Amoeblog

One Album Wonders: The La's

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 9, 2015 03:48pm | Post a Comment



In 2000, Pearl Jam treated their audience to a cover of The La’s“Timeless Melody.” Eddie Vedder, addressing the Mancunian audience characteristically mumbled, “Hey! There’s a good, uh — fuckin’ good? -- a great band who made one great record and they’re called The La’s and I think they’re from your town… I believe. A great songwriter from your town… his last name ain’t Gallagher.” 


Vedder's geographical mix-up could’ve, under the wrong circumstances, ignited a full scale riot but The La’s were a great band and what sensible person wouldn’t want to be associated with their brilliance. Also, Lee Mavers’s name “ain’t” Gallagher but — along with other Scouse bands like Rain and The Real People — the so-called Cosmic Scally scene arguably had much more influence on Oasis than the Manchester scene which quickly stole its spotlight. Also, both the Gallaghers and Mavers are dyed-in-the-blue-wool football supporters — the Gallaghers of “The Sky Blues” (Man City) and Mavers of “The Blues” (Everton).

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One Album Wonders: The Music Machine's (Turn On) The Music Machine

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 3, 2015 09:16pm | Post a Comment
THE MUSIC MACHINE -- (TURN ON) THE MUSIC MACHINE (1966)



Los Angeles
's  The Music Machine are one of those bands which was not only a one album wonder but a one hit wonder as well (there are a few of them). The Music Machine’s big hit was “Talk Talk,” a stomping, grunted neolithic garage stomper from 1966 that quickly rose to #15 on the charts and remained in the Top 40 for twelve weeks. 


The Music Machine’s San Jose-born singer-songwriter Sean Bonniwell, Doug Rhodes (organ), Ron Edgar (drums), Keith Olsen (bass), and Mark Landon (guitar) first assembled in 1965 as The Ragamuffins. Rhodes and Edgar had previously played with Curt Boettcher in folk-pop act, The Goldebriars. The changed their name to The Music Machine in 1966 and seem to me to have been musically inspired by The Troggs — a British band capable of peppy pop (“With a girl like you”), sparkling psychedelia (“Purple Shades”), and caveman rock (“Wild thing”). Sartorially, they were inspired by bands who adopted a gimmicky uniform like The Count Five, The Monks, and Paul Revere & the Raiders. The Music Machine’s look consisted of head (including dyed hair) to toe black — topped off with a single, black glove. It’s a gimmick, to be sure, but one that nonetheless allowed for more individuality, creativity, and fun than a nation of indistinguishable crate-service-clothed beardos.

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One Album Wonders: Sonic Boom's Spectrum

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 25, 2015 03:27pm | Post a Comment
 SONIC BOOM - SPECTRUM (1989)

For this edition of One Album Wonders we take a listen to Sonic Boom, who released one album, Spectrum, in 1989. 


Sonic Boom 
is Peter Kember, an English musician born in Rugby in 1965. In 1982, whilst at Rugby Art College, he co-founded The Spacemen (later Spacemen 3) with Jason Pierce. After releasing two albums -- 1986's Sound Of Confusion and 1987's The Perfect Prescription -- Kember signed a deal with Silvertone Records for a solo album. On the resulting album, Spectrum, Kember's professed influences such as SuicideThe Velvet UndergroundThe Stooges, and early electronic music were all on display.



Kember and Pierce reconvened as Spacemen 3 and produced two more albums -- 1989's Playing with Fire and 1991's Recurring -- before splitting acrimoniously. Pierce went on to form Spiritualized, whose music was used to sell Volkswagens. Kember went on to record both as Spectrum and E.A.R. (Experimental Audio Research) -- and both of which blur the lines somewhat between solo efforts and collaborations -- sometimes with pioneering electronic genius Delia Derbyshire


Spectrum released four albums in the 1990s and E.A.R. have, to date, released eleven albums but as Sonic Boom remains a one album wonder. In 2012, Spectrum was released on vinyl in 2012 by Spain’s ViNiLiSSSiMO. It was also re-released on aluminum the same year by Space Age Recordings

*****

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One Album Wonders: Baader Meinhoff's Baader Meinhoff

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 18, 2015 10:53am | Post a Comment
Luke Haines has released music under several names and as a part of several bands including The Auteurs, The Black Arts, Black Box Recorder, The Deverell Twins, The North Sea Scrolls, The Servants, and the One Album Wonder that is the subject of this piece, Baader Meinhof. Baader Meinhof were named after the West German terrorist group who actually went by the name the Rote Armee Fraktion.

