Sunday, January 17, 2010

Arthur Blythe - Illusions

The CD reissue of Arthur Blythe's 1980 LP Illusions is out of print and selling for high prices on the secondhand market, so here is a vinyl rip for anyone who would like to hear it without having to shell out $50-200 for a CD. This album is part of my James Blood Ulmer collection, as his guitar playing is all over it. Ulmer's guitar is also the only electric instrument in this album's lineup, the full list being:
  • Arthur Blythe, alto sax
  • Fred Hopkins, acoustic bass
  • Steve McCall, drums
  • John Hicks, piano
  • James Blood Ulmer, electric guitar
  • Abdul Wadud, cello
  • Bob Stewart, tuba
  • Bobby Battle, drums
The tuba gives the tunes a heavier beat and grounding in traditional jazz than the average avant-garde jazz session, and Blythe switches easily between lyrical leads and free wailing. Illusions was the third in a string of nine Blythe albums released by Columbia between 1978 and 1987, and came at the same time as Ulmer's brief tenure at the label, which resulted in the fiery Black Rock and Free Lancing LPs as well as the classic trio set Odyssey. If only Columbia had managed to push this jazz subgenre into the mainstream! The track list of Illusions is:
  1. Bush Baby
  2. Miss Money
  3. Illusions
  4. My Son Ra
  5. Carespin' With Mamie
  6. As Of Yet

Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Brains - Electronic Eden

After months of fruitless searching for a rip of the Brains' second album, Electronic Eden (Mercury, 1981), I discovered I still have my vinyl copy, so I've ripped it myself and present it here for your enjoyment. From Atlanta, Georgia, the Brains are best known for their song "Money Changes Everything," which appeared on their first album in 1980 and was made famous by Cyndi Lauper's cover version in 1983. The Brains played solid new wave rock, with a lyrical quirkiness and intelligence (courtesy of lead singer Tom Gray) that gave them more new wave credibility than many of the North American "new wave" bands at the time that were actually AOR bands with a bit of a new wave sheen (e.g. Loverboy, Huey Lewis and the News). There is a lost masterpiece on this album: "Heart in the Street" is an impassioned anthem to the diminished dreams that come with growing up. Stylistically it prefigures the sound of Collective Soul, a band that would spring from the Atlanta area ten years later and achieve much greater success. "Collision" is a rather macabre song about a girlfriend's not-quite recovery from a car accident. The full track list is:
01 Dream Life
02 One In A Million
03 Hypnotized
04 No Tears Tonight
05 Eyes Of Ice
06 Asphalt Wonderland
07 Little Girl Gone
08 Ambush
09 Heart In The Street
10 House Of Cards
11 Collision
For a more in-depth look at the band and its history, see R. Smith's excellent blog post. (Short version: after being dropped from Mercury Records, they released the Dancing Under Streetlights EP on the independent Landslide label in 1982, underwent some personnel changes, then broke up. A couple members joined the Georgia Satellites. Tom Gray now leads the blues/roots band Delta Moon.) Electronic Eden was produced by Steve Lillywhite (as was their first album) and engineered by Mark Richardson, and contains lots of that gated snare sound that was all the rage in those days. Get the kind-of-noisy vinyl rip here or here.