Friday, June 26, 2009

FDF Volume 2 Issue 145: Mission of Burma - Signals Calls and Marches

By: March

Before we begin, don't forget to enter the contest.

Album - Signals, Calls and Marches
Artist - Mission of Burma
Key Players - Peter Prescott - drums, voice. Roger Miller - guitar, voice. Clint Conley - bass, voice, guitar. Martin Swope - tape.
Produced By - Richard W. Harte

Release Date - August 1981

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- Actually heard a song from the ep on satellite radio recently, got me to thinking. Simple as that.

Overview - Released as an ep in 1981 Boston based band Mission of Burma would slowly start their climb. Formed as a punk band, the band was well known for its raucous live shows they'd garner a large fan base in the Boston area. Since being released the ep has been re mastered two times, the first in 1997 added 2 additional singles, and a second in 2009. The band would form legions of fans in the rock circles and many bands would cover their songs. Perhaps the "biggest" cover was Mobys version of "That's When I Reach for My Revolver". The band would release a full length in 1982 and then disband, only to re-form in 2002 to only be more prolific.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - As noted this disc has been re-issued 2 times with additional tracks. Here is what made up the "original" version.

Opening with sort of a harmonic sounding bass "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" begins. The guitar runs quiet/loud and Prescott hits the drums like a jackhammer. The chorus sees the band really clicking and they all hit down. Conley is all over the bass and it is prominent in the mix punching out the back beat and then flashing some great fills. The backing vocals bark the chorus and the band is just in a frenzy as the song wraps up. A real barn burner of an opener. A kick drum opens "Outlaw" as the bass and guitar click off one another. The vocals are a little more attacked on this song, but the music has a delicate balance of urgent yet flawless in its delivery. The guitar gets a work out mid song and again the bass is more than just there to hold down the bottom. The track ends the same with the kick drum but some maracas thrown in for good measure. "Fame and Fortune" begins with the guitar and drums working in succession. The guitar loops on a series of the same notes as the bass comes over giving a strong melody. Vocals are swapped and there are some harmonies on the song, we are not talking Simon and Garfunkel but the band does show their chops. The shortest song on the ep is "This Is Not a Photograph" clocking in at under 2 minutes, and the band wastes little time getting rolling. The lyrics are sung quickly and the backing vocals are sung back with aggression. The guitar gets a work out on this track, but it is not a flashy guitar solo all the while the strong work on the bass by Conley stands out keeping things all in check. "Red" starts off a lot different than the prior track, with a single guitar opening the song before the drums and bass come up. The backing vocals fills with "oohs" as the main verse is sung and for all its post punk feel the band is really focused. There are instrumental breakdowns and some cool time changes during the track but it all seems to work, and the listener is not put off by what could come across as senseless "noodling" on their instruments. The ep wraps up with "All World Cowboy Romance" another song with simple, yet strong guitar playing at the beginning that is focal point for close to a minute of the track before the bass and drums are brought up. The band hits a groove and there are some ooohs and ahhs buried in the mix as the guitar riff repeats over it all. A bit later in the track it gets more chaotic, but still holds its place. The bass runs over the riffs on the guitar and the drums keep things tightly in check. The song is instrumental barring the "oohs and ahhs" and ends the ep on a high note.

Where are they now?
- The band is still active with only Martin Swope gone from the line up. The band broke up in 1983 mostly due to Millers long suffering battle with tinnitus but they reformed in 2002. Since that time they have released 2 additional records and have another slated for the fall of 2009. Swope lives in Hawaii and declined to rejoin the band when they reformed. He was replaced by Bob Weston, whom worked with Prescott in a band called Volcano Suns.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have never seen the band live. I really need to get my rear end if gear.

FDF Overall Take - Only in the last few years has the impact of MOB been felt to a more mainstream audience. The cover by Moby helped, but accolades in the press for avid admirers, and their resurgence has aging indie hipsters just drooling at the prospects of what is to come. The band seems to be doing things on their terms and that can only make for a finer product. This is well worth your time.

Official site is here as well as a myspace page here. This Wiki page will fill in more blanks as well.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The mp3's have been removed.

