The Romanelli Music Diary: Higher Ground

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theblueboy



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Age: 40
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  • #1491
  • Posted: 09/02/2021 17:30
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Nice to read this review. Interesting point about the band moving away from Afrobeat on this one- I hadn’t noticed that before. Maybe it’s still there a bit but not so much this time d'oh!

Modern Vampires is one of my favourite indie pop/rock records of the past decade. I liked the last one too, but I guess this is their best album so far.
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Bone Swah


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  • #1492
  • Posted: 09/02/2021 23:51
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1187


One Nil by Neil Finn

NEIL FINN
ONE ALL
2002 – PARLOPHONE
Produced By TCHAD BLAKE, NEIL FINN & MITCHELL FROOM

1. The Climber (New Mix)
2. Driving Me Mad (Bob Clearmountain Mix)
3. Hole In The Ice (Bob Clearmountain Mix)
4. Last To Know
5. Wherever You Are
6. Secret God
7. Lullaby Requiem
8. Human Kindness
9. Turn And Run (New Mix)
10. Anytime
11. Rest Of The Day Off
12. Into The Sunset

Neil Finn was a member of Split Enz, and was the driving force of Crowded House…a giant of the music of New Zealand. Following up his solo debut album, Try Whistling This, Finn released One Nil in 2001. Over a year later, the album was released in the United States as One All, with a different track listing and four of the tracks in remixed versions. Unlike Try Whistling This, One All is a very safe album, taking very few chances which makes it ultimately less memorable. Although the album did reach number one in Finn’s home country, it was less successful elsewhere in the world, including the US, where it had been hoped that the remixed tracks would garner more attention. As is the norm for a Finn project, the songwriting is excellent, and it’s musically sound. But ultimately, One All never rises above being just a pretty good album.

The best songs here, “Rest Of The Day Off”, “Hole In The Ice”, “Wherever You Are” and “Last To Know”, are good enough to keep things interesting, but rank below Finn’s best work. The album does have a slew of fine guest players, including Wendy And Lisa, Lisa Germano, Sheryl Crow and Mitchell Froom. But despite this, One All just never quite takes off the way Finn’s albums with Crowded House or Split Enz do. His next solo album was not released until 2014 (Dizzy Heights), but Finn stayed busy in the meantime with Crowded House, 7 Worlds Collide and Pajama Club. One Nil is not his greatest work, but if you’re a fan, it’s still well worth hearing. Finn is, even on an album that is less that amazing, a fine and very melodic songwriter, a writer of smart and catchy jangly pop rock that is never a drag. There is really no bad Neil Finn album.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1493
  • Posted: 09/05/2021 22:04
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1188


Willy And The Poor Boys by Creedence Cl...er Revival

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL
WILLY AND THE POOR BOYS
1969 – FANTASY
Produced By JOHN FOGERTY

1. Down On The Corner
2. It Came Out Of The Sky
3. Cotton Fields
4. Poorboy Shuffle
5. Feelin’ Blue
6. Fortunate Son
7. Don’t Look Now
8. The Midnight Special
9. Side O’ The Road
10. Effigy

11. Fortunate Son (Live)
12. It Came Out Of The Sky (Live)
13. Down On The Corner (With Booker T. & The MG’s)

Any doubts as to what a great band Creedence Clearwater Revival was can be doused with the mention of a single year…1969. They had already released their second album, Bayou Country, in January, followed by the excellent Green River in August. They had also played at Woodstock that month, and were touring non-stop. Willy And The Poor Boys was the third album released by Creedence during the year, and it’s the strongest of the three. By this time, the band had built up so much momentum that they were unstoppable, and were rivalling even The Beatles as the greatest rock and roll band of the time. The band had not only solidified its swampy, deep sound, but John Fogerty had blossomed into one of rock’s greatest songwriters. Even as the cracks had already begun to show (the rest of the band was severely questioning the full throttle approach of Fogerty), they were also peaking at this point.

