Friday, January 29, 2010

Music Samplers From My Youth: Part 1

In 1979, A&M Records had quite a stable of talent. Three of my favorites (then and now) appeared on 'Propaganda'. Now, I'm not going to try and snow you that I bought this when it came out. I would have been 8 years old and the coolest kid in the world. If memory serves, I bought this one in late 1983 or 1984. As the label states on the bizarrely illustrated cover, this was "a blatant attempt to influence your musical taste", and it partially worked. As for side one (all live), we were told to "play loud!" and, as my parents could attest, I listened.

Joe Jackson had a surprise hit single in 1979 with "Is She Really Going Out With Him?". A&M tried to capitalize on that success with a couple of songs recorded at Whisky a Go Go on May 12, 1979. "Throw It Away" is raucous, and the Chuck Berry tune "Come On" was interesting because it wasn't something that appeared on Jackson's studio albums. The Police follow that up with two songs recorded at The Bottom Line on April 4, 1979. "Landlord" and the show's closer "Next To You" are pure punk. For many years these songs were only available on 'Propaganda', but they are in print now. "Come On" is a bonus track on Jackson's 'I'm The Man' album, and the Police songs are on the 'Message In A Box' box set.

Side two has six studio songs, including "Slap & Tickle" from a UK band just starting out called Squeeze. Perhaps you've heard of them. Jackson appears again with an unreleased song called "Don't Ask Me." It is available now as a bonus track on the reissue of 'Look Sharp'. In other words, with all of these songs available now, this record doesn't have quite the kick it used to, but here is the tracklist and a couple of my favorite songs ripped from my vinyl copy... pops, scratches and all. The next time I write about Music Samplers From My Youth, I'll fill you in on another A&M compilation from the same time period that was also influential.

Side One: LIVE (Play Loud!)
Granati Brothers - Go Crazy
Joe Jackson - Throw It Away (mp3)
Joe Jackson - Come On (mp3)
The Police - Landlord (mp3)
The Police - Next To You (mp3)

Side Two
The Reds - Joey
Bobby Henry - Head Case
Joe Jackson - Don't Ask Me
Squeeze - Slap & Tickle
David Kubinec - Another Lone Ranger
Shrink - Valid Or Void

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Anticipated Albums Announced

This is exciting. A couple of bands that appeared on my best tracks and albums of the decade lists (see bottom) have dates set for their next LPs. We knew Robert Schneider had been busy with his side project, Thee American Revolution, but it turns it he was working double time. Schneider's main musical outlet, the Apples in Stereo, will release 'Travellers in Space and Time' on April 20 via via Yep Roc/Simian/Elephant 6. The Apples In Stereo's last album, 2007's 'New Magnetic Wonder', was quite a comeback for a band that hadn't released anything since the underrated 'Velocity of Sound' in 2002. No mp3s from the upcoming record have hit the Internet as of yet, but stay tuned. Here is the tracklist:
1. The Code
2. Dream About the Future
3. Hey Elevator
4. Strange Solar System
5. Dance Floor
6. C.P.U.
7. No One in the World
8. Dignified Dignitary
9. No Vacation
10. Told You Once
11. It's All Right
12. Next Year at About the Same Time
13. Floating in Space
14. Nobody But You
15. Wings Away
16. Time Pilot
And here is one from their last album to get you in the mood:
The Apples In Stereo - Same Old Drag (mp3)

Two weeks after Apples in Stereo drops 'Travellers', the New Pornographers will release 'Together'. A.C. Newman wrote nine of the songs and Dan Bejar penned the other three. The most interesting nugget we know is that the Dap-Kings Horns contributed to the power-pop extravaganza. Matador's Matablog promises the first mp3 is coming soon. I can't wait to hear this one on May 4. And here is yet another one from a band's last album to get you in the mood:
The New Pornographers - My Rights Versus Yours (mp3)

