36 Years Ago Today…

Nightclubbing, the fifth studio album by Grace Jones, is released. Produced by Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, The Bahamas, in early 1981. Issued as the follow up to the critically acclaimed Warm Leatherette, it is the second album Jones records with a group of musicians that includes Sly Dunbar (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Wally Badarou (keyboards), and Uziah “Sticky” Thompson (percussion). Spinning off three singles including Demolition Man (written for Grace by Sting, with The Police recording their own version later in the year), I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) and Pull Up To The Bumper (#5 R&B, #2 Club Play). It is her commercial breakthrough on a worldwide basis.

The album is also supported by the groundbreaking concept tour A One Man Show, which is filmed for a live concert video (released in 1982) and is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Video. The album is remastered and reissued as a two CD Deluxe Edition in 2014, with the first disc containing the original nine song album. The second disc features 12-inch mixes and previously unreleased tracks from the recording sessions.

Nightclubbing peaks at number nine on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number thirty two on the Top 200.

38 Years Ago Today

“Bad Girls is the seventh studio album by American singer and songwriter Donna Summer, released in April 25, 1979 on Casablanca Records. Originally issued as a double album, it incorporates such musical styles as pop, disco, soul, rock, funk and country . Bad Girls became the best-selling album of Summer’s career, achieving triple platinum sales certification in the United States, and selling over ten million copies worldwide.”

I was sorely disappointed with this album when it first came out. I couldn’t help but think, “She followed up Once Upon a Time with this?!” Even now, nearly four decades later, it fails to move me the way OUAT—or for that matter, even I Remember Yesterday or Four Seasons of Love does.

And then to have it followed only by the greatest hits album, On the Radio, which seemed like nothing more than a contractually-obligated release to end her relationship with Casablanca Records…

While Donna did put out a few very catchy, danceable songs afterward, IMHO there were never again any whole albums that spoke to me the way her mid-Casablanca releases did.

Amazing Grace

Yesterday morning while I was unloading the dishwasher, I was listening to Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing on my phone that I’d connected to the stereo in the living room. I then realized I had this gem on vinyl, and promptly got it out and set it spinning.

Oh. My. God. The difference in sound quality was astounding. Have we really all become so enured to the compressed mp3 sound that we don’t even realize what we’re missing?

Anyway, this sent me off on a Grace binge. Nightclubbing wasn’t near enough…

Sadly, I realized I do not yet have Warm Leatherette (probably my second favorite of her albums after Nightclubbing) back on vinyl yet. That will have to be rectified.

You can never have too much Grace in your life.

She’s going to be 69 this year. 2017, don’t you even think about it.

Shuffle

I was actually thinking of titling this post “Embarrassment.”

I was tagged by TheLisp to put my iPod (or other musical device/app) on shuffle and to list the first 10 songs—although i did 15 just like he did. I’m not tagging anyone because this isn’t 2006 and with only a few exceptions, I don’t know who reads this thing with any regularity or if there even are any bloggers out there anymore still doing this sort of thing.

1. Rufus Wainwright – The Art Teacher (Want 2)
2. Vangelis – Movement 10 (Mythodia)
3. Helen Reddy – I Don’t Know How To Love Him (I Am Woman)
4. Pink Floyd – When You’re In (Obscured By Clouds)
5. Art of Noise – Moments In Love (Influence: The A Side – Singles, Hits, Soundtracks And Collaborations)
6. Chris Spheeris & Paul Voudouris – Love And Understanding (Enchantment)
7. Bette Midler – My One True Friend (Bathhouse Betty)
8. Original Broadway Cast – So Long, Farewell (The Sound of Music)
9. Cake – I Will Survive (Fashion Nugget)
10. Sarah Vaughan – Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe (Sarah for Lovers)
11. Dixie Chicks – Silent House (Taking The Long Way)
12. Peter Frampton – I’m In You (Entertainment Weekly Greatest Hits 1977)
13. Les Deux Love Orchestra – Cocktail Attire (Music From Les Deux Cafés)
14. James Blunt – 1973 (All The Lost Souls)
15. New Order – Round And Round (Technique)

So there you have it.

Timely

On this date in 1971, the group Chicago released Chicago III. Somehow I had missed this particular release, both back in the day and in my rediscovery of their music in the early 2000s. What struck me tonight however as I was listening to it via Spotify was one particular song and how timely it seemed:

When All The Laughter Dies In Sorrow

When all the laughter dies in sorrow
And the tears have risen to a flood
When all the wars have found a cause
In human wisdom and in blood
Do you think they’ll cry in sadness
Do you think the eye will blink
Do you think they’ll curse the madness
Do you even think they’ll think
When all the great galactic systems
Sigh to a frozen halt in space
Do you think there will be some remnant
Of beauty of the human race
Do you think there will be a vestige
Or a sniffle or a cosmic tear
Do you think a greater thinking thing
Will give a damn that man was here?

A Beautiful Score

It’s finally here. The complete soundtrack for HBO’s Westworld Season 1. And it is amazing.

After all the music-related losses visited upon us by 2016, this is a ray of light and a vehicle through which I can escape…if only for a couple hours at a time.

Now HBO, I have only one question. When will it be available on vinyl?

Disappointed

And the worst part of it is there isn’t even anyone alive anymore whom I share this particular bit of musical history with to discuss that disappointment.

Today marks the 40th—fortieth!—anniversary of the release of Jean Michel Jarre’s seminal Oxygene, and to mark that date, Jarre has released the third and final part of his musical trilogy, Oxygene 3.

