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Last updated: January 4th, 2017

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Odds & Sods #10

Waterloo (1974)
*1/2

ABBA's second album (technically, the first under the ABBA name) has but one reason to exist; the title track that won the 1974 Eurovision Contest and consequently brought them international fame. It's a piece of glam pop excellence (they wouldn't obtain perfection until the next year) with energetic staccato pianos, playful saxes and the girls' terrific harmonies. The only complaint I have is the way the title is sung sounds a bit too much like the way Diana Ross and the Supremes sung "Baby love, my baby love" 10 years earlier. Still, that's only a small problem, compared to the rest of the album.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Odds & Sods #9

Separates (1978)
***1/2

Only a couple of months had passed since the release of 999's debut, and yet their sophomore effort is a significant improvement (as a supposed to the rushed suck-job rushed follow-ups usually end up being). The line-up is the same, and they're still a punk band, but the producer is new, and it definitely shows. I had never heard of Martin Rushent before, but apparently he had definite punk credentials (producing the Buzzcocks' Music in a Different Kitchen). Not only that, he was engineer for artists produced under Tony Visconti, including prog rock band Gentle Giant and glam rock band T. Rex. Obviously, this sounds nothing like the former group, but the glam rock influence is definitely noticeable.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Odds & Sods #8

Duane & Greg Allman (1972)
***1/2

In some ways, this is closer to being an Allman Brothers Band album than anything else. After all, both Duane and Gregg are on it, as the album's title proudly states (misspelling Gregg's name in the process). I have a sneaking suspicion the reason this stuff was released in the first place was to capitalize on the ABB's success, considering this stuff had been sitting in the vaults for 4 years (it was recorded shortly after the brothers joined in 1968). Plus, you get an early version of "Melissa", one of the Allmans' all-time classics, and a cover of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out", which Duane would do as a guest member of Derek and the Dominoes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Odds & Sods #7

Easter Everywhere (1967)
****

If the message behind Psychedelic Sounds was "here is our sound", than the Elevators' second album says, "here's what we can really do with it". It should come as no surprise that this album is far more ambitious; the very proof is that both the opener and the closer have a running length beyond 6 minutes. On top of that, it's on this album that the whole concept of "psychedelic religion", only hinted at before in their debut's liner notes, really takes flight. Maybe that's why the title has "Easter" in it. What better way could one express that his work has religious foundation than referencing one of the most notable religious holidays?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Odds & Sods #6

Sheet Music (1974)
****1/2

Apparently, working in the same studio as Paul McCartney works a whole lot of wonders. At the very least, it was an inspiration for 10cc to be in the same studio; they even got to use the drum kit he was using for sessions on his brother Mike McGear's debut. The resulting album is the one the members of the band usually refer to as their masterpiece. I don't necessarily agree; their first three albums are all highly consistent, and my choice of their third as their best is most certainly marginal. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that this is a great album.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Odds & Sods #5

Ring Ring (1973)
*

If you come to this album expecting the catchy, glossy pop of classic ABBA, you'll be disappointed (of course, if you come to this album expecting some kind of Hendrix-influenced psychedelic rock music, you'd be just as equally disappointed, but I guess that's a given, huh?) Yes, this is pop, but it's more like the bubblegum pop of the late-'60s – the Monkees, Harry Nilsson, what have you – "update" for the early 1970s. Of course, "update" is a very poor word to describe this album, as it implies some sort of improvement, of which this album contains none. Okay, maybe there is one. The title track certainly is a catchy pop single, with the girls' harmonies in full flight on this ditty about a girl waiting for her guy to call. It even has some interesting drumming and country-esque guitar work, which contradict the predominant bubblegum aspects of the tune.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Odds & Sods #4

999 (1978)
***

It's funny how the fellas down at the AllMusic Guide rave about these guys, because I don't see what they have that sets them apart from any of the major punk groups. They don't have the recklessness of the Sex Pistols. They don't have the brutal simplicity of the Ramones. They don't have the interesting lyrics or the creativity of the Clash. They don't have the melodicism or sincerity of the Jam. The singer is nasally in the usual British punk way, the songs are all mildly catchy, the guitar solos – and there are quite a few for a punk record – are all distorted Chuck Berry-isms, but the overall effect is that this is a rather dull album that tries to come off as energetic (which fortunately, it occasionally is), but fails to be even marginally unique.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Odds & Sods #3

The 31st of February (1968)
**1/2

This is one of two late-60's bands that formed the base of the Allman Brothers Band, which is probably what they are best remembered for, and that tidbit is probably the extent of any of you readers' interest in this album and my review of it. The Allmans themselves had yet to actually join the band when this album was recorded, but drummer Butch Trucks is here (not that he plays a big role in either groups). Anyways, musically, this is pretty far from the Allmans; pretty folk-rock/pop with hints of psychedelia, soul and some rootsy styles, as well as late-'60s Bee Gees-like orchestrated pop ballads, are what you can find here, with guitar player Scott Boyer preferring to strum jangly chord sequences rather than play ecstatic guitar solos like Duane Allman.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Odds & Sods #2

The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)
***1/2

Of all places in the world, no one would expect that Texas would be the natal land of the band that practically heralded the psychedelic revolution, and a year earlier than expected, in 1966 rather than in 1967 (although a couple of other important psych-rock records – namely the Beatles' Revolver and the Byrds' Fifth Dimensiondid come out halfway through '66). Most bands there in the 1960s were either country/bluegrass-oriented or were garage rock one-hit wonders. Of course, Janis Joplin was a native Texan and was a big part of the psychedelic scene. However, her music was far more rooted in soul; no, it took the 13th Floor Elevators to turn "tripping on acid" (or consumption of LSD, if you are unfamiliar with that sort of vernacular) into a religious experience among the musically inclined (Timothy Leary was more likely to have influenced the literarily inclined, I guess).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Odds & Sods #1

10cc (1973)
****1/2
What do you get when you take two pop songwriters – one who has written hits for some of Britain's biggest bands (not Beatles or Rolling Stones big, but guys like the Hollies, the Yardbirds and Herman's Hermits) and another in a relatively successful pop group of his own (successful enough to be covered by Phil Collins in the 1980s; whether that's a compliment or a denigration to the group in question is up to your personal tastes) – both with great noses for catchy hooks, and match them with two freaky weirdos who dig Zappa-esque humour, multi-parted compositions and (for some reason, only explainable by the Zappa connection) doo-wop? Why, you get the debut album of 10cc!