Baader Meinhof album

As a child in the 1980s, I remember the Weather Underground’s heist of a Brink’s truck, the MOVE firebombing, and stories about Carlos “The Jackal.” The first (and second to last) car that I owned was a still-boxy black BMW adorned with a bumper sticker informing anyone stuck behind me in gridlock “Ich gehöre nicht zur Baader-Meinhof Gruppe.” I only know about ten words of German but own an un-subtitled copy of the documentary Starbuck Holger Meins (I get the gist). My interest in Leftist urban terrorism is such that even if a completely generic whoa-oh band were to title a song "Deutscher Herbst," I'd probably listen to it less critically than I would were it instead titled something like "England Skies."


Felt's "Space Blues"

How much better, then, that Baader Meinhof seemed to find inspiration in a weird and wonderful non-album Felt song, “Space Blues.” That song should've been the (space) blueprint for a new pop subgenre. After it's release, however, Martin Duffy and Rose McDowall (Strawberry Switchblade) left the Felt fold to form Church of Raism (as in Gilles de Rais) with Robert Young (Primal Scream) and James Havoc. Their sole album hadn't married Fender Rhodes and viola to softly sung lyrics, however, instead opting to trade in good ol’ fashioned Satanic New Age.



Baader Meinhof's "Meet Me at the Airport"

Something resembling “Space Blues” only arrived in 1995, after Luke Haines took a break from The Auteurs and released “Baader Meinhof / Meet Me At the Airport.” Driven by tablas, handclaps, and cryptic lyrics about terrorism, it had a hallucinatory atmosphere quite out of step with British Top 40 then populated by the not-so-easy-listening likes of Céline Dion, East 17, Oasis, and Take That and instead sounding rather like Felt's penultimate single.

A self-titled Baader Meinhof concept album followed in 1996. In its 31 minute running time it managed to be more thought provoking than any traditional concept album of the sort packaged in a gatefold sleeve, decorated with Roger Dean art, and concerned with extraterrestrials or dragons (even though I often like those too). Befitting the subject matter the album is simultaneously mesmerizing, intoxicating, and disorienting. Although Haines has released a trove of great music, Baader Meinhof is probably my favorite (a statement easier to make when not listening to any Auteurs albums). 

After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, I played a song off of the album in an anti-war DJ set. Favoring simplistic, didactic, shouty political punk and earnest, acoustic protest folk, my partner turned to me quizically and asked, "Are you sure this is political?" It's not exactly The Clash or The Pop Group but grab a copy and decide for yourself. 

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Movies for Mother's Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 10, 2015 08:02am | Post a Comment

Mary Cassatt's After the Bath (circa 1901)

The American Mother's Day was invented by Anna Jarvis in 1905, when her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Her mother's death proved the inspiration for a holiday and by 1908 others joined her in this macabre celebration.

After five years of dedication to her obsession, Mother's Day was first observed in West Virginia in 1910. Although writing "I love you" on a post-it note would be more meaningful, by the 1920s consumers dutifully purchased pre-made Mother's Day cards from the Hallmark corporation. Disgusted by this perversion of her crazy vision, Jarvis unsuccessfully tried to kill Mother's Day. 

Whatever you do this Mother's Day, please don't spend $17.95 on a Spring Multicolor Floral Infinity Scarf, $24.95 on a Bronze Metal Birdcage Lantern Wall Decoration, or $29.95 on a Coral-inspired Jewelry Tree. Instead, take her on a hike, go for a swim, eat a type of cuisine neither of you've ever had before, go to the ballet... or watch one of these films.
*****




Mother (마더, Bong Joon-ho, 2010)


Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)



Mildred Pierce
(Michael Curtiz, 1945)



Grey Gardens (Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer, 1975)




Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim, 2008)



Be With You (いま、会いにゆきますNobuhiro Doi, 2004)



Mommie Dearest
(Frank Perry, 1981)




Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976)


Precious (Lee Daniels, 2008)


Strait-Jacket
(William Castle, 2004)


Friday the 13th
(Sean S. Cunningham, 1980)



*****

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