Saturday, 10 November 2012

Weekly Mailbag for 11/05/12 - 11/09/12

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

Black Sabbath - Never Say Die - Years ago I sold this CD.  I never liked this album.  I listened to it once in high school and it wasn't what I wanted to hear from Sabbath.  It wasn't heavy enough for me.  10-15 years later and well, my opinion has softened considerably.  It's actually quite a good hard rock record, but it's still not heavy enough for me.  Highlights include "Never Say Die" and "Shock Wave". Rating - 4/5

Bonzo Dog Band - Gorilla -  So this isn't my favorite album, it's a heavily jazz-tinted collection of novelty songs and covers of old-timey songs, but it's the Bonzos' first and it does have three really great songs.  Neil Innes never quite gets the respect he deserves as a songwriter, but his compositions are always highly emotional and catchy. Highlights include "Piggy Bank Love" and "The Equestrian Statue". Rating - 2/5

Caravan - ST - An early prog favorite of mine.  This is the most straightforward album that Caravan would ever release, seven regular length songs and one long one at the end, the band would go on to investigate their longer compositions for the remainder of their recording career.  But while it lasted, they were quite adept at penning memorable shorter songs.  Highlights include "Place Of My Own" and "Grandma's Lawn". Rating - 4.5/5

Fickle Pickle - Sinful Skinful - Four excellent songwriters from the UK got together in the early 70s and unsuccessfully tried to fill the gap left by The Beatles.  They had a few hits in the Netherlands and that was about it.  Full of weird and/or quirky/cynical pop songs this album isn't for everyone but there's at least one song on here that will appeal to anyone. Highlights include "Sam and Sadie" and "Doctor Octopus". Rating - 4/5

Groundhogs - Scratching the Surface - I mentioned elsewhere that I loved this album, well The Shovell inspired me to actually buy this on CD.  Heavy blues bands were a dime-a-dozen in the UK at the time and this stands as a true highlight.  Funky as hell and displaying a compositional maturity that the likes of Ten Years After were years away from. Highlights include "You Don't Love Me" and "Early in the Morning". Rating - 4/5

Hawkwind - Doremi Fasol Latido - Hawkwind's third and first with Lemmy.  Much ado was made at the time in the change of rhythm section.  I don't notice the difference. This album or 'In Search of Space' is what I want to be listening to when the SWAT team crashes through my windows and doors.  But I won't notice them, because I'll be in Hawkwind world.  Highlights include "Brainstorm" and "Urban Guerilla". Rating - 4.5/5


Monster Magnet - 4-Way Diablo - What can I say, Monster Magnet always delivers the goods.  This album is a bit more raw hard rock than psychedelic, showcasing the MC5 or Stooges influence over the Hawkwind / Sabbath influence.  Even the 'slow' songs are heavier and more aggressive.  It's different but it's still undeniably MM. Highlights include "4-Way Diablo" and "A Thousand Stars". Rating - 4/5

Nirvana - All of Us - This 60s UK songwriting duo penned very twee british pop with lavishes of psychedelic production most notably on the super-phased "Rainbow Chaser", one of the best britpsych songs of the era.  But the song is deceptive as nothing else in the band's discography matches the edge of that cut.  Fans of the Seattle Nirvana would hate this band.  Highlights include "Rainbow Chaser" and "Girl in the Park". Rating - 3/5

Serenity Broken - Commercial Suicide - This CD came with a plastic business card which I thought was very impressive.  Serenity Broken play a very aggressive style of 90s inflected stoner rock. This band is right at the vanguard of a new wave of 90s-influenced bands, which I've touched on before.  So many great stoner bands coming out of Greece right now.  At 5 euros this CD is a real bargain and is the same price they charge for the digital download version of the album.  Money well spent.  Highlights include "Tattooed Heart" and "Def". Rating - 3.5/5
Spencer Davis Group - Time Seller - Much as I love Winwood-era SDG their post-Stevie stuff has some real charm.  This was the first post-Stevie album and is kind of uneven with great original pop psych tunes mixed with some uninspired jazzy stuff, but I love it.  This edition comes with a DVD of a 1967 documentary about the band.  Highlights include "Morning Sun" and "Mr Second Class". Rating - 4/5

Steak - Disastronaught EP - One of my favorites of 2012, "The Butcher" alone is worth the price as it may be the best song I've heard all year.  It's an epiphanal, life-changingly good song.  The rest of the album is great too.  Also, it appears the boys in the band are comics fans too, which is always a plus, and that the EP is actually a mini concept album.  The inside cover tells the story.  And it came with a sticker and a tour flyer.  Highlights include "The Butcher" and "Machine". Rating - 4.5/5

Tuesday's Children - Strange Light From the East - There was an odd subculture of hippies who were inspired by the I Ching to make Asian sounding music.  The songs "Kites" by Simon Dupree and the Big Sound and "Chapter 24" by Pink Floyd are the best examples of this.  This group tried to make a career of it.  They later became Czar. Highlights include "Baby's Gone" and "Bright Eyed Apples". Rating - 3.5/5

Venomous Maximus - Beg Upon the Light -  This was one of my first ever reviews, so you don't need me to go into it again, just to say every song on this album is killer and the album is one of my favorites right now.  The digipak CD came with a VM button which will now be pinned proudly next to my Ice Dragon button.  It also comes with lyrics on the inside front cover and some kickass artwork on the back cover.  At $10 this package is a steal, I got it off the band's big cartel site here.  .  Highlights include "Path of Doom" and "Venomous Maximus". Rating - 4.5/5

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