record

Vinyl Friday (on Saturday) #24: Echo & the Bunnymen “Silver (Tidal Wave)” 12″ single

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“Silver” is probably my favourite Echo & the Bunnymen single. I love the soaring strings and the rolling ending of “la”s. It’s just a toasty-warm single filled with so many glimmering buts to it that I love. I don’t own many 12″ singles, but this one is probably one of the more loved ones, even if it isn’t exactly the best release of the song.

The 12″ release of this single adds an additional song that wasn’t on the 7”. “Silver (Tidal Wave)” is pretty much an extended version of the 7″ single by about two minutes. The song continues as an instrumental in the beginning before McCulloch’s singing comes in. Personally, I don’t think this adds anything to the song. If it were an extended mix or strictly an instrumental, it would probably be a better release, but this sounds like the record just sort of skipped.

Side 2 is essentially what was on the 7″ release of the single, just on one side. “Angels and Devils” is SUCH a great tune. It’s an excellent B-side and I think it compliments “Silver” quite well. But Ocean Rain is one of the best Echo & the Bunnymen releases, so none of this is really surprising.

When I was studying abroad at the University College London, I took a weekend trip by myself up to Manchester. A few of my friends were headed to Scotland on a school trip while others were leaving to visit friends who were studying abroad elsewhere in the country. Seeing Manchester was always a dream of mine, so I decided to trek ahead by myself. I couldn’t imagine doing something like that now, and I probably walked through plenty of places I shouldn’t have been, but at that point in my life I had no idea if I would ever get the chance to visit the city ever again.

I planned a massive talking trip for myself to go around the entire city to see iconic places like the Salford Lads Club (the building that appears on the sleeve of the Smiths album The Queen is Dead) and FAC251. But I only lasted about two steps outside my hostel before I found a great record shop to unload all my cash in.

The guy at the shop was super great. I don’t know if he was chuffed because a. I was a customer b. a girl c. foreign or d. obviously someone who would buy anything given to her, but he was a really pleasant fellow, even though I couldn’t understand a single word he said. I thought since I was in Manchester, I would buy a bunch of records from Manchester bands.

Echo & the Bunnymen are from Liverpool.

But still, I thought it was plenty cool and not worth leaving behind. As my husband said while I was listening to this: “Silver is such a tune.” And it is, isn’t it?

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Vinyl Friday #15: Bow Wow Wow “See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy”

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Like several punk bands in London during the late 70s, Bow Wow Wow were led (see “created”) by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. Produced to sell Westwood’s New Romantic line, the band was composed of several Dirk Wears White Socks-era members of Adam & the Ants and the young Annabella Lwin.

See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy has to be one of the most unnecessarily long album titles ever. Their first album, Your Cassette Pet, was released on EMI, and after a falling-out the band went to RCA for their sophomore effort. The story of this album cover is now famous (and probably utterly and completely manufactured like much of Britain’s music was at the time).

Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe served as the inspiration for the cover. The painting depicts two men having a luncheon with two women: one nude and one lightly-dressed. The painting at the time was controversial and even was initially rejected by the Salon. Drawing upon that controversy, the cover of See Jungle! depicts the band in a similar outdoor setting, including a nude Annabella Lwin, who was only 15 at the time.

The cover would then go on to be featured again on their EP The Last of the Mohicans. This copy I have is the “alternative” version of See Jungle! After a Scotland Yard investigation into the photograph, the US release featured this cover – one with a clothed Lwin. What never made any sense to me was the fact that they wanted a band that was constructed to sell clothes would have the only female in the band nude, but what do I know know about the inner-workings of show business?

Idiotic controversies aside (the music never really got as much attention as the photo did), this is a pretty good album. Annabella Lwin was someone I wanted to grow up to be when I was a teenager. There was so much attitude there. She was ferocious, girly and sassy – all things I still have yet to manage to become. But the band combined surf, “jungle beats” and the chanting cries of young British youth.

