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The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Music news, rumors, what you're listening to, how you're listening to it and whether it's all on the up-and-up.

Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:21 pm

Faces -- I love love love Faces.
All of their albums (and yes, I have First Step filed here too, no what it says on the cover) are fantastic to my ears. I could go on and on about how awesome they are -- perfectly loose and shambly without ever sounding unfocused -- but I'll wait and see if anyone else wants to talk about'em. The truth is, I'm more interested in posting about the next batch of CDs, the longest sustained purging in the history of the Project.

Fahy-Harley-Kramer -- Egomaniacs is the band/album title (not sure why I didn't have this filed under E) and it's just another Shimmy-Disc. Written mostly by Fahy, but with all the standard Kramer production that makes all Kramer productions sound like... well... Kramer productions. This ranges from not good to sorta charming, but I've got better Kramer, rendering this completely unnecessary. PURGED!

JAD FAIR
Back in my college days, I listened to a lot of Half Japanese. (Just as I would listen to just about anything on Shimmy-Disc, explaining the presence of the above CD in my collection.) And I remember really enjoying it. Earlier in the Project I listened to David Fair's Coo Coo Rockin' Time and rekindled my love for that record. No such rekindling in the Jad Fair section of my rack. This was mostly a painful slog, although admittedly, I disliked all these CDs for different reasons (which is oddly compelling in some way.) Any fans out in Foronland?

Jad Fair I have but one true solo album by Jad and it's Greater Expectations -- Single word review: Ick. Two word review: Unlistenable noise. "Song" snippets, half-assed ideas, dumber than usual lyrics, and really nothing to recommend it, unless you want to hear the most godawful version of "The Tracks Of My Tears" ever. (His "Outlaw Blues" is listenable, at least, but hardly worth the price of admission.) Most of these tracks are less than two minutes long but they still seem to last forever. PURGED!

Jad And David Fair -- Monster Songs For Children features 26 songs (one for each letter of the alphabet, doncha see) about (yep, you guessed it) monsters, all done in a droning, faux-folk-blues style with deep growly vocals from David and occasional support from Jad. A better concept than an actual recording, especially given how samey most of these tracks are (with sometimes cute intros by little boy Robinson Fair) but most of these songs are mercifully short, some of the lyrics are sorta charming, and I do appreciate some of the alphabetic assignments ("Abominable Snowman", "Bigfoot" and "Yeti" all get their own songs, and "Queen Kong" is a pretty inspired choice. The "Godzilla" could certainly never replace Blue Oyster Cult in my heart, though.) Even still, I'm never going to want to hear this again. PURGED!

Jad Fair And Kramer -- Roll Out The Barrel is not as unlistenably bad as the Jad solo album above, but still, why do I still own this stuff? It all seemed so "out there" back in college, I suppose, but these days, I actually like music in my music. A lot of dreadful covers, insipid sound effects, barely rhythmic recitations, inane tribal-ish drum sounds (notice I didn't say drums), and some truly dreadful caterwauling (and hey look -- a completely different song called "King Kong".) Oh, and it ends with a muddy version of "Auld Lang Syne" titled "Paths Of Glory". PURGED! The Sound Of Music, on the other hand, features actual songs. Not very good songs, true, but songs nonetheless. Still, I've run out of patience for this stuff. PURGED!

Jad Fair And Yo La Tengo -- Here's this music-loving, former record store clerk's dirty little secret: Yo La Tengo bores the piss out of me. And given my current dislike of most things Jad Fair, I'm not surprised that this album, Strange But True, inspired nothing in me but a desire for it to be over. It's another concept-better-than-execution deal; this time, all the songs are "ripped from the headlines" of the Weekly World News. So you get song titles like "Educated Gorilla Displays Gourmet Cooking Skills", "Retired Grocer Constructs Tiny Mount Rushmore Entirely Of Cheese", "High School Shop Class Constructs Bicycle Built For 26", "Shocking Fashion Statement Terrorizes Town", and "Ohio Town Saved From Killer Bees By Hungry Vampire Bats". On the plus side, there's a lot of stylistic diversity here. On the downside, Yo La Tengo manages to be boring even in a wide variety of styles and Jad Fair is still singing. Yawn. PURGED!

Definitely curious to see what happens when I hit my Half Japanese section. I really did used to love a lot of that stuff, but it's been years since I've pulled them out. Something to look forward to? Or something to dread? Only time will tell.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby rrnate » Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:18 pm

Man, "He's Got The Power" from The Exciters is so rad; I'm gonna have to check out that full comp.

Jad Fair - he's terrible. But, Yo La Tengo is great. C'mon Zar.

