Sunday, August 04, 2013

Dr. Hook
"The Best of Dr. Hook" (Vinyl)

The first of many compilation album from Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show was released in 1976.

These guys didn't take too many things seriously as evident by their lyrics, musical arrangements and album artwork.
How many bands get a one-eyed cowboy for their frontman?
His voice is as distinctive and interesting as any I've heard.
Ruth Welcome
"Zither Magic!" (Vinyl)

This album is exactly what it looks like.
I can't honestly say I would ever listen to this again, but because of the album artwork, I can't really bear to get rid of it.

Some things are just worth hanging up on the wall.
This isn't one of those things.

But it makes me laugh.
.38 Special
"Rockin' Into the Night" (Vinyl)

The Southern rocker's third album was released in 1980.  It also yielded the band their first big hit, the title track "Rockin' Into the Night" which resembles most closely KISS-worthy arena rock.

Lead singer Donnie Van Zandt is brother to Skynyrd vocalists Johnny and Ronnie Van Zandt.  Imagine calling someone's name around the dinner table in that house.

Unlike Lynyrd Skynyrd, this album feels more closely tied to arena and riff-heavy rock than any Southern-fried Bayou-born boogie.  Whether or not it's memorable is another question...
The Climax Blues Band
"Gold Plated" (Vinyl)

Released in 1976, this was the Climax Blues Band's highest-charting album.  The band, formed in England, helped the UK revival of the American Blues tradition in the 60's.

This album contained the group's biggest hit, "Couldn't Get it Right" and saw their height of popularity in the United States.

Changing tastes in music saw the early demise of Climax's popularity and although the band has never stopped recording or touring, this album probably represented the zenith of their power.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

David LaFlamme
"Whitebird" (Vinyl)

Released in 1976, this is an album released by violinist, composer, singer and songwriter David LaFlamme after his time as leader of the San Fransisco-based hippy band It's a Beautiful Day.

The information is so spotty online, it's hard to trace a genesis for this particular album.  Credited as "solo violinist" for the Utah Symphony (huh?), David LaFlamme then participated in the Summer of Love and out of it came It's a Beautiful Day.

Beyond that, I'm not sure where/when this album fits in, but I don't think it'll remain in the collections.  I've got a lot of other records to get to, let's go!
Tir na nOg
"A Tear and a Smile" (Vinyl)

This album was in a stack I uncovered in a random thrift shop in St. Louis. Many of the records are obscure Canadian albums from the 1970's and 80's.

Released in 1972, this was Tir na nOg's first international release.  The Irish duo formed in 1969 and disbanded in 1974, but were together long enough to put out three LP albums.

The songwriting on this album is notable for it's forward-looking acoustic folk styling. Close vocal harmonies and beautiful acoustic guitar playing make this a very easy to listen to album.  After a few minutes you realize that their song construction is much more interesting than what we usually hear from this vein.
Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Pronounced 'leh-nerd 'skin-herd" (Vinyl)

Released in 1973, this was the album that pushed the southern hard rockers to superstardom.  It also contains one of the two songs the band's best known for, ("Free Bird") the other being released on their 1974 album 'Second Helping' ("Sweet Home Alabama.")

The band's hefty line-up was desired to replicate the triple-lead guitar sound live in concert.  The sound is distinctive.

While the southern-fried rock thing isn't terribly in my milieu, a few bands (Allman Bros. and Skynyrd) were intuitive enough to keep enough hard rock roots in the ground that their appeal was wider than the deep south.

For a debut album, their concept and execution is impressive. In contrast to today's test tube acts born in a laboratory, this album has the feel of musicians that were very used to playing with each other in countless bars.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Van Halen
"Van Halen" (CD)

Released in 1978, this debut album received mixed reaction initially, but has come to be regarded as one of the most important, groundshaking debuts ever recorded.   When put into its historical context, it's musical language may even be more immediately groundbreaking than any who had come before.

At the tail end of Led Zeppelin's lifespan the public had become weary of the bloated shadow Page, Plant & co. had become.  A digital revolution in the recording industry was afoot and young ears were itching for a "new" sound.

Enter Eddie Van Halen and his noisy brood of bar music.  It was a harbinger of things to come.  Behind Van Halen would be a host of hair metal glam rockers that would dominate the next decade.

But it all started here.  While I'm not the biggest fan of a lot of Van Halen's output, this album is particularly ear-catching. There's a healthy homage to the riff-driven heavy rock from before, but Van Halen's screaming guitar antics were unlike anything previously attempted.  The classic track "Eruption" would quiet any doubts about the band's raw ability.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Rumour
"Frogs, Sprouts, Clogs & Krauts" (Vinyl)

In an attempt to work through a reasonable stack of vinyl that I've accumulated over the past several months (and rid myself of that which I don't want) I'm trying to give a couple of titles I've never seen/heard of before a quick listen to see if they can find a home.

The Rumour were Graham Parker's back-up band and recorded several of their own albums in addition to many of Mr. Parker's notable albums in the 70's and 80's.  The album has the glossy, tight production value to it, but nothing terribly interesting, musically speaking.

"Direct" (Vinyl)

Greek composer Vangelis has had quite a storied career (his highest accomplishment being the "Chariots of Fire" soundtrack) and this album is an instrumental odyssey through mountains of synthesized samples and textures.
The sincerity with which Vangelis approaches his music is giving me cause to listen carefully to this album; the verdict is still out on it's ultimate fate in my collection.
Suzuki Isao Quartet
"Blue City" (Vinyl)

Part of the Saito collection, I wasn't quite sure what was going to play through the hi-fi when it started spinning.  There's limited information (in English) on the interweb about Mr. Isao and his jazz combos, so it was something of an adventure.

As it turns out, this is jazz in a pretty traditional vein although it is fun to see how the combo gets in and out of grooves; their methods are a bit more obscure than what we're used to hearing in the American jazz tradition.

Be that as it may, this is a nice sounding record that was originally released in 1974.  This is one of two albums from the era that are notably mentioned around the webosphere.  Aside from this, it would appear Mr. Isao has enjoyed a long and productive career elsewhere in the world.  There is still so much I do not know.