Sunday, February 26, 2017

Making Movies - Dire Straits

Let's see how long I can keep this up for, who know's maybe not for long but I'm glad it's been consistent weekly reviews now for almost three months. I started in December, and I think I might actually do this from now on in general. Unless I have reason to other wise, but for this year I'll continue this for as long as I can. This was waiting till January to finish, but I guess I'll do it now since I've been busy. The third album by the Dire Straits, released in just as many years. This follows the 1979 album, often looked at as a remake of the debut, Communiqué. This album was released on October 17th, 1980 with production being handled by Mark and Jimmy Iovine. I guess after hearing the song Because the Night that made Mark want to get Jimmy to produce this album. Jimmy also engineered for Bruce Springsteen on Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town and also was a recording engineer on The River. He also worked with Meatloaf as a remix engineer for Bat Out of Hell. There is other albums he has worked on, though they are less important for this review, but I digress. Speaking of notable things, Roy Bittan of The E Street Band plays piano on the record. I assume it's because the Iovine thing but who knows. This title somewhat interests me, Making Movies. It makes me think it's a concept album, or each song is a sort of mini movie within a song. They'd tell a story and take you there with vivid imagery and moving music. You later find out its a lyric, but that doesn't take away from my love of that title. Some of the songs do have a cinematic feeling, so it isn't all that off I guess.
  1. Tunnel of Love: Opening the album with Roy quoting The Carousel Waltz from the Hartz/Rodgers play of the same name, minus "waltz". I can honestly say this is one of the greatest tracks I've ever heard. It was from second one of hearing to second whatever I'm on after a few dozen listens. I really dig it, plus I'll add what an opener. That quote also helps add a lot of atmosphere to the opening, and followed by piano arpeggios reminiscent of Jungleland. I mean, it makes sense, look who's fucking playing it. I also love that organ sound and the piano and organ at the same time that lead into the guitar coming in. So good! I love the guitar on this and the song has this urgency that grabs your attention, you know like a good opener does. I also love the details like the acoustic guitar and the keys/organ in the background. This song is quite fleshed out and it shows. I don't really know exactly how to describe this song other than it's very epic you feel it. I love this and am a bit disappointed I can't find more words to describe this. The quiter part of the song works great and I love how the song builds back up. I think it'd be best if you just heard yourself.
  2. Romeo and Juliet: This opens with a similar melody to that in Jungleland. Though, that works and it isn't a negative thing. The track also features the use of a resonator guitar, the type showed on the Brothers in Arms album cover, which plays the intro to the song. I think it's a fine song, has some great parts,but that intro is great. I really like the way it sounds and there is a nice little swing to the track. I also love how the song goes up and down and doesn't really seem that forces. Everything, dynamics wise, is very natural. I like those touches of acoustic guitar you can hear strumming away at quieter parts. I also love those guitar chords and I really like the piano on the track too. This is a really good track, and I can't believe I didn't like it anymore at one point. Maybe I just needed time away in order to know what I was missing. I also like the solo and how it feels a bit distant and I think it works considering this seems to be about dying love. Or love that has already died. I think it kind of just ends, but I think it's still a great tune.
  3. Skateaway: This is another epic. An epic that a person would think, well why have them all in a row. That's what I think, and the worst part for me is this is my least favorite of the epics. It's got a great music video and great lyrics. They really paint a picture of a girl rollerskating down the busy streets of NYC. Without a care in the world, its as if its describing a scene from a movie. But I don't think this song works quite as well as the last two tracks. I dig the song, the drums a great and the guitar is great and the pre-chorus works. It's just the song seems to be like the lesser of these epics. I don't really have much to say about it, it seems like it's kind of following a formula. Maybe that's why it doesn't work for me really.
  4. Expresso Love: This is where the album starts to slide down. Am I the only one who hears this, "Because the Night belongs to lovers"? I mean it changes with the chorus and pre-chorus, but like the verses with that piano remind me of Because the Night. I mean it's not a terrible song, it kind of works as an in between of Romeo and Juliet and Skateaway but again it feels like it's following a formula. Like it's there, but the click isn't exactly. So close, but no cigar. I do like the organ and think this works a lot better than some later Bruce material, but still.
