Audio Lore

A Positive Music Blog

Monday, January 30, 2012

Out Of The Vaults #4 - Laughing Hyenas - Life Of Crime

In our new apartment there is one wall with 10 cabinets stacked from floor to ceiling with a sliding library style ladder to reach the high ones. These cabinets were custom built by a previous owner. Inside each cabinet is four shelves, each one the perfect width for a CD. This is what sold me on the apartment.These are the "Vaults" were the music is stored.

Each week or so I will ask my wife to dive deep into the cabinets and pull out a random CD. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will "muse" on the disc for awhile in this blog no matter how good, bad, or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, how old was I, first reaction to hearing the album, do I still listen to it today and anywhere else my stream of conscious will take me in regards to the "Out Of The Vaults" weekly pick.

Out Of The Vaults #4: - The Laughing Hyenas - Life Of Crime 

Will I lose punk credibility by admitting I was listening to The Laughing Hyenas before even hearing about singer John Brannon's previous band, the hardcore legends Negative Approach? When The laughing Hyenas released the Crawl Ep with new drummer Todd Swalla, I was stil not familiar with his previous band, the even more legendary Necros. The Laughing Hyenas album Life Of Crime was released in 199O. Touch and Go would not be releasing the Negative Approach compilation Total Recall for another two years. The Necros material to this day still has not been re-released. In 1990 those two bands material was unattainable unless you had a few hundred dollars to shell out for the original records.

But let's be honest, most my punk credibility went out the window with the Styx post from a few weeks ago.

The first time I heard of the Laughing Hyenas was in a Washington Post news article focusing in on a few noisey rock bands on the Touch and Go record label. It was just luck that I picked up the Post that day stumbled upon the article focusing on the bands Killdozer, Slint and The Laughing Hyena, three bands that would open up a whole new world of noise rock for me. Of course I had to purchase all of each bands release.

One pretty awesome thing Touch and Go records used to do in the 90s was when bands would release new albums on CD, they would then fill up the rest of the disc with some of the bands previous material which had only been available on vinyl. They also did not charge any extra for these double releases. When I picked up my copy of The Laughing Hyena's Life Of Crime I was pretty pleased to find the previous album You Can't Pray A Lie tacked onto the end. Still at that point I had not even heard a note of the band's music. When I pressed play on the CD player I was pretty floored by what came out of the speakers.

The first thing that hits you is the throat shredding voice of John Brannon. No one has a more powerful voice. In the early X-Men there was a character called "The Banshee". When he flew around and did his thing, he would do a "Sonic Scream" to attack the bad guys. I'm pretty sure John Brannon's vocals could give the "Sonic scream" a run for it's money.

The bands music is a bit  dirgey with the blues lurking underneath. The album takes a little while to get going but by the time we reach Track 5 "Here We Go Again", the band is really in a groove. In the song we still get that voice but everybody gets in on the action. The late Larissa Strickland's guitar really shines. You can even almost here a little bit of melody peeking through. Almost.

The groove carries over to Track 6 "Wild Heart" before slowing down the tempo and becoming a even little more dirgy for track 7 "Outlaw". On the song Brannon stresses every syllable to really bring out the songs feeling of desolation.

The title track closes out the Life Of Crime half of the disc. The song is definitely more upbeat only this time drummer Jim Kimball is allowed to hog the spotlight.

The other album on the CD, You Can't Pray A Lie, which had been released the year earlier, brings more of the same as the first album, only these songs are more primal. Not having totally realized the power of his voice, John Brannon sounds a little more all over the place then on later releases. There is more dirge among the 8 tracks but there are also a few more pretty damn good guitar solos spread around too.

Even though the Butch Vig production makes both albums sound a little warmer, overall Life Of Crime is pretty hard to take to listen straight through the whole album. When you add You Can't Pray A Lie it is almost impossible. For me the  band works a little easier on an slightly smaller scale like the Crawl Ep which was released a couple of years later.

Over 20 years that 1992 Negative Approach Collection may have received more play on my stereo than  The Laughing Hyenas, but Life Of Crime/You Can't Pray A Lie CD will still will be taken every now and then. Both albums, as well the later Laughing Hyenas releases Merry Go Round (originally released in 1987 but reissued in 1995) and the more Rolling Stones sounding Hard Times, but they mostly get played when I put on my iPod's "Noise Mix" on random.

