Simple Minds @ The Tabernacle – Atlanta 10-8-18 [part 3]

Bassist Ged Grimes attacked those iconic bass lines with gusto

[…continued from last post]

The familiar bass rondo that heralded “The Hunter + The Hunted” brought forth a shot of recognition from the crowd. This was one of the best deep cuts on “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” and though it also made the last set list I had seen the band with in 2013, this evening it was really taking off and fulfilling its boundless promise in the best way possible! The dreamy Romanticism of the lyric found a perfect foundation in the band’s rendition which skirted the edge between lush and powerful in a way that most cannot follow. This was the third peak of the evening thus far for me.

Next was a curveball I would not have anticipated. They pulled “Stand By Love” out of their hat. The band’s stab at a “Pinball Wizard” [albeit with a soul stomp added to it] was one of the more agreeable tracks from “Real Life” and this marked the second time that I had heard a song from that album this evening, and none of these were even my favorite “See The Lights.” While I would not say no to an electro arrangement of this tune, Goudie’s acoustic strumming really had an appropriate berth here.

Sarah and Jim shared the spotlight quite often during the show

Then they took the bus further down the folkie road with their cover of “Dirty Old Town,” by Ewen MacColl. This divisive number I know to be alienating to Echorich and a few other Simple Minds fans I encounter online. I bear it on the album because vocalist Sarah Brown sings it so profoundly well. I tend to ignore Kerr’s verses and wait for her to sing again. In concert this evening, Kerr wisely sat the song out, only adding his dulcet tones to the chorus. And with Sarah carrying the whole song it simply sounded fantastic. Kerr says she sings it like Mahalia Jackson and I can’t argue with that statement! With that song, the first set ended.

I can never tire of ‘Theme For Great Cities!’

After a 10-15 minute break the band, minus Kerr, strode onstage and laid into another peak experience; “Theme For Great Cities,” our second track from “Sister Feelings Call” this evening! Needless to say, Goudie stuck to the synths [good boy] and left the fret mangling to Burchill and the rhythms hammered onward courtesy of Ossei and Grimes;

who anchored the whole thing with his bass. Wow. The track is always a stormer and this evening was no different. They’ve played it the last three times I’ve seen them and its bulletproof. There’s no way I could ever get tired or jaded hearing its magnificence.

“She’s A River” was the song that welcomed me back to Simple Minds in 1995

It was in 1995 when I chanced to hear a song on the radio that let me know that it was okay to listen to Simple Minds again. “She’s a River” would not be mistaken for an “Empires + Dance” outtake, but it was an undeniably successful, if mainstream, vision for the band who had flailed away for a decade by that point without impressing me much. I went right out and got the “Good News From The Next World” album, and hairstyles notwithstanding, it made me want to see the band live from that point onward. I didn’t think that would ever happen following the 1986 debacle I’d witnessed. It took me seven years before I saw the band in 2002, but they’ve played “She’s A River” each time I’ve seen them since then and it remains a fixture in their set that reminds me how the band have honed their direction from that point onward to the point where they are touring this year on an album with no missteps to these ears at all.

We finally got another track from said album when the title track was the next song played. I loved Charlie’s insistent riff which seemed to be channeling his fiery playing on the cover of “Needle + The Damage Done” that had recorded in 2001. Next came Burchill once again taking the lead with the distinctively funky [it really is] intro to the wondrous “Someone, Somewhere [In Summertime]” as on the band’s 12″ version of the song. It was another song from “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84]” rendered brilliantly by this band and there’s nothing quite as exciting as that solo setting the fans up for something luxurious. That was followed by the always dignified beauty of the band’s final US Top 40 hit from 1991, “See The Lights.” It’s always the best song the band had made in a decade to me and I appreciate its direct honesty and subtlety. Two factors largely missing from this band during that period.

Next: …Wildcard

 

 

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Simple Minds @ The Tabernacle – Atlanta 10-8-18 [part 2]

They did it again! Simple Minds began the show with a fantastic new song instead of older material.

