Monday, May 31, 2010

Neil Innes - How Sweet to Be An Idiot

I would just like to start out by saying that even without having heard this album before, which I haven't, I think Neil Innes is awesome.

His work as "Ron Nasty" (and principal songwriter) in The Rutles (which I absolutely love), as well as what little I know of him as a member of the Bonzos had me going into this listen with a lot of respect. And I found that none of that was tarnished.

"How Sweet to Be An Idiot" was Neil Innes' first solo record, cut in 1973. So, this was probably after the Bonzos and a bit before The Rutles act gained any popularity.

Side One:
Momma Bee
Immortal Invisible
Topless A Go-Go
Feel No Shame

Side Two:
How Sweet to Be An Idiot
L'Amour Perdu
Song for Yvonne
This Love of Ours
Singing a Song Is Easy

This album is a mix of the serious and the sweetly humorous sides of Neil, which appeals to someone like me a great deal. The majority of the first side is a bit bluesy for my personal taste, but the second side has a lot of lovely songs that have nice little funny parts that had me chuckling here and there. I especially enjoyed "L'Amour Perdu" where he cleverly does some word play with French and English. What can I say...I like witty people.

A few of the songs on side two, I can't help but think they're a bit Beatles inspired, which couldn't hurt considering that Neil would become known for making one of the best Beatles parodys ever...but the music of The Rutles didn't poke fun at The Beatles, so I guess parody isn't the right word. You can tell that Neil has a lot of respect for the group, so his songs are more of a salute than anything.

All in all, I think "How Sweet To Be An Idiot" is a cute little record. Neil Innes just seems to be one of those people that you probably couldn't hate if you tried.

Oh, and evidentally, Oasis took "How Sweet to Be an Idiot" and turned it into a single called "Whatever". Never heard it. They got sued.

I give the album 3 1/2 stars.


Where did you buy this record and when?
This is probably one of my first purchases from Izzy's. It was something I picked up in '94 or '95, before I became an employee.

Do you own it in any other format?
No. I think I have "How Sweet to Be An Idiot" as a bonus track on one of the Bonzos albums

What is your over-all impression of this album?
To be honest, I don't think I've listened to it since I bought it, and I don't remember it being this good! It automatically sounds very British. Great backing musicians too.

Favorite Track?
Just from listening to it now, I like "Momma Bee" and "L'Amour Perdu"

How many stars out of five?
Four and 1/2

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Iguanas - S/T

I say this is self titled, because there's not really a title for it.

Thankfully, there were extensive liner notes on the back of this compiliation to aid me in understanding exactly what this is.

It's Jim Osterberg's first band. You know, Jim Osterberg. That household name. I mean, you can't go anywhere these days without hearing the name, Jim Osterberg.


Well, for those of us not really "in the know" (like myself), Jim Osterberg is known primarily as Mr. Iggy Pop. Yeah! He was the drummer in this band, and wouldn't you know, that's probably how he came to be known as "Iggy". You learn something new every day...

The Iguanas were a local, Ann Arbor, Michigan band from the early 60's who had recorded some original tracks, but mostly covers of popular early 60's rock tunes. Garage band a-go-go...but that's not a bad thing.

This compilation of Iguana's tracks was released in 1996 by Norton Records, and I find it really cool that they included a few little photos and show flyers on the back cover. I was especially geeked to see the one announcing the Shangri-las with the Iguanas at Club Ponytail in Harbor Springs, MI. That's just north of Petoskey, so I've been there a few times...I wonder where that was at...

Track Listing:

Side A:
1. Mona
2. I Don't Know Why
3. Again and Again
4. Out of Limits
5. California Sun
6. Twist and Shout
7. Walk Don't Run
8. Things We Said Today
9. Surfin' Bird

Side B:
1. Louie Louie
2. Wild Weekend
3. Tell Me
4. Slow Down
5. Johnny B Goode
6. Tequila
7. I Feel Fine
8. Pipeline
9. If I Had a Hammer

"I Don't Know Why" and "Again and Again" are Iguana originals, which is great that they put them first among all the covers, because some of them are downright atrocious. Take "Tell Me" for instance. Ouch. I love "Tell Me". I have the Stones singing "Tell Me" on my mp3 player at work, so I hear it almost daily and I never get sick of it. The Iguana's version was pretty painful.

