Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shaman Spirits - ... We Are Infants - #180

Shaman Spirits - ... We Are Infants

I bought this CD just because Gordon Russell is on lead electric triangle here. Sorry about this, make this lead guitar (apologies to Monty Python though). I was actually beginning to wonder where he's at. Now, imagine for a second, Mr. Russell wouldn't make a solid appearance on this album and you'd not buying it ... can you spell m-i-s-t-a-k-e, BIG one at that. This is simply one of the most surprising CDs put out, let's say, in 2014 so far. Well, maybe even in the tenners.

Shaman Spirits is actually a side project of Kevin Morris and, I'll admit it freely, I'm not his greatest fan (and I'm being nice here), but this is another page in a different book, one that's actually closed for good. I really didn't think Mr. Morris would come up with anything but cover versions played ad infinitum. Think again, and when you realise that he's written seven of the nine songs on offer here, you can come up and gasp for air. Something I thought was unthinkable. He was forever and a day marked as the drummer behind a travelling covers only dance band.

And now this! A collection of songs that stand up on their own. Tracks that have a profile and lyrics that are a cut above the level of today's entertainment industry. Hardly believable that this is the Kevin Morris I knew. Just a message to the man, why didn't you do this before? Your credibility wouldn't have scraped the bottom of the barrel. But as the saying goes, better late than never! Congratulations on this achievement.

Another surprise here, is, that Mr. Morris is mentioned as, hope you're sitting down, besides working the drums and stuff, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and he's the singer on some of the tracks (and not a bad job either). The line-up is something of a rollcall. Besides the aforementioned Kevin Morris and Gordon Russell, you get Dil Davies (whoever he is) on a couple of tracks playing the drums, Mark Feltham (we know who he is) on harmonica, Graeme Turner on saxophone, Richard Watts on lead vocals on a few tracks and last, but not least Mr. Dave Bronze on bass guitar, electric guitar, keyboard and stuff.

The CD clocks in at around 43 minutes and exactly nine songs. The first impression I had, was of a very eclectic collection of songs, mainly in the Blues, Rock and what not genre. However, this would sell the album a bit short. If you're after your 08/15 Bluesrock type of stuff, this album is not for you. There are many shades of musical tidbits on the plate. In fact, there are rockers, bluesers and jazzers, but this is no hodgepodge. Kind of organic. The only two covers are "Run Conejo Run" (Dave Alvin) and "Before The Beginning" (Peter Green).

The CD has been released on Baby Grand Records BGRANDCD001 and this is a 100% recommendation to buy it from your local record dealer. He/she will order this for you, support the small brick and mortar shops in your neighbourhood.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Wilko Johnson - Rhythm n' Ska (EP) - Part 2 - #179

Wilko Johnson - Rhythm n' Ska (EP) - Part 2

Definitely a bootleg. At least judging from the appearance of this slab of wax. No labels, a kind of photocopied oneandhalf foldout sleeve. Comes on brown vinyl and the folks having made up this item don't even know the difference between 33RPM and 45RPM (as both sides play with the latter speed)

Apart from those facts, this is still an EP I wouldn't want to miss out on. As for this being "limited" to 500 copies, you can light your cigar with that statement, this is surely not going to be a future collectible. However. buy it now, when it's still available or be pulled over in a few years time when you're asked to pay ridiculous asking prices on auction platforms.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Makoto Ayukawa - Ayukawa Size - Part 2- #178

Makoto Ayukawa - Ayukawa Size - Part 2

Makoto Ayukawa (of Sheena & The Rokkets fame - or just the Rokkets) is an over the top Japanese Rock'n'Roller in the true sense of what Dr. Feelgood paved the way for. There are a number of LPs and CDs of the aforementioned in my collection and this is good, clean fun. Very enjoyable. Here we get 3 CDs and 1 DVD consisting of

"Rokket Size" (CD) sans Sheena, well almost, she's making a short appearance only
"London Session #1 and #2" (CDs) which you already have in your collection, no doubt
 "Ayukawa Size Only" (DVD) with four songs a rather short offer

No bonus tracks. BTW, both "London Session" albums have recently been rereleased, so you actually don't need to buy the whole box set, if you're only after those two CDs. Just in case I need to spell it out, those albums feature the Wilko Johnson Band throughout /LS #1/2 only)

There's Wilko Johnson on one track only on the DVD. This is on "Be-Bop-A-Lula", but don't expect any cineastic highlight, it's a nice to have item (well, in fact, for me, this is a must have). Same here, considering that this comes to around EUR 45.00 (plus postage), you want to do some deep thinking, before shelling out this kind of cash. I know, I did (spending the money, not doing any deep thinking). And again, I'm glad I did.



