Steel Cage Match: Elvis 2003 VS Elvis 2004 [Part 1]

Nearly four years ago in a Gaineville, Georgia thrift store we found a cache of one dollar CDs that beckoned. Among the delights to be had were a pair of Elvis Costello albums of late [for me] vintage. I have scant releases past the line in the sand for me that was “Blood + Chocolate.” I have long maintained that EC lost much of his luster for me following that release, though the two concerts that I have seen subsequently, were completely convincing, even as they were formed partially from this later body of work that had failed to make a dent in my attention. Last week, while picking something to hear on my long-sh commute to work, I opted for the two Elvis Costello albums that I probably gave a single listen to back at the time of purchase. What I discovered several years later was such a violently contrasting experience, that I decided quickly that it would become the basis for the most schizophrenic Steel Cage Match® ever. First up: from 2003 – Elvis Costello’s “North.”

Deutsche Grammophon | US | CD | 2003 | B0000999-02

Elvis Costello: North US CD [2003]

  1. You Left Me In The Dark
  2. Someone Took The Words Away
  3. When Did I Stop Dreaming?
  4. You Turned To Me
  5. Fallen
  6. When It Sings
  7. Still
  8. Let Me Tell You About Her
  9. Can You Be True?
  10. When Green Eyes Turn Blue
  11. I’m In The Mood Again
  12. North [DL]

2003 is notable for being the year that Elvis Costello married his third wife, jazz pianist Diana Krall. It was also notable for being the year where Mr. Costello got the ill-starred idea in his head that he needed to prove himself to his new paramour that he could operate in jazz as well. It was not an idea I would have slapped down on the face of it. After all, in 1997 I thoroughly enjoyed Costello’s link up with Burt Bacharach; “God Give Me Strength” on the OST to the interesting roman à clef Carole King non-biopic “Grace of My Heart.” When they followed up the next year, the resulting album was a credit to each of their careers.

It was fascinating hearing Costello; a wordsmith nonpareil writing lyrics for Burt Bacharach; a brilliant songwriter whose output lived or died on the caliber of the words his chosen lyricists of the day provided. When it was Hal David, the result was brilliant, complex pop whose musical sophistication belied the ease with which their songs became part of the pop landscape and the standard by which MOR pop was measured. When Bacharach co-wrote with his wife, Carole Bayer Sager in the eighties the results were greeting-card homilies where Bacharach’s talent for making the complex sound easy were squandered on the facile platitudes that Sager proffered as lyrics.

What “North” indisputably proved was that the converse could also be true. The best lyricist in the world, attempting jazz but left to his own devices as writer/producer/arranger could easily craft a stultifyingly dull album of meandering non-melodies that lacked all forms of tension and release necessary for the best pop. Quite frankly, “North” was nearly impossible to listen to and maintain focus on it. The evasive melodies have all of the complexity  of a young man showing off his technical ability without managing to deliver any transcendence. Just when your mind anticipates a hook about to occur naturally, Costello made double dog sure to twist 180 degrees in another direction entirely. Leaving his insubstantial and vaporous melodic attempts evaporating before the ink was dry on the score.

The album is diabolical for having no rhythmic impetus at all. Some might consider rhythm and repetition a crutch in popular music. I am not one of those people. Hearing the normally loquacious Costello pare his lyrics here down to besotted love paeans to the wonderful, I’m sure, Ms. Krall did nothing for me. So what we had delivered here was an album bereft of hooks or strong melodies, yet full of the simplest and most straightforward [albeit dull, if personal] lyrics Costello ever put to wax. In fairness, only “Still” manages to get up a smoky, late night head of steam and deliver the romantic, sophisticated goods he was aiming for. Also, the cover/booklet design was superb. At least some of that Deutsche Grammphon cash got put to good use.

But that does not excuse the other ten clinkers that make listening to this album a godawful chore with almost zero payback. Worse yet, the album had a “bonus track” that was a DL title track, left off of the proper release. I’d like to say that It was good or even bad, but since it was a WMA file incompatible with Macintosh computers, I’ll never had the “pleasure.” In a cross platform world with dozens of standards that reach the widest possible audience, this sort of 90s Windows-centric hubris boils my blood further on top of the shabby art on display here!

Next: …Night + Day [and we’re not talking Cole Porter]



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The Road To Rezillomania [part 3]

[…continued from post before last]

REVO | CD-R | 2017 | REVO 083

The Rezillos: A Case Of Rezillomania CD-R [2017]

1. Can’t Stand My Baby [7” Ver.]
2. I Wanna Be Your Man
3. [My Baby Does] Good Sculptures [7” Ver.]
4. Flying Saucer Attack [7” Ver.]
5. Top Of The Pops [7” Ver.]
6. 20,000 Rezillos Under The Sea
7. Destination Venus
8. Mystery Action
9. [My Baby Does] Good Sculptures [Alt. B-side Ver.]
10. Thunderbirds Intro/Destination Venus [Live]
11. Flying Saucer Attack [Live]
12. Twist + Shout [Live]
13. No [BBC Session]
14. It Gets Me [BBC Session]
15. No. 1 Boy [Single Ver.]
16. Out Of This World [Single Ver.]
17. Rosalyn
18. Out Of This World [Glass Mix]
19. Top Of The Pops [Live]
20. Bad Guy Reaction [Live]
21. Yesterday’s Tormentor [Live]
22. Sorry About Tomorrow [XKRY Session]
23. Groovy Room [XKRY Session]
24. Destination Venus [XKRY Session]
25. Tiny Boy [XKRY Session]
26. [My Baby Does]Good Sculptures [XKRY Session]