“Down On The Corner” and “Fortunate Son” were big hits, and remain staples of rock radio to this day. Their version of the traditional “The Midnight Special” remains one of the song’s best versions. But it’s actually the non-hits that make Willy And The Poor Boys so great. “It Came From The Sky” is probably their greatest non-hit. Side one is anchored by the bluesy “Feelin’ Blue”, while side two closes with the hugely underrated “Effigy”. The album is also notable for being not psychedelic, and for being much more politically charged than any of the other Creedence albums. They would follow this up with the even more successful Cosmo’s Factory before beginning to completely unravel…less than three years after this album, Creedence had broken up. But the music they made between 1968 and 1971…purely magical. This is a true classic.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1494
  • Posted: 09/07/2021 19:14
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1189


Dreams Of Freedom: Ambient Translations...Bob Marley

BOB MARLEY
DREAMS OF FREEDOM: AMBIENT TRANSLATIONS OF BOB MARLEY IN DUB
1997 – AXIOM
Produced By BILL LASWELL

1. Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock)
2. No Woman No Cry
3. The Heathen
4. Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)
5. Waiting In Vain
6. So Much Trouble In The World
7. Exodus
8. Burnin' And Lootin'
9. Is This Love
10. One Love (People Get Ready)
11. Midnight Ravers

I am a huge fan of reggae, and I love Bob Marley…I love his music, his spirit, and everything he stood for. However, there are limits as to where the line is drawn between a tasteful compilation and…this. The nightmare of a title of this remix album from 1997 is accurate. This is, somehow, ambient reggae. And it’s a mess. This would be like taking Black Sabbath’s early albums and twisting songs like “War Pigs” into easy listening ditties suitable for the waiting room at your local dentist’s office. Or transforming Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” into a synth pop song. There have been many who have defended this album as a loving tribute to Marley…I say it’s nothing more than a disastrous attempt to cash in on the legacy of a giant of music. I have no problem with ambient music, nor do I have a problem with dub. Reggae is great. But, apparently, the three together…

Here’s how it goes. You get some ambient sounds, then suddenly a reggae guitar and organ combo steps in, along with a beat. There are no Marley vocals present whatsoever…not one, so the only way you can tell what song you are listening to is by the background vocals that are suddenly up front and in your face. Based on the liner notes, it seems that the entire Marley family was in favor of this album…why, other than possible financial gain, I have no idea. These tracks add nothing to the Marley legacy. They do not offer anything as a new perspective on his work, and they simply fail on pretty much every level. Is there a positive? Well, the production is pretty great. But not even that can save what was done to these classic and beautiful Marley songs. You should listen to Bob Marley’s music, and you should embrace his body of work. You should just not do it here.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1495
  • Posted: 09/12/2021 00:28
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1190


Decoration Day by Drive-By Truckers

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS
DECORATION DAY
2003 – NEW WEST
Produced By DAVID BARBE

1. The Deeper In
2. Sink Hole
3. Hell No, I Ain’t Happy
4. Marry Me
5. My Sweet Annette
6. Outfit
7. Heathens
8. Sounds Better In The Song
9. (Something's Got To) Give Pretty Soon
10. Your Daddy Hates Me
11. Careless
12. When The Pin Hits The Shell
13. Do It Yourself
14. Decoration Day
15. Loaded Gun In The Closet

In 2003, Drive-By Truckers were a band that was quickly growing their brand of Southern rock into a thriving mature collection of great songs and great stories. Coming off of the fantastic double album Southern Rock Opera, the Truckers switched gears a bit with Decoration Day. Not only was Mike Cooley growing quickly as a songwriting force in the band almost equal to Patterson Hood, but they had also added Jason Isbell, a young third guitarist who would prove over the short time he would be in the band (and over his now exceptional solo career) that he was a top notch writer as well. Decoration Day is loaded with great songs, along with a new found maturity not found on their previous albums. Hood is still the main writer here, but Cooley adds four tracks along with only two from Isbell. But those two tracks are the highlight of the album, showing the first glimpse of what a special writer Isbell would soon become.