Wilko Johnson - Live At Koko (DVD + CD / Japanese Release) - Part 2 - #177

Wilko Johnson - Live At Koko (DVD + CD / Japanese Release) - Part 2

This is available as YMBA-10528 from any decent Japanese mailorder. The CD has the same content as our regular release here, but there's an additional booklet (text only) all in Japanese. At a guess, I'd say this is a translation from the English version, but who knows?

The gig comes as a 2-CD bonus with additional songs:

"If You Want Me"
"When I Was A Cowboy"
"Woolly Bully"

Don't ask me wether you need to shell your hard earned cash out for this, I obviously did and I'm glad, I do something right once in a while.



Wilko Johnson - Rhythm n' Ska (EP) - #176

Wilko Johnson - Rhythm n' Ska (EP)

I saw this EP on the www: Wilko Johnson "Rhythm n' Ska" containing the songs

"Roxette (Live)" (Dr. Feelgood / Old Grey Whistle Test)
"Twenty Yards Behind (Live 1979)" (Wilko Johnson & Solid Senders)
"Dr. Dupree (Live 1979)" (Wilko Johnson & Solid Senders)

It's probably a bootleg ... and now?, I hear you calling. Nothing now, I need it and if it's for the cover alone. Seems to be a 2014 release. Even though it's apparently(!) limited to 500 copies, quite a number of mail orders seem to have this one for sale.



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jack White - Lazaretto (Ultra LP) - #175

Jack White - Lazaretto (Ultra LP)

I've always been a vinylhead and prefer this any day over a CD. I won't go over some voodoo regarding analog is better than digital when it comes to sound, this has been discussed to death and then some. To me the haptics of an old-fashioned album makes it my number one choice. Graphics worth talking about (and not the size of a stamp), the reason that you have to set up your turntable, while a CD-player can just be plugged in and you're ready to go, the fact, that you can't listen to an LP in one sitting (literally!), as you'll have to get up and turn the slab of wax onto the other side.

What's more, you're being kept in motion, as there's no such thing as a 80 minute side on an LP (there's 80 minutes plus CDs, but techically, these are not CDs since they don't conform to the technical specifications laid out by Philips and Sony). And I'm not even talking about the fact, that your used CDs are worth less than one EURO on the secondhand market. You'll have to go a long way to find one that's worth anything to a collector.

It's also a fact, that I never could stand Jack White and his music. Don't ask me, the guy is just not my cup of tea. However, when I heard about this here a while back

- 180 gram vinyl
- 2 vinyl-only hidden tracks hidden beneath the center labels
- 1 hidden track plays at 78 RPM, one plays at 45 RPM, making this a 3-speed record
- Side A plays from the inside out
- Dual-groove technology: plays an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink” depending on where needle is dropped. The grooves meet for the body of the song.
- Matte finish on Side B, giving the appearance of an un-played 78 RPM record
- Both sides end with locked grooves
- Vinyl pressed in seldom-used flat-edged format
- Dead wax area on Side A contains a hand-etched hologram by Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science, the first of its kind on a vinyl record
- Absolutely zero compression used during recording, mixing and mastering
- Different running order from the CD/digital version
- LP utilizes some mixes different from those used on CD and digital version

there was no question I was going to buy the thing, the minute it turns up in one of my local record shops. So, this is my dedication to vinyl, I'm even buying the stuff when I can't stand the artist. And make no mistake, critics who know more about Jack White's music than yours truly, have slashed the musical content and started to wonder wether Mr. White had forgotten to write any decent songs over the gimmickry poured into this release. I don't think this is the point, this release has been thrown onto the market for one reason, and one reason only, to make this a collector's item. And what can I say, the marketing has succeeded, at least with me.



