Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Brian Eno



Here Come The Warm Jets (1973)
Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy (1974)

Brian Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets (1973)


 

Released in January 1973

Running time 41:53

While still hanging around as part of Roxy Music for a few more months at least, oddball keyboards genius Brian Eno brought along Roxy members Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay to help him  record this completely leftfield album that slipped under the radar in 1973, despite the Roxy associations. King Crimson's Robert Fripp is on the album too. The songs are quirky and downright weird at times, but they are always catchy and poppy. Eno is on vocals and he doesn't have the best voice, you have to say, but it has a reedy, whiny punky quality that was way ahead of its time. Yes, it is an avant-garde creation, but a very accessible one. Its sound, however, despite remastering, is decidedly muffled at times, however. Maybe that adds to its strange appeal. The album didn't do very well in 1973. It was just too bizarre. It may well have been more successful in 1981 but that is the thing with works that were ahead of their time.

You have to listen to it a few times to appreciate it, however. You hear little bits in the sound here and there that you missed first time around.

TRACK LISTING

1. Needles In The Camel's Eye
2. The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch
3. Baby's On Fire
4. Cindy Tells Me
5. Driving Me Backwards
6. On Some Faraway Beach
7. Blank Frank
8. Dead Finks Don't Talk
9. Some Of Them Are Old
10. Here Come The Warm Jets

"Needles In The Camel's Eye" is a Velvet Underground-influenced number with a dense, murky sound with undermines the track somewhat. Eno's vocals aren't great either. It still has an appeal, though. There is also a VU vibe to the bizarrely-titled "The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" which has Eno adopting a quirky, high-pitched David Byrne-style post-punky vocal years before the sub-genre existed. The funky guitar line is one that Talking Heads would use a lot too, early in their career. You have to say that this is way ahead of its time. Check out those odd piercing noises that populate the track. Innovative Eno at his best. "Baby's On Fire" is another one that fits the post-punk description. It is a genuinely infectious oddity. It is full of of strange synthy backing, a great Robert Fripp guitar solo and addictive percussion, along with Eno's hammy vocals. For me, it is the best cut on the album.

"Cindy Tells Me" has a Velvet Underground-inspired title and more Lou Reed influence is all over it. Once again, you can really imagine how Talking Heads surely knew of this record while listening to it. So much of it can be heard in their first album. It has some excellent synth parts swirling around too. The lyrics are not without a certain tongue-in-cheek humour, either. "Driving Me Backwards" features some beguiling guitar/keyboard parts and mysterious wailing vocals. The backing sounds Joy Division-like in places. "On Some Faraway Beach" is almost like a Groove Armada "chill-out" thing - an indistinct-sounding instrumental that drifts along without ever getting anywhere until it suddenly builds up into a grandiose Teutonic climax, like a prototype for early Ultravox. Finally, three minutes in, just when you least expect it, a mournful Eno vocal arrives. There are hidden depths to this interesting number. It is so Velvet Underground again, I have to say.

"Blank Frank" is so 1978-79 it could be Public Image Ltd. It mixes a sort of Bo Diddley rock 'n' roll drum beat with the sort of sounds PIL would come up with five yeas or so later. "Dead Finks Don't Talk" has a solid, mid-pace rock beat and some haughty spoken vocals from Eno. It ends with some incongruous, deafening feedback. "Some Of Them Are Old" has hints of The Beatles are their most idiosyncratic. The Hawaiian guitar sound at the end is, I am sure, Phil Manzanera. He used the same sound on a Roxy 'B' side, "Hula Kula". "Here Come The Warm Jets" is an instrumental (with occasional vocals) that surely inspired Ultravox.

I remember just not "getting" this album back then. Although weirdness was all around in the whole avant-garde arm of glam rock this was just too weird. In many ways it still is. There's no getting away from it, this is a very peculiar, eccentric and totally unconventional album.

C+

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

The Rolling Stones - Bridges To Bremen (1988)


  

Recorded live in Bremen, Germany in September 1998

Another year, another Stones live album that fans such as myself get, despite there being nothing much new! This one dates from The Stones' tour of 1998 and, as usual, features many of the usual tracks that appear in all Stones live sets. So, I will concentrate on those that are more unique to this period. There are five tracks from the "Bridges To Babylon" album - the rocking "Flip The Switch", "Saint Of Me", "Out Of Control", Keith's evocative "Thief In The Night" and "Anybody Seen My Baby?". The first four all feature on the previously available "No Security live compilation from the same tour. "Anybody Seen My Baby?" is the only one not available on an official live album thus far, along with Keith's "Wanna Hold You" from 1983's "Undercover" album. Also making a rare appearance is the group's cover of Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone", which had appeared on the 1995 "Stripped" live material. It is nice to hear "Memory Motel" given a run-out, although this is also available on "No Security". "Paint It Black" makes an appearance, although it has done so on many other live albums.