[continued from last post]

When I had last seen Simple Minds, in 2013, they pulled a rabbit out of their hat by starting the show with “Broken Glass Park,” a vibrant new song I didn’t expect. This time they were touring behind their best album since 1983, so naturally, they pulled the top quality “Signal And The Noise” out of their quiver of songs first. The song was a hugely successful throwback to the driving, motorik sound of “Sons + Fascination” coupled with a tremendous lyric that would have been alien to the abstract imagery they favored back then, so naturally we all immediately got very excited! There’s nothing wrong with giving your best shot right up front, is there?

Charlie Burchill – guitar hero

Like the 2013 show, they then followed this up with the expansive statement of intent that was “Waterfront.” Either Charlie or Gordon Goudie triggered the bass loop [they each had synths adjacent] and then we were off and bouncing. If ever there was a song made for live performance, it’s this one with its monolithic, four-to-the-floor beat and its series of crescendoes that plateau ever upward. Then the distinctive random wave intro of what could only be “Love Song” hit the PA and we were treated to the first of the hits from what we’ll call the Monk-zone of Minds fandom that pre-dated “New Gold Dream [81, 82, 83, 84].” This is one of my top Simple Minds songs but tonight the energy was not focused. The lack of a dedicated keyboard player as well as [I’m going to say it] the recent experience of the acoustic tour has apparently rubbed off on the band to its detriment. Both Charlie and Gord Goudy had synth rigs onstage, but that meant that sometimes Charlie split between synths and lead guitar and Goudy did the same with his acoustic guitars.

Now this wasn’t the fully acoustic performance like “Speed Your Love To Me” had been in the soundcheck; the song had the vibrancy of rock music, but what I found critical to the potency of “Love Song” was the doubling of the guitars and synths together on the iconic riff. In every other performance of this song I had seen, it had all of the impact that the song has always had in listening to the album version. Tonight, the lack of synths piling on that riff led to the dissipation of its energy. So while it wasn’t a flat out disaster, it did stand as weak as compared to the last two shows I had seen where they had played it in 2002 and 2013.

This band was tailor made for cherry picking the cream of the “Real Life” album

Next, something happened that was shocking to me. The last time I had seen the band they leaned heavily on their breakthrough “Once Upon A Time” album with five of its eight songs played. That I still had a thrilling time was down to everything else about the set. That would not happen this evening. Instead, other albums that had been under represented in the live sets I had seen would get the nod. I’m not crazy about “Real Life” but I did think that there was an EP worth of goods there. One of the songs from that album that delivered was “Let There Be Love,” which I had not had the pleasure of hearing live before. This version of the band were well suited to do it up right, with new drummer Cherisse Osei backing off from the John Bonham-influenced Mel Gaynor sound for something a little more dynamic. There were four songs from that album that stood apart from the mishaps. Would I hear more of them tonight?

Charlie and Sarah

From that nice surprise, the band worked their way backward, skipping the troubling middle 80s period of the band for something that built on the platform that “Let There Be Love” provided and took the energy higher. Much higher. Good gravy, it’s hard to believe, but I have never heard this band lay into the propulsive “Up On The Catwalk” live before! Until this evening! They really scored a goal with this one! This gave Ms. Osei a change to really work out the chunky rhythms so crucial to the song’s success.

Then, afterward, Jim Kerr brought her to the front of the stage and introduced her to the audience. It’s fascinating to see this band incorporate women, especially women of color, into their makeup with no regard for conventions or expectations. I’m up for anything as long as the band honor their sound or build on it in coherent ways. Kerr asked Osei what her favorite song from the “Walk Between Worlds” album was and she replied “A Sense Of Discovery.” The band then played the dreamlike track, which cheekily incorporated the bridge vocal structure of “Alive + Kicking” into what I found to be a much better song. Charlie has a great solo on this one and for once, Goudy’s acoustic guitars had a welcome place here where they made more sense. They then launched into a version of “Promised You A Miracle” that felt a little diffuse without the heavy synths that the original recording was so heavily dependent on. Truth be told, the arrangement here seemed to recall the version of “Live In The City Of Lights.” The last two times I had seen the band, they had not made that choice, but at least they kept the energy level of the song up without the unnecessary downbeat coda of that 1986 version of the song.

