October 17, 2021

Lucifer's Friend - I'm Just a Rock 'N' Roll Singer (1973)

*German first pressing on CD. 
Contains 8 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: PMS 7042-WP

© 1973-1997 Repertoire Records
On their third album, Lucifer's Friend took a new tack: instead of being a progressive band or a hard rock band, they decided to incorporate both styles into a more ambitious sound that also worked in elements of soul and jazz. The resulting album, I'm Just a Rock 'n' Roll Singer, lacks the coherent flow that defines a good album but offers an array of tuneful, well-crafted tracks nonetheless. By this time, the band had learned to make their songwriting the focus of each track and tamed the instrumental soloing that overwhelmed Where the Groupies Killed the Blues. As a result, the tracks are listener friendly, yet have their own distinctive feel; a notable example is "Groovin' Stone," a song that was their most straightforward hard rock song to date, yet also offered a number of interesting keyboard and percussive shadings that the listener wouldn't normally expect from such a tune. Other standouts include "Blind Freedom," a jazzy tune that features strong harmonies (all overdubbed by lead vocalist John Lawton) plus some serpentine electric piano work from Peter Hecht, and the title track, a tongue-in-cheek sendup of rock & roll life that combines an old fashioned rock & roll melody with a giant wall of sound production (complete with a Blood Sweat and Tears-style horn section). The downside of I'm Just a Rock 'n' Roll Singer is that it tries out so many different musical elements out that it feels more like a compilation of songs than a real album. It might also annoy some prog-rock fans with the overt pop leanings of tracks like "Groovin' Stone" and the title track. Despite these caveats, this is a polished and listener friendly album that will entertain anyone interested in Lucifer's Friend.

tags: lucifers friend, im just a rock n roll singer, 1973, flac,

Lucifer's Friend - Banquet (1974) ☠

*German first pressing on CD. 
Contains 5 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label Number: IMS 7017
☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1974-1994 Repertoire Records
On Banquet, Lucifer's Friend finally pulled together the many different elements to their sound (prog, soul, jazz, hard rock) into one cohesive and totally distinctive style. This time out, the primary focus of the album is epic prog numbers with complex instrumentation that go through a variety of surprising and ambitious changes in their arrangements. The standout example is the opening track, "Spanish Galleon": this pirate-themed epic starts with a Latin-flavored rock groove, that is given further power by the addition of horns, segues into a lyrical, pirate-themed song section that climaxes with a rousing chorus, takes a left turn into an instrumental portion studded with jazzy solos, and then finishes with a stirring reprise of the song section. The other prog numbers continue in a similar vein, reaching heights of almost orchestral complexity, but working in enough hooks and solid songcraft into the compositions to keep the listener hooked. Another standout in this arena is "Sorrow," a keyboard-based epic that features a lovely midsection where a keyboard solo is accompanied by a lush string arrangement. Banquet also balances out these epics with a pair of shorter, poppier songs that still manage to show off the band's firepower and complexity in their tighter format; the best is "Dirty Old Town," the closing ballad that builds to a jazzy, horn-powered chorus. All in all, Banquet is a fine, underrated prog outing and is worthy of rediscovery by art-rock fanatics. It's an ideal introduction to the sound of Lucifer's Friend.

tags: lucifers friend, banquet, 1974, flac,

Lucifer's Friend - Good Time Warrior (1978)

*Japanese first pressing on CD. 
Contains 8 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: WPCR-1719

© 1978-1997 WEA
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: lucifers friend, good time warrior, 1978, flac,

Lucifer's Friend - Mean Machine (1981)

*Japanese first pressing on CD. 
Contains 10 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: WPCR-1721

© 1993 Giant Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: lucifers friend, mean machine, 1981, flac,

Lucifer's Friend - Sneak Me In (1980)

*Japanese first pressing on CD. 
Contains 8 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: WPCR-1720

© 1980-1997 WEA
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: lucifers friend, sneak me in, 1980, flac,

Simon Raymonde - Blame Someone Else (1997)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Style: Britpop
Label Number: BELLA CD 1