My initial idea for artwork was to show the band put inside of a “Mars Attacks” trading card that never existed. Something with a caption like “Blasting Their Brains” with Fay and Eugene aggressively blasting their music to a reeling Martian. I quickly did a sketch that looked great, but then the rot set in. For those not aware, the Mars Attacks trading cards from the early 60s was a series that was later turned into the Tim Burton movie of the 90s. The tropes of Mars Attacks and The Rezillos certainly had some serious overlap, so it was a quick idea that seemed to be a good one; just make a “Mars Attacks” card illustrating that premise.

Norm Saunders art

Where it all fell down was that I wanted to do it as a painting in acrylic in the style of Norm Saunders, the original artist. I spent hours sourcing photos of the band to paint from and examples of Saunders mid-century pulp style. It shouldn’t have been difficult to ape his style and put to my ends, but I had not figured on the art supply conundrum. I have an art box filled with acrylic paints dating back almost 40 years. Many, but not all of these relics from my student days have not completely dried up, so it might have happened. Where I fell down was in having a good surface to paint on. All I could scare up without a trip to the art $upply $tore were some unused old comic book backing boards. Big enough to paint on, and probably no larger than what Saunders used back in the day, but those suckers slurped up the paint almost immediately. I was unable to blend the paint for a good look, and buying some gel polymer medium to retard drying was also out of the question.

Annoyed, I relented and went to the iPad for succor. I have a painting app called Procreate that’s quite capable of giving good results, but a few years ago, I did something stupid. I upgraded from version 1 to version 2 since it said it was compatible with my aged iPad2. Technically, it was, but in reality, the limited RAM footprint meant that I was unable to create any digital painting in a reasonably high enough resolution without it crashing the app. Just as well, I wanted to do this by hand anyway. And during all of these months, I had only an hour here or there; not quality time to make a painting. Yet I really wanted to create artwork for this manually. I spend enough time on the computer.

It also bears mentioning that in the intervening years since the Burton film, “Mars Attacks” went from being a geeky cult thing, barely known in the pre-internet era to a widespread megatrend. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting some sort of “Mars Attacks” knockoff. While researching the original cards, I couldn’t fail to realize that I was up to my armpits in “Mars Attacks” pastiche! The first idea to my skull was nothing unique; that was for certain. Adding insult to injury was that when researching photos of The Rezillos, many of the best images were at their website, where the home page slider showed this little number below.

The band had already incorporated Mars Attacks into their stage show

My notion was the most stunningly obvious solution to my design problem, once I opened up my eyes and started researching. Time for a re-think! 

Collect the whole set!

Then it struck me. I could do a trading card of a different sort. The UK edition of “Can’t Stand The Rezillos” had an insert featuring trading cards illustrating all of the song titles. I could do another of those with quick moving pen work, and the nominal title of the collection was going to be “Rezillophilia” but changing that to “A Case Of Rezillomania” let me cast Eugene as a guy [who is not really paranoid… they are out to get him!] being haunted by Sigmund Freud, bedecked in wraparound shades [as were all of the people depicted in the Rezillos trading card art] examining a file on poor Eugene. This guy had the power to commit Eugene, who was looking to make him “Yesterday’s Tormentor” and split this bad scene.

Concept now changed to something that I could create quickly, it only took a few hours to illustrate the cover. I cheated and used Photoshop for the vintage “zipatone“® effects. As if I could buy the stuff, anyway! I had enough of shading film back in the late 70s/early 80s! The booklet had a “report and file folder” look with a conservative brown tweedy texture offset with bright magenta text for stark, raving contrast. I now finally had a cover for the disc, which as I said, had been fully mastered from the end of December. I completed the art during Memorial Day. By June, I finally had REVO 083 manufactured and the next one would not nip at my heels for half a year!

– 30 –

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REDUX: Steel Cage Match – Simple Minds VS U2

September 24, 2013

steel-cage-sm-vs-u2Sure, sure. We all acknowledge that there’s a weird, almost reciprocal relationship between U2 and Simple Minds. I can’t shake the feeling that the each band has somehow used the other for artistic inspiration and that were it a mathematical function it would coil into a spiral too tight for comfort. The significant factor for me is that I have never drank the U2 Kool-Aid® and that Simple Minds have been a core collection band [perhaps the core collection band] for me since 1981. Since U2 cracked the US market first, many tongues wagged that when Kerr + Co. hit the heights two years later, they should be called U2.5 or some such. Well, by 1984 The Minds did appropriate “War” producer Steve Lillywhite for their own “Sparkle In The Rain” opus. The results from the first drop of the needle were not a million miles away from the sound proffered on U2’s breakthrough album that made them Names. Booming drums, piano, and full on Bono-esque bluster accompanied “Up On The Catwalk.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Celtic dividing line, U2 had looked at “New Gold Dream” and pondered how they could get them some of that. When they went to Brian Eno, caps in hand, they pointed to Simple Minds breakthrough album that had made them Names; albeit with shimmering ambiance and delicate panoramas. U2 got the better end of the deal in that they used the Simple Minds sound to get from “huge” to “massive.” Simple Minds were a step behind in spite of being several years their senior. By the time that U2 had made their first 7″ in 1979, The Minds had two albums and a handful of singles under their belts. So when Simple Minds covered Patti Smith’s wonderful “Dancing Barefoot” in 2001, it came seven years after U2 had already covered that song on the “Threesome” OST. Who then had the winning version to smack the other one down in the Monk’s Ring Of Pain?

