Monday, December 28, 2009

Galaxie 500 - "On Fire" (LP Review)

As I said on my review of "Today", Galaxie 500 "sounds like college" to me, even though I did not learn of them until nearly 10 years later. If there is ever a movie made of that time of my life, songs like "Blue Thunder" or "Snowstorm" should serve as the soundtrack.

"On Fire", Galaxie 500's second LP, is considered by many to be their finest LP. As I said before, I might give that nod to "Today" because it was first, but one could certainly make an argument for "On Fire". "On Fire" continues the sound and concepts introduced with "Today", but with some small advancements such as expanding their minimalist arrangements with additional instruments on some of the songs, as well as bassist Naomi Yang singing on "Another Day".

I would say the quality of the songs of "On Fire" is a little more variable: the best songs are better than anything on "Today", but there are a few songs that while not bad, are also not quite as magical as the others. Every song on "Today" is a gem, but even though none of the songs on "On Fire" are bad, they're not all gems either.

However, the first five songs of "On Fire" is without a doubt their best five song sequence (that's "side 1" if you're rocking the vinyl):
  1. "Blue Thunder"
  2. "Tell Me"
  3. "Snowstorm"
  4. "Strange"
  5. "When Will You Come Home"
Each is a tour de force, but since "When Will You Come Home" is very similar to "Tugboat" (their first single) thematically and structurally, it deserves special attention:
When, when will you come home?
Watching TV all alone
Watching Kojak on my own
Staring at the wall
And waiting for your call
When, when will you come home?
This is clearly by/for the same person as "Tugboat"...

Past side 1, only "Another Day" and the cover of the George Harrison song "Isn't it a Pity" achieve the same level as the first five, the latter being the closing song on the original release. Fortunately the Rykodisc reissue of "On Fire" includes three excellent bonus songs from the 1990 "Blue Thunder" 12": "Victory Garden", "Ceremony" and "Cold Night". "Cold Night" is a Galaxie 500 original, while the other two are covers: "Victory Garden" is a cover of a Red Krayola song and "Ceremony" is a cover of the Joy Division / New Order song which I have already reviewed.

Standout songs: "Blue Thunder", "Tell Me", "Snowstorm", "Strange", "When Will You Come Home", "Another Day", "Isn't it a Pity", "Ceremony", "Cold Night". (Many of the previous links are live versions; find all the studio LP versions on Grooveshark.)

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 10/10. The original 10 song release would have merited a 9/10, but the three excellent bonus songs push it to a 10/10.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Galaxie 500 - "Today" (LP Review)

Prior to discovering The Cribs 3-4 years ago, Galaxie 500 was my favorite lo-fi, garage-rock band. And while the two bands are not directly comparable, Galaxie 500 remains a close second.

Active from 1987-1991 (corresponding exactly with my college years), I did not discover Galaxie 500 until about 1999 or 2000. Despite not knowing about the band while I was in school, their sound so perfectly captures the sound of the era that it invokes nostalgia for the late 80's, even though I learned of them nearly 10 years later.

Formed by Dean Wareham (guitar, vocals), Damon Krukowski (drums), and Naomi Yang (bass, vocals) while all three were at Harvard, the band took their name from the Ford Galaxie owned by one of their friends. The magic of their sound is not virtuoso performances (though they are certainly more than adequate), but through excellent song writing and hazy, dreamy production quality. Similar to but generally softer and quieter than most shoegazing bands, their sound invites the inevitable comparisons to The Velvet Underground. Although on one hand, their sound is very much of their time, on the other hand they sound nothing like the stable of 4AD artists, nor the Athens, GA sound. By default, they become the Cambridge, MA sound. Credit to producer Mark Kramer for generating such a unique sound.

"Today" is the band's first LP, released in 1988 after their "Tugboat" 7" single from earlier that year. While many critics consider their 2nd LP, "On Fire", to be their best, I have to give the nod to "Today" since 1) it establishes their sound and 2) has no false steps -- every song is a gem, even the aptly named "Instrumental". The LP was initially released on the tiny Aurora Records, but was later re-released by Rough Trade, and then ultimately re-released by Rykodisc. Although the original release had only 9 songs, both re-releases have the B-side to the "Tugboat" single, "King of Spain", on them.

"Tugboat" is a fitting song to discuss, since it was their first single and may actually be their most representative, if not best song. The song features sparse, reverberating, haunting sound, with distant, and almost apologetic vocals from Wareham with the lyrics:
I don't wanna stay at your party
I don't wanna talk with your friends
I don't wanna vote for your president
I just wanna be your tugboat captain
It's a place I'd like to be
It's a place I'd like to be
It's a place I'd like to be
It's a place I'd be happy
After repeating the above, the the song closes out with an extended instrumental portion. After admitting "I just wanna be your tugboat captain", there's really nothing left to say. While Galaxie 500 has many, many excellent songs, this has to be their definitive song.

Standout tracks: All. Sure, that's a cop out, but just listen to the entire LP.  If forced to select just a few, I'd settle on: "Tugboat" (studio, live 1989 - from their "'87-'91" DVD), "Flowers" (studio, live -- from their "Peel Sessions" LP, live 1990 from "'87-'91"), "Pictures" , "Parking Lot", "Temperature's Rising".

Skip 'em tracks: none.

Final score: 10/10

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Pretenders - "Stop Your Sobbing" (forgotten song) (the song remains the same)

Sure, this was originally by The Kinks, on their 1964 eponymous debut LP, but they never released it as a single so I'm going to credit it to The Pretenders. The take away lesson here is that Ray Davies is such an incredible song writer that a "filler song" for The Kinks can be a hit single for any other band.

"Stop Your Sobbing" was released as the first single by The Pretenders and was also featured on their 1979 debut LP, Pretenders. Despite doing well for their first single, few people probably remember this song because 1) there was no video for MTV (to the best of my knowledge anyway), and 2) "Brass in Pocket", also from their debut LP, pretty much overshadowed the rest of the band's songs, at least by The Pretenders Mk. I.

That's too bad, because "Stop Your Sobbing" is easily the band's best, or second best song (some days I think "Talk of the Town" deserves that honor). Ray Davies writing, Nick Lowe producing, and Chrissie Hynde singing... well, it is just hard to improve on that. This is one of the few cases where the cover surpasses the original.

The original lineup of the band produced two excellent LPs, and then bassist Pete Farndon and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died of drug overdoses during a three day span in 1982. The Pretenders recruited new members and found greater commercial success with 1983's "Learning to Crawl", but I never cared as much for this version of the band. Hynde was always the principal song writer, but the sound just wasn't as good.

