Brightwell's Top 10: 1968

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 15, 2015 10:54am | Post a Comment
In 1857, Frenchman Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville patented his invention for recording sound, the phonautograph. Twenty years later, in 1877, someone first realized that his phonautograms could also play back recorded music. It was the same year, coincidentally, that Thomas Edison patented the phonograph and thus the age of recorded music began. In 2015, former Amoebite Matthew Messbarger posted an NME "Best of 1990" on my Facebook timeline and I decided to began reviewing the best songs of each year, from 1877 to the present, in random order.

May 1968 riots
May 1968 riots (source unknown)

The closest I came to experiencing 1968 was watching The Wonder Years, the first season of which was set in that year. From what I can tell it was a tumultuous year not just in the fictional Arnold household but throughout much of the world. There was the War in Vietnam, Black Power, Richard Nixon became president, the Prague Spring, Mai 1968, 68er-Bewegung, the Rote Armee Fraktion, the 日本赤軍, the Zodiac Killer, the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination, the Robert F. Kennedy assassination, and the attempted assassination of Andy Warhol. In music both Red Foley and Frankie Lymon died prematurely; Hair debuted on BroadwayThe Beatles created Apple Records; and a whole lot of good music was released. 

One Album Wonders: Armageddon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 7, 2015 03:46pm | Post a Comment
This week’s One Album Wonder is Armageddon, a short-lived heavy rock band led by Keith Relf which proved to be the singer's last. In Armageddon, Relf was joined by Robert Caldwell (drums), Louis Cennamo (bass guitar), and Martin Pugh (guitar).


Armageddon promo photo

Relf was a noteworthy English singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. He was born 22 March 1943 in Richmond, Surrey and started performing music around 1956. Although severely asthmatic he picked up the harmonica in imitation of his hero, Sonny Boy Williamson. In 1963 he formed The Yardbirds. Although today The Yardbirds seem best remembered for launching the careers of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page, they were undoubtedly one of the most important of British Invasion bands, responsible along with The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones with introducing countless white teenagers to the black American music which they'd till then ignored and inspiring thousands of them to form rock bands in suburban garages throughout the Anglosphere.

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Alles gute zum geburtstag Schaffel - The musical repercussions of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus"

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 30, 2015 04:05pm | Post a Comment

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the infamous Depeche Mode Riots, in which half a dozen people were treated for minor injuries. Another Depeche Mode milestone is upon us as on 29 August 1989 the band released their 23rd single, "Personal Jesus" and basically invented the "schaffel" subgenre. 

It wasn't their first single to prominently feature electric guitars -- preceding non-album single "Route 66" (a cover of Bobby Troup's standard "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66") had made use of them to good effect. However, I was always suspicious when electronic musicians added guitars to their synthpop because so often it seemed like a calculated effort to appeal to the musical conservatives. It was with suspicion that I first approached "Personal Jesus" but after the release of the guitar-less "Enjoy the Silence" I breathed a sigh of relief. 

Truth be told, Iggy Pop was probably the first to recognize that combining electronics with the glitter stomp of T. Rex and Chinnichap was a good idea. "Nightclubbing" was released as a single in 1977 and featured a Glitter Band-inspired riff paired with a drum machine. I'm willing to bet, however, that a fair few of the schaffel crowd didn't hear that song until it resurfaced on the soundtrack of 1996's Trainspotting.

One Album Wonders: Sad Iron

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 25, 2015 01:40pm | Post a Comment

This week’s One Album Wonder is Dutch heavy metal band, Sad Iron, who released their only album, Total Damnation, in 1983.


Sad Iron wasn't forged in the Netherworld, but rather the Netherlands -- the harbor town of Hoorn, to be Sad Ironprecise. The founder and sole constant member since their formation in 1979 is guitarist Bernard Rive. He soon recruited Dirk Ooms (bass), Gerrit Soering (drums), and Jan Palenstijn (vocals). Three of Sad Iron’s songs, performed live, were included on Holland Heavy Metal Vol. 1. As a result of winning a battle of the bands, Sad Iron were rewarded with once day of studio time at K&M Geluidsregistratie.

Rive entered the studio with new members Leo "Pro Deo" Ockeloen on bass, Jacques Van Oevelen on drums, and Herke Van Der Poel on vocals and they recorded Total Damnation in one day. Sad Iron shared stages with bands like Hanoi Rocks, Picture, and Vandale.

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One Album Wonders: The Zodiac

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 17, 2015 11:07am | Post a Comment
The Zodiac - Cosmic Sounds

 were a studio group who released one album, Cosmic Sounds - Celestial Counterpoint with Words and Music, in May 1967. The members of Zodiac were respected session musicians Bud Shank, Carol Kaye, Cyrus Faryar, Emil RichardsHal Blaine, and Paul Beaver. Each song is devoted to the signs of Chaldean astronomical zodiac. The music was written by Canadian synthesizer pioneer Mort Garson
The spoken word narration was penned by Jacques Wilson and are narrated by Faryar in a voice reminiscent of Jim Morrison's who as part of The Doors, had recorded their debut in 1966 and released it in January 1967 to great acclaim.

The success of The Doors was a primary inspiration for the project. Elektra head Jac Holzman came up with the concept and hired Alex Hassilev, a member of The Limeliters, to produce. Hassilev brought Mort Garson to the project -- the two had just formed a production company together.

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