Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guided By Voices Alien Lanes & Show # 471

When looking at the work of Guided By Voices, fans of their ever prolific catalogue spearheaded by songwriter Robert Pollard often look to two or three albums, Vampire On Titus, Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes. Formed in 1983 in Dayton, Ohio, Guided by Voices began recording and releasing material themselves on four track tape recorders in the basement, helping to coin the term “lo-fi” and bringing it into the social consciousness of underground and College/Indie Rock fans. Alien Lanes was the first recording on Matador Records and was released in 1995. The album was one of the last to be recorded in their four track fashion, and was a mix of numerous genres ranging from Garage Rock, Psychedelic Garage and Punk to Post Punk, Folk and Pop. The album jumps genres seamlessly in an endless stream of consciousness, and the songs are intertwined with witty, often nonsensical lyrics by Robert Pollard and weird sound effects. The overall sound quality is that of an undiscovered bootleg that is to be treasured. It sounds like one of those records that you hear and want to hoard so no one else can have it.

Alien Lanes featured many songs that were to become well known songs within their plethora of a catalogue, but it is also important to mention the line up on this release. From 1993-1996 Guided By Voices featured Robert Pollard on vocals, Tobin Sprout and Mitch Mitchell on guitar, Greg Demos on bass and Kevin Fennell on drums. This line up of the band is often referred to as the “classic line up” of Guided By Voices. It should also be noted that while Pollard is regarded and for the most part the primary songwriter for this group, he often worked and collaborated with Tobin Sprout in a Jagger/Richards fashion.

Sprout would often also sing and have his own compositions and Alien Lanes is no different. That album starts off with “A Salty Salute” a constant staple of the bands live sets, with its prominent bassline, drums and humming guitar feedback. This song sticks in your head (as do many on this album) with lyrics such as “The club is open” being repeated over and over. “Watch Me Jumpstart” is as has been stated in many reviews about change. The lyrics “Watch me jumpstart as the old skin is peeled/See an opening and bust into the field/Hidden longings no longer concealed" affirm this amongst the fuzzy guitar and heavy drums. “Game Of Pricks” is definitely a highlight found on this album. With its Power Pop structure and lyrics such as “You can never be strong/You can only be free/And I never asked for the truth/But you owe that to me” the song displays an uplifting spirit, while at the same time conveying a sense of melancholy. Other notable songs are the Psychedelic Folk of “They’re Not Witches”, the hidden Beatles influence of “As We Go Up, We Go Down”, the lo-fi nugget “My Valuable Hunting Knife”, and “Blimps Go 90” which adds a string section to their already established sound. Alien Lanes features many slower songs as well, such as “The Ugly Vision” and “Ex-Supermodel” and these songs also venture into experimental territory. “Ex-Supermodel” features a predominate sound of someone snoring throughout the track, while a song like “Chicken Blows” features strange sounds and melodies that sound like someone singing underwater.

Tobin Sprout also shines on his own compositions on this album, where he also takes lead vocals as well. The catchy Velvet Underground Pop infectiousness of “A Good Flying Bird”, “Straw Dogs” and the ramped up Buzzcock sounds of “Little Whirl” are undeniable amongst this 28 song collection that is known as Alien Lanes. When recording this album for Matador, Guided By Voices were given a significant six figure sum to record the album. They decided to record on four and eight track tape recorders on the cheap, as stated in many articles about Alien Lanes. In James Greer’s Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll, he stated that “The cost for recording Alien Lanes, if you leave out the beer, was about ten dollars." Greer was also a member of GBV contributing vocals and bass to Alien Lanes and Under The Bushes, Under The Stars. He also toured with the group. Another important significance that Alien Lanes holds is that it was recorded very cheaply and poorly on purpose and proved that you do not need a major label and or studio to make a good album. This was at a time when major labels and studios dominated the world of music in almost all aspects, but their DIY ethic and production techniques emphasize the fact that an album can still be good regardless of how much money goes into the production of it.

