Wolfmother — Victorious (2016)

Or maybe not quite so victorious. Actually, not victorious at all.

Once again it’s been a while since I’ve written a review. Perhaps you can thank this most atrocious Wolfmother release for getting me back into blogging. Because it would have been quite unhealthy to keep all this rage within me.

Victorious, Baroness, Pretty Peggy… Especially Pretty Peggy. All complete, utter rubbish. Wolfmother has traded away its innovativity and creativity for some kind of… commercial success? I don’t think the band is even that popular any more. Where are the powerful rebels that spawned the White Unicorn, Apple Tree, Woman, Joker and the Thief, etc.? From a ground-breaking Sabbath-Zeppelinish spectacle it has turned into an alternative rock nightmare. Also, they had to add claps to their own songs, because obviously, no-one else is going to do that.

On the second side of the album, things get a little more interesting though — hence the two stars instead of just one. If you feel like skipping the worst parts of the album, start listening from the sixth track, The Simple Life.  The songs are still incredibly simple, but they begin to sound more like Doobie Brothers or some space rock campaign rather than commercial pop, and they flow nicely together rather than distract the listener. I hope that Wolfmother is in some transition phase, for they could use a change of style rather than trying to pursue the old direction people still expect from them, but which the band themselves probably don’t find any longer attractive.

WolfmotherVictorious
★★

And now comes the worst part of the deal for me as the blogger — to choose a representative song for a flop album. Should I then choose the best song or the worst one? Well, the last track was listenable, so let’s have that. Probably you won’t like it too much, but who knows — it’s in the Eye of the Beholder.

 

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Unnkerr Swéghléoðras: Part 3 — Single Edition

It is finally out! The third compilation album, which consists solely of singles previously unknown to me, by the bands that I’ve come to respect greatly.

For the past few years I’ve been so fixated on albums, that I’ve completely missed out all the singles. And there are some truly wonderful ones, by the bands that I’d already come to respect greatly. Compiling this list took me lots of time, but I couldn’t be more satisfied with the result. Unnkerr Swéghléoðras: Part 3 — Single Edition turned into something wonderful.

The Dark Book of LoveUnnkerr Swéghléoðras: Part 3 — Single Edition

Track listing:

  1. The WhoI Can’t Explain (single A-side / My Generetion, Stereo digital release (2014), track #13)
  2. The ZombiesJust Out Of Reach (single A-side / The Zombies — Greatest Hits, track #15)
  3. UFOGalactic Love (single A-side / UFO 2: Flying 2008 CD reissue bonus track)
  4. The DoorsWho Scared You? (B-side to Wishful Sinful / The Soft Parade, 40th Anniversary Edition CD bonus track #1)
  5. Pink FloydJulia Dream (B-side to It Would Be So Nice / The Best of the Pink Floyd (Masters of Rock), track #9 / Relics side 2, track #1 / Shine On, The Early Singles, track #8)
  6. Jefferson AirplaneHave You Seen The Saucers? (single A-side / Early Flight, side 2, track #4)
  7. Crosby, Stills, Nash & YoungFind The Cost Of Freedom (B-side to Ohio / So Far, side 1, track #6)
  8. BeefeatersDon’t Be Long (B-side to Please Let Me Love You)
  9. Deep PurpleI’m Alone (B-side to Strange Kind Of Woman / Fireball, 25th Anniversary Edition bonus track #2)
  10. Led ZeppelinHey, Hey, What Can I Do (B-side to Immigrant Song / Coda, 1993 CD release, bonus track #4)
  11. YesSomething’s Coming (B-side to Sweetness / Yes (album) 2003 remaster bonus track #3)
  12. Jimi HendrixHighway Chile (B-side to The Wind Cries Mary / The Singles Album, track #6)
  13. Jethro TullOne For John Lee (B-side to A Song For Jeffrey / 20 Years of Jethro Tull, disc 1, track #23)
  14. FreeSugar For Mr. Morrison (B-side to I’ll Be Creeping / Free (album), 2001 reissue, bonus track #4)
  15. Emerson, Lake & PalmerWhen The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills Of Your Mind I’ll Be Your Valentine (B-side to Jerusalem / Brain Salad Surgery, Sanctuary Records 2008, disc 2, bonus track #1)
  16. The GolliwogsWalking On The Water (single A-side / Pre-Creedence, track #11 / Creedence Clearwater Revival: Box Set, disc 1, track #21)
  17. Atomic RoosterPlay The Game (B-side to Tomorrow Night / Death Walks Behind You, 2004 Castle Music CD reissue bonus track #1)
  18. Uriah HeepSunshine (B-side to Stealin’ / Sweet Freedom, 2004 bonus track #1)
  19. CreamWrapping Paper (single A-side / The Very Best of Cream, track #1)