But, this compliation is what is. It captures the early Iggy in his element. He only "sings" lead on one track, "Louie Louie" (only few bands must have been privy to the lyric sheet to this!), but if you're an Iggy fan, you buy this album. It's a nice garage-y snapshot, and if you listen closely, you can hear some studio chatter, which is usually always pretty cool.

For me, I give it two and three quarters stars, Ed.


Where did you buy this record and when?
Vintage Vinyl, as per usual, probably around '96 - 2000.

Do you own it in any other format?

What is your over-all impression of this album?
It's not that great. It's sounds like just another garage band, but it's Iggy's first band, and has his first composition on it. It's compitent garage rock - nothing earth shattering.

Favorite Track?
"Mona". It was the official single, and it's the best on this album.

How many stars out of five?
Because it's Iggy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Electric Firebirds - Dance Party Time

Electric Firebirds...

Electric Firebirds...

THE Electric Firebirds...

I Googled, I'd...Electric Firebirds? Nothing to be found.

Well, I'm sure there's something to be found, but I just don't feel like searching that hard.

Tonight's listen was this album:

Just looking at this cover from a distance, it looks fairly cool. Kinda groovy-60's chick with some records. This could be good. However, upon closer look, can see some boobage. Can't say I care all that much about that. So, obviously marketed towards (mostly) men, I'm sure.

Track Listing: (Record doesn't have a track listing on the back cover, only song listings on the record label itself...and doesn't indicate, as far as I can tell, which is side A and which is side B...not that it really matters here, so I'll just list them by the side I listened to first and it shall ever more be.)

Side A:
1. Let's Make It
2. Live Cream
3. Moon Right On
4. Troubled Earth
5. Electric Fireworks

Side B:
1. Heavy
2. Doors Time
3. Out of Town
4. Woodstock Hour
5. Nice and Easy

My guess? These are studio musicans, perhaps? They're all instrumentals and there's no songwriting credits on any of these listed. Thus, my conclusion is the the names of the songs were all created to fit the times. So...this came out, hmm...'68ish?

The music isn't bad. It's better than most instrumental party albums I've heard. And that's what it is. Music to put on for your 60's fun-time party. Something you can dance to, or ignore.

"Electric Fireworks" kind of sounded like "If I Had a Hammer."

My Five Thumb - All Thumbs Rating: 2 tiny thumbs up

Now, on to John:

Where did you buy this record and when?
At one of Izzy's record shows in Springfield, NJ around the late '90s, early 2000's.

Do you own it in any other format?

What is your over-all impression of this album?
It's a budget label. Grocery store record. They're studio musicans, and the record company releases these same songs over and over again with different titles and different covers. Might by Jerry Cole somewhere on there.

Favorite Track?
Overall, just a fun album for the "cheese" factor.

How many stars out of five?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bull of the Woods - 13th Floor Elevators (LP 1)

Alrighty, what do I know about the 13th Floor Elevators? Well, the first time I ever heard them was the beginning of the (awesome) movie, "High Fidelity". "You're Gonna Miss Me" is a very cool song, and I remember having a positive nod towards a few of the other Elevators tracks that I've heard John play on the show. So, I went into listening to this one with a fairly good mindset.

The 13th Floor Elevators have a very interesting story, mainly that of leader Roky Erickson. I highly recommend the documentary "You're Gonna Miss Me", that is the story of Roky's life and decent into madness. (I love rock docs. Even if I don't like the band, I tend to watch them because a lot of the times, they're really interesting. That is unless it's about someone I completely can't stand, count me glued to the tv for the time that it's on.) Can't say I know all that much about the group as a whole, though. (We saw "You're Gonna Miss Me" around the same time we saw "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" at the State Theatre, and for some reason...I get them mixed up! Duh...)

Anyway, so this evening I tossed (um, I mean, handled extremely carefully) this record onto John's turntable:

One thing I love about LPs is cover art. Cover art rules. Well, not all cover art, but you get my drift. Back in the day (I'm not THAT old, really, I just like saying that), cover art was, well, art. Yep. Not necessarily photographs (while there are a lot of great photographs used in cover art), but honest to goodness art that somebody actually took the time to produce. I love looking at LP covers. You can't judge a book by looking at the cover (but you know, we all do), but sometimes you CAN judge a record by one.

