --- it proved an instant hit and powered right to the top of the charts, forever cementing itself in the group consciousness, and people who had never heard of Dire Straits were suddenly singing the song and thinking about buying if not the album then at least the single. It reminded me of when Foreigner hit the number one slot that same year with "I want to know what love is", and a week or so later I overheard two older women --- mothers, I would say, about forty or so: I would have been what, twenty-three? --- remark as the song came on the radio "Oh yes, I love that Foreigner!" People who would look at you as if you had two heads if you mentioned "Urgent", "Cold as Ice" "4" or even Lou Gramm loved the chart-topping single. And so people who would have maybe known of "Romeo and Juliet" and "Sultans of swing" danced and nodded and hummed "I want my, I want my, I want my MTV" gleefully. Thus are legends born, huh?

There's no doubting that "Money for nothing" was the massive hit single that drove the huge sales of this album, and rightly so as it's a great song, but we shouldn't lose sight of the other great tracks on the album, and there are numerous. Much of what was then the first side of the album was released as singles, as the label fought to capitalise on the success of the monster smash, and indeed with "Walk of life" they scored another. A rockalong, almost fifties style bopper with a big organ intro and then the whistling keyboard riff that would run through it and characterise its sound, it's a cool little song and again Knopfler delivers a fine performance, with some real rockabilly style guitar and something of an innovative dance in the video if I remember. For the time it became something of an anthem, an upbeat, happy, optimistic axiom: do the walk of life. It's placed well on the album, because after "Money for nothing" the last thing you want to hear is a substandard song, and this certainly keep the tempo and the energy going, and is a worthy successor to the behemoth.

Total film noir then in a complete change for "Your latest trick", with a bluesy sax intro from either Michael Brecker or Malcolm Duncan, don't know which as they both play on the album, backed by some melancholic digital piano by Alan Clark and some vibraphone adding a somewhat lonely and otherworldly touch, the tune sounding more like something you'd find on a Tom Waits album really. Then Mark Knopfler comes in with his trademark low, muttered almost disinterested vocal and you see how well it fits in to their sound. To some degree I think this serves as something of a sequel to their first original big hit "Sultans of swing", with its mention of the band and the landlord paying them off, but I could be wrong there. The vibraphone runs through the tune like a tiny ticking heartbeat, courtesy of Michael Mainieri, and we're into "Why worry", another slow song --- and I mean slow! --- in which Knopfler's almost lazy vocal on the previous song sounds positively pumped in comparison. It's carried mostly on acoustic guitar and what sounds like mandolin, with a nice little soft keyboard line playing behind it. It's a nice song, with a somewhat overoptimistic sentiment rather like Bobby McFerrin's "Don't worry be happy" which, while an admirable stance is a little less than realistic. I also find it's far too long, at over eight and a half minutes, and seems to go on forever. Nice backing vocals though it has to be said.

In many ways, the second side of the album, from track six to nine, is a concept of sorts, concentrating on mostly militaristic themes, and showing why the album is titled as it is. "Ride across the river" is the tale of revolutionaries in some South American country, maybe somewhere like Nicaragua, though it's never stated. Opening on tribal style drums and pan flute (synthesised I assume) it builds slowly against chiming keyboards and pulsating bass, with some great trumpet work from Randy Brecker (brother to Michael, the saxaphonist?) and horn from Dave Plews. There's both a sense of oppression and fiesta about it, the latter engendered by the great horn work of the two guys. You really get the sense of a band of rebels crossing a river at night, fearful for their lives but determined to prevail against the hated, nameless enemy. It's quite a long song, just under seven minutes, but unlike "Why worry" it doesn't seem overstretched. Whereas the famous Knopfler guitar is subdued and very much to the background in this song, it comes roaring to the front for "The man's too strong", built on a folky acoustic guitar melody with soft yet thumping drumwork. It's when the chorus comes in that the electric guitar blasts out and the drums get stronger, taking you quite by surprise the first time you hear it. Little in the way of keys or synth, though they're there in the background working away: this is primarily a showcase for Mark Knopfler's guitar expertise.