Play time: 1h 0min 3sec

01) The WhoI Can’t Explain

The Who is a band who had tons of singles in the beginning of their carreer, and good ones too. Circles (Instant Party) / Pictures of Lily (B-side Doctor, Doctor, compare it to BeatlesHelp! in my previous blog post) / the obscure jazzy Waltz for a Pig (I wouldn’t believe it was The Who if I didn’t know) just to mention a few. Only later would they shift towards more proggy creations. For this compilation I’ve picked I Can’t Explain, their first charting single, and second overall. David Bowie also covered this song on his album Pin Ups.

02) The ZombiesJust Out Of Reach

Zombies were completely a sixties band, so it’s no wonder they had lots of singles, as LP releases weren’t too frequent yet. Most of their singles weren’t too good though, but you just can’t go without digging Colin Blunstone‘s voice as well as Rod Argent‘s sweet keyboard play. This Just Out Of Reach single wasn’t too successful at the time, but I found it to be their one of their best non-album singles for sure—and it fit the mood of this compilation perfectly. The B-side, Remember You, is also a very pleasant experience.

03) UFOGalactic Love

As you might know, in two years between their 2nd and 3rd albums UFO changed their style from spacey, underground garage rock (which I liked more) to mainstream-oriented hard rock (which I liked less). In the meantime they however released a single, which still features their old guitarist Mick Bolton before he left the group in January 1972. That single was Galactic Love. The B-side features a shortened song from their 1971 Live album — Loving Cup.

04) The DoorsWho Scared You?

Who Scared You? is the only track by The Doors sung by Jim Morrison that wasn’t included on any album. It was released in 1969 as a B-side to the Wishful Sinful single. There are other two non-LP singles by The Doors: (You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further with the pianist Ray Manzarek on vocals, and Tree Trunk, which was recorded by the post-Morrison Doors.

05) Pink FloydJulia Dream

Julia Dream is the B-side to the 1968 single It Would Be So Nice. Pink Floyd had a total of four non-album singles released before Syd Barrett had to leave the band. Some of them were later released on a 1971 compilation album Relics, with Julia Dream being the 6th track of the album. All of the singles were magnificent, and this one was a very tough choice to make.

Originally, I wanted to pick a track written by Syd Barrett, such as Candy and The Current Bun, See Emily Play or Apples and Oranges, but it turned out I already knew most of those, and I also found myself captivated by this Waters‘ tune. Additionally, it appears that this song was first one to be sung by David Gilmour, who was already backing up the mentally unstable Barrett at the time. Gilmour performed the guitars for Julia Dream as well. Therefore, ironically, no credit goes to Barrett in this song.

06) Jefferson AirplaneHave You Seen The Saucers?

A live version of this tune by Jefferson Airplane is featured on their 1973 live album Thirty Seconds Over Winterland, however they had also released a studio take on the B-side of the Mexico single in 1970. All other JA singles were featured on their studio albums, but right after this particular one was recorded, the drummer Spencer Dryden left the band, followed up by the vocalist Marty Balin. The studio version of Have You Seen The Saucers? was later included on the 1974 compilation album Early Flight.

