Friday, 2 November 2012

Weekly Mail Bag 10/29/12 - 11/02/12

A look at what came in the mail this week with quickie reviews ...

Bison, Bison - ST - Already reviewed this one but the actual CD came through the mail today.  I ordered it October 14, so it only took about two weeks and a bit to come in.  Not too shabby at all.  It came with a couple of stickers, one of which had a nice little hand written note (thank you).  Again, at only $7 on their bandcamp page, this package is well worth picking up.  Support a very good new band.  Highlights include "Sweetish" and "Waiting for Saturn". Rating - 4/5

Black Sabbath - Technical Ecstasy - Never owned this album, til now.  Only ever listened to it in one sitting, once before.  The kind of album that improves if you forget who's doing it.  Not exactly Sabbath's finest moment, but not as bad as initially thought, this album finds Sabbath toying with their brilliant sound to mixed results.  But after all, it's still Sabbath. Highlights include "It's Alright" and "Back Street Kids". Rating - 3.5/5

Bonzo Dog Band - The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse - Their second and best album, the Bonzos were always more than a novelty act and this album proves it.  Getting slightly away from the pure comedy songs, and more into straightforward songwriting.  I've listened to this album a lot and it hasn't gotten old yet.  First time I've had it on CD though.  Highlights include "We Are Normal" and "Humanoid Boogie". Rating - 4/5

Electric Light Orchestra - ST - This is an album that truly stands alone in the canon of rock.  Basically when The Move decided to become a string quartet (with drums) they made this album, which sounds nothing like ELO's later stuff (or anything else really).  Eleanor Rigby's got nothing on this.  Highlights include "Look At Me Now" and "10538 Overture". Rating - 4.5/5

Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera - ST - This band took forever to grow on me but once they got their hooks in me I couldn't fight it.  They're catchy, intelligent, sometimes funny and nearly every song on here is a standout.  They fluctuate between the wimpier and more muscular side of British psychedelia, but when they do rock, they rock pretty hard. Highlights include "Flames" and "Mary Jane". Rating - 4/5

The Factory - Path Through the Forest - I can't honestly recommend this one or claim that it's worth the money for any but the biggest music dorks.  At 7 tracks (one an alternate mix / 6 songs) 24 minutes and $14 it's not worth it.  But it does feature two of the greatest singles of the original psychedelic era, which sure satisfies me. Highlights include "Path Through the Forest" and "Try a Little Sunshine". Rating - 4/5
The Gods - Genesis - Though their constituent members would go on to join The Rolling Stones, Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, among others, this band actually offers a surprisingly wimpy sound.  Very much on the light side of British psychedelia, there's still some pretty good songs here.  I can't say it's for everyone though. Highlights include "Farthing Man" and "Looking Glass". Rating - 3/5

Led Zeppelin - II - I mentioned last week that I never had this album, because I've never needed it.  It's one of those cultural artifacts that's always around.  Somebody's got it at the house or in the car, and now I do.  Every song's a classic.  As much as I love 'Houses of the Holy' and 'Physical Graffiti', this is their best album.  Highlights include: "What Is And What Should Never Be" and "Thank You".  Rating - 5/5

Monster Magnet - Monolithic Baby! - Monster Magnet never disappoints.  Okay, maybe they have, but I'm over it now and  making up for lost time.  The first half of this album is balls to the wall rock.  But what starts off rocking hard eventually falters and stumbles into second act problems.  And there were programmed drums here as I was originally worried.  Highlights include "Slut Machine" and "Supercruel". Rating - 3.5/5

Mos Generator - Nomads -  Came in via Ripple music with a nice handwritten thank you note, which is much appreciated, a sampler CD (thanks!), a sticker, and a printed and folded 'zine style flyer of other releases.  It's little extra goodies like this that really make it worth supporting the actual small labels (who do appreciate your support) than going right to Amazon.  Thanks a lot guys, much appreciated. Review to follow.

Octopus - Restless Night - One of the truly underrated albums of the original psychedelic era (probably because it came out too late (1971), this album features some of the best hooks you're likely to hear.  The single "The River" b/w "Thief" is one of the greatest singles of all time and the album cover is amazing.  The rest of the album is pop psych in the Badfinger vein.  Highlights include "The River" and "Thief". Rating - 4.5/5

Pale Divine - Painted Windows Black - Another Soggy Bog of Doom Traditional Doom Special discovery.  This is a high powered album from a band at equal strength when playing fast or slow: compare "Nocturne Dementia" to "End of Days".  But I don't like the virtuosic guitar gymnastics ... I love them.  Highlights include "Black Coven" and "Nocturne Dementia".  Rating - 3.5/5

Skip Bifferty - The Story of Skip Bifferty - Another band that took a while to grow on me, but once they did, they became one of my favorite 60s bands.  Reminds me of Spencer Davis Group and Plastic Penny, and just as hooky, they were also quite heavy for their time.  At two discs and 40 tracks it's a worthy package.  Many great songs here. Highlights include "On Love" and "Money Man". Rating - 4/5

Vinum Sabbatum - Bacchanale Premiere - My most played album from October actually only came in the mail November 2 and it's a beautiful package.  Similar dimensions to the Serpent Venom CD, it comes with lyrics which helps me out a lot.  This is a terrific album that uses the Hammond organ and keyboards to great effect and reminds me a lot of Deep Purple.  This is a surefire Top 20 of the year album.  Highlights include "Earthrise" and "Tombstone Rider". Rating - 4.5/5

West, Bruce & Laing - Why Dontcha - A band with so much heavy metal royalty (Leslie West, Jack Bruce, Corky Laing) they didn't even have to name the band, Why Dontcha is one of my favorite proto-metal albums of the 70s.  The title track alone is worth the price of admission.  Musically, they strike a good balance between Cream and Mountain - Highlights include "Why Dontcha" and "The Doctor". Rating - 4/5

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