Revisiting Old Music Part III (Ch-De)

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Happy New Year! My overview of my entire CD collection continues.

The Challengers – Lloyd Thaxton Goes Surfing with The Challengers
One of the best of the early Sixties surf bands. A very polished sound.

The Challengers – K-39
Another great Challengers record with even more focus on Delvy’s drums.

The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – Ferociously Stoned
Great song writing, lots of hopping big band-ish numbers and the wonderful The Lifeboat Mutiny. A couple of funk laden stinkers, but aside from that and maybe some thin production on the drums, I love this record.

The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – Rapid City Muscle Car
A far more consistent album than the previous, and just as good. The best tracks here aren’t quite as good as the best ones from Ferociously Stoned, but nothing to complain about.

Chrome – Half Machine Lip Moves / Alien Soundtracks
Contemporaries of Cabaret Voltaire, Chrome were just about as noisy. Chrome stuck to a more traditional guitar, bass and drums for the core of their sonic abstractions. There are some toe tapping tune hidden in here.

Circle Jerks – Group Sex / Wild in the Streets
A punk band that everyone had to have listened too when they first discovered punk. The songs don’t hold up that well these days, but they are short and it’s over before you get bored.

Circle Jerks- Wonderful
I think I bought this CD for 2 or 3 dollars used. The lyrics are funny and the musicianship is improved, but the songs are really stale compared to my favorite Circle Jerks’ record, Golden Shower of Hits.

The Clash – London Calling
I don’t know. I think this may be one of the most overrated records ever. It’s not awful, I guess. But it just doesn’t clique with me. There are plenty of memorable moments, but outside of The Guns of Brixton I find this stuff plain boring. It’s like fairly proficient bar-band music with (politically) revolutionary lyrics. Meh. And if I never hear the excruciating anthem Death or Glory again, it will be too soon.

Chris Connelly – Stowaway
RevCo / Ministry singer does his best David Bowie impersonation yet.

Coyle & Sharpe – On the Loose
Incredible man-on-the-street gags. Pure genius.

Coyle & Sharpe – Audio Visionaries
More Candid Microphone weirdness. Not as good as On the Loose but still is hilarious.

Criswell – The Legendary Criswell Predicts! Your Incredible Future
Be amazed as Criswell gets about 99.9999% of his predictions wrong. Nakedness is a key element of many of them. Funny and weird and mastered as a single 45 minute long CD track.

The Dave & Deke Combo – Moonshine Melodies
Hillbilly bop. Great musicianship and a great sense of humor.

The Dave & Deke Combo – Hollywood Barn Dance
More swinging hillbilly music. Better than the first CD. A whole barnyard of fun.

Sammy Davis Jr. – Greatest Hits
I have a real soft spot for Sammy Davis Jr. There’s a lot of delicious cheese mixed in with the big band numbers, and man was that guy an Entertainer (with the capital “E”). The live version of Come Back to Me will blow your socks off. It makes any live rock band you’ve heard feel like a 2 hour conference call with regional HQ.

The Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
When I started this project, I was dreading revisiting these DK albums. Jello became soooo annoying later on in his career. Anyhow, I was surprised that much of this was still pretty good. It holds up much better than the drab SoCal punk of bands like Black Flag. Inventive guitar playing and more abstract political snarkiness make this a classic. Even though the CD I got is mastered like crap.

The Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters / In God We Trust, Inc.
More awful sounding production/mastering from the DKs. The music is still pretty good. In God We Trust, Inc. is the weaker of the two albums on this CD. Not quite as inspired as Fresh Fruit but good.

The Dead Kennedys – Frankenchrist
This album sounds great. Too bad most of the songs are crap. The lyrics are forced and the songs are starting to get too long without going anywhere.

The Dead Kennedys – Bedtime for Democracy
Jello is in full on annoying mode on this record. Again, the songs are too plain or just go on too long.

The Dead Kennedys – Give me Convenience or Give me Death
A great compilation of singles and imports. Mostly from before the band went sour.

Death Valley – ¡Que Pasta!
Nice Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western inspired instrumentals.

Deke Dickerson – More Million Sellers
Wonderful collection of rock ‘n’ roll and country numbers from Deke.

Deke Dickerson – Mr. Entertainment
A collection of extras and rarities. As one might expect, not as consistent as his albums but includes some of his best songs such as Double Zombie and Muleskinner Blues.