  5. Hand in Hand: "heart to heart, everywhere. That you never start". This introduction reminds me of Two Out of Three Ain't Bad. The song isn't that a bad, but again it's quite forgettable. Like I can't imagine I'll be returning to this or have an urge to hear this unless I completely forget or am just revisiting that album. The song isn't a terrible song, it's just kind of bland. The chorus is fine, but again nothing ground breaking or memorable.
  6. Solid Rock: This is a pretty good track, and as the title implies its a solid rocker. I can't say much more that that if I'm being honest. I mean it's pretty straight forward, no little twists or turns or grand story being told. Just a rocker, and I mean... what else can you actually say.
  7. Les Boys: A bizarre track that I read somewhere was a cabaret track. While I see that, I think they got that from the lyric. This is a track that kinda reminds me of Make Up or Walk on the Wild Side. This tongue and cheek style track is something that sounds similar to the tongue-and-cheekness of New York Telephone Conversation or Goodnight Ladies. This track is pretty clear about what's its about. And I don't really think it's about anything. I mean he mentions the "Les Boys" and liking whips and that they are in fact gay. I mean I think the biggest flaw here is the fact that the song sounds like it starts then when it ends it starts over with almost a loop. It plays the song basically twice. I've heard songs where that isn't a bother, Oh Well Parts 1 & 2 on the album, but this just kinda takes away from it. There at least it was a section rather than a whole entire song. I guess this feels like an outtake maybe just left on. 
Overall I have to give this album a 7/10. The biggest problem is why have Romeo follow Tunnel . The album runs out of steam by the ending. Why not put Romeo in the second side at least. I like that the Les Boys has a closing vibe, though it could literally be cut in half and done just as good a job as if it wasn't. I digress, this album is pretty solid and is a step up from the last album. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Little Dots - Frank Zappa

So Gail Zappa died, and handed the vault over to Ahmet and Diva. Since her passing in October 2015, we have gotten a total of 9 releases in the course of 12 months. Now I'm not going into the, she's evil and wanted to fuck over Frank. Why? Because it's pointless, there's no need for that. What I will go into is the fact we finally have gotten lots of albums out. One of which, Meat Light, I was hoping to see the light of day. This is official release number 108, and is sort of a sequel to Imaginary Diseases. All of these tracks were taken from the petite Wazoo tour, so Fall 1972. I'm kinda curious to see what comes if this, and I vaguely remember hearing about this before Gail passed. Like months maybe, or maybe it was around when she passed.... Who cares. I also want to say if all goes well this year I'll have like 10 Zappa reviews out, and the ten are almost completely done.
  1. Cosmik Debris: Years ago I heard a bootleg taken from around this time (Fall 1972) and it had Cosmik Debris on it. Now one of my favorite things about Frank is before and after a song is released, there often are different versions or arrangements of it. Since I had heard the version from around this time I kinda figured what it might sound like. The biggest difference is this sounds much bigger, and big band oriented and there isn't those little motifs to accompany the lyrics. It's not bad, but it's kinda stripped back a bit and not as fun. The performance is pretty solid though. The solo also works fine, but it's not the best solo I've heard for this song. But I like the tone, but that's probably because of the audio quality. It's fine.
  2. Little Dots (Part 1): Sitting at just under 11 minutes this is actually very neat. There is a weird sort of avant-garde jazz/free jazz feeling to the beginning and even the bass solo feels like it could be in the style. There feels like its more rocky than jazz but I still like what I'm hearing. Also the playing could be free improvisation but I also feel like the notes aren't crazy enough or all over the place enough to be that. There is some sort of logic to the notes. And the drums have a consistent rhythm. I love the steel drum, played by Jim Gordon, that comes in, nice touch if I'm being honest. It goes back to the bass and the bass feels like its playing something from maybe Apostrophe (maybe an early idea for the title track). Its a nice calmer feeling than the previous two. The way it sounds also remind me of the way that song sounds. A calm guitar solo comes in and its quite. Maybe its just the quality but everything sort of seems quieter. There is some okay playing and the guitar also remind me of the track before alluded to ('). Though I also wanna say Zombie Woof's solo comes too. I like the song and like that it was released. Yeah the solo goes a bit long but for the most part it ain't too bad for a sort of sketch. It kind of just sounds like jamming or them trying to re create it like. There is some horns that come in at the very ending before the track segues into the next. The horns are a bit odd but I wish that would have happened longer than the solo. 