“The American” really gets the Monk blood pumping!

They next dipped in to The Monk Zone for “The American.” I was fantastically excited to hear this finally in 2013 and tonight was not any different! This song was tailor made for chanting along to the brilliant chorus and I was thrilled that Mr. Ware, who was next to me, was hearing it with me this time. I should mention that the audience were standing [as you can see in the shots of the show] all night long, so we tried our best not to careen into our adjacent spouses. That’s hard to do when your favorite band [did I just say that?] is playing one of your top three songs and doing a great job of it. My only regret was that they played the 7″ version since less than seven minutes on this one always feels like a tease!

Next: …New Peaks Ahead

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Simple Minds @ The Tabernacle – Atlanta 10-8-18 [part 1]

You might think that this was an easy photo to take…and you’d be wrong. All good pix by Ms. Monk, Ms. Ware, + Echorich. Bad pix by yours truly.

So I have already discussed the pain and degradation of buying the tickets for this Simple Minds show earlier. I was no fan of the fact that if I wanted a block of five tickets for Simple Minds in Atlanta on October 8th, I pretty much had to lay out for VIP tickets due to the lovely ‘bots of Ticketmobster [and their third party partners in scalping] eliminating 80% of the seating within seconds of the opening of sales. Read all about it here, if you have a strong constitution.

Having made a kind of peace with that fact over the months prior to the show, by the time we rolled into Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, we linked up with Echorich and Mr. + Mrs. Ware for a weekend of fun and good fellowship that involved dining, plenty of sitting around conversing, and yes, record shopping for the gentlemen. The ladies had high tea and glassblowing; two far more elegant pursuits to engage them. The tales of the record store are yet to come. Today we’ll get right down to the nitty gritty on the hot topic of the 40th Anniversary “Walk Between Worlds” North American tour from the band. The band had booked a mind-staggering 24 date tour, only to add an additional seven dates at the end for a pulse-pounding 31 dates on the road. The biggest tour since 1986, surely? Heck, their last North American tour was just seven dates!


The scarf was reversible and very colorful

We arrived at 5:15 for the appointed time for VIP check-in. We were immediately issued our poster/soccer scarf, lanyard and wristbands. The soccer scarf [Kerr is often prone to wearing these in concert, hence their appearance here] was much nicer than I had been anticipating. We later looked at the poster which was custom printed on top quality stock with the show date/location and it too, was of a very high caliber. So no Scot thrift shortchanging us. We waited in the concession area of the venue. The full-Monty VIPers [we opted for the “student package”] got a meet and greet first as well as a signed set list, so they were called up the stairs earlier. About 15 minutes later, we were all called up to the seating area where the band would soundcheck two exclusive songs.

VIPers awaited the band for the soundcheck

I had visions of “Empires + Dance” deep cuts roiling through my brain for the last few months, because to my thinking, anyone who would spend $160-$250 for a ticket didn’t need to hear “Oh Jungleland!” With that 5×5 tour experience under their belts, and having heard “This Fear Of Gods”[!] on their brief, seven date “Greatest Hits” tour in 2013, I had set my expectations fairly high!

The band ambled out onstage as Kerr got the ball rolling

Jim played the host in an amiable, low-key manner. There would be some Q&A with questions presubmitted by email a week or two before the tour actually began. And two songs not on the set list played, but Jim told us right off that we would be getting an extra song this soundcheck of something they really wanted to take another pass at before it would be showing up in the final set list that evening, so three cheers for a bonus round. The first question picked was “if you were not in Simple Minds, what would you be doing?” Kerr passed the mic to each member for their answer before talking about how the only job he ever had apart from when he was a teen was Simple Minds. He didn’t think too much of mopping up a butcher shop.  With the band on stage, they launched into a “different version” of “Speed Your Love To Me,” and while I hoped briefly for the famous “electro” arrangement of that, what we got instead was an acoustic duet between singer Sarah Brown and Kerr. <SFX: foghorn>. Oh my. This was not starting off on a good foot.