And just to recap, in case you're interested, here is the breakdown on these two bands as they appeared on my previously mentioned best of the decade lists:
Top 100 Tracks of the Decade:
47. The New Pornographers - Letter From An Occupant
72. Apples in Stereo - Signal in the Sky (Let's Go)
Top 41 Albums of the Decade
7. The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
17. The New Pornographers - Electric Version

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Live Bowie Tops This Week's New Releases

I'm going to recommend two new releases this week. The first is David Bowie's live double album 'A Reality Tour'. Although last decade Bowie's input was minimal, both studio albums marked quite a comeback. I didn't get the opportunity to see him on this 2004 tour in support of 'Reality'. Having purchased 'A Reality Tour' today, it's obvious I missed out. Bowie reinvented some of my best-loved songs from his catalog -- including "Loving The Alien", "Five Years" and "Life On Mars?" -- and I also got my first stage listens to about a dozen great songs from those two records from the 2000s. The other important aspect to remember with this tour is that it could be his last. Bowie had heart problems during this tour that led to surgery and an abrupt end to the shows. He hasn't toured in the six or so years since. The instrumentation is a bit sparse, and I'm finding this sound refreshing. Bowie's vocals really stand out.

As far as format is concerned, I will almost always recommend buying a physical copy of a record (vinyl if possible, then CD), but I went a different route with 'A Reality Tour'. There are 33 songs on the two discs, but you get two bonus tracks if you purchase it as a download from iTunes. In cases like this, I still would usually go with the CD, but one of the bonus tracks is "Days", my absolute favorite Bowie song of the last 20 years. That clinched it for me. In hindsight, I wish I had bought the CD from Amazon for $12.99 and purchased the two iTunes bonus tracks at 99 cents each. When excluding shipping, it would have been cheaper than the $16.99 I paid for the 35 songs on iTunes. Besides, I always spend at least $25 a pop at Amazon to get the free shipping anyway. Bottom line: If you love Bowie, you should buy this one in any format. I just wanted you to think about your options.

David Bowie - Days (Live) (mp3)

The second recommendation I have is Beach House's 'Teen Dream'. Sub Pop's dynamic duo has assembled the best album of their three album dream-pop career, and its most accessible. Although I do not fit into this category, I get the argument that their first two albums were difficult to sit down and listen to from beginning to end unless you were in the right sort of mood. For those that fall into this camp, believe it when I write this is not a problem with 'Teen Dream'. I don't envy the label rep who has to pick the singles from this one. They all sound like indie hits. It's only January, but I expect this one to show up near the top of my best of 2010 list come December. Everyone should pay a visit to the new Beach House.

Beach House - Lover of Mine (mp3)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pavement's Best-Of Tracklist Announced

Back on Jan. 12 I wrote about 'Quarantine the Past', Pavement's new best-of package due March 9. Matador ran a contest to see who could come closest to naming all 23 tracks. The contest is over, and the winner was announced today. So, finally, we know the tracklist. Is this a good representation of the band's work? And don't forget low-priced vinyl reissues of all five Matador LPs plus the 'Watery, Domestic' EP will also be out March 9.

1. Gold Soundz
2. Frontwards
3. Mellow Jazz Docent
4. Stereo
5. In The Mouth A Desert
6. Two States
7. Cut Your Hair
8. Shady Lane / J Vs. S
9. Here
10. Unfair
11. Grounded
12. Summer Babe (Winter Version)
13. Range Life
14. Date w/ IKEA
15. Debris Slide
16. Shoot The Singer (1 Sick Verse)
17. Spit On A Stranger
18. Heaven Is a Truck
19. Trigger Cut/Wounded-Kite At :17
20. Embassy Row
21. Box Elder
22. Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence
23. Fight This Generation

By my count, here is the breakdown:
'Slanted & Enchanted': five songs
'Wowee Zowee': two songs
'Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain': five songs
'Brighten the Corners': four songs
'Terror Twilight': one song
From EPs: five songs
From various artists compilations: one song

'Slanted & Enchanted' is my favorite Pavement album. So, I'm satisfied. If I was into the band's later stuff, I may be a bit disappointed. The only song I wish had made the cut that has been omitted is 'Major Leagues'. In a perfect world I would choose the demo version that appeared on the EP. Do you have any thoughts on this tracklist?

