Thursday, June 24, 2010

Andy Pratt, "Records Are Like Life" (1969)

Leaving aside the expense of actually buying records, there's two main drawbacks to having a record collection, particularly if, like myself, you went through a few years of buying pretty indiscriminately.

One; these shits take up space and are they are heavy, they are a pain in the arse when you move house you have to allow space for the collection (as a rule of thumb they will use about the same amount of space as three and a half babies).

Two - and this is related to point 1 above - you never really know that it is "safe" to throw a record away or sell it. It may seem obvious that you should just sell the ones you don't really like (and they will be many), but the fact of the matter is that a man's musical taste will mutate, mature, improve, corrupt and/or degrade over time, so much so that you can never say with true confidence that something that sounds corny, boring or pretentious to you today will not on some future occasion have you throwing down like a stimulus-deprived gorilla. Keep records or don't - either way you are likely to have something to regret.

Case in point, I originally bought "Records Are Like Life" by Andy Pratt purely because the title track was about buying lots of records and I thought I would use fifteen seconds of it in a mix-tape or something. I very nearly got rid of it when I moved overseas some years ago, but fortunately did not since, in accordance with those processes just described, it is Right Now one of my favourite albums.

This music was probably too grown-up for me until two or three years ago. With the prominence of piano throughout, it's kind of "adult-oriented progressive cocktail lounge music" though I fear that pigeon-holes it rather too narrowly. The following three selections are a good indication of the level of variety and inventiveness on this album.

Andy Pratt - Wet Daddy

For someone who hobbies as a music writer I often find it quite hard to actually describe music. The song "Wet Daddy" has a guitar in it and some drumming. There are words, emerging as sound from a human mouth in a sequence of different yet mathematically related tones. I can really only encourage you to listen and see if you can get your own head around it. The shuffling of multiple layers of Andy's falsetto is characteristic of the album, as are the cryptic and whimsical lyrics.

Andy Pratt - Mindy

Another energetic song underpinned by the skittery drumming of Rick Shlosser (his invaluable contribution to the album was enough to earn him a slightly larger font in the back cover credits). "Mindy" starts from a bossa nova jazz premise and then just subverts it into whatever Andy Pratt felt like doing.

Andy Pratt - Low Tide Island

In a total change of tone, "Low Tide Island" is a melancholic folk song with haunting, acid-tinged vocals and zero percussion.

The face of  a genius (and his mates).

The remainder of the songs on "Records Are Like Life" are also unique and superb - and if you don't feel like lurking around in record stores for an unspecified number of months or years, you can get full, legitimate downloads from  It's About Music ("where it's about music, not about web design")

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Zodiac, "Cosmic Sounds" (1967)

From the 1970s through to the mid '80s, Zodiac signs were mainly referenced in music in order to help you decide whether you were sexually compatible with the featured musicians.  For a time it was rife, but ultimately the death knell rang for astrology in 1986 when Prince announced that he didn't care about it.  These days, astrology is half-remembered only as an antique barbarism, alongside such questionable practices as horse-riding, phrenology, and suicide by asp.

This album, conversely, dates from the glory days of hippiedom and celebrates the Zodiac purely for its own sake. It consists of 12 tracks dedicated to each star sign, each with overblown poetry spookily intoned over a psychedelic arrangement. Each of the poems is careful to reference a significant planet, number, colour and gemstone for the sign in question, e.g. 

nine times the colour red explodes like heated blood
the battle is on!
Mars, the master matchmaker, sulphurizes the sky
incendiary diamonds scorch the earth 

Probably a bit embarassing in hindsight, and not much help in picking your lottery numbers either. But the creative and varied arrangements do stand up well, being performed by talented sessioners and featuring excellent use of the Moog synthesizer (which in 1967 was about the size of a two or three large wardrobes). I have linked to my two favorite tracks from the album below, and as a monument to my immaturity, I include as a bonus "Aquarius, the Lover of Life" since it includes the passage:

in the friendly opal light of Uranus,
all men can blend
yet still be what they are 

(stifled giggles)

The Zodiac - Aries, the Firefighter
The Zodiac - Taurus, the Voluptuary
The Zodaic - Aquarius, the Lover of Life

I expect full compliance with the instructions on the back of the sleeve - "MUST BE PLAYED IN THE DARK"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

THIS SATURDAY NIGHT - 1983 presents: Jellphonic & Reggie Blount "Live Forever"


Auckland City's leading source of excitement, the 1983 Collective, are celebrating the ascension of the handsome men depicted above into the roll of honour titled: "Roll of Honour Listing Dudes Who Have A 12" Record Out"

Our boys' records and many others will be played to generate a perfect dancefloor-sized sphere of  unadulterated Body Talk. Those who witness will be changed forever, plus they will still be finding glitter in their hair for three or four days afterwards.


Details for the grown & sexy:
Saturday June 12 from 10pm
Rising Sun (373 K Rd)
$5 on the door

And here for download again is my old 1983 promo mix which by now has been listened to by almost as many people as Pat Benatar's "Love Is A Battlefield"... however there may still be one or two recently emerged survivalists who still need to hear it:

"One day I will complete the squeakwel" (he gasped on his deathbed).

that is the same as if i handed you five bucks

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sonny Charles, "One Eyed Jacks" (1982)

 There are various reasons to like a song apart from how you feel about it as music. Both Ben and I, for example, have a fondness for a meta-genre which I have just this instant decided to call Overextended Metaphor Groove (OMG).

As the name suggests, these are songs where the artist has committed to shoe-horning all their passions/joys/torment into the framework of a single over-arching metaphor. Sonny Charles' "One-Eyed Jack" for example, is basically a song about player-hating expressed mainly with reference to playing cards (and with total sincerity).

"The one-eyed jack is a mysterious card,
only one side you can see."

Taking a scientific approach, I quickly counted the total number of lines in the song and divided by the number of lines that contain explicit card game references (chorus counted only once). This gave an OMG compliance ratio of 53.33%, i.e. just over half of all lines in the song have some nonsense about card games in them. This is actually much lower than I expected and definitely shows the value of taking a hard-nosed, evidence-led approach (to my dismay Sonny went off the rails on the second verse and neglected to mention playing cards at all).

By the way, I have made a shortened edit of this song as after the two minute mark it does nothing but repeat the fairly ordinary chorus for another three minutes (yes, this song has a "chorus-til-fade" segment that lasts longer than the song proper - better to go for a breakdown when you've run out of ideas I'd have thought)

Sonny Charles - One-Eyed Jack

More OMG will be posted as it comes to my attention!