© 1997 Bella Union
Simon Raymonde's first solo album after the demise of the Cocteau Twins is a lush, fragile affair. Raymonde's voice comes across like a mix of Elliott Smith and LilysKurt Heasley, and these 12 singer/songwriter-oriented songs are a perfect match for his delivery. With bright, organic tones and optimistic arrangements, Raymonde balances equal measures of pop charisma and moody emotion. Raymonde's debut is not unlike Jon Brion's Meaningless, in that it's quite clear that he's just as adept at managing a mixing board as he is at delivering a chorus or hook. Twinkling ambient sound effects nestle snuggly alongside jazzy drums, guitars echo off into the horizon, dance beats add punch and energy, and notes chime so elegantly that one can't tell the instrument of origin. Raymonde smartly employs a bevy of friends and past collaborators, including famed engineer Giles Hall and ex-Spiritualized drummer Damon Reece. As one would expect, ex-Cocteau Twins bandmates Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser make appearances; Guthrie contributes guitars and studio knowhow and Fraser provides beautiful additional vocals on "Worship Me." Though Raymonde's own ballads are the highlights, his covers of Scott Walker's "It's Raining Today" and Television's "Days" are fascinating new takes on old classics. One hopes that Raymonde finds more time for recording solo material outside his duties running the fantastic Bella Union label, so that more riches like those on Blame Someone Else might see the light of day.

tags: simon raymonde, blame someone else, 1997, flac,

Theaudience - Theaudience (1998) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Style: Britpop
Label Number: 558 771‐2
☠: Selected by Lass
© 1998 Elleffe/Mercury Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: theaudience, the audience, theaudience album, 1998, flac,

Daz Dillinger - Retaliation, Revenge & Get Back (1998)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
Label Number: P2 53524

© 1998 Death Row/Priority Records
Come the spring of 1998, Death Row was a mighty lonely place. Dr. Dre had been gone for nearly two years, Snoop Dogg enlisted in the No Limit army, 2pac was dead, Suge was in jail. Only Dat Nigga Daz -- now known as Daz Dillinger -- remained, and he was determined to keep the Death Row torch burning with his first solo album, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back. It's a bit better than tha Dogg Pound's disappointing 1995 effort Dogg Food, but it finds Daz in an awkward position. He does what he does -- namely, G-funk -- well, but in 1998 G-funk is an anachronism. True, Master P built upon the G-funk sound (no matter how much he would like to deny it), but his stripped-down, cheap productions are the sound of the late '90s -- the loping beats and whiny synths of G-funk belong to the early '90s. And that's where Daz is stuck, no matter how you look at it. If you look past that, however, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back is a solid record that delivers exactly what it promises -- straight-up gangsta rap, nothing more and nothing less. There are no surprises, but few albums since Doggystyle have given the G-funk audience exactly what they want as Retaliation does. By that standard, Daz's debut is a success.

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tags: daz dillinger, retaliation revenge and get back, 1998, flac,

October 16, 2021

Juice With Soul - Body Armor (1993) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
Label Number: 7 824682
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☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 1993 Atlantic Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release

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tags: juice with soul, body armor, 1993, flac,

Beck - Odelay (1996)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Lo-Fi
Label Number: DGCD-24823
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© 1996 DGC/Bong Long Records
Odelay Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Unlike Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave, the indie albums that followed his debut Mellow Gold by a mere matter of months, Odelay was a full-fledged, full-bodied album, released on a major label in the summer of 1996 and bearing an intricate, meticulous production by the Dust Brothers in their first gig since the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique. Odelay shared a similar collage structure to that 1989 masterpiece, relying on a blend of found sounds and samples, but instead of lending the album its primary colors, the Dust Brothers provided the accents, highlighting Beck's ever-changing sounds, tying together his stylistic shifts, making the leaps from the dirge-blues of "Jack-Ass" to the hazy party rock of "Where's It's At" seem not so great. Like Mellow Gold, Odelay winds up touching on a number of disparate strands -- folk and country, grungy garage rock, stiff-boned electro, louche exotica, old-school rap, touches of noise rock -- but there's no break-neck snap between sensibilities, everything flows smoothly, the dense sounds suggesting that the songs are a bit more complicated than they actually are. Most of the songs here betray Beck's roots as an anti-folk singer -- he reworks blues structures ("Devil's Haircut"), country ("Lord Only Knows," "Sissyneck"), soul ("Hotwax"), folk ("Ramshackle") and rap ("High 5 [Rock the Catskills]," "Where It's At") -- but each track twists conventions, either in their construction or presentation, giving this a vibrant, electric pulse, surprising in its form and attack. Like a mosaic, all the details add up to a picture greater than its parts, so while some of Beck's best songs are here, Odelay is best appreciated as a recorded whole, with each layered sample enhancing the allusion that came before.