Over the years whether it be with The Laughing Hyeans, Easy Action (John Brannon's later band with ex-Necros/Laughing Hyenas bassist Ron Sakowski) or the newly reformed Negative Approach, and I have been lucky enough to see all three live, every time I hear that voice I think of Banshee's sonic scream saving the day.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Soul Asylum: The Missing Piece

I always feel there are two camps when it comes to Soul Asylum. The first is the people who loved them from the time they were a small Minneapolis band called "Loud Fast Rules" and followed their guitar rock hooks and swinging hair all the way up to their college rock breakthrough album Hang Time. Then there are the Soul Asylum fans who’s first introduction to the band was the multi-platinum Grave Dancer’s Union album with it’s mega hit “Runaway Train”, which lead then down the adult alternative tracks

Unfortunately these two schools of Soul Asylum thought will always miss a very vital piece the band's history. After the Soul Asylum enjoyed the college radio success of the  power hook filled hit "Cartoon" and  just a few years before their smash album would lead the band to perform at Bill Clinton's 1992 Presidential inauguration, Soul Asylum released the way too overlooked 1990 album .....And The Horse They Road In On

The album kicks off with a a perfect Soul Asylum song called "Spinnin". The song contains tons of hook, tons of movement and tons of fun.

Track 2 "Bitter Pill" shows Soul Asylum can still bring the "Loud" from it's former name.

"Veil Of Tears" slows it down for Track 3 but the song is still very upbeat and you can tell the band is having a good time playing it for us.

Track 4 "Nice Guys Don't Get Paid" is a laid back song with the feel of a few guys hanging out on the corner while playing guitars with a small group of friends.

Track 5 "Something Out Of Nothing" shows the band can even get a little funky.

The very autobiographical "Gullible's Travels" brings the first side of the album to a close. With lyrics such as "Guess I wore out my welcome, it's better than being alone" , "Everythings turning but mostly just turning out wrong", "Just another lost journey" the band is talking about after looking back at the band Soul Asylum had been for the past ten years and what's the next step? Did they wish to stay that kind of band or was it now time to move on.

Side Two kicks off with the guys back down on that street corner for Track 7's "Brand New Shine"

Track 8 "Easy Street" as well as Track 10 "Be On Your Way" are two more upbeat hook filled song both with very positive and  inspirational autobiographical lyrics, especially when on Track 10 Dave Pirner sings "I need something to feel, the rest of my life's not in vain"

Track 11 "We 3" once again slows it down, gets quiet and adds some piano. The song, probably one of the best ones Soul Asylum recorded, perfectly brings to the listener the feeling which comes with constantly being a third wheel. 

But old Soul Asylum was not going to go so quietly. No, they are going to be "Loud, Fast, Rules" one more time and go into the band's  next phase with a bang. The closing song "All The King's Men", with it's very down tuned guitars, Grant Young's  heavy drums, Bassist Karl Mueller's pounding bass, Dave Pirner's voice getting lower and lower until it almost sounds evil and Dan Murphy's out of control guitar solo was the perfect way to do it.

The main reasons And The Horse They Road In On never really received much credit was because the production was just not that great. Steve Jordan, the original drummer for the Saturday Night Live Band as well as bands with Eric Clapton and now John Mayer, may have not been the best pick to record the album. Although the band was going for a more stripped down sound, instead the production sounded rather hollow; something they would definitely fix with the very full sound of the Micheal Beinhorn produced Grave Dancers Union. 

Unfortunately sales of the album probably will never warrant it a remaster. The solution: Listen with your volume control turned up LOUD. 

It's always worked for me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chimes of Freedom-The Songs of Bob Dylan: One Bloggers Opinion

Yet another Bob Dylan tribute album gets a release, this time from Amnesty International.  I love tribute albums and was actually looking forward to this albums release. Bob Dylan’s songs are very good, especially when someone else is singing them. Then I read how long the new tribute was set to be. Four full CDs, 76 tracks are just way too many songs for a tribute album; even if it’s for Bob Dylan.  I decided to go into the album with an open mind; no expectations no matter what artist are on it. After listening through the whole thing I found a few surprises. Some good, some not so good. Here is my interpretation of the album:

Using an already released or older recording on a new tribute album is a no-no. It’s a cop out. Putting the great but already dead for eight years Johnny Cash doing “One Too Many Mornings” as the lead off track is not a good way to get the ball rolling.  Placing a track performed by the artist the album is in tribute too, on track 18 of the last disc where Bob does “Chimes of Freedom”, is also a no-no.

I always said My Morning Jacket would make the greatest cover band ever. When they do other peoples songs like Dylan’s “You’re A Big Girl Now” on this album, they are awesome; boring as hell when they perform their own material.

The Gaslight Anthem and Queens Of The Stone Age both just seemed to take the two (almost) hits of their own,  GA’s “59 Sound” and QOTSA’s “No One Knows”, and change the words to that of two Dylan songs (“Changing Of The Guards” and “Outlaw Blues”).

Many classic artists turn in great performances. Patti Smith (“Drifter’s Escape”), Elvis Costello (“License To Kill”), Jackson Browne (“Love Minus Zero/No Limit”) and Billy Bragg (“Lay Down Your Weary Tune”) do exactly what you want them to do: the play Bob Dylan songs. They don’t try anything too fancy, just play the songs like they would if they were covering them in a concert. Lenny Kravitz turns in a very good version of “Rainy Day Woman #12 &35”, probably one of the best performances on the album.