That's When I Reach for My Revolver

Tracks taken from the 1997 reissued version of "Signals, Calls, and Marches" which you can buy here. (this is the 2008 version)

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, June 19, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 144 - New Order - Technique

By: March

Album - Technique
Artist - New Order
Key Players - Gillian Gilbert - Synthesizers, programming and guitar, Stephen Morris - Drums, Synthesizers, programming. Peter Hook - Bass, electronic percussion, synth and programming. Bernard Sumner - vocals, guitar, melodica, synth and programming.
Produced By - New Order

Release Date - January 30, 1989

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- I've been sorta wanting to do a New Order record for a while.

Overview -Three surviving members of the UK band Joy Division went on to form New Order in 1980. On this, the bands 5th full length, the band would get their first taste of mainstream success. This was their first record to go to #1 (in the UK and it would peak at 32 on the US Charts). The band would tour extensively for this record and continue to release records until their hiatus in 1993. They'd return to tour and release more music. The band is, and was considered one of the most influential alternative and dance pop bands ever.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Before we get started, this disc got the "deluxe reissue" in 2008 that had many a 12 inch remix on it. What you have here is the break down of the 9 tracks that made up the original release. What sounds like a cymbal roll slowly fades up "Fine Time" before the barrage of keyboards come over. Each keyboardist has a "section" almost like a lead and rhythm. Sumner comes in with a growl before the song kicks in with its back beat, loop, hook..whatever you want to call it. The vocals get delayed and bounce between speakers before some heavier guitar comes over it. Hooks' punchy bass gets into the fold about 1:30 in, its a tone that is just to die for. About 2:40 in a sort of "robot voice" chants and the trademark Sumner/Hook stringed instruments have a sort interlude before we return to the programs/loops. Hook returns for a compressed bass run as the song begins to fade out, with some sheep "baahs" tossed in there for good measure. "All the Way" has more a guitar, drums and bass feel from the beginning. Sumner begins to sing after only a few bars and the song is sung at a pretty quick pace. Hook has some great bass riffs and the song really speeds along at a comfortable pace. The first keyboard interlude is about 1 minute in and it quickly is out of the way for the drum/bass/guitar. Hook gets a work out once again later in the tune, really showing his chops. The shortest track on the disc "Love Less" comes in with hard drums and bass with an acoustic guitar. The melody is held down with the bass and has some guitar riffs tossed in to fill out the tune. One of the singles from the record "Round & Round" quickly comes up with urgent single keyboard note bursts before falling into a more relaxed mode. Its still and up tempo track but Sumners vocals get a delay put on them and each keyboard runs a varied sequence. Hook has some great high notes on the bass smushed under the loopy bounce of the keyboards. The drums get an electric twist on them and phase is used as well. The phase is heavily used in the final few bars. A darker sounding "Guilty Partner" has Sumner singing hushed as Hook works his bass over it all. The guitar has a nice chime to it, and Morris is locked in to a tight groove. As we hit the chorus, the band gets a little louder and more urgent. There is a flamenco influenced guitar solo in the latter part of the song. Another single from the record "Run" has a curious story. It appears the guitar break sounded a lot like the John Denver song "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and he sued the band. The case was settled out of court. I had never noticed, so when I listened once more I tired to see if I could sing "said song" and low and behold. you can do it. Otherwise, the song is one of the stronger tracks on the record. The bass and guitar are more of a focus rather than the syths. You also hear some backing vocals for the first time on this track. The final few minutes of this track are just stunning. They nailed this one. "Mr. Disco" sounds like a disco song as you'd assume. The keyboards have some lighter moments but the tone has been set. The deep keyboard beat of "Vanishing Point" will shake the dust off your speakers. The layers of keyboard range from playful to deep and booming. The feed off the electric drums keeps a steady back beat and the song has a breakdown before return to its dance feel. Another strong acoustic guitar led track closes out the record in "Dream Attack". The intro is guitar and the drums with little other filler. After a bit the keyboard bass line comes in. Like many of their songs there is a strong back beat to this, easily gets your toes tapping. A piano interlude is a nice change of pace as well.