But none of that matters -- "Stop Your Sobbing" is a brilliant song and a testament to both The Pretenders and The Kinks.

The Pretenders: 1980 on the Kenny Everett Show, 1987 on the David Letterman Show, Live Aid (1985).
2016-04-15 Edit: I just now discovered the "official" video.

The Kinks: "Stop Your Sobbing"

B-Side Bonus Link: "The Wait" (live version from the 1981 LP "Concerts for the People of Kampuchea")

2010-11-15 Edit: A cover by Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson.

Obligatory Hynde/Davies fact: well after this song was recorded, they began a relationship (~81-84) and had a child together. This has no bearing on the song, of course, but I think there is a rule somewhere that states this fact must be repeated when discussing "Stop Your Sobbing".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Queensryche - "Queensryche" (LP Review)

This one goes out to my HS friend Robert Gordick, the person who originally introduced me to Queensryche when the self-titled EP came out in 1983. He had it on vinyl and I had a tape copy of it (which I probably still have somewhere).

Most people probably didn't know much about Queensryche prior to their 1988 LP "Operation: Mindcrime" or their 1990 LP "Empire" and the singles from that LP, "Silent Lucidity" and "Jet City Woman". By then they had firmly established themselves in the prog metal genre; aspiring to be a sort of a metal version of Pink Floyd. But back in 1983, their sound was firmly rooted in the speed metal / NWBOHM and they had an almost Spinal Tap level of cliches: heavy metal umlaut? Check. Stylized, neo-gothic font? Check. Nazi-exploitation reference? Check. D&D / Manichean themed lyrics? Check. All those things seem silly in 2009 but boy, were they cool in 1983. We wore out our respective copies of this EP.

The production is high-quality (for the time, and especially for a low budget first release) and the songs are very heavy -- much heavier than their later material. In retrospect, "The Lady Wore Black" is an indication of their future sound, but at the time I just thought it was a really heavy power ballad, similar to Metallica's "Fade to Black". And how about the first 30-40 seconds of "Queen of the Reich"?! Great stuff. Of course, the lyrics then begin with "In the dead of night / She'll come and take you away / Searing beams of light and thunder / Over blackened plains / She will find her way". You can't help but think of Marty DiBergi quoting the review of "Intravenous de Milo": "...they are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry."

In 1984, Queensryche's first full-length LP, "The Warning", came out and it was good (I bought the cassette of that), but it was clearly moving away from the NWOBHM sound and toward prog metal. Although it was not as heavy as their first EP, it was still pretty good. Then "Rage for Order" came out in 1986 (I still have that on vinyl) and it **sucked**. Whew, it was a-w-f-u-l. And that was pretty much the end of my Queensryche era. I recognized that "Operation: Mindcrime" and "Empire" were decent LPs, but I was done with them. However, I'd be lying if I said I didn't still enjoy "Queensryche".

Standout tracks: "Queen of the Reich", "Nightrider", "Blinded", "The Lady Wore Black".

Skip 'em tracks: none. (Note: when the EP was reissued in 1989, a "Rage for Order" outtake, "Prophecy" was included, but there were no skip 'em tracks on the original four song version.)

Final score: 9/10. In the mid 80s, I would have given this a 10/10. I still think it rawks, but I don't think it is ground-breaking enough to deserve top marks.

(Anti-)Bonus Links: There are official videos for "Queen of the Reich" and "Nightrider". I don't recall these videos from back in the day -- or perhaps I've just blacked out that memory. The videos are terrible, and I'm pretty sure I would have even thought they were terrible in 1983. You will regret watching them.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Queen Latifah - "U.N.I.T.Y." (forgotten song)

OK, having recently reviewed BDP, let's take a quick look at another hip-hop song that no longer gets the attention it should. Queen Latifah's 1993 single "U.N.I.T.Y." (from the "Black Reign" LP) did well when it first came out, but I can't remember when I last heard it on the radio, TV, or even at the Y.

I first heard this feminist paean featured prominently in the soundtrack for the excellent 1996 indie film "Girls Town". Queen Latifiah raps with authority: you don't doubt it when she says "I punched him dead in his eye" or "who you calling a bitch?" While I don't begrudge her for her crossover success (film, TV, book, modeling), it is unfortunate that it leaves her less time for powerful anthems like this.

Like "My Philosophy", this song features an excellent saxophone sample; this time it is "Message From the Inner City" from the 1973 LP "2nd Crusade" by The Crusaders. However, you really have to listen carefully to the nearly 9 minute long song to pick out the riff used for "U.N.I.T.Y." A good pull for Queen Latifah and co-producer Kay Gee of Naughty By Nature.

Link: YouTube.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Caretaker - "Persistent Repetition of Phrases" (LP Review)

"The Caretaker" is one of the many pseudonyms of James Leyland Kirby, who is perhaps slightly more well known as "V/Vm". The Caretaker project began in 1999 as an attempt to musically reproduce music from the haunted ballroom scene in The Shining. Although I get the reference now, the first thing it reminded me of was the opening scene in The Wall, with Vera Lynn singing "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot". Both movies repurpose big band recordings from our collective nostalgia for a disturbing effect. I could speculate as to why this is true, but there is no denying the results. Band music, complete with the technological defects of pops and hisses and hazily reduced to sound like it is coming from the other room (or some other world), makes for spooky music. I could go on, but instead I'll quote from The Caretaker's site directly, in his own words:

Dusty and forgotten memories, echoes and vibrations from the past. Using as source, recordings from the 1920's and 1930's era of Ballroom music. Often painful and desolate memories, recalled and replayed from beyond the grave of our senses. In amongst this darkness lies the solace of a semi-recognisable melody or phrase, a beacon of light in this often dark and distant ocean of haunted recalled audio.

The Caretaker's 2008 LP "Persistent Repetition of Phrases" has been steadily climbing my iTunes playcount since Herbert turned me on to it a few months ago. And since you can't stay at the Overlook Hotel forever (!), this LP deals with the more real (and more disturbing) concepts of memory, speech, aging, (loss of) identity and Alzhiemer's. Like Elvis Costello's Veronica, slowly and gauzily retold without words.

Standout tracks: Given the nature of the LP, individual songs are hard to single out, but I'll go with: Lacunar Amnesia, Long Term (remote), Poor Enunciation, False Memory Syndrome.

(The rest of the LP -- and other Kirby songs -- are available on the V/vm YouTube Channel. It is worth checking out.)