Deke Dickerson – In 3 Dimensions
Another great record from guitar geek Deke. Nicely divided into three groups of styles: rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly and hillbilly.

The Denison/Kimball Trio – Walls of the City
Jazzy guitar-drums combo. Some pretty off-the-wall guitar work, but suffers from every song sounding pretty similar.

The Denison/Kimball Trio – Soul Machine
Much more diverse and interesting than the previous CD.

Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
An all-time classic from the definitive new wave band. Quirky, energetic and flat out genius.

Devo – Freedom of Choice
My favorite Devo album. The perfect blend of electronics and standard rock instrumentation. Most punk-types prefer their 1st album, but this one works much better as a whole for me.

Devo – Total Devo
The “comeback” Devo album that was a flop. It’s not awful, but the spark is gone. Too overproduced and sequenced, unlike the early era albums which were a melding of man and machine. This was the first DDD CD I ever owned.

Revisiting Old Music Part II (Bu-Ca)

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My overview of my entire CD collection continues. Lots and lots of Cabaret Voltaire!

The Budget GirlsOn a Tight Budget Two screaming gals front this wonderfully crude and trashy garage rock outfit.

The Buggles The Age of Plastic We all know the hit “Video Killed the Radio Star” but there about 2 or 3 more songs on this New Wave disc that are just as good. Some crap too.

William S. BurroughsDead City Radio The only way to appreciate Burrough is his spoken word recordings. He could read the farm report and it would seem meaningful. But, let’s face it. His books are well-written but in the end, are just meandering, plotless garbage. In this case, the short format suits him better.

William S. Burroughs & Kurt CobainThe “Priest” They Called Him Painfully short and Cobain is there in name only. Mostly just feedback. Lame.

Cabaret Voltaire1974-76 Cabaret Voltaire at their rawest. Barely listenable.

Cabaret VoltaireMix-up A few good tracks, but they hadn’t quite got the idea that music needs some structure to make a person want to listen.

Cabaret Voltaire – The Voice of America The first decent Cabaret Voltaire record. The noise begins to become more musical. Still, not for the feint of ears.

Cabaret VoltaireThree Mantras 2 Long tracks make up this good early Cabaret Voltaire record. World music has begun to creep up into the noise-scapes.

Cabaret VoltaireThe Living Legends A compilation of early recordings. Pretty good.

Cabaret VoltaireRed Mecca The best of the Chris Watson era Cabaret Voltaire records. Dark, dense and challenging. Not to be missed.

Cabaret Voltaire2×45 Almost as good as Red Mecca with more natural sounding instrumentation and some genuine grooves. A perfect transition into the next phase of their sound.

Cabaret VoltaireHai! A post-Watson live recording of some of their early material. Surprisingly improvisational in nature.

Cabaret VoltaireListen Up With Cabaret Voltaire A 2-disc compilation of early and mid-career tracks. Highly recommended if you want to hear some of their old material, but don’t want to dive right into the hardcore stuff.

Cabaret VoltaireThe Crackdown This record is the start of the funky, danceable era of Cabaret Voltaire’s records. My favorite of their long career.

Cabaret VoltaireMicro-Phonies The noisier side of Cabaret Voltaire is almost completely absent from this recording. A solid record that includes the super-excellent “Sensoria” remix.

Cabaret VoltaireEight Crepuscule Tracks A dreamy journey back to the noisy-era.

Cabaret VoltaireThe Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord Found sounds and noise are brought back into the songs. It’s definitely danceable and funky but the added harshness is a nice change.

Cabaret VoltaireCode They really lay on the funk on this record, with pounding drums and electric guitar. The sound has once again been cleaned-up and minimalized.

Cabaret VoltaireGroovy, Laidback and Nasty Another dramatic shift in the direction of the band. This album is filled with traditional Chicago-house electronica and Mal actually sings melodies. In hindsight, a mediocre release, but a necessary transition into their electronica period.

Cabaret VoltaireHypnotised (cd single) The best song from Groovy, Laidback and Nasty gets some remixing.

Cabaret VoltaireKeep On (cd single) More remixes from Groovy, Laidback and Nasty.

Cabaret VoltaireBody and Soul This record is a great improvement on the previous. Richard H. Kirk is beginning to get a handle on the computer music. The music still lacks some edge but is pretty good nonetheless.