Pavement - Major Leagues (demo) (mp3)

Friday, January 22, 2010

New She & Him!!!!

Exhale. The wait is over. Merge Records and She & Him have given us the first song from 'Volume 2', out March 23. Listen for Tilly and the Wall on background vocals. This is so lovely. For me, this is the most anticipated release of the year. I didn't find this mp3 on the She & Him or Merge sites yet. So, I downloaded from Pitchfork. On the She & Him site, however, you can preorder the 7" single of this song with a B-side cover of "I Can Hear Music" by the Beach Boys. Ooooh, nice.

She & Him - In The Sun (mp3)

And here is a reminder that She & Him will be covering NRBQ on 'Volume 2'.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Compilations From My Youth: Part 2

In part one of this series, I highlighted my absolute favorite compilations from my earliest years as a music lover. In part two, for the most part, these compilations came a couple of years later. We're talking middle '80s, when I was more like 15 or 16 years old. These were important records to me, but I do not hold them in quite the same esteem as, say, David Bowie's 'Fame and Fashion' or Buzzcocks' 'Singles Going Steady'. I think that's because these compilations didn't always necessarily sway me to buy the band's entire catalog or find other bands like them. As I wrote in part one, when both of these ingredients are in the mix, it must have been a perfect compilation.

To me, there are four important musical generations. My favorite is 1977-1979. That brought us Pretenders, the Police, Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello and several other Stiff artists, the Clash, Squeeze and the list goes on and on. I also have a soft spot for the early '80s because that's the music of my youth. I feel like this past decade has had a huge impact on me as well. Finally, the middle '60s is, arguably, the most important of all. My first musical memories come from Mom's records, and that included the Beatles, Herman's Hermits, the Monkees and the like. The first non-Beatles record I ever bought with my own money was the Rolling Stones' compilation 'Hot Rocks'. For those not familiar, the double album covers several of the bands singles from 1964-1971. I love just about everything the Stones did from inception through 'Tattoo You', but the early to mid-'60s stuff is what I listen to the most to this day. From 'Hot Rocks' I got into lots of British Invasion stuff like Kinks, Dave Clark Five, the Zombies and the Hollies. 'Hot Rocks' was a pivotal purchase in my education.
The Rolling Stones - Under My Thumb (mp3)

I went through a huge ska phase when I was 16 years old. No, not Desmond Dekker and the first wave stuff, unfortunately. That would come much later. I'm talkin' second wave stuff like the Specials, Madness, the Selecter and the English Beat. All of these bands have compilations now, but only the English Beat had a good compilation when I was a middle teen. English Beat is one of those rare instances where I actually owned a band's record before I bought the compilation. I owned 'Special Beat Service' because I saw the video for "Save It For Later" on MTV. I was hooked and bought the compilation 'What Is Beat?' as my next purchase right after 'Special Beat Service'. I don't really listen to English Beat much these days like most of the others on my two compilation lists, but they were one of my favorite bands during an important time in my life.
The English Beat - Best Friend (mp3)

When 'Songs to Learn and Sing' came out in 1985 I was really into The Smiths and a couple of other guitar-oriented British rock bands, but Echo & The Bunnymen had somehow eluded me. So, this sampler came at a great time. Even now I can say this compilation really is the best material from their first four albums, plus you get a couple of other songs that didn't make their LPs. In 2007, Rhino released 'More Songs To Learn and Sing', which covers the band's first 25 years. I wouldn't steer you from that great collection, but I feel "Lips Like Sugar" (which came out after 'Songs to Learn and Sing') is really the only great single not found on the first compilation that is included on the second one. For me, the song order is so much a part of this compilation that I didn't upgrade to the Rhino edition. It just wouldn't feel right.
Echo & The Bunnymen - A Promise (mp3)