Skip 'em tracks: none.

Final score: 10/10. Part of me thinks I'm being too generous and maybe it warrants only a 9/10. But on the other hand, I don't know how this LP could be better.

Bonus Links: Ballroom Music from The Shining (YouTube), The Ballroom Scene from The Shining (YouTube).

Monday, November 9, 2009

BDP - "My Philosophy" (forgotten song)

"So, you're a philosopher?"

"Yes, I think very deeply."

Danette and I don't really consider ourselves big hip hop fans, but growing up when & where we did, you just absorb a certain level of knowledge and appreciation. When we lift weights at the Y (3-4 times a week), the music selection is invariably on some kind of soft rock, vapid pop, ballad / slow jam snoozefest. In short, the worst possible music for working out.

If none of the staff are around, she sneaks in and changes the channel. I believe they have "Music Choice", and although we've sampled a variety of appropriate loud, alive & upbeat channels, we almost always select "Hip Hop Classics". It's perfect workout music, and somewhat surprisingly we know maybe half of the selections (despite some deep cuts on the channel). The beats are good and the early stuff mostly avoids the misogyny and other hobgoblins of contemporary hip hop.

Having said all that, on that channel I've yet to hear one of my favorite old school hip hop songs: "My Philosophy", from the 1988 LP "By All Means Necessary" by Boogie Down Productions (BDP). BDP and MC KRS-One (aka Lawrence Parker) have always been a study in contrast. Their first LP, 1987's "Criminal Minded", set the musical template for gangster rap that would eventually overrun the scene (e.g., "9mm Goes Bang"). Then in 1987 BDP's DJ, Scott La Rock, was shot and killed while trying to break up a fight. Not surprisingly, BDP's second LP abandoned gangster rap for the socially conscious brand of hip hop typically associated with acts like Public Enemy. Also, while BDP and KRS-One gave us the first (?) hip hop rivalry with the "Bridge Wars", he also founded the Stop the Violence Movement (cf. the single "Self-Destruction") to address the violence plaguing hip hop.

But none of those details really matter... "My Philosophy" is a great song and features KRS-One at his lyrical and vocal best. But the secret ingredient is the sample of Stanley Turrentine's "Sister Sanctified". Knowing what to sample is half the battle in hip hop, and with a sax riff that good, you can't go wrong.

"In about four seconds the teacher will begin to speak..."

Radio Edit: YouTube. (Gotta love the 30 second a capella break starting at about 0:40; it's not present on the LP version).

LP Version: YouTube.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Scott Hardkiss Presents God Within - "Crucial Introspection Parts One And Two" (LP Review)

This one is going to be harder to explain than "Bunky's Pick"...

But first a story: It was my 30th birthday, and some folks were hanging out at the house where Terry and I lived. Seth Littman, an accomplished DJ and one of Terry's friends, was playing some excellent music at our house. Seth always had great music, but this one song was just captivating me. I inquired, he told me it was Scott Hardkiss, and then gave me the newly released CD and said "happy birthday". Thanks Seth.

You'll frequently see mistakes made in listing the metadata for this EP, so I'll break it down for you. Scott Hardkiss is a DJ and one third of Hardkiss, along with brothers Gavin and Robbie. "God Within" is a pseudonym that Scott also uses (introduced for the first time with these songs, I believe). "Crucial Introspection Parts One And Two" is a four song EP that collects the two prior releases: 1998's "Crucial Introspection" and 1999's "Crucial Introspection Part Two" (note how the cover art for the former two releases is merged for "Parts One and Two"). The EP is released on Sunburn Records, which is loosely affiliated with Hardkiss (see also the Hardkiss label).

"Part One" has the two songs "Why, Why, Why? (Technosoul Remix)" and "Indian Summer". Both songs are unremarkable: neither bad nor good. But "Part Two" is what makes the EP great: "Why, Why, Why? (Olympic Terrorist Original Mix)" is a very good song (much better than the "Technosoul Remix"), but "Infinitely Gentle Blows (Infinite Aural Hallucination Remix)" is an amazing song. This is the song that prompted Seth's gift. 9:28 minutes of pure bliss. If you like electronic music, you must listen to this song. And if you don't like electronic music, well... maybe this will change your mind.

But the story doesn't end there... Scott Hardkiss only remixed "Infinitely Gentle Blows"; the original is a 3 minute version by Alte)ring, of whom I know almost nothing. The original version of the song (said to sample "Little Red Corvette", but I'm not sure I hear it in the Scott Hardkiss remix) appeared on the obscure compilation LP "The Event Horizon Tau". I've never even heard the Alte)ring version -- Googling turns up only the 9+ minute Scott Hardkiss remix, even when the metadata credits say it "Alte)ring". The Scott Hardkiss version was also featured on the sound track to 2000's "Groove".

Standout Tracks: "Infinitely Gentle Blows (Infinite Aural Hallucination Remix)", "Why, Why, Why? (Olympic Terrorist Original Mix)"

Skip 'em Tracks: None.

Final Rating: 8/10. Part One would rate a 10/10, but Part Two would probably rate a 5/10. Round up the average based on the strength of "Infinitely Gentle Blows".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Willis - "Take You High" (LP Review)

Willis (aka Hayley Willis) is a little-known UK alt-folk singer that has released one LP (2003's "Come Get Some") along with several singles and EPs. In support of that LP, the 2003 4-track EP "Take You High" was released, featuring "Take You High" from the LP as well as 3 non-LP tracks.

The Willis originals "Take You High" and "Haunt You" are forgettable tracks, with the latter being slightly better than the former. What makes this EP interesting at all are the two covers. Her cover of "Old Time Religion" is interesting and upbeat, but her sparse & slow cover of Cameo's "Word Up" steals the show.

I have to admit that I never liked Cameo, and I hated "Word Up" when it originally came out in 1986. And while "Word Up" has been covered numerous times (e.g., Korn's version), Willis performs the definitive version; far better than the original in my opinion. But it is not just me: Danette loved Cameo back in the day and she thinks the cover is inspired.

CSI often features engaging music selections during the episodes (although Danette and I agree that the last couple of seasons have not featured the music as prominently), and I first heard this song in the CSI episode "Post Mortem" (video). I often know most of the music featured in the episodes, but this is one of my favorite discoveries (the other being Sigur Ros with the song "Svefn-g-englar" (video)).

I'm not sure how active Willis is currently -- at the time of this writing her website's "news" section has a last entry of 2007. Although her covers are good, the two originals here are not impressive.