I wish I could say the same for Bryan Ferry (“Bob Dylan’s Dream”), Pete Townsend (“Corina,Corina”) and Eric Burdon (“Gotta Serve Somebody”). The legendary Rock and Roll singers of Roxy Music, The Who (although not lead) and the Animals respectfully, just don’t sound like they have the chops anymore. The Pete Townsend song especially, he doesn’t even sound in tune.

Michael Franti of the Hip-Hop hybrid band Spearhead (but I will always remember from the more political underground group Disposable Heroes of Hypocrisy) was the perfect pick to do Dylan’s spoken vocal classic “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, another high point of the album.

Some bands seem to forget who they are supposed to be covering. Tom Morrello (“Blind Willie Mactell”) seems to think it’s supposed to be Leonard Cohen and The Airborne Toxic Event (“Boots of Spanish Leather”) think it’s Neil Diamond.
Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger

The 90+ year old folk/protest singer Pete Seeger turns in a very respectable version of “Forever Young” but I would be much more interested in hearing him perform the Alphaville song of the same name.

I love punk and hardcore. Rise Against and especially Bad Religion are two of the biggest, but let’s face it: Dylan’s music just doesn’t fit this type of music. When these two bands do “Ballad of Hollis Brown” and “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue”, the two classic songs sound forced, no real soul anywhere to be found. Silverstein’s “Song to Woody” sounds straight out ridiculous.

But Flogging Molly’s Irish-punk (although most the band is from California) works very well on “Times They Are A-Changin’” as does the punk band The Bronx’s alter egos Mariachi El Bronx with “Love Sick”.

I always get jazz singer Allison Krall mixed up with bluegrass singer Allison Krause. I think it has something to do with their last names beginning with “K”. Evidently the compilers of this album made the same mistake since Allison Krall style doesn’t fit the song she sings (“Simple Twist of Fate”) whereas Allison Krause would probably have done it better justice.

Two very good unexpected great Dylan versions are brought by the young bands Silversun Pickups (“Not Dark Yet”) and Jack’s Mannequin (“Mr. Tambourine Man”). Both songs are done very well each bands own style. We Are Augustines, a band I have never heard of before, turn in a very good version of “Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind”.

Live tracks always seem out of place on tribute album where every other song is in the studio. Concert crowd noise suddenly starting up and ending before and after live songs often sounds awkward. David Mathews Band (“All Along the Watchtower”), My Chemical Romance (“Desolation Row”), Sugarland (“Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You”) and Dirks Bentley (“Senor; Tales of Yankee Power”) provide evidence to this fact.

Adele (“Make Your Feel My Love”) is an exception to the rule since her track is recorded in a radio station with no audience.

I could go on and on about each individual cover song and artists on the album but now it is time for you to go through them and form your own opinions. I would  like to hear them.

Tribute albums are always uneven and the great thing about iTunes, Amazon and other Mp3 outlets is we can pick and choose which songs we want to have. Plus iTunes is giving 59 cents of whichever ones of these or the other 55 plus tracks you buy so give the album a listen. It’s for a good cause.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Out Of The Vaults #3- Jawbreaker- DEAR YOU

In our new apartment there is one wall with 10 cabinets stacked from floor to ceiling with a sliding library style ladder to reach the high ones. These cabinets were custom built by a previous owner. Inside each cabinet is four shelves, each one the perfect width for a CD. This is what sold me on the apartment.These are the "Vaults" were the music is stored.

Each week or so I will ask my wife to dive deep into the cabinets and pull out a random CD. The chosen album will then be given to me and I will "muse" on the disc for awhile in this blog no matter how good, bad, or embarrassing the chosen disc is. Where did I buy it, how old was I, first reaction to hearing the album, do I still listen to it today and anywhere else my stream of conscious will take me in regards to the "Out Of The Vaults" weekly pick.

Out Of The Vaults #3: Jawbreaker - Dear You

Jawbreaker has been one of my favorite bands since I picked up their debut album Unfun because I thought the cat on the cover was cute. Since then I have purchased all their albums, singles,ep's and any compilation they appeared on.

Overall I have to admit I was a little disappointed with Jawbreaker's third album 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. It wasn't that the album was bad it just seemed to not be done right. Where as with the two previous albums 1990’s Unfun and 1992 Bivouac, all the songs were perfectly placed. Great songs leading them off with great songs bringing them to the close. On 24-Hour Revenge Therapy the lead off track “Boat Dream from a Hill” sounds awkward leading off the record. If it was not a compact disc I would have thought I accidentally started the record off on Side B. The songs sound awkward coming after each other too. There was hardly any  flow to the record. Also many of the songs sounded the same. This was probably in part because of the Steve Albini production. The only exceptions on this album being “Indictment” and “Boxcar” but even those two sound very similar to each other. Even though Jawbreaker is one of my favorite bands and Steve Albini is one of my favorite producers, sometimes the two just don’t mix well together. The same thing happened when Albini produced a Fugazi album a few years earlier. The only difference being the Fugazi album was shelved and never  released. .

