Friday, January 30, 2009

FDF Volume 2 Isssue 124: Big Audio Dynamite - This is Big Audio Dynamite

By: March

Album - This is Big Audio Dynamite
Artist - Big Audio Dynamite
Key Players - Don Letts - sound effects & vocals, Dan Donovan - keyboards, Leo Williams - bass, Greg Roberts - drums & background vocals, Mick Jones - guitars & vocals

Produced By - Mick Jones

Release Date - October 1985

What caused me to blow off the dust? - It has been a long while since I reached for a Big Audio Dynamite cd. I have to admit, my favorite from them is "Tighten Up Vol 88" and that is the one I wanted to review, but I can't find the cd...I have the cassette tape, and even something to play it on, but its too hard to upload the songs that way!

Overview - Big Audio Dynamite (later Big Audio Dynamite II and then just BAD) were formed by former Clash member Mick Jones in 1984. Jones, branched out, crossing many musical styles within Big Audio Dynamite. The blending of punk, dance, reggae and funk were all part of the staples to Big Audio Dynamites sound. The band would find success in the early 1990s with hits "The Globe" and "Rush". Both would become college and alternative rock staples. The band would release a few records beyond the hit years and then slowly fizzle.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- One of the themes in the record are very "canned" or electric drums. Opening with said effect on "Medicine Show" a single guitar comes up just as the lyrics are about to be sung. The song has a smattering of sound drops from the film "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" for good measure. "Sony" follows and Jones sort of slags off his former label saying he'd not want to 20 more years with them. There is a longer bongo section towards the end of the track. One of the bigger songs they did is "E=MC²" that follows. Jones has a laid back vocal delivery keeping it a little flat and relying on the other guys in the band for the harmonies. The drum track clicks at a brisk pace, but the song has a laid back feel all at the same time. If this record contained one single that has stood the test of time it has to be "The Bottom Line". The worst part about this version is that there is a continuation of the track that is on a 12 inch remix record that just makes it all the better. Opening with a chiming and delayed single guitar before the robotic drum line comes in. The track hits deep solid groove and Jones is in top form. This is a song (at least to me) I want to know every word to. It takes a little to get rolling with the lyrics, on this the second shortest track on the cd, not starting until about the 1:20 mark. When he "reaches the bottom line" Jones keeps his vocals restrained and allows for the backing vocalists to take the song up. "A Party" is a catchy track with sort of campy vocals and rhyming schemes used. Jones gives them quick and almost with a bubbly tone. Adding to this his his choppiness with the words, adding and additional bite. Bouncy keyboards bring up "Sudden Impact!" that follows some of the past methods of canned drums and looping keyboard lines. It has a very "New Order" feeling breakdown at one point as well. "Stone Thames" has a strong back beat, but there are many fuzzy scratches and vocals call and response moments. Jones sings the track at a quick pace and as the chorus he goes a little falsetto at times and the samples fill in the gaps. The album wraps up with "Bad". A track that has Jones expanding a little on his vocal range. The track is drenched in zinging gun shot sound effects. The band has a good vocal breakdown towards the end of the track and feeds well off one another.

Where are they now? - The band recorded a record as last as 1997 but both the band and (a) label have chosen to not release it.
Letts is busy in radio as well as film as a director. Donovan played with Sisters of Mercy for a little bit and was in the band Dreadzone. Roberts also worked with Dreadzone. Leo Williams is working with Mick Jones in his latest band Carbon/Silicon.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I never saw the band live.

FDF Overall Take
- Coming off the heels of the Clash fans of Mick Jones were either impressed with his desire to do something totally different, or upset that he went the total opposite direction. For hard core fans of the Clash it may take a few listens to get used to. Casual fans would probably do just fine with the best of collection but this cd is cheap enough if the listener wants to spread their wings to more "catalog" tracks.

Unofficial site, but very up to date here.
The site of Mick Jones' latest project here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Mp3's have been removed....the tracks were...

Medicine Show
The Bottom Line

You can buy it here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Adele - Live Concert Review, January 14, 2009 Sommerville MA

The review I did for the Adele show has been posted here. Josh Bean took the pictures. Listen to the song if you do head over to read it.