Stand out tracks: "Word Up", "Old Time Religion"

Skip 'em tracks: "Take You High", "Haunt You"

Final score: 5/10. "Word Up" is amazing and "Old Time Religion" is interesting, but the originals only serve to drag down the final score. Skip the EP and get just "Word Up" on iTunes or elsewhere.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

This Mortal Coil - "Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust" (LP Review)

Ivo Watts-Russell founded the 4AD record label in 1980 and proceeded to define the sound of experimental/alternative/goth/shoegazing music in the UK. Seminal bands recording on their label included Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Dif Juz, Clan of Xymox, Lush and others. They also got involved with the US alternative scene with the related bands of the Pixies, The Breeders, and Throwing Muses.

Aside from all these great bands, Watts-Russell was also the core of the 4AD project, This Mortal Coil. The idea was to take various permutations of 4AD artists and record a mixture of originals and obscure cover songs. Thus the range of music on TMC releases simultaneously defines and is defined by the "4AD sound".

Before their three classic LPs, they released the "Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust" EP. The title track is a medley of two early Modern English songs, rerecorded by a collection of 4AD artists (including some from Modern English). Although I've been a big fan of TMC for many years, I have to admit I have just learned about this EP very recently. It was never released on CD; it is available only as 12" and 7" versions. The title track was featured on an iTunes-only 4AD EP ("Full of Dust and Guitars"), but I don't think that is available any longer either.

In addition to the title track, the 12" EP featured "Song to the Siren" (a Tim Buckley cover) and "Sixteen Days Reprise". The title track from the 12" version was largely forgotten and it was struck for the 7" version which then featured "Song to the Siren" as the lead track (with "Sixteen Days Reprise" as the b-side). Of course, STTS would become TMC's most popular track and be featured on their debut LP, "It'll End in Tears". STTS is a truly sublime song, but it is not the focus of this review.

If you're a TMC fan, 1) you already have STTS and 2) you're eager to get your hands on additional TMC songs (their retrospective box set, "1983-1991", is nice for beginners but does little for completists and collectors). If you're not yet a TMC fan, "Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust" is not the best place to start -- the Modern English covers are pretty good, but they only show a little of what the group/project would go on to achieve. Do yourself a favor and check out their other releases as well.

Standout tracks: "Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust", "Song to the Siren", "Sixteen Days Reprise".

Skip 'em tracks: none.

Final Score: 7/10. Perhaps a bit low; but I'm assuming everyone already has STTS and is getting this for Modern English covers.

Bonus Links #1: Modern English original versions: Sixteen Days, Gathering Dust

Bonus Links #2: Song to the Siren: contemporary TMC/Cocteau Twins live version, Tim Buckley original version.

Bonus Link #3: I normally don't post links to bootlegs, but since this EP is unavailable elsewhere, you can find a link in a post at zona-musical.com.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hot Chip - "Ready For The Floor" (the song remains the same)

The last five entries have been heavy on nostalgia so now it is time to shift to something more contemporary...

I learned of the song "Ready For The Floor" from the cover by Lissy Trullie, via the Wichita Recordings YouTube Channel. From the comments there, I learned that the original artist is by the English synth pop band Hot Chip, and that the song is from their 2008 LP "Made in the Dark". I'm not sure how Hot Chip had escaped my attention before (they've released three studio LPs as well as various EPs, singles and remixes), but they appear to be more popular in Europe than in the US. A good sampling of their material is on their MySpace and YouTube pages.

Hot Chip's version of the "Ready For The Floor" simultaneously reminds me of New Order (cf. "Regret"), Devo (cf. "Girl U Want"), and Art of Noise (cf. "Close (To The Edit)"). Ok, so all of my references are from 1980s bands -- I guess this isn't a nostalgia-free update. I have to confess that I have no idea what the song is about, but it's very catchy and the video is a lot of fun (Alexis Taylor apparently comes from the David Byrne school of dancing).

Lissy Trullie covers the song on her 2009 debut EP "Self-Taught Learner" as well as the upcoming soundtrack for "Jennifer's Body". She provides a straight-ahead rock arrangement of the song that works at least as well as the original. This video is also interesting in that 1) it is produced/sponsored by Herve Leger by Max Azria, and 2) features Trullie, a former model, in several of their outfits. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it doesn't detract from two versions of a fun song. Trullie is generating an early buzz (e.g., reviews in Spin & Rolling Stone), but similar premature press arguably sank fellow NYC artists The Strokes. You can hear more from Trullie on her MySpace and YouTube pages.

Hot Chip: YouTube.

Lissy Trullie: YouTube.

2009-12-24 edit: I just found a cover by The Pigeon Detectives: YouTube.

2010-01-24 edit: Apparently ever UK artist covers this song. Duffy is a big snooze-fest for me, but at least she has a non-standard, lounge arrangement for the song: YouTube.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Romeo Void - "Never Say Never" (forgotten song)

Romeo Void had two minor hits in the early 1980s: 1982's "Never Say Never" and 1984's "A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)". While the latter is a decent song, it sounds a bit too much like Duran Duran. Fortunately, the former is a perfect example of early 80s new wave: part disco, part punk. And it prominently features a saxophone -- an instrument that had all but disappeared from main steam pop music by the late 80s (not including sub-genres such as ska & ska-punk; "...it ain't what they call rock and roll").

Most know "Never Say Never" by Debora Iyall's signature lyric "I might like you better if we slept together", presaging Liz Phair by 10+ years. Sure, that's a great line, but did you catch "sunsuit girls must be discreet / nursing their fathers locked inside/ they masqueraded as his bride" -- that's heavy stuff. Although Iyall is a great singer and has the punk vocal sneer down pat, one can't help but wonder if Romeo Void would have achieved more success if Iyall looked more like Liz Phair and less like Rosie O'Donnell ("...put the blame on VTR").

There are two versions of this song: a 6 min version, radio-unfriendly version from the 1982 EP "Never Say Never" (which was co-produced by Ric Ocasek), and 3:30 radio edit released on the 1982 LP "Benefactor".

Radio Edit: YouTube (the video, ironically enough, features a full minute of beginning filler).

Original Version: Rhapsody, 4shared.

Bonus Link: YouTube: a cover by Queens of the Stone Age on some versions of the 2000 LP "Rated R". It's not a particularly good cover, but it should make you appreciate Romeo Void and Deborah Iyall that much more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Connells - "Stone Cold Yesterday" (forgotten song)

Some time ago while discussing their excellent single "Scotty's Lament", I covered the situation with the majority of The Connells' back catalog being in legal limbo. I'm not sure we're any closer to a reissue, and although used copies can be reasonably had via places like Amazon, we'll just have to make do by revisiting one of their forgotten songs.

