Superchunk – What a Time to be Alive

It is Christmas Day, but then again it is not because December 25th is just another working day here. So, to cheer myself up I need to write a blog post about one of my fave bands. This is Superchunk’s eleventh album, and this is a Bandcamp purchase at only US$9.

Superchunk usually play uplifting and happy songs, and this album is no different. The lyrics though do deal with some seriousness and angst, and the music itself is quite loud and raw, but it is still happy and catchy. I like it a lot.

Click here to listen to the title track.

Bit of a short post, but I have plenty more music to write about, so more later.

Music count 2018: 107

The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins

This is a 1970 short documentary by Les Blank about Lightnin’ Hopkins, a blues guitarist from Texas.

Les just follows Lightnin’ around as he does his thing, and films him singing the blues. There is no narration at all, just Lightnin’ talking about what the blues means to him, and tells the occasional story. One story he told was of his car breaking down at the side of a road in North Carolina. A policeman turns up and tells him he can’t be parked there, but Lightnin’ says the car can’t move. The policeman takes him to the town butcher, who is also the local judge. Upon hearing his story (with Lightnin’ getting a bit sassy), the judge fines him $500 ($3500 in today’s money) on the spot. Lightnin’ laughed it all off after telling the story, and said black men should never go to North Carolina.

There is great footage of people going about their own business in the dusty old town they live in. There is also footage at a rodeo, and at a BBQ where Lightnin’ entertains.

From Uncut: Although initially keen on the idea, Lightnin’ Hopkins soon tired of the process of documentary film-making. After playing ten songs for Blank and his camera, after only one day’s filming, Hopkins ordered Blank back to California. Whereupon, with the camera off, the men began playing cards. Blank lost, and lost again. The more money he lost to his subject, in fact, the more Hopkins began to see the virtue of keeping the young documentarian around.

Very simple film making, but it is fascinating to watch, and has plenty of blues.

Date watched: December 21st
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 85

Chick Corea – Return to Forever

This was pretty much a random purchase from Good Times a few months back, but I knew that if it was from the Chickers then it must be a decent listen, which is what it turned out to be.

I found this in the “jazz fusion” box, which is where I have bought most of my jazz records so far. Actually, I am hoping to buy an album I saw in the same box tomorrow. Jazz fusion is boss.

The songs are quite relaxing to listen to and has a nice mix of electronic piano, flute, saxophone, and female vocals. It is the kind of music you would expect to hear in some boutique shop such as a shop that sells handmade candles or fancy muffins. Side one has only three songs, and side two just one 22 minute song.

Stanley Clarke plays on the album which is an added bonus. Chickers plays the electronic piano. Each individual instrument has it’s own place in the stereo landscape. For example the drums and the flute are in the right channel, and Chickers is pretty much on his own in the left channel, while Stan and the vocals are right in the middle.

The record and album cover are in minty condition.

Good music to chill out to.

Music count 2018: 106
Total vinyl count: 23

Stanley Clarke – Modern Man

I bought this a few weeks back on vinyl, from Good Times

Click on the cover to listen to the title track.

I bought his self-titled album a while ago, and liked it so much that I wanted more. So, when I saw this I bought it, no questions asked.

Unfortunately though it is a little disappointing. It is supposed to be a jazz fusion album, but to me it sounds more like a mix of disco and funk, and in fact it came out in a still very disco 1978. There are plenty of horns, disco-guitars, and various singers, along with piano and Stan’s funky bass playing. But, it just doesn’t do it for me, as much as I like Stan and disco, the two just don’t go together for me. Reviews on the Interwebs are also quite mixed.

The vinyl, cover, and insert are all in minty condition, all good there. It is a Japanese pressing.

I do like the cover though, Stan was a cool customer back in those days.

Stan’s best album cover.
This one is cool, too.

I am sure though this is just a blip in the Stan catalogue, so I shall continue seeking out more of his albums, those two above albums especially.

Stan has a great website, check it out.

Music count 2018: 105
Total vinyl count: 22

Saturday Night Fever

Not only is this an interesting and amazing film, but it also has one of the best film soundtracks around, which is why I snapped this up a few weeks back when I found it.

Six of the seventeen tracks on this double-album are Bee Gees tracks, pretty much all of their major hit songs with tracks like “Stayin’ Alive”, “Night Fever”, and “Jive Talkin'”. Other bands include Kool & The Gang, K.C. And The Sunshine Band, David Shire, and The Trammps. The film score tracks by David Shire though are not that great, they let down the album a bit, but the rest is pure disco gold.

The vinyl is is excellent condition and the cover is not too bad and includes the “obi” (the strip on the cover) which seems to be advantageous to have whether buying or selling a used record here. I got it for around 800 yen.

Fave track on the album is the 10 min 50 sec version of “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps.

Next, I want to find the “Staying Alive” soundtrack.

Music count 2018: 104
Total vinyl count: 21

Heavy Metal Britannia

This is another of the Britannia series of documentaries, the previous one I watched was Synth Britannia, which I wrote about a couple of posts back.

In this we follow heavy metal from it’s very early beginnings in England with bands like Budgie, Deep Purple, and of course Black Sabbath. There are plenty of interviews with many people including Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Lemmy, and Ozzy. And there is plenty of interesting footage and photos.

I learned a few interesting things such as how the term “heavy metal” was coined by William H. Burroughs in his “Naked Lunch” book. Steppenwolf then used it in their song “Born To Be Wild”. However, to check the story on the interwebs I came up with this article which tells a different and not conclusive tale.

I also learned that it was Judas Priest who started the whole leather, gun belts, and plenty-of-studs look that defined how a heavy metal band should look. And I learned that many of these heavy metal chaps are quite nice fellows who just love what they do…always the best way to be. Rob Halford is a very likeable fellow, and Ozzy is just plain funny.

Rob Halford

Definitely a must-watch for metal fans, and an education for those who know little about one of the happiest forms of music there is (I can attest to that).

Date watched: October 28th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 71

Van Halen – Fair Warning

This was an album I had my eyes on for a while, but I passed it over for other albums such as the Abba album I bought a while ago. But, finally I succumbed and it has been in my collection for a few weeks now.

I am not a huge fan of Van Halen, but songs like “Jump” and “Hot For Teacher” are just too catchy to not like. This is their fourth album and does not have any tracks that most people would know unless they are V.H. fans, although “Unchained” is quite familiar.

It came out in 1981, three years before 1984 which is the album that had aforementioned songs and made Van Halen super-duper-stars. This album though is a very Van Halen-sounding album and has some good tracks. I just find it to be a decent but not essential listen. I am listening to it as I type, and I am actually getting into it as I bash on the keys, so perhaps I am warming to it.

The record and album cover are both in near-new condition. It is a Japanese pressing.

I am getting behind in my record posts, I have at least four more to write about, so I will get onto that.

Music count 2018: 103
Total vinyl count: 20