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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mothers of Invention - Freak Out! (USA 1966)

Roddus Album Of The Century

OK, finally I get round to reviewing this. Haven't heard it for a while and after Iban asked me what was the weirdest song I had heard, I recommended the Mothers "Help I'm A Rock" from this debut album from the legendary Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention. This inspired me to dust it off last night and give it a blast while Mrs Roddus was in the city.After discovering it nearly 25 years ago I can confirm absolutely and positively, that this is STILL my ALL TIME Number One Favorite album.
First thing about this groundbreaking record is that it is one of those completely unique musical statements of which there is nothing else with which to compare .Second is that it was the first ever Rock double album, especially for a debut .Thirdly it launched the prolific career of  rocks most iconoclastic, talented, cynical and individual artistic musical freak in Frank Zappa. While the Beatles were laying down the template for future popular music with Revolver, Zappa was taking that template, chewing it up and spitting it back out  into the face of the teenage record buying public.The result is this warped piece of total brilliance.
My conversion to Mothermania and Zappology took place late one night when I was about 19, listening to our local Student radio station, armed with my trusty old top loading tape deck, which I use to sit in front of the radio speaker to record any weird and wonderful freaky tracks they might play that night. The night in question I had the massive good fortune to get down on that deck the most totally awesome, mindblowingly brilliant piece of 60s rock ever committed to record in the form of "Trouble Every Day".I was still a big Punk fan back then , but I was really starting to explore the sounds from the  time I was brought into this world. The discovery of the Mothers music was heaven. I was lucky enough to actually find a second hand copy of this album soon after my conversion . Paid big money for it back then as none of their 60s catalogue was available freely here. By the time I finished with it there wasn't much left of the cover, but the record still played OK.
The first half of this record is a brilliant blend of Zappa's beloved Doo-Wop, infused with some incendiary 60s garage sounding guitar and blended with psychedelic weirdness  and raw passion. Elements of Jazz and blues are also apparent. The second half kicks off with the aforementioned "Trouble..." before entering the freakout territory implied in the album title with a sound collage of  Avant-guarde jazz/classical strongly influenced by Zappa's love of the music of Edgard Varese. Considering Zappa's reputation of being Drug free, this album is a real full on journey to tripout city.
So to a more detailed  look at the wonderful music contained on this awesome record, we start with the opening track , the anti-establishment psychedelic romp of "Hungry Freaks Daddy".Opening with the lyric"Mister America Walk on by your schools  that do not  teach. Mister America Walk on by the minds that won't be reached". Zappa unequivocally takes the stand  that he will take throughout  his career untill His early demise from cancer in 1993. The song itself is more of a salute to the Freaks that were appearing in the alternative cultural happenings of the time and the anti establishment stands they were making and how mister America reacted to them..He soon changed his tune though as the hippy culture became more widespread and  popular and he turned his cynicism, wit and humor onto them with The Mothers "We're only In It For The Money" Album a couple or years later.Anyhow this is the first of a whole album of outstanding tracks and kicks off with cool rhythms and guitar and has an excellent 60s garage sounding guitar sound with the guitar break in the middle part of the song, giving us a taste of what was to come later in Zappa's career.Other instruments prominent here include Vibes and kazoo, just to make it different.
Track two introduces us to a different aspect of Zappa's musical influences and lyrical content. This wonderfully constructed Teenage angst ballad is vocally rooted firmly in the doo-wop that Zappa Loved so much..This gives it a real sing-a-long quality and is one of the  tracks I can never resist singing. The vocal melodies are delivered with such force that you can almost feel the angst of the teenage boy as he tells the girl how he really feels about her and I get goosebumps the way he sings the lines " I think that life with you, would be just not quite the thing for me, Why is it so hard to see my way. Why should I be stuck with you, It just not what I want to do...." as the song climaxes,then descends briefly into musical chaos before ending on a sort of orchestral fanfare.The rest of the song is a musically complex psychedelic twisted stab at writing a commercial song. Although it fails(deliberately) in this, nether the less the song is brilliant.
"Who Are The Brain Police" is Classic Psychedelia in title and Zappa's twisted version in effect. Starting of with an incredible slow pulsating base line before the guitars chime in in unison,distorted and raw, followed by a moaning vocal and other noises, we then then get hit with an amazing slow psych  bass melody as the  first  lyrics are sung in unison.before we get the "Who Are The Brain Police" lyric. The song then descends into some more of Zappa's organised musical chaos before reverting back to that incredible bass line.This is the weirdest track so far and lyrically I am not too sure what they are getting at but the song is brilliant all the same and has a totally 60s feel but doesn't sound at all stale today.
Back to the ballads for the next track, slower again than "I Ain't Got No Heart" and musically tamer and quieter.The doo-woop is more pronounced on this one and also we are back with Zappa's tongue-in-cheek teenage angst again.A good song and easy to sing along with it's nice melodies. Again Zappa trying to be commercial and deliberately failing, though not totally.
"Motherly Love" is the Mothers ode to Groupies, or, more like them bragging about their sexual prowess, their size("Natures been good to this here band") and their willingness to show the girls a good  time. Supposedly written because they figured they weren't getting the attention from the groupies that they thought they should have been getting. Another brilliant Psyched out song and I love the guitar refrain they use and the ending is way cool.
"How Could I Be Such A Fool" continues the pattern here of one Psych track followed by one teen angst doo-wop track and from memory closes side one of the vinyl version. Another slow ballad type which I love to sing along to and I dig the melancholic sounding trumpet in the second half of the song. The Mothers Pull these tracks of magnificently.
 Side two kicks off with the novelty "Wowie Zowie" with its funny piano refrain and more Doo-wop with psychedelic overtones.. A bit silly and for me the weakest track on the album. Still a good song though and catchy.
"No matter who I take home, I keep On calling your Name... Tell me tell me who's loving you now, cos it worries my mind and I can't sleep at all... And you didn't try to call me", another brilliant skewed pop song again filled with the passion of the rejected and offset with Zappa's cynical take on teenage romance.
"Any way the wind blows" is along the same lines but more positive and more uptempo with a real catchy bass melody.Still dealing with a failed romance but this time the hero has found a better match and is declaring to his EX how much better the new girl is.
I just love the opening lines sung by Zappa with his distinct baritone, "Got no place to go, I'm tired of walking up and down this street all by myself." Another down on  his luck character, the hero of this song is almost suicidal, but the song is musically more positive and upbeat,
"Your Probably Wondering While I'm Here" ends side two and also ends the Doo-Wop related material and Zappa's stab at commercialbiliity. Another cynical dig at the social behaviour and fashion ("Plastic Boots and plastic hat, and you think you know where its at") of teenage America. And just like the rest of this first record, a catchy, warped slab of psychedelic Doo-pop, which keeps up the consistence of pure genius of  of the music so far.
Things shift gear considerably with the start of side three, kicking off with the incredible, amazing, brilliant and awesome "Trouble Every Day" A insightful piece of social commentary, picking on the media, violence, racism and other ills of 60s America, set to a fantastic rhythm and blues drenched psychedelia which encapsulates, for me, the sound of the sixties and yet still sounds great today and the commentary is still relevant today.
"Help I'm A Rock" kicks off the weirder stuff with its unusual rhythms and weird vocal effects in the background. Still assessable to those who like some melody in their music and a very groovy song indeed "Help I'm A Cop.... it's a drag being a cop!!!" songs ends in total weirdness before fusing into the psychedelic acapella of  " It cant happen here" before degenerating into a bit of freeform avant jazz and finishing on some tripped out sixties speak. The last part of the song introduces us to Suzi Creemcheese, who becomes a fictitious part of sixties music folk law.
Side four continues on with the Varese inspire weirdness with the side long finally of " The return of the son of Monster Magnet".Twelve minutes of organised musical chaos fuelled by percussion, electronic sounds and acid drenched sounding vocal noises. The sort of thing that no doubt inspired John Lennon to go ahead and record something like "Revolution no.9".John couldn't pull that off as well as the mothers do here.

