Saturday, April 28, 2012

scrap 224; Rush MOVING PICTURES

This is a journey into sound.....

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On February 12, 1981 The Canadian Rock trio released their 8th studio album MOVING PICTURES & their modern legacy would forever be cemented. Having already made a name for themselves with their previous 7 albums (especially with 2112), they were now poised to make themselves into modern day Tom Sawyers & go mainstream.
MOVING PICTURES became the band's biggest selling album in the United States rising to #3 on the Billboard charts and remains the band's most popular and commercially successful studio recording to date. The album was certified quadruple-platinum with four million copies sold as of January 27, 1995
The album cover is a monument to triple entendre. On the front cover there are movers who are moving pictures. On the side, people are shown crying because the pictures passing by are emotionally "moving". Finally, the back cover has a film crew making a "moving picture" of the whole scene.[9] The album cover was taken in front of the Ontario Legislative Building at Queen's Park, Toronto. The pictures that are being moved are the starman logo featured on the reverse cover of the 2112 album, the famous Dogs Playing Poker painting, and a painting that presumably shows Joan of Arc being burned at the stake on May 30, 1431.
MOVING PICTURES only has 7 tracks yet all are extremely memorable: 1. Tom Sawyer. 2. Red Barchetta. 3. YYZ (instrumental) 4. Limelight. 5. The Camera Eye. 6. Witch Hunt. 7. Vital Signs. In my estimation, the first 4 tracks solidify the album & the final 3 solidify the bands style at this time.
During Rush's recent Time Machine Tour & in celebration of their biggest selling album 30th anniversary, they played MOVING PICTURES sequentially for all 7 tracks live for the first time ever. The album was also reissued. MOVING PICTURES was re-released in a 2-disc 30th Anniversary set on April 5, 2011. The first disc contains the standard stereo mixes of the songs. The second disc, available as either a DVD or Blu-ray disc, contains all the album's tracks in Audiophile 5.1 Surround and Stereo and music videos for the songs "Tom Sawyer", "Limelight", and "Vital Signs".
The vinyl is solid as well. My version is sparkling & crackling with life. 180g & all is well. It sounds clean. The combination of drums, guitar, bass, & synthesizers all bristle with audio life. It is in my humble opinion, perhaps the best listening experience I have in my vinyl collection. Believe it. MOVING PICTURES is among Rush's best work & maybe their definitive work. Spin it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy Record Store Day!!!

Good morning vinyl junkies!  Happy Record Store Day to you all.  For those of you who do not know, twice a year, (April and November) the industry celebrated independent record  stores by releasing limited edition collectors vinyl from a wide variety of artists.  The list year is very good with new vinyl from a lot diverse acts.  Highlights being the first time Metallica's Beyond Magnetic EP will be available on vinyl....silver vinyl!  There's a box set of disturbed's 5 studio albums (very limited) The black keys double vinyl of their newest album, a 7x7" + 2CD of the Pharcyde's 1991 debut a Bizarre Ride To Tha Pharcyde and a 3x10" of Lee "Scratch" perry to name just a few.  This weekend also finds yours truly going to a record show on Sunday.  Last year's record fair was excellent and I walked away with a lot of great stuff.  I am hoping tomorrow will result in the same.  But for today, get out to your local independent retailer and pick up some new music and some collector's items.  This year you can find an app for Record Sore Day for your iPhone or Android.  Finally and by no means least, Mr. Iggy Pop is the ambassador for RSD2012 and today is also his birthday so a Happy Happy Birthday to Iggy Pop and Happy Record Store Day everyone!  Check back later this weekend for my recent finds and possibly a review. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Black Keys The Big Come Up

What qualifies as an important record?  Is it rarity? Collectability?  No, while these things are important to someone who is into collecting records as investment?  It is indeed not what makes a great record.  The music, the mastering, the pressing and the artwork are what makes a great record, because if it is not truly a creative force behind the project, it is dead on arrival.

