Posts Tagged ‘music’

Blast from the Past: 1979 music

2015/12/27

Hey, remember how back in August I talked about music? I’m going to do it again, but this time, in December!

I’m still doing that thing where I’ll listen to almost everything from a particular year on Spotify, and then curate a playlist of my favorites.  After I finished 1971, I moved on to 1979.  And. Oh man. 1979 was an amazing year. I still operate under the illusion that a single other person would want to listen to the playlists, so I try not to have the things be insanely long, but my full playlist for 1979 ended up being my longest yet at 436 songs (131 more than the one for 1982).  It hurt me physically and made me cry to remove some of the songs from the full list, so please listen to it so my suffering will have served a purpose.

Anyway, so much good stuff here!

Not all of it’s disco, but a lot of it’s disco. I guess I’m just a disco fan. I know, I know, disco was just about over by then, but there were still some solid albums in 1979: Grace Jones’s “Muse”, Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls”, Kool & the Gang’s “Ladies’ Night”, plus almost any disco album out of Europe (France Joli, Baccara, ‘Luv, . Seriously, you need to listen to Paul Jabara’s “Disco Wedding” as soon as possible. But, basically, when it comes to disco, Michael Jackson just strolls in and shows everybody how it’s done with “Off the Wall”

Also there’s lots of funk!  Despite the fact that, with every funk song I listen to, I’m less sure what “funk” actually is, I’ll probably never get enough of it. (Faves: “Gap Band II”, Parlet’s “Invasion of the Booty Snatchers”, Faze-O’s “Breakin’ the Funk”)

Plus you’ve got early electronic music from artists like Telex, Kraftwerk, and Roberto Cacciapaglia.  And then New Wave! (Sparks, Cars, Boomtown Rats. The Motels.) And just some poppy crap that I like anyway (Dollar, ABBA, Captain & Tennille)! And punk!… well, okay, I’m not that into punk, but I think there’s a few songs in there).

1979 seems to have been this nexus of great music because there was just so much going on, and so many great people doing it.

Top 10 albums? Geez, this part’s hard:

  1. The Ann Steel Album – Robert Cacciapaglia2.
  2. Tusk – Fleetwood Mac (this was my third time listening to it over the course of 6 or 7 years, and I finally get it. It’s a beautiful album.)
  3. Joe’s Garage – Frank Zappa
  4. Bad Girls – Donna Summer
  5. The Wall – Pink Floyd
  6. Breakfast in America – Supertramp
  7. Muse – Grace Jones
  8. Sheik Yerbouti – Frank Zappa
  9. The Fine Art of Surfacing – The Boomtown Rats
  10. Three Hearts – Bob Welch

Again, the idea behind this musical journey is I got tired of listening to the albums and artists I already knew over and over again, so I wanted to just dive in and listen to new stuff.  Just like with every other year I’ve done (so far 1971, 1974, and 1982) there’s a bunch of crap, but a bunch of gems that I may never have come across otherwise.  So here’s the bands I discovered that are pretty cool and that you should give a chance:

  • Baccara
  • Paul Jabara
  • Rickie Lee Jones (holy crap what a voice)
  • Scherrie & Susaye
  • Bob Welch (okay, I *suppose* that’s not entirely true because of his time with Fleetwood Mac, but still)
  • Suzi Lane
  • The Motels
  • The Flying Lizards
  • Rockets
  • Tantrum
  • Parlet
  • Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns

Super-special mention for 1979: Pink Lady

Unfortunately, Spotify does not have any of Pink Lady’s albums, but I was so intrigued by the idea of a Japanese female disco-pop duo that I bought four of their main albums: Pepper Keibu, Hoshi kara Kita Futari, Magical Musical Tour, and We Are Sexy. They are seriously amazing, and their career went sour well before it should have. If you ever get the chance to listen to them, take the chance.

Now, without further ado, here’s a couple embedded playlists.  First, the short one, 56 songs clocking in at 4 hours and 33 minutes:

spotify:user:jimmyjone:playlist:2h3k8bvSsoRzjPkDtzrzdA

And then, the full list of my favorites, 436 songs with a total playtime of 34 hours and 15 minutes:

spotify:user:jimmyjone:playlist:0vuvNqB2yCU31DqEMxcT5y

Of course, that second list is a little curtailed for whatever reason, so if you want all 436 songs, you’ll need to go here: https://open.spotify.com/user/jimmyjone/playlist/0vuvNqB2yCU31DqEMxcT5y

I hope someone out there enjoys these, even if you only listen to a few songs.  Next time, I’ll be doing 1984!

Thanks for reading!

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Blast from the Past: 1971 music

2015/08/18

Here’s another thing I wanted to follow through on since I mentioned it on here last December. I’ve still been listening to (almost) every album I can find on Spotify for various calendar years.

My process:

I use the lists on Wikipedia (typically called “19xx albums”) to create Spotify playlists. Even when I weed out artists I know I can’t stand to listen to, or genres I generally don’t like, the lists are incredibly massive (like, 200+ hours massive). I tend to skip over some country music, a lot of reggae, and a lot of punk once you get into the late 70s and early 80s. I then listen to the albums while I draw Jimmy Jone, and I mark the ones that I like upon first the first listen. Then, after however many months THAT took, I’ll give myself a breather from that year and listen to another for a while. Once my previously marked “favorites” have sat long enough to be semi-new to me again, I’ll cull the list. I shoot for around 250-300 songs in my final “favorites” list, but I know better than to think anyone’s going to give an actual shit about my tastes for 20 hours. So I create a smaller, more focused list of the songs that really blew me away in some way.