The song seems to concern the memories, or indeed confessions, during his capture and trial of a war criminal, and his realisation he has done wrong but shows little or no remorse for it. This is the life he chose to lead, and he does not regret it. The shortest track on the album then, "One world" comes in at short of four minutes and is probably the most uptempo on side two, and the most rocky and upbeat since "Walk of life" on side one. Again Knopfler's guitar is to the fore though it's helped out this time by Guy Fletcher's keys with some handclap drumbeats. Nice little bit of almost harpsichordal keys from Alan Clark, but the song is a little pedestrian when compared to some of the masterpieces that have preceded it. Luckily, the album ends strongly and with passion, on the title track.

With a haunting, atmospheric synth backdrop from Fletcher, Knopfler's signature guitar line slides in and he again almost mutters the vocal, not so much that you can't hear him but almost like a whispered prayer, as he bemoans the insanity of war: "There are so many different worlds/ So many different suns/ And we have just one world/ But we live in different ones." A beautiful accordion-like sound gives the song a very rustic feel which ties in with the lyric "One day you'll return to/ Your valleys and your farms" and Knopfler almost makes his guitar cry and wail, giving voice to the dispossessed, the bereaved and the wronged who fall on either side during conflicts, lost among the larger issues, the politics and the strategies. The song ends on a prayer: "But it's written in the starlight/ In every line on your palms/ We're fools to make war/ On our brothers in arms" and a sumptuous guitar solo, joined later by Fletcher's soaring organ to bring the album to a quite amazing close.

TRACKLISTING

1. So far away
2. Money for nothing
3. Walk of life
4. Your latest trick
5. Why worry
6. Ride across the river
7. The man's too strong
8. One world
9. Brothers in arms

It's easy to see why this album was such a huge seller. The honesty and simplicity in the lyrics, the mixture of toe-tapping melodies and mature songs, the messages and the warnings, the big hit singles and the songs that weren't released but can stand shoulder to shoulder with those that were --- and are in some cases even better --- all come together to create an album that really, any band would have been proud to have said farewell with. This was undoubtedly the high point of Dire Straits' career, and despite the fact that they hung around for another six years they would never come close to matching it. Perhaps deep down, Mark Knopfler, guiding light and driving force behind the band for so many years, realised this and decided it was time to call it a day.

If only he had done so with this album, it would have been a legacy to be justifiably proud of. As it is, it marks for me the end of a very successful career, with one small coda to come in 1991.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2013, 05:20 AM   #1677 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
Upto Page 148:

Nice reviews of Tank and Saxon as part of your NWOBHM section. Also liked your review of Zoom one of the few ELO albums that I haven't heard.
Thanks man. I learned a lot about Saxon doing that section. Brought back some memories too! Surprised to see how Tank went; certainly progressed there's no doubt of that.

Yep, that "Zoom" album is definitely worth listening to. Just a pity it's only Jeff Lynne, otherwise I'd have it down in my top five favourite ELO albums!
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2013, 09:00 AM   #1678 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Branigan --- Laura Branigan --- 1982 (Atlantic)


Seldom has any artiste, least of all female, straddled the pop/rock divide so successfully and comprehensively as Laura Branigan. True, her output stalled a little in the final years, but her first four albums were all pretty close to being classics. This one is even more impressive, being her debut and yet yiedling her her biggest ever hit single and the song always associated with her now, although it wasn't her own song. Laura combined just the right amounts of sexy diva with chanteuse and serious recording artiste to allow her to easily jump from one genre to another, comfortable whether she was singing pop, disco, rock or even salsa, somewhat like her contemporary, Gloria Estefan, though the latter mostly made her career on ballads and love songs. Laura's music, in the main, was usually more concentrated on uptempo songs.

