Album Chart of 1976

<1975 1977>

  • This chart features albums released in 1976 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • The Top 30 albums are profiled, and the full chart (Top 61) is summarised, in sortable table form, on the Albums released in 1976 page, which shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
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SAVIOURS: JOHNNY • TOMMY • JOEY • DEE DEE

It's 1976 and the Ramones are GO on the albums front, generating steam heat, pulsating to the back beat. In Britain, the Sex Pistols have released their explosive debut single, declaring themselves to be the anti-christ, they are here to destroy Eagles and overthrow Queen. This is a two-pronged attack from both sides of the Atlantic. The explosion may only be underground, but this is THEE big bang. Scenes and ‘zines burst into life all over the western world; the D.I.Y. ethics of which will continue to reverberate into the next century. As well as Ramones, the New York scene is represented by fine long-players from the Patti Smith Group and Blondie. From Massachusetts, Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers deliver their long-awaited debut LP - it was a case of waiting four years and two coming along at once.

Elsewhere, Virgin execs are swanning around Jamaica with suitcases full of cash. As a result, Rasta roots music is bubbling hot in many corners of the world; there are an impressive 8 long-players in my Top 30 this year from Bob Marley and The Wailers, Prince Far I, Peter Tosh, U-Roy, The Upsetters, Justin Hines and The Dominoes, Augustus Pablo and The Mighty Diamonds.

In terms of rebel quality, there is no strength-in-depth to the music LPs of the western world in '76 but, thankfully, Antigua's King Short Shirt is on red hot form, Turkey's Selda Bağcan is intensely brilliant, and there are number of terrific African LPs from Mahlabathini, Kawere Boys Band, Daniel Kamau, Fela Kuti and Amagugu - to name just 5!

Whilst the feeling of 1976 is definitely forward march it's great to see Bob Dylan continue his magnificent mid-70s form.

A quick head-count reveals this to be a ten-nation Top 30 - long may this continue.

The Jukebox Rebel
30-Jul-2016

TJR says:

9.07 “A masterpiece”

My album of the year in ’76 was a mutation; aborted recordings from 1971-72 finally given their place as an album statement, albeit one which the songwriter, Jonathan Richman, didn’t want to make. Having being dumped by Warner Bros for being difficult in ’74, he was forging ahead with the Modern Lovers that he envisaged – alas, a twee rockabilly shadow of the early 70s VU-inspired incarnation of his group. The all-new “Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers” (Beserkley BZ-0048) was already in the shops by the time “The Modern Lovers” (Home Of The Hits HH-1910) was delivered in August 1976 – all very confusing for the casual fan. Kicking off the album is the definitive version of “Roadrunner”, as produced by John Cale 4 years earlier, now being heard here for the first time. A ’74 version had been released as a 45 in 1975, but this faster / punkier album version was even better – and you’d have thought that was near impossible for my song of the year ’75. The romance of the thing is striking; going faster miles an hour ‘neath the neon lights of Massachusetts with the radio on, he’s digging the spirit of ’56. It’s a pure Rock n Roll high – who needs crystal meth? “Astral Plane” gives the game away as a 1972 recording – musically, it’s a clear homage to the Doors which swings brilliantly and has the swirling organ of soon-to-be Talking Head, Jerry Harrison, playing a major part. What they’re doing is new and fresh all the same, perfectly underlined on “Old World” which has a VU jangle, a psychedelic organ, more lyrics about how Jon dig the 50s, but still manages to scream “New Wave”. With the benefit of hindsight, this thing was shaping up as a highly effective Rock n Roll to Indie Pop conduit. The influence of John Cale’s insistent piano styling is clear on “Pablo Picasso”, which is 4-minutes of head-nodding trance-out heaven. The whole group are awesome, and Jonathan’s detached, sneering vocals are perfect for the job. They could have been the greatest band in the world had they released this in ’72. What was the matter with them? The quality is maintained straight away on side 2 which opens with “She Cracked”, an intensely exciting Punk thriller, completely digging on the Stooges. A more sensitive side of the front man is then revealed on the gorgeous “Hospital” – a king amongst unrequited love songs – and “Girlfriend”, where true heart-on-the-sleeve vulnerability is laid down in a decidedly anti-pop-star fashion. Again, the Modern Lovers are able to rise and fall magnificently with the front-man. Another Stooges-esque number, “Modern World”, closes the set and the parting verse serves as a summary of the prevalent hopeless romantic manifesto “Well, the modern world is not so bad, not like the students say, in fact I'd be in heaven, if you'd share the modern world with me”. That Pablo Picasso feller might never have been called an asshole, but as for whoever prevented this LP from being released in 1972…

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Mar-2011


TJR says:

8.64 “A classic”

Staring back at you from their iconic debut in April ’76 were: Johnny Ramone (27, guitar); Tommy Ramone (27, drums); Joey Ramone (24, lead vocals) and Dee Dee Ramone (24, bass). This was a short, sharp wake-up call for docile Rock n Roll fans the world over. The 14 songs were all over in an adrenalin-filled 29 minutes, with no pausing for wanky guitar solos. Hurrah! John Peel was all over it, and couldn’t wait to get it on the tables. Several tracks were played out over the course of two nights in May, much to the consternation of many within his overly hairy listenership. He revelled in the freshness – they found the use of three simple chords revolting. The album did nothing commercially, peaking at #111 in the Billboard album charts and completely failed to register in the UK chart. This must have been a disappointment for producer Craig Leon and Sire’s head-honcho Seymour Stein, both of whom had backed the band with a crisp production and a decent distribution network. On the plus side, sparks flew in underground circles as scenes and zines went ape for it, enthusing bands and fans on both sides of the Atlantic. By the summer of ’76, Punk was on the march, with the Brotherhood of Ramone at the forefront chanting “Hey-Ho LET'S GO!