  3. Little Dots (Part 2): This is a straight blues number. Like fucking slide guitar blues rock. This is also over 10 minutes, about 11 1/2. I do like this but I don't get why it was cut into two parts. Why not make it one track unless it was supposed to replicate the way it was to be on vinyl. This track hits pretty hard and I am passed because I'm drawing a blank on what this reminds me of. If it wasn't for the driving force of the band I'm positive I would have lost interest but the playing on guitar is pretty consistent for this long of a solo. The the only other solo on record that is this consistent for this long maybe something off Joe's Garage. I like the horns then getting time to shine and love the wah on the guitar. It sounds so fucking good. Its so wet like it... Maybe I should use that analogy. But the horns are a nice touch to add a new flavor. They also have some nice soloing and sound super damp, like i think its a trumpet solo (kinda sounds, at times, like a wet fart). This track is kind of losing some of its steam at the 8 minute mark, like enough to were I kinda almost don't wanna listen any more. But the tracks almost over so trudge on. There there a riff that comes in and I like it. It isn't the greatest ever but it works as a sort of vehicle to take the track to its ending. Another solo plays over it and its for sure Frank because I know that playing, and it...... It isn't doing much here for me. So the slide was probably Tony playing.  But the track almost feels like its slowing down at one part. Like it was manually slowed down. The guitar sounds kind of terrible here its hard to make out with the other instruments and this sounds chaotic a bit but unintentionally so. Its okay I mean is skip the last solo and maybe cut the track down 3 minutes but it isn't too bad. Then of course it comes back to the word sort of Gregory Peckary "busy making them" part. 
  4. Rollo: This track includes all three sections of Rollo (Rollo, The Rollo Interior Area and Rollo Goes Out). I don't think I've ever heard all of the track before on a bootleg. I've heard the official releases and the bits played on Yellow Snow off On Stage 1 and Chicago '78 (which isn't all of it but it's a lot of it). The thing that took my by surprise was, I cant believe I never heard the lyrics to this song. Also a vocal version exists, and for whatever reason the melody made so much more sense. Like I feel like it was supposed to have words sung to it. Not taking away from other versions or usages of it, I was just like yeah I get this. It seems so weird to hear Rollo played as a bluesy number. Like I like, but its weird to wrap my head around this honestly. I didn't think I would be thrown surprises like this from the Vault anymore. Its a fun song and the story is pretty goofy. Is listen to this track and the next track for certain of any two. This also has my favorite version of the interior and I love the solo of this. Its a great vehicle for soloing. The vamp here is fucking great and the solo works very effectively. Like its out there enough to work well with what hes doing on the guitar. Even the sort of vamp change doesn't hurt anything. I love the horns coming in and I can't believe a full version of this hasn't been released sooner. This has a sort of weird thing happen I can't exactly explain before going back to the regular feeling song. It feels very 20th century to me. I really like this though. There's a lot of good shit in the song waiting for you. And this is the first track here that didn't feel a bit long.
  5. Kansas City Shuffle: I can't be the only one, but do I hear some Anything You Wanna Do in this progression. Now yeah, what you fucking stupid its a twelve bar blues progression (or something similar to that) of course it sounds similar. No like I actually hear the backing just with a different band and no vocals. And I can actually sing the song over it, so this is actually a nice little treat for me. This is also the best song on the album, and easily the most accessible. I really like the trumpet and the guitar's strumming pattern works quite well. Also killer solo, really he did a great job here. The band is working quite well together and this would be like single material. Or if this band had a live album come out, this should have been on it.