In the past three or four years, America has started to pay attention to a ‘new band’ from Akron Ohio.  Two white guys with the souls of bluesmen who form a two man outfit called The Black Keys.  They first began to make a little bit of noise when they released a single in 2006 called ‘Your Touch’ off of their 5th release entitled ‘Magic Potion’.  There was something new and yet completely familiar to the formula that Guitarist Dan Auerbach and  drummer Patrick Carney had put together.  The following two releases, 2008’s Brothers and 2011’s El Camino would see the two tour the world several times and win Grammy after Grammy.  The hipsters jumped on the bandwagon and all of a sudden the Black Keys were a household name.  People would run up to them and congratulate them on their debut record ‘Brothers’ even though the duo had recorded 5 albums prior.  Ahh, the wonders of success, much reminiscent to fans jumping on Nirvana’s bandwagon in 1991 and claimed to be down from the beginning even though they did not realize Nirvana had already released a full length debut a year prior.

All of this is irrelevant thou as we are going to look at the beginnings of a band that now seemed poised for success from the beginning, although for years this band received no airplay and did what they were best at…delivering hard edged electric dirty riff blues and toured the country on the strength of their live show. 

In 2002 an independent label called Alive records released the classic album The Big Come Up, the debut record from the Black Keys and we have finally reached our review which is, of course, the moment you have all been waiting for.

The Big Come Up is one of those records that would consider an important record.  It is loud, edgy and in your face, paying tribute to a wide array of artistic influences from Junior Kimbrough to Captain Beefheart.  The album is one of the best examples of lo-fi recordings around.  This record feels like it was recorded in a garage instead of a studio.  It is dirty and raw and doesn’t feel like there was any tweaking of the soundboards, instead going from the amplifier to the record and then to your ears. 

The 180 gram pressing is raw and loud and far superior to the cd which is overdriven and clips like mad during the louder points of the songs.  The album contains the first of several tributes to one of their influences, Junior Kimbrough, later they would record an entire EP of Kimbrough’s  songs.  This album contains a reinvention of his song Do the Rump.  From the very beginning it is certain that these two Akron natives are not just going through the motions of playing the blues, they are living and feeling the blues with each and every note. 

My only complaint about this album is the lack of love this album receives in their live shows.  The only track that is included in their live sets is the album’s single ‘I’ll be your man’. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great track, however, there are songs on this album with strength that far surpasses their other outings. 

In short, The Big Come Up is an important record.  It’s the starting point of a band, who have achieved critical success however have not yet begun to scratch the surface of what they are capable of.  This album needs to be in your LP collection.  If it is not, make sure it gets added soon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

scrap 224; Van Halen A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH

This is a journey into sound.....
(my 10th review)

