Music Notes September 2013

September 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm (Uncategorized) ()

1. Nirvana – In Utero (Twentieth Anniversary Edition)

You have to admire Nirvana for In Utero. Instead of releasing Nevermind II, they put out a much more abrasive album. How they would have evolved is a matter for conjecture given that this turned out to be the final release. Twenty years on, In Utero still sounds pretty good. The extra tracks vary from fascinating (the Steve Albini stuff for example) to things which are, well, a little harder to appreciate. Not sure if the causal fan wants this, but completists will.

2. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight The Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.

I know deluxe items can be cash-ins, but the deluxe version of this one comes as a hardcover picture book with a couple of extra songs including a lovely version of Robin Hitchcock’s “Madonna of the Wasps.” There’s also a Nico cover as part of the regular album which is interesting too. The rest of the album is Ms. Case’s blend of country-pop and torch songs. Lovely.

3. Johnny Thunders – Have Faith

Johnny Thunders was a guitarist of incredible talents, but even more incredible appetites. And those ultimately did him in. I saw Thunders a year or so after this live record was recorded, and he was dreadful. There are countless Thunders live albums both official and bootleg, but this was a pleasant surprise. A mixture of Doll, Heartbreakers, Dolls and solo stuff turn up here along with a few Bo Diddley covers and only the Stones and Dylan songs are weak. A reminder of how, beyond the junkie chic, Thunders loved rock and roll.

4. The Clash – Give Em Enough Rope

Sandwiched between The Clash and London Calling, Give Em Enough Rope is often overlooked. It’s a shame because it is a great record. From the surging opener “Safe European Home” to the Final Closer All the young Punks, the album lays out all the classic aspects of the Clash including their penchant for self-mythologizing.  Listen closely and there are clues to where the band is coming from and where they’re going to,

5. Hugh Baker and Yuval Taylor – Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music

Found this one in the discount tables at a local big box bookstore, and it seemed worth a look. The question of authenticity is dear to any fan’s heart, and especially those inhabiting a particular sub-culture. In punk, “Sell-out” was the worse insult to fling, although what exactly a sell-out is seems to vary (remember Mark P’s comment that punk died the day the Clash signed to CBS? Of course, Perry also later admitted that the first Clash album was the soundtrack to his life, so go figure.) So who really is authentic and who is a poser?

6. Tonight – “Drummer Man”

All the way back to February of 1978 when I was a little lad of 13. Tonight were “power pop” or if you prefer “new wave” TOTP band (cleaner than the punks, but borrowing some of the energy), and this was their sole hit. Not sure what they were rebelling against, but it was a nice little noise while it lasted.

7. Pup – “Reservoir”

Ferocious young Toronto punk band. Ultra-catchy but not in a sucky pop-punk way (sorry Sum 41,, blink 182 etc) : Fresh sounding hardcore for the masses. Check out their bandcamp page

8. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses demos

I know this is old news, and I plugged this when it was released a few years back, but I had a reminder of the power of music this week.  I noticed “Stones Roses” scrawled across a hand this week. A conversation led me to discover the person had just come across the band and the that the tunes were making their way through the circle. The great thing about music is that it doesn’t always have a sell by date. A great record can be discovered by new generations and sound just as fresh as when it originally came out. True these demos are not the utterly breath-taking finished versions, but they are a fascinating listen.

9. Sub Pop is 25.

Wow! The label that brought us songs by Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Metz, Sebadoah, Soundgarden, Nirvana and many many more. 25 years? Man, I’m getting old.

10. Nirvana – Live and Loud DVD

OK, if you shell out for the super-deluxe edition you get this anyway, but let’s assume you didn’t. This is a still necessary reminder of how vital a band Nirvana were live.

And spare a thought for the lads of One Direction. For at least a year, my daughter was a huge One Direction fan. Their tune echoed through the house on a daily basis. A week or so back, I picked up the  new 1-D single “Best Song Ever” My daughter was appreciative, but essentially uninterested. The thing sat by the CD player for ten days, unplayed before I returned it. Come in number seven, your time is up.

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