I’m doing this mostly for me, because there are definitely some nuggets buried amongst all the crap and also-rans for any given year. It’s been a worthwhile endeavor, and lets me just not have to think about what I’m going to listen to next while I draw.

Anyway, let’s see if I actually have anything to say about 1971!

First of all, 1971 is full of artists who really, really want you to believe that they’re desert-dwelling hippies attempting to return to a Native American way of life. Even if they weren’t out in the desert, they were still all about being the love generation (check out Les Crane’s Desiderata if you don’t believe I imagine it was still quite a few years after this that music got most of the 60s out of its system. In fact, you could probably argue that 1971 feels like mostly 1960s holdovers. What we think of as 70s music hadn’t quite asserted itself yet. After all, this year only saw the debuts of bands such as Electric Light Orchestra, Sparks, the Doobie Brothers, Kraftwerk, ZZ Top, and R.E.O. Speedwagon. Even within my playlists, there’s a surprising amount of sameness to the music. It’s got a definite feel.

You do see some strong indications of things to come with prog rock. Yes were going great guns by that point, with both Fragile and the Yes Album out that year. “Echoes” from Pink Floyd’s Meddle is still my all-time favorite prog track, but make sure to check out Catapilla and Jade Warrior as well if you’re into early 70s prog. A number of regular bands had some strong lengthy tracks as well (see Bloodrock, Traffic, and Barclay James Harvest, to name a few).

Also some of my absolute favorites from 1971 were foreign bands. The French were just crushing it back then using tons of strings and orchestration for their grooves. And Osibisa, through hailing from Britain, was made up mostly of African expatriates. Seriously, go check out Osibisa, they’re my new favorite prog band. Also, I’ve heard a fair amount of Santana and Barrabas already, but they were amazing even back in ’71.

Let’s see if I can determine what my top 10 albums were, based on these playlists I’ve created. This will be simply 10 albums, not in any order.

Hawkwind – In Search of Space
Traffic – The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys
Jethro Tull – Aqualung
Yes – Fragile
Serge Gainsbourg – Histoire de Melody Nelson
Al Kooper – New York City (You’re a Woman)
Osibisa – Osibisa
Santana – Santana III
Barrabas – Wild Safari
Caravan – In the Land of Grey and Pink

Okay, so most of those albums I’d already heard. So here’s artists that I didn’t know before listening to 1971 that I now like:

Osibisa
Catapilla
The Sunday Manoa
Long John Baldry
Kevin Ayers
Al Kooper
Michel Polnareff
Shuggie Otis

Okay, I think that’s all I have to say about 1971. If you like playlists, I hope you like these!

The “best of my favorites” list (50 songs, 4 hours)

spotify:user:jimmyjone:playlist:2sNvxXQhoKBbl6GvjICZUO

And the full list (273 songs, 20 hours)

spotify:user:jimmyjone:playlist:7xxdg9XPinEOqXexU6aD5j

Spew Crew – gross Canadian toys from 1997

2015/02/13

HPIM0632

I stumbled across the following toy line through eBay.  Evidently, there was a set of toys produced by a Canadian company called “Wow Wee Inc.” in 1997 called “Spew Crew”.  There is very little information on these online, and there seems to be only one person who managed to get their hands on these: the eBay seller, who is himself in Canada.  The packaging for the series claims that there were 6 different toys in the line, but the eBay seller only has four of them–and he appears to have tons of them.  I’ve purchased two of each of the four available, and the seller has more!  Perhaps he used to work for the company, or purchased a bulk lot when Wow Wee closed up shop? I’m a little afraid to ask any eBay seller a ton of questions at once.  If anybody out there knows anything about this line, feel free to contribute in the comments.

Anyways, the toys themselves.  Up top, in the photograph, are “Fart Dude”, “Spitty the Kid”, “B.O.-1”, and “Captain Burp”. The tallest of these, Spitty, measures 6″ tall.  They’re hard plastic; Spitty and Fart Dude have little capes as well.  The capes, by the way, remind me of the 80s line “Gross Out Gang”.  Each of these has at least one sound, which are activated by buttons on the front of their belts (the speakers are on the backs of their heads).  Fart Dude and Captain Burp have three buttons each. (The French text on the card fronts for the other two claim 3 sounds, but the English text does not–probably just an editorial oversight.) None of these figures are articulated. Captain Burp’s arms look like they should move, but either due to the stiffness of the joints, or the construction of the figure, I can’t get them to move.  This is one of those toylines where I get the impression that more than one person designed the figures.  B.O.-1’s head makes him look like he’s from an entirely different line.  He’s also the most specific of the Spew Crew; it took me a few minutes to figure it out, but I think it’s safe to say he’s a parody of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Perhaps he was meant for a ditched line of gross Star Wars parody toys?

The two figures that I don’t have are “Booger Boy” and “Hurly Joe”.  Here’s a picture of the back of the card:

spewcrew2

And the front of the card, for thoroughness’s sake:

HPIM0641

As you’ll see in the above image, these came packaged with CDs.  Each character has a different CD with a song about the character.  The CDs are why I bought two of each of these four figures–the archivist in me was torn between preserving unopened copies and preserving copies of the songs on the CDs.  Luckily, despite the age (roughly 18 years at this point), and what I imagine must have been the cheap-ish production quality of these CDs, I was able to rip good copies of each of the four songs. So here you go–songs from the Spew Crew!

Again, if anyone has any additional light they can shed on the Spew Crew, please let the rest of us know in the comments!

P.S. Spitty the Kid is my favorite.