The “Big Music” tour of Europe that never crossed the pond was where they first started making these stage moves, much to my dismay. Every thing I had read about that tour made me glad that it hadn’t. How they could miss the boat on the tour for such a solid album stymied me. Then, to manifest my darkest fears, they recorded an acoustic album and did a further acoustic tour [also mercifully absent in America] before turning around and recording their best album since 1983 as if to make my head spin from the aesthetic whiplash.

Jim talked up Magazine to hoots from Mr. Ware, Echorich, and I 

Then they broke for a few questions. One fan has asked about the best bands that had never made it and drummer Cherisse Osei talked about Mika, a performer she had drummed with earlier. Bassist Gen Grimes mentioned Danny Wilson, whom he had played bass with on two fine albums [though “Mary’s Prayer” was actually a US Top 30 hit]. 2nd guitarist/keys man Gord Goudie had played for years with Echo + The Bunnymen; surely a band who had “made it” in almost any sense of the word. But leave it to Jim and Charlie to conclude that Magazine were the best band that had failed to ignite. Jim mentioned how they were trying to live up to the Magazine ideals early in their career. I’d say that “Empires + Dance” was their own “Secondhand Daylight.”

Charlie agreed with Jim on Magazine

Then they played their next song, which thankfully, was electrified, though no synths were used. The uptick in energy was welcome, but this was the weakest version of “Glittering Prize” that I’d ever heard.  Then they broke for a few for the last of the questions from the audience. Strangely enough, one woman whose question was picked was not in attendance. Then they got ready to perform the bonus third song of the soundcheck. The one that would be later in the show. As soon as Jim mentioned touring in America, I spotted it as The Call’s “Let The Day Begin” coming right up to inflame Echorich’s gall bladder. He’s not a fan of this song in their repertoire, to put it mildly. They did it the last time we saw the band together in 2013, but that was before they had locked down the arrangement on the “Big Music” album to come. They had not yet given the tune it’s walloping “Waterfront” drum sound, or its buzzing synths. This evening it was performed as a duet between Sarah Brown, who took lead, and Kerr. The walloping drums were at least in but the tune was bereft of any synths, though certainly electrified. It was not the “Big Music” version, which is the only version of this song that I’m actually down with.

Only 1/3 into the tour and the merch was thin on the ground

And then it was over and they said their goodbyes, and drifted offstage until showtime. Leaving us to exit the stage to head back to the concession area. It was near seven with an 8:00 showtime. The standard admissions were not yet in so we checked out the merch table. The pickings were slim. There were, I kid you not, new versions of the 1986 tour shirt that I was still trying to forget for sale! Half the shirts had than damned Claddagh on it. This does not fly in Monktown. There was a gray shirt with the album art in negative on it but the clear winner was the shirt with the “Summer” single artwork on it [see left]. When I got there there were only XS, M, and 3X sizes available! Then they blacked out the M leaving only the drastic extremes for sale! Too bad since it was the one to get. I settled for the gray album art shirt [see right], as did Echorich, who also had his heart set on the “Summer” design. At least the prices were fair – $25 for shirts and $45 for the hoodie. But no tour book was in evidence either. They seem to have one on the webstore so maybe they were sold out on the road. Mr. Ware also wanted the “Summer” design so maybe we’ll all lean heavily on Echorich, who is seeing the show in nearby Tampa in November.

So I have to say that this evening had gotten off to an underwhelming start for the VIP outlay. Had I any choice in the matter, I would have been annoyed that paying 2x cover for tickets merely got me uninspiring versions of songs I’d heard earlier under better circumstances. Of course, I simply bought VIP because it was the only way to get a block of five seats as the seats were evaporating 20-40 a second as the sale opened! Since I saw two synth rigs onstage, I knew that we’d get have to get some synthesizer in the program, but it seemed like the acoustic tour had colored Simple Minds attitudes, and not for what I’d consider the better. Whenever there had been acoustic guitars in their music in the past, they’d really lost me. I was fervently hoping that this VIP soundcheck would not be representative of the main event.

