Friday, November 26, 2010

Residents

The Residents
Felt a need to post something bizarre today what with the bizarre weather we're having on the island this week and the Residents truly fit that bill. These mysterious giant eyeball headed dudes are truly weird. Over the course of a recording career spanning several decades, the Residents have remained a riddle. The band's members have never identified themselves by name, always appearing in public in disguise -- usually tuxedos, top hats and giant eyeball masks -- and refusing to grant media interviews. The Residents, always ones to convert their reality, good or bad, into a purposeful intent, figured out that being obscure gave them the added advantage of not having to please anyone but themselves with their music. Who are these guys?

It is rumoured that the four-member group emigrated to San Francisco, California from Shreveport, Louisiana at some point in the early '70s. Supposedly they picked their name when Warner Bros. mailed back their anonymous demo tape, addressed simply "for the attention of residents." Finding no takers for their oddball sound, the Residents founded their own label, Ralph Records, for the purposes of issuing their 1972 debut "Santa Dog," released in a pressing of 300 copies which were mailed out to luminaries from Frank Zappa to President Richard Nixon. "Santa Dog" stands against everything that the music industry felt was important. It was free.

The Residents released the first ever punk single, "Satisfaction," back in 1976, a full year before the Sex Pistols’ UK release of "God Save the Queen." England’s MOJO Magazine once voted The Residents' Satisfaction as the 74th most important punk single in history. The Residents are credited with "inventing" the form of the music video. Five of their earliest videos are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They have released over 60 albums as well as a large number of singles, compilations, collaborations, etc. and show no signs of slowing down. One has to wonder how they have managed to retain their anonymity over the years. But whew, some of their stuff is out of this world. I'm a big fan of the 1978 Duck Stab/Buster & Glen album so todays tracks will be coming from that album. This is also one of those albums that I bought way back when based solely on the album cover.  I was thinking this is gotta be some weird stuff and I wasn't disappointed.



Constantinople
Bach is Dead
Buy It

Funny Toon

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Glass Houses

Glass Houses
From 1973 to 1993 Billy Joel was a pure d bonafide hit making machine. In that time frame he released 11 studio albums. Two of those went platinum and the other nine went multi platinum. Pretty impressive numbers. In 1980 Joel released Glass Houses, his seventh studio album, which went on to go 7 times platinum. The album was Joel's attempt to change the pop crooner image that the music press was trying to label him as at the time. The album cover consists of Joel poised to throw a rock through the big two story window of his real life modern waterfront glass house in Oyster Bay. Which is an obvious statement to the press saying hey I'm about to shatter your labels of me right now. He does it in a brilliant way, I might add. This album has everything one could want in a rock n roll album. As I was transferring this from vinyl and listening to it from start to finish for the first time in a long time, I was once again floored at how good and irrestibly catchy the songs are. I think any one of these songs could have been a top 10 hit, as it was 5 of the songs were released as singles and Joel won a well deserved grammy award for the album.

Sometimes a Fantasy
Sleeping With the Television On
Buy It

Funny Toon

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ba Fa

Ba Fa
Ba Fa is the fourth studio album by The Hudson Brothers released in 1975.  I wrote an extensive piece on the brothers when I posted about their greatest hits album three years ago. If you missed it you can catch it here. I just mention that because I don't think I need to go over their history again since homercat has already been down that road . Perchance I may be one of the few who remembers and actually watched their Saturday morning show called The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show back in 74 and 75. Ba Fa contains a generous helping of pure pop music which was produced by none other than Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Containing the top 30 hit Rendezvous, Ba Fa was their most successful album with shades of the Beach Boys and the Beatles on this platter. The album is a pop masterpiece and I've read some critics reviews even describing it as a groundbreaking record. Of course all the Brothers albums are out of print now and it takes a lucky trip to the used record store to track down one of their gems.  Thus homercat provides another rarity for the masses.  Enjoy.


