Friday, March 27, 2009

The Black Widows - Arocknophobia

All instrumental, all original, all evil; in league with Davey Allan & the Arrows, Link Wray, the Ventures, Blue Oyster Cult & biker movies. Not surf per se, heavy crunch riff spy rawk instro is more like it – Brandonio – this one’s for you. Will tear up your eardrums in no time flat. Play it loud and proud.

1. Road Hawg 2. My Least Favorite Martian 3. Fellini Raygun 4. Rasputin's Holiday 5. Agent Double-O Swing 6. Cosmic Ape7. Parazone 8. Que Mala 9. Vlad the Impaler 10. Zero's Hour 11. Bop-A-Roo 12. Space Ghost 13. Toro 14. Black Sea 15. Bitter End 16. War Dance 17. Creepsville 18. Burnout


East Coast Tremors

In this category of surf rock, which is somewhat ill-defined, here stands the real deal. Easily the one of the best contemporary surf groups I've heard in months. The playing is impeccable, the tunes are all original (and fully instrumental!), and there's plenty of variety and energy. EAST COAST TREMORS' goes way beyond your basic surf standards. This album displays the band's versatility with traditional surf, horror blues, punk rawk, all acoustic country, spy, carnival waltz music, and their own brand of psycho surf. Don't let it pass you by!

Beesting/Marconi Meltdown/The Crawling Eye/Because You're Young/Witchfinder Central/Return of the Kraken/Windmill Weekend/Downfall/Quit Your Job/Vaudeville/Bounty Hunter/Killer Fill Revisited/Viva El Chupacabra!


Robin Sylar - Bust Out

The tradition of Texas blues is as wide as Texas itself. Sometimes it is easy to wonder if new blood can be struck from the same old vein. Just the opposite would be true of Robin Sylar. Faithful but forceful interpretations of vintage instrumentals are only a part of the Sylar story. Robin Sylar has played with blues icons Stevie Ray Vaughan (in their group Crackerjack), Doyle Bramhall (bass, guitar & vocals - Bird Nest on the Ground), James Harmon, Big Joe Turner, George Smith, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Marcia Ball, Randy Mcallister, Robert Ealey, U.P. Wilson and even joined Canned Heat for a year. Producer Wes Race just let these guys do it their way and it shows right from the blistering first track: "Bust Out," to the finale "Flashback," an eight minute and 40 second guitar lesson! Some of the major highlights start at #3: "Dynomite Nitro", an up-tempo shuffle, complete with an appropriate amount of vocal distortion which sounds like he's singing through an old 60s "Fuzzbox." Number four. (Bertha Lu) takes on a tough edge with some hilarious lyrics. The song "Scratchy" is a cross between Link Wray and Davie Allan & The Arrows, with Fahey-esque sound effects-and all hell breaks loose. His guitar takes a step beyond on track #6: "Wild Cherry." There are fifteen tracks, and you've got to think fun. That's what this record is all about-hell raising. Screamin' Jay Hawkins would've loved these guys. Check this out and put a smile on your face!

1.BustOut 2. Louisiana Lava Man 3. Dynomite Nitro 4. Bertha Lu 5. Scratchy 6. Wild Cherry 7. Delivery Boy 8. Dux 9. Taken For A Ride 10. Double Dip 11. Queen Of The Hop 12. Steel Trap 13. Wild Angels 14. Made Up My Mind 15. Flashback



Robin Sylar - Tricked Out

Better guitar, better choice of songs – hey he even does justice to the classic “You're Gonna Miss Me” by the 13th Floor Elevators as a major slash psyche jam that would do them proud. Absolutely recommended. Get them both and make your own killer mix.