tags: beck, odelay, 1996, flac,

Beck - Guero (2005)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Trip-Hop
Label Number: B0003481-02
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© 2005 Interscope Records
Guero Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Ever since his thrilling 1994 debut with Mellow Gold, each new Beck album was a genuine pop cultural event, since it was never clear which direction he would follow. Kicking off his career as equal parts noise-prankster, indie folkster, alt-rocker, and ironic rapper, he's gone to extremes, veering between garishly ironic party music to brooding heartbroken Baroque pop, and this unpredictability is a large part of his charm, since each album was distinct from the one before. That remains true with Guero, his eighth album (sixth if you don't count 1994's Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave, which some don't), but the surprising thing here is that it sounds for all the world like a good, straight-ahead, garden-variety Beck album, which is something he'd never delivered prior to this 2005 release. In many ways, Guero is deliberately designed as a classicist Beck album, a return to the sound and aesthetic of his 1996 masterwork, Odelay. After all, he's reteamed with the producing team of the Dust Brothers, who are widely credited for the dense, sample-collage sound of Odelay, and the light, bright Guero stands in stark contrast to the lush melancholy of 2002's Sea Change while simultaneously bearing a knowing kinship to the sound that brought him his greatest critical and commercial success in the mid-'90s. This has all the trappings of being a cold, calculating maneuver, but the album never plays as crass. Instead, it sounds as if Beck, now a husband and father in his mid-thirties, is revisiting his older aesthetic and sensibility from a new perspective. The sound has remained essentially the same -- it's still a kaleidoscopic jumble of pop, hip-hop, and indie rock, with some Brazilian and electro touches thrown in -- but Beck is a hell of a lot calmer, never indulging in the lyrical or musical flights of fancy or the absurdism that made Mellow Gold and Odelay such giddy listens. He now operates with the skill and precision of a craftsman, never dumping too many ideas into one song, paring his words down to their essentials, mixing the record for a wider audience than just his friends. Consequently, Guero never is as surprising or enthralling as Odelay, but Beck is also not trying to be as wild and funny as he was a decade ago. He's shifted away from exaggerated wackiness -- which is good, since it wouldn't wear as well on a 34 year old as it would on a man a decade younger -- and concentrated on the record-making, winding up with a thoroughly enjoyable LP that sounds warm and familiar upon the first play and gets stronger with each spin. No, it's not a knockout, the way his first few records were, but it's a successful mature variation on Odelay, one that proves that Beck's sensibility will continue to reap rewards for him as he enters his second decade of recording.

tags: beck, guero, 2005, flac,

Puressence - Puressence (1996)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Style: Britpop
Label Number: CID8046;524 194-2

© 1996 Island Records
If Puressence's self-titled debut were a person, it'd be the shy young man working stock in a used bookstore, shrinking at customers but figuring out a long, complicated epic poem in his head. Not only does James Mudriczki sing like Geneva's Andrew Montgomery with a Brooklyn open mike night accent, but the band pencils out light and powerful personal anthems with a strong, occasionally successful attention to detail, a floating, echo-filtered package that mines British arena rock, art-school ambition, romance novels, and the rigid noise of shoegazing. Core track "Traffic Jam in Memory Lane" is about seven floors below the Longpigs or Placebo, or even Shed Seven -- entertaining and excessive while at the same time derivative and unremarkable.

tags: puressence, puressence album, 1996, flac,

Puressence - Only Forever (1998)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Style: Britpop
Label Number: CID 8064/524 478-2

© 1998 Island Records
A song or two aside (the climactic "Gazing Down" certainly has some of the spirit right at the start), Puressence's second album took the band a bit further away from the Chameleons comparisons that dogged the group on its first effort. While there's definitely an appreciation of the dark and mysterious undercurrent of Manchester music that has made such a mark over the years, it's all the more the band's own interpretation of it this time. Mike Hedges' production work is some of his best in years, while Dave Eringa handles a fair share himself, and between the two of them the band's blend of delicacy and surging power is captured to a T. "Sharpen Up the Knives," the brilliant opener, itself would have to silence more than a few doubters, balancing a restrained, nervous opening with a brawling energetic explosion of sound, in turn making the midsong break's return to calm all the more nerve-racked. That James Mudriczki has a voice that could almost be a pure and pristine vocal from soaring, swooning '60s pop is really the secret weapon of the band -- without aiming for a ghost of Jeff Buckley/Thom Yorke falsetto as directly as certain bands, he achieves the same lift and grace. It's what helps make the cascading power of "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" and "Never Be the Same Again" so grand, but at heart it's the interplay of the both lush and brusque guitars that truly sends the songs. Given how many bands were to follow that ended up creating dull photocopies of Radiohead's own unique blend of tension and beauty, the comparative obscurity of Puressence and Only Forever is all the more criminal. This is an album worth thousands of Travises and Coldplays.