Cabaret VoltaireWhat Is Real (cd single) More remixes. Cabaret Voltaire – Percussion Force A few remixes of “Don’t Walk Away” and several new tracks. Highly recommended.

Cabaret VoltaireColours The last recordings to feature the singing of Steven Mallinder. Along the same lines as Body and Soul with some further refinement in the style.

Cabaret VoltairePlasticity Much of the spirit of the old Cabaret Voltaire has come back in this CD. The music is pure dance electronica, but there is a return to found sounds and exotic world-music samples. Alas, no more singing.

Cabaret VoltaireTechnology: Western Reworks 1992 They dip way back into their catalog to find songs to remix/re-record using the power of computers and such. The result as a dazzling mix of noise and beats. I think this record changed the way Kirk/Mallinder approached electonica. Perhaps one of the earliest examples of I.D.M.

Cabaret VoltaireI want You / Kino Remixes of the remixes.

Cabaret VoltaireInternational Language A collection of new songs continues to refine the electronica meets noise.

Cabaret VoltaireThe Conversation Cabaret Voltaire’s swan song is a sprawling 2-disc masterpiece. It ebbs and flows through various themes and closes with an epic 40 minute track filled with hypnotic sonic beauty. Awesome.

Revisiting Old Music

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The past year or so I have been an iPod owner and have not paid much attention to my wall o’ CDs. Well, the same songs are popping up just a bit too often during shuffle, and I thought it would be a fresh change of pace if I started popping in a good old CD every now again. To make sure not to miss anything, I decided to pull the CDs down for listening in alphabetical order. I happened to be listening to Big Sandy and the Fly-rite Boys when I made this monumental decision, so that’s where I started.

So here’s where I am so far: There’s the aforementioned Big Sandy CD. It’s listenable yet unremarkable rockabilly stuff. Next, a slew of Blonde Redhead records. The first two CDs, when they had a bassist, are the best. They start to get tiresome up until Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons which is when they start adding electronics and some weirdness to their songs. These were followed by my two Blue Hearts CDs. The first is their U.S. release, Blast Off. It’s a collection of some of their best songs from their first 3 Japan-only albums. Amazing. Next is Bust, Waste, Hip which isn’t nearly as good because the punkishness is toned down quite a bit. Moving on we have The Blue Meanies’ Pave the World featuring fellow Nonagon‘er, Tony on drums. Lots of ska rhythms and horns, without being a ska band. Bomboras, Savage Island is next with lots of organ tinged surf. Pretty good but not their best. Bongwater, The Big Sellout: it’s funny, catchy and psychedelic all at the same time—a very good record. The Boogie Patrol Express La Polyester Fantasy is the only(?) CD from this early 90’s Eugene, Oregon band. Straight-forward, ever-so-mildly ironic disco music, played expertly with real instruments by talented kids. Next, I have two wonderful Boss Hog CDs, Boss hog and Whiteout, both of which are great loud . Finally, we have Brian Brain’s Time Flies When You Are Having Toast—A solo effort by then P.I.L. drummer Martin Atkins. This is a weird CD with lots of late 80’s sounding synths in front of Atkins pounding drums. Some of the tracks would be at home on a childrens’ record. It is about as far from Atkin’s Pigface as you can imagine, but, you know what, I love this CD. It was 99 cents when I got it!

Well, that was shelf unit 1 of my big Ikea CD rack. I will report back when I get through the next section.

For Your Height Only

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After waiting for weeks, the planets aligned (I got access to my parents huge screen TV), I was able to watch For Your Height Only. This movie is the “A-side” of a DVD double feature including the previously reviewed Challenge of the Tiger that was released by Mondo Macabro ealier this year.

For Your Height Only (or as it appears in the title screen, For Y’ur Height Only) is another Dick Randall (Pieces) exploitation production. This film was made in the Philippines on a near-zero budget and features Philippino little-person Weng Weng as its secret agent protagonist.

The movie is essentially a Bond parody in which Weng Weng’s height is the basis for all the intended humor. The movie is, however, filled with loads of unintential laughs as well. The main source being the awful, over-the-top voice dubbing–all the baddies have James Cagney gangster voices. There are even self-aware moments in which the dialog serves as Mystery Science Theater-like comments on the action taking place. For example, during the ultra boring gadget sequence, Double-O’s boss says, “You got a bug in your hair?” only because Weng Weng happens to scratch his head during the scene.