1 You're Gonna Miss Me 2 Shaking All Over 3 Iko Iko 4 Hollywood Millionaire 5 Heart Of Stone 6 Pretty Girls7 Shot Time 8 Back To Iuka 9 Surf Puppy10 Can't Judge A Book11 Misirlou12 Sugar Bee13 Hand Jive14 Wine Spo-Dee-Odee (aka Drinkin Wine-Spo-Dee-O-Dee Drinkin Wine)15 Pipeline



Big Lazy - Amnesia

This is a gorgeous CD. It is sophisticated, angular and moody, and displays great talent in both writing and performance. The tracks range from slow detective foggy nights to energetic dissonant romps. Highly adventurous and entertaining. Formerly known as Lazy Boy, they have succumbed to the chair people in their struggle to retain their identity, though it's highly unlikely that raccoons would confuse their music for a lounge chair. 4 stars – Phil Dirt

I recommend ALL their stuff- some of the best "cinematic" pure instro around. Check them out in the archives and see for yourself.

1. Curb Urchin 2. Theme from Headtrader 3. Junction City 4. Uneasy Street 5. The Mole 6. Latin Quarter


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Angelo Santoro – Psychedelic Surf - OOP excellence

Hi all,
It's that time of year again - the theatre troupe I belong to is performing the classic musical - "Guys and Dolls" and yours truly will be on stage every night for the next two weeks.
Soooo - time will be tight and I figured I'd do a mega post to cover until there's a break.

This one has goodies for all - surf, lounge, unclassifyable instros, classic jazz and modern remixes. Enjoy.

Let's start with some unsual surf ----

Angelo Santoro's version of "Meadowlands" on Santoro II is the version that inspired the Berzerkers to play and record that song. While that's not here, these 1988 tracks are very well played and thoroughly enjoyable recordings. The degree to which he develops multiple guitar parts and layers the sound seems to envelope the listener. Mostly electric with some drums that petty much fade in the background.

This is not heavy twang surf more like the Rautalanka style as heard in Boppeslag – see links.

Kind of laid back and yet it definitely grows on you with repeated listenings.

Phil Dirt gives him 4 stars. So do I. Check it out for a change of pace.

1.Walk Don't Run' 60.2. Walk Don't Run' 88.3. Theme From Surf City.4. Psychedelic Surf Part 1.5. Dance Vice.6. Hurrah For D.K. Part 1.7. Surfin' On The Nile.8. A Surfboard For Kamala Part 1.9. Wrestle Mania.10. Space Traveller.11. Guitar Medley. Girasol/La Bamba/Baia/Tequila.12. Lookin' At The Mirror, (What Do You See?)13. Hurrah For D.K. Part 2.14. Psychedelic Surf Part 2.15. A Surfboard For Kamala Part 2.16. Marabi.



Tiger Club S/T

New discovery!!! Baxter Robertson and his Tiger Club have scored a big one here. I feel transported back to a time when music was more fun and catchy and made you feel good. Traces of Herb Alpert, Junior Walker, Dick Dale and Brooker T and The MG's just make this a wailin’ blast. Of course, this album is more than all these influences and has its own unique character as well, the tunes sound somehow familiar like they should have been around in the 60's and somehow modern. Cool beans. Horn dominated loungy rock instros. Great for rainy days, partys and driving.

Trust me on this one –one blast through the ol’player and you will be hooked. Satisfaction guaranteed or triple your money back.

1 Trash Talkin' 2 Hey Diddle Diddle 3 Starlet 4 Karamel Korn 5 Rengstorff Road 6 Shakedown 7 Requiem for Ranger Bob 8 Meet Me in Warsaw 9 Tube Top 10 Boo's Ballad 11 Simple Boy 12 Junior's Walk 13 Bossa Deliciosa 14 Manresa Ripper 15 North Beach Nocturne


Shadowymen On A Shadowy Planet Tribute

I have to admit, some tributes are hit or miss -- you may like some tracks, but some of the covers may sound flat or uninspired, falling short of originals' level of quality -- BUT NOT SO HERE.
With this release, the opposite is true. The songs take a new life of their own and the end result is a genuine treasure. I've bought my share of instro tributes, but this one is better than all.
The reason? I have to guess that it's got a lot to do with The Shadowy Men's status as one of the forefathers of the third wave of Surf Instro, and being a seminal band in both the US and Canada.
Don't miss out on this one. A++ all the way.