Next: …Fingers Crossed

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Redux: I Was A Token New Waver…


July 25, 2014

The Token New Waver; not just a band phenomenon as Johnny Slash demonstrates

The Token New Waver; not just a rock band phenomenon as Johnny Slash demonstrates

I’ve written in the past about the curious phenomenon of False New Wave®, which got pretty rampant during the salad days of the trend. We were treated to the spectacle of rawk stars a generation older adopting the colorful plumage of the Now Set; often to their detriment! But let’s look at this from another, less celebrated, angle. Let’s suppose that you were a musician who was really into this new thing, maaaaaaan. And yet you were hooked up with en establishment rocker like [purely as an illustrative suggestion] Bob Seger. At what point would the cognitive dissonance cause your head to burst into flames? Similarly, how far could you venture into your comfort zone before you were the subject of a band intervention; confronted about how you just no longer seemed to fit into your fearless leader’s conception of The Silver Bullet Band? ‘Tis truly a vexing problem, but fortunately for musical misfits everywhere, there seemed to be some wiggle room for what I can only refer to as the Token New Waver® scenario.

This phenomenon was pretty widespread in the early eighties where a mainstream band often seemed to have that one member, who visually, was on another wavelength to the image being put across by the rest of the band. Often, it was the keyboard player. Given that New Wave had the aura of hipness by 1979, I’m sure that established bands with some sense of security were happy to have the Token New Waver® present in photo shoots, if anything, to add a slight aura of the au courant for bands that would otherwise be lacking in that department. For bands still clawing their way up the cliff face of Rock, I would imagine that any member who stepped out of line, visually, would find his pitons filed away to the breaking point.

And their glasses…

Yes: Trevor is too cool for this bunch…

I vividly remember when Yes made their first album without Jon Anderson as if it were yesterday. As a lapsed fan of Yes and a big fan of The Buggles, I found the notion of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes replacing Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson kind of thrilling, in a warped way! To this day, I still don’t know who came up with that cockamamie idea, but I thank them for it. The only Yes album in my Record Cell post 1979 has been the “Drama” album. I even bought it as soon as it came out on CD ca. 1987! Just six tracks – most of them long; about like any Yes album, really, but the lack of Jon Anderson means that the band can finally rock for once! “Machine Messiah” is the heaviest that Yes ever got as Chris Squire and Steve Howe got to investigate their y-chromosomes without Anderson casting reproachful looks. Still, publicity photos of the new Yes show Horn looking really uncomfortable, even though he had a similar vocal range to the erstwhile singer and the material here is among my favorite Yes music.

Prince: One of these things is not like the other…

Prince: One of these things is not like the other…

I also remember when I first heard Prince around the time of his Dirty Mind” album. His blend of funk and New Wave was of its time, as potent as the rock and soul that Sly Stone proffered in the late 60s. When “Controversy” was released, I became a firm believer, though it was around this time that I began to see the earliest Prince music videos on the pre-MTV airwaves. I could not help but notice that [as usual] keyboardist Matt Fink stuck out visually like a sore thumb from the dapper showbiz glam of the backing band. Dr. Fink, as he’s known, had a penchant for the brief New Wave vogue of scrub suits* paired with the shades; its always the shades, that usually mark the Token New Waver® within any rock group of the era. He rocked this look all the way to the end of the Prince train.

RED ALERT! We have a Token New Wave Overload!!!

Pat Benatar: RED ALERT! We have a Token New Wave Overload!!!

Stop the presses!! Some rock bands took the notion of the Token New Waver about as far as it could conceivably go! What about Rock Chick® Pat Benatar’s group photo on the back of her hardly New Wave sophomore album, “Crimes Of Passion?” Yow! One would be excused for thinking that this might be a New Wave album instead of Nerf Rock®. Bassist Roger Capps [top right] has the requisite short hair and The Shades. He could walk right into a video by The Epoxies and we would not bat an eyelash. It must have been the 1979 zeitgeist in action, since even Neil Giraldo [top left] was sporting a skinny tie. But the New Wave ball got hit out of the park with the sharp figure cut by drummer Myron Grumbacher who looks to have bested Joe Jackson at his own game! I don’t think I need to tell you where Grumbacher is sitting!