Here is another great band sampler that came out in 1985. I don't consider myself a huge Depeche Mode fan. With the exception of 'Black Celebration', which came out in 1986, I have never owned anything by them other than compilations and 12" singles. Apparently, I just CAN get enough, but I must say I do like Depeche Mode's first few years (found here) very much... even to this day. It would be a couple of more years before they invaded commercial radio and became a monster I didn't enjoy at all, but my fondest memory of this compilation is popping the cassette into the family station wagon and driving to no place in particular on my first solo post-license drive.
Depeche Mode - Shake The Disease (mp3)

Of all the compilations that defined my youth, I think 'Staring At The Sea' has aged the worst. The only studio album by the Cure I ever really loved was 'The Head On The Door' from 1985. It was so good that I bought 'Staring At The Sea' from 1986 on the day it came out, and I got it on cassette instead of my usual vinyl preference because it came with the B-sides. At the time, this one was untouchable. I was still really into them in 1987 when 'Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me' came out, but I thought it was four great tunes and a lot of filler. By the next record I had moved on to other things, and the band had moved on to commercial success with inferior product. 'Staring At The Sea' was a time and place compilation for me. I rarely listen to the Cure today, and the group didn't make me consider the band's that inspired them.
The Cure - Charlotte Sometimes (mp3)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Long Lost Great Buildings LP Found

Many years before Danny Wilde and Phil Solem of the Rembrandts were doing hand claps on the theme song to the TV show 'Friends' they were in the short-lived but fantastic L.A.-based power-pop band Great Buildings. In 1981, Great Buildings released its only album -- 'Apart From The Crowd' -- to rave reviews but few sales for Columbia. The group disbanded shortly thereafter, and that seemed to close the book on them.

Now, nearly 30 years later, we learn Great Buildings had already recorded a followup to 'Apart From The Crowd' before they broke up. Wounded Bird Records, perhaps second only to Rhino in the reissuing game, has unearthed 'Extra Epic Everything' and will release it next Tuesday. I have never heard any songs from this record, but I can certainly vouch for the band's debut. As the decades pass, the stature of 'Apart From The Crowd' continues to grow with power-pop aficionados. You can pick that one up from Wounded Bird, too. Here's a little taste of that classic. As for the Rembrandts, thankfully, I was living in Japan when "I'll Be There For You" was racing up the charts. So, my feelings for Wilde & Solem aren't tainted.

Great Buildings - Hold On To Something (mp3)
Great Buildings - Heartbreak (mp3)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Compilations From My Youth: Part 1

A couple of items I wrote about last week -- one on the Buzzcocks and one on Pavement -- has had me thinking about compilations. I was pondering the current crop of youngsters and wondering if it's possible the upcoming Pavement best-of package, 'Quarantine the Past', could have the same meaning to them as the Buzzcocks' 'Singles Going Steady' had on me when I was a teen back in the '80s.

For the most part, I will usually recommend great individual albums from a band long before a best of or greatest hits, but compilations have a time and place. That time and place, however, isn't the same today. When I was a kid, I bought compilations because I wanted to try a band I thought I may like, and my paper route money didn't afford me the chance to buy a band's catalog. Now, with digital downloads, you can easily create your own compilations, spend as much money as you want doing it and make them as long and short as you desire. So, this begs the question: Do we really need new compilations? Best-of packages were important to me, and the following five have had a huge impact on my listening tastes to this day. Do you remember these?

