System of a Tori

I have a couple of CD purchases to talk about.

System of a Down – Toxicity

I dropped by a Book Off I had not been to in a while and was chuffed to find this “limited edition” bonus CD version for only 280 yen. I already have this album as an iTunes download (does anyone use iTunes to buy music anymore?), so I was happy to get this on CD.

The bonus CD disc has a making-of video, which you can watch here if you are curious.

It is an excellent album, but all of their albums are really. It is just a pity that while they are still touring they have not released a new album for a very long time now. This is apparently because Serj, the vocalist, is mucking about while the rest of the band are keen to record again… musicians for you.

Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes

This album came out in 1992, and I probably bought it in the same year, or thereabouts. I really liked it at the time, but the album and I parted ways years later for reasons unknown. But, just a few days ago I thought it would be good to listen to it again, so I found it used on Amazon and it arrived a couple of days ago.

After listening to it I realised that I had forgotten most of it, the only familiar track was “Crucify”. I must say I was a little underwhelmed by the rest of the album, it is good, but my jumbled mind seems to have held it on a higher pedestal. It needs more listens though.

Tori released her 15th album in 2017, I must check that out, as well as some of her other albums.

Music count 2019: 6

Library Listens: O.G. Original Gangster

An idea suddenly appeared in my head that I should review various albums from my library of CDs, just for fun, and to see how the music stands up. And in my never-ending quest for knowledge it will give me a chance to learn more about my favourite artists. I chose this album because I am listening to it as I type, and I like Ice-T, he is dope.

This was released in 1991, which I didn’t really need to look up, it was ingrained in my brain for some esoteric reason. Actually 1991 was quite a year for music with the release of albums such as Nirvana’s Nevermind, Achtung Baby from U2, Badmotorfinger from Soundgarden, and Bandwagonesque from Teenage Fanclub, and I have all of those in my collection. There were plenty more.

It peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Chart, and number 9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Reviews in the day were mostly good, NME liked it a lot saying ” Ice-T’s best shot yet; riotous vignettes from a decaying America full of devious humour and striking pathos – all those things NWA profess to be but clearly aren’t.”

Select magazine, a now defunct mostly Britpop-oriented magazine, (the term “Britpop” was actually coined by one of the writers there), said: “Three tracks “Mind Over Matter”, “The Tower” and “The House” are outstanding while “much of the rest relies on a well-tested recipe of looped breakbeats and linear drums.” and that the album’s themes function “better as manifesto than as music”.

I remember buying this, probably in 1991 or 1992, and liking it a lot. It was refreshing stuff, and was probably the first Gangsta Rap album I ever bought. The only other rap bands I liked in those days were Public Enemy, Eric B. and Rakim, Run D.M.C., and the Beastie Boys of course. I still listen to all of them regularly.

And I still like this album a lot, nothing changes with Ice-T. Good beats, lots of attitude, and funny at times. There are plenty of tracks too, 24 in all. I have a couple of other of his albums, but this one is always the bomb. The album artwork though is not the best.

If you want to see a good documentary then check out Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap. Ice directed and produced this in 2012 and it is about how rap artists go about their trade. He visited rap luminaries all over the U.S. such as Q Tip, Chuck D, Eminem, Kanye West, and Rakim. Ice is obviously a nice fellow, and is good on camera.

I have never seen Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but I imagine he is good in that.

Ice is also in Body Count, a thrash metal band, and they are pretty good too.

Ice-T has a few children from different partners, and is currently married to an ex-swimsuit model. They have a four year old daughter named Chanel Nicole Marrow, and they all seem to be happy. He is 61.

To end these posts off I have decided that I must find a photo of the musician taken with Lemmy, and Ice-T did indeed meet Lemmy. The other homey is from Ugly Kid Joe.

JPEGMAFIA x Freaky – The 2nd Amendment

I bought JPEGMAFIA’s “Veteran” album on Bandcamp a while ago and liked it, so I thought I would get this ,too.

The music is a mixture of rap and hip-hop, and is also tagged as punk rap on Bandcamp. The lyrics are political or race related, with the rappers always sounding quite angry.

Overall it doesn’t really grab me much, JPEGMAFIA’s “Veteran” album is much better. But, for only US$5 I am not complaining at all.

The best track also has a video…

Music count 2019: 4

Kretchmer – Music in the Key of Minor

Doing a random search of good music to find on Bandcamp I came across this November 2018 release, and as it was only two pounds I thought it was worth a try.

This release is tagged as “detroit techno” as well as “electronic” on Bandcamp. The musician though is from Nottingham, and has only one other release titled “Music in the key of Major”, from 2016.

