Welcome Aliens: Party Music for the First Authenticated Landing
Inner City IC 1070 (1980)
Recorded April 1979 in Eugene, Oregon
produced by Campbell Newton, David Leslie, Mark Isham, and Pat O’Hearn
This starts off with a mildly unique take on jazz fusion, but gets more inventive and enjoyable as the side progresses and Cam’s guitar playing takes the spotlight.
Side two has a somewhat similar progression, starts off with relatively straightforward jazz before moving into the folk/jazz sound we’d heard on the second half of the first side. Cam sounds like he was influenced by many of the masters of the guitar who had blended jazz and folk in the late 1960s and 1970s, Jansch, Abercrombie, Coryell, Kottke, Fahey, and Towner (many who like Newton had connections with the Pacific Northwest), as well as some who had passed the baton on to those folks, but Newton offers a style with its own feel. He seems primarily inspired by the emotions inside and the world around him, from responses to current events such as the Jonestown genocide and especially from the elemental forces of nature.
While some might enjoy the entire set, most will likely enjoy the highlights. At its best this is hypnotic and lyrical, both enjoyable and interesting. (Just don’t let the title mislead you into thinking this is space-age party music.)
recorded October 15 – 25, 1979. Released circa 1980.
Sole album by the Jitters (not to be confused with other bands with the same name), lead by P.K. Dwyer and sounding like a Northwest backyard band influenced by hillbilly and perhaps Velvet Underground, old-time rock ‘n roll and Jonathan Richman, Neil Young and Los Angeles, old-time music and Ray Davies, NRBQ and all the obscure mid-70s bands that centered around CBGBs.
While most Seattle outfits from this era seemed attached to hard rock or new wave, these folks seem to be having fun and doing their own thing.
With the hillbilly and quirky elements, it’s easy to hear how this band foreshadowed all the alt-country and cowpunk that surfaced in the wake of this album.
This ain’t an essential outing, but it’s fairly enjoyable from go to whoa, and it certainly offers some pretty great moments. It’s certainly a worthwhile listen for fans of songwriter P.K. Dwyer or for fans of obscure Northwest bands.
— winch (author of )
LINKS TO SELLERS:
Roy Clark & Gatemouth Brown
Recorded October 31 – November 2, 1978 in Tulsa
This recording is clearly Gatemouth’s brand of American music, the sound he’d been focusing on for decades–leaving the sad delta blues for other folks and focusing on the good-time sound–but Roy is a big part of this outing as well. While some may see this as Roy doing something new, this is actually Roy getting back to his roots.
Throughout the set, the pair are unstoppable like a tag-team in the ring, with the girls and the Memphis horns helping punch it home, the group only slowing it down to let the sweat drip on a few cuts, mostly sticking with the rocking, rocking and rolling through Gatemouth, Roy Clark and producer Steve Ripley originals and a few takes on old standards, Ray Charles (and Johnny Cash’s) 1963 “Busted” (Harlan Howard), Ellington’s 1941 “Take the A Train” (Strayhorn) and Louis Jordan’s 1945 “Caledonia.”
Jordan would re-record “Caledonia” in 1956 with Mickey Baker on guitar and likely that was the version that provided at least some of the inspiration for the version on this album. (When Erskine Hawkins released “Caledonia” in 1945, Billboard referred to the song as rock and roll, probably the first time that phrase was used to describe music.)
It sounds like these two were having a blast, and while they strut their stuff and show off their chops, they keep a rein on the excess to make this record fun from go to whoa.
— winch (author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s and the two-part novel Junk Like That)
Billboard. April 21, 1945. p 66.
Right from the get-go the influences show–Sweet, Queen, Heart, the Runaways, and Abba–and right away it’s like watching some kids at a dance recital: you have to proud that they’re putting everything they’ve got into it, and you’ve got to be more than a little embarrassed for them because they are making fools of themselves.
