A Kaleidoscope Of Sound or Zeus – Busting Visions

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A kaleidoscope pumps out from the stereo and a good day gets better. That is how I started the morning off. Reaching for some black vinyl, I clean it, spin it and my kids beg me to stop singing along as Zeus break into “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” from their 2012 LP Busting Visions. Mesmerizing textures built around sound craft shake the morning cobwebs from my cranium. Who needs caffeine when they have Zeus on the turntable?

In the last few years they have been one of my favourite bands. Like the short lived 90’s acts Jellyfish and The Grays, they play highly developed power-pop that takes the Beatles and Big Star models and filters it through a Jeff Lynne/ELO lens. The results is a gathering of tunes that catch you musically on an emotional level without stooping into that “baby baby” bag of tricks plaguing the airwaves with ‘Disney-fied’ hits.

You can feel free to ‘rock out’ without your brain going into a syrupy malaise. “Love/Pain” starts off in a “Glass Onion” conversational place before building into an all instruments in climax. “Anything You Want Dear” pours in the power-pop confection with the fast/slow drama of relationships in flux. The one liners drop: “If you’re under water / Send a message in the bubbles.” I could and probably should go on, but the important thing is the music. You really should give it a listen.

For now there are only four options open – vinyl, CD, digital download and streaming. The 180 gram vinyl comes in a gatefold sleeve and has a download card included. It sounds freakin’ fantastic.

The only problem I have with Busting Visions is how to follow the damn thing up. Do I jump back to the 60’s, maybe the 90’s or, just play one of their other records? So many options and only one set of ears.

You can pick up Busting Visions at your local record retailer or online from Arts & Crafts.

#1 in so many damn ways… Big Star – #1 Record

History is fluid and changes with interpretation and the times that follow. So, something that was once dismissed or missed can be re-examined and pulled into the light in a way that perhaps it wasn’t before. Such was, is and may forever be the story of how Big Star and their debut #1 Record are considered.

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It is one of the planets greatest rock ‘n’ roll records, and still almost no one beyond critics and hipsters has truly given it the time of day. Sure Rolling Stone has it in their 500 Greatest Records of All-Time, but that doesn’t really result in the kind of record sales and recognition that should be afforded this band.

Obviously, the information is out there, in different formats and many stories told; so I’m just going to point out a few in hopes that you see an opportunity to get yourself some great music.

First, if you have access to Netflix than you can catch the Big Star biography Nothing Can Hurt Me. It is a great examination into the history of Big Star, and also offers an awesome soundtrack of alternate takes from Big Star and their principle songwriters Chris Bell and Alex Chilton.

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Next there is a new biography on Alex Chilton named A Man Called Destruction. It is pretty eye opening and well worth the read.

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Finally, the one album I was here to tell you about on this day, #1 Record. While it would be easy for me to sit here heaping praise, it is easier to just point out its influence. Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, Lemonheads, Wilco and much of the 90’s alt rock pantheon were influenced by #1 Record.

Some of the songs you may recognize from are:

“In The Street” – It became the theme song to That 70’s Show.

“The Ballad of El Goodo” – Has been covered numerous times by acts such as Evan Dando, Mathew Sweet, Counting Crows, Zeus, Wellspring and Wilco.

“Thirteen” – Picked by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time, and I’ll just add, one of the most amazing songs ever.

Anyway, your opportunity is that as vinyl goes, there have been some recently released re-masters that are available. First a little company called 4 Men with Beards was given permission to re-release #1 Record on 180 gram black vinyl. I haven’t found an exact number printed, but it must be at least sizable enough to fill demand.

The second release is a little more exclusive, Newbury Comics with permission of Big Star’s record label Ardent have released 1000 copies of #1 Record on translucent gold vinyl. Trust me when I say, it is awesome!

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In fact, that is kind of my point; #1 Record is one of the greatest albums one can have in their collection. If I printed my version of the top 10 records of all time it would be among them. More importantly, if I was to take off my critic hat and just list my favourite 10 records, again it would sit amongst the top. In fact, it just might be a contender for number one.

Last weeks Playlist! March 1/ 2015

Of course I love vinyl more than any other form of music listening, but sharing music is also fun… so… if you’re doing that Spotify thing, each week I plan to publish a playlist with some tunes I’ve been playing around the house. I’ll be updating this with a bit of info as this post is a bit of a test to see how the playlist looks on the blog. Or you can friend DS Barrett on Facebook where the playlist will show up first. Anyway, here it goes – March 1/15 Playlist Hope you enjoy!