'David Bowie's 'Fame and Fashion' was one of the first albums I ever owned. I bought it not long after his smash 'Let's Dance'. This compilation was not even close to as cool as 'Changes One' and 'Changes Two', but those weren't available at my local K-Mart, and that was the only place in my hometown that had music. So, I jumped on my ten speed and got this low-price vinyl that came without a syllable of liner notes but great songs like "Heroes", "TVC 15" and "Golden Years". 'Fame and Fashion' did what it was supposed to do. I eventually owned the entire Bowie catalog. From this branch of the music tree I went on to buy Roxy Music's compilation, 'The Atlantic Years 1973-1980'.
David Bowie - Golden Years (mp3)

The Jam's 'Snap' was cool because it had great liner notes, was a double album and covered the band's entire career. From this compilation I was able to tell which stage of The Jam appealed to me most, and I bought pieces of their catalog based on those judgments. At the time, it turned out I liked the later years. So, I bought 'The Gift' first. Years later I bought the CD version of this compilation, but it wasn't the same. Several songs were omitted so it could fit on a single disc. I was so used to listening to the song order of that double album that it just didn't work for me. From here I bought several late '70s British punk bands including the Buzzcocks, Clash and Undertones.
The Jam - Start! (mp3)

I tend to remember every musical purchase I ever made because each hunt and transaction was so exciting to me. Sadly, with e-Bay, Amazon and digital downloads, I imagine that's lost on today's youth. I bought XTC's 'Waxworks: Some Singles 1977-1982' while on a camping trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my best friend's family. I found it on cassette at a Cosco-type store while picking up supplies. We listened to over and over during the eight-hour drive back to our hometown. I was most amazed by the crazy keyboard parts on the songs that I later learned came from the album 'White Music'. It didn't take long to have the entire catalog from these lads.
XTC - Science Friction (mp3)

This photo is taken from John Lennon's 'Shaved Fish', but I could have used several different pieces of art from compilations to convey how important The Beatles and the solo work of Lennon and Paul McCartney meant to me. This goes all the way back to discovering Mom's records when I was 9 years old, but I really dug two double albums I checked out of the library when I was in fourth grade. I transferred 'The Beatles/1962-1966' and 'The Beatles/1967-1970' (sometimes referred to as the 'The Red Album' and 'The Blue Album') from vinyl to blank cassette tapes on my parents' living-room stereo and darn near wore them out. It was cool to listen to those 54 songs in chronological order and hear the massive changes in sound that occurred in less than a decade. Of course, over time, I bought the entire catalog and wouldn't be caught dead listening to these compilations, but those copies of library copies taught me more than any book ever did.

'Shaved Fish' and 'Wings Greatest' were also big listens during the "me decade", and I still pull those two out from time to time. It was easy to call yourself a Lennon fan and put down McCartney for his syrupy pop, but the songs of Sir Paul meant more to me than any other Beatle. While I'm on the subject, as a kid I thought it was funny that 'The Best Of George Harrison' had only one side of solo material while the other was his best work while a member of the Beatles. It took many more years to discover what a great artist he really was. I'm happy to report he finally has a good compilation called 'Let It Roll'.
Paul McCartney & Wings - Jet (mp3)

In the early to mid-'80s, Elvis Costello was my favorite artist. By the time his first compilation was released, the very weak 'Best of Elvis Costello & The Attractions' on CBS Records, I already owned every song that was on it. So, I never had a Costello compilation. I had read somewhere that Costello had produced Squeeze. So, I bought 'Singles - 45 And Under' on cassette from a national music chain in St. Louis. The date was August 1984. I know, it's a sickness. I bought it on tape because I wanted to listen to it immediately, and I had my boom box in the car for the weekend trip with my family. By Christmas of that year I was asking for the Squeeze catalog as holiday gifts. My aunt bought me 'Argybargy' on vinyl and got a good laugh from the family as I opened it and she told all of the other relatives that one of the songs was "Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)".
Squeeze - Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) (mp3)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Five Dollah, Five Dollah, Five Dollah Phonos

If you have already given to Haiti and have a Lincoln or two left over, you may want to stop by They have more than 800 mp3 download albums on sale for a mere $5 each. Granted, many of the selections are pretty horrible (see photo above), but I have paged through all 800+ and have a few recommendations. Amazon isn't telling us when this sale ends. So, you may want to get moving.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
Coconut Records - Nighttiming
Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar Friend
David Bowie - Hunky Dory
David Bowie - The Best Of 1980/87
Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle
The Zombies - The Original Studio Recordings
Big Star - #1 Record/Radio City
Frank Sinatra - His Great Performances 1953-1960
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts - Bad Reputation

