Brightwell's Top 10: 1972

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 19, 2015 10:50pm | 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.


The demolition of Pruitt-Igoe

1972 was a turbulent year. The violence of the Troubles peaked, claiming the lives of more than 500 people.Though comparatively ignored in the west, the Burundian Genocide also began, which claimed the lives of over 500,000. Ferdinand Marcos placed the Philippines under martial law. Black September invaded the Olympic Village and murdered eight Israeli athletes in Munich Members of the German Red Army Faction were arrested in FrankfurtThe Asama-Sansō Incident took place in Japan. Native Americans from the The Trail of Broken Treaties took over buildings belonging to the Bureau of Indian AffairsAngela Davis was found not guilty of murder. Missouri's notorious Pruitt–Igoe projects were demolished. Health officials admitted that blacks had been used as guinea pigs in a study of untreated syphilis. Shirley Chisholm became the first black candidate for US president although the American people instead choose to re-elect fascinating nutjob Richard Nixon

Outside Earth, humans visited the moon for the last time. The Space Shuttle program began. Mariner 9 became the first artificial satellite to orbit another planet (Mars). The Pioneer 10 launched from Cape Kennedy and would become the first human-made object to leave the solar system. In art, Andrei Tarkovsky's science-fiction masterpiece Solaris debuted and although perhaps not masterpieces, Eolomea and Silent Running entertained. With all of that space travel its no wonder it was glam rock's' annus mirabilis. Capitalizing on the space craze, David Bowie's 1969 song, "Space Oddity" was re-released and Elton John, doing his best Bowie, released "Rocket Man" (which was later covered by William Shatner which was later covered by Chris Elliott). 


In technology and entertainment news, 
HBO was launched, Atari was founded and released PongThe first scientific hand-held calculator, the HP-35, was introduced for the price of $395 (about $1,750 in 2015 dollars). Bands including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Martha and the Vandellas, MC5, Them, and The Velvet Underground all called it a day. ABBA, Cockney Rebel, Devo, The Jam, Mama's Pride, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Rockets, Rufus, Van Halen and many other bands formed. It was a great year for music, with Neil YoungThe SweetThe Four TopsMott the HoopleYesBig StarTownes Van ZandtGentle GiantMarvin Gaye, Genesis, Lieutenant Pigeon, Lou Reed, Curtis MayfieldRoxy Music, and Hawkwind all releasing amazing songs that barely missed my Top 10.


10. Bee Gees - Run to Me

9. Hot Butter - Pop Corn

8. The RaspberriesGo All The Way 

7. BreadGuitar Man 

6. Manu DibangoSoul Makossa (Funky Soul Makossa) 

5. Chicory Tip - Son of My Father 

4. David BowieStarman 

3. T. RexMetal Guru 

2. The DramaticsIn The Rain 

1. Al Green - I'm Still in Love with You - 


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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.

When Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," arrived in 1989, twelve years after "Nightclubbing" it seemed to take another 11 years to inspire followers Covenant to resurrect the sound with "Like Tears in the Rain." By then it was apparent that a gimmick, if good enough, can be the basis of an entire movement and "shaffel" was born and And One, SuperpitcherE NomineT. Raumschmiere, ElectronicatWighnomy BrosGoldfrappAssemblage 23, CombichristWumpscut, Addam Bombb, and Zombie Girl all got in on the act. In 2004, Marilyn Manson released a cover that answered the previously unasked question, "What would 'Personal Jesus' sound like if massacred at karaoke by someone with terminal vocal fry?" 


Covenant's "Like Tears in the Rain" (2000)

And One's "Wasted (Naghavi-Mix)" (2000)

E Nomine's "Mitternacht"

Quarks' "I Walk (Superpitcher Schaffel Mix)" (2002)

T. Raumschmiere's "Monster Truck Driver"

Electronicat's "21st Century Toy" (2003)

Wighnomy Bros & Robag Wruhme's "Bodyrock" (2003)

Goldfrapp's "Train" (2003)

Assemblage 23's "Dirt" (2007)

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One Album Wonders: Jet's Jet

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 22, 2014 01:38pm | Post a Comment
Here is an additional edition of my series of great, mostly obscure, one album wonders. In the album era (roughly the mid-1960s until the mid-2000s), the album was the dominant format of recorded music expression and consumption. It seems that most musicians from that era, if able to scrape together the funds for the recording of one studio album, generally returned with at least one more.  Some, like Sun Ra, somehow released more albums than I've had hot dinners. Even most excellent bands, in my opinion, would have done well to find something other to do with their time rather than keep making records after their fifth album or twelfth year (although there is the Go-Betweens Exception). The following acts mostly date fromthe Golden Age of the LP -- and yet were unable or unwilling, in all cases, to record more than one. 