07) Crosby, Stills, Nash & YoungFind The Cost Of Freedom

This track might not be available through Youtube in your country — if that’s the case, I suggest you use a proxy or a VPN. This way you will certainly be able to hear it, and all other songs in the playlist as well!

CSNY didn’t release any other non-album singles than Ohio (1970) with Find The Cost Of Freedom as its B-side. Both were later included on their 1974 compilation album So Far. With Ohio being a well known CSNY hit, this left me with no other choice but Find The Cost Of Freedom, which was a great moody track and more than enough for my purposes.

08) The BeefeatersDon’t Be Long

This Please Let Me Love You single B-side by the early incarnation of The Byrds would be later rerecorded and released on their second album with the song title changed to It Won’t Be Wrong. I like this version best, however, mostly due to the heavy drums that make the right impact. They released no other singles under the name of The Beefeaters. The reason for changing the name was probably this other Danish band, who also called themselves The Beefeaters and released two albums in the 60s. A short probe listen showed they might be pretty nice — going to check them out later.

09) Deep PurpleI’m Alone

I was already aware of some singles by Deep Purple, such as Emmaretta. But this one was even better! I’m Alone came as a B-side to Strange Kind Of Woman. This track definitely has a Fireballish feel about it, so I can see why it was included as a bonus track on the 25th Anniversary Edition of that album.

10) Led ZeppelinHey, Hey, What Can I Do

Led Zeppelin had only released one non-LP song, that is Hey, Hey, What Can I Do. It appeared on the backside of the Immigrant Song single in 1970. In 1972, it was released on The New Age Of Atlantic compilation LP, which featured different artists (including the first ever issue of America by Yes). Otherwise this song was unheard of until it was later included as the last track of the compilation album Coda in the 1993 CD release.

11) YesSomething’s Coming

Yes don’t have many non-album releases. In fact, they only have one song that can’t be heard on any of their albums: Something’s Coming. This lovely progressive song was released on the B-side of the Sweetness single.

12) Jimi HendrixHighway Chile

It turns out Jimi had a couple of B-sides that weren’t present on his albums: Stone Free, 51st Anniversary and The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice just to mention a few. And of course, Highway Chile, the B-side to The Wind Cries Mary single. As always, his guitar work is amazing. In addition to this, I have learned that Jimi played backing guitars with quite a few bands in the sixties, such as Curtis Knight & The Squires, The Icemen, one single together with Little Richard, and even lead guitars on Stephen Still‘s eponymous solo album track Old Times Good Times (from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). The point being, there’s more to Jimi than his Experience alone.

13) Jethro TullOne For John Lee

Jethro Tull have some occasional non-LP tracks spread along the years. The ones released before ’88 are now part of the 20 Years Of Jethro Tull box set. This track in particular served as the backside for their second single, A Song For Jeffrey. One for Jeffrey, One For John Lee. A jolly little flute instrumental.

14) FreeSugar For Mr. Morrison

A B-side to I’ll Be Creeping, this Free instrumental in 3/4 time beat is pretty mesmerising. For people who play music, the structure of this track might be of some interest. At least I find that it has deepened my understanding of what you can do with a beat like this. This is the sole reason why I have chosen this instrumental over other non-album songs with lyrics in them, such as The Worm, which was the second strong candidate for this compilation.

15) Emerson, Lake & PalmerWhen The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills Of Your Mind I’ll Be Your Valentine

Surprisingly, Emerson, Lake & Palmer also had one B-side instrumental that doesn’t appear on any of their albums. A valentine song without words is just what I needed. Because who needs words when you’ve got such a nice arrangement? The title, too, is nothing else but loveable.

16) The GolliwogsWalking On The Water

Another early incarnation of a famous band, The Golliwogs would later grow into Creedence Clearwater Revival. They had a big pile of singles, but few of them resemble the sound CCR would later develop. The only exceptions were the somewhat poppish tune called Brown-Eyed Girl, which was the only song that was to receive any kind of success, and the melancholic Walking On The Water. Similarly to The Beefeaters, this tune would also be re-recorded and released on their first eponymous album. This time I love both versions equally, and it is the combination of the slightly electronic sound of the mellotron with distant sounding guitar riffs that I find to work best in this Golliwogs‘ version.

