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Monday, July 14, 2014

Missing Persons - Rhyme And Reason (LP, 1984)

missing persons - rhyme
Missing Persons
“Rhyme And Reason”
Capitol ST-12315 [1984]

This 1984 release by well-known New Wave band Missing Persons is considered by some to be a weaker effort. Although this album might not pass muster for many of the more discriminating pop music aficionados, it does have a certain dark charm that sounds lacking on 1982's “Spring Session M” (even though Destination Unknown, Noticeable One, and several others off that album are extremely good songs that I love). “Rhyme And Reason” is an LP that I find myself returning to every once in a while and I always enjoy the experience of listening to it.

The best song on this album, in my opinion at least, is track number two: Give. This song stands out mainly because of its somewhat uncanny lyrics. Dale Bozzio sings/speaks along with the pulse and passes along advice that many have heard at one point or another. "When you're looking for an answer and nothing seems to fit, don't give up / you've gotta let your heart become the mirror of your mind, then give in" […] "don't wait for something to cause you reason, set your goal let your mind follow through / when you have something to believe in, you'll make all your dreams, all your dreams come true." These words speak volumes, at least to me. I believe that this advice would help out many of us, and I know because I’ve benefitted from this way of thinking. I’m not 100% sure what the meaning behind this song is, but the meaning that occurs most naturally to me is something that I can relate to.

The rest of the album carries a similar tone to the song previously mentioned, and can be described as moderately to heavily dark, romantic, somber, detached, cold and machine-like. This is what I appreciate the most about “Rhyme And Reason” as a whole. Missing Persons certainly didn’t go out of their way to be “friendly,” “welcoming” or “upbeat,” but that’s a strange mix of attributes that makes listening to this album a lot more interesting.

Regardless of my opinions, the enjoyability of this recording would largely come down to the listener’s mood and taste. People who rarely if ever experience the kind of mood this record is conducive for basically have no use for it. Those who do experience that “right” kind of mood should keep an open mind about what the band offers here — I think you’d find ounce or two of intrigue, if not a whole lot more.

02 - Give:


06 - Right Now:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Jack E. Leonard - Rock And Roll Music For Kids Over Sixteen (LP, 1956)

jack-e-leonard-rock-and-roll-music-for-kids-over-sixteen
Jack E. Leonard
“Rock And Roll Music For Kids Over Sixteen”
RCA Vik LX-1080, mono [1956]

A mid-fifties album with a somewhat enticing and provocative title, “Rock And Roll Music For Kids Over Sixteen” is definitely a “journey.” In many ways, it is also a freakish (but certainly lovable) artifact of the Rockabilly era, because nothing quite similar enough to it exists on this planet.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Jack E. Leonard was a comedian, and fairly well-known at that. In his time, he appeared extensively on television, recorded several albums, acted in movies, and was the narrator for The World Of Abbott And Costello (a compilation film released in 1965). Fortunately for the listener, Mr. Leonard performed this recording in a fully unrestrained fashion, and I can say with confidence that most people will get a chuckle or two, at the very least. Personally, I was cracking up the first time I spun this, as well as the second and third time. The humor is such that the content, tone AND musical structure amuse the listener equally, making it an all-around valuable record in terms of its entertainment potential.

This album carries a consistent “bad boy” theme, in the classic Rebel Without A Cause meets Fonzie kind of way. It is, however, also self-deprecating, as Mr. Leonard repeatedly refers to himself as fat, middle-aged and goofy. That’s the charm of this recording in a nutshell, though — it is quite obviously a parody album, and not meant to be taken seriously on any level.