Queen was perhaps their biggest influence, but while Queen had Roy T. Baker to help with the clean punch and over-the-top production, this L.A. outfit handles their own–but equally OTT–production. Some might argue they needed someone to grab their arms and give them direction instead of letting them blend many styles–glam and hard rock, pomp rock and new wave, but by being allowed to do their own thing, they were able to avoid being just another boring pomp rock or new wave band trying to fit neatly into a category. While they have their clear influences, all the songs are penned by the female vocalist and the lead guitarist, and while this set certainly doesn’t avoid the absurd and downright dumb, it’s certainly never boring, the first side sticking mostly with the rocking.
The flip-side opens with a misguided attempt at rock disco, maybe figuring if Blondie could pull it off…but this just ends up sounding like a horrid version of Abba. After this mess, they get back into the Queen-inspired sound established with the first side. While the second side sounds like it might end as poorly as it began, going into perhaps the worst space-rock song ever recorded, they fortunately end the album with “Machine Gun,” which clearly borrows from AC/DC’s “Bad Boy Boogie.”
If they would have kept their Queen-inspired guitar licks but been pushed into the punk direction that we hear hints of in the closing cuts of each side, this might have been pretty great album. As it sits, it isn’t going to win any awards, but folks with an interest in over-the-top junk from the 70s, might get a kick out of it.
— winch (author of…Eight Track Publishing)
link to seller:
Produced by Platypus
Debut album by this Cincinnati outfit. A funk disco sound runs through the entire set, but unlike many funk groups of the 70s, this delivered the goods without horns, and in contrast to most disco outfits, this relies much more on a thumping bassline and sometimes rock elements and less on synthesized sounds.
Considering they released this on Casablanca, the Parliament/Funkadelic comparisons were inevitable, and while those comparisons were justified, this has more of a disco sound and also shows influences from fellow Ohio funk outfits the Isley Brothers and Ohio Players, the influence of the Dayton outfit epecially pronounced on “Street Babies,” the influence of the Isley Brothers showing in the absence of a horn section. The influence of these fellow Cincinnati soul brothers becomes pronounced as “Don’t Go Away” starts out, but the song has its own sound, ends up mixing elements of a rock power ballad with a traditional soul ballad. While the build up of tension in the power ballad comes out of blues and soul traditions, “Don’t Go Away” clearly sees the influence channeled through the rock tradition. It’s perhaps not the stand-out cut on the set, but it’s part of several mildly unique elements that makes this album a bit more interesting than most disco funk releases from this era.
This is definitely recommended listening for fans of disco funk, the sound coming out of the 70s and in some ways, clearly headed toward the 80s. Some of the cuts will also interest others, especially the previously mentioned “Street Babies” and “Don’t Go Away.” These two songs have little in common, one a hard-funk cut, the other a soul ballad, but both mix rock elements into the sounds. While they certainly weren’t the only outfit to combine these styles, Platypus sometimes fused these styles to create a sound all their own. Rock and funk both came out of R&B, but most of the funk outfits that followed Sly Stone’s lead of incorporating rock elements in the soul and funk used horns and lacked the slick polished sound of this outfit.
While this album sold poorly and the band broke up before the release of their second album (Cherry 1980), they managed to leave behind a small legacy with this release.
Crass Records (5)
Material: 1977 – 1984
Recorded 1977 – 1984, released July 1984 (UK only)
This double LP collects singles and unreleased material, a nice gesture, saving fans from having to collect all the singles, and packaging the material with killer artwork. While this might have been better served up as a more concise two-sider, it certainly provides an overview of their history, moving from fairly straight-forward punk to abrasive avant garde.
For fans, this is essential. It also serves as a good intro.
Producer: Frank Martin
Rating: *** (Noteworthy)
Recorded September and December 1978, released January 1979 (Germany only)
This German outfit clearly got its cues from Judas Priest and fellow countrymen the Scorpions (mixed with a bit of Van Halen on “That’s Rock’n Roll”). This debut comes across as a second-rate version of Priest, but their semi-amateurish delivery works quite well on some of the material, especially as the set progresses. While this doesn’t come close to early Maiden, it’s a worthwhile listen for metal fans.