Epic Soundtrax | US | CD | 1994 | EK 57881

Epic Soundtrax | US | CD | 1994 | EK 57881

Various: Threesome OST US CD [1994]

  1. Tears For Fears – New Star
  2. General Public – I’ll Take You There
  3. U2 – Dancing Barefoot
  4. Teenage Fanclub – Like A Virgin
  5. Apache Indian – Boom Shack-A-Lak
  6. Bryan Ferry – Is Your Love Strong Enough?
  7. New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle
  8. Duran Duran – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
  9. Jellyfish – He’s My Best Friend
  10. Brad – Buttercup
  11. Human Sexual Response – What Does Sex Mean To Me?
  12. The The – That Was The Day

U2 open the track with the same acoustic guitar that drove the Patti Smith original. U2 keep it simple with this self-produced [probable] demo leaning heavily on the basics. There might be a gentle wash of keys but I’m guessing that I’m hearing tremolo guitar overlaid in a dub by The Edge. The whole affair is disarmingly low-key for this most bombastic of bands. The only fire here comes courtesy of The Edge’s snarling, trebly garage-rock solo at the song’s bridge. It sounds more conservative than the Patti Smith Band version which lacked a guitar solo and had the song’s one synthesizer part there courtesy of Richard Sohl instead. All in all, a surprisingly modest and likable outing from one of my least favorite bands. That Bono was able to dial it down for a change went far with me.

Eagle Records | GER | CD | 2001 | EAGEP198

Eagle Records | GER | CD | 2001 | EAGEP198

Simple Minds: Dancing Barefoot EP German CD [2001]

  1. Dancing Barefoot
  2. Gloria
  3. Being Boiled
  4. Love Will Tear Us Apart

Simple Minds began with the same acoustic guitar common to all three versions but quickly ramped up the synth quotient via their DJ-friendly producer Gordon Goudie who started out producing house tracks for 911, a Glaswegian “boy band.” The resulting track has synths out in front with a pulsing synth bass rhythm track that makes the greatest strides in taking the song furthest from its origins. The female backing vocals also add more gloss than on any other versions.

Where the song trips up for me is, ironically, in Jim Kerr’s vocals, which sound like he’s channeling Bono far more successfully than the original did on his turn at this song in 1994. His backing vocals flatten their vowels just like His Smugness usually does, albeit not on U2’s take on this song. When you hear Kerr perfectly ape Bono’s phrasing on the line “Here I come and I don’t know wh-y-y-y-y” he hits a perfect 10 on the Bon-O-meter®… to his detriment.

The verdict? As much as it pains me to type this in public, I have to hand the championship belt to the Irish rockers whom I have no time for in my Record Cell*!! By the simple fact of Bono sounding less like himself than Jim Kerr managed on the same song, that makes it the winner in my book. In a perfect world, I’d take Simple Minds backing track and put Bono and The Edge on it and Bob’s yer uncle… you’d have the ultimate cover of this, the one classic track on Patti Smith’s patchy “Wave” album.

– 30 –

* Truth in labeling laws compel me to admit that the “Threesome” OST and the “Red Hot + Blue” album contain the only two U2 performances in my home.

Posted in Blast From The Past, Scots Rock, Steel Cage Match | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The Road To Rezillomania [part 2]

The Rezillos today!

[…continued from post before previous]

So where were we before we had to shoehorn that review of the superb David J concert in there? Oh yes, It was 2002, I made a CD-R of 13 Rezillos rarities from 7″ vinyl. The reason for this was that against all odds, The Rezillos had reformed for their first tour of America and I had to be there! Not just me, either. chasinvictoria would accompany me and we needed to listen to these cuts in the trip up and back. A curious thing happened following that 2002 US tour; the band have essentially stayed together to this very day, losing original guitarist Jo Callis in 2010, but eventually recording and releasing that very stately sophomore album a mere 26 years later in 2015. But in the years between 2002 and 2009 they were not idle. This proposed compilation grew by 200% once I took a hard look at what was out there.

DL | 2009

The Rezillos: No. 1 Boy DL [2009]

  1. No. 1 Boy [single ver.]

In 2009 the seven year drought of new Rezillos music between seeing them live finally ended! They had played several new songs that slotted in very well with their classic material, and “No. 1 Boy” was the first to [finally] reach our ears. It remained until after the 2015 release of “Zero” that I was able to find out that the DL of “No. 1 Boy” was a vastly different version [2:56 vs. 2:12, for a start] and the only new Rezillos recording made with Jo Callis. It was the one time The Rezillos succumbed to the deadly pull of downloads. They were so embarrassed by this, that for a time on their website, they hosted a cover design for anyone who needed it to be physical and burned their own CD single of it. That alone warms the cockles of my monastic heart!