"Stone Cold Yesterday" is the opening track of their fourth LP, 1990's "One Simple Word". 1990 was an interesting time -- the jangle pop, college radio sound of the 80s about to fall out of favor; the spotlight would soon move from places like Athens, GA to Seattle, WA and "alternative" music was about to become mainstream. And although The Connells continued to release their brand of music for another decade (scoring another hit in 1993 with "74-75"), we can mark the passing of the 1980s college radio sound with this nostalgic song. A strong hook, jangly guitars, cryptic & sentimental lyrics -- it's like the 1980s never ended.

"Stone Cold Yesterday": YouTube (the sound quality is a little distorted, presumably from VHS transfer), Rhapsody.com.

P.S. Notice the "120 Minutes" logo near the beginning of the video? Stone cold yesterday indeed!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Negativland - "Guns" (LP Review)

"Guns" was the first Negativland release I bought. In retrospect, that was fortunate because this two song EP is one of their most accessible releases. It was released in 1992, replacing the withdrawn 1991 "U2" EP. The saga between Negativland vs. U2's label, Island Records, as well as Negativland vs. their own label, SST Records, is well documented and will not be rehashed here (see: "The Letter U and Numeral 2", "Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2" and "These Guys Are from England and Who Gives a Shit"). The cover art of the "Guns" EP is clear nod to the then-current U2 situation.

"Guns" consists of two songs: "Then" and "Now". "Then" samples from 1950s-1960s icons of TV and film, humorously and critically examining the cultural status of firearms. "Now" is similar, but pulls from more recent sources. I could try to describe the songs further, but since they're available online it is easier to just listen. Due to their dispute with SST, Negativland makes the mp3s freely available from their web site even though SST still sells the EP. How many bands do you know that actually promote free mp3s over their CDs?

Peter Neville has created an excellent video for "Then", providing many of the TV & movie clips that correspond to the samples in the song.

Standout tracks: "Then" (Negativland.com, YouTube), "Now" (Negativland.com).

Skip 'em tracks: none.

Final Score: 8/10. Not their most experimental release, but a good intro to their body of work. If this EP resonates with you, you should explore their other releases. If this is not to your liking... well, it pretty much gets weirder and noisier from here.

P.S. Terry went to a Negativland show in Norfolk (ca. late 1992) and got Mark Hosler to autograph my copy of "Guns". There are probably dozens of people (besides Terry and me) that think that's cool.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Order - "Ceremony" (the song remains the same)

In my review of New Order's first LP, Movement, I stated that I especially liked New Order's early, post-Joy Division sound. Of all the songs to come out of that era, "Ceremony" is my favorite. It was written while Joy Division was still active, but Ian Curtis died before JD could do a proper studio recording of it. Two JD versions of "Ceremony" exist: a badly recorded live version (which appears on 1981's posthumous collection "Still") and a rough rehearsal version (on the 1997 box set "Heart and Soul"). The JD versions are of interest only to collectors and hard-core fans and these versions are not recommended for those unfamiliar with the New Order version and subsequent covers.

New Order's first single and its B-side, "In A Lonely Place", were both songs originally written by Joy Division. NO itself released two versions of this "Ceremony": the March 1981 version, which has a more raw, heavy sound; and the September 1981 version, which has a cleaner sound and a slightly faster tempo. The September 1981 version also features Gillian Gilbert, recently promoted to a full member of the band. The September version is the one that appears on the 1987 compilation "Substance" while the March version was not reissued until the 2005 compilation "Singles".

Perhaps the most well-known cover version of this song is on Galaxie 500's second LP, "On Fire". Galaxie 500 was well known for their excellent choice of cover songs (in addition to writing excellent original material). For their treatment of "Ceremony", they slowed it down to the point where it sounds like Black Sabbath covering New Order. Galaxie 500 was an amazing band that never got the recognition they deserved.

Radiohead* also covered "Ceremony" in their 2007 "Thumbs Down" webcast (the full 2.5 hours of which has been uploaded to Google Videos). The do a lovingly sloppy, garage band version of the song (which is obviously not indicative of their studio sound).

New Order: March 1981 version, September 1981 version.

Joy Division: Live version, Rehearsal version (note: neither version has good sound quality).

Galaxie 500: Studio version, live version.

Radiohead: Thumbs Down Webcast version.

New Order B-Side Bonus Link for "In A Lonely Place": Original 7" version, 1981 Berlin live version, 1984 BBC Radio 1 version.




* = Despite all of Radiohead's accolades, they'll never be as good as Gooey.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fleetwod Mac - "The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)" (the song remains the same)

"Now, when the day goes to sleep and the full moon looks..." If you know the next line, chances are good that you are a Judas Priest fan. If you're a knowledgeable Priest fan, you also know that "The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)" is a cover of a 1970 Fleetwood Mac song. If you're more than a casual Fleetwood Mac fan, you know that FM released nine LPs prior to Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joining in 1975 and releasing the breakthrough LP "Fleetwood Mac".

A non-LP single, "The Green Manalishi" was the last song written by Fleetwood Mac founder, guitarist and vocalist Peter Green before leaving the band. The Green Manalishi can be a symbol for drugs, monetary greed, evil, or perhaps even Peter Green himself. Green was dealing with drug-induced schizophrenia at the time and the lyrics reflect this: they don't strictly make sense, but they do paint a picture that is menacing, paranoid and erotic.

The original version is nearly a heavy metal song (especially when compared to their Rumours-era sound), so it should not be a complete surprise that Judas Priest covered the song on their 1978 LP "Hell Bent for Leather" (the US title, the UK title was "Killing Machine"). Judas Priest did not become big in the US until after their 1980 LP "British Steel" (corresponding with the NWOBHM), so casual fans might not be familiar with the song. Interestingly enough Judas Priest, at the height of their popularity, did choose "The Green Manalishi" as one of the three songs for their Live Aid set in 1985.

The song has been covered by numerous (but mostly obscure) metal bands. The only one that deserves mention here is the cover by Corrosion of Conformity (COC) on their 1983 debut LP, "An Eye for an Eye". COC became more metal with each successive LP, but their first is strictly hardcore.

Fleetwood Mac: Studio version; Live version (note Christine McVie as one of the keyboard players; she went from session player to official member during this time); live 1970 (with Peter Green), live 1974 (with Bob Welch), live 1975 (with Lindsey Buckingham)

Judas Priest: Studio version; Live Aid version, 1982 live version (where it appears Rob Halford has gone off his meds, but good nonetheless)

COC: Live version (ca. 1983, with vocalist Eric Eycke, approximately 1:35 into the video).

