Lead Me To The Water
Written and produced by Brooker
You don’t expect much from an aging rocker (almost 40!) backed with lots of English superstars from the previous two decades (Harrison, Collins, Clapton, Albert Lee, Mel Collins, to name a few)–but this ends up an enjoyable set.
Some of the elements are stamped with the 80s–which listeners will likely find either annoying or interesting– but the sound is very much in the Procol Harum tradition, except here the heaviness of that group is replaced with a lighter pop feel. This isn’t as drenched in organ, but since Brooker doesn’t seem to be purposely distancing himself from his previous band, the difference between Procol Harum and this set certainly has something do to with the contributions of the band members on this album. Fortunately these musicians control their egos, and their contributions are part the compositions rather than an excuse to show off. This clearly remains Brooker’s album.
This was Brooker’s second solo album, and apparently this is his best. For fans of this singer/keyboard player or his previous band, this is worth a listen.
The !Alarma! Chronicles Volume II
Produced by Terry Taylor & Jerry Chamberlain
Rating: **** Recommended
This God-rock outfit always changed with the times, and these changes were wise decisions, as this set is one of the most interesting albums in the Christian rock category, all electro new wave, mixing studio trickery such as tape reversal with some basic old-school rock elements. This set is home to several cool and unique cuts.
The Talking Heads, Gary Numan, and Bowie appear to be influences, but the band delivers their own sound. From the influences showing on “Real Girls,” they go into a neo-rockabilly sound for “New Car,” the entire side quite entertaining.
Side two also offers some gems, and plenty of variety, going into 60s garage on “Autographs.” That song, “New Car,” and “I Didn’t Build it for Me” (as well as “Youth With a Machine”) flirt punk rock (relatively speaking considering this was Christian rock outfit), the first three apparently attacks at televangelists–in a time before the scandals involving Swaggart and Jim Baker.
While some of the material approaches the typical boredom of new wave, even those numbers are more interesting than the competition, and this has more than enough to make it a recommended listen for fans of new wave, perhaps even more than fans of God rock. In fact, you’d likely never know this is a Christian-themed album if you’re not familiar with this group.
This outfit is an essential part of the God-rock story, and this is perhaps their most interesting and enjoyable album.
(The band’s name alludes to the Bible. This was the second of four in the Alarma Chronicles.)
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.
Lol Coxhill and Fred Frith
Recorded 1981 and 1978
Avant garde improvisation, Coxhill squeaking out sounds on his soprano sax, Frith scratching and beating on the strings of his electric guitars, the pair occasionally offering some space but mostly claustrophobic madness–like a mouse, a bird and an elephant crammed into a small cage.
Side One is filled with one noisy live performance titled “Reims,” recorded in 1981. Three shorter selections from 1978 fill the second side, these slightly more conventional, relatively speaking, some of Coxhill’s contributions clearly coming from the jazz world, and Frith’s contributions sometimes identifiable as he strums his instrument and plays with feedback, sometimes offering hints of rhythm, using the electric guitar as a percussion instrument.
A worthwhile listen for fans of avant garde, the first side mostly for fans of claustrophobic noise, the flipside just as interesting and for most folks likely more enjoyable–the music full of madness and emotion and even possessing moments of beauty.
Down There 1025
Neo-psychedelia, leaving most of the others from this era in the dust.
Released September 1982 (UK only)
While some of this band’s output was clearly lacking, the band sinks their talons into this second set. There’s nothing to really separate it from the flock, but (other than the brief acoustic instrumental “20/21”) this rocks nonstop.
Worthwhile grab for fans of NWOBHM.
Produced by Zero Boys & John Helms
Good Shit *****
These Hoosiers were clearly coming out of mid-70s NYC underground, specifically the Ramones, the Dictators, some NY Dolls snotty pop swagger mixed with 80s hardcore, scrawny punk-boy vocals with a killer muscular driving rhythm, powerpop laced with benzedrine, production tight as a noose, not a weak moment. Essential 80s punk.
— winch (author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s and the two-part novel Junk Like That: Motor City Jailbait & Junk Like That: Motor City Junior High)