The music is nothing overly special, but quite listen able, and some of the song titles are amusing such as the first track which is called “Thinkin’ bout that galaxy, far, far, away”, and the last track “If we die, they live, a win-win situation ver 3.1471”.

Take a listen for yourself here. Using my fave music tracking website LastFM I found that I am one of only 49 people listening to Kretchmer, which puts me in an elite group I suppose.

Music count 2019: 3

Leningrad Cowboys – Total Balalaika Show

This is a CD album I have been seeking out for years, but I was just not able to find it anywhere here. It is available on Amazon Japan used for the nutters price of 20,000 yen (NZ$263, US$181)…some people!

Doing a search for it elsewhere was not getting far until I came across it on Discogs for the very fair price of 7.50 Euros. A chap in Germany was selling it, and I immediately bought it. Postage was also 7.50 Euro, but I was more than happy to pay it. It arrived this morning, only four days after it was posted in Deutschland.

I have heard this album several times before, but it was not very good quality, and as I enjoy the album so much it was my main purpose in life to find it on CD.

It is a live concert of the Leningrad Cowboys and the Red Choir, recorded in Helsinki in 1993. The sound quality is superb, and there are two discs worth of rock ‘n’ roll along with traditional Russian songs. There was also a DVD of the concert released, you can watch them perform the song “Delilah” here. I may consider getting the DVD too one day.

Unfortunately one of the songs did not rip well due to a slight scratch on the disc, so I am bummed about that, but it ain’t no big thing. And our pet bird, who recently loves to munch on paper, bit a small chunk out of the back CD liner (the CD was sent without the plastic case to save on postage costs). So if you have a bird just be aware of this potential situation.

An excellent listen, and my all-time favourite live album.

Edit: I ripped the song that was messed up again, this time using error correction, and it worked out just fine. Yay!

Music count 2019: 2

The 23rd Grammy Awards

The 23rd Grammy Awards were held on February 25th at Radio City Hall, New York.

Christopher Cross was a big winner, getting Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. All of this for his “Christopher Cross” album (released in 1979), and the song “Sailing”. He was the first artists to win all four of these awards in one Grammy show.

Click on the image to hear the song

Best Comedy Recording went to Rodney Dangerfield for his No Respect.

Best Instrumental Composition and Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special both went to John Williams for The Empire Strikes Back. Totally deserved.

Best Country Vocal Performance, Female went to Anne Murray for her song “Could I Have This Dance?”, again totally deserved.

Anne released her final album in 2007, and her last tour was in 2008. She is 73 now, and seems to be taking life easy.

“On the Road Again” won Best Country Song, a given really. Willie released an album last year called “My Way”…

He is still touring, even at the age of 85. If he was to come to Japan I would certainly go see him.

Moody’s Mood” snagged George Benson the award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male. George has won ten awards in all in the Grammy Awards. George also won Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male for “Give Me The Night”, an excellent choice there. I must buy a George album on vinyl.

Best Album Package was for the Against the Wind performed by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band.

Click on the image to listen

Kenny Loggins won Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male for his song “This Is It”. Kenny is now 71, and released his last album back in 2009. He seems to be doing charity work these days.

Pat Benetar won Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female for her album “Crimes of Passion”. Here is perhaps her most well known song from the album…

Her last album was in 2003, but she is still touring.

Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male went to Billy Joel for his “Glass Houses” album. The album sold 7.1 million copies. His last album was in 2001, but he is still touring.

I wouldn’t say it was a stellar year for the Grammy Awards, but there were some decent winners there.

If you click here you will see the top albums for 1980 in which the only Grammy winner to appear was Billy Joel. Clicking here will show you a list of number one albums in New Zealand in 1980 (and beyond), and here for England just for comparison.

Here are the top singles for 1980, many classic tracks there, but my pick of the lot would have to be “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc.

That song would turn out to be their one and only major hit, and they disbanded in 1985. It was a huge hit though, with the single going platinum in the same year it was released.

Some other albums from 1980 included “Remain In Light” by Talking Heads, “End of the Century” by The Ramones, “Pretenders” by The Pretenders, “Black Sea” by XTC, “Songs the Lord Taught Us ” by The Cramps, and “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” by the Dead Kennedys.

Old Skool Grime

I have been curious about Grime music recently, so I decided to find out what it is all about by purchasing this Bandcamp compilation of “old skool grime” by a chap named DJ Perry D. It cost only 95 pence.

There are 36 tracks and I got through ten of them before I had too much. Even though all of the songs are by different artists, they all sounded the same and the music is really in your face kind of stuff, so it wears you down a bit. I wouldn’t say the music is bad, but it does get a bit much.

Here are a couple of examples…

For 95p I am not complaining at all, but from now on I will listen to a maximum of five tracks at a time.

Music count 2019: 1