Saturday, August 20, 2011

What's New?: 8.20.2011

Some sweet mail order finds. . .

Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer — The Boxer Soundtrack (1998)

Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer — In America Soundtrack (2003)

I *ahem* "ACQUIRED" these two soundtracks years ago before it occurred to me to look for newer albums second hand. Catholic recently lit a spark for me to acquire proper copies and I did for cheap on Amazon. I had previously saved these albums on an external drive that crashed over a year ago, so I consequently lost them. Going back now, I like them more than ever, with a definite preference for The Boxer. It contains more variety and the music is more Gavin Friday-ish. So, in this sense, it's more like a proper Gavin Friday album. Spooky beats and lush strings amidst vocal cues from the film and two proper Gavin Friday songs (rather good ones, too) make for a darn fine listen. In America, on the other hand, takes on a more traditional Jewish sound for the bulk of its time (no doubt more fitting with the visual accompaniment; but not outright unenjoyable on its own). The actual score parts are much more sparse with long, floating melodies. The only proper song is 'Time Enough for Tears' which features Andrea Corr on lead vocals. Can't say I like it. Overall though, these albums stand apart from the films as their own entities. I always have to admire film soundtracks that I like without ever having seen the movies.

The Reegs — The Reegs (late 80's/early 90's)

You know, it's so easy for Chameleons fans to just jump on the Sun and the Moon when looking for more from the former members. The band released an album on a major label that has stayed relatively easy to find over the years and the main thing that most of us connected with (Mark's voice and lyrics) is there. But what about the other half of the band? Arguably even more recognizable than Mark's big booming wail and relatably insightful world wise lyrics was the dual guitar attack that the Chams had. Reg Smithie's overdriven melodic rhythm parts and Dave Fielding's gargantuan walls of swirling echo are the stuff of legend with good reason. Together, the two created one of the most distinct and influential sounds in 80's post-punk. But because they released records on the low key independent label Imaginary and never really gigged outside of the UK, their post-Chameleons project, the Reegs, has remained a bit of a shadowy, mysterious entity for Chams fans (especially for us in America). Well, along with the great deluxe editions of the proper Chams albums that Blue Apple Music has been doing the past few years, the boutique label also gathered up the entirety of the Reegs' output from the late 80's and early 90's and packaged it together as a two disc set. Fully remastered and restored with new artwork by Reg and now featuring outtakes, radio sessions and previously unissued recordings (including a brand new track called 'Bosnia 2009' in which Chams fans finally get to hear something we've all been curious about for a long time: Dave sings lead [!!]). The sound of the band is immediately recognizable for Chams fans, as pretty much every song here has that rush of Dave and Reg's inimitable dual guitars. There's a bit more of a dream pop element at play here. While there's certainly a lot of distorted and downright rockin' guitar sounds, there's never any real rock out moments that the Chameleons could explode into at any point. The entire thing hangs together exceedingly well and across the two discs, there's too many highlights to really cover all of them. My personal favorites so far are 'As You Leave', the trippy Cocteau-ish instrumental 'JJ180' and the epic swoop of melancholy beauty on 'The Nasty Side.' Overall, just a weird combination of sounds and ideas that shouldn't work, but does (perhaps surprisingly well). Two guitar players so in tune to the other's sounds and moods that to say they compliment each other seems inadequate, a drum machine and a bloke that sometimes sounds like Dave Gahan on vocals ranting about relationships gone sour. The only complaint I have: the liner notes were a bit disappointing, as no official band discography is offered. So, as the songs are not sequenced chronologically, it makes for a bit of a frustrating listen for my inner music curator. Overall though, really excellent stuff. So pleased to finally have it all in one place. Well done.

Tony Bennett and Bill Evans — Together Again (1977)

Finally got this one after years of knowing and loving their first collaborative album. This one has always been a bit more of a tough find, as it was originally released on Bennett's own Improv label. It sits very well next to the first album and even though I'm not a Tony Bennett fan otherwise, I really have to hand it to the way he sings these tunes. The best part is the song selection, as these are mostly tunes that was in Evans' repertoire at the time, so it's great to hear just how good he was as accompanist as he was as the highlight. This CD reissue has a wealth of bonus tracks, containing at least half of the album in alternate versions. Very mellow, pure class.


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