Cam Newton (1979) Welcome Aliens: Party Music for the First Authenticated Landing (LP) Inner City IC 1070 

Cam Newton

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

*** noteworthy

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.)

— winch

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Ozzy Osbourne (1980) Blizzard of Ozz (LP) Jet Records 36812

Ozzy Osbourne

Blizzard of Ozz

Jet Records 36812

Released September 1980 in the UK, March 1981 in the US.

Reached #7 in the UK, #21 in the US

Produced by Osbourne, Daisley (bass), Kerslake (drums), and Rhoads (guitar).

••••• Sounds Good

The aging dinosaurs of the early 1970s had left their mark but their time had come and gone as the decade rolled on, certainly by the time it rolled over to the new decade. Even hard-rockers who weren’t interesting in looking for new bands weren’t expecting their idols to return to their thrones. Most were happy to get high and listen to their old albums. To make it even more challenging for folks such as Ozzy, few fans of hard rock gave a rat’s ass about singers, especially singers who didn’t play instruments. Vocalists were for fans of soul music and old music. Hard rock focused on the guitar players: J. Geils, Robin Trower, Montrose, Nugent, Van Halen…70s hard-rock bands were usually named after the guitarists not the singers.


When Ozzy’s debut solo hit the American shops, the label obviously had big plans. When I entered Boogie Records in the spring of 1981, I was greeted by a life-size cutout of Ozzy–a giant version of the Blizzard of Ozz album. While I’d been raised on Sabbath–listening to their albums nearly every week for the years that lead up to 1981–I had no idea who Ozzy was. Sure, I recognized him from somewhere, had rolled countless numbers on the Paranoid gatefold, but Ozzy hadn’t bitten off any heads at this point, and eight tracks didn’t offer song credits or names of band members and the photos were pretty dinky. Reading about singers or bands were activities for teeny-boppers looking through glossy snapshots of Shawn Cassidy and the Bay City Rollers. And even when I discovered that Ozzy had been the singer for Black Sabbath, that didn’t really spike my interest. I’d just seen the Sabbath 1980 tour with Rainbow’s singer (Dio), and that was fine with me.  They had fire and menace and loud music.  Who cares about the old singer who used to sing for them. That was like caring what Robert Plant was doing without Zeppelin.

But Ozzy wasn’t ready to give up the ghost and likely had noticed what Alice Cooper had done when he’d gone solo years before this. Alice had always managed to place himself above the guitarists, and while the band might not have been named after him, he was wise enough to name himself after the band. That had helped Alice considerably: when he went solo, most people just saw the release as another Alice Cooper album. Of course, fans might have noticed the complete change in the line-up if Alice hadn’t made another wide decision. He made sure that he launched his solo career with a good album. Ozzy followed that example.


Ozzy’s debut might not be as classic as Alice’s Welcome to My Nightmare, but like Alice’s debut solo, this wasn’t as good as the best from his past but it was close enough for rock and roll.  Like Alice’s debut solo, this was also the best Ozzy would ever offer. Like Alice, Ozzy’s career as a solo artist was built on theatrics on stage and off, a reputation as a bad boy on stage and off, and perhaps mostly because of the first album.


When most of these aging rockers turned 30 and/or went solo, they took a more mature approach. Meanwhile, Ozzy followed Alice’s example and went in the other direction, made his solo career more juvenile. When most artists went solo, they offered new sounds, but while Ozzy didn’t mimic Sabbath, he certainly maintained the main ideas. He retained some of the old fans while pulling in new ones.  Like with most solo albums, this was more personal than what we’d heard with his previous band, but for so many reasons, it was hardly a complete departure from his years with Sabbath.


On one hand, it’s not surprising that this album (perhaps more than anything) helped launch his long-term success as a solo artist. On the other hand, it’s a little crazy that this could happen…crazy like a “Crazy Train.”

— winch

 

LINK TO SELLERS:

The Jitters (1979) S/T (LP)

The Jitters

The Jitters

Nervine Music

recorded October 15 – 25, 1979. Released circa 1980.

*** noteworthy


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:

Jay Clayton (1980) All-Out (LP) Anima Productions 1J35

Jay Clayton

All-Out 

1980

Anima Productions 1J35

*** noteworthy


Clayton’s debut set as a leader, featuring interesting avant-garde vocals from Clayton, making musical sounds rather than singing lyrics, but turning that idea around when she sings a poem story into a version of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” that selection just Jay and her husband Frank Clayton on drums…the other cuts featuring the pair with Jane Ira Bloom on sax, Harvie Swartz on bass, Larry Karush on piano.


While listeners may find various cuts more interesting, the centerpiece and most enjoyable selection is the 11-minute “7/8 Thing,” a Clayton original that features four vocalists and kalimba by Bill Buchen. Most fans of jazz or avant-garde music will find something to enjoy on this unique outing.

– winch (author of the two-part novel Junk Like That and Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

Diana Ross (1980) Diana (LP) Motown 155

Diana Ross
Diana
Motown 155
1980
Written and Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers

Rating:*** (Noteworthy)

After Ross split for a solo career, the Supremes slowly faded into obscurity, and by the end of the 70s, it looked like Ross was headed for a similar fate.  Edwards and Rodgers came to the rescue with this album.  In many ways, this was another Edwards-Rodgers album: they not only provided the bass and guitar but wrote and produced this set.  While this helped put Ross back at the top, its success likely didn’t hurt Edwards-Rodgers.  Most listeners simply saw this as a Ross album, but the recording industry likely took notice of the team behind the hits.

“Upside Down” jumpstarts the proceedings, but perhaps it would have been more effective to ease into that number because the rest of the set sounds quite weak after that opener. Fans of Edwards-Rodgers should get a bang out of “Upside Down,” “I’m Coming Out,” and perhaps a few other numbers, but much of the material is filler–only for hardcore fans of Ross.

— winch 

Crass (1977 – 1984) Best Before (LP) Crass Records 5 (1984)

Crass
Best Before
Crass Records (5)
1984
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.

— winch

http://www.eight-track.com/