Reviews (albums, concerts)

Other music, TV, films and general interest
User avatar
Innuendoes
Posts: 2845
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:32 pm
Location: Never be lonely, lost in the night, Just run from the darkness, lookin' for the light.

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Innuendoes »

Nice review. I hope to get a chance in the next 24 hours to give this a proper listen. Thanks!

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 348
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Band: The Silence
Title: Electric Meditations
Released: November 6, 2020

I remember late night college stations in the late ‘70’s where playing Tangerine Dream was considered going mainstream. I was introduced to music that stretched and shaped how I would hear things for the rest of my life. Music wasn’t just a beat but could be vehicles to ideas and emotions. Yeah, light the incense and close your eyes….

I actually developed a bit of a taste for the progressive and avant garde music of that era. I found myself buying albums by bands like Gong, Van Der Graaf Generator, Audience, Horslips, Steve Hillage, Steeleye Span, Gentle Giant, Return To Forever and Renaissance. Man, that was a long time ago.

Every now and again I hear something that reminds me of the good things about those times and I’m compelled to mention it. I feel that way about the new release by The Silence, “Electric Meditations”.

The bands I mentioned earlier range from funk fusion to Celtic folk and lots of places in between. The bands I’m most reminded of by The Silence are Audience and Van Der Graaf Generator. They remind me of both these bands for a couple reasons but a common denominator is saxophone with distortion. Without a doubt, I would say they are more similar to Van Der Graaf Generator than Audience. Audience was a little more folksy and actually had a concept of song structure in a way that getting airplay on a normal radio station was within the realm of possibility…not so much for Van Der Graaf Generator and the manic ramblings of Peter Hammill.

If you need your songs to be concise…this might not be for you! Four of the seven songs are over six minutes with nothing under four. It isn’t really a problem because The Silence can veer from steamroller sounds to acoustic musings at the drop of a dime. The musicianship is top shelf and the musical vision is focused…even when improvising.

If you are just planning on sampling a few songs, start with “Butterfly Blues” to get the band at their most focused and close your eyes during the flute solo…and the wah wah guitar solo. “I’m A Man” is the most steamrollerish of the tracks and “Electric Meditations” is the trippiest (black light recommended). It’s fun music in punk/cerebral sort of way…Well Done!

If you think this sort of music might be your cup of tea, I recommend not only the new one by The Silence but two of my favorite albums from back in the day.

• Peter Hammill – Nadir’s Big Chance
• Audience – House On The Hill

Enjoy!

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 348
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Artist: Todd Rundgren
Title: A Wizard A True Star…Live!
Released: October 13, 2020

How do I miss this stuff? I know how and I even know why…I rely on websites to let me know about new releases instead of walking into my favorite CD store and seeing a display that says, “New Releases”. I’m a little late on hearing about this release but as the saying goes, better late than never. Doing some quick searches, I’m seeing this is released as a bundle (CD + DVD) for under $20 at Amazon.

I should probably throw out some sort of disclaimer and mention that this review might be a little biased (insightful?), I’ve seen Todd Rundgren 17 times including his time with Utopia. I was a fan since before seeing him headline my first stadium show in ‘77 and I’ve maintained a level of fandom ever since. I’ve been to allot of shows in my life and there are few things that give me goosebumps quicker than Todd throwing his head back and wazzing on guitar. Watch that man wazz!

Have you ever attended a show that was turned into a live album? (He says with a knowing nod and chest slightly pumped out) All kidding aside, September 6, 2009 was pretty magical. It was the premier of Todd performing his 1973 classic “A Wizard A True Star” in a live setting. Northeast Ohio has always been a hot spot for Rundgren and he decided to reward his most dedicated fans with a magical experience. On this Labor Day weekend of shows, Akron was the center of the Todd Rundgren universe as he performed one his most loved albums at the historic and intimate Akron Civic Theater.

These shows were not only about the music but it was about costume changes, props and effects not to mention 2500 giddy fans that descended on Akron. It was at times a little adolescent and nearly slapstick but it captured everything that is fun about Todd Rundgren including working through a musical faux pas or two.

