Saturday, February 11, 2017

Witch Jail "Slimewave, USA!" Too Much Rock 2017

Witch Jail "Slimewave, USA!" Too Much Rock 2017 CAT #TMR SS 006

Just received this 7" and the festivities are already on for the release. The single is available to listen to at the Pitch website linked below. Mills Records already hosted a show and single release party, the b-side, Alien Sex Fiend's, "My Brain is in the Cupboard (Above the Kitchen Sink)" has premiered on KKFI. But, still to come is a 2/18 show at the The Brick in KC and a Lawrence-area release show yet to be announced.

Can't discuss any of the band's history, because I don't know it, but they're a KC band that's put together an outsider retro-rock sound. Their name is great and they use stage names like Guy Slimey and Suzy Bones. Slimey's vocals owe a lot to the 80s underground as they seem to fall between Jello Biafra's snotty affliction and the white-guy soul screaming of James White or James Chance (depending on what album you have). Everything about them, though, is super cool. Again, the name is great, the original track title is fantastic, the artwork is ultra-cool.

Their sound draws from a host of forgotten scenes, there's been a garage revival, a rockabilly revival, surf revival and even a lounge revival, All of which took the respective original scenes and amplified the best aspects. Witch Jail just kind of takes that same idea and combines all the scenes to spit it out in loud, yelping, punk attitude. You can't pin them on just one thing, but, the most unyielding influence seems to be the pyschobilly scene of the 80', something I thought was long forgotten. It's nice to hear it again, especially when it's thrown in a mix of other great ideas and not dependent on a sole rockabilly formula.

The band's cover track, as selected by Too Much Rock, is an Alien Sex Fiend song previously mentioned. What's great is that if no one ever told you the song was once a track from the noisy 80's industrial scene, you'd never know. As discussed in the linked Pitch article below, Witch Jail just took the lyrics and did their own thing.

Listen to Slimewave, USA!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mike Ning Blues for Y.P. Ning and His Wife A Dedication by Mike Ning Ning Dynasty 1982

Mike Ning Blues for Y.P. Ning and His Wife A Dedication by Mike Ning Ning Dynasty 1982 CAT #001

Just recently, Mike Ning's daughter commented on a record her father was featured on here. I've since asked what other albums and work her father has done, but have yet to hear back. Reason being, I think I have several LPs featuring his work, most of which are sitting in my vinyl inbox waiting to be cleaned and listened to. I knew I had this one, so I felt obligated to pull it out.

The best part about this LP is how personal it is. All tracks are completely original and Ning gives background stories to all 5 featured on his ablum. The title track was a song he wrote in honor of his mother and father and the rest coincide with travel as a jazz musician and lover of the art form. Reading through the short stories, it appears Ning is originally from New Mexico, but at the time of this LP and apparently to this today, he was and is an active member of the KC Jazz scene.

Backside caricature drawing
He also put a drawing of his mother and father on the front cover, which I hope his parents liked, because it's there forever now. My favorite part now that his daughter has left a comment, is the caricature drawing of the Ning family on the backside showing that 1981, that was only good for one thing, Sesame Street songs, never mind a blues in D minor that the guy apparently wrote as a teenager, 'C is for Cookie' ruled the house.

The tracks were recorded with a trio and Ning leads on his piano. It doesn't sound dated or drenched in the 80's. It's enjoyable and well-done. Nothing gets too out of hand and it's pretty easy going throughout. Although, guitarist Danny Embry can go down some paths that get exciting, Overall, it's chill and easy to listen to. It also features a second version of 'Grable's Able (Milt's Abel)' which was featured on the previously mentioned KC Jazz Spectrum LP.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Get Up Kids Guilt Show Vagrant/Heroes & Villains/BMG 2004, 2016 Reissue

The Get Up Kids Guilt Show Vagrant/Heroes & Villains/BMG 2004, 2016 Reissue CAT #VR4397

Man, so much to say about the final Get Up Kids album. First story that I have is that years ago, when I first started thinking I should start a vinyl blog based on local music I realized there were huge holes in my Get Up Kids collection. I had everything on CD at least and some scattered vinyl, but mostly everything I had was on CD. So, I called my friend in the band and asked if he had some stuff laying around and since I'm sure EVERYONE asks him the same, I offered to give up some choice LPs in exchange. He was agreeable and got what was available to him, even a member of the band doesn't have the ultra-rare limited stuff anymore. I got most of my holes filled, but asked, "Dude, where's Guilt Show?" The answer was he didn't have anymore, but gave me a CD copy. What's funny, as I was visiting another time and looking over records, there was multiple copies of this LP mixed into the collection. Basically, I don't think certain members of the band remember this one too fondly. If any of that is true (which it's probably not) I assume most of it would be from the fact they disbanded shortly after it's release.

It is a bit Matt Pryor heavy, the LP seems pretty focused around his type of tracks, introspective Superchunk-esque indie-pop. But, they are strong songs, although the energy could have been higher throughout the whole album. They don't have the teenage heartbreak and angst that early albums had, but, the band was older, full-fledged adults by this point. When you compare it to their 2002 album, On A Wire, it's certainly more of a Get Up Kids album, they ditched the roots rock and went back to their indie-rock roots, but found a lot of room for clever harmonies, clever lyrics, and jangly rhythms. It's not an album to be ashamed of, it's very enjoyable and easier to dance and shake to than On A Wire, was.