Dear You, set to be released in September 1995 was to be the first Jawbreaker album to be released on a major label. Many fans and zine writers criticized the band for signing to a major. I on the other hand welcomed it. It was the days before point and click internet music buying and sometimes hunting down these independent releases took a while especially for a college student in Long Island without a car. Bivouac was out for nearly half a year before I finally tracked down a copy. With Dear You being released on DGC, home of Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Weezer, the record should be available at any major music outlet.

But there was a the question about what the record would sound like. Rob Cavallo who was mainly known for his production of Jawbreaker’s friends Green Day, was called in for production duties. Would this take away all of Jawbreaker’s rough edges we had grown to love over the years? With the band coming off a short tour opening for Nirvana, would the alternative/grunge gods rub off on Jawbreaker’s sound? There was also the question of lead singer/guitarist Blake Swarzenbach's voice. Over the past few years he had a few throat surgeries. Would he still have that voice which made Jawbreaker so original?

When September arrived all my questions were answered.

Track 1 "Save Your Generation" comes blaring out of your speakers. On the song singer Blake's vocals are definitely a lot clearer then on past Jawbreaker records but they are not too far up front like I feared they would be. The song also includes what would go on to be one of my favorite lyric of all time. "Survival never goes out of style"

Track 2 "I love You So Much It's Killing Us Both" is also a nice scorcher, this time even faster and heavier than track 1. Somewhere underneath there is an actual love song about two people determined to make it work regardless of being totally wrong for each other. Together the two tracks are a great one two punch to start off the album.

Track 3 "Fireman" , the single of the album, is definitely catchy and a little radio friendly but there are a few welcome awkward time changes that  keep the song from being boring. The week Dear You was released the "Fireman" video premiered on MTV's 120 Minutes as a "Buzz Band". It's pretty awesome seeing one of your favorite bands up there with the other more famous 90's alternative bands.

Track 4 " Acccident Prone" slows it up a bit but not too much. When the chorus kicks so do the distortion pedals.

Track 5 and 6 "Chemistry" and "Oyster" are two more full sounding and bouncy songs, both would not sound too out of place on 24-Hour Revenge Therapy, only Rob Cavallo's production really brings all the sound loud and clear, not muddled like on the Albini produced 24-Hour Revenge Therapy tracks. "Oyster", with it's positive and inspirational lyrics is definitely one of the highlights of the record.

Track 7 "Million" brings the tempo down a notch but retains the full loud sound the prior two tracks especially when the chorus kicks in.

The album starts raging again when Track 8 "Lurker II:Dark Son Of Night" begins. The song, never letting up for three and a half minutes, would not have been out of place one either of the first two records.

Track 9 "Jet Black" with it's obligatory (for Jawbreaker) Christopher Walken sample, is another slower one. This time a very welcome chance to catch your breath after the previous out of control track.

Track 10 "Bad Scene, Everyones Fault" is a fun song in the vein of 24-Hour Revenge Therapy's "Boxcar". While listening to the song you can almost picture Blake, bassist Chris Bauermeister and drummer Adam Pfahler sitting on a couch during a party and watching all the characters of the song interact with each other.

Track 11 " Stuttering (May 4th)" brings another fast and loud one it would prove to be the last one of Jawbreaker's career.

Track 12 "Basilica" slower and definitely darker. It also grows pretty loud and thunderous towards the end almost as if Jawbreaker knew it was the final hurrah and they were determined to destroy their instruments to insure it.

But there is one track left. Since their instruments were destroyed at the end of "Basilica", the acoustic instruments are pulled out for the not unlisted "Unlisted" track.

Overall I was pretty impressed. The murky and one dimensional production of 24-Hour Revenge Therapy was gone. In it's place was a warm and multi dimensional sounding album. Sure the vocals were a little crisper and a tad cleaner than on the other records but this was mostly a result of Blake's throat surgeries, not from trying to "Sell Out".

Even though  the record label thought the new record would keep the band together, after a short tour for Dear You, Jawbreaker decided to call it quits. Although no one ever wants their favorite band to break up I am always a little thankful they knew when it was time. Dear You was definitely a great album to go with.

17 years later Dear You is still in heavy rotation on my stereo. A little less than Bivuac and a lot more than 24-Hour Revenge Therapy. Unfun is still pretty untouchable.