All of that only serves as bonus info and has very little to do with the quality of this release…but I do enjoy reminiscing about a show I saw 11 years ago. It should be noted that bootlegs from the AWATS tour have circulated and Todd’s website did release a DVD that quickly sold out. It isn’t like this release is appearing out of thin air but has taken longer than expected. I’m listening on Spotify so no review of the official DVD.

The 19 tracks appear in mostly the order of the original studio release kicking off with “International Feel” and closing with “Just One Victory”. A few things were moved around to give the show a better flow but all the songs are here. I think the track order is the perfect balance between the original release and performing them in the concert setting.

The band is an all-star cast as far as Todd fans are concerned. Three Fourths of Utopia are here with Todd being joined by Kasim Sultan (bass) and Roger Powell (keys). Long time Todd touring mates Prairie Prince (drums) and Jesse Gress (guitar) are here. Greg Hawkes (keys) from The Cars is here which isn’t odd at all if you remember that Todd was a member of The New Cars. Rounding out the line-up is the multi-talented Bobby Strickland (sax).

I have a complaint right out of the gate, I don’t like when live albums have a fade between tracks. We all know that most live albums are doctored up but I don’t need a constant reminder between every song that I’m not listening to a real concert experience. (Remember “Live In The Air Age” by Be Bop Deluxe?) What makes it double damning for this release is that the studio release has many tracks that flow seamlessly together as a medley. It is a bit of a head scratcher.

The fact that the new album contains none of the between song banter with the crowd doesn’t really bother me. It’s debatable if there is much merit to most of the chatter contained on live albums. In fact, as a person that enjoys burning compilation discs for the car, I’ve always found dialogue between songs annoying because many song introductions are at the end of the previous track. In that regard, these tracks are ideal for anybody choosing to make a road disc or a streaming playlist.

General observation, many live albums serve double duty as a greatest hit package, this ain’t that. For a person only familiar with Rundgren’s better known material, the studio album (AWATS) can be challenging as Todd runs absolutely unchecked in a recording studio. The arrangements on many tracks are complex and wrapped with layers of synthesizer. Over half the tracks on side one are only snippets that are the length of a passing thought. For me, the album defined the term ‘headphone album’. The live album does an excellent job capturing the layered sounds, it’s fairly amazing.

The performance is not without flaws which Todd fans will tell you is part of the charm when seeing Todd at the beginning of any tour. When attending live, the charm is less apparent after forking over more than &100 a ticket. (Smiling) I will say that there is nothing overly egregious on this disc, the only obvious flubs are jumping into the vocals a tad late.

The best songs….hmmm. The most obvious choices are “Just One Victory” and “Sometimes I Don’t Know What To Feel” but these two are regularly included in a normal setlist at a Todd show. The Motown medley ("I'm So Proud", “Ooh Baby Baby", “La La Means I Love You" and “Cool Jerk") is really good but it is also included on a semi regular basis at any random Todd show. I find that my favorites are the tracks that had never or rarely are performed live. Yeah, give me the obscure stuff.

Favorite tracks for me include “You Don’t Have To Camp Around” which features some mid song dialogue that captures Todd as his comical and bizarre self. Others are “Just Another Onion Head”, “Hungry For Love”, “Is It My Name” and “When The Sh*t Hits The Fan”. Perhaps most impressive are the synthesized snippets I spoke of earlier. These are never included at a typical show and should be savored like a fine wine.

Overall….this is an essential release if you were lucky enough to attend the tour. It is a good purchase if you’re a fan of the studio album or a Todd fan in general. This probably isn’t for somebody only vaguely familiar with Todd unless they are feeling the need to challenge themselves and possibly melt their brain.

I’m not a huge fan of retro releasing live material but in this instance, Well Done!

