Saturday, June 22, 2019

The 1985 Listening Post - Circle Jerks - Wonderful

Circle Jerks - Wonderful

July 21 1985
The Circle Jerks
Genre: Punk
1.75 out of 5

Man is this lazy. The playing, song construction, ideas, snoozeville. 
I mean, it feels like even thy know it’s over for this style. 
American Heavy Metal Weekend comes closest to being fun but Nerf Herder will occupy this space MUCH better in 20 years. 
After Golden Shower of Hits, which was wonderful, Wonderful is…not. 
2 decades later my band would play on the same bill with a group from Santa Clarita named B9. They were fun. And they sound pretty much exactly like The Circle Jerks on “The Crowd”. 
I wonder whatever happened to those guys…

The 1985 Listening Post - Eddie Murphy - How Could It Be

Eddie Murphy - How Could It Be

Eddie Murphy
How Could It Be
3.5 out of 5

I Wish (I Could Tell You When)
Party All the Time

Kill me. 

Ok. “Do I”, a Stevie Wonder track is actually not terrible. A good way to lead off a dance pop record. 
But Murphy’s voice is generic. Devoid of personality. And in his hands it sort of sounds like weak Harold Faltermeyer. 
And the first track credited to him is a perfectly fine piece of MOR r&b. 
I maintain that this doesn’t belong on this list but we are doing it because it’s Murphy. 
The hit is a hit in spite of Murphy not because of him. But if you didn’t know it was Murphy you might not be angry about it. But if it wasn’t Murphy it wouldn’t exist. And none of that is bad. Or good. 
Like this record. 

The 1985 Listening Post - Cheap Trick - Standing On the Edge

Cheap Trick - Standing On the Edge

July 19 1985
Cheap Trick
Standing on the Edge
Genre: Rock/Power Pop
3.75 out of 5

Little Sister
Tonight It’s You
How About You 

Reading up on this it turns out that the producer, Jack Douglas, who produced their debut, had to bow out of mixing and mastering and that was all she wrote. This turned into a flat, echoey, nearly anonymous product of the 80s. 
Damn fucking shame. 
“Tonight It’s You” is one of my favorite singles of theirs, ever. 
Song machine (and Sesame Street songwriter/keyboardist Mark Radice  is listed as a co-writer on everything and therefore I blame him for stripping them of anything that sound like Cheap Trick. 
I’ll tell you what’s weird to me: how much Robin sounds like Freddie Mercury in the title track. Like mid 80s Fred. That song could’ve been a b side on The Works. 
While it sounds like “generic rock band” the songs are better than many. It’s just a really ugly record. Oh well. 

The 1985 Listening Post - Sacrilege - Behind the Realms of Madness

Sacrilege - Behind the Realms of Madness

July 19 1985
Behind the Realms of Madness
Genre: Speed Metal
2.25 out of 5

The novelty here is that this speed metal band is fronted by a woman, something that really wasn’t done in 85. The sad aspect is that she is the worst part of this. She can sing, yes. She can probably stand toe to toe with the best of them. But whatever she’s required to warble is awful. Most of the time she just ends up sounding like Peaches doing a speed metal version of “Rockshow” with no nuance or humor. 
And the damned lead guitar is looking for moments to noodle little accents all over the place and, after a while, he’s just distracting. 
I wanted to like this. I’m just bored and annoyed. 

The 1985 Listening Post - Christian Death - Ashes

Christian Death - Ashes

July 18 1985
Christian Death
Genre: Goth
4.25 out of 5

When I Was Bed

More musically adept and more interesting than the previous offering. These guys were definitely on to something…music to drive you to kill yourself apparently since the lead singer did just that 10 years later. It’s hypnotic and tribal and cathartic, which is what I imagine Rozz was going for. I don’t know that I would return to it but I can see people going to see him in concerts, falling in love with him and not being surprised that he wound up hanging himself.
The Weill-ian “Lament” was an unexpected surprise. And “Of the Wound” is highly terrifying at times. 

