Monday, June 23, 2008

Flex 13 - Candy

Here's a belated return to my Peter Hope discography project. This time we have Candy, the second CD recorded by Peter Hope and his bandmate from The Box, Charlie Collins, as Flex 13. (See here for the first, Paint My Legs.) Recorded in 1998 and 1999, Candy is a livelier affair than Paint My Legs. "Nothing Starts" is a dead ringer for early Clock DVA (Charlie Collins period), and ex-DVA and Box-man Paul Widger adds guitar to "Leader of the Pack" (co-written by John Wills, who plays on that track and the other one he co-wrote, "Back of Your Mind"). Also guesting is Jonathan S. Podmore, a.k.a. Kumo (a.k.a. Jono), who plays theremin on "Picking Up Speed." Here's the full track list:
  1. Listen Doctor
  2. Nothing Starts
  3. Birdman Falling
  4. Uptown Crank
  5. Grease Junkie
  6. Picking Up Speed
  7. Your Drugs Are Killing Me
  8. Leader of the Pack
  9. Ditch I'm In
  10. Back of Your Mind
It's a fine addition to the Hope/Collins opus, and the last one that I'm aware of. (If you know otherwise, please let me know in the comments.) Get the CD rip here or here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Furniture - The Lovemongers

By the time Furniture scored their two big hits in 1986, "Brilliant Mind" and "Love Your Shoes" from their Stiff Records album The Wrong People, they had already been together for seven years and released a string of singles and EPs on Survival Records and its subsidiary Premonition. Premonition also released a full Furniture album called The Lovemongers, which is an original album and not merely a collection of their single and EP tracks. The full track list is as follows:
  1. The Lovemongers
  2. Throw Away the Script
  3. Love Your Shoes (original version; rerecorded for Stiff)
  4. Escape Into My Arms (original version; rerecorded for Stiff)
  5. What the Fog Said
  6. Dancing the Hard Bargain (a 1984 single & Survival compilation track)
  7. Bullet
  8. Talking Kitten
  9. Sang Froid
  10. I Can't Crack (a 1985 single)

If you know Furniture then you'll already know what this sounds like; pick up the vinyl rip (here or here) for more of the same dinky organ and lounge-y crooning, plus some more introspective pieces in the vein of It's Immaterial. Furniture were unfortunate victims of the record business, getting lost in the shuffle with the sale of Stiff Records and never regaining their momentum, despite releasing one more album, Food, Sex & Paranoia, on Arista in 1989. Their spirit lives on, however, in the contemporary San Francisco band The Music Lovers.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

James Blood Ulmer - Part Time

Recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1983 (but not released until 1984 on the British Rough Trade label), Part Time documents the Odyssey trio of Ulmer, drummer Warren Benbow, and violinist Charles Burnham in a live setting. It's heavy on the Odyssey material, and the high point is some righteous jamming back and forth between Ulmer and Burnham on Odyssey's "Swings & Things." Here is the complete track list:

  1. Part Time
  2. Little Red House
  3. Love Dance
  4. Encore
  5. Are You Glad To Be In America?
  6. Swings & Things
  7. Mr. Tight Hat

The album is unfortunately short, clocking in at just thirty-two and a half minutes. But it's a great thirty-two and a half minutes! Get the vinyl rip (not pristine, sorry) here or here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Living In Texas - Live Italia Eighty-Five

Continuing the Living In Texas posts, here is their live album, Italia Live Eighty-Five. It contains live renditions of two songs from their first EP ("My End of Heaven," "Julia's Child"), three from their first album ("Here Come the Boat Traders," "The Other Side of Me," "This Blood Religion") a ten-minute version of "Kingdom" (a 12" release), "The Bomb Generation" from the Fastest Men Alive album, and the exclusive "Four Minutes." That's eight songs altogether, plus a spoken introduction in Italian that I have split out into a separate track. One wonders why they chose this particular recording (Genoa, 26 February 1985) to release as a live album: it was recorded in mono on a four-track TEAC. The sound quality is not that great. However, the band does display its range and its rather unusual stylistic potpourri of gothic rock, rockabilly, and proto-grunge. "Kingdom" really is an epic tour-de-force; I don't have the studio version, but I've just put it on my active wishlist. Get the vinyl rip here or here.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Mothmen - Pay Attention

Here's an album I've been after for years: Pay Attention by the Mothmen, a 1981 album on On-U Sound (LP 002). This was actually posted on the "Are Friends Electric" blog some time ago, but it seems to have disappeared. Thankfully a helpful reader who had downloaded it noticed it on my wantlist and sent the files on to me, yippee! It's so good that it deserves more exposure, so I've re-upped it here (or here). The Mothmen have a more rock-oriented sound than any other Adrian Sherwood productions of the same era, and it turns out that's because Sherwood didn't produce them: he merely released the album on his label. The surprising bit is that a band with no influence from Sherwood would fit in so well on On-U Sound. A full history of the band is available here on the unofficial On-U Sound website. The short version is that the Mothmen were formed by ex-members of Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias, the Durutti Column, and elsewhere; they recorded two albums and a handful of singles before breaking up; and two members went on to be the rhythm section of Simply Red. The whole Mothmen concept may have been a piss-take, but it holds up surprisingly well. The dub-inflected rock beats on Pay Attention never get too lazy, there are plenty of meandering psychedelic solos and flourishes, and even the fourteen-minute-long "The Mothman," which has the look and feel of album filler, at least has a driving beat that keeps it moving. A lost minor classic, in other words. Thanks again to the donor! Now if anyone has a rip of the second Mothmen album, One Black Dot, please get in touch (see my profile for my email address). Update: I've found One Black Dot and posted it here.