My Roddus Rating 5++/5

Friday, October 29, 2010

Varoius Artists - Vanity Records: Finest Selection 1978-81(Japan)

Another Roddus album of The Day

1. BGM- And
2. Sympathy Nervous- Inverted Type
3. Dada- Yuuen Inraku Gaki
4. Mad Tea Party- Hide & Seek
5. RNA Organism- Yes, Every Africa Must Be Free Eternally
6. Arbeit- Bundes Nachrichten Dienst
7. Aunt Sally- Aunt Sally
8. Morio Agata- ------
9. Normal Brain- Music
10. Perfect Mother- You'll No So Wit
11. Tolerance- Sacrifice
12. Kiiro Radical- Denki Noise Dance 3
Late Friday night, Mrs Roddus is asleep as she has to go to work at 4:30am tomorrow, Mrs Roddus In law, has finally moved back to the city after her house was trashed by the Earthquake in September and so I get to do my own thing in peace, which was suppose to be writing a couple more reviews of albums I listened to on the MP3 player at work today. But alas, during my research I keep finding other blogs with other interesting types of music to sample. Musics of such a wide scope and variety of which I wouldn't ever get to check out if they weren't shared by other music enthusiasts, the rare and obscure stuff that you can't go down and buy at the local mall chain music store. Music so obscure and different and commercially unavailable that you would be very lucky to find any of it even at the more specialist stores. Which brings me to the find of the night of obscure music.This compilation is a sampling of  excellent Japanese music released by the insightful and totally brilliant Vanity label back in the late 70s and early 80s.Vanity released only 11 full albums during its short life time and these were only in limited numbers of 300-500 copies. That makes for some very rare and obscure music.That doesn't mean that it is any good though. In the case of Vanity records though, judging by the quality of the tracks on this sampler, the music is consistently good.We're not talking top 40 here or FM rock or any form of commercial music. We are talking about  fairly weird stuff here, which is most often the case with so much Japanese music. A good mix of styles that all gel together very well and certainly show their influences, reminding me of English post Punk like The Mekons, Cabaret Voltaire, The Slits, A Certain Ratio, along with early electronic sounds and even some Krautrock influences. Others talk of Fripp and Eno influences and there is plenty of atmosphere amongst this lot. Right from the first listen I wanted to check out the records released from this label and so started to search for a Vanity records discography to help me search.The first site I found, I hit pay dirt with  a list of everything Vanity released with links to blogs that had uploaded this wonderful and hard to find music.I am gonna rate this Sampler 5/5 and as I type I am downloading some of those releases to check out soon.