I only actually know a few Faces songs, but, have always loved "Glad & Sorry" a whole bunch.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:37 pm

rrnate wrote:Yo La Tengo is great. C'mon Zar.

I know I'm supposed to feel this way, but they've always just left me cold. I feel about them the same as I do about The Feelies and NRBQ -- I just don't see what the big deal is about these bands that, based on what I read and other music lovers tell me, I'm supposed to adore. Don't actively hate any of'em, just never seek them out and find their recordings to be bland and uninvolving. That said, post me some YLT you think is great and I'll gladly give'em a listen.

rrnate wrote:I only actually know a few Faces songs, but, have always loved "Glad & Sorry" a whole bunch.
Interesting pick. Not very representative of the band's sound at all. I can post some choice cuts if you want, but honestly, I pretty much just love it all. All of their original LPs are worth hearing, and their big box set from a few years back is also fantastic. The only part of their discography that should be avoided is the live Coast To Coast, which came out just after Ronnie Lane left the band and is dead in the water (there's plenty of live tracks scattered throughout the rest of their discography to make it unnecessary anyway.)
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby rrnate » Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:09 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
rrnate wrote:Yo La Tengo is great. C'mon Zar.

I know I'm supposed to feel this way, but they've always just left me cold. I feel about them the same as I do about The Feelies and NRBQ -- I just don't see what the big deal is about these bands that, based on what I read and other music lovers tell me, I'm supposed to adore. Don't actively hate any of'em, just never seek them out and find their recordings to be bland and uninvolving. That said, post me some YLT you think is great and I'll gladly give'em a listen.


I actually think they weren't really great for their first ten years or so but have turned in to a really versatile, awesome band that can do all kinds of things. A good cross section:

* Mr. Tough - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDl_k2LaKlE - they do this kind of fun genre stuff really well.

* If It's True - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQYnHxTTOTE - nicely Motown-ish, yeah?

* 4th Time Around - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhXxHf1t-ao - a really nice take on a Dylan tune. These guys do ballads so well.

Also, they're a pretty fun live act; everyone can sing, they trade instruments a bunch, and they can make a hell of a lot of noise for just three people.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Igor » Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:48 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Jad Fair And Yo La Tengo --
So you get song titles like "Educated Gorilla Displays Gourmet Cooking Skills", "Retired Grocer Constructs Tiny Mount Rushmore Entirely Of Cheese", "High School Shop Class Constructs Bicycle Built For 26", "Shocking Fashion Statement Terrorizes Town", and "Ohio Town Saved From Killer Bees By Hungry Vampire Bats".


Holy crap, those names sound like they were taken straight from a Budgie album.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as_d9_3NkB0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5V3Tizxm7A
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDHBCFROn1k
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby scratch » Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:32 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:I feel about them the same as I do about The Feelies and NRBQ -- I just don't see what the big deal is about these bands that, based on what I read and other music lovers tell me, I'm supposed to adore. Don't actively hate any of'em, just never seek them out and find their recordings to be bland and uninvolving.


For me NRBQ is like a bunch of different related bands what with their constant turnover of membership. I like anything from the Steve Ferguson lineup, and everything else is on a case-by-case basis. My absolute favorite NRBQ album, though, is the one they did with Carl Perkins (Boppin' the Blues): "All Mama's Children," "Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard" (from the Three Stooges hospital film), "Flat Foot Flewzy," and the title song are highlights for me. Frequently in their career they've seemed to have lost their way, though. More on NRBQ later? (Sorry for the threadjack).

I agree about Faces, and I still listen to Coast to Coast occasionally, though I it's their weakest effort. Nice audio portrait of a really good band in decline, but still gamely trying to entertain the fans and maintain the band's collective buzz. Do you have the fancy cover version of Ooh La La? My kids loved that cover and used to play with it until I had to put it away to preserve Gaston's image. Anyway, I don't remember reading about it so much at the time, but Stewart gave interviews panning the album, which lead to Ronnie Lane leaving the band. Too bad, but with Rod the Mod's burgeoning solo career, they were doomed anyway.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Marvell » Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:42 pm

I think I have one Half-Japanese song on a mix tape in my collection, "Trouble In the Water." It's a sort-of reply to The Police's "Synchronicity Part II" in which the something stirring at the bottom of a black Scottish loch is actually just misunderstood - "not unfriendly / Just unknown."

Then there are saxaphones, slightly out of tune, and a generalized bashing sound that one assumes was meant to be rock and roll. I like it, but there's a reason I only taped the one song.

