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Friday, April 01, 2005
Weekend Reissue Reviews #1 04/01/05
Note: This will be a new regular feature at Freeway Jam; it will appear every Friday, and will offer capsule reviews/profiles on the most recent rock-related reissues. These articles will also be available through Blogcritics.Org. Breaking with the tradition of naming posts after song titles, this column will be clearly marked for convenience; I'm going to try to organize this place a little. Me do the evolution.
We'll kick off this column with 4 brand-new compilations from Capitol Records of four 1980's artists. None of them were in any grave need of a new anthology; serviceable ones had been released for each previously. What these offer are a few additional tracks, some resequencing, and in the case of Duran Duran, an accompanying DVD.
Concrete Blonde: The Essential
Concrete Blonde was formed in L.A. by singer/bassist Johnette Napolitano and guitarist Jim Mankey in the early 80's as Dream 6. They recorded five albums for IRS records in 1987-1993. The band broke up in 1995, but reformed in 2001, releasing three more albums. The Essential doesn't give a complete overview; its chronological track listing ends abruptly with two tracks from the 1992 release Walking In London. They shared some characteristics with other bands active in L.A. clubs at the time, including X and Wall of Voodoo, but had a more somber, darker, goth-like feel. The song selection through their best album, Bloodletting (1990) is fine; their surprise top-40 "Joey" is here, as is the dark rumination on death, "Tomorrow Wendy" and the defiant "Still In Hollywood" Missing are some of the later cuts that actually made the Modern Rock chart, including "Ghost Of A Texas Ladies' Man" and "Someday?". While it would have been nice if they were included, and if the timeline could have stretched another year to represent their full IRS career, this sampler is still a good place to start with this band, since their stronger early releases are well-represented.
The Motels: Essential Collection
The Motels emerged from the L.A. new wave scene in 1979. Led by Martha Davis, the Motels charted a number of the more memorable new-wave singles of the day, including the #9 "Only The Lonely" and the #9 "Suddenly Last Summer", both of which are present here. In truth, the band had as much in common with the glossy-produced California hard rock of the late 70's; the band had been around in various configurations since the early 70's. Adding a synthesizer to the mix earned them their hits; their popularity was short-lived however, and by 1987 they had broken up. Capitol, for whatever reasons, has never seen fit to put out a single compilation that contains all of their charted singles, and this is no exception, missing "Shame", a big enough hit to reach #21, their first chart single "Forever Mine" (#60), and the title track from their biggest album, Little Robbers. So, considering that this band had only a handful of hits, and their album cuts are fairly disposable, it seems an unnecessary omission. If you really just want the two top-10's, this'll do. But it could have been a lot smarter.
Billy Squire: Absolute Hits
Squire was one of the very last of the classic 70's-mold arena rockers, in some respects. His heyday was short; from about 1981 to 1984, but during that time he was one of the only new arena rock acts to really hit big; new wave, punk, and MTV had largely diminished arena rock's market share. His sound was streamlined Zeppelin-esque hard rock, full of bombast; his biggest hits "The Stroke" "My Kinda Lover" "In The Dark" and "Everybody Wants You" are calculated commercial rock moves, but display a manic energy and a lot of guitar. He shot himself in the foot with a video for "Rock Me Tonite" where he infamously prances around like a dandy; his fan base eroded sharply after that. Still, he charted in the lower reaches of the Hot-100 through the decade, and had a #4 Modern Rock Tracks radio hit in 1991 with the double entendre "She Goes Down". All of those are here, plus live versions of "The Stroke" and "Everybody Wants You", from the King Biscuit Flower Hour, a nice enticement. How much you need this depends on how much you need Billy Squire; when you get past the cock-rock strutting there isn't much. But this does have most of the "best".
Duran Duran: Greatest [Deluxe Edition]
How "great" they are is definitely a matter of taste, and it's unlikely this will change anyone's mind one way or another. The common wisdom is that these guys' first two albums are far and away their best, and they steadily ran out of steam after that. The other common wisdom is that they weren't much without their videos, which were among the most popular videos on MTV, featuring their good looks, exotic locations, naked and near-naked girls, and their synthesizer-based Simon LeBon-sung New Romantic hits. This collection addresses the latter issue admirably by including a DVD of a dozen of their best-known videos (a two-disc DVD from which this is culled came out in 2003). As for the music, be warned; four of the album's 19 songs have been slightly edited for space, the programming jumps all over the place, a lot of hits are missing, and some of those present aren't as good as a lot of left-off 80's material from Duran Duran or Rio. Not only that, but the el-cheapo cover art is lousy; couldn't Capitol have come up with a little eye candy for this very visual band? So: not an ideal purchase for the casual fan or fanatic; worth it in the end if you really want a single disc of hits and a single disc of video all in one shot.
enjoyed all your postings this week, have you heard any news on Neil youngs health? Have a good weekend
Thank you for your always kind encouragement, mellow. In the past few weeks, I've gotten some really useful suggestions on ways to take this blog that still remain true to what I like to do. Stay tuned; if Freeway Jam were The Beatles, we're still jamming in Pete Best's bedroom. And if Freeway Jam turns out to merely be Gerry and The Pacemakers, then hell, we're in for a catchy tune at some point. ;-)
On a more serious note, here is what I got from the news as of 11:30AM California time.
Published Saturday, April 2, 2005
Neil Young Treated for Brain Aneurysm
The Associated Press
NEW YORK Neil Young was treated for a brain aneurysm this week and remains hospitalized, although doctors expect a full recovery, his publicist said Friday.
The 59-year-old rocker underwent a procedure to treat it Tuesday night at a New York hospital, where he was expected to remain for a few more days, publicist Bob Merlis told The Associated Press.
Dr. Pierre Gobin, who performed the procedure with another doctor, said: "Mr. Young had a dangerous brain aneurysm and was treated successfully by the minimally invasive neuroradiology team here. He is now resting comfortably ... but we strongly recommend that he not travel for several days."
Young had been expected to perform Sunday at the Juno Awards - the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys.
"I'm really disappointed that I won't be able to make it to Winnipeg for the Junos as I had hoped. I grew up there and was really looking forward to the show as well as spending some time with my old friends and family," Young said. "Thanks to my doctors, I'm feeling a lot better now so I hope I can get a rain check."
The aneurysm was discovered when Young's vision became blurry after attending the March 14 induction ceremonies for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Merlis said. An examination by a neurologist detected the aneurysm and the procedure was scheduled.
The veteran rocker is expected to resume normal activities soon. But for now, Merlis said, "He's got to take it easy."
Although I'm busy trying to catch up and read most of the stuff on here, I've gotta say...this is proving to be the blog eqivalent to CREEM magazine. Theres something about "FJ" where one can just smell the vinyl.
That said: thanks for the honest Duran review. What that "Greatest" package is is just another cash-in from Capitol. Having dealt extensively with their Beatles cash-ins, Im quite familiar with the concept. But Durans music does indeed deserve more investigation; theres some incredible pop music on every album (well, ALMOST every).
Of course, I think Rick Springfields "Working Class Dog" is the last great power pop LP, so there ya go.
Thank you for the kind words, David.Post a Comment
Hey, I'll confess that when "Jessie's Girl" was new, I loathed it for a variety of reasons. But ever since it appeared in that scene from Boogie Nights, I've come to appreciate it for the little power-pop gem it is.