The plot is horrible and loses track of itself about ten minutes into the film. It’s not until the climax that we remember that Double-O is trying to save a scientist or something. Most of the plot is simply an excuse to get Weng Weng to kill hordes of baddies (often the same guys multiple times). The kung-fu is a bit lacking but some of Weng Weng’s acrobatics are pretty amazing. Especially, since, I swear, Weng Weng has to be wearing leg braces under his stylish disco suits. On top of all the fighting there is also a bit of disco dancing and the obligatory, cringe-worthy Bond “love scene.”

At first I was also pretty amazed at the quality of the score, an almost note-for-note variation on For Your Eyes Only and other Bond motiffs. It’s at about the 14th time that they play the same song that I realize that the music is a bit repetitive.

This movie just oozes cheesy bad taste. It has all the markings of your typical so-bad-it’s-good movie. Take heed though, this also means there are plenty of boring moments between the insanity, but, all-in-all, a great movie to watch with your drunk friends. Taken in tandem with Challenge of the Tiger it’s a very worthwhile DVD purchase… yes, I bought this piece of crap cinema history.

Ennio Morricone Box Set Mania!

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Ennio Morricone CD Box Sets

Lately, I have been stocking up on Ennio Morricone movie soundtracks from the late sixties and early seventies. This been a pretty easy task since Dagored records has released a trio of great 3-disc Morricone boxed sets. Each filled with wonderful packaging and liner notes, and is well worth the $25 price tag.

Like most people, my introduction to Morricone was in his scores for the Sergio Leone Dollars movies. Those soundtracks are known for their sinister baritone guitar sounds, howls, operatic vocalization, percussive bursts, and other genre defying/redefining motifs. Morricone, it turns out, has an extremely wide stylistic range. From his pop roots to his experimental soundscapes, these box sets showcase much of the diversity of his style.

Maestro leans towards his pop side. The soundtracks included here are La Donna Invisible (The Invisible Woman), Le Foto Proibite di una Signora per Bene (Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion ), and SlalomLa Donna is pure pop bliss, with a melody that is repeated throughout most of the disc. There are a few tracks that come close to sounding like the Theme from the Love Boat, but the vast majority of the disc is more e-z than cheesy. Le Foto is a bit more experimental, and Slalom is a solid space-age bachelor pad disc very reminiscent of another disc I have by The Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra.

Crime contains the soundtracks for Revolver (AKA: Blood in the Streets), Gli Intoccabili (AKA: Machine Gun McCain), and Giornata Nera per L’Arete (AKA: The Fifth Cord). These soundtracks have a lot more variety within each disc and are therefore not as consistently good as the other discs in this series, but they are very fine nonetheless. Gli Intoccabili has nearly the same feel as Morricone’s western soundtracks with several great vocal numbers about a man called “McCain.” I think it’s the same fellow who sings “Lonesome Billy” if you are familiar with that song by Morricone.

Fear is my favorite of the three sets. It contains Una Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna (AKA: Lizard In A Woman’s Skin), Il Gatto a Nove Code (AKA: The Cat O’ Nine Tails), and Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura (AKA: Cold Eyes of Fear). These discs are filled with erie soundscapes and experimental improvisations. Many of the tracks would not be out-of-place on an early Cabaret Voltaire, Can or Kraftwerk album, except that these sounds are being created with traditional acoustic instruments. Great stuff.

These are the first CDs I have bought in a long time, and are worth every penny. Viva Morricone!

Challenge of the Tiger

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I watched a great piece of eighties cheese this week, Bruce Le’s (that’s not a typo) Challenge of the Tiger. This movie is part of a Mondo Macabro double feature DVD along with vertically challenged spy thriller, For Your Height Only.

Both films were produced by Dick Randall, the writer and producer of the legendarily so-bad-it’s-good giallo, PiecesChallenge features lots of bad dubbing, plenty of gratuitous nudity (worth watching just for the completely unnecessary topless tennis scene), some fast-kicking kung-fu, and some slow-punching speedo-fu (pictured). The plot is so dumb it forgets it’s even there. Most of the plot is simply a means of getting Bruce to his next batch of thrift store clothed baddies or Richard Harrison to his next greasy bedroom conquest. Highly recommended.