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Sep-2006


TJR says:

8.27 “Excellent”

What a glorious offering from the 34-year-old McLean Emmanuel, surely one of the very finest Calypsonians ever to emerge from the Caribbean, never mind Antigua. He never holds back for a second – with gusto, integrity and skill he delivers his message in a killer style every time, no matter whether it’s light-hearted fun or laying sticks of gelignite ‘neath the St. John’s parliament. This set gets off to a flyer with “Tourist Leggo”, a massive hit for him at home and a song which even placed second at Trinidad and Tobago's Road March, causing such a stir that it forced that country's authorities to initiate a ban on all foreign tunes from the competition! It’s really quite hilarious, as Shorty, in a good-natured fashion, takes the mickey out of a “pretty little yankee tourist… she says she’s come down from Halifax… jumping without timing, singing with a strange harmon-eeee”. As a whitey at Sunsplash I’ve been that tourist, I’ve got to laugh. West Indies pride is to the fore on “Vivian Richards” with the unforgettable chorus “No bowler holds a terror for Vivian Richards!” and classic lines such as “He don’t give a France how you bowling him, fast or slowly, you’re going back to the boundary”. Preserving cultural heroes is important to Shorty and he’s positively raging at the treatment of a pan band on “Hands Off Harmonites”, which blasts the politically motivated judges from the ’75 Panorama Finals where the Harmonites Steel Band were placed second to last, apparently a travesty of justice: “Insulting our competition… humiliating a steel band… flow, tempo and rhythm… what more could you want from a steel band… the sweetest band in the land”. Shorty’s been stood up on “No Promises”: “gal, I walk the whole a de beach like a crazy man and all I find was shell and sand”. Hee-hee, he has a way with his storytelling which gets you onside with all of his issues; personal, political and otherwise. Side 1 closes with “Power and Authority”, which opens by quoting an old Lord Acton proverb: “Power rules the world today and power corrupts they say and absolute power corrupts you absolutely” before going on to blast the uncaring Antiguan parliamentarians for encouraging and being a part of the massive social inequality prevalent in the land. The first side of this LP is so breathtakingly good that you fear it can’t possibly be maintained. However, “Nobody Go Run Me” opens side 2 sensationally with a defiant fist that makes it clear – London’s not the place for him, or his Mumma, or his Puppa, or his woman, or his pickney dem. It could almost be the new national anthem for Antigua. I’m proud for him. We’ve really got no rights to expect any more from this amazing LP but “When” defies these expectations once again. It’s a stupendous statement in so many ways – the delivery, the lyrics and the music is all first class. “WHEN will mankind turn from their evil? WHEN will the children rise and shine? WHEN will crime violence and corruption, WHEN will they leave the hearts of mankind?” Shorty feels like he could SCREAM, we FEEL that. Towards the end, a mournful harmonica, some spoken word and some of his trademark brrrrrrrs send a shiver down my spine. What an album, completely amazing. It dances, it laughs, it scowls, it barks and it’s all down to the incredible King Short Shirt. If you only own one Caribbean album it has to be “Ghetto Vibes”. It has everything – what more could you want from the neatest Calypsonian in the land?

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Mar-2016


TJR says:

8.07 “Excellent”

The Bob Marley story was moving along beautifully at this time. There had been no studio albums in ’75 but the live version of “No Woman No Cry” had given him single success in several countries. “Rastaman Vibration” arrived in April ’76 and cemented the growing worldwide reputation of the man and his group, and was a roaring commercial success in all the main territories, especially in the United States where it gave them their first Top 10 album. “Positive Vibration” leads the album off excellently in every way; the bass is deep and true, the I-Threes are sweet and sharp and Bob exudes positivity to all people: “If you get down and quarrel every day, you're saying prayers to the devil, I say, why not help one another on the way, make it much easier” Who could argue with that? Bob’s soulfulness is to the fore on “Johnny Was”, displaying compelling empathy with the mother of a murdered son, and striking a general chord with those in war-torn regions the world over. “Crazy Baldhead” opens up side 2 in classic fashion, almost a party political broadcast on behalf of the Rastafarians – run Babylon out of the yard is the plea, though it’ll never happen. Got to hand it to him though – he’s committed and consistent with it. “Who The Cap Fit” defines the sound of the Wailers in 1976 – an exceedingly soulful vocal from Bob, awesome lyrics (double-crossers, hypocrites and parasites are in the firing line this time), terrific gospel-like wailing from the I-Threes, prominent synths, and deep roots-rocking from the Barrett brothers. It doesn’t get much better. Another of the major highlights on this wonderful LP is “War”, as, again, the wicked Barrett Bros rhythm section plays a massive part, offering disciplined and infectious support for Bob’s chanting which re-enacts the speech made by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I before the United Nations General Assembly on 4 October 1963: “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war. That until there are no longer first and second class citizen of any nation. Until the colour of a man skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes. Everywhere is war.” It’s impossible not to get swept up in the fervour – count me in on this battle of good over evil. Alas, these positive vibrations were severely challenged in December ’76 when an assassination attempt was made on Bob’s life, thought to be politically motivated, just 2 days before he was due to appear at the Smile Jamaica Concert, ironically a concert which was designed to rally for peace between political rivals on the Island. Bravely, the wounded Bob went ahead with the concert anyway, before heading for an 18-month exile to let things cool down. In Kingston, the bullet holes on the wall of his former home are still there today; still yet, there is so much trouble in the world.

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Jul-2006


TJR says:

7.83 “Brilliant”

Bob Dylan’s career story to date has consisted of early-60s solo excellence, mid-60s intense group brilliance, and then a string of journeyman collaborations which, somewhat predictably, have inconsistently lurched from the poor to the good. When Dylan seen Patti Smith play in ‘75 he was immediately struck by the chemistry that existed between the singer and her group, and expressed some regret that he himself hadn’t stayed with a single band. The hit-or-miss nature of his modus operandi was very much a hit with “Desire”. He has a new collaborator, playwright Jacques Levy, who co-writes 7 of the 9 and seems to help solidify a theme of sorts, almost a travelogue referencing loves, losses, heroes and villains. Musically, it could almost be said that a band o’ travelling gypsies have been employed to help convey the concept. This seasoned flavour is greatly assisted with the input from Dominic Cortese (accordion, mandolin), Emmylou Harris (background vocals) and Scarlet Rivera (violin). The end results are marvellous – rich ingredients, consistently enjoyable. “Desire” is a romantic success for cultured dreamers everywhere – and Bob Dylan’s best album since “Blonde On Blonde” away back in 1966…

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Apr-2007


TJR says:

7.75 “Brilliant”

Never judge an album by its cover is an adage which can be applied here – put the playboy out of your mind and dance would be the best plan of attack. Mahlabathini (not to be confused with Mahlathini) was the moniker used by Victor Zulu, a groaner clearly inspired by (or cashing in on) his famous namesake. The liner notes give us some background on the frontman: “Victor Mahlabathini started composing and singing in 1959 at Kwambonambi near Durban when he was still at school. In 1968 he came to Johannesburg and sang with “The Watermelon Kids” at the Bantu Men’s Social Centre. In 1969, David Thekwane arranged for Victor and Izintombi Zephepha to record and perform together. In 1975, Victor and the girls made their first recording for Satbel, and we are proud to give you their first LP.” This is a high-quality, all-action set from the triumvirate, which is consistently good from beginning to end, with a blindingly brilliant streak on the first half of side 2. The first two of these (“Mathamyizimimyaba” and “Ukuhamba Ukuboma”) were penned by Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje’s leading lady, Jane Dlamini. Victor, in fact, does not appear on either of them, the lead vocal being taken on the latter by former Mahotella Queens member Nunu Maseko who plays a prominent role throughout this LP. Victor’s best, “Kubuhlunmgu”, follows, and I just can’t escape the feeling that I’m listening to a vintage Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens recording; the gruffness playing against the sweetness is simply irresistible, and the harmonies and rhythms are killer. This is an album not to be missed and has been made available to you by the good people at Electric Jive.