1. Good Cop Bad Cop 2. Zombie Compromise 3. Shake Some Evil - Mulchmen 4. Egypt Texas - Insect Surfers 5. Customized 6. Harlem by the Sea 7. Having an Average Weekend 8. Reid's Situation - Spy-Fi 9. Aunt's Invasion - The Sandblasters 10. Hot Box Car 11. Jackpot 12. Ben Hur Picked off in a Gazebo - Pop Defect, 13. Siesta Cinema 14. Unwatchable/Three Piece Suit - Squid Vicious 15. That Wuz Ear Me Callin' a Horse - Breakfastime 16. Spy School Graduation Theme - Squid Vicious 17. Mecca 18. Algoma Reflections - The Sadies 19. Peas Porridge Rock/You Spin Me Round '86 - The Surfdusters 20. They Don't Call Them Chihuahuas Anymore 21. Off Our Back Conrad Black - The Sawney Bean Band 22. Memories of Gay Paree


Slacktone- S/T

This splendidly tight, high-energy instrumental trio is the surf band that other surf bands listen to for inspiration. They're anchored by guitarist Dave Wronski -- the Segovia of Surf -- who coaxes a couple of overlapping voices out of one guitar. This is the first of Slacktone's two studio CDs; they also have two live ones that are pretty easily obtainable.
Slacktone's reference point is mid-1960s, pre-psychedelic surf music. But there's something timeless about where they take those roots. Old Moorish modes creep in through Spanish/Mexican motifs, and the South Seas echo in some of their tribal-sounding pentatonic stuff. Wronski often plays in octaves, recalling jazz guitarists like Wes Montgomery. He also uses a flanger to get a 12-string sound that might remind you of the Byrds. I can't stop listening to any of their stuff -- beware, it becomes addictive the second time you spin it! 4 stars from Phil Dirt, I agree- what do you think?

1. Tidal Wave 2. P C H 3. Skateaboard Commando 4. Mysterioso 5. Goldfinger 6. Reflection: Life or Lemming 7. Rosarito3-Day 8. Nocturne 9. Outsider 10. Bells of St. Kahuna 11. Chaos 12. Lift and Separate 13. Hit Man 14. Skeleton Key 15. Gung Ho for Don Ho


Weisstraunauts - Instro-tainment

If there is such a thing as a forward-thinking surf band, the Weisstronauts from Boston are it. Avoiding the purism that makes so many instrumental retro-fetishists seem redundant, the Weisstronauts combine vintage surf and Nashville chicken-pickin with cartoon zaniness and spaghetti Western intrigue. They often recall NRBQ's offbeat musical humor as much as Link Wray's reverb-drenched Tarantino fodder. --Jack Silverman, Nashville Scene

Instro-tainment is the fifth album from this quintessential Boston five-piece. Featuring three guitarists, just like the Outlaws, and utilizing the same type of bassist-and-drummer rhythm section configuration made famous by the Beatles and the John Coltrane Quartet, the Weisstronauts are the cat's pajamas. With influences ranging from spaghetti western & spy movie soundtracks to space rock, surf, twang and more, the Weisstronauts steadfastly refuse the sort of genre-pigeon-holing one finds in artists like Motley Crue or John Phillip Sousa, preferring instead to follow their singular muse wherever it may take them, much like their heroes, the London Symphony Orchestra. For living proof, listen to their entire catalogue right here in the archives. This one has more C&W influences than the last ones so enjoy the musicianship and great playing – this is not true surf, excellent rock instros. Hey, even a cover of a Monkee’s tune. Great stuff for the musically adventurous.