On a side note: For a long while Jawbreaker's Dear You was very hard to find. DGC let the album go out of print and Adam Pfahler's Blackball Record would not re-release it until 2004. Sometime in the late 90's I was shopping at a local record store and decided to take a look through the 99 cent cut-out cassette bin. Inside I found about fifteen  sealed cassettes of Dear You.

 I bought them all and passed them out to all my friends who did not have a chance to buy the album before it went out of print. There was no need for any copy of this great and very hard to find album to waste away in a 99 cent bin.

Friday, January 13, 2012

(Casper The Friendly) Ghost and Daniel Johnston

 The Daniel Johnston song "Casper" just came on my ipod. Over the years I have given Daniel many trys. Although there may have been a few decent songs on the album High How Are You/Yip Jump Music, maybe even a few sprinkled over later albums, overall I find him rather annoying. His albums has been on and off my ipod many times. "Casper" and it's partner "Casper The Friendly Ghost" however  are among the only songs which remain there because their inclusion on soundtrack to the Larry Clark movie Kids. According to his biography, Daniel who has been diagnosed with manic depression and schizophrenia, went through a manic episode in the early 90's where he thought he was Casper the Friendly Ghost. These two songs were a result of the episode.

 Listening to "Casper The Friendly Ghost" about the lovable cartoon character which begins "Dropped his last dime down a wishing well, But he was hoping to close and then he fell. Now he's Casper the Friendly Ghost", made me realize just how depresseing the whole basis of the cartoon really is.  Here was this lovable guy, the only thing he wishes for is to find friends. By the way Casper acts, by his body languge, by pretty much everything he does , it's obvious he is just a child. Or should I say WAS just child. Ghosts are not born ghosts and there is only one way to become one: you have to die.

In turns out  Daniel's song is incorrect. Sometime in the 1990's it was finally revealed in a live action movie that Casper was a kid who went sledding and died of hypothermia. How dark and depressing is that?

Yesterday was a slow day at work so thinking maybe my memories of the cartoon were incorrect I decided to watch a few episodes on Youtube. In one of the first episodes entitled "Deep Boo Sea", Casper goes up to an ocotopus resting on a pier, introduces himself and asks if the octopus would like to be friends.Once the octopus realizes what Casper is, he jumps up in the air, with his eyes popping out of his head and all eight arms straight out in every direction screams "A ghost!" Before flinging himself out to sea leaving Casper all alone on the pier. At this point I am thinking "Dude, you are an octopus! With arms all covered in tenctles, you have no right to be scared of a little portly white ghost who's only wish to be your friend".

Over four different episodes not less than sixteen people/things were scared away by just the sight of poor Casper. In one episode a whole waterfall runs away when he see the little guy. A waterfall? Come on, this is even pushing it for a cartoon.

Casper's character made his first appearance in 1945. Can you imagine all these years of no friends? All these years of rejection? A very early epsisode showed Casper in an atempt to escape all the rejection and lonelieness lays down on some train tracks. Unfortunately when the train passes through him Casper is given reminder that he is already dead, his lonlienss will go on for enternity.

Epilogue: To go out on a POSITIVE note, Casper did eventually find a human friend in Wendy "The Good Little Witch" who finally crossed over to meet him, after sharing a comic book with him since the 1950's.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Styx - Pun Intended

I don’t remember whose idea it was exactly but when I was around 10 years old my friends and I had rules when it came to listening to music. We had a few bands we listened to and those were ONLY bands we allowed ourselves to listen too. If a band which was not included in our rules came on the radio, off it went. There were about five different groups but the only one I can remember is the Chicago band Styx.

Maybe we were just fooling ourselves into believing Styx was the best. Maybe it was the beginnings of adolescent rage brewing inside forcing us to become a renegade from other music groups. It also may have just been because we just had too much time on our hands.

We would spend those long nights listening to Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone, Crystal Ball and Paradise Theater. Of course the song which showed us the way to grand illusion of Styx was Mr. Roboto. Whether it was on the song’s original album or the double live Caught In The Act, how could any ten year old burgeoning music lover not fall instantly in love with a song about a robot?

We didn’t have a crystal ball to see all those bands and groups we would soon be learning about. We just thought we were having the best of times listening to one of our favorite band. Looking back I do believe it’s true.

As we grew older our musical taste changed and the groups we allowed ourselves to listen to expanded. But I didn’t want to let it end this way.

 Every once in awhile my Styx LPs are dusted off and played at full blast.

Thank you Styx, or should I say "Domo Arigato", for helping shape our young musical minds.