Friday, January 16, 2009

FDF Volume 2 Issue 123: The Alarm - Eye of the Hurricane

By: March

Album - Eye of the Hurricane
Artist - The Alarm
Key Players - Nigel Twist - drums, Eddie MacDonald - bass, Dave Sharp - guitars, Mike Peters - vocals, guitar
Produced By - John Porter and the Alarm

Release Date - November 1987

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I have been a fan of the Alarm for a lot of years. I have all the cds, and the re-issues of the discs. I do find myself listening to them more often than I realized, but sort of always seem to grab the Best of Collection (Standards) and never really give the full lengths their just due. Of all their studio albums with these four members "Eye" is actually one of the cds I reach for last. I honestly would put it next to "Raw" as my least listened to (perhaps I need to listen to Raw again). Anyway..just a logical choice for the blog this week (at least in my eyes)

Overview - The Rhyl Wales based band The Alarm blended heavy acoustic rock songs in to blistering rock anthems in the early 1980's. A support band for U2 on many shows the Alarm quickly established themselves as a strong live band. The band would release few records, and the album "Strength" (the album before this reviewed selection) would continue to see the band grow capped with a massive outdoor show at UCLA that was televised by MTV. The popularity would extend with the strong single "Rain in the Summertime" but their light started to flicker some with US fans after that. They'd release two more studio records after this, but Peters announced from the stage that he was leaving the band.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - A somewhat canned drum sound with ebow'd guitar notes begin "Rain in the Summertime". Twist and Sharp bring the song to the verses with a little more gusto about 30 seconds in before the voice of Mike Peters come over the top. Peters is in strong voice and the music underneath is rather subdued for the time being. The chorus has high harmonies with lines that beckon the listener to sing along. The slightly more aggressive "Newtown Jericho" follows. There are more keyboards on the intro and Twist keeps the tempo at a marching band pace. We are locked in to a 4/4 time with Peters and Sharp feeding electric and acoustic guitars to each other. Dual acoustic guitars start off "Hallowed Ground". Once again the accent is placed with some keyboards (I am pretty sure MacDonald provides these but they are not even mentioned in the liner notes of the cd). Peters has more a raspy ness to his voice on the track. With an audience cheering behind the acoustic "One Step Closer to Home" rings out. Dave Sharp takes the lead vocals on this track and gives Peters a run for his money. The lush piano that plays along with him adds a nice accent. The track is really just the voice, guitar and piano. On the chorus he gets some backing vocal help but its a very stripped down song. A terrific track that builds in urgency as it progresses. Check out the live version below. "Shelter" comes right up with acoustic guitar and an electric over it. The song is a complete 180 from the last track, we are back to a full band and in rock mode. Sharp gets more of a work on on the electric and for the first time you can hear more of MacDonald in the mix which is nice. A major moment in a live setting "Rescue Me" seems toned down (duh) in the studio. Again, behold its awesomeness in the down load section. The track just builds to perhaps the bands most "sing along" moments. Just a great track. Peters shines vocally in "Permanence in Change" and allows MacDonald and Sharp to add the harmonies for a fuller sound. Twist hits the drums at times on the track, but is kept in check for the majority of the song, another anthem by the band. We slow things down some for "Presence of Love". The song, barring some strong work from Peters is not overly interesting. Its not a bad song, but it wouldn't sell new fans to the band. A choppy intro to "Only Love Can Set Me Free" sets the Alarm sound back in place. The urgency both musically and lyrically return. Sharp and MacDonald offer a lot more as backing vocalists on the track. The album closes with "Eye of the Hurricane", which opens with Sharp just ripping across the guitar strings before the rest of the band joins in. The song is a decent enough album closer that showcases strong musicianship and the band seems to be feeding off each other quite well.