1. Fisticuffs 2. Seven X's 3. Caixa dos Moluscos 4. Truck Drivin' 5. Chicky 6. Get it Together 7. Modsavasana 8. What Goes On? 9. Banana Suit 10. Jet Pack 11. Pleasant Valley Sunday 12. Surf's Down 13. Sir Wacky 14. Back Porch


Verve Remixed V1

The idea of taking a "classic" track and updating it for club consumption isn't new and the road to success is littered with the burnt-out wrecks of failure. But when it works, as it does on most of the tracks here, the results can be quite magical. So, what makes it work?
The quality of the original (unmixed) tracks is superb. Great songs to begin with. 2) The remixes do great justice to the original songs and performers. There's a great deal of respect to these legendary performers and their voices in the remixes. 3) The quality of these remixes is outstanding.
Well, in the case of Richard Dorfmeister's stunning interpretation of Willie Bobo's "Spanish Grease" it's understanding why the original is so infectious and then overlaying & seriously extending these elements with the very best of electronica/dance to make it... much better. Or in the case of Thievery Corporation's total rework of Astrud Gilberto's "Who Needs Forever?" its taking a couple of phrases from the song that capture the atmosphere & essence of the artist and using them to produce something that, while it bears little relation to the original, becomes one of the very best Astrud Gilberto tracks you'll ever hear.

BUT BEWARE, the sound is not jazz (maybe nu-jazz or electro-jazz, but not jazz). It is definitely sexy, groovy, funky, retro-cool, classy electronic music with touches of jazz. Perfect for any situation. Pre-party warm-up at home, martini-drinking at a nice lounge, people-watching at or maybe simply at home working on your laptop.

Clever & brilliantly effective, the whole album is stuffed full of similarly impressive remixes by some of the best club artists around and, if you like this sort of thing, it's an absolute "must". Once it gets its hooks into you it's pretty impossible to put down.This is sooo good, it's gonna make you feel hip, cool, and sexy...But all that BS aside, the track selection, remixes, and overall production quality make of this album a TRUE GEM. Go get it. Check below for the original versions for extra goodness - yes, those are true jazz for the purists.

1. Spanish Grease [Dorfmeister Con Madrid de Los Austrias Muga Reserv] - Willie Bobo 2. How Long Has This Been Going On? [MJ Cole Remix] - Carmen McRae 3. Who Needs Forever? [Thievery Corporation Remix] - Astrud Gilberto 4. Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby? [Rae & Christian Remix] - Dinah Washington 5. Feeling Good [Joe Clausell Remix] - Nina Simone 6. Return to Paradise [Mark de Clive-Lowe Remix] - Shirley Horn 7. Wait Till You See Him [De-Phazz Remix] - Ella Fitzgerald 8. Don't Explain [dZihan & Kamien Remix] - Billie Holiday 9. See-Line Woman [Masters at Work Remix] - Nina Simone 10. Summertime [UFO Remix] - Sarah Vaughan 11. Strange Fruit [Tricky Remix] - Billie Holiday 12. Hare Krishna [King Britt Funke Mix] - Tony Scott



Verve Unmixed -the originals

This is the companion piece to the compilation "Verve Remixed," which had dance-interpretations of classic jazz tunes. On this album, we get the original versions, and they all shine in their pristine glory. The track listing is flawless, sampling the work of Billie Holliday, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughn, and other must-have legendary jazz artists. The Verve label has rightfully earned its status as one of the leading names in jazz, and they've come up with a dynamite album whose pricetag makes it an appealing bargain. Those who own "Verve Remixed" shouldn't even have to ask if they need to get this album. Both discs compliment each other like mashed potatoes and gravy.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

GNP 40th Anniversary Sampler - Surf, Sci-Fi, Action

GNP Sampler 40th Anniversary – Action Adventure Surf Sci-Fi

This 28 track, limited edition release from GNP Crescendo features some cool music by the Tornadoes, The Challengers, Billy Strange, Surf Raiders and others. Some really nice sci-fi electronic pieces from Alex Cima – very 80’s Tangerine Dream sounding, a bizarre avant gard piece from Steve Roach (Karavan) and some listenably decent sound track or possibly production music by Neil Norman – the son of GNP’s founder and now head honcho. Perfect Wave is standout. The last part is Neil Norman’s first solo effort, now OOP – Not Of This Earth. So think of this as a twofer. Well worth it for its variety – a little or a lot of something everyone will like. Check out Brandonio's place - RockisDeadRIP - in sidebar - for more on Neil Norman.

