I always had the feeling America would be the kind of band I connect with in no time at all. I was only familiar with the big hits “Sister Golden Hair” and (of course) the one about the nameless equine. When coming across this 2-disc set at a negligible price, there was no thinking twice. And Bunnell, Peek and Beckley did not fail to deliver in any sense.
As a band, America blends a hefty dose of pop and piano ballads with some country stylings (mainly courtesy of Dan Peek, the one member that left the band in the year 1977). I was surprised by how many songs did ring a bell upon listening to them – “Ventura Highway” and “Today Is The Day” were two that had me exclaiming “¡Ah! ¡It’s that song!”. And they were not the only ones. Continue reading →
John Entwistle Drew The Cartoon. Try Connecting The Dots - It Works!
In the ’70s, music was characterized by an inner conflict that tore at ideals and hurled them against the blackest confines of the human psyche. As a seeker of truth, Pete Townshend surely would have a lot to say. The Who was always – always – there in times of need. The album The Who were to release after Quadrophenia was to expose Pete’s vulnerabilities like nothing else. It was him who needed someone. And the horrible realization that he was not finding that person or people within his band was what listeners were to come across on “The Who By Numbers”.
The setting in which the album was conceived was as troublesome as the ones in which “Who’s Next” and “Quadrophenia” came to the world. This time, Roger and Pete were playing verbal ping pong on the press, and their views on The Who (as entertainers and as artists) were never painted in such black and white terms before or since.
Pete’s already-manifested impression that the band was caricaturing itself had entrenched by this point. His new set of songs dealt with that in a tortured way. The one jovial tune on offer was to be “Squeeze Box”. It was to become a Top 20 hit, in fact. That was certainly disheartening – something truly akin to another brick in the wall of vacuity.
A sense of futility populates the album: Pete questions the relationships with his fans and friends at every turn, and the facades he always studied were becoming far, far too brittle. Everybody could see through disguises by this point. Continue reading →
“Gutterflower” was to be the first album the Goo Goo Dolls released after the acclaimed “Dizzy Up The Girl”, the CD that gave us “Iris” and “Slide”. This time around the tone is much starker because John Rzeznik was going through a divorce, and broken sentiments surface at every turn. Leaving aside these songs about disillusionment and loyalty lost, there are two songs that describe the way he felt when moving from Buffalo to LA. They are the single “Big Machine” and “What A Scene”.
The other singles were to include “Here Is Gone”, the closest to the hit formula they had established in the previous record, and “Sympathy”. “Sympathy” is one of the few all-acoustic songs that they were to release as a single, and it is equally enticing on the album as it is when listened to on its own. The song treats disenchantment like the remaining tunes within the album, wondering in which measure the failure of a relationship is down to each person. The conclusion seems to be that both are equally to blame, yet they are incapable of admitting it. Nietzsche used to say that the one who loves the most is the most damaging person since he or she tends to request impossible thing from his/her loved one at every turn. And the majority of songs on offer here (“Think About Me”, “What Do You Want”, “Truth Is A Whisper”) do nothing but bring that to mind time and again.
On the other hand, Robby offers up 4 songs. They mostly reinforce the overall mood of the album (“You Never Know”), yet he also contributes the uplifting “Up, Up, Up” and “Smash”. But on the whole, the album feels like Johnny’s show. Robby songs are also shorter, and it is John the one who closes the album with “Truth Is A Whisper”. Continue reading →
This was the second compilation of A-sides, B-sides and rarities the Mancunian outfit released in its career. As you know, the first one was “Hatful Of Hollow“. In this case, the compilation has something of a broader appeal as there is a fair slice of non-album singles featured, and these include the crucial “Panic”, “Ask” and “Shoplifters Of The World Unite”. The single version of “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” is part of the compilation, too. And there are no radio sessions this time around.
Something that you can find here that was absent from “Hatful Of Hollow” is a handful of instrumental tracks. There are two of them: “Oscillate Wildly” and “Money Changes Everything”. Continue reading →
London Calling's Cover Was Shot By Pennie Smith. The Photo Would Eventually Be Voted The Best Rock & Roll Image Ever By Q Magazine.
A single, seemingly innocuous event might modify the way people approach something forever.That is something nobody could avoid thinking when reviewing “London Calling”, The Clash’s third album. As everybody knows, this album was named the greatest record of the ’80s by Rolling Stone magazine. That is all the more interesting if only because it came out in 1979, not 1980. But that is a different story…
The fact is that there are many people who swear by it owing to that. That couldn’t be avoided, but fans of The Clash are constantly irked by such a situation. It gives their best-loved band popularity alright, but not the kind of popularity that could conduce to a critical analysis of their music and its true merits.