tags: puressence, only forever, 1998, flac,

Puressence - Planet Helpless (2002)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Style: Britpop
Label Number: CIDZ 8124/063329-2

© 2002 Island Records
Fans of Puressence's first album who thought it couldn't be bettered might have to rethink on listening to Planet Helpless, their third and most consummate work to date. There are unquestionably more than a few efforts on this disc that match up to the exuberance of their debut. 12 tracks of almost equal length prove that with consistency alone they are continuously working away from such tags as Madchester-era hangers-on, and Ride -- or even U2 -- soundalikes. Lead vocalist James Mudriczki has the gift of the nearest thing to a natural falsetto you might ever hear which makes the group unique; while the rest of the band form the tightest and most accomplished of sounds. All this and more can be gleaned from the commanding opener "Walking Dead," with its thumping and driving style at which Puressence alone are most proficient. There's an archetypal quality to the haunting songs found here too, as in "Prodigal Song," where an oft-used chord structure is made their own with the use of echoes and hums, and on "Comfort When you Smile," where spacey keyboards are used to similar effect. Less expected are the upbeat "She's Gotten Over You" and "You Move Me," as is the Mexican-style brass fill and the French accordion on "How Does it Feel?," but these are a welcome addition to the moodiness found on previous albums, and replicated here in full effect on "Make Time"." Affiliated with an industry which likes to push its artists to progress, Puressence stand firm; emotive, sharp, and relentless.

tags: puressence, planet helpless, 2002, flac,

Puressence - Don't Forget To Remember (2007) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label Number: REACTRR003
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2007 Reaction Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: puressence, dont forget to remember, 2007, flac,

Puressence - Solid State Recital (2011)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label Number: Caserta 3CD

© 2011 Caserta Red
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: puressence, solid state recital, 2011, flac,

Dead Prez - Information Age (Deluxe Edition) (2013)

*This pressing contains 18 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Conscious Rap, Political Hip-Hop
Label Number: 302062422-2

© 2012-2013 Krian Music Group
Brooklyn's militantly minded hip-hop duo Dead Prez practice revolution even with their discography, so while Information Age is their first official and proper album in eight years, they've haven't been inactive. Don't call it a comeback, because mixtapes, street releases, and collaborative efforts with the Outlawz (check 2006's Can't Sell Dope Forever for an outstanding reality check) have been bucking the system the whole time, but those who don't dip into the underground are in for a shock, like an electro-shock. True to its futuristic title, Information Age is like Afrika Bambaataa doing some Boogie Down Productions, or Prince when he was battling the new wave genre for dance club supremacy. Check "A New Beginning" for the musical marriage of Kraftwerk and T-Pain with some Last Poets talk on top, and with Anthony David added to the mix, the highlight gives up one of the album's plentiful, singalong hooks. Hard to believe, but the doomsday scenario laid out on "What If the Lights Go Out?" is akin to Morris Day & the Time recording a track for survivalists ("Whatever gonna be, I'm ready/Got my AR-15, I'm ready") while "Time Travel" is an even wilder mix of Drake's dreaminess (you can float on this TR!X production), Bill Cosby's style of social change ("We all talented, all gifted/Tap into this raw spirit, it's unlimited"), and some by-any-means-necessary spirit ("I'm like Tommie Smith in '68"). Then there's the key cut, "Dirty White Girl," which uses suburban honeys getting tipsy as a metaphor for addiction, and does so with an attractive, glitzy hook, as if stirring stuff up and selling out always go hand and hand. In the end, the unpredictable Information Age is like seeing Noam Chomsky popping bottles in the V.I.P. room with all the right swag on. Some will walk away confused, others will walk away in disgust, but those intrigued by the idea will find this blast of contrasts is alive and inspired. Until Howard Zinnfandel writes A People's Disco History of the United States, this one is unique.

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tags: dead prez, information age, deluxe edition, 2013, flac,

People Under The Stairs - Question In The Form of An Answer (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: OM-036

© 2000 OM Records
People Under the StairsThes One and Double K have not succumbed to a "sophomore jinx" with their second album, Question in the Form of an Answer. In fact, they've created a very solid hip-hop album from top to bottom; the rhymes are creative and the beats are very on point. Refusing to use any keyboards (a rarity in the modern hip-hop era), the duo construct their music completely from the funky records they dig up; Pete Rock would love these guys and their pure hip-hop aesthetic. He'd probably also have loved the fact that the album has over 20 solid tracks, but People Under the Stairs could have used a good A&R rep here to cut out a few of the lesser tracks and up the ante on the more solid ones, making them even more banging. But overall, People Under the Stairs really establishes a solid record with this release.