Where are they now? The band took a hiatus between 1993 and 1998. In 2001 they out a new record, but in 2007 Peter Hook left the band. Just recently (June of 2009) Bernard Sumner announced that the remaining members of New Order had formed a new band called "Bad Lieutenant" with the bassist from Blur (Alex James), thus ending New Order.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I saw the band two times on tour. The first time was August 18, 1987 at Great Woods (Comcast Center) with Echo and the Bunnymen (A Look at Heaven Up Here) as the headliners. Also on the bill was Gene Loves Jezebel. (A Look at Kiss of Life) The second time was July 10, 1989 where they headlined over Public Image Limited (A Look at the "Generic" album and the Sugarcubes. (A Look at Life is Good). The most memorable moment of this show was someone jumped up on stage and Peter Hook just wailed him with his bass. I am gonna take a beating for this, but they were seriously one of the most boring live bands ever.

FDF Overall Take - This record was sort of a big moment for New Order. They were getting to be more mainstream, and in doing so getting long term fans a little worked up, but in the long run it worked out for all parties. For a studio record this is pretty solid and representative of their overall "feel". Casual fans would probably be just as happy with an anthology, but this is is a decent enough studio record.


Great site here, as well as a myspace page.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Mp3s have been removed, they were:
Fine Time and Run 2

Tracks taken from "Technique" 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.

Friday, June 12, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 143 Billy Bragg - Talking with the Taxman about Poetry

By: March

Album - Talking with the Taxman About Poetry
Artist - Billy Bragg
Key Players - Billy Bragg - vocals and guitars. Many other guests I will try to mention as we break down songs.
Produced By - John Porter + Kenny Jones

Release Date - September 1986

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- I have been meaning to go back to one of his records and give it the old "once over" for this blog. Been reading/hearing about him a little more as of late, so figured it was time.

- This is the third release (second full length album) from Billy Bragg. On his prior releases it was just Bragg, but on this he incorporated more musicians such as Johnny Marr. The album would spawn two singles in the UK, neither would chart very well but that never kept Bragg from writing, recording and touring.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with a lone acoustic guitar on "Greetings to the New Brunette". There is no mistaking the accent, that Bragg doesn't hide at all..ever. The song is a mid tempo, yet fun track, a great lead off track. Sweet harmonies at the end with Kristy MacColl as the song wraps up that is also accompanied by a great slide guitar solo. A cover tune (originally done by The Count Bishops) "Train Train" follows, and is a more aggressive track with electric guitar and some flashes of violin/fiddle. The song is sung at an aggressive clip and Bragg really strums the guitar chords hard at times. "The Marriage" has horn section intro, funky electric guitar sound and Bragg seems playful with his vocal delivery. The horn portions blurt out and fill the song just perfectly, never over doing it. Bragg sucks you in with is lyrical content and you really will notice that he articulates his words. There is no confusion as to "what did he say?". The horns really add a great touch and really fill out the track. "Ideology" begins with a lone electric guitar and Bragg begins the vocal track on a strong note. He is in fine form, never straining yet setting the urgency level rather high. One of the first singles from the record "Levi Stubbs' Tears" follows. Again, a lone electric guitar and Bragg is the theme. He gets a lot of "clank" from the guitar on this riffs. In listening its sort of an odd choice for a "single" as it doesn't have an overall "hook" to it to lure the listener in. It is not a bad track, just a curious choice. The piano is the instrument of choice on "Honey, I'm a Big Boy Now". An old west saloon style sounding piano with Bragg singing along. This is the second longest track on the record and its only 4:05 long. A traditional track "There Is Power in a Union" gets a little make over from Bragg. The electric guitar is slung like a gun on his hip and he has some great harmonies along with him. Like many political "fight songs" it has a sting to it, but also is worthy of a sing along. Bragg really shines on "Help Save the Youth of America" my personal favorite on the record. I always wanted to lean how to sing/play guitar and do this at an open mic. His accent makes this song so fun and just calls many things to mind about the "Youth of America". "help save them from themselves" it might have been written in the mid 1980's but 99% of it stands true today. I have a vinyl 12 inch single of this song, and the b'side is a live version of this that he SLAYS. I need to get a USB turntable damn it. We are a little less rushed on "Wishing the Days Away". The song gets you to think, about wishing your days away. How each day you want it to be the next etc. Its Bragg, and acoustic and some other mandolins etc to fill things out, splashed with some strings, before a tight, yet simple guitar solo swoops over the mid section of the song. MacColl and Marr return on "The Passion". Marr has a nice vibrato on his guitar and its nice to hear the mix of electric and acoustic guitars across this record. MacColl is not up too high in the mix on the chorus, but the guitar from Marr is "right there". Great stuff. "The Warmest Room" is one of the first tracks that feels like a full band is playing as there are a lot of additional instruments. The listener is used to guitar mostly, but here we have some nice organ fills and then the acoustic guitar bursts to remind us what, and who, we are listening to. The album closes with the longest track "The Home Front". Another track with some horns at the intro before Bragg comes in. The song is a full sounding track but in listening on headphones and doing other things I was not pulled into the track. Its not a bad track, but gone is a little of that "urgency" we've gotten used to by this point.