Rezillos Records | UK | CD5 | 2011 | REZILL01CD

The Rezillos: Out of This World UK CD5 [2011]

  1. Out Of This World [single ver.]
  2. Rosalyn
  3. Out Of This World [glass mix]

“Out of This World” actually figured on this 2011 single in two version. An early longer take than would appear four years later on “Zero” and the band’s only ever… gasp! Remix!!! Though it bears mentioning that Eugene Reynolds was behind the alternate mix, which really downplayed the theremin and has a very different character to the A-side version. The B-side was a cover of the Pretty Things hit also covered by Mr. Bowie on “Pin Ups.”

I had found out about this single [also available on 7″ vinyl] from a semi-annual visit to The Rezillos website, and had discovered too late that their web store had sold out of the disc. I emailed Rezillos HQ and promptly got a response from someone named Alan [Forbes, presumably] to the effect of  “chin up; there’s a new EP coming out soon so you’re ahead of the curve on that one.” Apparently I did not receive an email when this was released even though I was on their mailing list due to a computer malfunction in which the list was kaput. So for years I thought I would never have this until recent visits to The Rezillos website revealed that this single was once available on 7″ and CD5, so being of sound mind an body, I bought both! I ordered then in December of last year and discovering the different mixes/versions of the A-side stood apart from the “Zero” album version is what really jump-started the whole idea of making this Rezillos compilation anew.

Rezillos Records | UK | CD | 2012 | REZILL02 CD

The Rezillos: Top Of The Pops Live EP UK CD5 [2012]

  1. Top Of The pops [live]
  2. Bad Guy Reaction [live]
  3. Yesterday’s Tormentor [live]

That new EP appeared in 2012, but I waited four years to finally buy it. Again, The Rezillos webstore in the years between the album, was not the most sturdy place to obtain their new releases. Once the store was refreshed after the launch of “Zero” in 2015, the Live Ep was once again available on CD5 as well as red and clear 7″ vinyl. These were selling for what I think singles should cost [i.e. <$6 each!] so at those prices, you buy every variant! The postage from the UK was a pittance as well!! The live tracks here were two classics and one new tracks that only appeared here. These singles made for seven more tracks for the compilation, but there was more hiding in the margins.

podcast | 2015

The Rezillos: Sessions From The Box | KXRY-FM Live Sessions DL [2015]

  1. Sorry About Tomorrow [KXRY-FM session]
  2. Groovy Room  [KXRY-FM session]
  3. Destination Venus  [KXRY-FM session]
  4. Tiny Boy From Outer Space  [KXRY-FM session]
  5. [My Baby Does] Good Sculptures  [KXRY-FM session]

I can’t recall where I first heard about the sessions that The Rezillos recorded for Portland’s KXRY-FM. There were five live-in-the-studio takes of three new ones and two vintage numbers, sounding very “up” as only The Rezillos could deliver. But something was still missing from this ultimate Rezillos rarity package.

Sire Records | UK | LP | 1979 | SRK 6069

The Rezillos: Mission Accomplished… But The Beat Goes On! UK LP [1979]

  1. Introduction: Thunderbirds Theme
  2. Top Of The Pops
  3. Mystery Action
  4. Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight
  5. Thunderbirds Are Go
  6. Thunderbirds Theme
  7. Cold Wars
  8. Teenbeat
  9. No
  10. Land Of A 1,000 Dances
  11. I Need You
  12. Getting Me Down
  13. Culture Shock
  14. Ballroom Blitz
  15. [My Baby Does] Good Sculptures
  16. Destination Venus

One final thing that had stuck in my craw was the incomplete version of this 1979 live album appended to the 1993 “The [Almost] Complete Rezillos” CD. Two tracks were cut from this original LP running order. First, the dramatic Barry Gray “Thunderbirds” countdown and theme was excised, probably due to licensing cost. Hearing the album start with “TOTP” cold was a buzzkill. Secondly, having the final track cut due to space reasons wasn’t cool either. Sure, sure. The studio version of “Destination venus” was added in between the two albums on CD, but maybe I could correct two wrongs with one right.

I then considered the notion of recording the two songs to digital and re-editing them so that the “Thunderbirds” countdown became the intro for “Destination Venus” instead of “Top Of The Pops!” Sacrilege? Well, most bold ideas seem like that the first time you think them through. The fact was that I considered years ago making a CD of the uncut “Mission Accomplished” but it just seemed like a big drain on resources to make an inflexible point. This idea obviated that concern while maximizing the disparate missing digital parts into a zesty whole. And it worked, so i went with it. This CD would now have 26 tracks!

Next: …The Art Problem


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David J @ The Mothlight – 6-16-17

David J performed magnificently for a “soulful” audience at The Mothlight in Asheville

Back in January, when scoping out the Roedelius show I attended nearly three months ago at The Mothlight, I couldn’t fail to notice that David J, everyone’s favorite bassist/vocalist from Bauhaus and Love + Rockets was coming to town last Friday, so I pencilled the date in on my calendar and headed out to catch the show that night. Of course, I had seen David J twice. First with Love + Rockets on their “Sweet F.A.” tour in 1996-7. I had sort of taken them for granted for so long during their imperial “alternative rock” period, that I finally capitulated, in spite of owning only “Earth, Sun, Moon” of said “imperial period.” Truth be told, that’s not even my favorite of theirs; just the one I own.