Go here to visit the blog from which I found this Gem.

And here to check the list of releases and links to download.

For those adventurous enough to check this out, I hope you enjoy as much as I am.


Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Ragged Glory (USA 1990)

Roddus Album Of The Day

This little baby has been sitting here ready to review for several months, but got put on hold as I got so busy lately with other things and so I thought I had better deal with it now and get it out of my draft folder. Ragged Glory is the third in a trio of excellent albums Neil released at the end of the 80's marking a serious comeback to form. It was about this time that I really started to discover his earlier music, as I wasn't at all interested in him in my earlier Punk days and because of that disinterest I missed seeing him play here in 1984.
This excellent quality digital recording done with his rockin' band Crazy horse, certainly rocks out in most of the songs here and there is a consistent quality across this whole album. Farmer John is a great cover of an older song that I am familiar with but Neils version has become the most familiar to me. Songs like the most excellent "Love & only love" reminds me of Pearl Jam, who were just starting out at this time."f**king Up" is also a timeless classic. Pretty much vintage young throughout except one small criticism with the early digital production making the sound of the music sound a little  sterile or processed. Overtly polished May be a more apt description. So my rating is 4.5/5.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The International Submarine Band - Safe at Home (USA 1969)

Roddus Album of the Day Again

This one and only album from the Gram Parson led International Submarine Band is a bonafied classic. Very early country rock( though much more closer to pure country than rock) this album just oozes class .Gram certainly brought a new freshness and coolness to country with this effort."Luxury Liner" recalls Johnny cash but with harmonised vocals and is a stand out on an album full of great music. Johnny also turns up with the cover of his "Fulsom Prison Blues" which transmutes into a cover of Crudups "That's Allright" The first track "Blue Eyes" sets the standards in musical quality and lyrical themes, which are certainly country to the core.
A piece of perfection of the genre and worth 5/5.

Get this Here and enjoy.

Five Man Electric Band - Goodbys and Butterflys (Canada 1971)

Roddus Album Of The Day

01. Signs (4:01)
02. Safe And Sound With Jesus (3:28)
03. Dance Of The Swamp Woman (3:56)
04. Butterfly (4:53)
05. Hello Melinda Goodbye (3:15)
06. Moonshine (2:06)
07. Forever Together (2:29)
08. Mama's Baby Child (3:28)
09. Man With The Horse And Wagon (4:44)
10. All Is Right With The World Tonight (3:43)
11. Variations On A Theme Of Lepidoptera (2:44)

Continuing on with the slew of rare posts I have obtained from my buddy over at Rare MP3 blog, on the Ipod today first up is this good Pop/Rock outing from this one hit Canadian band from Ottawa. The Opening tracks "Signs" was their moderate hit with is opening lyric "And The Sign  Said Long Haired Freaky People Need Not Apply", which was sampled directly on a Fat Boy Slim song a few years ago Called "Don't let The Man Get You Down ".Plenty of other catchy tunes to enjoy here with some nice guitaring on some tracks to give it that rock edge. I especially enjoyed the groovy organ sound on "Hello Melinda..." and "Dance Of The Swamp Woman" rocks out with that guitar I mentioned.Certainly a typical quality 70s pop album with plenty of variation of styles if you listen carefully and of course a touch of Blood, Sweat & Tears and The Guess Who is apparent and of course the ever present Beatles. nothing here to set the world on fire though and also nothing here that is bad, so my rating for this platter is 3/5.