…Josh was here

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Cure "In It's Entirety" Part 3 - Faith

If I thought the cover for Seventeen Seconds was stark and gloomy when I first laid eyes on it I was in for a real treat with The Cure's third album Faith
Faith - 1981-The albums cover was a faded grey, on the right side was an outline of what looked like the outline of a ghost with a few blades of grass coming up from the ground underneath it. Holding the record in my hands looking at this cover image I thought it was pretty safe to assume  The Cure had not gone Power/Pop. Years later I learned the picture on the cover was actually of Bolton Priory monastery, taken in the fog 
Track 1 "Holy Hour" begins with some solo bass strumming showing right from the gate which instrument would be taking the spotlight on this album. The Keyboards are there but not so out front or enveloping. This was probably due in part to Robert smith giving keyboardist Mathieu the boot and taking over any keyboards himself. Now he could make sure his guitar is heard in full and not too washed out with synthesizers.
Track 2 "Primary", with its appearance on the Standing On A Beach compilation, was the only song I was familiar with before buying Faith. It  definitely  stands out as the most upbeat song of the record. Lol Tolhurst’s drums and the again out front bass strumming of Simon Gallup keep the song moving. The Cure proves once again they can keep you dancing as well as moping.
Track 3 "Other Voices" once again slows it down but very heavy bass takes center stage on the song stepping further out front of Robert’s vocals and guitar strumming
Track 4 "All Cats Are Grey" is a surprisingly  long song. The vocals don’t appear   until over two minutes in. This song is also the only one on the album were the keyboards are very prominent and take the lead. They are even allowed  a solo where the guitar solo would be. The last thirty seconds of the song consists of only a few piano notes bringing the side A to a somber end
The First track of the Second side “Funeral Party” kicks off with melodic and atmospheric keyboards. The sounds almost resemble music you would hear playing in a movie while pall bearers carry the deceased coffin to its final resting place, each one of them swaying to the music as they walk. Robert adds some far away sounding vocals acting as the guy walking behind them singing the song the pall bearers  are swaying too.
The band snaps out of the gloom for Track 6 “Doubt”. Robert’s vocals take a snarlingness not seen since Three Imaginary Boys. With lyrics like “You Tense you hands, draw my claws”.  “Tear at flesh and rip your skin”, the song is also a tad violent. First hearing this song at 14 years old and feeling some pent up adolescent rage I was very happy to find The Cure still had some rage lurking in there among these other somber songs
Track 7 “The Drowning Man" picks right up where "Funeral Party" left off. Slow and desperate with Roberts vocals coming out of the headphones at all directions. Closing you eyes you can picture a man drowning, clawing up in each direction the vocal come from in an effort to find something to hold him afloat. The song slowly fades out as the guy gives up and succumbs to his watery fate
The very atmpsphearic title track "Faith" closes out the album. The last words said on the album "I went away alone with nothing left but faith" serves as a perfect closing line for the album.
Overall Faith is a very good record. It compliments the album before it nicely. Most the songs are longer than on other albums with “All Cat’s Are Grey” clocking in over 5 minutes and “Faith” passing 6 but they never get boring or tiring. I always believed the keyboards took a lot of the life out of Seventeen Seconds so that fact they take a back seat on Faith was always a plus for me.
Like it’s predecessor I mostly used Faith in making downbeat mixes for studying or sleeping, never for listening to in the car. If you try that you might as well place a pillow right on the steering wheel.
The Cure would go on to do one more album, Pornography, in their dark, somber gloom faze before cheering up a bit. Unfortunately the band did not play Pornography on that night at Radio City Music Hall, just these first three. My initial reaction to and thoughts on the albums Pornography, The Top, The Head On The Door and all those other great albums the band released will have to be placed on hold for awhile. Well, at least until The Cure’s next “In It's Entirety” tour.
So with the conclusion of this post I think it is time to distance the blog just a bit from what writer Nick Hornby would call “Sad Bastard Music”. I promise the next few posts to be more upbeat. There may even be some more Disney just around the corner.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Cure "In It's Entirety" Part 2 - Seventeen Seconds

Going over Three Imaginary Boys and it’s American counterpart in Boys Don’t Cry seems to have gone on a bit long. As we move on to The Cure's second album, if you are still with me I promise to not be as extensive Actually I should not be making any promises. Let’s just say I will attempt to keep it to the point.

Seventeen Seconds- 1980- The only track from our beloved Standing On A Beach compilation which was taken from Seventeen Seconds was "A Forest". On this song there was a noticeable difference between the earlier songs on the compilation but it  still sounded like the same band, maybe even a more upbeat. "A Forest" really was not the best song to be placed on Standing On A Beach to repesesnt  the album it was taken from. 

 In 1987 Seventeen Seconds was still not readily available in the US. It would be a year before the American label Elektra would release it. The Fiction Records import would have to be tracked down.Years later I would learn in 1981 A&M Records had released an album called Happily Ever After which combined Seventeen Seconds with it's follow-up  Faith

I could almost tell from the cover image of Seventeen Seconds that it was not going to be a continuation of the same sound Robert Smith and company had displayed on Three Imaginary Boys or Boy’s Don’t Cry. As those album cover contained images with many colers illustrating a few of the album's respective songs, Seventeen seconds cover possessed an very stark image of some trees with what looks like brush stroke of white paint over 80% of it.