That being said, it's perhaps ironic that the album opens on a ballad, with soft digital piano and deep bass, though in fairness it picks up strength and tempo fairly quickly and becomes a more intense love song, with some great backing vocals. It is however rather typical of the glut of ballads that bombarded us through the early years of the eighties, though a lot better than most. It's strange in that ballads are and were usually reserved for further down the running order, often near the end as the album wound down, but the tempo is quickly kicked up to ten with her smash hit "Gloria". A rearrangement and re-recording of an Italian love song, Laura changed it totally, pumping it up and giving it teeth, and with a huge descending synth opening and then stabbing synth chords that run through the melody, with pounding drumbeat, it's been described as disco or eurodisco, but I see it far more as a rock song. It has the disco feel, sure, but the power and passion and the punch it delivers to me is far more deserving of being called a rock song. Probably everyone knows the song by now, and it's a great workout for Laura's voice, as she hits the most powerful registers with ease.

Again, for a debut album from a then-unknown singer, there are some famous faces on this album, including guitar gods Steve Lukather and Michael Landau, not to mention Carlos Vega on the drumseat. A big deep synth and piano opening takes us into "Lovin' you baby", with Laura's impassioned, husky vocal delivering a lyric which sounds almost Steinmanesque; powerful, dramatic, passionate, big and bold, the sort of thing that really to be fair screams for a full orchestra and massive backing vocals. And yet, though there are backing vocalists, Laura handles the song mostly herself, her voice dripping with emotion and desperation. Definitely the standout after the rather obvious "Gloria". It's followed by "Livin' a lie", which actually sounds almost exactly like Bon Jovi's "Burning for love" --- and I mean exactly --- from their debut, released --- oh dear! Two years later! Oh, boys! I never realised this before. I mean, it IS the same song, almost note for note and chord for chord. A great rocking track, with stabbing synths and a fine solo from Lukather, and keeps the tempo well up.

Another possible indicator of the high hopes held for Laura is when you see that the mighty Diane Warren contributes a song to her debut album, and as ever with Diane, it's a winner. A soft, piano-driven ballad, sung with all the heartbreaking regret that Laura can squeeze into her voice, and that's a lot. In the bridge there's a beautiful, flowing synth run that just pulls in the chorus with drama and emotion, and takes it to another level entirely. There's nothing to say really --- Warren doesn't do bad songs. The woman seems to write hits as easily as she draws breath, and there's many an artiste owes her for much of their success. Things kick right back up then for "Please stay, go away", with a running, almost progressive rock piano line, thundering drums from Vega and crunching guitar from Landau and Lukather: the basic melody does borrow a lot from "Gloria" however.

There's another ballad up next, and in fact "I wish we could be alone" is Laura's first attempt at songwriting, which she handles completely on her own. It's an impressive first try, with a semi-country feel to the music driven on piano with great backing vocals, some of which almost duet with her, male ones which really complement her own voice. Reminds me a lot of Nanci Griffith's early work, particularly "If wishes were changes" from the "Storms" album. Winding up then for a big finish, "Down like a rock" pulls out all the stops in a big fast rocker, with jangly guitar and funky bass, the rhythm almost Wham!-ish (bear with me) and a kind of fifties feel to the music, Laura's voice kind of echoing alongside what I assume must be synthesised brass and some swirly organ, not to mention another fine soaraway guitar solo. Nice! Everything wraps up nicely then with another ballad, which kind of bookends the album with the opener. "Maybe I love you" is a tender love song again driven on soft piano but soon taken by Landau's sharp hard guitar lines, developing into a stronger song, again like the opener, with Laura's clear, pristine vocal above everything, a fine solo to bring things to a close and scrap forever any idea that Laura Branigan was a disco or even pop artiste --- this album has rock gem written large all over it.