  6. 'Columbia' S.C.' (Part 1): Here we are, at the last two part song. This first half sits at just under 9 minutes (8:58) and opens with dialogue. Frank implies they make something up, so it might be improvised music. This opens very odd, there is a creeping feeling to it, and it has some nice steel drums that kind of make it even more off. This is what I would consider avant-garde jazz. It also sounds as if it's based off Rock a bye Baby, but perverted in a manner similar to Bebop Tango.... but more. I think this definitely wouldn't appeal to everyone, but I'm eating this up. It's a bit subdued, but I love it. The way the track is building and growing makes it feel like it's worth the wait. There is a section where I feel like it should be a bit louder and chaotic, but it works. I feel like I'm on a merry-go-round and I'm drunk and ready to pass out but not quite there yet. The hinge of blacking out. I also really dig that bass line, and the trumpet here reminds me of Bebop Tango. I almost wonder if this is quoting it or was a predecessor to it.... though it was performed originally around this time. It also, towards the end, reminds me of The Grand Wazoo.
  7. 'Columbia' S.C.' (Part 2): The second half sits at 16:41, the transition is quite apparent, but it isn't bad. Like you can tell this is a different section, and it feels very secret agent-y. The way it was edited has nothing to do with me knowing. I really like the guitar and I am a bit surprised he would have done something like this to be honest. Like they could be soloing over a James Bond vamp. I could see someone saying this is long, but unlike the other longer track, this kind of feels like it's paying off. This is actually a really cool track and there is some great shit that happens here, honestly one of the most exciting solos I've heard from Frank like ever. Where the fuck was this on Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar? Like This could have so easily replaced any track on any of those, with the exception of maybe Deathless Horsie, Heavy Duty Judy and Canard du Jour. And listen to those drums...... AGH! This really is worth the 16 minutes. I also like the ending quite a bit, and it's surprising he didn't do more with this band. They have some chemistry at times. I'm sure it would have even furthered if he spent more time, but then again I wouldn't have gotten the albums that follow, so... who knows.
Overall I have to give this a 8/10. While there were lower points... I gotta say this was the best album released this year by the ZTF. I wish the audio was better, but its not the end of the world, especially considering some if the shit Joe Traver's had to do to preserve/transfer the tapes. I will always be a Zappa fan, the thing is the more I listen and the more I learn about music the more I love his music. The older I get the more intelligence I gain the more I love and find humor in his lyrics. I also think if you dug ID you'll dig this. Give it a shot.

While in reality they'll never see this, I just wanted to post what I'd like to hear from the Zappa vaults. (Note: I understand things are in different stages of availability so they might not be able to recover it, but I just wanna say this). A live concert from 1966, 1967. 1969 (with Lowell George). If possible live stuff from the early pre-Mothers days. Another guitar solos album, maybe the whole Pauley Pavillion show, and the whole Auditorium Theater show on Mothers Day 1974. Another Petite Wazoo compilation and show (Bebop Tango). A concert from the 88 band, or at least an album that contains '88 versions of older songs. A concert from 82 and the July 22nd, 1984 show with Johnny Guitar Watson, George Duke, Denny, Bruce and Aynsley and Napi. Maybe a show from the Beefheart tour. I'd also be interested in more Yellow Shark material if possible. And also The Rage and The Fury album. That's all I can think of atm, but yeah stuff I think would be cool to hear.

Friday, February 10, 2017

5 Souls - Judas Priest

So I decided to break this review into two separate reviews, I originally planned to just do the deluxe version but I ended up wanting to do them separate since there is an EP of the bonus tracks. I don't really have more to add outside of the RoS album should be out soon and hopefully this once a week thing will work out I have already done an months work in advance. As in this is typed like a month before this is being posted.
  1. Snakebite: This opens with a classic 80's feeling to it. One of the slower songs along the lines of You've Got Another Thing Comin', which this isn't actually that different from in set up. That isn't a bad thing, but I just don't completely jive with this. 
  2. Tears of Blood: "Like tears of your blood, so now that your gone, embrace all that come, and die with a SMiLE". This song also opens like an 80's heavy metal cut, but the intro honestly made me laugh. There was a sort of Def Lepard feeling to it, like I could totally hear this being the rerecorded intro to Bringing on the Heartbreak. Then once the song starts it's faster and there is more agression than in the last track, but it feels like an older wearier Electric Eye. Like what Electric Eye would sound like if it was a person in it's 50's maybe. It's a solid tune if you get past that, but I just think it's okay. There is a solid solo, but honestly I can't retain a single note from it. Like Electric Eye, Living After MidnightHell Bent for Leather, You've Got Another Thing Comin', Painkiller, fuck I'd even include the section that replaces a solo in Breaking the Law there is no denying that you remember these guitar solos.They not only stick with you because they rock, there are some theory things behind it also, but point is it's very good and memorable. This sounds like a knock off of one or all of those.