Friday, January 15, 2010

Plimsouls Show Not A Million Miles Away

It's a crime. There is absolutely nothing from the Plimsouls' catalog in print. Granted, the L.A. garage-rock outfit didn't put all that much on wax, but the seminal 1983 record 'Everywhere At Once' isn't even available for Pete's (Case) sake! You can still get the songs "A Million Miles Away", "Oldest Story In The World" and "Zero Hour" between the two volumes of the 'Valley Girl' soundtrack (and you should have those anyway), but that's it.

Alive Records must have thought it was a crime, too, because they are coming to the rescue with a famed Halloween 1981 live release from the Whisky A Go Go. The 18-song 'Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal' will be available on vinyl, CD and digital download on Feb. 23. The set will also include three tunes the boys did with The Fleshtones, as well as beautiful photos from Bob Matheu. If you're one of the first 1,000 to purchase it on vinyl, you get a poster, too. I have heard a bootleg of this show and thought it was an absolute must. It will be even better remastered. Here is a sample from the folks at Alive and Pavement PR.

The Plimsouls - Zero Hour (Live) (mp3)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

With Buzzcocks Reissues, What Do I Get?

The punk scene of the late '70s, particularly from across the pond, is one of my favorite genres, and from 1978-1979, no band did it any better than the Buzzcocks. Mute must think so, too, because on Feb. 9 the label is reissuing all three of Buzzcocks' records from this time period -- 'Another Music in a Different Kitchen', 'Love Bites' and 'A Different Kind of Tension' -- as double discs with a slew of bonus material. Here is the breakdown:

'Another Music in a Different Kitchen': The entire 11-song album, four additional singles from the time period, three songs from a 1977 John Peel session, 14 demos and a whole 1977 live show from Manchester's Electric Circus.

'Love Bites': The entire 11-song album, four additional singles from the time period, seven songs from three separate John Peel sessions, 13 demos and a whole 1978 live show from Lesser Free Trade Hall.

'A Different Kind of Tension': The entire 12-song album, 11 singles and select B-sides from the time period, four songs from two separate John Peel sessions and 11 demos.

Wow! Pretty impressive, eh? In my opinion, these are musts. To get you in the mood, here are three of the band's singles. One of these will appear on each of the reissues. These are taken from one of the best compilations of all time, 'Singles Going Steady'.

Buzzcocks - What Do I Get? (mp3)
Buzzcocks - Love You More (mp3)
Buzzcocks - Everybody's Happy Nowadays (mp3)

On a side note, this is as good a time as any to state that the reunion of the band after disbanding for most of the '80s actually produced at least one really good album. I give high marks to the 1993 album 'Trade Test Transmissions'. I was working at a record store at the time of its release, and I played it numerous times in the shop. I imagine quite a few people saw them tour in support of that record since they opened for Pearl Jam in 1993 and Nirvana in 1994. Here is one of my favorites from that overlooked Buzzcocks' gem.

Buzzcocks - Innocent (mp3)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Are Pavement's Best Tracks?

Info on Pavement's career-spanning, best-of compilation called 'Quarantine The Past' is starting to trickle out from Matador. This is what we know. The 23-track double LP, CD and digital download will be released on March 9. Other than the opener, "Gold Soundz", the tracklist is a mystery. Why? Because Matador is running a really fun contest where you guess the other 22 songs Matador has deemed the best. Check out all the details and awesome prizes on Matador's Matablog. You have to scroll down a bit. Find the album cover and click on it to make your guesses. Then check out the remastered version of "Gold Soundz":

Pavement - Gold Soundz (mp3)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Futureheads Finishing Up Fourth Album

In my continuing series of missed music news during all of those posts on holiday tunes and best-of lists, British quartet The Futureheads released the first song from its upcoming fourth album as a free download about six weeks ago. Like many, I think their self-titled debut back in '04 was brilliant, but they haven't quite matched it now, have they? Well, I have to give the lads credit because this first listen from the still untitled 2010 album is really good. The band had a couple of catchy singles on 'News and Tributes' and 'This Is Not The World'. So, I'm trying not to get too crazy about one song, but "Struck Dumb" makes it difficult not to be full of optimism.