17) Atomic RoosterPlay The Game

Sometimes I feel like each Atomic Rooster song sounds the same—but it doesn’t make it any worse. It is like they’re performing one long song, slowly coming up with new additions to it. In this B-side to Tomorrow Night I can clearly hear some of the familiar passages, which are just as grandiose as they have always been.

18) Uriah HeepSunshine

As far as I know, this is the only non-album track Uriah Heep had (B-side to Stealin’). They had a huge amount of outtakes from their albums though. If you ask me, this might be the weakest song in the compilation, but I just couldn’t let it go. And for some odd reason, this song gets better each time I hear it.

If you are a Uriah Heep fan, do also check out the single from their ancestors before the time with Ken HensleyThe Spice: What About The Music / In Love . They also have an unfinished album, the tracks from which can be heard on The Lansdowne Tapes.

19) CreamWrapping Paper.

This song was the A-side on the first ever Cream single, a happy-go-lucky tune. If you’re feeling silly, also have a look on their Anyone For Tennis video footage which was made for The Savage Seven film (1968). That is their second and last non-LP recording, released as a single.

That’s all for this Single Edition! Hope you enjoyed it!

Previous release: Unnkerr Swéghléoðras: Part 2 — The Dark Book of Love

Album Saturday — Rush Hour, part I

First of all I need to mention that I’m not the utmost Rush fan. There’s something about their style that just doesn’t seem right. Still, Rush is a band highly appreciated by many, so I thought I needed to get over it and have a listen to their albums. As I sail through the years, I’ll try to understand whether there is actually something wrong with Rush, or whether there is just something wrong with me.

What may have spawned that feeling is that Rush seem to have a quite distinguishable style, and their sound is different from that of the other bands. Therefore it might be easy to take a stance for or against this band.

Rush — Rush
★★★★

This is the first album by Rush, way before they went prog. The album starts with a driving piece, Finding My Way, perhaps the best song of the album. This blues drive continues then throughout the album, and the songs feel connected to each other — even though this is no concept album — and good mood is in the air. The Led Zeppelin influence seems evident, yet they fail to get close to Zeppelin‘s level of mastery. The guitar solos are ok, but they could have been much better, and the compositions miss that particular “hook” phrase to be remembered by. Anyway, there’s nothing particularly dissatisfying with their first album, although there’s no song that would really stand out either.

Rush — Fly By Night
★★★

In this album the rising progginess can be heard right away in Anthem. As their first work was quite straightforward and not particularly interesting musically, I like how this album features more complex and entertaining guitar riffs. By Tor & The Snow Dog is their first song that could count as progressive, consisting of different parts and lasting for over 8 minutes, featuring nice stops and changes of pace, showing a glimple of the true potential the band possessed. Yet not all of the songs are quite that accomplished. The song by which the album was named, Fly By Night, meeked in comparison with the preceeding epic. Making Memories seemed more like a modern rock dilemma, something you end up listening to because there’s nothing better on the radio. I also appreciate the effort of making tribute to Tolkien with their song Rivendell, and the lyrics are fine too, but just a bunch of picked chords doesn’t cut it for a tune. And In The End came the outrageous mass-oriented whining I hate the most. All in all, the feeling I got from listening to Fly By Night didn’t match their debut album.

Rush — Caress of Steel
★★★☆

This album starts off a good foot with Bastille Day. The riff feels interesting but not too intimidating. I Think I’m Going Bald sounds just right, and the passages might be something that Zeppelin themselves would love to play. And with that I would say it’s their best song so far. But that was only until The Necromancer came along, a 12 minute epic, which they managed to keep sounding grave and stylish. In my opinion it could have used a little more decoration in the beginning, and the fast guitar solo in the middle stopped way too suddenly, but that is fine.