I dig NRBQ as a singles band. Certain of their songs - "Me and the Boys," "Rain at the Drive-In," "Beverly," "That's Alright," the song about Lou Albano - are absolutely perfect. Other of their stuff is a little too precious - but then, you could say the same thing about The Cure. And I don't think The Cure have any songs with thumb piano solos.

The Faces were alright, I guess. Although I don't think they ever recorded anything as purely awesome as "Afterglow" off of Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. So I would go with Ronnie Lane as the magic ingredient.

Stewart/Wood was no Steve Marriott.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:08 pm

scratch wrote:(Sorry for the threadjack).

You cannot jack this thread as long as you're talking about music. Talking about music is the only reason this thread exists.

scratch wrote:Do you have the fancy cover version of Ooh La La?
I used to, but like most of my classic LPs, it ended up as stock in my record store. 'Twas cool, indeed. I have all the Faces albums on CD now, plus the box set, though, so there's always plenty of Faces in reach.
Gotta say, I'm a bit surprised to hear Marvell's take on Faces. Seems like they'd be right up his alley. Just goes to show, you never can tell. (And of course, nobody has ever recorded anything as purely awesome as "Afterglow". Truly one of my all-time favorite songs.) I waver back and forth about whether I love Small Faces or Faces more -- just depends on what day you ask, I guess. And while Marriot's one of the best British Invasion-era lead singers to be sure, I adore Stewart in the era of the Faces. His singing on his first batch of solo LPs during the period are equally as awesome as his band work.

Nate -- thanks for the links, but nothing there really changes my opinion of YLT. The Dylan just bored me, and while the other two are pleasant-enough they don't really excite me. I really like the horn charts in "Mr. Tough" and sure, a ripped-off Motown bassline is always cool, but man, I think their vox are pretty terrible. I have plenty of actual 3rd-rate Northern Soul, I don't feel like I really need the faux kind. Maybe I just need to see them live to really appreciate'em.

Finally -- thanks for the Budgie links, Igor! Budgie is a huge gap in my collection -- I've always liked them, but for some reason (and now, probably because their CDs are so expensive) they've never found their way into my collection. I have a handful of tracks on various comps but that's it, so it was fun to be given an excuse to go jam some.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:03 pm

YVONNE FAIR -- This is exactly the kind of disc for which this Project was conceived to ferret out. I know Ms. Fair mostly from a handful of tracks she cut when part of The James Brown Show in the mid-to-late '60s, exemplified by such soulful struts as "Say Yeah Yeah". But when I came across her 1975 album The Bitch Is Back on my shelf, I was at a loss to remember anything about it. I don't know where or when I picked it up, but holy shit, I sure wish I'd been listening to it! A really fantastic album. It opens with as good of a version of "Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On" as I've ever heard before settling into a few excellent ballads ("It Should Have Been Me" being the best, a song I know originally from Gladys Knight & The Pips). Next comes "Tell Me Something Good" which is better than the hit version by Chaka Khan and Rufus, IMO. The rest of the album is snaky, Norman Whitfield funky soul (he produced all but three of these tracks) that really kicks. I mean, check this shit out. Not a bad cut on this one, including great covers of "Let Your Hair Down", "I Know (You Don't Love Me No More") and "You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover". A real lost classic. And to think it's been lurking on my CD shelf for who knows how long...

FAIRPORT CONVENTION -- Their 1968 debut is fantastic. Much more rock-oriented than they'd ever be again, "Time Will Show The Wiser" and "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding" have been two of my favorite songs for decades and will surely surprise guitar lovers unfamiliar with the beginnings of this band mostly known for their explorations of folk. Which isn't to say there's no hints of what's to come here. "I Don't Know Where I Stand" is lovely and their "Chelsea Morning" is definitive. An all-around great record. Their second LP, What We Did On Our Holidays, remains a gap in my collection even after all these years, which is strange given how much I love the records bookending it and Sandy Denny's vocals in particular (she's not onboard yet on the 1st album.) But Unhalfbricking is every bit the masterpiece it's been hailed as (any record containing "Who Knows Where The Time Goes", possibly the most gorgeous song ever recorded in the English language, should be in everyone's collection.) A couple of amazing Dylan covers anchor the record: their French-language version of "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" is rollicking fun and their "Percy's Song" is simply wonderful. (Less successful is their "Million Dollar Bash", which sadly ends the record on a low point.) "Genesis Hall", "Autopsy" and "Cajun Woman" are all first-rate originals. Just as good as the original LPs is Heyday, a collection of BBC recordings from 1968-1969 which shows the group in a great light. (Although I could do without the two Leonard Cohen covers, as I'll remain forever baffled by that man's appeal. But I'm well aware I am in the minority here, so those will likely be highlights for other listeners.) With Liege And Lief, the band begins its foray into straight-up folk, but it's still grounded in masterful rock underpinnings that keep things interesting. Sandy Denny has never sounded better than on this record, particularly on stand-outs like her own "Tam Lin", Richard Thompson's achingly beautiful "Farewell, Farewell" and the traditional "The Deserter". The extended instrumental workouts really shine here (the odd exception being the sole pure instrumental medley which goes nowhere) and the group's sound has gelled into something truly unique and fabulous. And then, it all just falls apart. Their next album, Full House finds them without Denny, who is simply irreplaceable at this point. The folk elements come completely to the fore here, eschewing anything resembling rock in favor of a much more dull and traditional sound. Without Denny, the band wanders aimlessly through long instrumental passages of no discernable interest to pop music fans, "Sloth" being the sole worthwhile exploration on the entire record. And that's where my knowledge and interest ends. If there's more good music in the ever-changing Fairport lineups which continued to crank out product for decades after this 1970 disaster, I'm ignorant of it. If anyone has later stuff to recommend, I'm all ears.

