The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Country Chart-Busters Volume 5 (1974, Columbia Records)

Posted on by Paul in Albums, Classic Albums | Leave a comment

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After a lengthy break from writing about liner notes written on the back covers of random old LPs, our Lost Art of Liner Notes series returns as I make my way through a bounty of ten cent records I acquired on a recent record shopping expedition.

Today we take a look at a record which featured a minimal amount of liner notes – the fifth edition of a country music compilation series entitled Country Chart-Busters. So why write about the liner notes when they don’t really say that much, you may ask? Well folks, they do say that a picture is worth a thousand words but for the picture that accompanies the liner notes on the back cover of this album … well, really there are no words. See for yourself:
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Can’t sleep … clown will eat me.

Why someone though it would be a good idea to include a grainy photo of some creepy-as-hell clown on a collection of country hits I have no idea. While the front cover is a jovial, old timey depiction of three country musicians somehow managing to ride a horse simultaneously while standing up and holding guitars, the back cover is pure nightmare fuel from way out of left field. Is he supposed to be a rodeo clown or is he some ghoul who will murder you in your sleep while the sounds of Johnny Paycheck and Barbara Mandrell play softly in the background? Or worse yet, is he Crazy Joe Davola?

Anyways, read the liner notes below while trying to figure out who thought this was a good design idea and whether they got to keep their job after this was released. And then try to scrub this horrific image from your memory forever. The sweet sounds of Lynn Anderson may help in that regard.

The most amazing thing about Country Chart-Busters, Vol. V is that all of these songs are on one album. ten of the biggest stars in the World of Country performing the classics that have made country music what it is today. Songs like “Kids Say The Darndest Things” by Country Queen Tammy Wynette, Lynn Anderson’s “Fool Me” and “Nice ‘N’ Easy” by the fastest rising star in country music, Charlie Rich. Stars like Sonny James, Freddy Weller, Connie Smith, Barbara Mandrell, Jody Miller, David Houston and Johnny Paycheck make Country Chart-Busters Vol. V an album worth writing home about. There’s only one way you’ll ever hear such amazing talent performing material of such outstanding caliber and you’re holding it in your hands.

Song of the Day: Meg Myers – Tear Me to Pieces

Posted on by Gary in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

There are a few songs in recent memory that had me naturally reach for max volume (“The Apple” from VV Brown was one). Meg Myers’ new album Take Me to The Disco contains a good number of hugely cathartic songs, such as “Numb”, but “Tear Me to Pieces” may be the most potent of the bunch.

Starting off from a short double segment of metronome pace and robotic enunciation, it hits its human stride very quickly. Myers green-lights huge distortions and hits the top speed in less than 1 bar with a volcanic eruption of emotions – but one that is viscously restrained to repeatedly explode again and again later on (OK so a rhyolytic volcano).

Her voice is piercing, always angry and weary. This is definitely a product of the times. If it had been the liberal golden age of 2008, one might transmute this anger to the background track of an aggressive automobile commercial and be done with it. In the illiberal shackles of today, this is clearly a more urgent call to action. In fact her whole album and video carries that consistent theme. It’s a strong effort, and signs of better things to come.

Concert Review: St. Vincent, July 31, Sony Centre

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

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It’s impressive to see how much St. Vincent has progressed since she first played the Horseshoe just ten years ago. Perhaps one of the few truly unique artists in the music world today, every St. Vincent release has come with a different vision, theme and ultimately, live show. The anticipation for the live show on her Fear the Future tour was high and with good reason – her fifth album Masseduction is her most successful album, charting in the top 10 on Billboard.

I actually saw St. Vincent at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival two days prior to her Toronto show, so this review is kind of like an amalgamation of both. Since we just loooooove amalgamation here in Toronto, right?

The thing about St. Vincent shows are … they are shows. It’s a meticulously designed affair, where all the musicians are dressed a certain way, move a certain way and basically have to hit all the visual and lighting queues at the right time. Each song has a certain design and a certain look and as an audience, you are merely there to witness the spectacle. I think St. Vincent shows have been like this for awhile and this  contributes to the overall aesthetic of the band.

As you can see, this time around, the band was set up in a Kraftwerk-ish formation (according to Frank from Chromewaves, who still manages to post music news all the time) with Annie Clark on the far side of the stage. Most of the set consisted of them moving about in this confined space, with Annie occasionally doing that robot guitar player dance that she probably learned from David Byrne. Visually, it was really pretty but the distance from the crowd made me feel like there was a bit of an emotional disconnect between artist and people. St. Vincent has always been more of a technical concert vs an emotional one, and this one was no different I guess.

Soundwise, the music was great. Masseduction and her self titled album both elevated St. Vincent’s game in terms of production and crispness and it shows. New and old tracks like “Los Ageless”, “Pills”, “Digital Witness” and the recently redone “Fast Slow Disco” had the crowd moving. One could argue the crowd might have moved more with a rawer, more visceral, organic performance but it was the Sony Centre, so who knows.

The centrepiece of the set was a lovely version of “New York”, arguably one of St. Vincent’s best tracks, that came with some Toronto based ad-libbing that also finally provided some interaction between band and crowd. It was a nice movement before the hit single. Probably a highlight for most during the show. If you want more information on that show, I highly, highly recommend listening to the Song Exploder podcast for it.

All in all, this was my seventh time seeing St. Vincent, each time having been a totally different experience and for that, I am appreciative.

Concert Review: Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers, Ann Wilson, August 1, Budweiser Stage

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

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Ann Wilson wasted no time upon taking to the stage Wednesday night, immediately launching into a cover of The Who’s “The Real Me” to start things off and following that up with “Barracuda,” the lone Heart composition she would play during her set.

Taking a break from her main gig with Heart after a falling out with her sister Nancy over some family conflicts, Wilson was touring in promotion of her upcoming solo album Immortal, a collection of songs by artists who have died, but whose music will live on long after them – hence the name. With Wilson covering everyone from Leonard Cohen to Amy Winehouse to Chris Cornell on the album, it looks to be an eclectic song selection and she noted that when choosing songs, she went for what she thought were the best ones, rather than just the obvious hits. Highlights of her set included a cover of the Yes song “Your Move” (which she described as being “pure light”) and a beefed up version of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.”

“You made the right choice this evening,” she said to the crowd, adding that we would get a good night of music “if you come in with your soul open and your ears open.” It almost felt like she was giving a sales pitch for the show with these comments, which seemed a bit odd to me. Everyone’s already paid to get in, Ann. You’re kind of preaching to the choir here.

Speaking of choirs, Paul Rodgers followed Wilson with a set full of hits from throughout his time in both Free and Bad Company that got the crowd singing along, most notably during set closer “All Right Now.” Rodgers has one of the quintessential rock voices and it was great to hear him belting out classic rock anthems like “Can’t Get Enough”, “Shooting Star”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”

Closing out the night was Jeff Beck, an impressive guitarist, but also a man of few words. Having seen Beck a few years ago during his co-headlining tour with Brian Wilson, I knew this coming in, but it seems he spoke even less this time around, addressing the crowd only once at the end of the night to thank them for coming and to briefly introduce his band. Still, the people weren’t here to hear Beck chat them up – they were there for some guitar heroics, and on that front, Jeff Beck certainly delivered.