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 348
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Artist: Billie Joe Armstrong
Title: No Fun Mondays
Released: November 27, 2020

Regardless the criteria, Green Day is without much debate one of the top bands of the last 30 years. This is front man Billie Joe Armstrong’s first true solo release. He did do a collaboration with Norah Jones several years back and it’s worth checking out if you need to get an Everly Brothers type fix. This release ain’t that.

What do you expect when the vocalist of a successful band releases a solo album? I guess I should focus that statement and say that the band is still together and the release is not a new beginning. Did you like the efforts by Freddie Mercury, Roger Daltry, Phil Collins and Mick Jagger when they took a time out from their day jobs?

It should be noted that this album would have never happened if not for the pandemic. Billie recorded these cover songs and was releasing them on line during the early stages of quarantine. They are all gathered here for you listening pleasure. In that respect and if you like comparisons you should look to Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music). Bryan’s first release (These Foolish Things) was all cover songs and is still a great listen 47 years since being released (recommended listening). Heck, Bryan’s second solo release a year later was practically all covers and it’s still a good listen as well. Unfortunately for true comparison sake, I won’t be around in forty something years years to judge the long lasting impact of this effort by Billie Joe.

The diversity of material covered on this release is vast and proves that Billie has a decent knowledge of music and would be fun to spin records with. The selections are tilted toward punk and power pop but not exclusively. An almost perfect balance of hits and songs pulled from obscurity.

The credits below represent a popular version of the song and not necessarily the song writer.
1. ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ (Tommy James & The Shondells)
2. ‘War Stories’ (Starjets)
3. ‘Manic Monday’ (Bangles)
4. ‘Corpus Christi’ (The Avengers)
5. ‘That Thing You Do!’ (The Wonders)
6. ‘Amico’ (Don Backy)
7. ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Round A Memory’ (Johnny Thunders)
8. ‘Kids in America’ (Kim Wilde)
9. ‘Not That Way Anymore’ (Stiv Bators)
10. ‘That’s Rock’N’Roll’ (Shaun Cassidy)
11. ‘Gimme Some Truth’ (John Lennon)
12. ‘Whole Wide World’ (Wreckless Eric)
13. ‘Police On My Back’ (The Clash)
14. ‘A New England’ (Billy Bragg)

Albums dedicated to cover versions generally have a disposable quality to them. The songs are instantly recognizable so it’s an easy listen at first but generally an album needs more if it is going to stand up to repeated listens.
Honestly, there isn’t much I can say other than this has been playing for nearly a week straight and I’m not tired of it yet. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I’ve listened to this release front to back more than any other in 2020.

Highlights? I’m a fan of the NY Dolls and I’m always glad to see bands cover a Dolls song or in this instance a song by a former member of the Dolls. The really cool thing is that the Johnny Thunders’ song (You Can’t Put Your Arms Round A Memory) has been getting covered allot lately. Earlier this year, the Dropkick Murphys played it at their pandemic concert from Fenway Park. If you go back to last year, the Hollywood Vampires (Alice, Johnny Depp, Joe Perry) released a version of the song. That is allot of high profile pub for a track that received little attention when released in ’78.

The songs I’m liking the most are the ones I had little or no knowledge of. “War Stories”, “Corpus Christi”, “Amico” and “Not That Way Anymore” fall into the obscure category for me. I’m so glad these versions have been released because not only am I enjoying these but I’ve checked out the original versions as well.

Fun album and I hope other people enjoy it as much as I do. Well Done.

User avatar
Innuendoes
Posts: 2845
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:32 pm
Location: Never be lonely, lost in the night, Just run from the darkness, lookin' for the light.

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Innuendoes »

Shaun Cassidy. Oh my. I can't even remember the last time I heard anything from him. I'll see if I can find this album on youtube although I suspect I'll have to go to Spotify to find it if it's out there since it's a newer release.