The Token New Waver® phenomenon was over and done with by 1983, about the same time as New Wave, as it turns out. The trope was past its sell-by date by that time, but for about five heady years, we could play “Spot The Token New Waver®” with some of the least likely bands imaginable. What other Token New Wavers can you add in the comments below?

– 30 –

* Ace commenter and close, personal friend chasinvictoria was rocking this particular wardrobe action at the point when I met him in high school way back in 1979!

 

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Redux: Remastering – The Complete Faith Global


July 22, 2014

Survival Records | UK | 12” | 1982 | SUR 124

Survival Records | UK | 12” | 1982 | SUR 124

Faith Global: Earth Report UK 12″ [1982]

  1. Earth Report
  2. Coded World
  3. Love Seems Lost
Survival Records | UK | LP | 1983 | SUR LP 003

Survival Records | UK | LP | 1983 | SUR LP 003

Faith Global: The Same Mistakes UK LP [1983]

  1. The Same Mistakes
  2. Forgotten Man
  3. Hearts & Flowers
  4. Knowing The Way
  5. Love Seems Lost
  6. Coded World
  7. Yayo
  8. Slaves To This
  9. Facing Facts

Back in 1982 I was probably perusing the racks at Crunchy Armadillo Records and my eyes probably bugged when I saw the Faith Global “Earth Report” 12″ single, since the dude on the cover left was obviously the previously undercover Stevie Shears; late of guitar from the band Ultravox! At the time, I only knew that he had been ousted from Ultravox! after their blistering “Ha! Ha! Ha!” album when he had been replaced by Robin Simon who was better equipped to take the band into their electronic future. Forgive me for not knowing that he subsequently was involved with Ken Lockie’s Cowboys International project, but that record I would not hear for many years later.

I bought “Earth Report” and was delivered a solid slice of Post-Punk that was very different from the Ultravox! material that I’d previously heard Shears play on, but overall, the vibe was congruent with a song like “The Man Who Dies Every Day,” so I was pretty pleased with my purchase. Shears had risen to the occasion by playing everything on the single except acoustic guitar [rather well, thank you] and that instrument had been left to the hands of Jason Guy, the vocalist. Guy was to my ears an eerie ringer for early John Foxx, so that lent this project a bit of eerie déja vu.

I kept my ears to the ground and when the album “The Same Mistakes” hit the streets of Central Florida as an import the next year, I quickly bought it. Good thing too, because each Faith Global record was the only copy of these releases that I’d ever seen. To this day. The album did not have the 12″ A-side, but the B-sides were there and accounted for. The only notable presence on the album save for Shears and Guy was the sax player for the glory days of The Psychedelic Furs, Duncan Kilburn, who added honks to “The Forgotten Man” and “Knowing The Way.” Drummer Graham King remains best known for playing drums on this album.

Since I have every known recording by the group on the racks, I should make this one the focus of a REVO remastering sooner rather than later. If I can only scrape the nickels together to buy a new hard drive… and a spindle of MAM-A gold CD-R media. But I’m not holding my breath. One safe thing about planning to remaster this title is that I need not worry about being scooped by a legitimate reissue label. This music is so far under the radar that I seriously doubt that it could happen! But often is the time that I embark on a 10+ year journey of completing a collection, only to see the material get a real re-issue on Edsel, or Cherry Red for a fraction of the cost that I’d invested in all of that rare vinyl. That is definitely a case of pyrrhic defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

– 30 –

 

p.s. It’s over four years later. I think this has been recorded to the 4TB RAID [see, I did buy the hard drive I mentioned, so there’s  some progress] but the files have not been denoised or touched in any way.

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Heck Freezes Over, Melts, Then Re-Freezes Again: Gary Kemp Joins The Pink Floyd

L-R: Lee Harris, Guy Pratt, Nick Mason, Gary Kemp, Dom Beken

I caught wind of this a few weeks ago when we were in the middle of the 30Days; 30 Albums thread, so this is the first time I’ve mentioned it in a post, but I saw on the morning of September 20th while reading The Guardian, that after almost 15 years sidelined following the tabling of Pink Floyd, that their drummer, Nick Mason, had formed a band to dig into all of the cooler, psychedelic era music from the band’s two Syd Barrett albums up through the “Meddle” album that preceded “Dark Side Of The Moon.” Pretty fabbo, I thought.