The other question is what would have happened if this came out in 2002 instead of On A Wire? It's difficult to say, but following the success of Something to Write Home About, the band was on the verge of something big, all they had to do was make Something to Write Home About Mach II and they may have become MTV indie darlings for a year or two. I don't sense a huge hit single here, but, it may have fit into 2002 better. And, had it been made following Something to Write Home About, it probably would have been a lot snappier. Either way, it would have been better received than On A Wire, fans would have been ready for this LP in 2002.

For what it is now, the first track, 'Man of Conviction' should be considered a Get Up Kid classic, equally as good as their most cherished songs. Next to last song, 'Is There A Way Out' is a deep cut by the group highlighting that these guys had soul and ideas that could have led to something amazing had they kept it together.

Man Of Conviction
Is There a Way Out

Monday, January 23, 2017

Southern Fried Fiddlin' Man Fox Productions 1980

Southern Fried Fiddlin' Man Fox Productions 1980 CAT #FP-369

It appears Southern Fried is a Joplin, Missouri band, although, parts of their only album were recorded in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Either way, they look like kick-ass cowboy types from Missouri.

Their album is surprisingly good, a little bar band, but the recording sounds good, the majority of tracks are originals, and it doesn't fall into the obvious. In 1980, a Joplin, Missouri band could have gone a lot of ways, the obvious Ozark Mountain Daredevils, or perhaps the more pomp rock approach of successful acts like Kansas and Missouri. But, Southern Fried didn't let popularity concern them, they just put out an album of country rock that in parts, kicks around the shit and never concerns itself with a Nashville sound. Their tunes definitely stay in the country realm, but you can tell, these guys weren't afraid of letting the good stuff like the Allman Brothers and Skynard influence their brand of country.

Appears most of the guys in the band still get together and perform. They appear to have slowed down and become Jimmy Buffet fans, but for the most part, still look like a rowdy bunch of dudes that would tear apart a bar.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Pat Metheny Group The Falcon and the Snowman Original Motion Picture Soundtrack EMI America 1985

Pat Metheny Group The Falcon and the Snowman Original Motion Picture Soundtrack EMI America 1985 CAT #SV-517150

Lee's Summit's Pat Metheny scored this entire soundtrack and of note, it featured the single, "This Is Not America" which featured David Bowie on vocals. That's pretty amazing.

The movie was a spy drama loosely based on the true story of two American spys who sold secrets to Russia in the Cold War. The movie was well-received, although, it's nothing that has stood the test of time. However, under the current political landscape, movies like this are occasionally mentioned and newly remembered. It also starred Sean Penn, so it's a footnote in his career.

As an album, it's like most of Metheny's work. Noodles around jazz-fusion and guitar driven landscapes. It's well-done and if you're a fan, I'm sure it's great. From my point of view, it's a little broader than his albums and incorporates a lot of touches you'd expect in a film score, mor orchestration, moodiness, and again, Bowie's vocal track to center around.

Official Trailer

Saturday, December 24, 2016

S. Frank Frazier Singing Christmas Carols Voice of Psalm Music Unknown Year

S. Frank Frazier Singing Christmas Carols Voice of Psalm Music Unknown Year CAT #D1026

I don't celebrate the Christmas holiday, but I can dig some soulful gospel renditions of holiday classics. S. Frank Frazier was a Kansas City native doing his thing at the Metropolitan Spiritual Church in KCK. By 1971, he started Voice of Psalm Music and  put out a number of Gospel LPs.

As this is a Christmas LP, I can't say I recommend it...but, there are some originals and again, the tunes here bring a lot of soul. Based on the back cover, you'd think this album is going to be amazing, but again, Christmas songs, no matter how many times you rearrange them, you gotta be one of those people that just loves the holiday to find a lot of value in it.

I have another S. Frank Frazier LP I'm hoping I can blow doors off with. Apparently in 1961, Frazier recorded a blues single that charted and sold well. So, the guy has some secular cred. Additionally, the players and his voice are top-notch on this record, So, I'm expecting big things from additional LPs.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Kansas Point of Know Return Half-Speed Mastered CBS 1977/1980

Kansas Point of Know Return Half-Speed Mastered CBS 1977/1980 CAT #HZ 44929

I've discussed this LP before, it's Kansas' masterpiece, there most well thought out LP and it's got the hits.

This version differs in that it's a CBS Half-Speed Remaster that came out in 1980. In the 70's, Mobil Fidelity Sound Lab began to remaster titles at half speed and make limited runs on high quality vinyl. Better known as MoFi, the records sound great and are considered audiophile releases, sold at a premium and still command a significant amount today. They started a trend and the majors attempted to latch onto audiophile trend. Obvisouly, someone thought enough of Kansas to press up some audiophile copies.

Problem is that while an album like 'Point of Know Return' deserves an audiophile pressing, CBS' process wasn't anywhere as good as the MoFi releases. There are some Half-Speed CBS records that aren't any better, possibly worst than the original pressing. This pressing isn't terrible, but it's not great either. It's really bright and thin, which brings out a lot of keyboards well, but other areas suffer. It's generally panned as a terrible audiophile press, but I would still argue it's listenable (there's a CBS Self-Titled Boston LP that is absolute garbage and this isn't on that level of suckitude).

Surprisingly, despite that most experts will say stay away from this and most other CBS Half-Speed pressings, a copy still demands a premium over a clean original. Apparently the thought of having something marked audiophile outweighs the quality to some people.