Next, we saw Bauhaus during their highly unlikely 1999 “Resurrection” tour that no one really expected. That was something amazing. But since 1989, I’d heard not a note that David J had sung. That didn’t stop me from seeing this show, though. I imagined that it would have to be worth attending. Instincts told me so. Besides, how many British Post-Punk legends ever play in my sleepy hamlet? I’d be doubly churlish to pass this up just because I was less than current on his career.

I made the West Asheville scene and once again, found my insanely perfect parking spot [I’ll never tell where it is!] so close to the club you could park your car and hop there on one foot if needed. I entered to see a poster proclaiming the evening’s performances by Xambuca and Elisa Faires as the opening acts. Interesting, because even on the day of show The Mothlight’s website failed to list any opening acts. I did my will call ritual and ambled over to the merch table which was filled with… vinyl! I saw David J’s latest, “Vagabond Songs” a double album that was just released this month and the impetus for this tour. As I was completely broke, I would not be buying even retrograde, analog merch this evening. I was lucky to have had the ticket for this show.

I also saw Elisa Faires vinyl on the table and only Xambuca dare to release the untrendy, grandad CD format. So I would not be buying any David J music, even if I did have two buckles to rub together; which I don’t. The vaunted 9:00 p.m. showtime came and went but it was 9:17 when a gent took took to the stage to no announcement. The mysterious chap had a lean, collection of loops and he built up long, slow-building drones that increased in complexity/intensity over the course of ten minutes or so. He sampled his playing on synth as well as guitar, favoring a violin now to attain a cello’s coloration on his warm riff loops. By his third song, he began building up sequencer loops that sounded very Berlin. The School, not the band! He wrapped up after about 30 minutes of play. I still had no idea who or what I had just seen. I was familiar with Xambuca and I had hoped that he was not Elisa Faires. After the fact, I discovered that he was known as Villages.

At 10:00 p.m. the club began to fill appreciably since my arrival, though the floor in front of the stage was still fairly empty except for yours truly. After a suitable interval in which Opener #1 dismantled his gear, this seemed to leave 2/3 a stage full of tech musical gear [synths, FX boxes, even a Farfisa organ] that having seen Xambuca here before, opening for Roedelius, I had assumed was their gear. I had the distinct notion that David J was a man alone this night with an acoustic guitar. We shall see.

Xambuca + Elisa Faires @ The Mothlight

At 10:15, the man behind Xambuca and Elisa Faires took to the stage. They proffered an abstract, spiky blend of electronics and sound manipulation, with Ms. Faires [a soprano] sending somewhat gothic tones into her FX boxes to influence further. The unsettling blend reminded me at times of a Morton Subotnick approach you old timers may remember. Sometimes this had a very deep space vibe until after about 15 minutes of this Xambuca picked up the acoustic guitar I assumed was for David J and he began playing some riffs that had the hint of Spain as Ms. Faires began singing actual words instead of the expression vocals she had proffered this far. She also played chords on the Farfisa while now standing. I had to admit that the last half of this set was pretty far from the abstract point of origin that it had begun with. At 10:45 it was over and I had seen two further sides to Xambuca this evening. I distinctly get the impression that the project mutates wildly for each performance. I can’t say I disapprove.

By 11:00 p.m. David J walked on the stage and got right down to business. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he opened with “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight,” from Bauhaus’ “Burning From The Inside.” I had to admit that it sounded pretty fantastic played on acoustic guitar in this cozy little club. Some of the fans of a more Gothic persuasion than myself were gently freaking out right about this time. There looked to be about 70-80 people in the club by this time and the cozy intimate vibe immediately built a bond among those in attendance. Given that David J’s has been performing mainly house concerts over the last few years, he’d definitely gotten used to the luxury that such intimacy affords his performance. This is really how music can best enter the public sphere.

And David J had also been singing alone for decades beyond any evidence in my Record Cell. Quite simply, his vocals were strong and robust with thirty+ years of roadwork behind them. Mr. Haskins was also most loquacious discussing the songs before launching into them. Many new songs from the latest album were aired, and these were inspired by the people he’s encountered in his travels, giving these songs a much different slant to almost everything else from his pen I’m familiar with. There was real affection and compassion for the portraits he was singing. How could one not love a David J song entitled “Goth Girls In California?”

I was not familiar with about 60% of the material he played, but the acoustic format meant that I could understand all of the lyrics he was singing and buy-in to the performance completely. I should point out that no earplugs were needed this evening [even during the opening electronica sets] so that was a gift that paid long dividends! I love to hear music, but I also love to hear. It’s a rare concert where I can hear the music without jamming foam into my ear canals first. It’s just more civilized this way!