TRACKLISTING

1. All night with me
2. Gloria
3. Loving you baby
4. Livin' a lie
5. If you loved me
6. Please stay, go away
7. I wish we could be alone
8. Down like a rock
9. Maybe I love you

Over a period of ten years Laura Branigan released seven albums, but she will always be known for the second track on this, her debut. Some people will also know "Self control", the title of her third album, and perhaps "The lucky one" from the same record. I haven't heard her last two albums but I didn't care for "Touch", her fifth, released in 1987, which is a pity as up to then she had put out pretty consistently good albums. Sadly 1993's "Over my heart" was her last ever recording, and eleven years later she passed away from a previously undiagnosed brain aneurysm. She died peacefully in her sleep, and the world of music lost a wonderful voice and a true star who should have been much more famous and regarded than she was.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-07-2013, 05:41 PM   #1679 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Bad English --- Bad English --- 1989 (Epic)


What do you get when you put three Journey members together, add in John Waite and top it off with the bass player from Styx? Well, ostensibly an AOR supergroup, which is how Bad English were touted when they released their self-titled debut as the eighties drew to a close . I personally bought the album (second hand, of course!) purely on the cool, rockin' cover, and was surprised to find once I had got it home that such luminaries were involved. I have to say the super in this supergroup cannot be overstated, and this stands for me as one of the best albums from that period. If you hate Journey, AOR, sweet melodies, hard rocking and great guitar solos coupled with swirling, punching keyboard runs, you're out of luck and you should seek elsewhere, because that's what this album delivers in spades. Every single track (every single track!) is a classic, and I could not really pick out one that was in any way substandard. Well, okay, maybe just the one. The same therefore has to be said for standouts, because just about every track here is as good as the one that precedes, or follows it.

Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon had of course both been in Journey, Deen Castronovo joining them later, and John Waite and Ricky Philips had been with Cain in The Babys, so everyone knew each other and they got together as friends trying out a project during a hiatus in which Journey effectively split from 1987 to 1994. They scored a number one and number five US hit with singles taken from this album, and the album itself shifted the units, however their second and only other album did not do anywhere as well, and after it Bad English decided to disband, Cain and Schon returning to Journey, Waite to solo work and Phillips back to Styx after a stint with Coverdale/Page. Castronovo, as already mentioned, would join Journey in 2001, having by then worked with Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Vai and Hole, among others.

And just in case you think this is just another Journey offshoot, that with Cain and Schon at the helm it's basically going to sound like a Journey album, don't count on it. I say this a lot, I've noticed, but here it seems particularly appropriate, that the whole of this band is very much more than just the sum of its parts. If you've heard John Waite you'll know he comes across as one of the quintessential AOR voices of the eighties, with just the right mix of power and tenderness, and the ability to turn it on at the drop of a hat. He has that scratchy, somewhat fractured voice you associate with people like Rod Stewart and Bob Seger, though he operates in a different arena to either of those, and he puts heart and emotion and passion into everything he does. The other two members of Bad English I must admit I don't know. I'm not familiar with much of the work of Styx, but anyone who could hold their own with two legends in David Coverdale and Jimmy Page has to be worth his salt, no?

It opens on what sounds like a full brass band, but must surely only be Cain's athletic synthesiser run, as no horns are credited, then a big heavy guitar sound from Schon and the pounding, crashing drums of Deen Castronovo punch in, and we're off to a great start with "Best of what I got", a big, strutting, striding, swaggering (yeah, I know: I love my alliteration!) rocker that just bounces along as Waite takes the mike and completes the quintet. He's no Steve Perry, but I still find myself wondering what it might have been like had he replaced the Journey frontman. Still, after this album he seemed to want to go back to solo work, so I suppose it would not have happened. All the same... Anyway, there's little letup as we power on into "Heaven is a 4 letter word", a big grinding cruncher with a great hook in the chorus and a commanding vocal from John Waite. Most of the material here is written by a combination of Cain, Schon and Waite, with Philips adding to one or two of them.