He was aided by the late period Floyd bassist and New Wave MVP’er Guy Pratt. Awesome. But who would be singing? Syd has long since passed this mortal coil. Enter Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet!

So yeah, with Tony Hadley jumping ship from Spandau Ballet and that band having enlisted a young turk to be their new lead singer, Kemp obviously didn’t have enough drama in his life, so he’s picked up this sweet side gig that’s so left-field I can’t love it enough!

Take that, Dukes of Stratosphear!!!

The band has taken the name Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, and to date they have played small venues in the UK only, but they have teased US shows coming down the line. And this is no tribute band, The works are treated as the platforms for heavy psych improv that they originally were. In other words, living psychedelia instead of a slavish re-creation. Sign me up! I especially love “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” and would see this band in a heartbeat, if only to hear that music played live instead of the heavy misanthropy of the Waters era band. Getting Guy Pratt and Gary Kemp in the deal as a bonus is a no-brainer! I may never see The Three O’Clock [or Spandau Ballet, for that matter] but maybe Nick Mason’s A Saucerful Of Secrets will make their way down south and I won’t care!

– 30 –

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Binging On Music

This little boy was off to a bad start…

Hello. My name is Post-Punk Monk and I have a music binging problem.

This year has been very off kilter for me. It’s down to the patterns of buying  music this year. If you have a look at the 2018 Purchases page of this site, one can’t fail to notice that the 185 titles thus far were really down to just four “purchasing events” for the entire year.

A trip to Greenville, SC in January yielded 19 titles at two stores. Seeing OMD in Atlanta made for a trip to Wuxtry where 33 titles caused us to spend around $200. I next saved up for a trip to Los Angeles in July and that journey entailed visits to several record stores, including the behemoth Amoeba Hollywood. A total of 57 titles purchased at over $400, I’d estimate. Then, not a fortnight later, local store Harvest Records had their usually tremendous 14th Anniversary Sale. I bought 51 titles at under $40! So that added up to 160 releases. The other 25 purchases were sprinkled in the fallow times between this binge purchasing that is giving me pause.

That we went to Atlanta again in April as well to see Graham Parker without so much as driving by a record store was cause for some relief, but this is not new behavior. Back in my twenties, when CDs were much more costly, I used to sometimes shop like there was no tomorrow. Then the big record shows in Tampa often saw me buying 40-50 titles at once. And none of those discs cost under $10.00! The avalanche of over 100 titles in two weeks saw me spend last month reviewing an album a day in an effort to chew through the sheer amount of listening that I had in front of me in a more timely fashion. That helped. A little. Since much of what I bought was not actually related to Post-Punk, there are still a dozen or two titles that I have yet to listen to. Maybe more.

If one looks at the months of February, March, May, June, and September, one sees almost nothing coming into the Record Cell. And yet, I certainly failed to wither up and die. The truth of the matter is I find that I have plenty of music to listen to without buying more. Yet the interest in hearing more persists. Every year I vow to spend less on music while enjoying it more, but the patterns of consumption such as I’ve had this year, do nothing to rectify that. Case in point: It’s just October and I’ve already bought a third more than last years’s total, though the thrifty shopper in me begs to point out that it’s only cost me about $30 more than last year’s total expenditure. Still, I’ve got the fourth quarter of 2018 still to go and I’ve already failed in my goal of last year.

Sisters…are chewing it for themselves!

I understand the thought behind saving up for a big trip to Los Angeles and buying many things that would never show up where I lived, but that doesn’t mean that I would want to do it on even a semiannual basis. The Harvest sale features records and CDs for a dollar. They are basically giving them away to create goodwill. I am totally behind that and if it happened monthly I’d probably go at least six times a year. It’s more the other times that bother me.