Isbell’s “Decoration Day” and “Outfit” are both great songs. Hood’s “The Deeper In” is about the only people in the US to have served jail time for brother/sister incest. Many of the songs continue the Truckers tradition of making music about life in the American South, but Decoration Day is darker than their previous albums…but it still manages to be enough fun to hold interest. The album was recorded mostly live in the studio, with half of the tracks being first take performances. Decoration Day is the beginning if the Isbell era for the band, and while the next album, The Dirty South, would be much stronger, this one is still an important part of the band’s discography. It’s a great listen, and well worth the time. Not the Trucker’s best work, but also not an album that should be dismissed as a lesser work.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1496
  • Posted: 09/12/2021 21:08
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1191


Transcendental Blues by Steve Earle

STEVE EARLE
TRANSCENDENTAL BLUES
2000 – E-SQUARED
Produced By STEVE EARLE & RAY KENNEDY

1. Transcendental Blues
2. Everyone’s In Love With You
3. Another Town
4. I Can Wait
5. The Boy Who Never Cried
6. Steve’s Last Ramble
7. The Galway Girl
8. Lonelier Than This
9. Wherever I Go
10. When I Fall
11. I Don’t Want To Lose You Yet
12. Halo ‘Round The Moon
13. Until The Day I Die
14. All My Life
15. Over Yonder (Jonathan’s Song)

Steve Earle has released twenty studio albums since his debut in 1986. Transcendental Blues is his ninth record, and has remained one of his most popular efforts. The album is highlighted by a very strong first half, although it does tail off significantly over the last eight tracks. But the first seven songs here make it worth having. Even though the last half is flawed, the first half is everything that’s great about Steve Earle: great songs, great guitars, and a guy having an incredibly great time doing what he loves to do…making music. The last eight tracks here aren’t terrible, but it’s hard to live up to the excellence of songs like “Everyone’s In Love With You”, “Another Town”, and “The Boy Who Never Cried”. And especially after the genius of the title track or the all out fun of “The Galway Girl”…well, I guess it’s tough to keep that up for 15 songs.

Earle’s band is, as usual, exceptional. Drummer Will Rigby of the dB’s is featured, as is the great Irish musician Sharon Shannon, who adds some nice accordion work on “The Galway Girl”. The better songs here add to Earle’s legacy as an alt-country legend and leading light, and the first half of this album should definitely be heard. There aren’t many albums of Earle’s that are clunkers…in fact, outside of maybe a poorly recorded live album from the early 90’s during his heroin days, Earle’s recorded output has been consistent and overall very good. Because it’s so uneven, this album doesn’t rank as one of his best, but it really is hard to go wrong with any album by Steve Earle. Especially those first seven songs…Really good stuff from an artist who has a strong, solid and entertaining body of work. This is just good, fun, well played alt-country by one of the masters of the genre.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1497
  • Posted: 09/13/2021 22:30
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1192


Hints, Allegations, And Things Left Uns...ctive Soul

COLLECTIVE SOUL
HINTS ALLEGATIONS AND THINGS LEFT UNSAID
1993 – RISING STORM
Produced By ED ROLAND, MATT SERLETIC & JOE RANDOLPH

1. Shine
2. Goodnight, Good Guy
3. Wasting Time
4. Sister Don’t Cry
5. Love Lifted Me
6. In A Moment
7. Heaven’s Already Here
8. Pretty Donna
9. Reach
10. Breathe
11. Scream
12. Burning Bridges
13. All

You have to hand it to Collective Soul…it’s not every day that a band hits the big time the way these guys did. This album is their first album…and it’s actually a collection of demos recorded in a basement. They wanted to re-record the songs, but their label said no. The result was a hit album with a song (“Shine”) that made them stars. Collective Soul did not agree with the decision to release the demos…in fact, they have always referred to their second, self-titled release as their debut. But there is no denying that “Shine” is a fantastic track, even if it is a cheaply recorded demo…and that based on the success of that song alone, Collective Soul’s career was launched. One of the better stories in rock and roll, and an unlikely (at the time) way to the big time. And from these beginnings, Collective Soul was able to build a nice career.