  1. “Cherry Bomb” – The Runaways

Was listening to a lot of Joan Jett this past week as I got her Greatest Hits on (cherry bomb red) vinyl a few days ago. I decided to put the Runaways version on simply because I really wish I had it on vinyl. Maybe some day… Still can’t believe that a sixteen year old kid (Cherie Currie) could pull off that much power and venom.

  1. “In The Street” – Big Star

What was it that Westerberg sang about Alex Chilton – “I never travel far without a little Big Star”. This is an alternate version of the song taken from the documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me.  By the way, loving this song has nothing to do with That 70’s Show, but then again, it doesn’t hurt it either.

  1. “Stutter” – Elastica

I love the female perspective on this song. Probably because every girl I ever dated had to pretty much smack me in the head to get me to figure out they were interested. “What… you’re actually talking to me (gasp, gulp) um… nice weather.”

  1. “Substitute” – The Ramones

Awesome rendition of the Who classic from their covers record Acid Eaters. I got it as a Christmas gift from my birth mother, which makes me love it all the more.

  1. “Stone Cold Crazy” – Queen

For some reason more people seem to be familiar with the Metallica version, which is funny because I thought Motley Crue had covered it… anyway – this is the original from Sheer Heart Attack, which I picked up used a few weeks back.

  1. “Kindergarten” – Zeus

The song that turned me on to this band. Frickin love these guys.

  1. “Bleed A Little While Tonight” – The Lowest Of The Low

Pretty much said it all when I wrote about them a little while back.

  1. “déjà vu” – Mo Kenney

My wife and I were talking one night and we had the TV satellite playing music for us when this came on. I think I might have actually ‘shssh-ed’ her while I scrambled for a pen and paper. Mo Kenney was a staple around the house for a few months after that.

  1. “Milwaukee” – The Both

Love Aimee Mann and Ted Leo and this song brings out the best in both. The music video is pretty funny as well.

  1. “I Am The Cosmos” – The Posies

Wish I could find the Beck cover of this song. I know he did it during the “Sound & Vision” session back in 2013. Anyway, this Posies cover of Chris Bell is quite awesome.

  1. “Daddy’s Gone” – Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse

Have tried writing about this song and album a few times. 2009-2010 was the worst year of my life. I spent a lot of time driving the two hours between my parent’s house and my home when both fell ill in 2009. Dark Night of the Soul was keeping me company a whole lot during those trips and “Daddy’s Gone” had me thinking about where I wasn’t.

  1. “Can’t Cry Hard Enough” – Victoria Williams

Funny story. I was at the concert when this was recorded. I yelled out a request for “This Moment”. After explaining that she had never played it live before – she did it anyway. The album it’s taken from is (drum roll) This Moment: Live In Toronto.

  1. “Hummingbird” – Imaginary Cities

In March of 2010 I went to see the Pixies at Massey Hall in Toronto. Imaginary Cities opened the show. They were phenomenal. I’m sure I’ll be writing about them soon.

  1. “All The Young Dudes” – David Bowie

It isn’t that the Mott The Hoople and Bowie versions are all that different… I just like how Bowie seems to perform songs rather than simply sing them… discuss if you must.

  1. “Nausea” – Beck

Some songs just make me and my kids rock out as we drive from point A to B. Beck has quite a few songs that get us doing the Wayne’s World head nod thing.

  1. “Bull in the Heather” – Sonic Youth

With Kim Gordon doing the publicity thing for her new book Girl In A Band, I’ve found myself pining for the 90’s version of Sonic Youth. Oddly enough, I always preferred her songs.

  1. “Pumping On Your Stereo” – Supergrass

Please don’t tell anyone, but I kinda liked Brit-Pop… and I really got into Supergrass for a while.

  1. “Spectacular” – Graham Coxon

Speaking of Brit-Pop… another song about a boy fantasizing over a picture in a magazine. Makes me yell at my stereo – “Dude – your lead guitarist for fuckin’ Blur… as if you couldn’t get her number and ask her out for coffee!”

  1. “Wave of Mutilation (Peel Sessions) – Pixies

Sooner or later I’ll get around to writing about Doolittle 25. This was the tour I caught back in 2010 and Kim Deal was still in the band. Not sure it would be a true Pixies concert without her.

  1. “Limitless” – Dust Galaxy

Heard this on a magazine compilation a few years ago, then I had to spend a few weeks tracking down the who, what, where and why and order the damn CD online. Dark and sinister rock…