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Jun-2013


TJR says:

7.66 “Brilliant”

Kawere Boys Band were purveyors of benga music, which has its heartlands in Nairobi and is characterized by an extremely restless, rhythmic and imaginative electric-bass, lots of razor-sharp guitar picking and two or three singers playing-off harmonies, shouts, conversations and laughs against each other. The Kawere Boys were formed by ace guitarist Cheplin Ngode Kotula, a young man in his mid-20s, in Kericho, Kenya in 1974. He had served his time in one of the leading groups, Shirati Jazz, and somewhat disillusioned by financial “misunderstandings” he was determined to make a go of it with his own group. His first key-recruits were Juma Charlie (rhythm guitar) and Otiengo Ogor (bass guitar). In the beginning they found great support from label boss A.P. Chandarana who helped them acquire instruments and find accommodation. The lure of potential success soon attracted a big squad. The core three were augmented by singers Herman Dinda, Juma Silas, Osumba John and Aloo Jossy Jarapethii. Sadok Otieno and Manase Aroko were on drums, and there were two further guitarists in Paul Dinda and Ouko McKenzie. Twelve-strong, they were a force to be reckoned with! Over the course of the next four years the Kawere Boys became one of the more popular Benga groups in the Luo lands, with tens of 45s to their credit, initially for A.P., and then later for impresario (and MP!) Oluoch Kanindo. The Kenyafrica series on Alain Normand’s Playa Sound label was designed to spread the benga gospel to Europe and the world from its’ French base, and showcased the most recent recordings by some of the leading Kenyan artists of the day, most of which was presumably recently released on 45s in the home territories. Thanks to the sterling efforts of the Global Groove you can download your own digital copy of this wonderful LP.

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Nov-2014


TJR says:

7.50 “Brilliant”

After several years in the business the characterful and gruff chanter, now in his early 30s, was ready to unleash his first album statement to the world. Apparently, the ways of the ungodly shall perish. Groan. Heretics are so last millennium. For his debut, the great man opts to read from The Book of Psalms, as well as delivering the Lord’s Prayer. In his mind, the set would be celebrated and enjoyed by those who could not read the Bible for themselves. Quite frankly, he could read the operating instructions manual for a Kenwood toaster and I’d probably love him just the same. “Psalm 48” (working "Natty Dread In A Greenwich Farm" by Cornell Campbell) is the first mighty highlight. As a mark of respect for the man I check out his lyrics: “Mount Zion rejoices, the villages of Judah are glad, because of your judgments.” Imagery close to the heart of the Rastaman strikes me, but in truth it’s the bassline which wins my heart. Over on side 2, “Psalm 95” (working "You Are My Angel" by Horace Andy, 1973) is the next killer-cut, again nothing to do with the script (“in his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land”) and everything to do with the bellowing Prince working a classic riddim. “Psalm 23”, which as far as I can tell is the album’s sole original riddim, is bordering the classic territory – I just love the laid-back feel and the nagging little guitar twang that prettily decorates the piece. Towards the end I even find myself singing “I will dwell in the house of the lord forever” and there are none more atheist than me. That’s how compelling Prince Far I is. What a man.

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Jun-2016


TJR says:

7.44 “Really good”

By now in her late 20s, the Turkish folk singer Selda Bağcan had crammed much into her first 5 years as a professional musician, with a great many singles and a few German territory cassette albums already behind her. “Vurulduk Ey Halkım Unutma Bizi” was her second long-player in her native Turkey where she was now firmly established as a star in the hearts of the working class, never afraid to confront the political hot potato of the day with a critical lyric, although, as a westerner, I’ll need to take the word of commentators for it. Whilst I may be unable to understand the language, I can feel that Selda sings proudly in earnest, that she feels her subject matter with a passion and that she is often pained by some troublesome issues. This set is consistently rewarding and reaches some terrific highs in the first half. The title-track, half-traditional / half-Selda’s, is a two-minute blast, an acoustic-folk statement-of-intent, almost coming high from a mountain in Mexico. When Selda breaks it down into a barely accompanied spoken rant by the end, I’m sitting up and taking notice already. Her band are then fully amped and electrified for “Utan, Utan” and we’re into some of that Middle Eastern Psychedelic Rock which has now become a big part of her mid-70s repertoire. It’s obvious to me right away that her musicians are excellent – focused, rhythmic and mesmerizing – and the combo with Selda’s impassioned vocal is irresistible. Closing side 1 is a spell-binding 3-track-run which begins with “Acıyı Bal Eyledik”, another stripped-back acoustic-folk number co-written by Selda, and is followed by the excellent “Askerin Türküsü”, a breathtaking number which sounds like it could be the entertainment at some sort of medieval banquet and seems to be half-European / half-Middle-Eastern. Album highlight “Maden Dağı (Deloy, Deloy)” closes side 1 stupendously, with Selda in full-emo-throttle, tears in her eyes, as the group empathize with wavering flutes and lamenting guitars. The Maden Mountain of Diyarbakır is misty, as are her eyes at the news that her lover has been lost. The second half of this LP is nowhere near as radical, almost as if a pop concession, but is never cheesy and retains an allure with some high quality playing of some exotic sounding instruments. In this regard, Selda reminds me of Édith Piaf who could stir my soul mightily when in trad mode, but was less affecting the more contemporaneous she became. That said, Selda’s nowhere near as MOR as Édith was, and, as if underlining my point, the dynamic “Zamanı Geldi” finishes this set off brilliantly, almost Bollywood-like with its sense of drama. Selda is a proper star turn – and this album is simply a must for musical adventurers.