This is not to say, however, that Hints, Allegations And Things Left Unsaid is a great album. There are decent songs here, enough to gain the attention of a major label like Atlantic, but these ARE demo recordings. Recorded in a basement, using technology from 1992. Sure, they were able to catch lightning in a bottle with “Shine”, but this is a thirteen track set, and there are more than enough clunkers and recordings that clearly could have been so much better. The reality is this…the band was right when they said that their second album should be considered their debut. It was recorded correctly, and with the lineup that was actually what the band was. This album is interesting at best, and you’ll want it if you’re a huge Collective Soul fan, but you’d be better served with the one compilation album by the band that exists. Leave this, unless you really must.


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Bone Swah


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  • #1498
  • Posted: 09/15/2021 01:16
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1193


Actually by Pet Shop Boys

PET SHOP BOYS
ACTUALLY
1987 – EMI MANHATTAN
Produced By PET SHOP BOYS, STEPHEN HAGUE, JULIAN MENDELSOHN, ANDY RICHARDS, SHEP PETTIBONE & DAVID JACOB

1. One More Chance
2. What Have I Done To Deserve This?
3. Shopping
4. Rent
5. Hit Music
6. It Couldn’t Happen Here
7. It’s A Sin
8. I Want To Wake Up
9. Heart
10. King’s Cross

Pet Shop Boys are Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, who started making music together in 1981. It took almost five years for “West End Girls” to give them their big break, and they have always been much more successful in their native United Kingdom than in the United States. Actually is the duo’s second album, and was a blueprint for their future releases. The album features four hit singles that are all worthwhile: “Heart” was their last number one (UK) hit, and is a rarity for them in that it is a straightforward and simple love song. “Rent” is about a kept woman. “It’s A Sin” is about Tennant’s strict Catholic upbringing. And “What Have I Done To Deserve This” features Dusty Springfield, and sparked a renewed interest in her music…it was also one of their biggest American hits. These tracks make Actually worth hearing all on their own.

One of the more interesting things about the Pet Shop Boys is that they make dance pop that actually has something to say besides “dance”. It’s this that makes most of their albums more interesting than most music like this, and that makes the non-hit tracks worthwhile. Actually is not perfect, but it’s a very good second album. Vey and Behavior come across better, and because Pet Shop Boys put out a lot of great singles apart from their albums (like The Smiths did), you can’t go wrong with their compilations albums. Which makes Actually not a must have, but if you’re a fan, it can be definitely worth your time. Pet Shop Boys are still at it after more than forty years, and are one of the most influential acts in the history of dance music with no signs of stopping any time soon. Consistently good and always listenable and enjoyable.


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dihansse



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Age: 58
Belgium

  • #1499
  • Posted: 09/15/2021 04:46
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As a compilation album I can recommend Disco of 1986 which contains a fantastic remix of West End Girls but also of some of their lesser known tracks: and their music very much asks for those kinds of dance versions: the 9 minutes remix of West End Girls is pure bliss.

Last edited by dihansse on 09/16/2021 04:54; edited 2 times in total
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Bone Swah


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  • #1500
  • Posted: 09/15/2021 22:05
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dihansse wrote:
As a compilation album I can recommend Disco of 1986 which contains 6 fantastic remixes of West End Girls but also of some of their lesser known tracks: and their music very much asks for those kinds of dance versions: the 9 minutes remix of West End Girls is pure bliss.


I agree...Disco is very good indeed. It hasn't been on my radar, so thanks!
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