Where are they now? Bragg remains very active to this day. He is still writing, recording and touring. He most recent studio album Mr. Love & Justice, was released in March 2008. Bragg has been involved in politics since he began his musical career and continues to offer songs to charity records, and performs at festivals etc for various "causes" close to his heart.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The one and only time I have seen Billy Bragg in concerts was (hoo boy) opening for Barenaked Ladies at Harborlights in Boston on July 11, 1995. It was a long time coming and it was a great fun set. He even came back out to do his "hit" at the time "Sexuality" with the BNL guys. I recall sitting sort of stunned he had ignored the song in his set. He has been through town many more times but I just haven't gotten my act together..I really should shouldn't I?

FDF Overall Take - While most causal fans would be happy with his "Sexuality" single this is a pretty great record. Braggs work with Wilco (FDF Looks at Summerteeth) on the Mermaid Avenue record(s) has also turned some heads. Some of his early cds (this one included) has gotten a re-issue/expanded version put out. Casual fans, would probably be pleased with this best of collection "Must I Paint You a Picture?"

Billy has an official page a blog, a myspace page and, a twitter page.

Also, I found this cool blog where the author gives this same record the once over like we do here on FDF. Well done, just wanted to share that link here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

the mp3s have been removed.

There is Power In a Union
The Warmest Room
Help Save the Youth of America

All the tracks were taken from "Talking w/the Taxman about Poetry" which you can buy

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, June 05, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 142 **Restore** - Paul Young : No Parlez

By: March

This is a re post of the article with NO Music. I was "spoken to"

Album - No Parlez
Artist - Paul Young
Key Players - Paul Young - vocals. (various players on all other tracks)
Produced By - Laurie Latham

Release Date - 1983

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- I bought this record for 1-2 singles on cassette tape, and then saw the cd in a 2.99 or less bin one day and figured why not have it on cd. I think the day I got it was the last time I listened to just the singles..its been forever, if EVER since I've listen to this whole album.