As I wrote earlierOxygene and Equinoxe (stylistically more of an heir to the title of part two of the trilogy than Oxygene 7-13—informally known as Oxygene 2) often sent me skimming over a dune sea under a double sun in my personal landspeeder whenever I heard them, so when I first learned of this new release being in the works several months ago I have to admit my heart fluttered a bit with anticipation.

But I was sorely disappointed when I first heard it earlier today. It is supposedly Jean Michel’s vision of what he would’ve done with the original album back in 1976 if he’d had today’s technology to work with. If that’s the case, I’m glad he didn’t. 

And yet I’ve had it playing on a continuous loop on Spotify, hoping that something will eventually reach out and grab me the way Oxygene did those many years ago. To be honest, it’s not a bad album as albums go, and after repeated listenings, there are a couple of tracks I actually rather like, but is not what I was expecting. There is very little of the cohesion or overall thematic consistency between cuts (or even that instantly recognizable Jarre sound) that made Oxygene, Equinoxe, Oxygene 2, or even Zoolook and Chronologie so amazing. Even Oxygene 2, released in the late 90s, shares more musical DNA with the first album than this one does.

It’s Out!

Finally, something to put a smile on my face for the next couple days!

Okay, it’s obviously not the complete soundtrack since we’re only halfway through the season, but it is a taste, and most importantly if you’ve been jonesing for the heretofore unobtainable version of Paint It, Black that so prominently featured in the series premiere, you’re in luck. It’s here.

You can hear it on YouTube and Spotify, or buy it from iTunes.

I Love This!


I’d never heard of this group until the final episode of Mr. Robot. In what was probably one of the—if not the—greatest scenes in the series that was so perfectly paired with music, The Moth & The Flame plays as Agent DiPierro walks Darlene through FBI Headquarters after a particularly intense verbal interrogation wherein Darlene mistakenly thought she had the upper hand.

Tastes Change

As I’m sure I’ve written here before, I’ve been a huge fan of Philip Glass since discovering his music via Koyaanisqatsi in 1986.

To this day there are parts of Akhnaten and Satyagraha that still send chills down my spine.

But in 1989 he released 1000 Airplanes On The Roof, a work that by all accounts I should’ve devoured, laying his music over a theme of UFOs and alien abduction (something I was way too much into at the time).

And yet, I hated it. I don’t know if I was expecting to be blown away like I was with Akhnaten or if I perceived that his style had changed too much since Koyaanisqatsi, but I was not impressed.

When the CD was stolen from my collection in 1991, I didn’t bother replacing it.

In the years since Airplanes, Glass’ music has evolved and changed—as we all have—and I’ve loved pretty much everything I’ve heard of his in the interim.

So when I was looking over my recently found “List of Stolen CDs” and noticed that Airplanes was on it, I thought, what the hell—give it another listen.

And upon hearing it again, I don’t understand why I hated it so. It doesn’t give me chills, but it is quintessential Glass.

Like Running Into An Old Friend You Haven’t Seen In Years

And so another journey down the back alleys of the internet has turned up something quite unexpected—and quite forgotten.

In the mid 1980s, right after I’d gotten my first CD player and replaced my mediocre Sony stereo equipment with some good gear (Yamaha, baby), I stumbled upon the Private Music record label. While their wares were eventually sold everywhere, it was at the audio salon (the venerable Jerry’s Audio for my Arizona readers) where I purchased the aforementioned equipment that I initially discovered them, and many of the discs became the soundtrack of my life after my relocation to San Francisco.

I don’t remember how I landed on that Wikipedia Page, but even before I’d read through the whole list of their releases, a name popped into my head—along with a song title: Eddie Jobson, Theme of Secrets.

I remembered the name and title, and was surprised when I did a search through my iTunes and came up empty. WTF? Why didn’t I have this album in my collection? Was it one of the CDs that was stolen from my apartment in 1990 and never replaced? Did I get rid of it during my purge in 2013 without ripping a copy first? It turns out Secrets wasn’t the only Private Music album curiously absent from my collection, but it was the one that proved the most difficult to find again.

When I did finally track it down and heard those notes playing, a tear came to my eye. Rediscovering once-loved-and-forgotten music really is like running into an old friend whom you haven’t seen in years.

Friday

I know I’ve posted this video previously, but damn…after going through my News and Twitter feeds today, I need something fun to counteract all the stupid. And this never fails to put a smile on my face.

My only question is why is there no official extended dance mix? Four minutes just isn’t long enough!

And since we’re on the subject…

“An already perfect song made transcendental…”

“Unsure where this came from, if not the palsied hands of the good Lord himself.”

That’s how the original author of a post described it over on that there Tumblr thingie, and I immediately recognized its source: The Blacklist soundtrack, a underrated and—as near as I can tell—basically unknown gem I found at the library a couple months ago.

Simple premise: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” slowed from 45 to 33 rpm. Nothing more; no studio trickery, no trip hop drum breaks. The guitar loops back in and around itself. The bass becomes elastic, hot rubber. The violin stabs become sustained cello lines. The backing choir’s split harmony rattles around, slinking ghostly into the corner.  And most importantly, Parton’s once-frantic vocal is transformed from bubblegum country scrawl into something approximating field holler reverence.

“An already perfect song made transcendental…”

The rest of the album is just as good—and even available on vinyl for those of you so inclined. (Yes, I ordered a copy.)

OMG

My entire collection consists of only 10 of those individual cubes and I have a hard time knowing what’s in that. As for this, I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like. But it’s beautiful, nevertheless.

Reminds me a bit of Barry Walters’ (another story for another time) collection.

One Of My All Time Favorites

While Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy is my most beloved Elton John album ever and is amazing as a whole, Better Off Dead is without a doubt my favorite cut from the whole set.