To say a word or two about the label this album was released on, Vik Records was a subsidiary of RCA Victor, and was where most of their more “doubtful” acts (in terms of monetary potential) found their record deal. Personally, I’m a fan of Vik Records, and I find their catalogue intriguingly obscure and no less imaginative than the average mainstream release by RCA Victor. Needless to say, this album could never have matched the success of Elvis Presley or Bill Haley And His Comets, but Jackie Gleason DID write the liner notes and that counts for something, right? ;)

All in all, I think you’re in for a delightfully novel experience with this “Novelty” record, I certainly was myself. :)

02 - "Take Your Cotton Pickin' Hands Off My Leather Jacket"


06 - "Middle Aged Juvenile Delinquent"


11 - "The Genie"

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

WeirdoMusic Album Reviews

As some of you may have noticed, I've been writing album reviews for WeirdoMusic.com -- about one every five weeks or so. I thought I'd post all of those links here, though, just so that you guys can peruse conveniently. :D

So, here are all ten reviews I've written so far (in no particular order). Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Various Artists - Stroboscopica, Vol. 1: Sonorizzazioni Psycho Beat (CD, 1998)

Various Artists
"Stroboscopica, Vol. 1: Sonorizzazioni Psycho Beat"
Plastic PL 003, Italian import [1998]

Volume one of a three volume series issued by the now defunct Plastic Records of Italy, this various artist compilation features a selection of tracks sourced from late '60s and '70s Eurotrash films and B-movies. Unfortunately, this release is long out-of-print and beyond scarce, and I'd imagine that many people would have difficulty finding it for less than 50 dollars.

This album is comprised of only a handful of groups/composers, though they are fairly "big" names in their field -- Marc 4, I Gres, Freedom Power, Franco Micalizzi, I Pulsar, Alessandro Alessandroni, and Francesco De Masi. Despite that, the sounds presented here are musically diverse and cover a range of styles and moods. Speaking in terms of the music's application in film, the tracks featured here were taken from a variety of different scene clichés -- love sequences, fights, you name it, pretty much. Personally, I don't know which films these tracks were originally from. They don't give any clear details in the liner notes, and I kind of wonder whether they even researched it themselves.

Now I'm going to discuss what stands out to me the most about this CD. This collection seems to be a perfect example of how much this genre can be an "acquired taste." I say this because, for me and probably for many other listeners too, these sounds are rather unassuming. That's not to say they are unapproachable because of that, but it took me three or four plays over a period of months to finally gain appreciation for what these artists were doing. I'd imagine that most people who are not accustomed to '70s Italian B-movie soundtracks would find this "boring." Perhaps it would even put them to sleep. What actually seems to be the case, however, is that the subtleties of these tracks are what make them entertaining. The subtleties don't just jump out at you, though -- you need to search a little bit to find them.

Put simply, and in my "expert" opinion, all 16 of these tracks are first-class. All of them are "good." While this release is most certainly too esoteric and pricey for the mainstream, it presents the listener with a rich helping of unusual and exciting material for them to get lost in.

Click here to see back cover

05 - Marc 4 - Hyde Park:


16 - Francesco De Masi - Altalena Party:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Various Artists - Calvert DeForest's Erotic Experience (CD, 1999)

Various Artists
"Calvert DeForest's Erotic Experience" (CD, 1999)

This CD, a Various Artist compilation of vintage Lounge music, was released toward the end of the Space Age Bachelor Pad bubble. It did, however, come out the same year that Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me hit the box office. The songs that make up this album actually seem to be more inspired by the Austin Powers franchise and a revival of the Swingin' Sixties in the classic Mod/Rocker style.

While the contents presented here consist of a mixture between fairly well-known singles and much lesser-known obscurities, it is, as a whole, distinctive. Part of this has to do with the presence of several neo-Lounge acts (Tipsy and Combustible Edison), mostly because, in general, they have rarely been pared up with mid-century recordings (at least in the realm of professional reissues). Another aspect of its distinctiveness is the fact that the tracks chosen for this release, as a whole, haven't shown up on very many other compilation CD's from the same period or since. The listener, therefore, would most likely be getting something uncommon and fresh.