And the music found on London Calling deserves as much of an objective overview as possible. The album (which was a two-record set that retailed at the price of one) marked the moment The Clash started experimenting and letting in more influences into their basic sound.
In actuality, there is only one “punk” song, and that is the title track. It is a masterpiece of sustained tension – the bass is apocalyptic, the guitars emulate a siren near the end, Joe wails his head off… It is one of their better-known songs, and deservedly so. Continue reading →
"Completely Hooked" Is One Of The Many Dr. Hook Compilations Available
Originally known as “Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show”, this band had a truly eclectic career. Their output can be divided in three main groups: 1) Comedy numbers, 2) Disco songs and 3) Ballads. All of these genres are impinged with a country sensibility, and this is one of their many compilations. It was released in 1992, and the 20 songs on offer map out these three genres more than adequately, stopping in each one for long enough without ever going too far.
The comedy numbers are mostly penned by Shel Silverstein, and they are absolutely hysterical. Located mainly at the beginning of the disc, they include “The Millionaire”, “Everybody’s Making It Big But Me” and the popular “Cover Of The Rolling Stone”. What many people don’t realize is that in addition to composing these comedy numbers Silverstein did also come up with many of the band’s ballads, such as the excellent “More Like The Movies” and “A Couple More Years”.
The disco songs included on this compilation are “Walk Right In”, “You Make My Pants Wanna Get Up And Dance” and “Sexy Eyes”. They are entertaining and to-the-point, but I would say that both the ballads and the comedy songs are more endurable. Continue reading →
The Traveling Wilburys have gone down in history as one of the most enjoyable and – above all – genuine supergroups ever. The key to their appeal might lie in the fact that the five band members were excellent friends who knew how to collaborate and complement each other’s musical stance, stopping exactly at the line that separated one from the other. They worked with each other without intruding an inch, and without giving an inch. Such chemistry is rare, and the fact that five different individuals could have it at the same time goes some way into explaining the Wilburys’ effectiveness.
Everybody knows who they are, but in case you are just discovering them: George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison.
They came together when Harrison needed to record a B-side, and the resulting song (“Handle With Care”) was something that even the biggest undiscerning person in the industry would have regarded as far, far more than a B-side. Two full-length collaborations were to ensue, titled “Volume I” and “Volume III”. Continue reading →
As you have just read, “Skylarking” was recorded under a guillotine-sharp atmosphere. Todd Rundgren was determined to produce, and Andy was determined to have his way as usual. You look up “falling out” in Wikipedia and you will probably come across this drawing of Todd that Andy made during the sessions:
In hindsight, the right thing to say is that Todd saved XTC’s career. Andy readily admits it now. He infused the songs on offer (songs that were already very strong to begin with) with a sheen that was commercial without sacrificing any of the band’s trademark wit and whimsicality. This is evident the moment “Summer’s Cauldron” begins playing. A song that describes the inertia which characterizes these summer days when the whole world seems to be put on hold and life resembles an eternal vacation, it was a daring way to start the album made instantly approachable by the production. Continue reading →
The Front Cover. A Risque One Andy Had Drawn Was Rejected.
Skylarking was the album that managed to revive XTC’s career, a career that was at an all-time low ever since they had quitted touring. The two preceding albums (“Mummer” and “The Big Express”) had vanished without trace, and the predominant sentiment regarding the Swindon outfit was one of apathy.
Virgin was concerned about that, and proposed pairing the band with a producer whose ideas could complement XTC’s very own and redound to a creative goldrush. The choice of producer fell on Todd Rundgren, the American musician and producer known then for his work with Utopia. Todd was a no-nonsense person, and the relationship with Andy was to prove nightmarish from start to finish. This was to take an eventual toll on the band, and Colin actually decided to leave XTC as the sessions were climaxing. Continue reading →
The Beatles (TheBeatles) and Paul McCartney (PaulMcCartney) are on Twitter… or are they? A quick glance at their accounts makes you realize that they are actually kept by a corporate team, much in the same way that Britney Spears’ Facebook page is kept by hired hands that also happen to tweet out for her.
Sir Paul McCartney
Something like this was entirely to be expected. But will it change sometime soon? Will Macca start tweeting himself? I don’t want to dash anybody’s hopes, but it is highly unlikely. While some starts and celebrities keep “genuine” Twitter accounts (Shaquille O’Neal and Ashton Kutcher spring to mind at once), someone like McCartney could never do so owing to the amount of attraction it would generate, and the influx of messages he would have to deal with. Continue reading →