If 1993’s Vampire on Titus and 1994’s Bee Thousand helped to establish a cult-like following, then Alien Lanes cemented that status. Alien Lanes spans many genres, blending styles and melodies with a gritty lo-fi quality and its songs are often fragmentary like the songs found on Wire’s Pink Flag album, but they also have a sense of experimentation. Some people love it, some people hate it, but these recordings are not unlike the rough sounding Basement Tapes bootleg that Bob Dylan did with the Band in the late 60s. Alien Lanes grows in a similar style, with sound effects, lyrical nonsense, wittiness and a charming gritty bootleg tape sound. It is imperfectly perfect just like many fans favourite Guided By Voices songs and albums. And at 28 songs in 41 minutes, it is the perfect example of the Guided By Voices style and it demonstrates how prolific they are, regardless of which path it leads you down.

This week's Play List:

1. Salvia Plath – House of Leaves
2. Sunwolf – Angel Eyes
3. The Winter Coats – Not For Us To Say
4. Feels Alright – Oahu Ohio
5. Nervous Talk – Introductions
6. Wyldlife – Sonofabitch
7. No Age – Circling With Dizzy
8. Mudhoney – Don’t Fade TV
9. The Wipers – Can This Be
10. Guided By Voices – A Salty Salute
11. Guided By Voices – Game of Pricks
12. Guided By Voices – The Ugly Vision
13. Guided By Voices - A Good Flying Bird
14. The Groupies – Primitive
15. Thee Oh Sees - Two Drummers Disappear
16. Mystics – Tell Me
17. Eric Welton Band – Kill Them With Kindness
18. Klark Kent – My Old School
19. Nick Lowe – Marie Provost
20. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – You Spin Me Around 86
21. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – Vibrolux Deluxe (Previously Unreleased Version)
22. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Run Chicken Run
23. The Only Ones – Out There In The Night
24. The Rich Kids – Ghosts of Princes In Towers
25. Alex Chilton - I've Had It
26. Sebadoh - Arbitrary High
27. Richard Hell & The Voidoids – I Live My Life

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 27 Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Riot Fest 2013 & Show # 470

It has been 22 years since The Replacements have last played live. Their last live show was on July 4th, 1991 in Chicago. That concert ended with the band switching instruments and playing the song “Hootenanny” then passing their instruments off to their roadies. The show ended in tones of feedback. In October 2012, The Replacements reunited to record an EP entitled Songs For Slim. The EP was recorded for Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap who had suffered a stroke and the EP was released to raise some money for Slim and his family. In June 2012, it was announced that The Replacements would reform for three live shows as part of this years Riot Fest. Riot Fest runs in Toronto on August 24-25th, in Chicago on September 13-15th and in Denver on September 21-22nd. The current line up of The Replacements set to play at Riot Fest is Paul Westerberg (vocals/guitar), Tommy Stinson (bass), Dave Minehan of the band The Neighborhoods on guitar and Josh Freese on Drums.

Iggy and The Stooges will also play this year’s Riot Fest in Toronto. They have been playing with this current line up featuring Raw Power-era guitarist James Williamson since 2009. The Stooges released an album with James Williamson entitled Ready To Die. It was released on Fat Possum Records in February 2013. The album has received favourable reviews from many critics, often being cited as a stronger release than 2007’s The Weirdness. The album features notable songs such as “Burn”, Job” and “The Departed”, which is apparently an homage to pre-Raw Power guitarist Ron Asheton who passed away in 2009. Iggy & The Stooges have been said to play many Raw Power-era songs and songs from Iggy’s solo career live. This year’s Riot Fest in Toronto will also feature bands such as Dinosaur Jr. Best Coast, The Weakerthans, Rocket From The Crypt and more.

This Week's Play List:

1. Dinosaur Jr. – In A Jar
2. Dinosaur Jr. – The Lung
3. The Weakerthans – Civil Twilight
4. The Mooney Suzuki - Oh, Sweet Susanna
5. The Little Boy Blues – You Don’t Love Me
6. Graham Bond Organization – Harmonica
7. Davie Allan & The Arrows – High Rise
8. John Ward’s Electric Séance – Meatmare
9. Contradance – Trouble In The Darkness
10. The Sturgeons – Danger Zone
11. Pow Wows – Plastic Factory
12. Indian Wars – Who Needs A Girl Like You
13. Brazilian Money – Bones, Bones, Bones!
14. Repetitor - Laka Zabava
15. The Vibrators - Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
16. Iggy & The Stooges – Open Up and Bleed (July 1973 CBS Studios)
17. Iggy & The Stooges – I’m Sick Of You
18. Iggy & The Stooges – Shake Appeal
19. The Replacements – Wake Up
20. The Replacements – Can’t Hardly Wait (Outtake - Electric Version)
21. The Replacements – Treatment Bound

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 20 Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Specials, Ramones & Show # 469

The Specials - Too Much Too Young

“Too Much Too Young” was a song found on The Specials debut full length album The Specials released in 1979. The song featured controversial lyrics, but despite this it was released as a single in the UK and reached number one on the UK singles charts. Lyrically the song was based on the Lloyd Charmers song “Birth Control”, The Specials took those lyrics and gave them a modern slant based on the economic situation and times in England in the late 70s. This song, as do many on the full length album build on early Jamaican/Reggae songs form the 60s, but added 70s Punk attitude and vigour.