Friday, August 8, 2014

V/A - Anthologie du Rock Français 1960-1960 - #174

V/A - Anthologie du Rock Français 1960-1960

France is not quite a reference when it comes to Rock'n'Roll, so one might think. And you'd be dead wrong. The reason why it didn't make a millimeter outside of its homeland was probably due to the fact that all vocals were in the local idiom. At least, I've not come across a single record from a French Rock'n'Roller that is sung in anything but. So, if you're into the seriously exotic, this 3-CD set is for you and for you only.

It covers the ground when our neighbours plunged into the deep end without looking back. Apart from England, I believe this was the biggest scene in Europe to cover this genre. The other main market, Germany, didn't have much in the way of Rock'n'Roll artists, joining the game rather late when Beat reared its head. Rock'n'Roll in its infancy in France sounds funny and strange at the same time, but it's highly entertaining and the musicianship is up there where it counts. You just have to get used to the language, especially if you think it shouldn't be allowed to sing in anything else but English on a Rock'n'Roll disc.

The big ones are all here, Johnny Hallyday, Les Chausettes Noires, Les Chats Savages, Les Pirates, Danny Boy et ses Pénitents and a bunch of others. I believe there are even a few foreigners who made some kind of career over there, taking a liking to the French language. And I assume not just the language. Sound is very good throughout the 3 dics and there's a 20-page booklet included, part of it in English. However be warned, the thing makes you greedy and you want to hunt for full albums of these artists, so while the CD-set is quite affordable, you better worry about the fallout.

This has been released in 2013 on the Frémeaux & Associés label (FA 5418): and off you go with your mademoiselle to a Rock'n'Roll hop the French way.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wilko Johnson - Live In London - #173

Wilko Johnson - Live In London

Thanks to Julian for this one as well. An apparently "Limited Edition" from Japan again. This time it's our man at the Koko Gig in 2013 plus some live footage from 2009 and 2010 plus his Japan trip in 2013 (and then some). The set is made up of two CDs and one DVD. Not much more I can tell you, as this one's making its way to my place at the moment.



Makoto Ayukawa - Ayukawa Size - #172

Makoto Ayukawa - Ayukawa Size

Just got an e-mail the other day (thanks, Julian), pointing this Japanese release out to me. Makoto Ayukawa of "The London Sessions #1 and #2" fame. This set consists of three CDs and a DVD. The CDs seem to be the aforementioned "London Sessions" plus "Rokket Size". No idea what's on the DVD. My copy is still on the way to my letterbox. Not sure how serious the "Limited Release" claim is. But you've been warned.



Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hunter Davies - The Beatles / The Only Ever Authorised Biography (40th Anniversary Edition) - #171

Hunter Davies - The Beatles / The Only Ever Authorised Biography (40th Anniversary Edition)

I've never been a Beatles fan. And there was never a life or death decision between the Liverpool foursome and the Rolling Stones. I was neither's man (or kid, at that time). Back then I listened to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as they were played on the radio. "Lady Madonna" anyone? And to this day, I can still listen to both bands, if I don't overdo it. Although, I do have to admit, I know more of the Rolling Stones Story than of their competitors. The Beatles were in every magazine that you could think of (and they still are) and that's all I needed to know, and then some.

The Beatles were the first to do this and don't forget that and before it eludes my mind they also came to the forefront with the other thing and ... bla bla bla. In fact, to this day I'm quite fed up with what the Beatles did first, even when it's not true (and in my book, this is most of the time). But this is a problem they share with most "supergroups". Just thinking of ABBA and what they were supposed to have done before anyone else was thinking of it. Urban myths, the lot.

For the 40th anniversary Edition, Hunter Davies has reissued the book as it were back in 1968, just adding a few thoughts during the lengthy introduction (which comes to around 75 pages). He does mention that he didn't even change the wording for the new release, where he was wrong the first time around. And it does show, but I applaud him for this decision. This way you get a glimpse of what the take on the Beatles was when they stood at the top of the game.

One thing I never believed, is, that John Lennon was supposed to be the intellectual in the band. My arse! He comes across as a died in the wool idiot, not the least bit funny (although he thinks he is), selfish and of limited capability to even grasp the fundamentals of life itself. In a way, this book cemented my opinion about Mr. Lennon, which I had nursed the last couple of decades. The book itself is easy to read with a good layout of the timeline. Even if you're not into the Beatles, it might be worthwile to pick this up.