The Futureheads - Struck Dumb (mp3)

It's A First: I'm Excited About 'Hippies'

I rarely listen to the radio, but yesterday I found myself tuning in to Sirius XMU while in the car. I'm glad I did because I heard a song I can't seem to get out of my head. I don't know much about the Austin-based trio named Harlem, but I can tell you they had an album called 'Free Drugs' back in 2008. It must have been pretty good because now they are signed to Matador and will release their first record for the label -- 'Hippies' -- on April 6. The song I heard was a bright piece of power pop called "Friendly Ghost". Great title since it has haunted me in a good way for the past 24 hours. Thanks to Matador for posting it.

Harlem - Friendly Ghost (mp3)

Friday, January 8, 2010

'Costello Show Series' Continues

Back in September I wrote about the exciting news Hip-O would be releasing several live Elvis Costello albums -- some of them famous bootlegs -- under the moniker "The Costello Show Series". The first one was the excellent 'Live at the El Macambo'. That show was taken from between the 'My Aim Was True' and 'This Year's Model' albums and featured a very early listen to his new band, The Attractions. The second in the series is set for release on Tuesday. This time we hear Elvis Costello & The Attractions between the 'This Year's Model' and 'Armed Forces' albums. 'Live From Hollywood High' was a sold-out show recorded in June of '78. I don't know about you, but Costello never came to my high school.

I have never owned this popular bootleg. The first time I ever heard any part of the show was when three songs were included as bonus tracks on the 1993 Ryko reissue of 'Armed Forces'. It was a perfect fit for the album since the show was made into an EP that was included with the initial Radar release of 'Armed Forces' back in 1979. Since it was just an EP, it is obvious most of the 20-song album has never been officially released. This is a must purchase for Costello fans that don't have the boot. Here is the tracklist and two of the three Hollywood High songs from my 'Armed Forces' reissue. See you at the record store on Tuesday.

1. Accidents Will Happen (mp3)
2. Mystery Dance
3. Lip Service
4. Living In Paradise
5. Goon Squad
6. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
7. Party Girl
8. (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
9. This Year's Girl
10. No Action
11. Stranger In The House
12. The Beat
13. Alison
14. Lipstick Vogue
15. Watching The Detectives (mp3)
16. You Belong To Me
17. Radio, Radio
18. Pump It Up
19. Waiting For The End Of The World
20. Miracle Man

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Former Delgado Preps Second Album

I was heartbroken when The Delgados broke up after the release of 'Universal Audio' in 2004. The band didn't have a dud in its discography and were the darlings of critics, 'Melody Maker' and the late John Peel. Still, for some inexplicable reason, they never quite broke through here in America. I wasn't a crazy fanatic of Alun Woodward's vocals, but I was definitely in love with Emma Pollock's pipes. So, I waited to see what she would do next.

Finally, in 2007, I was rewarded with 'Watch The Fireworks'. I wouldn't quite put it up there with the 'The Great Eastern', 'Hate' or 'Universal Audio', but it was a strong solo debut that included quite a few standout tracks. One song, "Acid Test", even landed on my list of the decade's best. The handful of songs from 'Watch The Fireworks' that didn't quite work for me seemed a little too adult contemporary, if you get what I mean. According to Amazon, the album is out of print, but you can still purchase it as a digital download. If you want to try out a couple of songs before buying the whole record, I suggest "Limbs" and the previously mentioned "Acid Test".