So there you go, nothing new here. If you are a fan you will get it anyway, if you haven't got many Stones live albums, this isn't a bad one to get. The sound quality I have to say, is excellent - full, powerful and muscular and the band's performance similar. It goes without saying that I like it, but it is in no way essential.

TRACK LISTING

1. Satisfaction
2. Let's Spend The Night Together
3. Flip The Switch
4. Gimme Shelter
5. Anybody Seen My Baby?
6. Paint It Black
7. Saint Of Me
8. Out Of Control
9. Memory Motel
10. Miss You
11. Thief In The Night
12. Wanna Hold You
13. It's Only Rock 'n' Roll
14. You Got Me Rocking
15. Like A Rolling Stone
16. Sympathy For The Devil
17. Tumbling Dice
18. Honky Tonk Women
19. Start Me Up
20. Jumpin' Jack Flash
21. You Can't Always Get What You Want
22. Brown Sugar

B-

Peter Frampton



Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)

Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)

  

Released on 13 February 1976

Running time 78:06

It was the broiling hot summer of 1976. An essential accompaniment to those roasting hot days was always the radio. One sound you were guaranteed to hear was the  "wah - wah/wah/wah/wah - wah" of Peter Frampton's unique "talk-box" sound enhancer intro to "Show Me The Way". It was very much the radio song of that memorable summer. Similarly, every time I went into a record shop and flipped through the vinyl album sleeves, I would see Frampton's face from the album looking vaguely bemused and bug-eyed back at me, like a prettier Robert Plant. Who was he? I wondered at the time, where had he come from and why was he apparently so popular? The ecstatic crowd reaction at the opening to "Show Me The Way" and indeed throughout these US live recordings always perplexed me. It was the sort of audience reaction you may have expected for Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie or Queen, but Peter Frampton? Peter who? I just didn't get it, and still don't really.

Frampton had been in sixties band The Herd and had played guitar in Humble Pie. He had released four pretty unsuccessful solo albums, yet here he was laying down his immaculate brand of adult oriented West Coast rock before a seemingly worshipping US audience. They seemed to know every track too, I guess his albums had been more successful over there than in the UK. That didn't stop this album selling thousands in the UK too. All very odd. By the end of the year, punk had arrived and Frampton was forgotten , literally overnight. He resurfaced eleven years later playing guitar for David Bowie on his "Glass Spider" tour.

TRACK LISTING

1. Intro/Somethin's Happening
2. Doobie Wah
3. Lines On My Face
4. Show Me The Way
5. It's A Plain Shame
6. Wind Of Change
7. Just The Time Of Year
8. Penny For Your Thoughts
9. All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)
10. Baby I Love Your Way
11. I Wanna Go To The Sun
12. Nowhere's Too Far For My Baby
13. (I'll Give You) Money
14. Do You Feel Like We Do
15. Shine On
16. White Sugar
17. Jumpin' Jack Flash
18. Days Dawning

"Somethin's Happening" is a huge, riffy blockbuster of an opener. Solid seventies rock with hints of Free here and there. Frampton's soloes are superb on it. The funky riff of the aptly-titled "Doobie Wah" is pure Doobie Brothers, as is the vocal and the song's general West Coast ambience. "Lines On My Face" is a beautifully summer piece of laid-back AOR. The afore-mentioned "Show Me The Way" is now a classic of AOR drive-time summer afternoon playlists, along with Boston's "More Than A Feeling" and Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way". You can't argue with it, though, it has a superb mid-seventies rock sound and those iconic talk box interjections. Close your eyes, it's 1976 again.

"It's A Plain Shame" is an upbeat, riffy rocker, sort of Bad Company meets Mott The Hoople with The Stones hanging around somewhere as well. The ballad "Wind Of Change" has some "Led Zeppelin III"-style acoustic guitar and more echoes of Free in its its construction. The evocative "Just The Time Of Year" ploughs the same Robert Plant-ish vocal furrow. "Penny For Your Thoughts" is a short "Zep III" acoustic doodle that gets a totally disproportionately enthusiastic audience reaction, while the acoustic vibe continues on "All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)". It seemed many rock bands had this mid-set acoustic interlude, Zeppelin and Queen being two of the main exponents of it.