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Jul-2014


TJR says:

7.34 “Really good”

As a Wailer for all of his adult life until very recently, the 31-year-old Peter Tosh was a legendary figure by the time of his solo-debut in ’76. All the same, he still felt he had a point to prove, having felt marginalized within the confines of the larger-than-life group which had become the property of the World during his tenure. Via the album title and lead track, he immediately endeared himself to the Rastafarians by boldly calling for the legalization of marijuana on religious grounds – you’ve got to laugh. The album actually does carry a noticeably lighter tone than the recent Wailers albums, and is characterized by a laid-back, chilled-out vibe; wrong-doers and lovers are treated equally in relaxed fashion. The musicianship is top-drawer, virtually the equal of the Wailers, and his group are as adept with the soulful as they are with the roots-rock branches of the reggae tree. The case for Tosh, as he would say, is proven. Not that he had a case to answer.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Nov-2008


TJR says:

7.34 “Really good”

Patti Smith has now become the Patti Smith Group; in comparison to “Horses”, “Radio Ethiopia” side-steps from the punk fringes to the rock mainstream, relatively speaking, but only to the slight detriment of the relationship between Patti and I. The key-word here is, of course, relative, for the fire-in-her-belly remains, as does the evocative, intelligent poetry from her soul, and the attitude spat out in her delivery. Her vocal theatrics are a joy; she’s so heart-felt. All of the best action is to be found in the first half with the riff-tastic stadium-rocker “Ask The Angels”, the stoned-dub goodness of “Ain’t It Strange” (God vs Rock n Roll? Bring it on G) and the counterintuitive piano-rock eloquence of “Pissing In A River”. At the close of play, the surprising delve into progressive avant-garde territories for “Radio Ethiopia” and its trail-off, “Abyssinia”, is un-nerving and alienates punks and rockers alike, akin to what the VU did with their “European Son” all those years ago. I’m still very much with her by the end, and looking forward to the next episode.

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Feb-2011


TJR says:

7.33 “Really good”

U-Roy was riding on the crest of a wave at this time; the world’s ears were open to Jamaica and he was well placed as an artist on the Virgin roster to be heard internationally. “Natty Rebel” was released in the States, in Europe and Africa. After the success of last years’ “Dread In A Babylon”, the deal between artist and label was extended and the toaster was lined again up with producer Tony Robinson and his own studio band, which included the rock-solid rhythm section of Lloyd Parks (bass) and Sly Dunbar (drums). To my ears, the set is just that little more westernized, and is not quite as vital as “Dread”, but this is a relative complaint and there’s no doubt it’s full of winners. The album starts off ironically in a happy-go-lucky fashion with “Babylon Burning”, which comes complete with western-soul-pop style backing vocalists. These mixed-signals leave me scratching my head. In contrast, “Natty Rebel” is an early-album highlight, as U-Roy cheekily grabs a writers credit despite ripping Marley’s “Soul Rebel” in all but name. Even Bob’s vocal is left intact from the original master tapes! The fantastic “Natty Kung Fu” is another big-plus, riding the Freedom Blues riddim done brilliantly last year by The Upsetters as “Dyon Anasawa”, a big favourite of mine. Proper JA goodness is to the fore at this stage, solidified on “If You Should Leave Me” which is full of dub licks and tricks, with the echo chamber free to roll and roam. “Do You Remember” keeps the quality high and in doing so U-Roy passes an acid test of mine – if I can love the artist when they take on the dreaded love song then I know they’re as cool as they come.

The Jukebox Rebel
28-Nov-2014


TJR says:

7.33 “Really good”

A highly enjoyable LP from the 27-year-old singer-guitarist from Gatanga. I’m pretty sure it’s a compilation of 45s (the occasional pt1 and pt2 in the titles is telling) and was released on the French label Playa Sound; the Kenyafrica series being designed to showcase the latest key Kenyan artists to Europe and the World. It’s easy to love Daniel’s smooth sound, the flow is easy and joyous on the ear. There’s not a weak track here, but the opener, “Kiririkano Kia Zk”, and track 4, “Jane Macyline”, are my two favourites. It’s difficult to make sense of the titles but quite a few of them seem to be names – I’m super-intrigued to know if Jane is a real-life Scot! I note that the album closer, “Ningwite Nawe pt.2”, is simply another re-worded take of the aforementioned “Jane Macyline”, possibly indicating 2 sides of the same 45. Good old Wikipedia tells us a little about the artist: “Daniel Kamau Mwai "DK" (born February 1949 in Gatanga, Muranga District) is a musician from Kenya. He is of Kikuyu tribe and performs Benga music. Kamau comes from the village of Mabanda in Gatanga. Unable to pay the tuition fees, he dropped out of the Karatina High School in 1967. He decided to pursue a career in music, and released his first record in 1968. He made a breakthrough in 1970 when he released the “Murata/ I Love You”, which became a national hit. Around the same time he established a music studio of his own, the DK Nguvu Sounds.

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Dec-2014


TJR says:

7.20 “Really good”

The 23rd new music album from the uber-prolific 37-year-old Afrobeat star proved to be a nightmare for him, despite being hailed by his people. He had never been afraid to criticize the politicians of the day, and for a long time, he had been agitated by the constant raids on his property by the authoritarian military dictatorships which controlled the nation’s oil-revenues but did little to improve the lives of the ordinary folks. With utter contempt for the soldiers of Nigeria, Fela Kuti put his life on the line with this scathing attack, equating them to nothing more than mindless morons: “Zombie no go go, unless you tell am to go (Zombie), Zombie no go stop, unless you tell am to stop (Zombie), Zombie no go turn, unless you tell am to turn (Zombie), Zombie no go think, unless you tell am to think (Zombie)” In the eyes of Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, this was a step too far. For his troubles, his mother was murdered and his commune was destroyed by the military. Wikipedia takes up the story: “The album was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic (a commune that Fela had established in Nigeria), during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Kuti was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries. The Kalakuta Republic was burned, and Kuti's studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed. Kuti claimed that he would have been killed if it were not for the intervention of a commanding officer as he was being beaten. Kuti's response to the attack was to deliver his mother's coffin to the main army barrack in Lagos and write two songs, “Coffin for Head of State” and “Unknown Soldier”, referencing the official inquiry that claimed the commune had been destroyed by an unknown soldier.” Ooft. Count yourself lucky if you’re living in the free world today…

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Mar-2016


TJR says:

7.15 “Really good”

After quietly cultivating his craft over the course of several years, the 28-year-old painter from Lyon assembled his debut album at home in his makeshift studio, and Disques Motors took the gamble where others would not, pressing up 50,000 copies for sale. “Oxygène” was released just in time for Christmas ’76 and within 4 months they were onto a second pressing with sales of 70,000. In time, the LP would go on to sell 12 to 15 million copies (depending on whose account you believe), and became the biggest selling French LP of all-time. Hipsters from the Tangerine Dream crowd scoffed but what do they know? Not complex enough they say. Simplistic melodies they say, as if some sort of hideous crime has been committed. There are those who are lining up to tell you that this LP is nothing more than a coffee table accessory piece, filled with background muzak pleasantry, but they are all wrong. Intensely lush and highly melodic, this set is simply luxurious – the aural equivalent of sinking into a bubble bath with freshly cut melons and nothing on your agenda but sweet, sweet music. Careful listening reveals the soundscape adventures within to be many and varied. This LP is just lovely – a work of art.