The 1985 Listening Post - Dinosaur Jr. - Dinosaur

Dinosaur Jr. - Dinosaur

July 16 1985
Dinosaur Jr. 
Genre: Alternative
4.25 out of 5

Forget the Swan
The Leper

Was I asleep? Did I know that the 90s really started in 85? Camper Van I’d heard of. But…J Mascis was putting out albums at this time? I feel so ignorant. 
I listen to the first track and I hear J’s voice and it merges with the music and I can’t quite figure out what I’m hearing or why I like it so I start looking up reviews and Allmusic gets it right: Neil Young meets Sonic Youth. Yep. That’s what a lot of this sounds like. 
It’s weird to say the least but it shows oodles of promise. And I’d rather hear this than Pop-O-Pies any day. 
I don’t know if I like this in 1985. I love it today. 

The 1985 Listening Post - The Verlaines - Halleujah All the Way Home

The Verlaines - Halleujah All the Way Home


July 15 1985
The Verlaines
Hallelujah All the Way Home
Genre: Alternative
4.5 out of 5

It Was Raining
All Laid On
The Lady and the Lizard
Lying in State

We’ve had a few musicians who seem more like they should be professors than rock stars. Ed Kuepper, for instance. Peter Blegvad. Others.
Graeme Downs of The Verlaines is an actual academic. He’s a teacher at the University of Otago, where he is head of the Department of Music. And everything here just sounds so fucking smart. 
And it anticipates sounds that would come many years later from bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Irving. This is 00s Indie made manifest 20 years before. It’s post-punk and the bridge between those two worlds. Challenging and exciting. 
I’m shocked at how much like “Lying in State” Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor sounds. Staggering. 
This album could be released today and it would sound contemporary. 

The 1985 Listening Post - Headpins - Head Over Heels

Headpins - Head Over Heels

July 12 1985
Head Over Heels
Genre: Rock
3.25 out of 5

Stayin’ All Night
Don’t Matter What You Say

Gimme gimme gimme some of that…Canadian Rock!

What IS it about the sound of Rock from the Great White North? It just cuts through so hard. If you like Chilliwack (I don’t care about them), then you’ll like this since it’s basically a Chillwack member(s) side project. 
Nothing offensive here, just big ass Rawk with a more-than-competent lead singer with grit and attitude. 
It all gets pretty tired but the end of Side One. A couple tracks go a long way. Darby Mills can shriek with the best of any 80s hair metal rocker but the tracks just aren’t fully there.

The 1985 Listening Post - Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - Rockin' and Romance

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - Rockin' and Romance

July 7 1985
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
Rockin’ and Romance
Genre: Rock
5 out of 5

The Beach
My Jeans
The UFO Man
Vincent Van Gogh
Walter Johnson
The Fenway
Chewing Gum Wrapper
Now Is Better Than Before

This is fucking great. 
It’s like I was asleep for the longest time and I woke up and I finally get it. 
Flansburgh and Linnell have this record, right?
This is just fun. Even the track that sounds like a demo “Walter Johnson” gets a pass because who the fuck writes a song about Walter Johnson!?!? Like Mojo Nixon’s “Wendell Scott” it’s an ode to a great sports hero who doesn’t get songs written about him. And I love the fuck out of it. 
But where They Might Be Giants sound almost emotionally detached in their approach there’s a homey warmth to Jonathan’s adulation for something like “The Fenway”. It’s not often that I am brought to tears by a song about a building, but that one got me. 

The 1985 Listening Post - Abattoir - Vicious Attack

Abattoir - Vicious Attack

July 7 1985
Vicious Attack
Genre: Thrash Metal
4.5 out of 5 (sorrynotsorry)

Screams from the Grave
Vicious Attack (Maniac)
Ace of Spades

This album is short. I don’t know if it qualifies but, you know what? I’m really digging the alacrity and the shred metal attack. It’s like a freight train. 
Their cover of “Ace of Spades” is such a welcome punk-speed metal entry that I’m surprised I’ve never heard it. It’s almost carbon but it is done so lovingly that I love it. 
This album is relentless and doesn’t waste any time. There’s no filler. I don’t know why it doesn’t get higher marks out there. It is precisely what it portends to be. And these guys do it very well. IMO.