WARMER MIXTAPES #614 | by Joe Knight [Rangers]
1. Echo And The Bunnymen | No Dark Things
Around the age of 14 I really got into northern English Post-Punk groups like the Bunnymen, the Chameleons and the Smiths. Will Sargent's sparse, single note approach on the guitar was a perfect foil for Johnny Marr's chord/riff attack. On this song he is given space to stretch out, destroys the right channel. This is my favorite track from one of my favorite records. The production on the record is damn near perfect. People who point to Martin Hannett's work on Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures as a model for gloomy, Ambient Pop Rock often overlook Heaven Up Here which sounds much more full if not quite as dark.
2. Stevie Wonder | Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)
I recently grabbed Music Of My Mind for about $2.00. While not nearly as strong as Innervisions or Talking Book this is a great record and Superwoman is an epic two part song with a great guitar solo by Buzzy Feiton. Other than that Stevie plays everything on this one including some awesome sounding early Arp synths. As talented as Stevie is I cannot help but think what a world class drummer would have done for his records. The vocals are noticeably grittier sounding and remind me of the way Sly's voice sounds on There's A Riot Going On. All in all this is a classic Stevie Love song that is both melancholic and uplifting.
3. Genesis | Back In N.Y.C.
I love old Genesis in small doses. Yes, it is ridiculously dramatic and, yes, I also embrace the Punk and Post-Punk that set out to destroy the inflated 70's Prog Rock of bands like Emerson, Lake And Palmer, Yes and Genesis. I can't really get through the entire double LP of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway but you don't need context to jam to this one. The song falls apart and gets too complex for its own good but the main riff and Peter Gabriel's distorted bark make this one a solid jam that grabs you from the get go.
4. Ash Ra Tempel | Sunrain
This summer I went on tour with friends KWJAZ, Sudden Oak and Swanox. We jammed New Age Of Earth countless times. There is a fine line between cheesy New Age synth doodling and focused, engaging compositions. This record epitomizes everything I enjoy about Synth based music. It's straightforward and beautiful and doesn't require extreme attention from the listener to enjoy it. However if you want to zone out on this one with headphones you can peel away a lot of layers, colors and moods.Timeless stuff. We stayed with someone in Pittsburgh who had a 70's pressing of this LP.
5. Steely Dan | Aja
You can find this record on the street in probably any major city along side with Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. The title cut might be my favorite Steely Dan song. Much has been written and documented about the production of this record and the sonically obsessed Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. You have to hear it to believe it. The sounds are as warm and up front as you will find on any record (Rumors is right up there too). Some critics think this record was the tipping point for the 70's dead room sound. The argument is that by taking the room out of the recordings you are left with an inaccurate picture of what the band sounds like live. However Steely Dan were never really a touring band, they were studio musicians who worked under the name Steely Dan. In the 80's with the advent of the SSL boards with in built in gates, reverbs and effects, everything shifted to bigger, brighter Ambient sounds. Producers started to incorporate an artificial room in an attempt to create a Live sound. This resulted in 80's Pop records sounding synthetic and Alien as opposed to Live and Organic. Of course, there are always exceptions and some 80's Pop records hold up well. Sonically what holds up better? Aja or Avalon by Roxy Music? For me it's a no brainer. I could listen to Aja all day long.
6. Big Black | Passing Complexion
I have Atomizer on wax. It's one of my prized possessions. I could stare at the album cover all day long. My friend introduced me to them in high school and I later revisited them after reading Our Band Could Be Your Life. For me Big Black made the entire genre of Heavy Metal look silly. They also get my vote for the most effective use of a drum machine. Passing Complexion has a nice melodic element to it that sounds like some kind of amped up Industrial Shoegaze romp. It's perfect and highly original for its time.
7. Felt | Birdmen
The first Felt album is one of the best Guitar albums ever. Period. Maurice Deebank's solo on this tune is one of my all time favorites. I could never really get into later Felt records but the sparse guitar and drum work on this debut make it one of my most to listened to LPs.
8. Neil Young | Bite The Bullet
This is about the raunchiest Rock you will get from Neil Young. What makes it charming is hearing such seedy words coming from such a delicate voice. Off of the uneven yet fantastic American Stars 'N Bars, this tune sounds like a live recording complete with backing vocals, two very distorted guitars and the signature Neil Young clunky drums. It's one of those Rock songs that is so raw you immediately feel like drinking whisky at a dive bar at 2 in the afternoon. We listened to this cut on the road quite a bit this summer as well.
9. Can | Bring Me Coffee Or Tea
Tago Mago is the best that Krautrock gets for me. I ended up buying the double LP reissue of this one (two beautiful shades of green vinyl). Originally I snagged the mp3's from my friend's computer but the song titles were out of order and for the longest time I thought the record started with this song. I always thought it was the coolest and strangest opener to any album I have heard before. I was disappointed to find out later that it was the closer. From the start of Bring Me Coffee Or Tea the mood and atmosphere is Thick and Visceral. You can grab the tension and cut it with a knife. The record sounds amazing and the playing is such a beautiful and unique balance of percussion, bass, organ, guitar and voice. My favorite record by Can.
10. Soft Machine | Moon In June
Soft Machine were a strange outfit. Third saw them move closer to the Arty fusion they would later refine. The song's first few minutes go in about 20 different directions before eventually settling down. It's a haphazard collage of strung together melodies but it grabs you from the beginning before eventually running out of steam. There is something oddly Groovy about Robert Wyatt's tinny attack on what sounds like a toy drumset. The sound quality is poor even by early 70's standards but it works and I have become somewhat addicted to this tune of late.