I do think the band seems to be constantly over by their “I Want Candy” cover. For the most part they still remain a sort of one-hit-wonder. They’re a pretty harmless band that were much more effortlessly cool than a lot of other pop groups at the time. “I Want Candy” is a pretty obnoxious song, to be completely honest. But a lot of what is on See Jungle! is a lot better, it’s just a shame that no one seems to want to listen to it anymore. There are some great singles here like “Go Wild in the Country.”

I found  this album in one of the suburban cities outside of Milwaukee (no clue which one, but they’re all essentially the same place anyway). I bought it on my last ever Record Store Day outing in 2013. My then roommate and I had been out since 7 in the morning and it was utter chaos at every record shop we went to.

On a whim, we went into a small shop. It wasn’t strictly a record shop, nor did they have any sort of sale going on but we entered any way. The place was full of old VHS tapes and other odd knick-knacks. In the middle was an arrangement of records that spanned from the obsucure to the truly awful. My roommate and I searched every bin and we both walked away with some interesting bits. This was one of them.

I always promised myself I would go back to that store, but I doubt it would still be there if I ever had the chance to visit again. It had such a strange vibe that it must be owned by a wizard and only appears on a full moon to those who are worthy. P1010147

Vinyl Friday #12: ZZ Top “Fandango”

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A good chunk of albums I own belong to my parents. I’ve said this before that it was the two of them that helped me dig out the old turntable. Their legacy in the record collection is a bit uneven, but almost always worth keeping. Since this Sunday is Father’s Day, I decided to go with a pick an album of my dad’s and why not choose one from his favourite band? Yes indeed, ZZ Top’s 1975 album Fangango!

ZZ Top is a band that has pretty much staked its claim as the band always making an appearances at every family gathering at our household. That Southern blues bland is pretty much one long sound of my childhood. Dusty, Frank and Billy were probably some of the first musicians whose names I learned. I thought “Legs” and “La Grange” were as great as the songs on the first CD I ever owned – Aqua’s Aquarium.

It goes without saying my dad loves ZZ Top a lot and we never go very far without them.

Parents being youngin’s in the 70s.

This was my first taste of blues music at that age. That’s the joy of growing up with everyone’s music around you at such a young age. Somedays it was my mother’s jazz radio station, other days it was my sister’s boy bands she worshiped, and there were even days I listened to Tejano music when my oldest sister became fully immersed in Selena-fever. But it was always my dad’s music that prevailed over all (mostly because Dad is in charge of everything).

My parents are pretty shy when talking about their early years, but I do know a few things:my dad owned an orange Dodge Charger, my mom would skip school and they were both total hotties. It was the 70’s in Wisconsin. I can completely picture my father driving in that sports car to meet his friends – drinking beer and listening to ZZ Top.

Fandango! is a half-live, half-studio album fresh off the back of the band’s first to-be-iconic album Tres Hombres. The split sound makes for a bit of an unusual record. A majority of the live tracks like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Mellow Down Easy” are covers. They are an incredible live band (I saw them live in 2011 and they were still great) and the first sounds as boozey as you’d like. Side B would have been a great start to a studio album to live up to Tres Hombres. The decision to make each a half instead of two wholes is a bit puzzling, but still enjoyable.

Yes this could have been a lot better, but it’s still one of the best releases the band has to date. Fandango! is everything you’d expect from what’s written on the label label. It’s bluesy, no-nonsense music with great guitars.

I’ll always maintain the idea that my parents are some of the coolest cats ever. They’ve had their hands full with three daughters, but have yet to crack. I think it’s that reason why their favourite music feels a bit special. Even at the height of my twee phase, I always had time for ZZ Top. It’s beer-guzzlin’, balls-to-the-wall blues music. It might not be pretty, but it is pretty damn fun.

What albums remind you of your father?

P1010189Inner sleeve text: “ZZ Top’s first annual Texas size rompin’ stopin’ barndance & Bar B.Q. Austin – Summer ’74 with 80,000 friends.” The live album was recorded at The Warehouse in New Orleans. Close enough.