He said the last time he played Asheville it was a house concert so I really missed out there. I should make certain not to let that happen again. There were interesting covers like “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love + Understanding,” “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” tucked into the set and for the record, there were plenty of his lead vocals turns from Love + Rockets that appeared in the show, to much excitement. Many of the L+R songs had [really good sounding] audience vocals added to the show and when the crowd stomped on the wooden floors of The Mothlight en masse at exactly the right moment in the middle eight of “Rain Bird,” let me tell you it was a magic moment! Mr. Haskins took it upon himself to proclaim the audience “soulful” on more than one occasion.

At certain times, he hit the distortion pedal to put his acoustic into overdrive for some welcome emphasis at just the right moments and the show lasted a crisp 90 minutes. Perhaps the best last word on the lovely event came from the two guys who were standing in front of me, high-fiving and singing along all night. One put it best to the other when exiting the club: “that had the potential to be good and was totally excellent!” Indeed it was! David J is playing across North America and beyond. Some Living Room shows are private but others are public. The public ones have ticketing available only from David J’s website so click here if interested. The regular venue shows are standard ticketing, of course.

David J | Vagabond Songs | Summer 2017

Jun 20 | The Bowery Electric | New York, NY
Jun 23 | Firehouse 13 | Providence, RI
Jun 25 | Living Room Show | Washington, DC
Jul 06 | Living Room Show | Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 07 | CPR’s OpenAir Presents: Plume Varia | Denver, CO
Jul 08 | Living Room Show (Private) | Denver, CO
Jul 09 | Living Room Show (Private) | Denver, CO
Jul 10 | Living Room Show | Denver, CO
Jul 11 | Living Room Show (Private) | Minneapolis, MN
Jul 14 | Tip Top Deluxe | Grand Rapids, MI
Jul 15 | Living Room Show | Detroit, MI
Jul 27 | The Casbah (w/band) | San Diego, CA
Jul 28 | Harvard and Stone (w/band) | Los Angeles, CA
Jul 29 | The Ritz (w/band) | San Jose, CA
Aug 06 | Living Room Show (Private) | Burlington, CAN
Aug 08 | Living Room Show (Private) | Rosedale, MD
Aug 19 | Living Room Show | Riverside, CA
Sep 09 | Control Club | Bucharest, Romania

– 30 –

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The Road To Rezillomania [part 1]

L-R: Fay Fife, Jo Callis, William Mysterious, Eugene Reynolds

Let it not be said that I don’t love me some Rezillos! A concert they played in Washington D.C. 15 years ago was a treasured gift of a gig. 22 Years after they ceased to exist, 80% of the original lineup were finally touring America and I was going to see them. While I had the “Almost COmplete Rezillos” CD that had been released nine years earlier, I also had a reasonably full Rezillos collection on vinyl, and the “almost complete” moniker to that Sire disc [however well meant] was almost laughable. The Rezillos had a penchant for making certain that any singles they released were not exactly replicated on album. Like many British acts of a certain vintage, they recorded separate takes for each format. Every track on single [save one, which we’ll get to later] is in a completely different take to the one on any album.

With my friend chasinvictoria coming into town for the trip to D.C., I made a CD-R of the non-LP versions from single. It was quick and dirty; not the full monty REVO disc I can sometimes make. It included:

Sensible Records | UK | 7″ | 1977 | Fab 1

The Rezillos: Can’t Stand My Baby  [1st issue] UK 7″ [1977]

  1. Can’t Stand My Baby [version 1]
  2. I Wanna Be Your Man

The A-side would refigure on their “Can’t Stand The Rezillos” album the next year, but this was the primordial version recorded in Edinburgh. The B-side was an amphetamine speedpunk version of the venerable Beatles-slash-Stones 60s classic.

Sensible Records | UK | 7″ | 1979 | Fab 1 [mk 2]

The Rezillos: Can’t Stand My Baby  [re- issue] UK 7″ [1979]

  1. Can’t Stand My Baby [version 1]
  2. [My Baby Does] Good Sculptures [alternate long version]

The debut single was reissued after the group broke up in 1979, but in spite of the cover and label art, the B-side was instead a long take of “[My Baby Does] Good Sculptures” with extended “introduce the band member” solos in the long middle eight thirty two. at four and a half minutes, it’s the “Bohemian Rhapsody” of Rezillos cuts!

Sire | UK | 7″ | 1977 | 6078 612

The Rezillos: [My Baby Does] Good Sculptures UK 7″ [1977]

  1. [My Baby Does] Good Sculptures [single ver.]
  2. Flying Saucer Attack [single ver.]

Sire Records signed the band and their second mooted Sensible single became their debut on Sire. It features earlier, Scottish recordings of two classics from their yet-to-be-recorded album.

Sire | UK | 7″ | 1978 | SIR 4001

The Rezillos: Top Of The Pops UK 7″ [1978]

  1. Top Of The Pops [single ver.]
  2. 20,000 Rezillos Under The Sea

Their next single was the one that did the trick and went top 20 in Swinging England, then prepped and receptive to the high energy New Wave sound of their brilliant, deeply cynical single “Top Of The Pops.” Naturally, it saw them invited onto the venerable UK pop institution. The non-LP B-side here was pretty wacky, so say the least.

Sire | UK | 7″ | 1978 | SIR 4008

The Rezillos: Destination Venus UK 7″ [1978]

  1. Destination Venus
  2. Mystery Action

Following their album release, the band holed up with Martin Rushent to record a new single, though strife over the expense of it [coupled with the amateurish cover photo] served to push the unstable band into outright breakup. It may have cost £5000 but let it not be said that Rushent didn’t do a great job on the single.