As track one begins, the 2 minute instrumental “A Reflection", my suspicions were confirmed. The slow guitar strumming accompanied the band’s new addition of piano sets the pace for the rest of the album right from the get go
When the instrumental is over Track 2 attempts to set the album in motion. “Play for Today” is definitely one of the more upbeat songs on the album. The track could almost fit in among “Someone Else’s Train” and “Grinding Halt” on the first album(s), only this time they added Mathieu Hartley’s keyboards washing over it.

Track 3 “Secrets” brings the tempo down a bit. Robert Smith sings in almost a whisper with some more of his vocals song a bit louder but placed way back in the mix. The louder vocals do return to the front with the next track, “In Your House”, but the tempo is slowed down even more than the prior track. The keyboards filling in gaps left by the guitars. Then the even slower and almost all instrumental song “Three” closes out the first side of the record.

When the record is flipped over we are greeted with the downbeat instrumental “The Final Sound”. The song acts as a continuation of “A Reflection” only this time the piano playing sounds almost drunk. This  song proves to perfectly keep along with the general feel of the album. Letting the listener know the album will be continuing right where it left off when side one ended.

Next the song from the Standing on a Beach comp comes on. “A Forest” definitely proves to be the most upbeat song on the album. The steady beat of drummer Lol Tolhurst also makes it the most danceable.

Track 8 ”M”slows it down again. On this track the ever present keyboards take a back seat to Robert’s out front guitar. They would however return to the similar paced “At Night” of track 9.
Closing out the album at Track 10 is the title cut “Seventeen Seconds”. Once again it is another slow paced number but Robert does get a little angry towards the end. The album closes with the song becoming slower and slower until the album comes to an end.

Overall the albums very downbeat and a tad gloomy, almost ambient. It serves as a great introduction to the new darker side of The Cure, a sound which would cause many music fans to place them unfairly in the “Goth” category for the next few albums. The prominent drums keep the album from going too far to the dark side.

Seventeen Seconds definitely has not graced my headphones as often as Boys Don’t Cry but it still ranks among my my favorite albums. I must admit that “Primary” and “A Forest” still remain my  most listened too tracks on the record. Too this day when it becomes time to make an more ambient or downbeat mix for someone or even for me to listen while studying or to listen to while trying to fall asleep too, Seventeen seconds is always one of the first two albums I reach for. 

The other one we will learn about tomorrow

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Cure "In It's Entirety" Part 1 - Three Imaginary Boys

The other day I read in the paper that The Cure had recently played Radio City Music Hall. I was really not too disappointed in missing the show. Let’s face it; The Cure is not the most exciting live acts. Further reading showed that it was not just another Cure concert. The band had played their first three albums in their entirety. Normally I am not a huge fan of the “Album in its Entirety” concerts.  I feel they cheat you a little bit. Maybe THAT album is pretty good but you want to hear the songs but what about the many other albums the band has released? 

Anyway, back to The Cure. So when I read about this past concert were they played Three Imaginary BoysSeventeen Seconds and Faith in “their entirety”. I wasn’t upset about missing the concert. What it did was make me think about those three albums. How much I loved those three albums and how important they were to forming my musical mind. The rest of The Cure’s albums, at least up to Disintegration, I loved too. I’ll write about those another time. Since Radio City Music Hall has already brought them up, for now let’s focus those first three. Three Imaginary Boys today, Seventeen Seconds tomorrow and Faith on Friday

Three Imaginary Boys – 1979 – Like many people my age the first exposure to the Cure was the singles compilation Standing on a Beach. Somehow one of my friends scored a copy off an older brother and brought it before us. Listening to that compilation would prove to be a life changing experience, well at least to a 13 year old kid just being exposed to new “alternative” music. All the full albums by our new favorite band would have to now be acquired.

Although just about every track on Standing on A Beach was incredible and would act as our blueprint to this band, the tracks I was most drawn to were the first three. “Killing an Arab”, “Jumping Someone else’s Train” and the song I had just viewed the new video coinciding with Standing on A Beach, “Boy’s Don’t Cry”. According to the linear notes in Standing on a Beach  these three tracks were some of the first songs recorded by The Cure. I figured they would be found on the first album Three Imaginary Boys. This would have to be the first album purchased.

In 1986 Three Imaginary Boys was not readily available. The albums closer to Standing on a Beach had been released on a much larger label and sat on the shelf of most major record chains. Three Imaginary Boys was only available on the import label. Fiction records. It took a few tries but a copy was finally found on a journey to Georgetown with my family.