Things slow down for the first time then for "Possession", the first of five ballads on the album, and it's a powerful, emotional song, with some great guitar work from Neal Schon, and a feature of this band, perfect, spot-on backing vocals that complement John Waite's solo voice and create a really full vocal sound throughout the album. One of the standouts next in the uptempo rocker "Forget me not", which blazes away at top speed and allows Castonovo to let loose on the drumkit, a human drum machine. It's the fastest track on the album so far and also of course features great interplay between the two Journey men (hah!) on keys and guitar, and was in fact the first single released from the album, just barely missing out on the top forty. The next one, however, blew it wide open.

It'll come as no surprise to those who know, or know of her, that Bad English's biggest hit single was written by Diane Warren. Taking the number one spot with ease, "When I see you smile" is a tender ballad built on the tinkling keys of Jonathan Cain's piano, then joined by Neal Schon's powerful guitar, while John Waite sings the lyric with all the lovestruck awe he can put into his voice. Cain manages to make his keyboards sound like a full string orchestra at points in the song, and not to be outdone, Schon rips off a fine solo. This song had hit single written all over it from the word go, and so it proved to be. Oddly, it was not selected as the lead single --- that was, as mentioned, "Forget me not" --- but the second, whereupon it proved a massive hit.

It's the finest of AOR Heaven next with "Tough times don't last", a real sense of mid-period Bon Jovi in the lyric; "Tough times don't last/ Lovers do/ Baby don't give up/ On me and you." Great keyboard melody laid down by Cain, then an appropriately haunting song in the shape of "Ghost in your heart", which qualifies as a ballad even though it's a little harder than you would normally expect ballads to be. More great keyboard runs and riffs set up by the Journey keyboardist, while another ballad, "Price of love", which follows it, was to give Bad English their second --- and only other --- top ten single. A beautiful, emotionally-charged song based somewhat on the lyrical theme of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a prayer", though nothing like it musically, it's a stirring, effective power ballad that had the guys once again reaching for the top of the charts.

The rest of the album is heavy rock all the way, bar the closer. Castronovo's almost drum solo leads in "Ready when you are", and Schon piles on the riffs in a staccato rhythm in part quite similar to the opener, while "Lay down" is mostly driven on his bandmate's batteries of keyboards. "The restless ones" then opens on a soft, atmospheric keyboard line and a piano melody that starts off quite gentle but gets a little harder as the song develops, and if you thought it was going to be another ballad the guys soon disabuse you of that notion as it kicks into life. It has a great singalong chorus and a real sense of early Bryan Adams before he got all commercial (think "Cuts like a knife" or "You want it, you got it") and rides along on Cain's frothy piano lines. The last hard rocker is the again aptly-titled "Rockin' horse", which hands over control mostly to Schon on the guitar and features a powerful, urgent vocal from Waite, while Cain again sets up an almost orchestral sound on the keyboards.

The closer then is a little light ballad, somewhat out of place really among all these strong songs, and indeed apart from Diane Warren's contribution the only one on which none of the bandmembers have input to. It's co-written by King Crimson legend Peter Sinfield, but is probably the weakest track on the album, which is a pity, as I would have preferred a strong closer to end this extremely strong album. It's a small niggle though, and really there's very little negative I can, or would want to say about this debut album, apart from the fact that it was in the end the highpoint of the career of a supergroup who I would have liked to have heard more from.

TRACKLISTING

1. Best of what I got
2. Heaven is a 4 letter word
3. Possession
4. Forget me not
5. When I see you smile
6. Tough times don't last
7. Ghost in your heart
8. Price of love
9. Ready when you are
10. Lay down
11. The restless ones
12. Rockin' horse
13. Don't walk away
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2013, 09:41 AM   #1680 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Purple rain --- Prince --- 1984 (Warner Bros)


