Mare Smythii -
Luna Kafé - Full Moon 15 - 01/12/98
Pingo Picks To Play
There were particularly two LPs released last year that really impressed
me. The one on the top of my list would have to be the hauntingly beautiful
and highly acclaimed Shleep by Robert Wyatt, his first
full-length record since 1991. As usual, only a few people dared to
listen, and as far as I know, the record is still not released in the
States! Another comeback that surprised me, not by it's quality, but
by the fact that the record was released at all, was The Blake Project:
Spring by Norwegian Finn Coren. It did next-to-nothing
sales-wise, but, as with Shleep, it is a record that never stops
growing on you, from a man that just is too good for this country,
Talking about comebacks (and lack of interest from record
companies and record-buying audiences), I have to mention
both Nick Kelly's Between Trapezes
and The Tables'
Holiday At Wobbledef Grunch. Kelly has had some of the people
that used to buy records by his previous band, The Fat Lady Sings, to
fund his release because of no recording contract, while The Tables
strikes back from a little cottage in the woods where they recorded
their second album. Rather splendid records they made too.
From the kitchen sinks of Trondheim, Norway and Dayton, Ohio,
came Dipsomaniacs and
Guided By Voices respectively
(well, GBV did visit a real studio this time) with their best
albums to date. Yo La Tengo
never fail to deliver the goods,
and with I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, they prove to
be one of the strongest band of the 90's. Their concert at So
What (in Oslo - No, I couldn't go...aaaaaaah! Don't you never
ever remind me of that again! - editor's note) this fall
did not spoil that impression, either. Other live gigs worth mentioning
from last year would have to be Matthew
Sweet at Rockefeller (Oslo as well) and the playful and funny Swedish band
Samla Mammas Manna, who did their first Norwegian concert in 24 years at
Chateau Neuf (Oslo) this December. And they are not a prog-rock band!
Meringue is not prog-rock either,
but their wonderfully weird Music From The Green Mint Nest would not
fail to please some followers of said genre. Probably the most intriguing record
that visited my turntable last year.
Quite a few other Norwegians have to be mentioned too; newer artists
like Stuntbike, Bronson Comet Lighter, King Midas,
Palace Of Pleasure, Slowburn, Want and Chairs
will also be remembered for their output during the year.
There were some disappointments last year though, and Too Many
Days Without Thinking by Swell was the biggest one. With the
exception of a couple of tracks, they now sound like a standard rock'n'roll
band. Another let-down was Stereolab and their Dots And Loops.
Try the sympathetic compilation Work And Non Work by the charming
Broadcast instead - music to drink dry Martinis to. The latest
Sea & Cake album, Fawn, did not fare too well on my
turntable either, but thanks to their guitarist Archer Prewitt,
who made his first solo album, In The Sun, last year, we can still
enjoy lounge rock/pop not far from the music by this Chicago outfit.
Watch this space for a review next moon.
1997 will for me be the year that I discovered the wonderful world
of Elephant 6, a record label that has given me lots of pleasure
during the year. Other "finds" during the year have been Cardinal's
only album (one time member Eric Matthews' new record will probably be
reviewed here at the Kafé next moon), The Bags first record
(Monster Magnet - eat your hearts out), Swollen Monkeys'
After Birth Of The Cool (a little disappointment, I must confess,
after all these years of hunting), the first EP by Love Camp 7,
and last, but not least, Lindisfarne's classic Nicely Out Of
Tune in mint condition. Re-release of the year for me was
Monster by David Thomas, a collection of the records he
made when Pere Ubu had their six year break. I remembered them less
accessible than they turned out to be today, some 10 years + - after
their release. We've all grown then, haven't we ?
Last year saw the tragic death of two of my old heroes as well as
one of my new. Jeff Buckley proved to be a worse swimmer than
singer/songwriter/guitarist/human being in Memphis in the evening of
May 29th of 1997, just a couple of days before he was to start
working on a new album. Bearing in mind the fact that his sole album
Grace, probably is the 90's most promising debut, the tragic
death of this enormously gifted musician came as a shock to many of us.
One time Small Faces bass player Ronnie Lane died peacefully
at his home at June 4th after 20 years of battle with MS, and founder
and guitar player of Spirit, Randy California, drowned on
January 2 in an attempt to save his son from an undertow at the island
of Molokai, Hawaii. Both Lane and California were musicians in two
sadly underrated bands, and I have to quote Waldemar Hepstein, who
sardonically comments that this world is unfair "when people like
Ronnie Lane has to die, when Keith Richards, Cliff Richard and Bob
Dylan is still alive and making records".
All real rock critics is supposed to make their own C-60 tape
of 1997's music, but as I am no real rock critic, I won't do that.
Anyway, I would prefer a C-60+6 tapes as the silver and black BASF's
I used to buy in the late 70's (by the way, I found one of these
curiosities recently, and it contained Eagles, Manfred Mann's Earth
Band, Al DiMeola and Graeme Edge Band. Those were the grim days of
adolescence.) (That explains why you recently were observed dancing and
singing with your walkman turned to 11 then, pingo ... - editor's note)
Copyright © 1997 Pingo