Bonus Link: The B-side to the original FM 7", World in Harmony.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Camera Obscura - "Let's Get Out of This Country" (LP Review)

"Let's Get Out of This Country", the 2006 LP by Camera Obscura, reaches the potential hinted at by their first two LPs: 2001's "Biggest Bluest Hi Fi" and 2003's "Underachievers Please Try Harder". Those were good, solid LPs that featured a handful of good songs. However, it all comes together for the band in LGOOTC: the production, the song writing & variety, the lyrics and the singing -- just the right combination of cleverness, earnestness, maturity, and detachment. An indie pop masterpiece.

The ease in which the band executes different styles is one of the features that separates this record from their others. Aside from the perfected indie pop sound, they also nail a smoky, downbeat country song ("Dory Previn"), a waltz ("The False Contender") and punk ("If Looks Could Kill"). The songs are slow ("Country Mile"), "vast" ("Razzle Dazzle Rose"), up-tempo ("Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken") and mid-tempo ("Come Back Margaret") and everything in between.

As many people have now read, "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" is an "answer" to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions' 1984 single "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?" from the LP "Rattlesnakes" -- "Hey Lloyd, I'm ready to be hearbroken / 'cause I can't see further than my own nose at this moment". That's a pretty obscure pull and you have to respect that. Ditto the homage to Dory Previn with the lyrics: "How I adore you Dory Previn / I turned you up to eleven for the band’s ears to bleed".

The weakest song is "I Need All the Friends I Can Get". It's not really a bad song, but it also suffers from placement immediately after the "If Looks Could Kill", which is easily my favorite song. Sometimes I'll skip the preceding song, "Country Mile", just to hurry up and get to "If Looks Could Kill".

Although it is a band effort, the star of the show is definitely the dour, never-smiling Tracyanne Campell. She writes all the songs, sings and is one of the two guitarists. Producer Jari Haapalainen does a great job of capturing the band's lush yet lo-fi sound, but especially so in capturing the tension of vulnerability and strength in Campell's voice. You owe it to yourself to give this LP a listen.

Standout tracks: "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken", "Tears for Affairs", "Come Back Margaret", "Dory Previn", "Let's Get Out of This Country", "If Looks Could Kill".

Skip 'em tracks: none.

Final Score: 10/10.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Donnie Iris - "Ah! Leah!" (Forgotten Song)

You've probably heard this song a long time ago, but might not have known what they were singing. Well, in the chorus they're singing "Ah! Leah!" -- apparently chosen because it sounded good, then they realized it was a woman's name.

This was the single from the 1980 Donnie Iris LP "Back on the Streets". It is tempting to call Donnie Iris a one hit wonder, but he actually had a hit after this (1981's "Love is Like a Rock") as well a hit in 1970, "The Rapper", with The Jaggerz. Not good stuff in my book, but technically it's more than one hit.

This is a definite guilty pleasure. Sure, it's a slightly silly song, but it's got a strong hook, power chords and a good solo, so what more could you want? I remember it getting a modicum of radio airplay in early 80s. But the video... geez. It did receive a bit of early MTV play as I recall, but not much. Although I'm linking the video below, I highly encourage you not to view it. It's bad. Really bad. So very bad, it will ruin the song for you (see also: James' "Say Something" video). I've made fun of Jan Hammer in his video before, but Donnie's earnest "Buddy Holly meets your Dad's friends" look is excruciating.

I blame the video for bumping this song off the classic rock radio play list.

YouTube (don't do it!).

1981 Live version on YouTube (not much better!).

Live WQED
(a PBS station!) version (surprisingly good); I think this is from the show "Live From Studio A".

last.fm.

Rhapsody.com.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Those Dancing Days - "Those Dancing Days" (LP Review)

"Those Dancing Days" is the initial 5 song EP from the Swedish, female band "Those Dancing Days". Infectious pop exports from Sweden? No, it doesn't sound like them.

TDD make fun, fluffy pop songs -- nothing more, nothing less. "Hitten" is a good song, but "Those Dancing Days" is the best of the bunch with a strong hook and interesting drumming. On most songs Cissi Edraimsson, the drummer, seems like she's holding the rest of the band back, but her fills work on this song. "1000 Words" and "Dischoe" are decent songs, with only "Tasty Boy" worth skipping.

The EP was initially released on V2 Music, but the band has since been picked up by Wichita Recordings. Wichita must have thought "Hitten" & "Those Dancing Days" were the best songs as well since those are the only two that made it to their 2008 debut LP "In Our Space Hero Suits". Ultimately this is a cute, but not essential, EP.

Standout Tracks: "Hitten", "Those Dancing Days".

Skip 'em Tracks: "Tasty Boy".

Final Score: 6/10.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lukid - "Foma" (LP Review)

Earlier this year I reviewed Lukid's first LP, "Onandon". I was especially impressed with the depth, variety, sophistication and restraint Lukid (real name: Luke Blair) showed in his music. Not long after that review, I got a copy of his second LP, 2009's "Foma" (also released on Werk Discs like the first LP). I've been putting off reviewing "Foma" because I was trying to absorb everything it presents. Most LPs I review here are with the benefit of repeated listens and reflection (read: the reviews are "less than timely"). And while Danette has accused me of handing out too many "10/10" scores, I don't see how I can give this less than a perfect score -- I can't find a single fault with the entire LP.

This is more than just yet another electronica record. There are quiet, subtle songs ("Ice Nine", "Raise High the Roof Beam", "Foma"), smooth grooves ("Veto", "Ski Fly", "Slow Hand Slap", "Time Doing So Mean"), thick base lines ("Saddlebags", "Fall Apart") and dubstep ("Chord"). There's even a prog rock homage: "Laughin". Ok, maybe "Laughin" should be labeled post rock, but whatever -- it's excellent. It's always unfair to compare artists, but I'd triangulate Lukid somewhere between Plastikman, RJD2, and Fatboy Slim.

This is an LP that you can really listen to & study, and it's also something you can just put in the background and enjoy the beats. It rewards your attention, but does not demand it.

Standout Tracks: They're all good, but you must listen to: "Fall Apart", "Veto", "Slow Hand Slap", "Laughin", "Foma"

Skip 'em Tracks: None.