Sire | UK | 7″ | 1979 | SIR 4014

The Rezillos: Cold Wars UK 7″ [1979]

  1. Cold Wars [live]
  2. Flying Saucer Attack [live]
  3. Twist + Shout [live]

The band did break up in 1978, and played a final gig in Glasgow that was recorded for the 2nd, posthumous album, “Mission Accomplished […But The Beat Goes On].” One single was released from it; the live version of “Cold Ward” which has the distinction of being the only Rezillos side identical to the album version. Let it not be said that The Rezillos didn’t want to offer their fans maximum value. Even so, the singles twin B-sides were gloriously non-LP tracks not included on the long player.

Philips | US | Bootleg 7″ | 1991 [?] | PH 6528 712

The Rezillos/Ramones: Peel Sessions US 7″ [1991?]

  1. Rezillos: No [Peel Session]
  2. Rezillos: It Gets Me [Peel Session]
  3. Ramones: Babysitter [Peel Session]
  4. Ramones: I Don’t Wanna be Learned [Peel]

Finally, the last disc compiled for this quick and dirty comp was a bootleg 7″ I had picked up at an early 90s trip to Wax ‘N Facts in Atlanta. It was a split Rezillos/Ramones 7″ with Peel Sessions on either side from both bands.

This added up to thirteen tracks from the band; another album worth of material. At the time, I was only starting out down the Monastic path, and had very crude tools/skills compared to what I now use, so the resulting comp was noisy and pop ridden. As I recall, it was a straight digitization with no cleanup. As such it stuck in my craw, and didn’t go away for 14 years. Clearly, something would have to be done about this.

Next: …<Insert 14 Year Gap Here>


Posted in Core Collection, Remastering, Scots Rock | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Nick Cave + The Bad Seeds @ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium 6-7-17 [part 3]

We fade to grey…

[…continued from previous post]

Next came another, even more striking song I was aware of since day one, but had never heard. “Tupelo” was certainly mythmaking at an extremely high level. The performance of the song was complete with black and white storm footage showing the full fury of nature to herald the birth of The King. The lighting director had wisely chosen yellow side lighting to suggest that eerie yellow light one seen right before a tropical storm or hurricane. The level of bombast and impact were certainly arresting. With the last two numbers, the show had gone from a whisper to a scream quite capably.

“Jubilee Street” was another key song from “Push The Sky Away” to figure in the set. Though only three years old, it was clearly accorded classic Nick Cave status. The song always felt much shorter than its 6:39 length and here in concert it might have been expanded even further. I was too busy drinking it all in to notice one way or another.

The first song that was played that I had neither heard nor even heard of was “Into My Arms” from “The Boatman’s Call.” This was a darkly tender ballad that scaled back the drama for an intimate effect. It led into the far more devastating “Girl In Amber” from “Skeleton Tree.” While Cave onstage is the rarest of entities; a literate beast, this song was all about his rarely explored vulnerability. He sang this one as if emotionally demolished, then followed it with the even more raw “I Need You.” My wife thinks he’s using an a phasing on this one that came from a Warren Zevon track, but we’ve yet to re-discover which one.

After this dark heart of the tour, we would need an injection of Bad Seeds power to pull the show out of the abyss of despair that it had circled perilously close to, and we got all of that and more with the back-to-back combo of “Red Right Hand” and “The Mercy Seat.” Then the show concluded with the final two tracks from “Skeleton Tree;” “Distant Sky” and the title track. “Distant Sky” is the heart of grace and benediction at the core of the album, with Cave duetting with Danish soprano Else Torp, and her vocals were pre-recorded on a video used as a backdrop for the song. And after your hear this one, it simply had to have been followed by the delicate piano ballad “Skeleton Tree.” With that the packed house let loose while the band briefly left the stage before the encore began.

White Light, White Heat

I was not familiar with “The Weeping Song” or “Jack The Ripper,” and the latter felt like it could have been from the “Murder Ballads” album, but then I suppose each Cave album had at least one song you could say that about. The next song was from that disc, and Cave’s blisteringly profane version of “Stagger Lee” would have made even the earliest versions of this usually whitewashed folk song blush. The lighting was full on solid red right up front, and that heavy-handed gesture was the only misstep of the evening. I would have had it remain blue, up until the four shots of drumburst that signified the action of Stagger Lee shooting the bartender. For those, I would have had four spots synched to the beat pointing straight out to the audience; only to have red lighting flow down from the ceiling to inundate the former blue tones for the rest of the song. Ahhh. Much better. But my only qualm was with the lighting. Musically, Cave added a surprising coda I’d not heard to the song wherein Old Nick Himself, appeared at the Bucket of Blood to take Stagger Lee off to his reward in Hell, only to suffer the same fate as everyone else in the song who had the misfortune to encounter the deadly Stagger Lee. Yow!

After these theatrics, the redemptive title track to “Push The Sky Away” let the evening end on the proper note of grace as the song’s chorus became a mantra of the audience singing along with Cave as he waded over a dozen rows into the audience from the front of the stage. Not the easiest thing to do in a venue with fixed seating. The artist was encircled by a halo of smartphone lights/flashes as he sang the song. And then evening was finished.