Metrolites – For The People

From the first Russian inspired harmonies of KGB vs. UFO to the final sounds of fascist dictator speeches across the radio dial (For the People), you know you're in for a treat. The album combines hard driving rock-n-roll with surf, lounge, 60's sci fi, and spaghetti western sounds for an inventive and fun listen with an anti-government/protest theme. Very current. The sound is often sultry and seductive with a bit of whimsy. A catchy tune with brilliant interplay of counter melodies and harmonies is the standard throughout. The contrast of the rich baritone voice with the thin tenor is featured on several songs. When listening one must ask: "Do they serve martinis on the planet of the apes? And if so, can I have my shaken not stirred?" Just like Four Piece Suit (see archives), their influences range from straight up rock and roll, to spaghetti western, to Tin Pan Alley. Watch out for the sultry bump and grind saxophone of Agent Orange and the hard driving guitar of Diabolik Kriminal. Listening to this will have you humming the melodies and tapping your toes while mixing the perfect ratio of vermouth to gin. Also check out their first one – In Spy-Fi - in the archives- for a double dose of spiffiness. Crank up those cocktail shakers and let loose.

UFO vs. KGB 2. K is for Kafka 3. Welcome to the Police State 4. Cocktails on the Planet of the Apes 5. Banana Republique 6. Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Spy 7. Old Fascist Gal 8. Chunky Macapuno 9. High School Friends 10. All Giant Monsters Attack Tokyo 11. Marsupial Legal Proceeding 12. Giant Hula Monster 13. Agent Orange Gets His Groove Back 14. Diabolik Kriminal 15. For The People