I’d be a lot happier if I could find more things that I actually want, instead of things that are interesting and simply available. Nothing in Greenville was technically on my want list.  Wuxtry had almost all of the recent John Foxx vinyl that I didn’t have, so that was nice, but those purchases in particular were strictly to feed the collector’s sickness in me. Everything in Los Angeles was pretty much a wanted item, and about a third of the Harvest sale was off of the want list. Quite frankly, it’s more enjoyable to me to focus on buying 2-4 things that I need to complete a collection instead of throwing down 4-5x times the money on a scattershot purchase that’s not “goal oriented.”

I only need three Fingerprintz singles to complete my collection of that fine Scot band, but at the rate I’m going, I’ll never get them. Heck, some of these records are even available in the US, bypassing the international postage issues that normally stay my hand in these affairs. I would really love to be able to digitize and denoise these records to make my perfect handmade REVO CDs of them for my enjoyment.

That’s another thing. I am severely lacking in the quality leisure time to play and record vinyl records for a start. I’m here to tell you that playing records is a pain. If it takes me 2x the running time of the record to digitize it, I’m doing very good. The fetishistic and  ritualistic aspects of playing vinyl that enrapture so many? Hate ’em! If I wanted to be an IV drug user I would be doing that instead.

I don’t need the placebo act of taking the vinyl out of its sleeve, carefully by the edges, and  placing it carefully on the platter. Opening up the Discwasher D4 box and removing the liquid, placing 2-3 drops across the brush surface and carefully spreading it across the surface with the bottom of the D4 bottle before spinning the record up with a finger and running the brush across the surface. Then doing it again. Then opening up my recording app and needle dropping across the track or side several times and places to set maximum recording levels. Then cueing up the record and starting to record. Sometimes several times due to the random length of the dead wax before the cut I’m planning on recording often goes right into the music before I can get the dustcover down [the action is audible] to prevent the disc from getting much filthier with play. Then not moving so my chair does not impact the acoustics of playback for the duration of the song/side. Then starting over when a peak that I missed up front causes the recording to go into the red. No, that’s at least 3-4x the play time of the song/side, I think! After a half an hour, I might have one or two songs on the server.

Then there’s the IT aspects of making my own CDs. The new iMac no longer has a DVD burner in it. I still have the 2008 iMac but I have not made any CDs since buying it in April. I am out of MAM-A gold, printable CD-Rs. These are $2.00 apiece in minimum spindles of 50. Then my disc printer needs ink, or something. The last time I tried to print a DVD this summer the image looked like a solarization! I may need new ink at let’s just call it $80. Ideally, I would also like an outboard DVD burner for the new iMac so I don’t have to move all of the files from the 4 TB external RAID to a thumb drive to burn on the old computer. Another $80.

There’s no money for this because all year we have been saving up for trips. Trips where we spend on CDs and more records, or just trips in any case. I don’t see myself making any headway on the “make your own CD” front until next Spring at the earliest, since we’re now going to Big Ears Festival next March to see Harold Budd’s residency there. So that’s the state of my angst in 2018. How lovely it would be to spend $40-60 a month on a steady trickle of things that I wanted and to have the time to enjoy all of the vinyl that I already have and turn it into delightful CDs that actually bring me joy, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. My wife has proposed that we stop taking out of town trips to see any performer whom we’ve already seen before, and I agree with this in principle, but I found myself talking her into Big Ears since she cherishes Harold Budd and at 82 this is probably one of his last big hurrahs. So I blame myself.

We are going to Atlanta this weekend to see Simple Minds for what will probably be the last time, unless they suddenly play Asheville! Mr. Ware and Echorich will also be attending, so there has been talk of communal record shopping; an enjoyable pastime in groups. Mr. Ware’s collecting days are in his rear view mirror but the pleasure of looking requires no legal tender. I enjoyed hitting the record stores in Georgetown with Echorich during the last Simple Minds event so with Mr. Ware with us it will be fun to visit Wax N’ Facts, Criminal Records, and Wuxtry while our spouses are having high tea. In that I have visited these store with as little as $20 or even nothing in my pockets to spend in the past, I will be keeping any expenditures down to the bare minimum. Check this space next week for the epic thread of Simple Minds VIP and the camaraderie of shopping with Echorich and Mr. Ware. If I spend more than $60, won’t you please take me to task?

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