...and then 28 years later Diamond David was welcomed back into the fold where he, Alexander, Edward, & Edward's son Wolfgang lived happily ever.
If there is a God & yes I do believe there must be, then some prayers are in fact answered, some fairy tales come true, world peace can be achieved, & Van Halen can have one David Lee Roth back as their frontman/singer. Sammy Hagar was a new singer for Van Halen. David Lee Roth is THE singer for Van Halen.
Back in 2007, the Van Halen Reunion Tour was alive & well. The original Van Halen line up was 3/4 intact & on tour (substitute Ed's son Wolfgang for long-time bassist Michael Anthony)
Fast forward to 2011-2012. Rumors began to swirl cyberspace that Van Halen could possibly be sort of back in the studio (5150) recording a new album. And then on January 12, 2012, rumor became reality when the first single off a yet untitled new album was released. TATTOO hit the world at large & the new/old Van Halen was off & running. By January 23, 2012, TATTOO was ranked #1 on Billboard's Hard Rock Singles chart, the #1 most played song at classic rock radio in its first week and #1 most added song at mainstream and active rock radio. TATTOO had mixed reviews. A wide range of opinions from love it to hate it. I didn't like it at first but have come to love it now. Then new rumors began to rise. TATTOO was actually based on a never released song called DOWN IN FLAMES. Then more rumors; was this seemingly mythical new album with Diamond Dave ALL old demos from the 70's that they did prior to 1984? In an interview, new/former lead singer Sammy Hagar said so, & for the most part he was right.
On February 7, 2012 all rumors were confirmed. A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH was released. 13 'new' tracks with David Lee Roth at the helm of the good yet plenty battered ship Van Halen. Now that Dave, Alex, & Eddie are all in their late 50's the kicks & jumps aren't as high. Dave's Jack Daniels stained voice doesn't quite have the same range as it used to but musically & lyrically the boys are in tip top form. Dave's singing his ass off. Eddie is not just playing his ass off he's again re-defining the rock guitar. Alex has been reborn again hard on the skins (perhaps because he is now an ordained minister) & Ed's pride & joy Wolfgang is dangerous on the bass & bonus, he can sing too.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH is the best of the re-worked past & the retro future all in the present.
The 13 'new' tracks I spoke of earlier are; 1. Tattoo. 2. She's the Woman. 3. You & Your Blues. 4. Chinatown. 5. Blood & Fire. 6. Bullethead. 7. As Is. 8. Honeybabysweetiedoll. 9. The Trouble With Never. 10. Outta Space. 11. Stay Frosty. 12. Big River. 13. Beats Workin'
All these songs have that retro feel to them & yet still manage to sound resoundingly new in my opinion. I have listened to this album in its entirety on numerous occasions & have yet to find any reason to not love this album.
Since A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH was released on CD in 2 versions (standard & deluxe) & online. I purchased the deluxe edition. That version came with two CD's. The standard album & a bonus disc (The Downtown Sessions) consisting of the band rehearsing acoustic versions of; Panama, You and Your Blues (Intro), You and Your Blues, and Beautiful Girls. A Collector's Edition vinyl album was also released. This double gatefold LP vinyl includes all 13 songs on two 180g LPs plus custom LP artwork done by David Lee Roth.
I have to admit the vinyl format is absolutely beautiful. The LP's are in a bright red color that matches the red color on the cover artwork. A silver/bronze Art Deco locomotive engine with the classic VH logo in the upper right hand corner. (speaking of which, is extremely similar to The steam locomotive featured on the cover artwork is a New York Central Railroad J-3A Dreyfuss Hudson. Aside from a reversed angle of the locomotive, the artwork appears very similar to the 1975 Commodores album Movin' On, released by Motown Records.)
The records are as flawless sounding as they are cool to look at. They are loud. They are clean. High's, mid's & lows are all in wonderful vinyl harmony. If you are a fan of Van Halen, especially the DLR era music this is definitely the album you've waited well over a generation for. That's the truth. The whole truth, & nothing but a different kind of truth. So help me God. Go Spin it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

scrap224; Def Leppard HYSTERIA

This is a journey into sound..... 

80's British rock. That statement is humorous yet an accurate one when describing Def Leppard. Already a handful of good to great albums to their credit it would be their 4th album, HYSTERIA that would solidify them as one one the biggest & best rock bands of all time. HYSTERIA was released on August 3rd, 1987. It is still their best selling album selling 20 million + so far. Of the 12 tracks on the album 7 were released as singles. HYSTERIA gave the world such music as; Rocket, Armageddon It, Love Bites, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Hysteria, Women, & Animal. A virtual greatest hits from a single album. Hysteria went on to dominate album charts around the world for three years. RIAA x 12 platinum sales in America 2009. Hysteria currently sits as the 51st best selling album of all time in the US, and spent a record 96 weeks in the US Top 40. The album has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

The album has earned critical acclaim from a number of sources. In 1988 Q magazine readers voted Hysteria as the 98th Greatest Album of All Time, while in 2004, the album was ranked at number 472 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
On 31 December 1984, drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm when his Corvette flipped off a country road. Following the accident, the band stood by Allen's decision to return to the drum kit despite his disability, using a combination electronic/acoustic kit with a set of foot pedals that triggered (via MIDI) the hits he would have played with his left arm. The original name of the album was ANIMAL INSTINCT, yet it would be drummer Rick Allen's suggestion to title the new album HYSTERIA due to all of the events that happened to him & the band during the 3+ years it took to record it.
HYSTERIA is personally my favorite Def Leppard album & one of my favorite albums ever, & the vinyl version is no exception. The sound is clean, loud, & warm. In my opinion; a nearly perfect vinyl album. You don't have to get hysterical to listen to HYSTERIA, but it should at the very least make you happy. Spin it.