Great album… too bad it costs so much or Travis – Good Feeling

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Some things are expected and some things, well, not so much. One very unexpected result of Radiohead’s success with The Bends is that many bands, fairly or not, were lumped into a category of pretenders and wannabes. Some became super popular like Coldplay and the Killers. Some had moderate success in North America, for example Keane. Still others barely made it onto the radar like California’s Paloalto.

Then there was Travis.

By design or not, Fran Healy’s phrasing of vocals bore a resemblance to Thom Yorke which was enough to get the critics calling foul. The thing is, they wrote some really good songs and albums like 1997’s Good Feeling were damn likeable.

Featuring a bunch of well crafted tunes, the Steve Lillywhite produced Good Feeling was by no means a commercial success, but it did act as a great stepping stone towards broader appeal for later releases.

Still, if you’re a vinyl lover, what would getting a copy set you back?

Well, quite a bit. Not a lot of vinyl was being released back in ’97, so that limits the number available. Then you have the fact that Good Feeling wasn’t a big seller during its initial release and again this limits how much vinyl goes into the pressing plant. In the end, you get two options and both will set you back a bit.

The first was the original 1997 U.K. release with the vibrant white cover above. Resellers are asking for over $115.00 plus shipping.

Two years later Good Feeling got reissued with a different cover featuring the band on a black background. One reseller is asking over $200.00 for it and outside of discogs, I couldn’t find any available.

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Basically, if you see one while crate digging, grab it – otherwise it is a small fortune to get hold of a copy. Great record, but the price kinda hurts.

I Need A New Drug or Ten Great Alt Rock Documentaries pt2

   What makes a good rock ‘n’ roll documentary? It all depends on the personalities involved, as the top five picks take drastically different takes on how to tell their stories.

 

   5.  loudQUIETloud: A Film About The Pixies

So hell froze over and Frank Black Francis actually picked up a phone and called the band he ended by fax machine. loudQUIETloud looks at how fractured relationships can return together to create lasting impressions on fans and glorious memories (and cash) for themselves.

 

  1. Under Great White Northern Lights (White Stripes)

Touring the tundra is not for most folks, but Jack and Meg not only play music in the north; they made a poignant film about it. Between the live music tracks and meetings with town fans, mayors and elders, sits moments where you can see these two opposites moving further apart. Only the music brings them together… and is that enough? The film doesn’t answer the question, but history sure has! It is essential viewing for any White Stripes fan.

 

  1. Three Days (Jane’s Addiction)

Filmed during the bands 1997 Relapse Tour, one walks away from watching wondering how normal a hedonistic lifestyle can be. With no valid anchor to ground the audience we see Dave Navarro sweetly lie about drug use to his gal pal over the phone, Perry Farrel pontificate about the nature and the purpose of the universe, and a steady stream of cameos that bring a serious type of normalcy to their own brand of Spinal Tap adventures.

 

  1. Meeting People Is Easy (Radiohead)

This Radiohead ‘anti-documentary’ documentary follows the band attempting to deflate the hype surrounding themselves and their monolithic OK Computer. No attempt is made to see how the relationship between members works to help their creativity; instead Grant Gee focuses on the writing process using studio outtakes and live footage to build a narrative. However, burnout becomes apparent and band faces its lowest point at what seems to be their artistic height.

 

  1. 1991: The Year Punk Broke (Sonic Youth)

A virtual who’s who of the 90’s alt rock scene, the movie follows Sonic Youth and Nirvana as they start in cult following obscurity and rise to commercial and critical success stories. At its heart you see two bands just trying to “goof off” and make sense of it all in the middle of the oncoming hyperbolic onslaught.

 

 

 

 

 

Comes With Big Explosions or Muse – Drones

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It’s hard to gain respect when you are the world’s most bombastic band. Ask ELO or Queen about critical reception and there will always be those critics who point out the over the top nature of such artists. On top of this Muse can’t shake the fact that vocalist/guitarist Matthew Bellamy phrases his singing like The Bends era Thom Yorke and plays flashy guitar reminiscent of Brian May. Thing is, if you were to describe the ingredients of a great sounding record, you could do much worse than those guys.

The only thing that can save artists from the line of ‘artistic achievement’ and ‘unholy disaster’ is a group of songs that both the band and their fans can embrace as “really f’in cool.” So now you have Drones, an album that uses the mechanical bringers of death as a metaphor for the loss of humanity, identity and empathy. It shoots for the stars and attempts to play more like a rock opera on the movie screen than a mere record put out in 2015.

Odd as it seems, they make it work. Sure you get the impression that they listened to a few popular 80’s records along the lines of The Power Station and Foreigner to update their previous sounds, but damn, it’s fun and they sell it with conviction. You might accuse them of being pretentious; an honest criticism in their case, but the basic fact is that Drones is entertainment. Think of it this way, not every war film made is about the consequences of violence; some are released so that people can watch big explosions and stuff popcorn in their face simultaneously…  and there is nothing wrong with that.

So when Bellamy sings “men in cloaks / always seem to run the show / mercy / from the powers that be” you can either roll your eyes or turn up the volume, but there is just no way you can ignore it.

Now for the purchase details.

Muse does know how to treat their fans and make a few bucks. You can buy Drones on all the usual physical mediums or you can buy this gorgeous gem.

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In a tri-fold cover, the deluxe edition contains two 180 gram red vinyl discs, CD, DVD, download card and two litho art prints. It’s pricey and you’ll need to cover shipping… but damn, it looks pretty sweet.

The Best Album of 1993 or Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville

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Some records are great sounding and personal. Some records are great sounding and important. Then there was Exile In Guyville which was all that and so much more. 1993 was an awesome year for music seeing releases by Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Breeders, U2, Belly, Porno For Pyros, Sloan, The Cranberries, Blur, Counting Crows, PJ Harvey and so many more. All those records and yet Spin and the influential Village Voice both picked Guyville as the number one record of the year.

It wasn’t just that Phair was writing about sex as bluntly or as graphically as any ‘guy’ had before her. It wasn’t just that a so-called feminist view hadn’t been placed in music to the extent that she now had. It was that Exile In Guyville had seventeen kick-ass songs that talked about the female experience without having to make proclamations. This wasn’t Helen Reddy singing “I Am Woman” or Courtney Love warning you that “someday you will ache like I ache.” Instead Phair’s vocals are so matter of fact you feel that anger and sarcasm would be out of place. These are the stories of women in love, lust, distress and having sex told in a style where shock seems both out of place yet warranted.

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Spin recently ranked the Top 300 albums since 1985 and Exile In Guyville ranked #7. The only albums to rank Higher were:

Radiohead – OK Computer

The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

Daft Punk – Discovery

Prince – Sign O’ The Times

Wu Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang

Nirvana – Nevermind

Quite the company eh!

So when I talk about wanting to have not only albums I love, but also essential albums in my vinyl collection – Guyville fits both bills.

Strangely, Exile In Guyville has only two vinyl options. The original 1993 Matador release came with two basic black vinyl discs and an insert detailing the album info. You can find used copies on the internet for about $50.00.

In 2008, ATO Records released a 15th anniversary edition that was re-mastered and placed on two 180 gram vinyl pieces. With them also came a bonus 7” of unreleased B-sides and a copy of the re-mastered CD. Oddly, the reseller markets are asking over $60.00 for the 2008 reissue. It is still available at local record stores and online retailers for much less.

If you haven’t heard it – listen here. Then BUY IT!