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 348
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Innuendoes wrote: Tue Dec 08, 2020 7:44 am Shaun Cassidy. Oh my. I can't even remember the last time I heard anything from him. I'll see if I can find this album on youtube although I suspect I'll have to go to Spotify to find it if it's out there since it's a newer release.
It's on Spotify

The Shaun Cassidy song was actually written by Eric Carmen. Eric had a decent solo career after leaving The Raspberries in the early '70's. The Raspberries have some of the best power pop known to man; "Go All The Way", "I Wanna Be With You" and the tragically underappreciated "Overnight Sensation" all cracked the top 40 in the U.S..

As a solo artist he also had chart success, "All By Myself" (1), "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" (11), "Make Me Loose Control" (3) and "Hungry Eyes" (4) from the movie Dirty Dancing were the biggest of his eight top 40 songs.

No, I'm not a huge Eric Carmen fan but he's from Cleveland so it is/was in the water around here. The Raspberries still move the cool meter.

User avatar
Innuendoes
Posts: 2845
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:32 pm
Location: Never be lonely, lost in the night, Just run from the darkness, lookin' for the light.

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Innuendoes »

Buckeye Randy wrote: Wed Dec 09, 2020 5:31 am
Innuendoes wrote: Tue Dec 08, 2020 7:44 am Shaun Cassidy. Oh my. I can't even remember the last time I heard anything from him. I'll see if I can find this album on youtube although I suspect I'll have to go to Spotify to find it if it's out there since it's a newer release.
It's on Spotify

The Shaun Cassidy song was actually written by Eric Carmen. Eric had a decent solo career after leaving The Raspberries in the early '70's. The Raspberries have some of the best power pop known to man; "Go All The Way", "I Wanna Be With You" and the tragically underappreciated "Overnight Sensation" all cracked the top 40 in the U.S..

As a solo artist he also had chart success, "All By Myself" (1), "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" (11), "Make Me Loose Control" (3) and "Hungry Eyes" (4) from the movie Dirty Dancing were the biggest of his eight top 40 songs.

No, I'm not a huge Eric Carmen fan but he's from Cleveland so it is/was in the water around here. The Raspberries still move the cool meter.
I've played the playlist twice on youtube, already. I can't say which one I like better but the last one was probably the least liked of the album. Maybe that's "Police On My Back". I'm not really positive as the playlist I just opened looks like it's in a different order than the one I had open before.

I did like Eric Carmen quite a bit and "Hungry Eyes" is awesome, IMHO. But then I love that movie so much, I could watch it over and over and over in one night.

I'm going to go back and load the list I had up before and see which is which. I do like this album quite a bit! Thanks for posting it and the review. I need to get it up on Spotify as I have already got 3 playlists loaded and active on youtube right now but the rest are on pause. :lol:

User avatar
Innuendoes
Posts: 2845
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:32 pm
Location: Never be lonely, lost in the night, Just run from the darkness, lookin' for the light.

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Innuendoes »

OK, this list starts with "A New England" so this is mixed up compared to your list.

Buckeye Randy
Posts: 348
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:09 am

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Buckeye Randy »

Innuendoes wrote: Wed Dec 09, 2020 5:53 am OK, this list starts with "A New England" so this is mixed up compared to your list.
I 'think' once you save the album to your own file then the song order can be manipulated. It can be sorted by putting songs in alphabetical order or you can do the same thing with artists. I usually only use the files for my own playlists.

User avatar
Innuendoes
Posts: 2845
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:32 pm
Location: Never be lonely, lost in the night, Just run from the darkness, lookin' for the light.

Re: Reviews (albums, concerts)

Post by Innuendoes »

Buckeye Randy wrote: Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:03 am
Innuendoes wrote: Wed Dec 09, 2020 5:53 am OK, this list starts with "A New England" so this is mixed up compared to your list.
I 'think' once you save the album to your own file then the song order can be manipulated. It can be sorted by putting songs in alphabetical order or you can do the same thing with artists. I usually only use the files for my own playlists.
The one I was playing on youtube is in a different order than the one I have up on Spotify. I'll just stick with the Spotify version because it uses a lot less RAM on the computer. Heck, there are at least 25 tabs open and that would save me a lot of RAM let alone open space at the top of the screen. :lol:

Post Reply