A true classic album and one every serious music fan should hear, "Purple rain" marked the beginning of an, ahem, purple patch for Prince, who had come from relative obscurity via albums like "Dirty mind" and "Controversy" to explode upon the scene with 1982's "1999" (if that doesn't sound a contradiction in terms: it isn't) and grab the charts by the balls with hit singles such as "Little red Corvette" and the title track. Although "1999" is seen as his breakthrough album --- and it was: prior to this, if you mentioned his name people would ask "Prince? Prince who?" --- his biggest success and mainstream acceptance would come with this album. Whereas "1999" was essentially a disco/dance/funk album, "Purple rain" established the dimunitive one forever as a true rock artiste. There are few rock fans who will tell you they don't have this in their collection, or have at least heard it, and while it still retains the lingering influences from the previous album in hits like "When doves cry" and "I would die 4 U", the title track, "Let's go crazy", "Take me with U" and others have rock writ large all over them.

A man who would change his image more frequently than most of us change our socks, who would reinvent himself more times than Kylie, Prince rose to international fame both on this album and on the film to which it is the soundtrack. Being such, it is also quite staggering that the album has to date sold in excess of twenty million copies worldwide, and is ranked as one of the most important albums in music history. It features his sometime band, The Revolution, whom he would later part company with, and would go on to become one of the best-selling albums of 1984, define a sound and an era, and raise Prince to iconic superstar status, a position from which he would only voluntarily retire, later eschewing even his name and becoming known as a symbol, "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince".

But all that was in the future, and at the time of release this was the must-have album, and whether you saw the movie and then bought the album or vice versa, most of us did both. To be honest, the movie's not much to write home about, as I'm sure our resident movie buff Exoskeletal will tell you: you see it mostly for the music, which is kind of ironic really as you can hear that on the album. But the album: well, that's something else entirely. Nobody would claim it's a perfect album, and there are tracks on it which are weaker than others, but the strong ones are so strong that they more than compensate for the less impressive ones. It starts and ends well, and in between there are some real gems.

"Let's go crazy" opens the album, with a deep church organ and Prince's voice intoning a prayer, then the percussion hits in like a a hammer, squealing guitar and keyboards join in and we're off a a rip-roaring pace on a rocker with a lot of dance and funk energy, featuring a guitar solo that helps cement Prince as one of the most innovative axemen of the eighties and nineties. A song that's hard to stay still while listening to, it also rides along on the bubbly keyboards of the equally bubbly Lisa Coleman, who with bandmate Wendy Melvoin would later go on to form the duo Wendy and Lisa. Big heavy guitar ending and we're into "Take me with U", almost eighties Genesis in its melody, slower but still moving along nicely; sense of The Bangles' "Manic Monday" in it too, not surprisingly as it was Prince who wrote the number one hit for the girls.

Nice solid keyboard arrangement backed up by cellos and violins, but as ever it's Prince's high falsetto vocal that dominates proceedings, a voice which would become almost ubiquitous over the next ten years as he had hit after hit on album after album. Nice backing vocals too from Apollonia Kotero. Much more stripped-down then is "The beautiful ones", carried mostly on a bassline and lilting piano melody complementing Prince's high vocal throughout the song, the first slow song on the album, on which you really hear the man's soul roots coming through. It also features some spoken vocals from Prince, and definitely has a sense of motown smooth soul about it. Great little unfussed guitar solo thrown in too, though the song is mostly driven on the keyboards and piano combination. Near the end Prince's voice gets harsher, more desperate, almost emulating the late Micheal Jackson at times.

Wendy and Lisa get to take the opening lines for "Computer blue", a very funky, poppy number with an uptempo beat and bouncy guitar, not one of my favourites on the album I have to say. When I spoke in the introduction about weaker tracks, this is one I consider to fall into that category. It's okay, but I somehow never remember it when I play the album. It just seems a little empty to me, almost more an instrumental in many ways considering how little there is in the song in terms of lyrics. I guess it's a good workout for the band though. Again I hear Genesis melodies in here, including one from Mike and the Mechanics' later "All I need is a miracle", so I guess you'd have to say Mike Rutherford half-inched that riff for himself from Prince.

