Fine Young Cannibals

 Fine Young CannibalsTalk about a brief reign as the king – these guys had it made in the chart-topping department in 1989, but now they’ve gone almost completely silent. Their self-titled first album has some of their best material on it, particularly the acoustic-guitar and sax driven Funny How Love Is and a wonderfully unpredictable song called “Couldn’t Care More” which also ranks as my favorite song by FYC. The early single “Johnny Come Home” is also here, along with a surprisingly well-executed cover of Elvis’ “Suspicious 3out of 4Minds”. I have to give this album higher marks than the later The Raw & The Cooked by a long shot. And whatever happened to these guys anyway, aside from lead singer Roland Gift’s occasional villainous guest appearances on the Highlander TV series?

Order this CD

  1. Johnny Come Home (3:35)
  2. Couldn’t Care More (3:30)
  3. Don’t Ask Me To Choose (3:05)
  4. Funny How Love Is (3:28)
  5. Suspicious Minds (3:56)
  6. Blue (3:35)
  7. Move To Work (3:26)
  8. On A Promise (3:06)
  9. Time Isn’t Kind (3:12)
  10. Like a Stranger (3:28)
  11. Johnny Come Home – extended mix (5:45)
  12. Suspicious Minds – suspicious mix (7:54)

Released by: I.R.S.
Release date: 1986
Total running time: 48:00

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

Fleetwood Mac - RumoursIf you’re going to vomit from hearing about the Fleetwood Mac album with “Don’t Stop” on it, maybe you’d better move along to the review of Mirage. Actually, I’ve always thought “Don’t Stop” and “Go Your Own Way” are both overplayed and overrated. Of much more interest to me is the classic early Lindsey Buckingham material (specifically “Second Hand News” and “Never Going Back Again”) and the fact that I actually liked Stevie Nicks’ songs on this album. I can’t tell you how much I do not like 4 out of 4her later stuff, especially once she got into the whole “Gypsy” image a little too deep. In fact, aside from those overexposed singles I mentioned above, there are few things about this album that I don’t like. The best song is easily Christine McVie’s beautiful “Songbird”.

Order this CD

  1. Second Hand News (2:43)
  2. Dreams (4:14)
  3. Never Going Back Again (2:02)
  4. Don’t Stop (3:11)
  5. Go Your Own Way (3:38)
  6. Songbird (3:20)
  7. The Chain (4:28)
  8. You Make Loving Fun (3:31)
  9. I Don’t Want To Know (3:11)
  10. Oh Daddy (3:54)
  11. Gold Dust Woman (4:51)

Released by: Warner Bros.
Release date: 1977
Total running time: 39:03

Ralf Illenberger – Circle

Ralf Illenberger - CircleIf you haven’t heard of this guy, you’re in a sadly deprived majority. Illenberger’s probably the best white jazz guitarist working today, and his style is truly unique. Whatever it is he does, it achieves wonderfully listenable results. His agility with a good riff salvages most of this album from ever being background music. And it’s still probably his best overall album to date. The album’s title track is a wonder of multi-tracked guitars which wander in a sort of musical circle, a theme which pops up throughout the album rating: 4 out of 4and is best exemplified in “Gemina”. “Blue Darkness” and “Ballad” are two other amazing pieces of music. Definitely one for my Damn Near Perfect Album List, and I strongly urge you to seek it out and get hooked on Ralf.

Order this CD

  1. Horizons I (5:15)
  2. Blue Darkness (4:56)
  3. Big Change (6:19)
  4. Jump (5:31)
  5. Gemina (4:28)
  6. Moonfood (3:21)
  7. Nightflight (6:25)
  8. Ballad (3:49)
  9. Horizons II (4:24)

Released by: Narada
Release date: 1988
Total running time: 44:45

Tim Finn

Tim FinnThis is one of an elite handful of items to make my DNP Album list, and with good reason – it’s bloody fantastic. The ten songs on here are all safe in the hands of Tim Finn, and the album was produced by Mitchell Froom, who also produced the first three Crowded House albums. His expertise and Tim’s performances are a perfect match, and the songs aren’t bad either. The exotic southern Pacific and Indian percussion and instrumentation are used just enough to give this album a texture unlike anything I’ve ever 4 out of 4heard before. Listen close for “Tears Inside”, “Crescendo”, “Not Even Close”, “How’m I Gonna Sleep” and “Young Mountain”. And the other half of the album isn’t bad either! Highest recommendations – one of the finest pop/rock albums I’ve ever heard.

Order this CD

  1. Young Mountain (4:19)
  2. Not Even Close (4:19)
  3. How’m I Gonna Sleep (3:56)
  4. Parihaka (4:20)
  5. Tears Inside (4:04)
  6. Birds Swim, Fish Fly (3:25)
  7. Suicide On Downing St. (3:32)
  8. Show A Little Mercy (4:01)
  9. Crescendo (4:18)
  10. Been There, Done That (4:07)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1989
Total running time: 40:21