Final Score: 10/10.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nick Lowe - "Cruel to be Kind" (forgotten song)

There are some songs that I can listen to over and over again and they're just as fresh as the first time I heard them. Nick Lowe's "Cruel to be Kind" is such a song. Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" is also such a song, but I'm pretty certain it does not qualify as a "forgotten song".

Lowe's first and only hit single in the US, "Cruel to be Kind" was released on 1979's "Labour of Lust". This song enjoyed significant contemporary radio and MTV airplay, but it seems to have mostly disappeared from the classic rock radio stations. The video (pretty good for the times) features real footage of Lowe's marriage to Carlene Carter.

Despite long-running collaborations as a song writer, musician and producer with Elvis Costello and Dave Edmunds (solo and as well as part of Rockpile), Nick Lowe has never really achieved large-scale success. You might have heard "I Knew the Bride" before, and you might not have known he wrote "What's So Funny About Peace, Love & Understanding?", but "Cruel to be Kind" will always be his most significant contribution to pop music. Give it another 10-12 consecutive listens.

"Cruel to be Kind": YouTube. Top of the Pops version: YouTube.

Bonus Link: Letters to Cleo did a decent but uninspired cover for the 1999 movie "10 Things I Hate About You": YouTube.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Howie B - "Another Late Night" (LP Review)

Sometimes the total is less than the sum of the parts. I like Howie B, and I like DJ mix LPs -- I probably own at least a dozen from the various Another Late Night/Late Night Tales, Back to Mine and DJ-Kicks series as well a handful more outside of those series (e.g., see my review of DJ Shadow's "Funky Skunk").

Unfortunately, Howie B's entry in the Another Late Night series does not come together. In fact, this is probably my least favorite DJ mix LP -- Howie B just goes through the motions, playing the tracks one after another (almost all of them in their entirety), with little feel for transitions or even an attempt to mix them. It has the following tracks (lifted from wikipedia.org):

  1. "What It Is?" - The Undisputed Truth
  2. "Love's Theme" - Love Unlimited Orchestra
  3. "Twilight" - Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
  4. "I Changed My Mind" (Stereo MCs Rattlesnake mix) - Lyrics Born & The Poets of Rhythm
  5. "Uplink" - Stratus
  6. "Mirage" - Santana
  7. "Walking In Rhythm" - The Blackbyrds
  8. "Summer Hot" - Curtis Mayfield
  9. "Contrazoom" (featuring Alison Goldfrapp) - Spacer
  10. "Respiration" - Black Star
  11. "Work The Angles" - Dilated Peoples
  12. "Heavy Tune" - Gong
  13. "Under The Boardwalk" - Howie B
  14. "Violets Don't Be Blue" - Herbie Mann

Only the transition between "Work the Angles" and "Heavy Tune" has the semblance of a mix, the rest sound like the work of a radio DJ and not a club DJ. The track listing is suspect too: "Love's Theme" is obvious -- no points awarded there (you might as well sample "Funky Drummer"). The requisite rap tracks are good ("I Changed My Mind", "Respiration" and "Work the Angles") as is "Uplink", but the rest of the tracks are dominated by too many meandering 1970s fusion jams ("What It Is?", "Mirage", "Twilight", "Walking in Rhythm", "Summer Hot", "Heavy Tune"). They're not necessarily individually bad (ok, "Mirage" is pretty bad), but how many do we really need?

The biggest head scratcher is probably Howie B's version of "Under the Boardwalk" -- it sounds like a midi version suitable for karaoke. I mean that in the worst possible way. Including some of your own work in a mix is de rigeur, but Howie B insults us with this throwaway track.

If this was your first DJ mix LP, you might not ever purchase another one. A more skilled DJ could salvage this song selection with innovative mixing. Or, minus the mixing, a more thoughtful track selection would have been ok. To fail at both is unforgivable.

Standout Tracks: "I Changed My Mind", "Respiration", "Work the Angles", "Uplink", "Love's Theme"

Skip 'em Tracks: Pretty much the rest.

Final Score: 4/10. You might enjoy some songs individually -- this score reflects the presentation as a mix LP.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Specials - "Ghost Town" (forgotten song)

"Ghost Town" is a 1981 non-LP single from The Specials, the last release from their original lineup. Unlike "Rat Race" which I vividly recall from early MTV, I have only a vague memory of seeing this video on MTV. Perhaps because this song sounds so different from others in their oeuvre it is easy to forget. It features only a few ska elements, instead matching the lyrical material with a vast, desolate sound.

I don't recall it getting radio airplay in the US at the time, but it was #1 in the UK and has been featured in several movies, including "Natural Born Killers" and "Shaun of the Dead". It was also sampled in the Gorillaz song "Slow Country" from their 2001 self-titled LP. You can't help but wish the original line up of The Specials had managed to stay together for more than two LPs and a few singles.

"Ghost Town" - official video, Top of the Pops version.

B-side bonus links: "Why" - YouTube; "Friday Night, Saturday Morning" - YouTube;

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sky Larkin - "The Golden Spike" (LP review)

"The Golden Spike" is the 2009 debut LP from the UK trio Sky Larkin. I discovered them on Wichita Recordings YouTube page, a place from which I've discovered many great bands (including The Cribs and Peter Bjorn and John) in the last year or two. Wichita Recordings is signing amazing bands and doing a great job of promoting them via the web (many are in the queue to be reviewed).

I was so excited about "The Golden Spike" that I ordered the UK copy as soon as it was released -- I couldn't wait for the US version that was to follow a few months later. Prior to the release of TGS, Sky Larkin released two singles from the LP. The first, "Fossil, I", is a good song but the second, "Beeline", is an infectious indie pop song tour de force. I can't imagine why this song has not received more buzz. Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Ones" received well-deserved radio airplay -- why not "Beeline"?

Nestor Matthews (drums) and Doug Adams (bass) are a good rhythm section but it is fair to say that the band's unique sound is defined by Katie Harkin, both as a vocalist and guitarist. Harkin perfectly captures the lo-fi, indie sound -- the closest comparison I can think of is Juliana Hatfield (updated by 15-20 years).

My only criticism of this LP (and it is a small criticism) is that at this point Sky Larkin seems to be a better singles band than LP band: the songs work a bit better one or two at a time than 12 (or 13, counting the hidden track) in a row. There are no bad songs on the LP, but they're not all at the level of "Beeline", "Matador" or some of my other favorites.

Standout Tracks: "Beeline", "Matador", "Fossil, I", "One of Two", "Molten", "Antibodies"

Skip 'em Tracks: none.

Final Score: 8/10.