Another weak track for me is "Darling Nikki", which marches along on a hard synth line rather like something out of a Tom Waits album, some nice talkbox guitar and heavy percussion, but again it's one I tend to either skip or forget when I play this album. The last two minutes of the song feature a fairly strong and insistent organ passage courtesy of Dr. Fink, sax and then a Laurie Andersonesque vocal ending which segues into some sort of African/gospel chant, sounds like backward masking to be honest. Totally weird.

Luckily, that's the end of the weak tracks, and if you haven't heard "When doves cry", how is Mars these days? A massive number one hit for Prince, it's built on a stop/start synth line and echoing drumbeat, with some of Prince's best vocals on the album, much of them double-tracked. It's also one of the few songs I know that has no bass line at all, and consists of a number of loops. Synthesiser plays of course a large part in the song, painting the backdrop, and Prince's guitar solo in it really adds teeth to what is essentially a dance tune. It ends with a choral vocal harmony and orchestral style keyboard passage. Next up is a rippling disco piece, "I would die 4 U" --- I'm not sure, but I think Prince may have started this whole craze of using numbers to represent words: I know I had never seen it in use before he came along --- with a ticking, sweeping drumbeat and some nice synthy guitar, keyboards naturally the main instrument and Prince's vocal less falsetto than on previous tracks.

The premise of the movie, in case you haven't seen it, is that Prince begins as a support act, trying to make it big, and of course by the end of the film he is the main attraction, and this is the subject of the penultimate track, "Baby I'm a star", which basically runs almost directly from the previous one and maintains the same sort of fast disco beat, but with harder percussion and some dancy piano lines. Guitar is also much more to the fore here, some good backing vocals from Wendy and Lisa, but the undeniable standout is the closer, and title track.

It's more than likely you've heard "Purple rain", but just in case: it opens with a twangy guitar, then develops into one of the most heart-wrenchingly pure ballads you've ever heard, with soulful, emotional vocal from Prince, and though I mentioned that "When doves cry" was one of his best vocal performances on the album, here he's saved the very best till last. Almost a reincarnation of Hendrix, he stands alone onstage, spotlit as the band plays behind him, pouring out his heart to the world --- I never meant to cause you any sorrow/ Never meant to cause you any pain" --- and it's about as far removed as possible from the dancefloor levity of the last few tracks, a true ballad based in the old blues tradition with some powerful piano backed by violin and cello to create the almost unbearably emotional atmosphere the song weaves. It ends on one of the most evocative and moving guitar solos I've heard in a long time, coupled with a wounded, cathartic vocal from the man who would be Prince. Just a stunning end to an album which, while it is not perfect, nevertheless has gone down, deservedly, as a classic of the time.

TRACKLISTING

1. Let's go crazy
2. Take me with U
3. The beautiful ones
4. Computer blue
5. Darling Nikki
6. When doves cry
7. I would die 4 U
8. Baby I'm a star
9. Purple rain

As time went on, and he became more and more famous, Prince began to see through the sham that is the music business and he shunned celebrity, eventually almost withdrawing completely from the public eye, changing his name and slapping the internet basically with an injunction, forbidding sites like YouTube and Ebay to carry any of his videos, likenesses, or music. It seems he took his own advice in the opener to this album and went a bit mad, draconianally demanding any and all references to him be removed from fansites, blogs, anything at all. As a result of this, his music can never be carried by stores like itunes, which seems a bit silly as they're legal and surely that would only provide more revenue for him? Although it seems he may have relented upon this a little recently.

Two years ago he released his new album as a completely free covermounted CD with daily newspapers, and has been quoted as saying "The internet is completely over". While you perhaps have to take a lot of what the little guy says with a large pinch of salt, you can't deny the power or popularity of his music, and though later albums may have changed, morphed and transformed his sound, "Purple rain" stands as a monument to one time he got it completely right, and wrote for himself a chapter in the history of music.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



2003-2019 Advameg, Inc.

SEO by vBSEO 3.5.2 ©2010, Crawlability, Inc.