Where are they now? - Dave Sharp has released a few solo records and still tours. His current work is called "AOR- The Spirit of the Alarm". That outlet performs Alarm set lists. Mike Peters continues to lead the Alarm with other members. He has released some solo work, worked with Billy Duffy (the Cult) and has a yearly festival called "The Gathering". Eddie MacDonald and Nigel Twist were included in the short lived VH1 series "Bands Reunited" in 2005. The Alarm performed again as the four piece but haven't since that time.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Seeing the Alarm live was always a thrill for me. My older brother introduced me to them and it was always a must see. The first time was May 6, 1986 at the Orpheum, and to this day it stands as one of the best shows I have ever been to. The next time was April 26, 1988 at the Wang Center in Boston. The band recorded the live album "Electric Folklore" at this show and my brother and I appear on the back cover in an image where Mike Peters entered the crowd. December 16, 1989 back at the Orpheum was a great show and the final time was at the Paradise on May 1, 1991. Peters has been around here and there solo and under the Alarm name but I just haven't gone out to see them. One other time I did see Mike and Dave perform a few songs solo was at an even called the "WBCN Rock and Roll Expo" at the Bayside Expo Center. I have no idea of the date but I think it was around the May of 86 range, the long ryders were the support act for the alarm and they too were at event and I recall them doing the Long Ryders track "Harriet Tubamns going to carry me Home". We were about 15 feet back dead center and the set was short..but fun.

FDF Overall Take - I was never a big fan of this record for some reason (hence the reason for grabbing it and giving it the once through vs a record I listen to more often)


The band has an official site here as well as a myspace page.
Dave Sharp has an official site here, as well as a myspace page for AOR. Finally, information on "The Gathering" can be found here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The Mp3s have been removed...

The studio versions of the songs are okay and can be found on "Eye of the Hurricane" which you can buy here (it is out of print but you can find it). I decided to go with the live versions of some stand out tracks, they better capture what the band is all about.

These live tracks are from "Electric Folklore Live" they recorded this in Boston on the "Hurricane" tour. It too is out of print, but not that expensive, and its awesome. Grab a copy here.

Newtown Jericho
Rain in the Summertime

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, January 09, 2009

FDF Volume 2 Issue 122: Journey - Raised on Radio

By: March

Album - Raised on Radio
Artist - Journey
Key Players - Neal Schon - guitars and vocals, Jonathan Cain - keyboards and vocals, Steve Perry - lead vocals, Randy Jackson - bass, vocals, Larrie Londin - drums, percussion. Also Bob Glaub (bass) and Steve Smith (drums) played on 1.,10. and 11

Produced By - Steve Perry

Release Date - May 27, 1986

What caused me to blow off the dust? - Being the youngest of three I had older brothers to "turf" music for me. Pretty much if they liked it chances are I would. Journey was no exception. I recall my oldest brother asking my mother for permission to see the band on the Escape tour in Boston. My other brother was more a completest and looked to their earlier works on cd as they became available. It all capped (for better or worse) with this record. While Journey still will bring a smile, or smirk, on my face they are not a band I reach for very often..matter o' fact, I needed to borrow the cd for this review.

Overview - Journey, around the time of this record were radio and MTV darlings, filling football stadiums across America and around the world. The band had been on a roll commercially since the Escape album was released (granted they had success before hand). Between Escape and Raised the band would sell 17 million records. Raised on Radio was the bands 9th album and it would reach #4 on the Billboard charts. Perry would leave the band after this record.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) Soft rock feeling keyboards bring up the lead off track "Girl Can't Help It" . Within 15 seconds the recognizable voice of Perry comes up. As the chorus approaches the band in more in full swing with a lot of harmonies. Smith keeps the drums on a straight trajectory not really showing off his chops, but it suits the songs. Schon has a quick solo before the song wraps up with the band singing in an acapella chorus. Cain gets to show off some of his piano chops at the intro of "Positive Touch" which sounds like a very friendly radio pop song. The song itself has a happy go lucky feel as well and is really sort of cheesy honestly. Schon gets the solo before the second chorus and a saxophone section is put down after the second chorus and the song seems to change direction right before your ears. "Suzanne" follows with a Flashdance soundtrack sounding intro, a hard drum beat but with chiming playful keyboard runs over the top. Perry is laid back at the outset but by the chorus his pipes get a full work out as hits some off the chart notes, he hits even higher notes at the end of the track (somehow). Musically the band is not all that adventurous, each player has their role and barring the Schon solo in each track its pretty much cut and paste stadium rock. We follow suit with "Be Good to Yourself". Another track with chiming keyboards before the band hits down about as hard as they are going to. The bass is a little more up in the mix and the harmonies/backing vocals are strong for this sing-a-long track. Schon also has his longest solo on the record to this point on this track. A darker sounding, and feeling track "Once You Love Somebody" follows. More swooping keyboards and deep bass/keyboard grooves. A few slap bass notes as well accent the intro. The music is a little more "choppy" at times and baring the vocals it wouldn't be the easiest to pin this down as a Journey song. "Happy To Give" begins with light and airy keyboards, get ready, its almost time for your lighters! Although it never comes to their stand out lighter waving tracks of the comes close. Opening with a blues harmonica the rocking "Raised On Radio" comes up. A more uptempo and focused track than the prior two. Again, we don't break the mold of what works, but its a strong track even though there are some cheezy lyrical nods scattered throughout..with references to "be bop a loo la" and "Blueberry Hill". The song most folks would recognize from this record is "I'll Be Alright Without You". A soft rock radio staple to this day. "It Could Have Been You" has Schon starting off the track with Cain throwing some simple keyboard progressions before Perry comes in. The track slowly builds to the chorus as the other members harmonize with Perry. Another track with a lot of Cains keyboard work is "The Eyes Of A Woman". The track is sort of a slow plodding track and never really seems to get rolling, or very interesting. The album wraps up with "Why Can't This Night Go On Forever". Perry starts to sing within the first 10 seconds with a solo Cain on piano backing him up, this remains for the first 30 seconds before the bass, guitar and drums come in. We have another lighter moment on our hands. Are you swaying? Are you holding hands (or hugging) your concert mates? Well its working. Schon is early on his flashy solo but its a tease. The track is pretty much the rinse lather repeat mantra..but its a decent song to wrap up the record.