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Mar-2016


TJR says:

7.05 “Really good”

Amagugu’s “Ubhek’uZulu” was well received by myself in my album chart of 1974. The second offering from the quintet, a round-up of single sides from the last 2 or 3 years, is even better. Luckily (or perhaps thoughtfully), only “Mngane Wami” repeats from the debut LP and therefore there is no problem in attaining “A-list” status in my reckoning. The backing band, The Intuthuko Brothers, also appear on my charts for the second time, following on from their instrumental offering, “Tomorrow’s Wedding”, which was also delivered in ’74. Once again Sannah Mnguni leads the group splendidly, and the project must be dear to her heart as she pens 8 of the 12 numbers here. The album whizzes through five fast-paced numbers on side 1, with no drop in quality whatsoever. My first disappointment comes at the tail end of the side with the soul ballad “Thula Mtwana”; as ever in their neck of the woods it’s a pale derivative of the sound cultivated and perfected by the masters of the art, the African-Americans. Side 2 has all the very best tracks, the first of which “Wamuhle Thekwane” (“Beautiful Cranes”) presumably extols the virtues of the national bird of South Africa as opposed to glorifying the shifting of great concrete slabs across building sites. It’s a skippy little number penned by Sannah, as is the rip-roaring “Ukuhlupheka Kwami” (“My Suffering”) which steals my heart – it seems I’m drawn to songs of suffering in languages I can’t even understand. Weird. The very best is saved ‘til last with the thoroughly extraordinary piece, “Isithabathaba Segoli” (“Shopping in Johannesburg”), as Africa interprets dosey doe, soulfully. It’s a gospel hoe-down to reckon with and it’s quite magnificent. The strange title seems at odds with the rural vibe, so perhaps this lies at the heart of the point being made. The good news is you can download this LP for free from Electric Jive, so see what you think yourself. Get it here.

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Jul-2014


TJR says:

7.04 “Really good”

The idiosyncratic wonder that is Ivor Cutler delivered his third and final album for Virgin in September ’76 and for the third time there are several tracks by his regular kindred spirit, the ever-intriguing Phyllis King, the best of which, “The Wasted Call”, has the honour of closing the album, oddly and splendidly I might add. Between them there are 14 songs, 10 poems and 7 stories. The album is fairly unique in the Cutler story so far in that the piano is given much more prominence than usual, being the instrument of choice for the first half, before the trademark harmonium makes a welcome return in the second half. The Virgin years go down in history as the glory period which introduced the classic tales from a Scotch sitting room series. As with the preceding two LPs, there are two additions to the series here, although in true Ivor fashion he decides to label them “Life In A Scotch Sitting Room, Vol. 2, Ep. 11” and “Life In A Scotch Sitting Room, Vol. 2, Ep. 6”, seemingly for no other reason than to muddle our minds in line with his. Episode 11, the story of the cooped-up family out for walk, is a hoot at every turn. “we set off in a straggly line, hugging the wall to escape the worst of the effects of the fresh air”. Once in the country, the urbanites marvel at the Thistles and the patches of grass that surround them. And then – a fine picnic of square sliced bread and margarine. What an ideal day out. Later, in Episode 6, Grandpa educates the children with the knowledge that “Scotland gets its brains from the herring”. His fishing catch of the day is deep fried in porridge batter for tea: “After supper, assuming the herring to have worked, we were asked questions. In Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, we had to know the principle parts of verbs. In geography, the five main glove manufacturing towns in the Midlands. And in history, the development of Glasgow's sewage system. There's nothing quite like a Scotch education. One is left with an irreparable debt. My head is full of irregular verbs still.” There aren’t many greater mavericks than Ivor Cutler – but Grandpa Cutler sounds like a candidate! For my tastes, it’s these whacky tales which have the greatest appeal – “The Surly Buddy”, a surreal tale about the cheerless hardship of miners from the valleys, and ”Big Jim”, an hilarious story in which Ivor stars as if struck by aspergers, devoid of empathy before a drowning man, are another two classics. Best of the songs is “A Wooden Tree”, an improbable tale about a pretty tree which invokes impromptu singing amongst all who gather around it. Unfortunately, there is no happy ending, but everyone makes the best of it: “along came an artist with paint on his brush, he painted the tree, and now it looks horrible, but we keep on singing because we are optimists”. Mr. Cutler, you have spoiled us with riches once again.

The Jukebox Rebel
05-May-2007


TJR says:

7.02 “Really good”

Out just in time for Christmas was the debut LP from the exciting quintet out of New York who lined up: Debbie Harry (31, vocals); Chris Stein (26, guitar); Gary Valentine (20, bass); Jimmy Destri (22, keyboards) and Clem Burke (21, drums). The set is dominated by three giant tracks, as highlighted on my Jukebox picks. Opening proceedings is “X Offender”, an alt-mix of which had served as the group’s debut single just 6 months earlier. The track is pure bubblegum dynamite; great drumming and superb garage-pop organeering underpins a salacious tale delivered by a sassy blonde bombshell. Gary’s original lyrics concerned an 18-year-old boy being arrested for having sex with his younger girlfriend. Debbie made the lyrics more decent by making it about a prostitute being attracted to the police officer that had arrested her. Lawdy! The dynamism is maintained on track 3, “In the Flesh”, which was the group’s current single at the time of the album’s release. It’s a classic of the rock n roll ballad variety, and beautifully captures the teen-spirit which co-exists between the doo-wop and punk eras. Quite brilliantly, Ellie Greenwich is drafted in for backing vocals, forging a bona-fide connection between Blondie and the golden-era of the Spector-esque girl group sound of the Ronettes and the Shangri Las. In ’76, Blondie and Ramones know the score – this rock n roll reinvention thing is ON. Whilst there’s not a poor track in the set, some are rather tame; “A Shark in Jets Clothing”, some sort of East Side Story update, is just too pop for my tastes, despite a neat line in finger-clicking. All is soon forgiven when the VU-inspired “Rip Her To Shreds” comes bursting in just a couple of songs later. Beneath the cool veneer, Debbie is screaming out against bitchiness and gossip merchants, most especially within the confines of the judgemental showbiz columns. “The Attack of the Giant Ants” is great fun to finish – producer Richard Gottehrer has a blast recreating some of the whackyness of the rockabilly 45 obscuros, as the New Wave pop vibe eventually caves in to reveal a Godzilla-style horror-show. There’s a smile on the face by the end – I suspect my feeling at the time might have been one of intrigue… there’s something about Blondie…