From the looks of this one...not one of the greatest covers I've ever seen. Yep, a bull, they got that point across. He appears to be starring out from a wooden frame in a burlap sack. Uh-huh. Ok. Moving on.


Side One:
1. Livin On
2. Barnyard Blues
3. Till Then
4. Never Another
5. Rose and the Thorn
6. Down by the River

Side Two:

1. Scarlet and Gold
2. Street Song
3. Dr. Doom
4. With You
5. May the Circle Remain Unbroken

I admit, I played side two first. I don't know why. I had a natural blonde moment and accidentally put the album on the second side first. I looked at the track listing and just thought it was one of those bands who are so cool and existential that they don't use their song titles in the lyrics. Anyway, I have to say that I wasn't really groovin' on the first few songs of side two. I don't really know what else to say but that it just really didn't do anything for me. "With You" was the first song from side two that I enjoyed. "May the Circle Remain Unbroken", I thought was going to be that gospel song, but I was pleasantly surprised. John walked by and said, "Yeah, this song is kinda creepy,", but it reminded me slightly of something cool and otherworldly like a song I enjoy by the group, Spiritualized called "We Are Now Floating In Space" or something like that...forgive my forgetting.

Side One, oh yes, way better than side two, in my opinion. "Barnyard Blues" was very cool for a blues song (not a huge blues fan here), and "Till Then" was probably my favorite track on this album. It sort of reminds me of The Byrds when I really liked the Byrds. On "Never Another", I think I heard that famous jug. "Rose and the Thorn" seemed kind of uneven, and I thought "Down by the River" was going to be that Neil Young tune.

Over all, I give "Bull of the Woods" two and a half thumbs up out of my "all thumbs" five-thumb rating system. (Confusing enough?)

Now, a few questions to John:

Where did you buy this record and when?
Princeton Record Exchange or Vintage Vinyl probably around '99 or 2000.

Do you own it in any other format?
It's included on a CD boxset I own.

What is your over-all impression of this album?
Not my favorite of the Elevators. I like a couple of the tunes. Sounds like a totally different band from their other records. Roky was only on a few because he was institutionallized at this time.

Favorite Track?
"Till Then"

How many stars out of five?
Three 1/2

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Begin Here:

It all started around 2005...I think. (Is it bad that I'm starting to lose track of time?)

John and I first met in person, and then spent over a year corresponding over email, instant messenger, and the good old telephone. Most of our first communications were all about music...(and come to think of it, not a lot has changed.)

We were brought together by our love for a lot of the same bands. The Kinks, especially, but he also got me into some of my most loved bands now, like The Small Faces.

Anyway, when the time came for us to decide to be together, he made an ultimate sacrifice for me and moved out here to my self-imposed exile in Northern Michigan. (Lord knows why...I must have been more attractive then. Haha)

So, not only did he move out here, but eventually, ALL of his collections followed. The most prominent of those being his records, cds, and 45rpms. Now, while this might not be the largest collection anywhere. (Well, in fact I know that it's not. You should meet his best friend, Rich!) This is, however, the largest collection of music that I've ever had access to.

This access is something that I feel I've taken for granted in the last year or so that I've been around it. There's just so much...I wasn't quite sure where to start. I do love music, and I know what I like and what I don't like, but John has stuff that he's kept that he doesn't even seem to like...which boggles my mind...but I guess that's what collectors do.

In an effort to understand more about this obsession, and maybe learn a thing or two along the way, (with John's blessing of course) I will be blogging here about my travels through the grand record collection. There's 100's of LPs, 1000's of CDs and 45rpms to go through. I'm not exactly sure of the frequency of my posts, as I do have a tiny semblance of a life (somewhere!), but I hope to make this as enjoyable as possible...even if no one reads it...but you know, I hope they do.

I invite all readers to stick around, comment (of course! we all love comments!), and if you're a kindred spirit when it comes to significant others or family members who have this kind of passion for music, you've come to the right place. I'd love to hear from you.