Friday, June 6, 2008

James Blood Ulmer - Live at the Caravan of Dreams

Nowadays James Blood Ulmer is a sort of elder statesman of the blues, but back in the 70s he was a protege of jazz great Ornette Coleman and a proponent of Coleman's "harmolodics," i.e. everybody play whatever you want at the same time and let the listener sort it out. Which made for some challenging listening! Ulmer's first solo records also had a strong funk underpinning, explicitly addressed in "Jazz Is the Teacher (Funk Is the Preacher)" on his album Are You Glad To Be In America? As for the Caravan of Dreams, I'll quote Wikipedia:

The Caravan of Dreams was a performing arts center located in the central business district of Fort Worth, Texas during the 1980s and 1990s. The venue was best known locally as a live music nightclub, though this only represented one portion of a larger facility. The center also included a multitrack recording studio, a 212 seat theater, two dance studios, and a rooftop garden.[1] The center was located at 312 Houston Street, and prefigured the redevelopment of Sundance Square into a dining and entertainment district. Edward P. Bass, whose family has participated in much of the redevelopment of downtown Fort Worth, financed the project, and Kathelin Hoffman served as its artistic director.[2]

The Caravan of Dreams was self-described as "a meeting place appealing to audiences who enjoy the creation of new forms of music, theater, dance, poetry and film" that was "architected and managed by and for artists."[3] The name was taken from 1001 Arabian Nights, by way of Brion Gysin, who attended the opening of the venue with William S. Burroughs in 1983.[4] The opening celebration centered around performances by Fort Worth native Ornette Coleman, both with his Prime Time ensemble in the nightclub, and with the Fort Worth Symphony at the nearby Convention Center. The event coincided with the mayoral proclamation of September 29, 1983 as "Ornette Coleman Day," when Coleman was presented with a key to the city.[5]

The center operated its own record label, releasing albums by Coleman as well as artists such as Ronald Shannon Jackson, James "Blood" Ulmer, and Twins Seven Seven. Caravan of Dreams also released films (including Ornette: Made in America, a feature-length documentary about Coleman) and spoken word recordings by William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, John P. Allen (as Johnny Dolphin), and others.

The rooftop garden featured hundreds of cacti and succulent plants, as well as a glass geodesic dome. Several years later, Biosphere 2 would incorporate geodesic domes in its structure, with the involvement of some of the same principals behind Caravan of Dreams.[6]

Eventually the facility became less geared toward the experimental (though high-profile) musicians, writers, and artists with whom it was associated in its early days. Caravan of Dreams ceased its production of entertainment media, and the nightclub hosted more mainstream performers outside of the jazz genre.

The nightclub closed in 2001, exactly eighteen years to the day after Ornette Coleman Day, and was converted into a restaurant, Reata at Sundance Square.[7] The theater space continued to be operated as such.

Sounds like a fantastic place, which unfortunately I never got the chance to visit. So, here (or here) is the James Blood Ulmer album referenced above. Released in 1986, it was probably recorded in 1983 or 1984, and includes a good mix of blues and funk numbers. The backing band is Amin Ali on bass, Charles Burnham on violin, and Warren Benbow on drums.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Living In Texas - Glad Bad Sad & Mad

Living In Texas, despite their name, were from England, not Texas. They released several records in the 80s on their own Chainsaw label, but judging by the lack of any fan websites, they never made much of an impact. That's a shame, because they recorded two of the best raucous guitar songs of the decade, and they are both on their 1985 EP, Glad Bad Sad & Mad. "The Girls in the Red Leather Coat" is built on Peggy Lee's "Fever" riff (and they even acknowledge it in the lyrics), and "Mr Fish", possibly about murderer Albert Fish ("Mr Fish swam home last night / Ate his wife and kids for tea") but a real rocker whatever the lyrical subject. The band consisted of Stephan James (vocals), Daniel Glee (guitars), Mathew Fraser (drums), and Nic Denton (bass) on this record; later releases added a second guitarist, Jeffrey Wallace. Glee also produced most of the band's record sleeve art, including this one. Glad Bad Sad & Mad was their finest moment, and is the first of four or five Living In Texas records I will be presenting. Get the vinyl rip here or here. (And about the distortion: it's the record, not the rip. It was cut way too loud.)