I admit, and without shame, that I hail prog rock. I was an early fan of Caravan, Soft Machine, ELP, Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, at al. But even with my insatiable appetite for all things progressive, I did not know of this Irish quartet. Formed in Belfast in 1971 by guitarist Vince McCusker along with the classically trained Stephen Houston on keyboards, oboe and cello, Peter Farrelly on bass, flute and vocals, and Martin Foye on drums, percussion, this highly skilled quartet released four albums. Their fourth and final album Modern Masquerades was even produced by King Crimson/Foreigner member Ian McDonald. (The weird band name was taken from a Lectreset sheet.) They even toured with King Crimson, but never gained the foothold that Fripp and his cohorts did. And so they languished in obscurity, the fringe of the very profound UK prog movement, yet every bit as dynamic, unique, and exciting as any of the aforementioned bands. And definitely every bit deserving of success. The band played hundreds of shows and finally folded up shop in 1976. One would think that was the end, but thanks to the passion of Robert Cochrane and Nigel Wade and only five decades later, it is here for us to enjoy. Said show had originally been recorded with the intention to release it as a live LP, but the master tapes were lost in a fire. And what of the music? Recorded on Dec. 6th, 1975 at the Friar's club in Aylesbury, UK, it's an audience bootleg -- that traveled from Europe to Africa but finally found its way to the Fruupp Facebook user group -- with pretty decent sound; all the instruments and vocals can be heard without fault. It is well-worth your time to discover Fruupp.
David Poe: Everyone's Got a Camera (ECR Music Group)
I met David back at CB's Gallery when he mixed sound. I would often see him play solo or with his band and was constantly knocked out by his songs, vocals, and lyrics. Total package. He was always consistent. So it was no surprise that his latest release, his sixth, would continue that trend. As some readers of this site may recall, I picked the leadoff track of this album "People Clap Hands" as my single of the month back in February. I'm happy to report that uptempo track remains one of my favorite songs of the year. And now LA-based singer/songwriter Poe has released this wonderful 12-song collection of undeniably must-hear songs. Tracks like "Post," "Gun for a Month," and "Selfie" add handclaps to keep the vibe forward moving and memorable; it's def a clever percussive addition. And if you want ballads try not to feel the nostalgic and sophisticated folk-pop vibe of "Change So Fast" with David's lovely acoustic guitar finger picking and muted trumpet solo. Just a killer track. Moreover, the piano driven ballad "Goodbye Ballerina" boasts a timeless feel with its mournful cello line and David's heartfelt lyrics and harmony vocals. I would suggest that you buy/listen to this album today. Its rewards far outweigh the time you might spend listening to something you've already heard.
R.E.M. Chronic Town EP (I.R.S.)
Back in the early '80s I was at a rather sedate party on the Upper West Side/NYC when someone slipped a cassette into my friend's stereo system. The blast of jangly rock hit me, and everyone else in the apartment, immediately -- familiar yet alien. People started to dance to a song they'd never heard before. What was this new rock sound with the swirling, jangly guitars, indecipherable vocals, and steady rock beat? As I quickly would come to find out it was new quartet from Athens, Georgia produced by Mitch Easter. An undeniable juggernaut. A band for our young generation. This would become the "sound" of college radio. "Wolves, Lower" kicks things off with aplomb... and the rest was history. Thankfully, 40 years on and a proper stand-alone CD of this majestic EP has been released. (I own the vinyl version, too. Sooo good.) It remains stuck in my car's CD player on perpetual repeat. And I never get tired of their jangle rock majesty cuz "box cars are pulling out of town"... and you didn't and still don't want to be left behind.
Now available on new remixed/remastered splatter-green vinyl, lead vocalist Jello Biafra and his band's (guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Flouride, and drummer Ted) infamous debut has arrived in all of its aurally excitable glory. Boasting a new remix by mastering guru Chris Lord-Agee (Green Day, Bruce Springsteen, Chaka Kahn, Joe Cocker) with extensive liner notes, unseen photos, and an essay by former DK tour manager and journalist Amy Linden. She sums them up brilliantly: "The band's creative m.o. -- left leaning politics, mordant humor, gonzo imagery (What the hell do suede denim secret police want with your uncool niece, for Christ sake?), and muscular instrumentation. There is no other band that sounded like the DKs." While the 1980 mix remains available and a timeless classic, this new remix is one that needs sharing and played on vinyl immediately.