THE FALCONS -- Absolutely marvelous late '50s - early '60s soul and R&B. I have two compilations on the great Relic label, both of which are jam-packed with excellent material and great singing. The history of The Falcons is one of ever-shifting personnel, but so many greats wandered through their ranks that they managed to maintain a level of great quality even while jumping from style to style with abandon (everything from straight pre-rock pop to surging soul can be found here.) Interesting for being racially mixed in their original incarnation, but mostly famous for names like Eddie Floyd, Mack Rice, Wilson Pickett, Johnnie Taylor, and Joe Stubbs (brother of the 4 Tops' Levi and later the leader of 100 Proof Aged In Soul.) That's Pickett on "I Found A Love" and Stubbs on "You're So Fine", the two songs for which they're best remembered today. But the pleasures here for R&B fans are legion: "Oh Baby" is an incredible ballad, "Fine Fine Girl" a great dance number, "Sent Up" a fun bluesy romp, "The Teacher" a string-laden burst of pop-soul. Lots more pleasures here, but you get the idea.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Marvell » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:40 pm

Island put out an odds and ends compilation entitled Richard Thompson (guitar, vocal) that had some Fairport rarities on it, including a version of "Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman" that was vastly superior to the original recording. I think it's out of print; selling my vinyl copy of that (and of Hoky Poky) was one of the stupidest things I ever did.

Someone should insert the obligatory "Battle of Evermore" reference for the uninitiated here; guess that someone is me.

That person who sounds kinda like Robert Plant but isn't? She's not a man, baby!!!
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:51 pm

Marvell wrote:That person who sounds kinda like Robert Plant but isn't? She's not a man, baby!!!
I gotta admit, it took me many years of jamming before noticing that wasn't Robert Plant (hey, I was in my early teens). I remember looking at the album credits and thinking, "I don't recall any female backups on this one..."
I similarly took a long time to figure out that Roger Daltrey didn't sing "My Wife" and that it wasn't Nico singing "Sunday Morning".
This is evidence for why I've never really been an audiophile -- I can barely hear the obvious stuff half the time, let alone differences in LP pressings or needle cartridges.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Kenneth Burns » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:15 pm

The only Fairport Convention in my collection is the U.S.-only compilation "Fairport Chronicles," which I treasure. "Million Dollar Bash" is here. I enjoy it.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Kenneth Burns » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:17 pm

Someone once told me their dad had a snarky answer to the musical question "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?", but I forget what it was.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby minicat » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:24 pm

Prof, remind me and I will provide you with a copy of What We Did on Our Holidays. Believe it or not, I have it on CD.

That's my favorite of their albums, probably because it was the first one I ever had. Thank you, Richland Center thrift shop.
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:26 pm

Kenneth Burns wrote:The only Fairport Convention in my collection is the U.S.-only compilation "Fairport Chronicles," which I treasure. "Million Dollar Bash" is here. I enjoy it.
I think my criticism came off overly harsh in my earlier post. I don't hate Fairport's version (although I much prefer the Dylan's Basement Tapes version), it's just far and away the weakest cut on the record to my ears. And as someone who prides himself on his mix-making abilities, ending an album with the weakest track is very poor form, IMO. If I were programming the record, I'd have stuck it at the end of Side 1 where it belongs.

Hey mini -- don't forget to burn me a copy of What We Did On Our Holidays! (Or just loan it to me and I'll burn it myself) I'm assuming I'll see ya Thursday...
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