Ramones - Commando

“Commando” was a song found on The Ramones second full length album Leave Home released in 1977 on Sire Records. This song had a military lyrical background as do many early Ramones songs. It is credited to Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Ramone and barely tow minutes long. The version in this video comes from their live album It’s Alive that was released in 1979, but recorded in 1977 at the Rainbow, Theatre in London, England. It's Alive was also the name of a B-Horror movie from 1974, which is where the title orginates from.

This Week's Play List:

1. The Deadly Ones – It’s Monster Surfing Time
2. The Challengers – Back Beat
3. Dean Carter – Call of the Wild
4. Monomyth – Cigarette
5. Ketamines – Double Elevens
6. Primal Scream – Goodbye Johnny
7. Gogol Bordello – We Rise Again
8. Daniel Romano – Chicken Bill
9. Hurricane & Able – Call On You
10. Teenanger – Funeral March
11. Kitten Forever – Rat Queen
12. Dishrags – Carry On
13. Silicon Injection - Argo
14. Johnny Motel & The Fast Fucks - Knock Down Blues
15. Shark Week – Get High
16. Huevos Rancheros – Trouble A Brewin
17. Adam and The Ants – The Human Beings
18. True Lovers – Master’s Apprentice
19. Johnny Thunders – Downtown
20. The Gun Club – Like Calling Up Thunder
21. The Police – Peanuts
22. Ramones – Commando
23. Buzzcocks – Love You More
24. The Rolling Stones - Dear Doctor
25. The Specials – Stupid Marriage
26. The Specials - Too Much Too Young

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 13 Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

David Bowie Lodger & Show # 468

Released in May of 1979, Lodger is the third album in David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy. This was a set of three albums (Low, Heroes and Lodger) in which David Bowie produced/collaborated with Brian Eno. Although Lodger was the third album in this trilogy, it wasn’t actually recorded in Berlin but was primarily recorded in Montreux, Switzerland. Often said to be more accessible or commercial sounding than either Heroes or Low, Lodger was a highly experimental album that was recorded in equally as experimental circumstances. Upon first listen, compared to the other albums in the trilogy it does have a more conventional sound, but if you listen a little more closely it is actually quite the opposite. When first released in 1979, the album was for the most part panned by critics and labelled one of Bowie’s weakest albums. Fans and critics alike now view it as one of Bowie’s most underrated albums.

Lodger is notable for its inclusion of elements of World Music, Funk and Post-Punk/New Wave sounds. Almost every track does seem to have an element that comes from a World Music category. Lyrically the album addresses themes of travel and Western civilization, but the circumstances in which it was recorded are just as fascinating. During the recording process Eno and the band did things such as recording backwards versions of already existing David Bowie songs, making songs deliberately with the same chord sequences, having band members playing instruments they were not used to playing and playing songs based on a series of chords written on a blackboard. In an interview in 2001 with UNCUT Magazine, Tony Visconti (bassist and producer on this album and several other Bowie albums) elaborated on this process:

“A lot more chaos was intended. Brian was doing some strange experiments like writing his eight favorite chords on a black board and asking the rhythm section to "play something funky." Then he would randomly point at a chord and the band had to follow. This didn't go down too well, but we were trying all sorts of different things.”

Adrian Belew, future guitarist in King Crimson also played guitar on several tracks (as did Carlos Alomar), most of which were edited together from multiple takes that he did to backing tracks. All of the tracks he recorded to he had not heard before playing. Another element in the creation of this album was chaos. The atmosphere in which these songs were created added to its overall atmosphere. The album’s cover, in which David Bowie is depicted as an accident victim and oddly looking like a young Richard Hell, further adds to this element and theme that is apparent on Lodger.

