Monday, August 8, 2011

ABC (where A=2)

The funny thing about the first in a series -- it always reads as a teaser. That is, once we know something is "in a series," if we care about it at all, it is as an introduction to the rest. The first is a placeholder for/pointer to the second. And so, both naturally and perversely, in this first alphabetical post I will be looking at follow-ups.

During the course of a non-writing project that I have been engaged in of late, I have had to retrieve the old hard drive from my now long-unusable iMac to get all of my lost music files into usable and listenable shape. Which I have mostly done. You know what? Even though I can't listen to it while I read much less while I write, I like music. Thus this series of posts taken from the iTunes library of that seven year-old hard drive, beginning with a bit about bloat (see? already, the second ("B, for bloat"), in this post about the first), since it's really the subject of all of my posts. What better place to start than A, for Adverts?

The Adverts released "Crossing the Red Sea with The Adverts," their debut album, in 1978. Yes, it is great:

[Note: despite certain resemblances to clips used in NEVERLAND, I did not direct this video]

Not convinced?

The Adverts stuck around just long enough to record a second album, "Cast of Thousands," which wasn't exactly a hit with the band's fans. The band (or really, the producer, who had also produced Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" -- for a reminder of which song, rewatch "The Exorcist") added synthesizers to their fairly simple sound, and voila! A dud, with all of the excess the 70s could muster. Before CDs became antiquated, too, I had to go to England before I found a copy of "Cast of Thousands," and though various singles and tracks from "Crossing the Red Sea" show up on punk anthologies pretty regularly, you probably won't hear a single song from "Cast of Thousands" except on the album itself. What I'm trying to say is: it's a little obscure. But it's also great:

[Hell, the only studio version on youtube skips -- ignore that, though, and search out a good version. It's worth the trouble. As I was to find, nearly every song from "Cast..." on youtube skips, hence the holes below. So much for proof. You'll just have to take my word.]

If endorsements are important, Henry Rollins really digs "My Place." Don't let that stop you, though. My money's on "I Looked at the Sun" ("Give me insect sex/I'll be happy again") or "I Surrender."

The Buzzcocks evaded the sophomore slump by releasing both of their first two records in 1978. But they then followed those up with "A Different Kind of Tension" in 1979, an album which is mostly un-anthologized (with certain exceptions, of course) and generally overlooked in favor of those two 1978 records. It is also my favorite of the bunch, and that's largely because of the ridiculously bloated B side of the album. There's "Hollow Inside," which stretches the one arpeggio out about as far as it can possibly go:

And there's "A Different Kind of Tension," of course:

Followed up by the longest one, "I Believe"


The Clash didn't really get bloated until their third album, either (but then, it was a double LP), but, production-wise, their second album "Give Em Enough Rope" shows what happens when cash happens to good people. Reputedly, Sandy Pearlman (the album's producer, but also the producer of most of the Dictators albums, so don't talk too much shit about him) didn't like Joe Strummer's voice, so he buried it underneath the drums. Exhibit A, "Safe European Home"

Sandy? You hearing the same Joe Strummer as I am? The same Joe Strummer as here, on "Drug-Stabbing Time?"

Or ""Guns on the Roof?"

The Clash were destined for far more bloat ("Sandinista." 'nuff said). Still, "Give Em Enough Rope" is without question my favorite Clash album.

Back in a few days with B. Don't wait up.

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