Nick Cave + The Bad Seeds | Thomas Wolfe Auditorium | June 7, 2017

1. Anthrocene
2. Jesus Alone
3. Magneto
4. Higgs Boson Blues
5. From Her to Eternity
6. Tupelo
7. Jubilee Street
8. The Ship Song
9. Into My Arms
10. Girl in Amber
11. I Need You
12. Red Right Hand
13. The Mercy Seat
14. Distant Sky
15. Skeleton Tree
16. The Weeping Song
17. Jack the Ripper
18. Stagger Lee
19. Push the Sky Away

I have got to say that seeing Cave swagger and stalk the stage and relate to his audience was fairly gripping. At certain points, he seemed as if he were going to stage dive and came close to crowd surfing with the huddled masses in the pit. He was touching many of the outreached hands that were flailing for him and there was nothing aloof about his delivery. My wife was very impressed at how in the middle of a song, he managed to say “I think we need security here” as someone nearby may have been having some drug issues that were quickly taken care of.  Had she not mentioned that to me, I may have not even noticed.

The selection of material worked for a neophyte like myself just fine. Almost all of the excellent “Skeleton tree” album got an airing, with only my second favorite song, the delicate “Rings of Saturn” not getting a performance. Other than that, it was largely drawn from his latest two, less typical albums of more abstract material, with a good selection of Cave classics and deep cuts. The caliber of delivery was never less that top of the line and the band ran the gamut from mournful birdsong to shrieking banshees. I was taken aback that Cave was perhaps the only artist I’ve ever seen who did not introduce his band at any time during the show. That felt strange, particularly when they were so keenly attuned to his performance and range. Particularly when drummer Thomas Wydler had been with Cave his entire post-Birthday Party career.

Apart from that strange omission, the show had been a masterclass in how to deliver a wide spectrum of intense emotional material that was by turns, emotionally devastating through to the swaggeringly theatrical, with all of it touched by the literate mind of Nick Cave who showed how an artist delivers; making the 3000 seater seem as intimate as a club. Even as many of the songs we were experiencing would have been unthinkable in such close quarters. Some things are just too vivid and bracing in that sort of setting. One thing is for certain; I won’t be turning a blind eye to Nick Cave + The Bad Seeds the next time that travel through our city. This was one very powerful show whereby an artist known for storytelling and black humor showed that he could work through his recent grief in ways that enhanced his art even further. Try not to miss this.

Nick Cave + The Bad Seeds | Skeleton Tree North American Tour | 2017

16 June 2017 | Auditorium Theatre, Roosevelt University | Chicago, IL
18 June 2017 | Paramount Theatre | Denver, CO
19 June 2017 | Kingsbury Hall | Salt Lake City, UT
21 June 2017 | Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall | Portland, OR
22 June 2017 | Queen Elizabeth Theatre | Vancouver, BC
24 June 2017 | Greek Theatre | Berkeley, CA
26 June 2017 | San Diego Civic Theatre | San Diego, CA
28 June 2017 | The Theatre at Ace Hotel | Los Angeles, CA
29 June 2017 | Greek Theatre | Los Angeles, CA

Nick Cave + The Bad Seeds | Skeleton Tree European Tour | 2017

24 September 2017 | Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) | Bournemouth, UK
25 September 2017 | Manchester Arena | Manchester, UK
27 September 2017 | The SSE Hydro | Glasgow, UK
28 September 2017 | Motorpoint Arena Nottingham | Nottingham, UK
30 September 2017 | The O2 Arena | Greenwich, UK
03 October 2017 | Zénith de Paris | Paris, France
04 October 2017 | Zénith de Paris | Paris, France
06 October 2017 | Ziggo Dome | Amsterdam, Netherlands
07 October 2017 | Jahrhunderthalle | Frankfurt, Germany
09 October 2017 | Sporthalle Hamburg | Hamburg, Germany
10 October 2017 | Rockhal | Esch Sur Alzette, Luxembourg
12 October 2017 | Mitsubishi Electric Halle | Düsseldorf, Germany
13 October 2017 | Sportpaleis | Antwerp, Belgium
16 October 2017 | Oslo Spektrum | Oslo, Norway
18 October 2017 | Ericsson Globe Arena | Stockholm, Sweden
20 October 2017 | Royal Arena | Copenhagen, Denmark
22 October 2017 | Max-Schmeling-Halle | Berlin, Germany
24 October 2017 | Torwar | Warsaw, Poland
01 November 2017 | Stadthalle Wien | vienna, Austria
02 November 2017 | Zenith | Munich, Germany
04 November 2017 | Kioene Arena | Padua, Italy
06 November 2017 | Mediolanum Forum | Milan, Italy
08 November 2017 | Palalottomatica | Rome, Italy
12 November 2017 | Hallenstadion | Zürich, Switzerland
13 November 2017 | Arena Geneve | Geneva, Switzerland
16 November 2017 | Faliro Sports Pavilion Arena | Athens, Greece
19 November 2017 | Tel Aviv-Jaffa | Israel
20 November 2017 | Tel Aviv-Jaffa | Israel

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