  3. Creatures: This track starts and I feel a bit unsure how to feel. Like I mean I've heard this before but I don't know what to compare it to. There is quite a bit of crunch and the song is a bit off. Then the chorus comes in and I'm like Metal Gods? This is okay, but I'm pretty sure I wont remember a part of it by the end of the review. 
  4. Bring It On: This song isn't bad, but the lyrics are very cringe. The vocals also make it feel so cheesy that I can take Turbo Lover more serious. And isn't he fucking a motorcycle in that song..... Note I am aware he isn't. This is a better solo and the best thus far. This also is the most memorable that I have heard thus far, though it doesn't hold it's salt to the past solos from the bands heights. This also feels so cheesy, but I digress.
  5. Never Forget: My favorite songs is the "lame" song. Ok I'm joking, but it's the sappy ballad. Now maybe it's because I'm a sucker for a pretty ballad, but this is the best (in my eyes) song I've heard before listening to the whole entire front to back. Literally, some of my favorite songs in history are the ballads by that German group, The Hunters. Kudos if you get the joke. This really reminds me of Wind of Change for some reason, either that or The Best is Yet to Come. Maybe more the Wind of Change that was on that 2011 Comeblack album. But I could literally go on for hours about the tones and what reminds me of what, but I know I wouldn't be interested in some snobby person's review that lasts forever. But let's go back about 93 words, or so. It sucks when people, a lah The Next Day, put some of my favorite tracks as the bonus tracks (or b-sides). Like honestly, screw Just Push Play. But really, this should have been on the album, almost any song could be cut to replace this. I get maybe it's out of place, but it's far better than at least 10 of the cuts from the actual album. {7/10}
Overall I have to give this track a 5/10. As you can see if you're fan you'll love this. But if you're not hardcore then I would avoid it, because it's nothing new really. This and Redeemer of Souls feel like they were just cut to fulfill a contract, or to go shit we need to make a new album.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

For Alto - Anthony Braxton

As of late I've been listening to/downloading a lot of albums that are vinyl only/out of print/impossible to find unless your a rich mother fucker. Plus I believe, that if a collector makes more of the album then what than what the artist makes, its justified to not pay the middle man. Id rather pay $200 to the man himself, than a collector. Among these album, one of the artists is this guy. So i decided to finish this up, because fuck why not. This is one of the first records by Chicago avant/free jazz/free improvisation saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton. How can you be so vague, and not have a specific number you ask. Well various sites have various dates ranging from 1968-1971 as the release date. Wikipedia alone has the first three years on different pages. It seems it's more likely 1970, but who knows. I know that it was recorded in February 1969 and is the second one recorded so its likely its the second album. But there is no definite proof you know. I found out about this record through one John Zorn, in a documentary he mentioned this record by name. I had to hear it, it was an influence on him. For years this record was mysterious, I couldn't find any zips/rars and I didn't want to by a vinyl I might not like. Even after I got a copy it took a year to listen to it, this is one of those "will it live up to my expectations" records. The first time I heard a note was Christmas Eve 2015. Now it only took me two fucking years to even listen to anymore or do a review of this. Also I believe that I should mention the passing of John Wetton (bassist/vocalist on such great albums as Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Here Come the Warm Jets, Return to FantasyStarless and Bible Black, Red among others I still very much so need to listen to.)
  1. Dedicated to Multi-Instrumentalist Jack Gell: Opening the record we have a 42 second long track, and it starts off well. I mean my hopes were high for this, but this opens quite promising. There are some cool things and it has a cool vibe to it. 
  2. To Composer John Cage: I like the intensity he gives this playing on the song. There are some things that remind me a bit of Ornette's playing, and also maybe Brötz. The only problem I see though is that fact this is solo saxophone and there are no overdubs and it's 72 minutes long. So far I have enjoyed and don't find problem in what I'm hearing, but I don't know if that will last the full 72 minutes. I did smile when I heard him breathing. There are some neat playing though on this cut. Plus at 9 minutes, it's a bit long.