Where are they now?
- The band lives on, although it has changed numerous times in the last few years. Schon and Cain have been members, and also worked together in the band "Bad English". Larrie Londin was brought in as a studio player worked on many projects passed away in August of 1992. Randy Jackson is one of the judges on the popular American television program "American Idol". Steve Smith, who Perry fired before this record has come and gone from Journey has also worked with Mariah Carey and continues to perform. Steve Perry left the band for a bit, then came back for a bit. Steve had released his solo record before Raised on Radio called "Street Talk" and then came back to Journey at the bequest of his mother. The band reformed and released another record called "Trial By Fire" but before the band could tour Perry hurt his hip and it was found he had a degenerative bone condition. After 17+ months the band approached Perry and said to have surgery or they'd go on with out him. The rest is history. A "best of" Steve Perry record is due in 2009 (there will be NO new material on this record). Journey now tours with a singer that was found off YouTube. Arnel Pineda sounds an awful lot like Steve, but rumors are already abounding he does not like to tour.

**Updated Friday January 9, 4:50pm**
I have noticed a TON of hits to this site, I appreciate it, but in looking it appears I have sparked a series of discussions on some message boards. A kind person alerted me to some issues with the section about what the band is up to now. So I wanted to take this persons suggestion and clarify some information.

- I do NOT have any proof that Steve Perry will release a solo record of new material this year. (any reference has been removed)

- The "best of collection" will contain no new material. For further information check the web site here. This is a FAN SITE so please keep that in mind as well.

I appreciate the hits to the blog today, and hope you will come back. I apologize if I lead any of you to believe that there was new solo perry material forthcoming. I have NO information, I am casual fan at best, so I apologize once more for "message board wars".

Also, appreciate the feed back and always will make corrections based off readers feedback.

Honestly I thought I was the only one that read this blog....

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I actually saw the band, on this tour. The show was October 31, 1986. My buddy got four tickets and they were back behind the stage. It was the sixth show I had ever been too. I remember it being sorta everything I expected (at least what the videos showed) lots of people swaying and was pretty freaking awesome. Opening the show was a band from Canada called Glass Tiger.

FDF Overall Take - Being a "fan" of Journey is sort of hit or miss. At a time it was probably cool, then not so cool, then the Sopranos series finale brought Journey back to peoples ears once more (in droves mind you). When they tour its always sort of a topic..should I/we go? Lets go have some laughs etc, but we never get our act together. Couple that with a band that is not embarrassed of its ticket prices and not the "real band" I am sort of soured on it. Still, in the world of ipods we can listen and not tell anyone. Granted folks would grab a best of collection this still really is Journey around the time of their commercial and popular success.

The band's official site, Steve Perry solo site here. Neal Schon has a
site as does Jonathan Cain. Check out what Steve Smith has been up to here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The mp3s have been removed. They were:

Girl Can't Help It
Be Good To Yourself

All the tracks were taken from "Raised on Radio" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.