Lodger opens with the track “Fantastic Voyage”, the song itself being symbolic with the era in which it was recorded and in which this trilogy stands. Lodger was his last collaboration with Eno during this point in his career, but it also adheres to the imagery and themes of travel that run rampant throughout this album. This song in particular displays an emotive Cold War paranoia, while the second track “African Night Flight” ventures into experimental territory. With electronic sounds, heavy plodding bass and something that is credited as “Cricket Menace”, an effect that was produced by drum machine and briefcase synthesizer that sounds like crickets, anyone can see that this song ventures into a different avenue. “Move On” is one of the strongest songs found on Lodger, the song was created by playing a backwards version of the David Bowie song “All The Young Dudes”. Once again in UNCUT Magazine in 2001 this time by David Bowie, there is further elaboration on this song and why it was done this way:

“I had put one of my reel to reel tapes on backwards by mistake and really quite liked the melody it created. So I played quite a few more in this fashion and chose five or six that were really quite compelling. Dudes was the only one to make the album, as I didn't want to abandon the 'normal' writing I was doing completely. But it was a worthwhile exercise in my mind.”

“Yassassain (Long Live)” is a melding of Reggae/Funk rhythms with Turkish sounding world music, while “Red Sails” is a 80s sounding Bowie track with Saxophone almost sounding like an outtake from Iggy Pop’s The Idiot. “DJ”, “Look Back In Anger” and “Boys Keep Swinging” were all singles for this album and all display a sense of monotony and look at Western Civilization. “DJ” takes a satirical look at the disc jockey, with funky Adrian Belew guitar lines, bass, World Music strings and piano. “Boys Keep Swinging” is a look at the stereotypical theory of masculinity; it is one of the most up tempo tracks on Lodger and was recorded under interesting circumstances. For this song, the band members switched instruments. Guitarist Carlos Alomar played drums and drummer Dennis Davis played bass, this was said to give the song a more Punk vibe and mentality. “Repetition” is a song reflecting a Talking Heads-like funkiness, while lyrically it addresses and questions themes of domestic violence, “Red Money” ends the album. This song was originally written as “Sister Midnight” and given to Iggy Pop for his album The Idiot. It is found here in a re-worked form. Lyrically the song often features the lyrics “Projected cancelled/Tumbling central/Red money”, which many have viewed as a cryptic message. The overall lyrical theme is said to be based on a red box that would appear in paintings that David Bowie created, symbolizing responsibility.

Musically the elements combined on this album venture into World Music, Funk and New Wave genres creating an amalgamation of sorts. The overall message and themes of this album are wrapped up in a chaotic nature, emphasizing the paranoia of that time, but also in the album's cover image. As mentioned earlier, the cover for Lodger depicts David Bowie as an accident victim. Designed with British Pop artist Derek Boshnier, Bowie appears to have fallen and is in a broken state, complete with a broken looking nose. In that respect Lodger can be seen by many as an album that is “broken” in comparison to Low and Heroes in the Berlin Trilogy, but it can also be seen as the opposite of that. The fallen Bowie on the cover can also be seen as symbolism for the experimental and different sounds found on Lodger shattering the preconceived notions we had of David Bowie’s music at the time. Initially rumoured to be called Planned Accidents, Lodger is no accident. David Bowie exited out of the Berlin Trilogy in a unique way, not overstaying his welcome.

This week's play list:

1. Hunx and His Punx – Rat Bag
2. Sebadoh – I Will
3. Wiskey Biscuit – Stoner Girl
4. The Diodes – Survivors
5. Teenage Head – Bonerack (Alternate Version)
6. The Hippies – Can Teens
7. Paul Jacobs – Coffin Ride
8. The Chessmen – Time Machine
9. Lords of London – Time Waits For No One
10. Neil Young – Roll Another Number (For The Road)
11. Jay Sad – My Mensa Friend
12. The Strokes – Machu Picchu
13. David Bowie – DJ
14. David Bowie – Repetition
15. The Mark Inside – Shark Attack (I Can See Them Circling)
16. Nirvana – Token Eastern Song (1989 Music Source Studios Version)
17. Queens of the Stone Age – I Sat By The Ocean
18. The Traditional Fools – Layback!!!
19. Protex – Don’t Ring Me Up
20. Lids – I Don’t Want You
21. 999 – Nasty Nasty
22. The Stooges – Fun House

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 06. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.