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Sunday, September 23, 2012

GENERATION X : Happy People [1981]

Generation X may not have been Billy Idol's first band, but it was definitely where he gained enough popularity (and material) to go solo!  Some of the material off this album was re-used by Idol on his first solo recordings.  By the time of this song (on the band's third official release), the group's sound had changed from punk to the growing New Wave scene.    
This track in particular has a lot of more poppy elements: mid-range tempo, pulsing bass, sparse guitar, and even dub echoing!  This allows Idol to take his time with singing, positioning his melody in between the guitar and percussion blasts.  In fact, the entire song seems like a dub version of another tune!  But this kind of beat and bassline was giving member Tony James some ideas for later projects...  both he and Idol soon left for greater success in the 80s... 

Song : "Happy People" by Gen X
From the LP "Kiss Me Deadly" (Chrysalis) 1981

Billy Idol : vocals, guitar
Tony James : bass
Terry Chimes : drums
James Stevenson, Steve Jones, John McGeoch? : additional guitar

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

TED NEELEY: The Adventures Of A Boy Child Wonder [1973]

Good old Ted, who first rose to fame in the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar, used his popularity to relaunch a solo career. With it, he released a capable album of country-tinged 70s rock and acoustic songs. Definitely a product of the times, there are still a few interesting tracks for the curious. This one, which gets the 'best song title of the album' award, starts with a rocking mandolin solo with acoustic guitar. But once the piano kicks in, the rollicking beat asserts itself. Neeley sings with his best Texan drawl, telling his story by sliding his notes into the next bar. Also note the interesting horn charts that are almost lost in the mix, although they very much add to the sound, especially when they take over at the ride-out (at 2:15).

Song : "The Adventures Of A Boy Child Wonder" by Ted Neeley
From the LP "1974 A.D." (RCA APL1-0317)

The Adventures Of A Boy Child Wonder

Also see a previous post for the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack:
Blog post - Jesus Christ Superstar

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ROGER BUNN : Crystal Tunnel [1969]

This guy confuses me.  A product of the UK psych scene, he learned skiffle, jazz, country, folk, all before dropping acid and travelling to the Middle East in the late 60s.  Returning to the UK, he was a fixture at London's UFO Club, sharing the stage with Pink Floyd and Soft Machine.  This all led to his one psychedelic album at the end of the decade, which ran the gamut of ALL the above styles, with a stream-of-consciousness tracklisting.  This track is more on the 'concise' side, with a jazzy rhythm, tasty piano chords, and well-placed horn jabs.  Vocals aren't the best, but the melody is intriguing enough.  And that's the thing that confuses me: his singing, songwriting (and sometimes production) is a bit on the 'rough' side overall, but every so often there is an interesting melody/line.  And in comes a well-placed rhythm section, horn line or string section!  Is it amateurish or professional?  Why do I care?  Well, something must be working, as I'm still trying to figure it out... 

His future collaborations were mainly with Pete Brown & Piblokto!, and also has the prestige of being Roxy Music's first guitarist (Nov. 1970 to summer 1971).  He passed away on Jul. 28, 2005.

Song : "Crystal Tunnel" by Roger Bunn
From the LP "Peace Of Mind" 1969

Crystal Tunnel

Monday, September 03, 2012

BEASTIE BOYS : Alive [1999]

Here's a semi-forgotten track by the group.  It was the single to promote their first compilation, "The Sounds Of Science", and of course had a clever video to go with it.

Two classic lines: 
"Bring it back, that old New York rap" was a sample from "I'm Still #1" by Boogie Down Productions (1988) 
"Dip dip dive, so socialize" was quite similar to lyrics of "Superrappin" by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five" (and Stetsasonic too!).  

Song : "Alive" by Beastie Boys
Single A-side (Capitol) Feb. 23, 1999


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