With the sugar sickness you spy the kidnap kid

Posted September 25, 2009 by Justin
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My introduction to the Smashing Pumpkins was watching the Bullet with Butterfly Wings video on Top of the Pops and it convinced me enough to go out and buy the single. I couldn’t afford the album on release so it was down to my local library in Hanham which for some reason had an incredible selection of tapes that you could borrow for free where I checked out a copy of Siamese Dream to tide me over.

When it came down to finally getting Mellon Collie I made pretty much one of my worst purchasing decisions ever. I often spent hours sifting through records on my school lunch breaks and once a week for months I would consider buying the 3xLP of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness with it’s extra tracks and revised order to fit the format. I ended up buying the cd instead and when I made the attempt to acquire it a few years ago I found the price had sky rocketed and it still seems to show no sign of stopping.

On Adore’s release I really didn’t enjoy it, finding it lacked the variety of songs that I’d come to love on Mellon Collie, Billie Corgan was in full on miserable Uncle Fester mode after declaring rock to be dead and there was no more Jimmy Chamberlain who had been kicked out due to his drug use. After time and persistent listening it slowly started to grow on me except for Ava Adore which I considered to be a poor choice of lead single that didn’t fit the tone of the album and disrupted the flow a little despite only being the second track.

Adore AAdoreAdore B

As a result of my new found love of the album I’d always defend it when people tried to rubbish it and I was quite looking forward to finally giving it proper listen again especially as the vinyl version is a mono mix as opposed to the cd’s stereo. The vinyl is a 2xLP gatefold but with only three sides of music, the fourth being blank, the front cover is a different form the cd with a different pose and the the model’s dress is a brilliant red mixed with a flower. Unfortunately there’s no insert or lyrics that you get with the cd version or at least mine never came with one.

It’s always disappointing when you remember things to be better than they actually are and for me Adore is just not as great as I remember. It has some beautiful tracks and Crestfallen is really great in mono with it sounding like opening an antique jewellery box and the tune playing at you. For most of the album I found myself quite bored and it was a struggle to get to the end although the beauty of vinyl is that it forces the lazy to at least make it through one side as skipping a track is not as easy as pressing a button, I’m hoping that I’ll come back to Adore in a few months and realise I was talking nonsense and go back to my opinion of it being a classic but at this point in time I’m hoping my next choice is better or I somehow stumble across a bargain basement version of Mellon Collie.

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She’ll come back as fire, to burn all the liars

Posted September 16, 2009 by Justin
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The first time I heard Nirvana was during two weeks just outside Bordeaux on a french exchange where they were constantly being played on the radio. I wasn’t even consciously listening and it was only when my exchangee’s sister asked me if I liked them that I realised I’d been wondering round humming Rape Me all day. Timing wise I now understand the reason they were all over the radio was because of Kurt’s death a few months prior and people kept ringing in to request them. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to them properly, the last time would have been around the release of With The Lights Out but a recent announcement from Sub Pop about a Bleach reissue had me looking around for preorders and I found that Nevermind, In Utero and Unplugged in NY are also being reissued at the end of this year.

In UteroSo why have I just gone out and bought a copy of In Utero when I could have waited on what should have been a better version a few months later? Reading through various forums about the ORG reissues I heard about a German press of the album that was supposed to feature Steve Albini’s original mix of the album before it was tampered with on record label/band authority depending on whose story you choose to believe. So after looking up thrilling facts about the matrix numbers (A33 9124 536 S1/S2 320) it appears that the album was mis-pressed twice, once in 1993 and again in 2008 which may explain why the 60th vinyl anniversary ‘Back to Black’ version I picked up is listed as only being available in Germany.

Is it worth rushing out to buy? The only apparent differences to my ears are Heart Shaped Box which now has a cool effect over the solo and All Apologies which seems to feature both the cello and vocals lower in the mix but it’s well known that these were re-mixed by Scott Litt as stated in the liner notes, all the other songs sound the same to my memory although a full back to back listen against the cd would prove this. The cover seems to have been blown up from a low resolution copy and doesn’t look as good as it should, especially the back, plus the inlay notes still credit Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip despite it not featuring on the vinyl, hopefully the new versions coming will be done with a bit more care. Other than that, it’s a nice black 180g version with a download coupon for mp3 versions and still widely available so quite cheap.

A misanthropic anthropoid with nothing to say

Posted September 15, 2009 by Justin
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All Ages A

Possibly my favourite punk band ever and definitely my most listened to during my teens, it all started with my friend Rich going on and on about a song called 21st Century [digital boy] that he’d heard on Bruce Dickinson’s rock show the night before. Apparently it was so good he played it twice, maybe even three times and wasn’t going to stop playing it until everyone else realised it’s brilliance and bought it too. Well, job well done Bruce, single and sticker are still in tact. By this time of course Bad Religion were on their 8th album so no early adoption scene points to be gained here although Rich and I won simply by the fact we were the only kids in school who were listening to them.

Stranger Than Fiction was the first album I aquired by them on cd courtesy of my older visiting cousin followed 6 months later by All Ages which I think was my first ever LP purchase.

Picked up for the bargain price of £3.50 at a record store, the name of All Ages Bwhich escapes me, closing down on Park Street just down the road from school All Ages is a 22 track compilation of their Epitaph output. The artwork’s made up of a collage of their hand made flyers and an insert with the hand written lyrics on one side with another flyer collage on the reverse with what has to be a clear favourite for greatest band logo ever on top.

On listening to this last night it must have have had a fair few plays as it’s quite scratchy now but I think I prefer it over any the regular early albums as it’s pretty much the definition of ‘all killer, no filler’.

I’m of the opinion that the later albums work in pairs just from the way they sound and the type of songs they have on them, New America and No Substance, Process of Belief and Empire Strikes First with Stranger Than Fiction’s partner being The Gray Race.

Picked up on day of release which Wikipedia tells me was the 27th FebruaryGray Race 1996 at the sorely missed Replay Records under Bristol Bus Station, The Gray Race, on listening back is not as good as its predecessor but still has its share of classics like A Walk, Pity The Dead and Punk Rock Song. The vinyl itself is coloured, shame the title dictated it had to be a boring one.

A much better colour choice was for the 2009 Record Store Day repress of their first EP as a pink 7″.

Bad Religion EP ABad Religion EP B

Musically, not bad, a definite template of things to come with the exception of their bizarre prog rock effort Into the Unkown. Don’t remember anything linked to this one apart from looking at the original release date I was just over 1 year old, have they really been going that long?

Modus Operandi

Posted September 14, 2009 by Justin
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So a new house has bought with it the ability to finally set up my hi-fi on a decent stand and reward myself with something I’ve been after for a very long time……

Project Genie

….a decent record player to deal with the vinyl I’ve been slowly amassing over the years. My choice was the Project Genie III, a trawl of the review sites showed it be a decent choice with the added advantage of looking rather sweet and sharing a shelf nicely with my squeezebox.

So what’s the point of this blog then, it’s modus operandi? Over the last couple of weeks listening on my trusty Grado’s I thought it might be quite interesting to write a diary to document my memories of the first time of hearing certain bands, albums and any other guff that was going on at that time before old age finally erodes them from my memory. Anyway enough waffle, on with the records.