Chicago Blues Reunion - Buried Alive

Do you remember the old classic (well, some thought so) blues supersession album FATHERS AND SONS? Well, these guys are the first to admit that they are "the sons" (well, there's a "daughter" in the mix as well). That's why singer/songwriter Nick Gravenites talks about creating the "NORTHSIDE" blues scene. So the title is a bit misleading -- in the actual concert and in more extensive interviews, he went on at length about their many trips to the Southside clubs to catch the acts of the founding fathers. It was what the then new generation of blues artists (and blues influenced rockers) were cutting their teeth on. And this second generation of (yes, usually white) blues artists--which included Gravenites, Corky Siegel, Barry Goldberg and Harvey Mandel (all headliners here), alongside others like Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield and Charlie Musselwhite--were prime movers of this burgeoning music scene. Also in the audience (though not usually gracing the Chicago stages, to my knowledge) was an eager young singer from Madison, WI, who was watching, learning and developing into one of the most powerful singers of her generation. That would be Tracy Nelson, who most people associate with San Francisco and, later, Nashville--but whose roots run deep in Chicago. So when someone got the idea of a Chicago reunion, it's not as though these artists weren't all legit. It may well be that as a group, they did not achieve the fame of some of their peers, or of their predecessors for that matter. But even a cursory listen to this record should convince the unbiased listener that they should have met with greater success than they did. Life's not always fair. It's enough to make you want to sing the blues. And sing 'em they do. Nick Gravenites has always been something of a blues-rock stalwart. His main claim to fame heretofore has probably always been his songwriting (penning tunes for Joplin and others) and for his work with the shortlived Electric Flag. But he has always been an underrated singer. His is a rich, warm baritone and his delivery is always down-to-earth and good-humored. Yes, there is a bit of schtick to his delivery (and I guess he could be accused of a bit of name-dropping here and there, what with numerous the Janis and Muddy references), but I prefer to think of those a tips of the hat. Or maybe "two hats." On the album, Gravenites carries the greater portion of the vocal chores, with Tracy Nelson coming in a close second. The sequencing is actually kind of interesting. Tracy sort of sneaks in doing back up on Nick's title song "Buried Alive in the Blues" (the one Janis never got to record). The two singers complement each other well, and it is clear that Tracy, almost despite her overpowering solo vocals, is a skilled back-up singer as well. But on the very next track "Walk Away" she is ready to take center stage and deliver a classic, downright spinetingling performance. It's a blistering vocal, one that leaves the audience audibly awed. Nelson's fans (and I number myself among them, in case you hadn't guessed) may be somewhat disappointed that her numbers here have all been released before. But this is a revue styled show, and not the occasion to show off much in the way of new material. By the time the ensemble did its tour last summer, however, one song "Got A New Truck," a bouncy ditty Nelson co-wrote with Marcia Ball had been replaced by one of her classics, Memphis Slim's "Mother Earth" which gave her an opportunity for yet another tour de force vocal. (Too bad it's not included here, but I can't complain). In between the vocal tracks are a couple of scorching instrumentals ("GM Blues" and Mandel's "Snake"). Of course, the instrumentalists provide solid backing throughout and have substantial solos in many of the songs, but the instrumental tracks give them their own moment to shine. And they make the most of it. Easy to see how Harvey Mandel came by his nickname "King of the Psycha-Delta Blues." Of course, the greatest nod the group gives to the patriarchs is the addition of longtime blues drumming legend, Sam Lay. Lay does vocals on only two (or perhaps, more accurately, two and a half)tracks, but they are highlights. He does the vocal and percussion on "Gotta Find My Baby," and the album closes with his spirited mini-medley of "Hound Dog" and "Roll Over Beethoven." If you caught the band on tour, you know just how infectious his wry vocal delivery could be. The album conveys a similar excitement, but does leave you wanting more of Sam. Actually, it leaves you wanting more of just about every one, but that's just the nature of this kind of project. The beauty part is that all of these artists have extensive catalogs to check out. BURIED ALIVE is a fine listening experience in itself. It's also a great starting point.

Born In Chicago - featuring Nick Gravenites 2. Buried Alive In The Blues - featuring Nick Gravenites 3. Walk Away - featuring Tracy Nelson 4. Drinking Wine - featuring Nick Gravenites 5. GM Boogie - featuring Barry Goldberg & Harvey Mandel 6. Left Handed Soul - featuring Nick Gravenites 7. Miss You Like The Devil - featuring Tracy Nelson 8. All The Help I Can Get - featuring Tracy Nelson 9. Death Of Muddy Waters - featuring Nick Gravenites 10. Find My Baby - featuring Sam Lay 11. New Truck - featuring Tracy Nelson 12. King Bee - featuring Corky Siegel 13. Snake - featuring Harvey Mandel 14. Hound Dog - featuring Sam Lay


The Dawning of A New Era - Mojo

Songs that influenced The Specials, mostly reggae and a bit of punk. Dambusters March is classic and adding to our spy fi bit is I Spy (For the FBI). Fun variety.

01. Skinhead Moonstomp - Symarip 02. It Mek - Desmond Dekker & The Aces 03. Monkey Man - Toots & The Maytals 04. A Message To You Rudy - Dandy Livingstone & Rico 05. Concrete Jungle - Bob Marley & The Wailers 06. Gangsters - Neville Staple 07. Babylon’s Burning - The Ruts 08. I Spy (For The FBI) - The Untouchables 09. Hiawatha - The Belle Stars 10. Sea Cruise - Rico 11. Baby Come Back - The Equators 12. Skinhead - Laureal Aitken & The Loafers 13. Skin Lake - Judge Dread 14. Play My Record - Arthur Kay & The Originals 15. Dambusters March - JJ All Stars

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