2009-10-19 Update: I found this short interview with the band discussing Wichita Recordings, making the "Fossil, I" video and other tidbits on the "BenevolentShadows" YouTube Channel. It closes with a sample of this live version of "Matador".

2012-12-16 Update: More acoustic versions of "Matador": 2010 Bandstand Busking version, free mp3 version on soundcloud (unknown date)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jim Ingram - "Drumbeat" (the song remains the same)

Sometimes you discover things in reverse. I'm a big fan of The Chemical Brothers, and their excellent 2002 LP "Come With Us" features a song called "It Began in Afrika", whose heavily processed vocal sample of the phrase "it began in Africa" sets the mood for a driving, frenetic track. Although the sample helps make the track, I had never really thought about its origins.

I just recently picked up a copy of 2003's "Ultimate Lessons, Volume 3" and it also has a track called "It Began in Africa" by Fatboy Slim. The "Ultimate Lessons" series I'm reserving for future reviews, but they appear to be low-volume bootlegs of DJ mixes of questionable legality due to uncleared samples (Volume 1 had the original Double Dee and Steinski recordings from the early 80s). They're released on Starchild Recordings, which seems to exist only to release this series. After searching the web further, I found that this song was originally released in 1988 by the Urban All Stars, which is apparently one of the many aliases of Norman Cook (known to most as Fatboy Slim).

Intrigued by the similarity, I searched further and discovered that both versions of the song are based on a track called "Drumbeat", from the 1974 LP of the same name by spoken word artist Jim Ingram. Whereas The Chemical Brothers sampled just the phrase "It began in Africa", the UA version is a mix of "Drumbeat", the Jackson Sisters - "I Believe in Miracles" and Maceo & the Macks - "Cross the Track".

Good luck finding the original Jim Ingram recording -- it does not appear to have been re-released or even bootlegged. Fortunately, someone was kind enough to upload it to YouTube. The versions by The Chemical Brothers and Urban All Stars are not quite cover songs in the conventional sense, but it is always interesting to hear the original sources after hearing the sample. Presented in the order of my discovery:

The Chemical Brothers - "It Began in Afrika": YouTube.

Urban All Stars - "It Began in Africa": YouTube.

Jim Ingram - "Drumbeat": YouTube.

Monday, June 8, 2009

(Various) - "Until the End of the World" (LP Review)

Julee Cruise covering an Elvis Presley song. Elvis Costello covering a Kinks song. Duets with Kate Pierson & Michael Stipe, and Jane Siberry & k. d. lang. Artists like Neneh Cherry, U2, Depeche Mode, Can, Patti Smith and the Talking Heads recording with the same "sound." If these things sound intriguing to you, then you should love the "Until the End of the World" soundtrack. I saw the film once at the Naro Cinema (probably in 1992) after I already had fallen in love with the LP. I can't honestly say I understood the film (I suppose I should give it another try), but fortunately the soundtrack does not depend on the film.

This is the LP that really turned me on to soundtracks as a genre; this is the LP that I measure all other soundtracks against. The most amazing part of this LP is that all of the songs (except for U2's eponymous song) were unreleased and new for this LP, yet it sounds like they were recorded specifically for this LP (many of the songs were subsequently released on later LPs). Despite the range of artists, the songs are united by a hazy, desolate other-worldly feel. Taking the track listing from wikipedia:
  1. Graeme Revell: "Opening Theme" (Revell) (Solo cello performed by David Darling) – 1:59
  2. Talking Heads: "Sax and Violins" (David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth) – 5:18
  3. Julee Cruise: "Summer Kisses, Winter Tears" (Jack Lloyd, Ben Weisman, Fred Wise) – 2:37
  4. Neneh Cherry: "Move With Me (Dub)" (Cherry, Cameron McVey) – 2:58
  5. Crime and the City Solution, "The Adversary" (Bronwyn Adams, Simon Bonney, Chris Haas, Alexander Hacke, Mick Harvey, Thomas Stern) – 5:32
  6. Lou Reed: "What's Good" (Reed) – 5:07
  7. Can: "Last Night Sleep" (Malcolm Mooney, Jaki Liebezeit, Michael Karoli, Irmin Schmidt) – 3:35
  8. R.E.M.: "Fretless" (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and featuring Kate Pierson) – 4:49
  9. Elvis Costello: "Days" (Ray Davies) – 4:49
  10. Graeme Revell: "Claire's Theme" (Revell) (Solo cello performed by David Darling) – 0:51
  11. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: "(I'll Love You) Till the End of the World" (Nick Cave) – 4:38
  12. Patti Smith and Fred "Sonic" Smith: "It Takes Time" (Smith, Smith) – 5:00
  13. Depeche Mode: "Death's Door" (Martin Gore) – 3:53
  14. Graeme Revell: "Love Theme" (Revell) (Solo cello performed by David Darling) – 0:45
  15. Jane Siberry and k.d. lang: "Calling All Angels" (Siberry) – 5:11
  16. T-Bone Burnett: "Humans from Earth" (Burnett) – 3:07
  17. Daniel Lanois: "Sleeping in the Devil's Bed" (Lanois) – 3:50
  18. U2: "Until the End of the World" (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.) – 4:33
  19. Graeme Revell: "Finale" (Revell) (Solo cello performed by David Darling) – 0:58
Only Lou Reed's song, "What's Good", sounds out of place. I'm a Lou Reed fan, and its not necessarily a bad song, but the start to finish enjoyment of the LP is enhanced if you skip this song.

The strength of "The Adversary", probably my favorite song on the entire LP, caused me to spend a good bit of time hunting up copies of two other Crime and the City solution LPs: "Shine" and "The Bride Ship". I remember being disappointed that they were not as good as the song "The Adversary", but I should probably give them another try (I can't seem to find them right now).

This LP also turned me on to artists like Jane Siberry, whose 1993 LP "When I was a Boy" I'll review in the future.

After I had this LP, I purchased a copy of another Wim Wenders soundtrack: 1988's "Wings of Desire". Despite some of the same artists (like Crime and the City Solution), it is not nearly as good.

Standout Tracks: "Sax and Violins", "Summer Kisses, Winter Tears", "Move With Me (Dub)", "The Adversary", "Fretless", "Days", "(I'll Love You) Till the End of the World", "Death's Door", "Calling All Angels", "Humans from Earth" (a slightly different version), "Sleeping in the Devil's Bed", "Until the End of the World" (also a slightly different version). I'm not kidding, they're all that good.

Skip 'em Tracks: "What's Good".

Final Score: 10/10