Saturday, February 26, 2022

Review: '1968-1969' by Please

At the same time much of the rock world was descending from the cosmos toward more rustic planes in 1968/'69, drummer/singer/writer Peter Dunton was floating off to Neptune with his band Please. While the heavy drumming and riffing and overpowering organ recalled contemporary bands like Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly, Dunton's weedy, reedy vocals were straight out of some circa-'67 fairyland and the songs were tight without any of those other groups' meandering jamming. 

Please could mix up the tempos, settling into a folky strum on "Watching" or powering through the speedy tempo of the genuinely exciting "Breakthrough", but the mood always remained murky, dreamy, and druggy. Perhaps the recording quality of the various demos Please left behind is as responsible for that mood as the songs and performances themselves. Pulled from tapes and acetates, Please's recordings are decidedly lo-fi, though many still manage to be quite dynamic with a rather big bottom. 

Originally released by Acme in 1998, this selection of sides titled 1968/1969 is now making it back to vinyl via Guerssen Records. Presumably not much is known about Please, since Guerssen's release is atypically light on historical liner notes, but there a few notes on the back of the cover and there's a lyric insert inside it. More importantly, the vinyl is flat, well-centered, and very quiet. Any noise is down to primitive sources, but even that is pretty minimal. I received the black vinyl version for review, but there's also a white vinyl one in a limited edition of 110 units.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Review: 'Loner at the Ball: The Life of Andy Warhol'

Andy Warhol was the most famous artist of his generation, but he was often criticized as an empty vessel replicating vacuous images of soup cans and celebrities. He was the best-known artist, but he was also seemingly unknowable. He was instantly recognizable because of his iconic look (wan demeanor, white skin, white wig) that seemed to be as much about personal branding as it was about personal style, but he was stoic, and when he did become relatively chatty during interviews, he tended to spin yarns or sell others’ stories as his own just as he sold the Campbell’s company’s designs as his. 

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Review: Wings' 'Wild Life', Half-Speed Mastered Vinyl Reissue

Paul McCartney couldn't catch a break after The Beatles broke up. While he attempted to reset his perfectionist aesthetic with McCartney, a rough collection of finished and inchoate songs on which he played all the instruments, critics ran him down for being sloppy, lazy, cute, and glib. Okay, they had a point, but when they continued to pile on when he allowed his inner perfectionist to reemerge, and he made the delightful RAM, so full of lively performances and well-crafted pop nuggets, it became clear that they had it in for Paul McCartney. So either as a means to fade into a combo to prove he wasn't the control freak his former bandmates painted him as or because he genuinely missed the camaraderie and collaboration of band-work, McCartney decided to put his name off to the side and form a new group. 

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