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Friday, April 29, 2005
Weekend Reissue Roundup #5 04/30/05
Some of the noteworthy reissues this week include:
The Seeds: Travel With Your Mind
This re-issue of a 1995 GNP release scrapes the bottom of the collector's barrel and rounds up a variety of leftover non-album B-sides, demos, rehersals, alternate mixes and the like. The Seeds were a punky Los Angeles garage band led by the flamboyant Sky Saxon in the mid-60's, best known for three songs, "Pushin' Too Hard", "Can't Seem To Make You Mine", and "Mr. Farmer", the first of which being their only real hit. Their sound was fuzzy and snarly, with songs often built around very repetitive organ riffs. If you're a Seeds maniac (there are a few), this provides some of the hard to find titles of legend. If you're a garage band fanatic, this'll provide enjoyment, but your mind will start to wander. You're better off with the original 1966 LP's The Seeds and A Web of Sound instead (now available as a two-fer). If you're neither, you really don't need this; get a copy of Nuggets first.
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: The Message
This 1982 album, by New York City's Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had an enormous effect on the urban/rap world when it hit the streets; "The Message" was a revolutionary track in rap on par with Dylan's early effect on rock. It is an edgy, frank assessment of life in the ghetto at the dawn of the 80's, and one of the first to deal with topical material; the earlier rap pioneers like the Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow made what were mainly party records. Its tagline "Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge" became an inner-urban mantra. The production was freaky in its day, too, a mix of dub, scratch, electronic, soul, and R&B. It charted at #4 on the black singles chart, and #62 on the pop charts, at that time the highest ever for a rap song. The rest of the album is more in an old school soul/r&b vein, but it's good.
Jefferson Airplane: The Essential
There have been so many Jefferson Airplane compilations over the years, most of them useless at capturing the essence of this band, whose albums each bear very distinctive vibes and moods that don't lend themselves to compilation well. For the first-timer, the best way to acquaint yourself with this remarkable band is through their 1967 classic Surrealistic Pillow. The second best way had been through the fairly pricey triple disc box Jefferson Airplane Loves You. This release now supplants 2400 Fulton Street as the best 2-disc JA compilation. It touches on all their albums from 1966-1973 (cutting off just prior to Jefferson Starship's launch), and presents the material in chronological order, whereas 2400 Fulton Street had organized it more by mood and sonic texture, with mixed results. One of the essential American bands of the late 60's; this is a fine sampler. Then get their albums.
Big Star: Extended Versions
This Collectables reissue of a BMG Special Products release is the unnecessary perpetuation of a rip off. Not extended versions at all, this is really a heavily edited version of the 1993 Columbia live reunion album. Four songs are left off from the original album, which remains available. What was the point? At a little over thirty minutes, there's plenty of room on the disc, and the budget price isn't necessarily a good deal. The show, which featured singer/guitarist Alex Chilton and drummer/singer Jody Stephens backed by the Posies is a good one; wistful and tuneful, and loud and crunchy, performed at a university at the request of a diehard fan 20 years after the band broke up. Big Star, for the uninitiated, released three tuneful, melancholic albums in the early 70's that almost nobody bought, but which are now considered among the key building blocks of power-pop and jangle pop. Chilton had been the teenaged lead singer for The Box Tops in the 60's. Fans should stick with Columbia; novices are steered to the twofer of #1 Record/Radio City, which is a good deal for the money.
have a great weekend, i'm gonna spend mine listening to Devils and Dust, not sure what to make of it so far!
I'd love to hear your first impressions of it; let us know, if you have the chance, mellow. And you enjoy yours, too!
My first impression of DEV & DUST is that it is an interesting double (as opposed to painful strike out or brilliant grand slam). Much of the moodier pieces remind me of the more introspective stuff on TUNNEL OF LOVE (a good thing) moreso than NEBRASKA or JOAD. It doesn't share the overt nihilism of those works, and somewhat alternates between the character driven work of JOAD and the personal romance explorations of LOVE and LUCKY TOWN. The pornographic RENO, about a man being serviced by a Mexican hooker while thinking of a lost love, is the most startling thing on the album, and probably the best, too. BLACK COWBOYS (about a kid raised in the inner city who watches a lot of the Western channel while his once loving mothers strays into trouble) is another winner, offering the kind of detail work he hasn't much offered in the 90s save JOAD, and this album is certainly more musical. An encouraging sign of perhaps what he wants to do as he heads into his (gulp) sixties....
What 'sterling' work, Jimbo? Are you suggesting that you wrote Devils & Dust? If so, you might have a case.
Thanks, anonymous-mellow! I loved Springsteen's Tunnel Of Love, and most of his earlier stuff, but started to drift away when he left NJ for Hollywood circa "Human Touch" Now that I have a resposibility to keep abreast of things with this blog, I think I'll be giving him another, closer listen. Maybe I'll do an overview on him soon.
I meant my review! If it wasn't sterling enough for you, why don't you start your own blog....oh. Never mind. :)
Anyway, HUM. TOUCH & LUCKY TOWN are indeed overwrought and largely dull, respectively. JOAD is fascinating reading but after about track 4 or so, the melodies just aren't there. THE RISING is half a masterful album, half average and self-repetitive (why say something in one song you can say in three?). So DEVILS is likely his best since TUNNEL, now that I think about it...
But then again, our tastes rarely coincide!
Wow, that was confusing. I thought mellow yellow was posting a review, not you, Jimbo. So your comment was a complete non-sequetor. Hey, for ALBUM TITLES, just use quotes or HTML so you don't SCREAM 'em. ;-)Post a Comment
So actutally, thank you Jimbo, for your review! :)