  3. To Artist Murry dePillars: This is a bit of a nice change of pace. While yeah we get the also saxophone again, we hear him hitting the saxophone valves and it's much softer and relaxing than the last. I think this is more effective in what it's trying to do than the last cut was in trying to be punchy. I like the trills and I like the part where it gets very intense and loud to the point of over taking the track. I also am a bit impressed with how he goes back and forth so easily. I mean It might not be that impressive, but I still think it works quite well. Almost as is it's a clam person talking to a pissed off person or trying to talk him down. 
  4. To Pianist Cecil Taylor: I have to make a confession..... I am aware of Cecil. There are some solid moments on The World of Cecil Taylor, but I'm not really a fan. Yeah I mean I have only heard tracks here and there outside of that album and Jazz Composer's Orchestra but I find, when given a full front to back listen, those albums to not keep my interest. Plus I can say there exist albums that do what those two did but much better, anything Alexander van Shlippenbach or Fred Van Hove and Brötz and then for the JCO listen to The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. But I digress, I like the introduction. Feelin' jazzy, but as the track continues I yern for more flavors outside of just saxophone, or one take alto. I mean add some tenor, baritone, bass, soprano, sopranino (I probably spelled that wrong), fuck even a bass clarinet would be a nice change of pace. This is okay, but isn't nothing more than just that.
  5. Dedicated to Ann and Peter Allen: This is pretty chill and I could see this being very effective i there was chimes or other things that add to this feeling of blowing in the wind or floating feeling. It is a weak, as in not forceful, cut and could use that. Actually I could almost imagine this being changed into having some gamelan stuff. To be fair it works as is, but it's 13 minutes long and it's atmosphere is a bit lost by the ending. I do like the clicks of the instrument as if it's like a percussive instrument, but why didn't he use that or other tricks like that more often. Like this could have been edited together or shortened to be made a bit better.
Now on to vinyl 2. Now to be fair I did have to take a break after the first side of the record. The reason being I know I would be far harsher if I didn't and I wouldn't be able to focus as easily.
  1. Dedicated to Susan Axelrod: This isn't that distant from the last track, it's just louder and more audible. I mean I like it but it again goes a bit too long. There are some interesting ideas here and there and what not, but I don't know. There is some nice fluttering but again I just kind of want this to end so I can finish the review.
  2. To My Friend Kenny McKenny: I like some of the squeaks at the beginning and they kind of make it be like, well there's 30 minutes left, let's just power though.
  3. Dedicated to Multi-Instrumentalist Leroy Jenkins: Leroy was a violinist, the most common instrument I've seen his playing for what I'm going to say, who played on a number of records with Braxton's. There is a part in the beginning that reminds me of a spy song maybe, but like the outline or rough draft. There was actually a part that reminded me of We Are Number One, and I did laugh a bit. After a while this 19 minute long track just kind of overstays its welcome. I mean there again are neat ideas, but it feels more like sketches than anything else.
Overall I have to give this a 5/10. I enjoyed this, just there is too much and not enough variety. Now I've heard some of Braxton's other work, and I've heard the different types of jazz. Now of everything I've heard of those categories, this is kind of looked at very highly and I have to disagree. The most important thing about music, unless it's breaking a rule or theoretical music (4:33), is it has to keep you entertained. It's like a movie, if you are bored while you watch its usually not very good. Now a number of things can be subjective, maybe your not into this or that, but overall you can kinda say if something is good or bad. This was just too long, too samey and didn't keep my interest. Maybe if he overdubbed or used different saxes or something, but what we have just isn't anything mind blowing to me. Maybe that's because I've heard this but done much better and much more intense and engaging. I can see how the idea of it is mind blowing to people, and still can be to this day, but I just am not fazed by it I guess.  Maybe part if the reason I gravitate towards Bailey is because he's a guitarist and I go, "Fuck How'd he do that" or originally "You can do that?". Saxophone players should listen to this, and then anything by John Zorn Pre-Spillane. Well this and really anything in the field of free and avant jazz with odd sax playing. I guess I can sum up what I said fast, if you want to have a solo instrument record this this it needs variety of to be short. Not a double albums worth. If this was a single record it would have been much more tolerable for me. If you want to hear this type of thing done right listen to Payan.