The Jukebox Rebel
24-May-2016


TJR says:

6.92 “Good”

Dubby, but rarely vacant, this is an enjoyable 40 minutes atmospheric trip, deep into the heart of Lee Perry’s Black Ark production heartlands. A lot of work has gone into this one – the results are rarely dull and occasionally excellent. The set is characterized by the faint vocal accompaniment of the Heptones so often that you almost get the feeling it’s their album. “Zion Blood” is an early highlight, natty nyabhinghi palms, terrific bass, and some cool vox to focus onto: “African blood is flowing through my veins, so I and I shall never fade away”. Jamaica’s bond with Africa can never be broken. This theme continues on “Three In One”, a naturally mystical piece which is framed by bongos and flutes as well as intriguing chants such as “African knowledge… go deh go deh… legal Chalice… go deh go deh”. It’s just brill. The somewhat lethargic “Super Ape” seems to cast a warning shot to Babylon: “this is the ape man trodding through creation”. To my ears, there’s not much to fear here. Much better is “Croaking Lizard”, which features Prince Jazzbo ‘pon de mic, riding the dub of the old Max Romeo classic, “Chase The Devil”. Linking nicely, the “War In A Babylon” dub underpins the next tune, “Black Vest”, which is bare but impressive, with distant horns and occasional vocal snips from Max himself, culled from an alt-version of the riddim, “Fire Fe the Vatican”. Fire ‘pon Rome! Rad! My highlight piece is the rather innocuous “Dub Along” which, although stark on the surface, absolutely hooks me in with the rawness of the ingredients, the focus lying squarely on the wicked bassline and the sweetness of the occasional vocals from the Full Experience girls inviting you to “come along with me… follow I I I”. This is hypnodub, Upsetters style. Lee got me hooked by the end.

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Mar-2007


TJR says:

6.87 “Good”

A big improvement (for my tastes) on their more poppy offering from ’74, “Tomorrow’s Wedding”. On “Stars Of Africa”, the instrumental sextet are truer to the Urban Jive style which so rocks the townships. There are quite a few big-hitters on-board; for me, the best three are to be heard on side 1. The peppy “Mahlabathini Special No.6” opens the album poignantly; it was written by the group’s first bassist, Jackson Simelane Makwenta, who, tragically, was killed in a car accident within the last 12 months. The group dedicate the LP to his memory and this fine track does the job splendidly. Bursts of melodic saxophone are one of the key ingredients to the Intuthuko sound, and Mpompie Sosibo’s excellent “Yasuka Yahlala” takes centre-stage on the next track. Unbelievably, he too would meet the same fate as poor Jackson before the decade was through. The celebratory “Wedding Bells No.5”, penned by ace-guitarist Hansford Mthembu, the group’s leader, is next to shine. The message is clear – take to the floor and DANCE! Over on side 2, “Hamba Guluva”, written by the bassist Zenzele Mchunu, is first to really get me going. The song is framed by his bass and the lively accordion – another key feature of the Intuthuko sound. I am extremely saddened to learn that, in 1984, poor Zenzele was yet another of the “Brothers” to be taken by a car accident. Maintaining the high quality immediately is “Bajike Chwane” where organs, rhythm guitars, bass guitar and sax all seem to take lead turns in an action-packed fast-paced foot tapper. The Intuthuko Brothers were hugely popular in South Africa and toured extensively throughout the country and Swaziland in the mid-1970s – on this set it’s easy to hear why. You can have a listen yourself – this LP is downloadable from the amazing culture-preservationists, Electric Jive.

The Jukebox Rebel
04-May-2014


TJR says:

6.78 “Good”

With the demise of his great supporter, Duke Reid, the Ska legend that was Justin Hinds was thought to be retired early as an artist. By ’73 he was running his own nightclub in Steer Town, the place of his birth, and was raising a family. The 33-year-old resurfaced in ’75 however, making these recordings for Ocho Rios producer and soundsystem operator, Jack Ruby. The conscious roots album “Jezebel”, his first long-player, bore fresh fruits which validated his decision to continue. Mind you, with guys like Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Horsemouth Wallace (drums), Earl Smith (guitar), Vincent Gordon (trombone) and Bobby Ellos (trumpet) he could scarcely fail.

The Jukebox Rebel
19-Jul-2014


TJR says:

6.74 “Good”

The debut album from the 29-year-old Warwickshire lass features 8 traditionals and 2 contemporary covers. June shows herself to be a caring soul on side 1, lamenting misfortunes which devastate innocent animals, fallen maidens and crippled war veterans. On the opening track, “While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping”, a hare is slain for a poacher’s beer money; he is delighted to discover that it’s a female which, we are supposed to believe, makes better eating and commands a better price. “The hare is innocent, OK” says June in her liner notes. Straight from the off, we are introduced to the strangely unique phrasing and delivery which will set the singer apart in a competitive field. “Bonny May” is another first-half highlight; the impregnated and abandoned maiden is left to deal with morning sickness, shame and an uncertain future. Were there more cads in the 18th century than there are today I wonder? Confident in her delivery, the singer delivers 5 of the 10 album pieces A Capella, and “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” closes side 1 in such fashion, with, I might add, spine-tingling results. We learn from June’s notes that the piece was written by Eric Bogle and learned from Jane Herivel (at a festival in the south of England). Rarely, can a song have laid out, so perfectly, the futility of war, and specifically scowled at the heinous crime of using men as pawns. Blood stains the sand and water in the hell of Suvla Bay, as the allied forces are butchered like lambs to the slaughter. Blood, death and fire are everywhere, and all around, corpses are piling high. Legless men come to realise that there are worse things than dying, and blinded men are being driven insane. Later, the unspoken pity will be a silent killer. In her notes, June comments: “The Allied Expedition—Churchill's plan to create a second front—landed in April 1915 and finally withdrew in January 1916 with a healthy respect for the courage of “Johnny Turk” and precious little else.” Over on side 2, I’m taken with the rather more light-hearted tale of skulduggery, “The Merchant’s Son” which features simply June’s voice and the fiddle accompaniment of Nic Jones. In this post-coital sobering-up battle of the sexes, the roving lad is defeated by the beggar girl who makes-off with his belongings at the crack of dawn. June’s oft-repeated chant of “Fal al the dooral i do, Fal al the day” leaves the impression that he’s taken it philosophically. Could be she’s taunting him, mind you. Which side are you on? The album finishes beautifully with “Pull Down Lads”, written by John Tams, about the departure of the funfair from any town, every town. “We've made some brass, you've had a lass, it's perhaps as well we're going. I know how it can hurt, lads, to leave her standing there, but there's often tears, and there's always fears, but you'll be back next year.” It’s a bittersweet finale – and this seems to fit as a perfect parting shot on June’s highly-charged debut.