Now, let's talk about the "look and feel," since that usually says more about the character of an album than the contents alone. Truthfully, I have not been particularly impressed by this -- and I've listened to it a decent number of times over the years. Throughout the runtime of this album, the vibe that I get feels kind of like a sleazy "has-been" Vegas lounge singer; overly-moussed hair, rhinestones and all. While the cover art further intensifies this feeling, it also lends itself to probability that it's not really meant to be taken seriously. Despite the obvious camp quirkiness and tongue-in-cheek characteristics of the album cover, as well as the inclusion of Austin Powers' theme song ("Soul Bossa Nova" by Quincy Jones) and the really crappy DeForest original ("Tequila"), this irony only has so much appeal, at least to me. What ends up happening is that warmth of sound and emotion are traded for humor, and I would have preferred warmth.

Still, this album is not terrible. As a whole, it's OK -- but that's about it. I'm not saying you shouldn't enjoy it, own it, or recommend it, because it's an OK release. Personally, it's a permanent part of my collection, because sometimes it's fun to hear a song or two from it. But it's still only OK.

Track list:
  1. Tipsy - Mr. Excitement
  2. Combustible Edison - Laura's Aura
  3. Quincy Jones - Soul Bossa Nova
  4. Dusty Springfield - The Look Of Love
  5. The Bob Crewe Generation - Music To Watch Girls By
  6. Henry Mancini - Peter Gunn
  7. Michel Legrand - A Man's Castle
  8. Barbara Acklin - Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars
  9. Count Basie - Green Onions
  10. Arthur Lyman - The Shadow Of Your Smile
  11. Dick Jacobs - Saturday Music
  12. Gene Chandler - This Guy's In Love With You
  13. Young-Holt Unlimited - Light My Fire
  14. Calvert And The Craftmatics - Tequila

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays From Exciting Sounds! 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

It's that time of the year again for the "Happy Holidays From Exciting Sounds!" compilation, which means over an hour of intriguing, unusual and wildly original (read: 'exciting') sounds for your listening pleasure. ;D

For this mix, I added some classics (as in, songs that many people reading this blog would already be pretty familiar with), along with a decent amount of total rarities that many people (including obscure music fans) will probably never hear anywhere else.

So, without further a-doo-doo, here is my Christmas gift to you: 21 awesome tracks presented in a continuous-mix MP3 file. It comes in a ZIP file and includes the Exciting Sounds album cover (seen above) and a PDF file listing the artist and song names.

Hope you enjoy, and don't hesitate to leave feedback. I want people to enjoy my work, so I'm interested to know what you all are thinking and feeling. :D

Until next time, keep it exciting!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Audiophile Update For November 19, 2013

For this Audiophile Update I'd like to talk about a concept I think is very important for people with this hobby. It's something I'd like to call "Practical Audiophilia" and, in essence, it's the realization that you're doing it for music, as opposed to just superiority of the sound. Many audiophiles get so wrapped up in the technicalities that they forget they're doing it to make music (an emotional/psychological/physical experience, in and of itself) more enjoyable. Personally, I know what it feels like to be so concerned about the sound quality of what I'm listening to that the thoughts and feelings being conveyed musically no longer have an impact. In these situations, all I care about is how lossless the files are and how expensive the speakers or headphones were. Instead of it being a emotional experience, it becomes a scientific experience -- just as cold and clinical as astrology or medicine.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with high-end audio. On the contrary -- being able to hear all the nuances and full soundstage of music definitely makes it more enjoyable. There has to come a point, though, that audiophiles stop thinking about the science and completely lose themselves in the art. As for myself, I've really made an effort to give up many of my overly perfectionistic audiophile tendencies. When I listen to music, I make a point now to relate to the music, even if I'm listening to a lossy mp3 or through cheap car speakers. The technicalities of sound quality have begun to fatigue me, to a degree.

Now, I also realize that plenty of people don't have a problem separating the scientific from the artistic. They're able to deal effectively with both sides of the hobby. The purpose of this post is just to make this phenomenon known, since that's half the battle.

In short, just be aware of yourself and your tendencies. :D