Alan Parsons Project – I, Robot

Alan Parsons Project - I, RobotThis album set the pace for the Alan Parsons Project for the remainder of the 1970s, though in a way it pales in comparison to most of the rest of the Project’s output. A theme album about a grim, technology-dominated future, I, Robot suffers a fate uncommon to most other Parsons albums – it suffers from being a product of its time. The result is a disco leaning that is hard to swallow – most of the attempts at disco on this album aren’t even necessarily skillful! At the same time, you probably remember the single “Breakdown” from this album, as well as a song that Pat Benatar later covered, “Don’t Let It Show”. This latter song begins a fine tradition on Parsons’ albums, what I call the Parsons Heartbreaker – very somber, poignant songs that have a tendency to deposit a lump in the throat of the listener. “Don’t Let It Show” features the recently deceased trying to deliver one last message back to the world of the living, and even with a hint of hopefulness, it’s a depressing song – even the cathedralesque organ in the tune’s opening seconds seems to transport you to a chapel full of people dressed in black. If you can 3 out of 4survive this song, the rest of the album is listenable, if somewhat average. At the time, it must’ve been an amazing sound – 1977 was a good year for orchestrated rock between this album and ELO’s Out Of The Blue. This album also features the first lead vocal by Project cofounder Eric Woolfson, whose Orbisonesque vocals you’ll probably remember from later hits “Eye In The Sky” and “Time”.

    Order this CD in the Store

  1. I, Robot (6:01)
  2. I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You (3:23)
  3. Some Other Time (4:05)
  4. Breakdown (3:53)
  5. Don’t Let It Show (4:25)
  6. The Voice (5:24)
  7. Nucleus (3:22)
  8. Day After Day (The Show Must Go On) (3:57)
  9. Total Eclipse (3:13)
  10. Genesis Ch. I v. 32 (3:24)

Released by: Arista
Release date: 1977
Total running time: 41:07

The Jeff Lynne Years, 1968-1973

A Message From The Country - The Jeff Lynne Years, 1968-1973This is a handy collection of some of the earliest recorded works by my favorite performer/songwriter in all of rock ‘n’ roll, Jeff Lynne of ELO fame. Even in the late 60’s tunes he wrote for his band Idle Race, it’s easy to hear the Lennon/McCartney influences – actually not so much easy to hear them, but impossible to miss them. In some cases, the quirky melodies and harmonies almost hit one over the head with their Beatle-ish-ness – at this early stage in his career, Lynne probably had yet to incorporate musical influences other than his beloved Fab Four into his work. Still, while much of the Move and ELO music on this album can be heard elsewhere (and, indeed, are reviewed elsewhere here), the 4 out of 4Idle Race songs are truly well-crafted for their time, and considering that Lynne was just venturing into songwriting. “Follow Me Follow”, “Girl At The Window” and especially “Come With Me” – the latter with more than a little George Harrison flavor – are exceptional, and “The Birthday Party”, which was Lynne’s first outing as a producer and also his first experience with a string section, is particularly interesting.

Order this CD

  1. Do Ya (4:05 – The Move, 1972)
  2. The Minister (4:30 – The Move, 1971)
  3. Girl at the Window (3:46 – Idle Race, 1969)
  4. Roll Over Beethoven (4:35 – ELO, 1972)
  5. Words of Aaron (5:28 – The Move, 1971)
  6. Mr. Radio (5:05 – ELO, 1971)
  7. The Skeleton and the Roundabout (2:21 – Idle Race, 1968)
  8. Message From the Country (4:48 – The Move, 1971)
  9. Come With Me (2:45 – Idle Race, 1969)
  10. Morning Sunshine (1:49 – Idle Race, 1968)
  11. 10538 Overture (5:42 – ELO, 1971)
  12. Happy Birthday/The Birthday (3:24 – Idle Race, 1968)
  13. No Time (3:42 – The Move, 1971)
  14. Showdown (4:11 – ELO, 1973)
  15. In Old England Town (6:53 – ELO, 1972)
  16. Big Chief Wooly Bosher (5:17 – Idle Race, 1969)
  17. Queen of the Hours (3:24 – ELO, 1971)
  18. Follow Me Follow (2:46 – Idle Race, 1968)

Released by: EMI
Release date: 1989
Total running time: 74:31

Peter Gabriel – So

Peter Gabriel - SoThis album, and the singles “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time”, were my first real exposure to Peter Gabriel, which is the case with a lot of people. This is easily Gabriel’s most accessibly mainstream album, but even with that in mind, it bears more than a casual listen. And it’s still my favorite, mainly due to simple personal-significance-in-my-life sort of reasons. But while this may be Peter’s most mainstream album, featuring as it did the singles “Sledgehammer” and the nutso “Big Time” (which therefore makes the latter my favorite of the two), it also has my all-time favorite Gabriel tune, a haunting little number called “Mercy Street” which to this day sends shivers down my spine. How much of that is the song itself and how much is actually just the instinctive correlation between hearing the song and remembering certain events in my life, I can’t tell, because I can’t separate them anymore. Whenever I seek a profound personal catharsis, I put my headphones on, crank the volume, and sing along as best I can. Again, whew. Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, Laurie Anderson also does a guest vocal on the memorable “This Is The Picture”.

4 out of 4While I give this album my highest recommendations and include it on my DNP Album List, it has one other distinction not shared by many of the other albums I’ve enjoyed and reviewed – it is incredibly important to me personally. Thank you, Pete.

Order this CD

  1. Red Rain (5:39)
  2. Sledgehammer (5:16)
  3. Don’t Give Up (6:33)
  4. That Voice Again (4:53)
  5. In Your Eyes (5:29)
  6. Mercy Street (6:21)
  7. Big Time (4:30)
  8. We Do What We’re Told: milgram’s 37 (3:22)
  9. This is the Picture: excellent birds (4:18)

Released by: Geffen
Release date: 1986
Total running time: 46:21