JET - JET (1975) 

Jet is a brilliant name for a band which I suppose it's been used by at least 31 different musical acts. The best in the fleet was the British band of the 1970s. That Jet was co-piloted by Andy Ellison and Chris Townson (formerly of another one album wonder, John's Children, and before that, The Silence), David O'List (formerly of The AttackThe NiceThe Misunderstood, and Roxy Music), Martin GordonPeter Oxendale, and Trevor White (who'd played in the power-pop band, The Jook, with Townson as well). 

O'List had played with The AttackThe NiceThe Misunderstood, and Roxy Music and White had played, alongside Townson, in the obscure power pop bandThe Jook. That Jet were so tuneful is a bit surprising given the fact that Ellison and Townson had previously played in John's Children, a one album wonder for whom songwriting seemed to be among the least of the band's concerns.

Jet released just one eponymous album on CBS in 1975 (released on compact disc in 2002 by Radiant Future). Though a bit late to the scene, it was a pleasing collection of Glam Rock which decidedly owes a bit of a stylistic debt to Sparks, with whom Gordon and Oxendale had also briefly performed. After Jet's final flight, Ellison, Gordon, and White went on to play in the New Wave band, Radio Stars, Oxendale went on to form the studio production unit West End, and Townson died in 2008. 

One Album Wonders: Mother Love Bone's Apple

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 28, 2014 01:26pm | Post a Comment
The vinyl LP was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 but the 45 inch single remained the primary market for the music industry until the dawn of the album era, which began in the mid-1960s. During that period, for any number of reasons, many fine musical acts released only one studio album -- Perfect for completists on a budget! This series examines some of my favorite "one album wonders."



Although Mother Love Bone were credited with attracting major label attention to Seattle, their musical sensibility (and Wood's sartorial) were decidedly at odd with the horde of ripped-jeans-and-ripped-abs tortured bros that would come to characterize grunge after its crossover.

Mother Love Bone were led by Mississippi-born singer Andrew Wood -- or 
Landrew the Love Child -- whose band Malfunkshun had been snubbed by Sup Pop, apparently for not being grunge enough -- but who were included on C/Z Records' seminal Deep Six (1986) compilation. The rest of the band were Bruce Fairweather, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard (both formerly of Green River), and Greg Gilmore (formerly of 10 Minute Warning and Skinyard), who first assembled in 1988. 

Whilst most of Mother Love Bone's Seattle area peers like Gilmore's 10 Minute Warning, The MelvinsSoundgardenNirvanaThe U-Men (and to an extent, Wood's former band) combined the influence of hardcore punk with the sludge of early heavy metal, Mother Love Bone unabashedly owed more to '70s arena rock and glam

Wood was a charismatic, androgynous, and sometimes goofy frontman who seemed to understand and seriously embrace the silliness of good time rock but behind his cherubic appearance there was a dark side. Wood wrested with a heroin addiction that saw him go to rehab at least twice. Sadly,  he overdosed and died in 1990, two days before the planned release of Mother Love Bone's debut. 

After his death, Wood's former roommate and Soundgarden's singer, Chris Cornell, formed Temple of the Dog with Ament, Gossard, and other musicians who would end up forming Pearl Jam. Fairweather joined the band Love Battery. Wood would also be honored Alice in Chains's "Would?" and Faster Pussycat's "Mr. Lovedog."
 In 2005, Scot Barbour released a touching documentary titled Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story.


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One Album Wonders: Brett Smiley's Breathlessly Brett

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 21, 2014 01:07pm | Post a Comment
The vinyl LP was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 but the 45 inch single remained the primary market for the music industry until the dawn of the album era, which began in the mid-1960s. In that era, for any number of reasons, many fine musical acts released only one studio album. This series looks at some of my favorite "one album wonders."

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