I'm proud to pass along that Pollock's second album, 'The Law Of Large Numbers', is set for release in March. Former Delgados drummer Paul Savage produced it for Chemikal Underground, the label founded by the band some 15 years ago. Based on the first song she's given us, Pollock is in fine form. Here is the tracklist.

1. Hug The Piano (And)
2. Hug The Harbour
3. I Could Be A Saint
4. Red Orange Green
5. Nine Lives
6. House On The Hill
7. Letters To Strangers
8. The Loop
9. Confessions
10. The Child In Me
11. Chemistry Will Find Me
12. Hug The Piano (Or)

Emma Pollock - Hug The Harbour (mp3)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Feel The Electricity: OMD Is Back!

Back in September I posted a piece on Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. A reader named Craig commented that the band planned to release a new album in 2010. Even though I had not followed OMD in more than 20 years, I was pleasantly surprised to read that piece of news since it would be the first time Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys would be recording a studio album together since 1989. McCulskey had kept the band alive for several years in the early and mid-'90s, but I have never heard one note of the albums 'Sugar Tax', 'Liberator' or 'Universal'.

In 2007, McCluskey and Humphreys reunited to perform the classic 'Architecture & Morality' album on stage. The tour went so well they started work on a new album called 'The History of Modern'. It will, indeed, be out sometime this year, and the band has given us a sneak listen with the release of a demo called "Sister Marie Says". Fans of their early work are about to be stunned. If you were one of the lucky ones to see them on stage at the end of last year when they toured England with Simple Minds, perhaps you could let us know if the band played any new tunes and, if so, how they sounded. I'm actually looking forward to this one.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Sister Marie Says (mp3)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Apples In Stereo Side Project Bears Fruit

Apples In Stereo frontman Robert Schneider has worked with brother-in-law Craig Morris as Thee American Revolution for several years now, but 'Buddha Electrostorm' is the first time they have completed a physical full-length record. I missed writing about this one because of all the best-of lists and holiday music, but it has been out since November. Like Apples In Stereo, the band is lo-fi, but don't expect the same pop sensibilities. The closest Apples In Stereo record I can think of to compare it to is 'Velocity of Sound', but that's not quite right either. Like that 2002 album, there is lots of guitar, but it is harder and more psychedelic. It is definitely worth a listen, and it's always great to hear Schneider's voice. It's cool to see the Elephant 6 logo too.

Thee American Revolution - Power House (mp3)
Thee American Revolution - Electric Flame (mp3)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Freedy Johnston: Back On Bar/None

Today I was checking out Pitchfork's guide to new releases for the first three months of 2010 and noticed a few significant absences (at least in my opinion). I'll post about the others later this week, but I wanted to start with the fantastic news that Freedy Johnston will return to the label of his youth when 'Rain On The City' hits the shelves on Jan. 12. I know I'm far from alone in this sentiment, but 'Can You Fly' and 'This Perfect World' were a couple of the brightest spots during the dark days of indie rock known as 1992 and 1994. The last record I bought by Johnston was 'Never Home' in 1997, and then I kind of lost track of him for quite a while. It turns out he lost track of his own career as well.

'Rain On The City' is his first album of originals in eight long years. I have recently discovered the 2000s did produce a couple of Johnston projects that have intrigued me enough to pull out the wallet. In 2004, he released an album of four-track recordings (almost all of which were not on previous albums) taken from 1986-1992 called 'The Way I Were'. In 2008, Johnston released a covers record called 'My Favorite Waste Of Time'. Since I first discovered Johnston through my love for Marshall Crenshaw and his subsequent contributions to Johnston's early work, I'm looking forward to hearing his cover of the Crenshaw favorite, as well as his take on Paul McCartney, The Hollies and more. So, while I'm waiting for my purchases to arrive, I'm enjoying this free download from 'Rain On The City' and contemplating whether I'll trek to Schubas to see him on Jan. 22.

Freedy Johnston - Don't Fall In Love With A Lonely Girl (mp3)

Preorder 'Rain On The City' from Bar/None