The bass and drums are back for the gentle, attractive "Baby I Love Your Way", the album's other big hit. The ambience is still laid-back, though, despite the slightly more solid backing. Some Elton John vibes can be heard on the piano-driven and vibrant "I Wanna Go To The Sun". It is nice to hear the rock back, to be honest. The powerful riffage continues on the slightly Who-sounding  "Nowhere's Too Far For My Baby". "(I'll Give You) Money" is a heavy rocker with huge, chunky riffs and a great solo. "Do You Feel Like We Do" is a fourteen minute monster of a seventies rocker, full of power and   indulgence. Excellent stuff. The talk box makes a re-appearance in the middle too.

"Shine On" and "White Sugar" are both rocking crowd pleasers as, unsurprisingly, is the cover of "Jumpin' Jack Flash". While it keeps the riff, it slows the verses down somewhat to make it sound slightly different to the original. "Days Dawning" is another Doobie Brothers/Little Feat-sounding slightly bluesy/soulful number.

You know, apart from the well-known tracks I had never listened to this album properly. I actually missed out because it is a good album of its type. Perfect mid-seventies rock. The sound quality is excellent for a live recording too. Highly recommended for a bit of nostalgia.

B+

Monday, 24 June 2019

Damian Marley



Welcome To Jamrock (2005)

Damian Marley - Welcome To Jamrock (2005)


  

Released on 13 Sepptember 2005

Running time 01:02:54

This was a very successful album for Bob Marley’s youngest son, who was two when his legendary Father died. It is a sprawling cornucopia of all sorts of styles, uitilising a fair amount of studio sound effects and merging rap, r’n’b and, at times, jazz grooves with ragga/reggae. It is effective too, for me, anyway, As I write it is already fourteen years old, but that is contemporary as far as I’m concerned. I am someone whose roots are firmly in the sixties and seventies, remember.

TRACK LISTING

1. Confrontation
2. There For You
3. Welcome To Jamrock
4. The Master Has Come Back
5. All Night
6. Beautiful
7. Pimpa's Paradise
8. Move!
9. For The Babies
10. Hey Girl
11. Road To Zion
12. We're Gonna Make It
13. In 2 Deep
14. Khaki Suit
15. Carnal Mind

You would have expected the collaboration with reggae legend Bunny Wailer on the opener, “Confrontation” to be excellent. However, it is a most odd, disconcerting, tuneless number that, for me, just doesn’t do it.

“There For You” is a delightful, melodic love song featuring, surprisingly some string orchestration. The bass line and vocal are truly delicious. “Welcome To Jamrock” is a deep, dub heavy ragga/dancehall style Notting Hall Carnival favourite complete wth that crackling sound put on there deliberately, plus police siren sound effects. It was a huge hit on urban radio during the summer of 2005, apparently, not that I know much about that. “The Master Has Come Back" is a pounding, resonant ragga number, enhanced by appealing quirky female backing vocal parts. It is a sort of rap meets reggae thing. “All Night” is a fun, slightly poppy, lively number with one of those addictive Fatboy Slim-style drum sounds. Marley’s ragga vocal gives it some reggae authenticity. It has a great tenor saxophone (?) break in it too.

Rap meets smooth late night jazz on the Bobby Brown duet “Beautiful”, which really is quite an appealing track. “Pimpa’s Paradise” has Damian initially sounding like Bob on “Redemption Song” before it breaks into a Santana on “Supernatural”-sounding Latin-ish rap. “Move!” exhorts some of the spirit of Bob’s “Exodus” but those are the prefereable bits to the breakneck ragga vocals and thumping beat. It is ok, but doesn’t quite get there, although on second and third listens it starts to, so maybe that is a good thing. “For The Babies” is a nice track. I’m told it is “trip-hop”. It has a spacey processed backing vocal and a “chilled out” vocal from Marley over a lighter groove than on other tracks.

The dancehall-esque “Hey Girl” has lyrics that are pretty clumsy at times but the message is a pertinent one. Marley urges young men to “think with your mind and not your penis..”. Indeed. “Road To Zion” is another Santana-sounding rap collaboration. Damian sounds a lot like his Dad on the lively “We’re Gonna Make It”. “In 2 Deep” is full of social comment and a quirky rhythm.

“Khaki Suit” returns to a more traditional dancehall/ragga style. “Carnal Mind” continues in the same vein. Overall, this was a pleasant surprise for me and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I might.

B-