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tags: people under the stairs, question in the form of an answer, 2000, flac,

Encore - Self Preservation (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 75008

© 2000 75 Ark
Without any major-label hype, or crew affiliation, Encore has still managed to create quite a buzz for himself (no small feat these days). The ripples that his handful of underground singles generated were significantly intensified by his Rakim-like verbal explosion, "Waterworld," on Prince Paul and the Automator's critically acclaimed Handsome Boy Modeling School project. Encore's sheer lyrical dexterity is engraved into every verse of his debut, Self-Preservation, on which he effortlessly conjures up images of a time when emceeing was in its purest form. The man behind the music, Architect, follows suit, as his crisp drum loops and pristine samples show very little evidence of contemporary influence. The contentious "Love and Hate" reiterates Encore's traditionalist convictions, as he paints an alternately affectionate and condemning mural of hip-hop, while ".084" reveals how an arrest for DUI compelled Encore to re-evaluate his lifestyle and, in turn, led him to embrace the Islamic faith. His debut record proves that he is one of the most promising MC's to emerge from the flourishing Bay Area hip-hop scene.

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tags: encore, self preservation, 2000, flac,

Souls of Mischief - Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 230104-2

© 2000 Hiero Imperium
Souls of Mischief's groundbreaking 1993 debut, '93 'Til Infinity, introduced the underground sound of Oakland, a city known more for its deep bass and the funky pimpery of Too Short than for backpacker hip-hop. Precocious and innovative, each member of the crew brought a unique flow and formidable lyrical weaponry to the table. Their follow-up release, No Man's Land in 1995, was a much more dark and brooding work, more scholarly gangster than whimsical. Released in 2000, Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution is a further exploration of their darker side, a murky album of edgy decadence. Gone are the Souls' funky youthful misadventures, replaced now by fully grown sharp attitudes and emotions; however, their focus on bookish word-bending remains the same. The tracks are moody and stripped down to their raw essence, the depth provided purely by the lyrical content, while the droning atonal music almost gets in the way. The album has a twisted visceral feel reflecting the more chaotic mental states of the four restless Souls. In fact, the compressed vibe of Trilogy may isolate all but the Souls' die-hard listeners. While the Souls of old were able to satisfy nouveau hippies and heads alike with their debut, their focus is much more implicit here. Here they enter the mouth of madness, tapping into the primordial rivers of rage and anger. The result is an album of dense, demonic Oaktown funk that defies a true groove but astounds with its rawness and blithe yet still expansive lyrical content. The frenzied and frightful "Interrogation" featuring other Hieroglyphics enlistees Casual and Pep Love is the purest example of their developing sound. The Souls then dig deep into Webster's for astute hardcore tracks like "That Ain't Life," "Acupuncture," and "Enemy Minds." There's more Digital Underground, 2 Pac, and Too Short influences here to go along with the group's characteristic encyclopedic style. An introverted album that reveals more with each subsequent listen, Trilogy, still makes it evident that the inner sanctum of the Souls remains impenetrable.

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tags: souls of mischief, trilogy conflict climax resolution, 2000, flac,

October 15, 2021

Da Bush Babees - Remember We (12'' Single) (1995) ⚓

*Photos of the record are included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 0-41943

© 1995 Reprise Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.




tags: da bush babees, babies, remember we, 12 inch single, 1995, flac,

Killa Beez - The Sting (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: KOC-CD-8362
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© 2002 Koch Records
The Sting Review by AllMusic
The Wu-Tang hip-hop collective can always be counted upon to release a worthwhile product, the level of quality control befitting a grass-roots cottage industry. The RZA produces the lion's share of the tracks on THE STING, so you know from the start that you're guaranteed some evocative tracks and visceral beats. The sonic thread of consistency that RZA weaves proves valuable as a revolving door of rappers spins from track to track, each turn introducing another street-smart master of Rhyme. Things get off to a pumping start with the self-referential mission statement of "Killa Beez," where Bobby Digital, Inspectah Deck, and others peel off urgent raps over an energetic backbeat. While this cut sets a pattern for much of what's to follow, there are interesting diversions such as "When You Come Home," a more low-key track where Shyheim sends out his compassion to a cohort in lockdown, over a Middle-Eastern-tinged keyboard riff. The limited-edition version of THE STING also features a second disc of bonus cuts, just in case the aforementioned hip-hop smorgasbord isn't enough.

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tags: killa beez, the sting, 2002, flac,