Spinning the Wheel
Lonely School Year
Buy It

Funny Toon

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dead Ringer

In the year after the mega success of Meat Loaf's debut album, Bat Out of Hell, the meatster totally lost his voice due to a combination of touring, drugs and exhaustion. That was 1978. That same year songwriter Jim Steinman started to work on Bad for Good, the album that was supposed to be the follow-up to 1977's Bat out of Hell. Without a singer, and pressured by the record company, Steinman decided that he should sing on Bad for Good himself. Meanwhile, after playing the role of Travis Redfish in the movie Roadie (which had cameos by Debbie Harry, Roy Orbison and Hank Williams, Jr.), Meat Loaf got his voice back, got off drugs, played softball, and started to work on his new album in 1980. Steinman wrote and arranged all of the songs, which eventually became Dead Ringer. The album was produced by Meat Loaf and Stephan Galfas, with backing tracks produced by Jimmy Iovine and Jim Steinman. So in essence, Dead Ringer was the real "Bat Out of Hell II. The title track features a perfectly cast Cher as duet singer with the Meat. Although not nearly as successful as Bat, I find this follow up extremely satisfying and consider the song Read em and Weep simply brilliant.  Yet that song nor the album barely found an audience which is a real head scratcher to me.  Two years later Barry Manilow would release Read em and Weep as a single that went to #18 on the charts.  Then again Steinman has a real knack of writing songs that are 7 minutes or more long and this album was no exception. 

More Than You Deserve
Read Em and Weep
Buy It


Funny Toon

Monday, November 15, 2010

Elevator

Can You say rare, hard to find and pretty darn good. That describes the 1979 album Elevator by The Rollers. Having replaced longtime lead singer Les McKeown with Duncan Faure, the Bay City Rollers shortened their name to simply The Rollers, and pursued a more rocking, power-pop sound than their previous work. Now if you look at the cover you can probably tell you're going to get something a little different than you were previously used to, judging by the big pill in the elevator. Yes the Bay City Rollers grew up and the grown up sound could be described as Cheap Trick and The Beatles filtered through late-'70s Electric Light Orchestra. I know a good many Rollers fans who will tell you that this is their favorite album. Lots of drug, sex and confessions of the crashing of rock 'n' roll dreams references. Definitely a more mature sound, from the opening track of Stoned Houses pt 1 which then rips right into the second kick ass track Elevator the album is solid. I've had people say to me that no way is Elevator a Rollers song, they thought I was pulling their leg. Elevator stands as perhaps the most convincingly musical of all the band's albums. Trouser Press magazine even compared it to the Beatles' Rubber Soul album. That might be pushing the envelope a wee bit, but still the band had shrugged off the teeny sound of yesteryear with very satisfying results. I implore you to check this one out if you can find it.  I think it's available on cd as an import.


Elevator
Turn On the Radio
Buy It

Funny Toon

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nightflight to Venus

Boney M. is a disco group created by German record producer Frank Farian. Originally based in West Germany, the four original members of the group's official line-up were Jamaicans Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett, Maizie Williams from Montserrat and Bobby Farrell from Aruba. The group was formed in 1975 and achieved popularity during the disco era of the late 1970s. Of course the name Frank Farian may be familiar to some of you as he was the brainchild of the ill fated lip synching duo Milli Vanilli. It's funny that he employed the same technique with Boney M as only 1 or two of the performers actually sang on the albums. It was basically all Farian. It seemed that audiences didn't care about that kind of stuff in the 70's. Boney M's biggest year came in 1978 with the release of Nightflight to Venus. It was their third album and it became a major success in continental Europe, Scandinavia, and Canada, topping most of the album charts during the second half of 1978.  In fact the only other disco album that rivaled this one was the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, I believe Venus sold over 10 million copies that year.  Most of you are probably familiar with the track, Rasputin.
There were four different pressings of the original vinyl LP, all with slightly altered edits of the tracks. These tracks are from my vinyl rip and I don't know of which pressing they happen to be from. While many compilations and remix edions of Boney M's music have made it to cd this original album never made the transition until a year or so ago.