The Jukebox Rebel
20-May-2016


TJR says:

6.73 “Good”

Get Up Offa That Thing / Release the Pressure” lives here in all of its 9-minute glory, a behemoth of the funky-disco-era. Not so great is the laid-back smoothie-funk-for-lovers “You Took My Heart”. “I Refuse To Lose” gets me back onside straight away – the man got no money but he fights on, and there’s plenty of fight in these fast and funky rhythms. Right here, Team JB are as sharp as ever. And that’s sharp. The gang are cooking on “Can’t Take It With You”, another restless action-packed funker which, I’ll bet, looks good on the dancefloor. The sensual, sax-led “Home Again” gets low-down and bluesy with it, before “This Feeling” closes proceedings in a rather tame fashion, very much a b-side workout. Alas, there are only 6 jams, but the runtime of 42 minutes, with many high points, has delivered value.

The Jukebox Rebel
24-May-2016


TJR says:

6.49 “Decent enough”

With his contract at RCA expired, Lou moved on to Arista for his next episode, “Rock and Roll Heart”, a decent set, even if it does seem somewhat safe in the context of his past 10 years history. Side 1 highlights include “Follow The Leader”, a short and snappy number with a funky bassline and “You Wear It So Well” which, to paraphrase his lyric, has style and grace indeed. This piano and sax combo works well with Lou’s vocal. I reckon he could write classy pop like Bjorn and Benny and make a fortune… if he wanted to. This piano / sax / vocal play-off thing underpins the album’s dramatic closer, “Temporary Thing”, which is fit to be listed high in the chart of great Lou Reed songs. My mind drifts back to “Berlin” and the soap opera that was Jim and Caroline. Despite more pop concession than I’d like, there’s no denying the rebellious magic which continues to bubble just below the surface.

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Mar-2011


TJR says:

6.49 “Decent enough”

By and large a full-blown band supports Loudon on his sixth offering – I’m extremely wary. To be fair, he doesn’t let me down and emerges with his rebel-cred intact. America’s gonna be 200 on the album’s opener, “Bicentennial”, which finishes off in a blaze of bombs from the sound-effects library; wey-hey, you can’t beat a bit of sarcastic patriotism. Half of America is alienated already, you’ve gotta admire Loudon’s balls. Stripped down to just he and guitar, “Reciprocity” finds our man in his natural habitat, with a cutting set of lyrics reflecting upon the age-old theme of the couple in a love-hate relationship, with colourful lines such as “he threw a tantrum and she threw an ashtray” and “he's into bondage and she's into revenge”. I can only hope no-one was hurt in the making of this song. Side 1 closes with the country drinking song “Wine With Dinner”, which is loose-caboose and punch-drunk, as if set in the very heart of the Christmas gathering and sung by your alcoholic Uncle; “Rudolph The Red Nosed Wino” gets me every time – it’s a must for any Christmas mixtape. Wainwright follows Guthrie and Dylan with an acoustic-talking-blues piece on “Talking Big Apple ‘75” – murder, rape, robbery, dog doo-doo, it’s all in there, warts and all. Talk about natural territory. He should do a full album like this. My man does take a miss-step next though with “Prince Hal’s Dirge”. In my imaginary fan letter of 1976 I wrote… “Dear Loudon, we’ve already got a Freddie Mercury. And he’s shite.” Thankfully, the recovery is immediate with the great 1-2 of “Just Like President Thieu”, an earnest acoustic-folk number in which Loudon equates the fallen Vietnamese dictator with his own status as an estranged husband, and “Wine With Dinner (Night Cap)” which seems to conclude, oh to hell with it, might as well get leathered again, and does so in a manner which leaves this listener with a smile on his face. That’s the LWIII effect for you…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Feb-2011


TJR says:

6.43 “Decent enough”

As you’d expect with Tubby and Pablo at the desk, this is a primal dub affair with all shades of nice keys from the melodically-inclined Augustus. The various sessions for this one over the last few years have featured the Barrett brothers (drum n bass), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Earl Smith (guitar) as well as the main man on melodica, piano, organ and clavinet. Dub rarely catches-a-fire for me, but there are plenty of enjoyable episodes on this set. “Keep On Dubbing” opens splendidly, and it’s the first time out for the root source of Jacob Miller's "Keep On Rocking" single of '75. The dub version on the single (credited to Rockers All Stars) was a different mix with some Miller vox, so what we have here, as with much of the album, is an exclusive. Equally brassy and melodious is “Stop Them Jah” which keeps up the lively and rhythmic start. The feeling is maintained again with “Young Generation Dub”, my favourite piece on the album, the descending refrain from which pleases my simple soul as I play mouth trombone. It’s another album exclusive mix I think, rooted in the ‘74 single, “Bongo Pat - Young Generation b/w Augustus Pablo - New Style (Rockers)”, although the dub version on the original had xylophones which are omitted here. The title-track, first released as a single early in ’75, is very nice indeed, with great licks and tricks on the drums and a spacey but lively vibe which is actually the essence of the whole LP. Towards the end, “Frozen Dub” takes this feeling one step beyond with some really wild mixing desk action. “Satta”, a previously unreleased extended dub version to his 1975 single "Pablo Satta" (Rockers), finishes the set off strongly. Nice vibes.