Have A Listen Here

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Clouds - Scrapbook (Scotland 1969)

Roddus Album Of The Day

01. Introduction - Scrapbook (1:08)
02. The Carpenter (3:30)
03. The Colours Have Run (3:01)
04. I’ll Go Girl (3:21)
05. Grandad (2:11)
06. Ladies And Gentlemen (3:09)
07. Humdrum (1:08)
08. Union Jack (1:25)
09. Old Man (3:26)
10. Waiter, There’s Something In My Soup (7:01)
11. Scrapbook (2:51)
Another recent post from Rare MP3 blog that has been playing on the ipod along with Sons Of Champlin for the last few days. This obscure Scottish proto prog three peace from Edinburgh released this debut album in 1969 to good reviews but little commercial success.A quality release by quality musicians, well recorded and an eclectic mix of music. This outfit works mainly with Organ/keyboards, bass and drums with plenty of orchestrations to flesh out the some of the songs. With touches of music hall and the Beatles infused with  psychedelic touches and warping into that prog pomposity. like on "Waiter..." the songs here showcase a talented group which never got the  recognition they deserved. The super paced "Carpenter" stands out as well as the scat and drums of "Humdrum"."Old Man is great Prog pop with the bonus of some good harp.
The albums center piece "Waiter..." is a brave attempt and although enjoyable,  doesn't quite pull it off. The rest of the album is a lot slower with the orchestrated psychedelic pop songs which also don't all inspire me but the Beatle inspired music hall numbers "Union Jack" and "Grandad" are fun. Roddus Rating 3/5.
Have a listen for yourself Here

Sons Of Champlin - Fat City (USA 1966)

Roddus Album Of The Day

01. Sing Me A Rainbow (3:23)
02. She Said (2:40)
03. Don't Talk To Strangers (2:34)
04. 1000 Miles From Nowhere (2:53)
05. One Of These Days (2:42)
06. I Wouldn't Put It Past You (3:04)
07. It's Gonna Rain (2:26)
08. Fat City (3:46)
09. To Me (3:47)
10. Green Monday (2:37)
11. Don't Stop (1:59)
12. Little Fugue (1:54)
13. Shades Of Grey (3:48)
14. Say You Know (2:29)
15. I Wish You Could Be Here (2:51)
16. One Of These Days (Audition) (2:11)
17. It's The End (2:56)
18. Pillow (2:33)
19. Don't Stop (Audition) (2:00)
20. KCPX Radio Spots (0:51)

Been quite some time since I have had any time to give serious attention to music and reviews for this blog. Also in the meantime my Blogging buddy over at Rare MP3 has been flat out posting heaps of Rare and interesting music and I had to have a serious catchup on the downloading front to get up to date.This compilation of what was suppose to be the excellent Sons Of Champlin's debut album(but didn't get released until much later) was recorded in 1966/67 and includes their single "Sing Me A Rainbow/Fat City" and I was excited to see this turn up at Rare MP3 as these guys are defiantly near the top of the second tier of San Francisco Bay Area bands from  the late 60s. A great mix of soulful, jazz influenced, psychedelic tinged beat music from these dudes is a pleasure to the ears. Stand out track is "Fat City", which was the song that turned me onto them from the totally brilliant "Nuggets-Love Is The Song We Sing" Box set. Most of the tracks are of excellent quality and even the audition tracks are of good sound quality. There are one or two slower numbers that don't do much for me, the vocal effects on "1000 Miles From Nowhere" are a bit lame and the vocals on "Pillow" are just awful. But Slow burning jazzy numbers like "Too Me" and the uptempo beat numbers like "Don't Stop" are much more fun .With bits of fuzz guitar, organ and brass included on many of the songs, there is plenty to keep it all interesting. My Rating for this is gonna be 3.5/5.

Check out this cool album Here

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mt Oxford 25th October 2010

Uncle Roddus Tramping diary: Tramp No. 92
Mt Oxford 25th October 2010 

Well after a pretty lousy winter weather wise as well as a very busy one with work and other things, I have finally got back out for some tramping this Labour Day holiday. Just did the Mt Oxford loop track again, as it is right on my backdoor step and is a good moderate day to get an idea of fitness levels after the winters tramping inactivity. The Day was fine with high cloud and a moderate breeze as Bruce & I headed off around 9:00 am for our days adventure. Bruce and I had done this same trip this time last year and I have been up Mt Oxford about 6 or 7 times now. The day went well with the sun appearing from the cloud cover late morning and the wind also dropped as we approached the summit just before midday. A leisurely 40 minute lunch was masticated after the photo shoot as we enjoyed the great views of the Canterbury plains and then we set off down the west side of the mount for the round trip back to the car.My new walking poles proved to be a real bonus for tramping with and my legs feel a lot better for them at the end of the day. We got back to the car around 4:30pm after 7 &1/2 hours and around 20KM with about 700m height gain.

 Trying out my new walking poles
 A nice climb
 Bruce with the port hills in the distance
 It was a bit windy along this part.
 The Summit
 Looking west

 The last of the winters snow
 I love this part of the track with the moss covered trees
 Are we there yet
 No, not yet.