Rasputin
Rivers Of Babylon
Buy It

Funny Toon

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Busted

Busted is the 11th studio album by Cheap Trick, which was released in 1990 and peaked at #44 on the US album charts. After the success of Lap of Luxury with the single The Flame, the tricksters were allowed more creative control and unlike Lap of Luxury, professional songwriters were only used on a couple of songs . Again a conundrum ensues, a much better album than the song factory writing of Lap of Luxury, especially with the single "Can't Stop Fallin' Into Love" peaking at #12 on the US charts. When the tricksters write their own material they are at their best, yet the album wasn't as successful as Epic had wanted (c'mon a #12 single wasn't good enough?), and about a year after the release of Busted Epic Records dropped Cheap Trick from their label. If you're a Trick fan like me then you know Cheap Trick has had horrid luck with their record labels over the years. A damn crying shame for one of the best rock n roll bands in the world. Physical copies of the album have been out of print for several years (with the exception of Japan), but it was supposedly set to be re-released this year in the US along with the previous album Lap of Luxury in a 2-CD set. Haven't seen it yet. Yeah it really irks me to see Lap of Luxury gets better reviews and ratings than this album.  Even saying that, there really is no such thing as a bad Cheap Trick album.

Rock and Roll Tonight
If You Need Me
Buy It

Funny Toon

Monday, November 08, 2010

Roadie

Roadie Soundtrack
Roadie is a 1980 film directed by Alan Rudolph about a truck driver who becomes a roadie for a traveling rock and roll show. The film stars Meat Loaf as Travis C Redfish, driver for Shiner beer who meets Lola falls for her even though she's a groupie who is on her way to give herself to Alice Cooper. Along the way it turns out that the Loaf is an awesome Roadie and a wiz at setting up stuff.  There are cameo appearances by musicians such as Roy Orbison, Hank Williams Jr., Blondie and Alice Cooper. The soundtrack is a bugger to find and is one of those gems that never made the transition to cd. A double album set that contains some rare tracks, most notably the track by Sue Saad and the Next which is uber rare. One look at the song list and you can see music from one end of the spectrum to the other. It's been ages since I've seen this film but I remember enjoying it at the time especially the scenes with Alice Cooper. Rare soundtrack that's got some purty good tunes and I'm going to put up the Sue Saad track.

Double Yellow Line by Sue Saad and the Next
Funny Toon

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sparks In Outer Space

Sparks in Outer Space


Sparks' third album of the 1980s, 'Sparks In Outer Space', is a major improvement over its two predecessors . Certainly not their best album, this is probably Sparks' simplest sounding album ever - however the robotic simplicity is what makes this album so great. The brilliance of 'Sparks In Outer Space' lies in its uncomplicated, catchy songs, tasty melodies, and general danceable fun. The songs are quirky. Their rhyme, rhythm and repetition makes for a highly motivating, revitalizing listening experience. Jane Wiedlin, guitarist for the Go-Go's, features on two of the tracks, 'Cool Places' and 'Lucky You, Lucky Me'.

You should ensure that your CD collection includes this classic Sparks album. Nearly every song on this album is a Sparks gem. Although totally different in theme, the songs on this album have one thing in common: a simple but superb use of catchy vocal hooks, superb melodies, daft lyrics and a highly compelling beat.  Outer Space is one of my favorite albums because it's so damn fun to listen to. My roommates and I managed to destroy 3 vinyl copies of it because we played the piss out of it, especially at parties where a beer or two eventually ended up getting spilled on it.  A great 80's pop album, a snapshot of the time so to speak.  Since Sparks tends to be a love them or hate them band, this albums remains one of the most accessible Sparks albums for the casual listener. 'Outer Space' rocks, and listening to it brings back many fond memories of homercat's younger days.

I Wish I Looked a Little Better
Rockin' Girls
Buy It


Funny Toon