The Jukebox Rebel
24-May-2016


TJR says:

6.41 “Decent enough”

Virgin’s raid on Jamaica for talent led to the debut long player of the Mighty Diamonds vocal-trio – Donald Shaw, Fitzroy Simpson and Lloyd Ferguson – a soulful group who could easily be viewed as Trenchtown’s Temptations, and were a good bet to shift units in worldwide markets. They had appeal at home too, mainly due to their sweet harmonies, spirituality and empathy for the strugglers. An early highlight is “Why Me Black Brother Why” which pleas to the menaces plaguing Jamaican society: “Why me black brother why, dis robbing and killing? Why me black brother why, dis looting and shooting? Why me black brother why, you ruling your mumma? Why me black brother why, you mash up your puppa? What you gonna do when a voice say come, Remember the day of Judgement.” A main lyrical feature of the LP is to remember, respect and relay the writings and teachings of Marcus Garvey, who worked tirelessly to unify Black peoples and to instill pride into the downtrodden and oppressed. The excellent “Them Never Love Poor Marcus” comes right out on the attack against the characters who did not heed his calls. Bag O’Wire, supposedly Garvey’s driver who sold him out for nothing but the cost of rice and peas, is particularly shamed: “Men like Bag O' Wire, should burn in fire, the betrayer of Marcus Garvey”. “Have Mercy”, first out as a single in ’75, is another good highlight on side 2, notwithstanding the nonsensical belief that deities (or even mighty gods who are living men) can somehow play human beings like puppets on strings: “change them who’s gone astray and show them the way, Jah man”. Alas, Haile Selassie died shortly after that single was released, closing a huge chapter in the Rastafarian’s story.

The Jukebox Rebel
25-Apr-2009


TJR says:

6.38 “Decent enough”

Another smoky late-night jazz-rap session from the 26-year-old who seems to be going on for 57. His Louis Armstrong style of semi-spoken vocal rasp is coming along nicely and his fast-paced lyrics remain intoxicating more often than not. Although I’m not overly mad for the small jazz combo set-up, I can live with it, and I always have the feeling that something special can happen at any given minute. And it does with the mighty “Step Right Up”, which is perhaps the greatest list song ever written – it must have taken Tom a while. It makes me laugh every time, what a delivery. And what a piss-take on the World's consumerists and just how dumb they've become – and, hey, this was only the generation of ’76: “That's right, it fillets, it chops, it dices, slices, never stops, lasts a lifetime, mows your lawn, and it mows your lawn and it picks up the kids from school, it gets rid of unwanted facial hair, it gets rid of embarrassing age spots, it delivers a pizza, and it lengthens, and it strengthens, and it finds that slipper that's been at large under the chaise lounge for several weeks, and it plays a mean rhythm master, it makes excuses for unwanted lipstick on your collar, and it's only a dollar, step right up, it's only a dollar, step right up.” Step AWAY from the Shopping Channel…

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Sep-2009


TJR says:

6.32 “Decent enough”

The debut album statement from the 25-year-old Jonathan Richman finally arrived in the summer of ’76, six years after he had formed The Modern Lovers. He soon turned against the VU/Stooges inspired sound that they started out with, much to the chagrin of his bandmates and record label, and this lack of cohesion essentially sabotaged his own project mkI. Wiping the slate clean at the beginning of ’76, Jonathan assembled a whole new incarnation of the group which included original Modern Lovers drummer, David Robinson, along with former Rubinoos bassist Greg 'Curly' Keranen and Leroy Radcliffe on guitar. It turns out his preferred accompaniment for the romantic goofball lyrics was a light rockabilly vibe; alas, Modern Lovers ’76 are not a patch on Modern Lovers ’72, although they certainly have some bright moments. “Rockin’ Shopping Center” gets things off to a good start with lyrics that so off-the-wall that they can’t possibly be ignored: “If I were a shopping center, I'd sure be embarrassed, I know I'd never get a date, with some cute little building, like from Paris, Let's rock, Let's go”. The tone is set – you’re either with him or against him. “New England” is another goodie on side 1; a finger-clicking pop paean to the super-state that comes complete with an acapella break-down. It would get him onto Top of the Pops in Old England, 2 years later. “Lonely Financial Zone” emerges as my favourite, although its’ moody slowcore vibe is unrepresentative of the LP as a whole. Our man is still obsessed by those late-night neon-lights, although they don’t seem quite so alluring when you’re all alone late at night. Tweedom seems ever-present on side 2 with mixed results; “Abominable Snowman In The Market” (great), “Hey There Little Insect” (average) and “Here Come The Martian Martians” (quite good). Even more amazing than these titles is the folky rendition of “Amazing Grace” with which Jonathan closes the set. It’s exceedingly poor. The guy who delivered “Roadrunner” just last year seems lost, although I’m sure he will tell you that, actually, he’s found…

The Jukebox Rebel
12-May-2016


TJR says:

6.29 “Decent enough”

The Penguin Café Orchestra, founded by classically trained English guitarist, composer and arranger Simon Jeffes and cellist Helen Liebmann, were now 4 years old; it was time for an album of works to be realised. Their debut was actually a collection of pieces recorded in the preceding couple of years as both a quartet and sextet. The quartet were: Simon Jeffes (electric guitar), Helen Liebmann (cello), Steve Nye (electric piano), and Gavyn Wright (violin). Tracks 2-8 were billed to “Zopf”, which included the members of the quartet as well as Neil Rennie (ukulele), and Emily Young (vocals). Home for this first long-play offering was Brian Eno’s Obscure label, renowned for supporting the avant-garde and the more experimental artists. Difficult to classify, the PCO would certainly come into both of these categories. Their music, largely instrumental, veers from light to dark, folk to classical, playful to earnest and a whole lot else besides. You never quite know what to expect next, and I like that about them. My favourite from the quartet is the album’s opener, “Penguin Cafe Single” presumably so titled on account of the appealing tunefulness of the thing. It’s a big starter. Best from the Zopf sextet, for me, is “Giles Farnaby’s Dream” based on the 16th century piece “Giles Farnaby’s Dreame” which, not unsurprisingly, was composed by Giles Farnaby, a noted keyboard composer of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. It’s really quite marvellous – melodic, hypnotic and certainly evocative of a bygone age. I don’t yet know it to be a fact, but it’s my strong hunch that these randoms are sure to have something special on every album from here. They’ve got a hook in me.

The Jukebox Rebel
03-Mar-2016

chart first published 30 Jul 2016; last edited 30 Jul 2016

Album Charts

by year…

1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

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