The progginess unexpectedly continues with The Fountain Of Lamneth, an even longer, 20 minute piece, which finally brings out the true colours of the band. It’s still partly very simple for my taste, the drum solo could have been better, and slow piece the fourth part of the epic, Panacea, is not exactly what I liked to hear, but far better in comparison to Rivendell, a similar piece in their previous album. Moreover, the six parts of the epic don’t fuse with each other but fade out before the next part, kind of slicing the song into little pieces. But those were all quite a trifle — all in all I enjoyed this work.

Rush — 2112
★★★★

This album begins with 2112, the first piece I got to know Rush by. The beginning grabs the listener in right away, and doesn’t leave place for second thoughts. It’s great to see the band grow this much from their first proggy try-outs in Caress of Steel. Rush are more experimental than ever, the stops between the parts don’t feel too rushed (what a pun!) and even the solos fall right. 2112 is a true work of art.

Even judging by the rest of the songs on the album, Rush have become far more polished since their debut, especially their guitar solos have improved. A Passage to Bangkok is a goofy song, but it features tasty riffs, and has that “hook” to be remembered by. The Twilight Zone has become another favourite of mine, the whispering into the left ear works, and the band manages to create an eerie atmosphere. Sadly Tears fall into the same category with Rivendell and kind of ruin the whole mood, so I’m forced to only give 4/5 to this album.

Rush — A Farewell to Kings
★★★★☆

A Farewell to Kings begins, well… With A Farewell to Kings. And with A Farewell to Kings thou canst see and hear how much, much better their guitar solos have become. The next ten-minute piece Xanadu also shows Rush have matured and continue to uphold the level they’ve achieved in 2112, or perhaps have gone even further. Closer to the Heart first starts like any other wimpy love song, but that mistake gets corrected along the way. Cinderella Man is nothing supreme, but demonstrates once again that Rush can handle those guitar solos now. Madrigal sounds just like in could be a part of the 2112 epic, so with nothing new to be heard there, I proclaim it to be the worst piece of the album. Otherwise this A Farewell to Kings was highly satisfactory, and the best one by Rush so far, ending with an amazing first “book” of Cygnus X-1, just to be continued with “Book II” in their next album, Hemispheres.

Rush have become steadily better, as you might see from the ratings I’ve given to their albums. And I’ve also seen Hemispheres a lot everywhere. I’m having high hopes for their perhaps best album. Can they hit the full mark? I can’t wait…

Rush — Hemispheres
★★★★★

I guess I wasn’t left disappointed. I’m still amazed with the progress this band has made. They’ve grown into a full-fledged prog band, and their compositions on this album sound smooth and clean, yet powerful. Cygnus X-1 proved to be a whole lot better than 2112 even, which sounds still rough and unpolished. Practice makes the master, as they say. Rush have succeeded in creating their own universe with this album, and set the listener to experience a feeling well described by a quote “I am dead, and yet on board.”

What differs this Rush album (and partially A Farewell to Kings as well) from their earlier work is the variety of sounds they produce. Of course, that variety is not even close to the 40 instruments used by Gentle Giant in their album Acquiring the Taste, but the amount of sounds Rush use here provides them with a richer, more mesmerising sound.

Book II of Cygnus is followed by Circumstances, a wonderfully powerful song, then The Trees the have charmed my soul (“There is unrest in the forest”… love that rhyme), and finally La Villa Strangiato, a mesmerizing instrumental that has been one of my favourites for a long time already. This album doesn’t have anything that would displease me, and I know this sounds too good too be true, but this album deserves my full mark, and I’m happy to contribute to this little fairytale of a band slowly but steadily rising towards perfection.

 

So, what can I say about Rush in the end? I can say that I was wrong. They are a worthy band, and it seems like I had previously only stumbled upon their lesser, early works. I can’t wait to continue with Part II of their albums, especially Moving Pictures that is considered to be the peak of their age. Oh, and there are the Permanent Waves in between too. This should be grand!

Read the second part of the Rush reviews here.