Overview - This is the debut album from Paul Young. The singer, labeled as a "blue-eyed soul singer" would crack the UK charts with three singles of this debut record. He'd hit the road and on his US tour he'd wear out his vocals so badly he'd need to take over a year off. Paul would keep in Americas psyche as one of the singers on the charity single "Do they Know It's Christmas?". Paul would only garner light success in the US on his next record and would continue to release solo records with his last being in 1997.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- Before we begin, just want to say we'll review the US version of the cd. Not only is the cover art different but tracks, at times, are shorter on this version. For example the UK version, the first track is over 7 minutes long, the US its under 4:30. With that said, here we go. The first track and one of the singles from the record "Come Back and Stay" begins with bass and full sounding keyboards. The bass has a slap to it before a second keyboard plays a series of notes and a bass fill comes over that. Young croons, very smoothly but with a hint of grit in his voice. He pushes himself in octave range and is complimented by a few female backup singers. The song has sort of the same full sound throughout, but it seems to feel sparse at times. The female vocalists do a little "over singing" and Young brings the focus back on a later verse. They work on some alternate timings as well but the song retains its feel on through to the end. Treading some perhaps "sacred ground" Young tackles the Joy Division classic "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Young does make the song his own, (think American Idol for better or worse). A once dark song suddenly is a little more bubbly for one reason or another. Musically it doesn't stray from the original too much, but as a long standing fan of the original, this really is almost uncomfortable. Following suit, Young does a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)". Again, treading some perhaps sacred ground he does a pretty good version of the song. At the outset he doesn't over sign and lets the vibrato in his voice carry some. The instruments feel a little canned and the bass has a lot of swooping, long slides at times that stand out and take the focus off the vocals. Strings fill out the final verses and Young tries the soulful howl, and it works, a little at least. "Ku Ku Kurama" opens with that deep 80's synth bass sound. There is some female chanting and noise making going on in the back before Young comes in with a heavily compressed vocal track. He sings in a deep voice and the song is a mid tempo affair but gets a little more bounce to it as it progresses. The title track "No Parlez" is another slice of 80's pop. With the synths and bass guitar that sounds a little too "bottled". The back beat has a hand clap feel but Young doesn't seem to want to pick up the tempo. There is the obligatory solo in this track, really for the first time, with a midi sounding guitar solo, not really a chime to the strings, more a computer based solo. The bass is up in the mix and it feels really in place with music of the time. The track that got me to buy the cd "Love of the Common People" is next, and comes at just the right time honestly. If the record had this feel throughout I think it would have done a lot better. It still has a very synth based sound, with a very electric feel to it, but Young sings clear, strong and the female singers in the background are utilized perfectly. Its almost refreshing, if you really listen, to hear Young sound a little out of breath on the chorus. There is a trombone! solo before the final verse begins, and it has a cool calypso back beat as well. He repeats the chorus a few times at the outtro and pushes his vocal range but doesn't sound strained. It begins the slow fade, the gem of the record. "Oh Women" opens up at a fever pitch. We get that bass sound, and an electric drum feel. The first verse is really the bass, drums and Young. The bass is very punchy and up in the mix, and as the chorus comes up there is a much more "airy" keyboard. It gets very syncopated at times, but fits right in. This is the fastest song on the record and is sort of a welcome change. "Iron Out the Rough Spots" has female vocalists on a delay and the keyboard line is simple before Young comes in. The keyboard at times sounds like a wooden trail whistle, and Young once more pushes himself. There is a marimba that is brought up in the mix before Young begins the second verse and it returns each time before the chorus. There is a dual piano section before the percussion instruments get a work out. It quickly falls back into the tempo/vibe it had at the outset. There is an extensive instrumental breakdown before Young comes back in singing in a very low octave. The female vocalists continually call out "the rough spots" as the song fades. Strings open and accompany Young on "Broken Man". Young sings with just the strings for the song, with piano a little later. He hits a few notes that are a little out of his range, but its charming at the same time. "Tender Trap" also begins with keyboards and strong back beat. Young starts singing quickly and doesn't the the band to plod along. The verse/chorus transition is a little odd, almost like they were changing speeds but they are quick to correct the interlude. The female vocalists return as well on the track. The album closes with "Sex" a track that has a very chaotic intro. The vocals almost don't even seem like Young at first, and he sings at a rapid pace with the female vocalists single along with him.

Where are they now? - According to various Internet sources Paul still sings from time to time, but has taking a liking to cooking, and cooking shows. In 2006 he appeared on a BBC1 show "Celebrity Masterchef" and he won the show. He was also a contestant on "Hells Kitchen" before it came to the US.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I never have seen Paul Young live.

FDF Overall Take - Admit tingly I bought this cd for 1 or 2 songs to begin with. The singles are not terrible by any means, but the bulk of the record didn't wow me back into a constant rotation (or even adding a lot of it to my ipod). It is not that he is not a strong singer, it just didn't hit me as a collective whole. If you are curious there is a best of collection you may want to begin with.

Official Site

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
There are no mp3s.

All the tracks taken from No Parlez 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.