The album begins with the bouncy “10:15 on a Saturday Night”. It is almost impossible to listen without you head bobbing up and down. The song is perfectly illustrated when lead singer Robert Smith sings “The tap drips, drip, drip, drip”. You can close you eyes and picture a drop of water falling from the spout with each “drip" he sings. A couple of minutes into the song a sharp guitar solo stands out from the rest of the song before going back to a bounce and getting lower and lower until another lower riff closes it out. This would become one of the traits to would attract me to the early Cure.

Track Two "Accuracy"  keeps a steady lazy guitar bounce, almost a dub regae pace. Although the song is entirely based on the subjet of practicing to achieve “Accuracy” the song sound like it almost has none whatsoever, purposely contradicting the songs title. I always took this as even though Three maginary Boys was overall a serious album this young band could still poke  little fun at itself.

“Grinding Halt”, Track Three becomes the first of The Cure’s song with a fast pace. Well fast paced for a band which would become known for Is’s doom and gloom dark sound. The song’s steady groove will almost force you to dance around your room or drive your car a little faster before the songs does exclty what the it’s title says.

“Another Day” comes off as a early sign of the darker and slower sound the Cure would take on later but at the fact there are only three members of the band allows the song to still carry the stripped down punk sound of the this first album.

The next song “Object” brings back the faster almost punk rock pace of track three only this time even faster. With Robert taking on a snarl for the song’s jilted vocals.

Track 6 “Subway Song” closes out the first side of the album with a slow steady beat almost like those of tracks 1 and 2. This time Robert Smith’s vocals are at a whisper. You can feel the tension of a person walking nervously around a late night deserted subway station. Closing your eyes you can even picture it. The song becomes quiter and quieter building even more tension before a surprise at the end.

Side Two of the album begins with what sounds like the band fooling around with their instruments in the studio before transforming into a rousing version of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" ,done with the steady beat and out front guitar The Cure had already displayed so well on side one, the heaviness of Jimi's guitar replaced with Robert Smith's jagged riffs. Even though Smith would always voice his distaste for this cover, saying it was only a sound check and not supposed to be on the record, I feel it is done just right with the band showing respect to the Hendrix version while still making the song their own.

Track 8 "Meathook" and Track 10 "Fire In Cairo"  picks up once again with the slowed down pace of track 1 and once again it is impossible to keep you head from bouncing up and down while they play. "Fire In Cairo" is especially addicting, it's enunciated chorus of "F-I-R-E-I-N-C-A-I-R-O" will be stuck you your head for days. In between these two track is "So What" and it comes off as the sound of band blowing off some steam in the studio

Track 11 "It's Not You" is almost a continuation of "Object". The hooks are present,the pace is picked up and Robert once again becomes a little snarly.

The album closes out with the title track "Three Imaginary Boys". The song is pretty downbeat, showing a little of The Cure's future sound, but halfway through the guitars really kick in reminding us they are still a punk force to be reckoned with

 But when the album was finished three of the songs from Standing on a Beach which most of all drew me to the Cure were missing. I then found out there was a US version of Three Imaginary Boys entitled Boy’s Don’t Cry.  Even though it is technically not an album I always preferred this version. Gone are the songs “Meathook”, “It’s Not you” and the “Foxy Lady” cover, but in their place are the singles “Jumping Someone Else's train”, “Killing and Arab” and arguably the Cure’s best and most popular song “Boy’s Don’t Cry”. "Jumping Someone Else's Train" has the best of the driving pace. Even done better then Grinding Halt and Object. This track would appear on most of my driving mixes when I would get my licence a few years later. “Killing an Arab”, also one of the songs The Cure is most known for has that great head bobbing rhythm. The song’s subject matter is based on Albert Camus’s novel “The Stranger”, a book 14 year olds were not really too into. Many years later the novel would become one of my favorite I'm sure in part to hearing The Cure's song so many years earlier.

From the day I first  saw the video at 13 years old  to this day, "Boy's Don't Cry" has been  one of my all-time favorite songs. If you are reading this blog I probably do not have to describe the song too much to you but  even so I have to say the songs subject matter describes perfectly what most guy have gone through at sometime in their life. The songs hook is also among  the best and also one of the most instantly recognizable of all-time.

Overall I prefer Boy's don't Cry over Three Imaginary Boys. All of the songs included are perfect. Even the changed order of tracks makes the record sound better than it's UK counterpart.

I remember perfectly how while walking home from school my Freshman year of High School with Boy’s Don’t Cry on my headphones, the auto reverse of my Walkman flipping it over as side one ends, then again when side two is complete.

Years later both albums are still played regularly on
my iPod

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Facebook Group and Twitter ID

There will be plenty more new posts coming here for the New Year (Hopefully one tonight) but in an effort to attract a few more viewers to my blog I have added a Facebook group page as well as an Audiolore Twitter account.  The Twitter account is for quick posts about music that do not really warrant a whole blog post.

The Link For the Facebook page is:

The Twitter Account is @audiolore.

Hopefully they will both work. I'm still kind of new to this stuff