Last weekend's power outage short circuited the Roundup, but electricity could never shut it down completely. Not that imagine anyone out there wandered around helplessly last weekend without it, but it's always nice to get back on track. I wasn't in a very exploratory mood musically this week and tending for safe choices. Whenever I'm actually writing, which thankfully I was this past week, I prefer not listen to anything that I haven't heard at least once before. As a result, this week's picks have a lot of new things by familiar old favorites. Enjoy.
The Smiths - Unreleased Demos: This recently released bootleg features alternative takes of many of my favorite Smiths songs. A lot of them date back to the era of the Manchester band's 1984 debut album, which has always been my favorite. It's nice to hear fresh versions of favorite songs. That to me is always the beauty of bootlegs.
Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding: As a die hard Oasis fan, I've been looking forward to this album ever since Liam, Gem, and Andy announced they'd formed it, approximately a week after Oasis split. I've been keeping up with the three singles they released through the winter and each was progressively better. The latest single, "The Roller" is dynamite. The album isn't the best rock album in the last 50 years, as Liam promised, but that said, it is probably the best Britpop album in a long time (not counting Oasis albums). There's some fantastic songs on here that you can really hear the echo of Andy Bell's Ride years. Also the best album cover of the year so far.
Jefferson Airplane - Live at the Fillmore Auditorium (Grace's Debut): I clearly remember the day I discovered the Airplane in a motel room on the Jersey Shore, which is a miracle that I remember anything considering the circumstances. I took off then and I still haven't landed when it comes to Jefferson Airplane and the sounds they made throughout the 60's and '70s. I was excited when this concert was released on CD around Christmas time. It's a great show with a great set list. But what I love about it is that Grace, this being her debut, is very tentative. There is no doubt that this is Marty Balin's band. The balance of power would soon shift in the band, but on this night, Marty is in charge and Jorma is playing crazy good.
Pink Floyd - Ummagumma: This isn't a new album for me by any means. I've had this album since I was 17. In fact, I have one of my best teenage memories listening to this album while in a cabin in the mountains. I'd been grounded for weeks, which for me meant no music. This was the first album I listened to when I had the chance and for that I will always love "Granchester Meadows". Two weeks ago, I bought the original vinyl release even though I have it on CD. It was $20 well spent. The live album sounds fantastic on record and it might be the best version of "Careful with that Ax, Eugene." I've always loved the individual pieces on the second album too. Easily one of my 150 albums of all time.
Babe Ruth - Amar Caballero: This is the early 70's hard progrock band's second album from 1973. It's a curious album. The band's debut album a year earlier is amazing, but the album the followed is very uneven. This one falls somewhere in between, which makes sense chronologically speaking. It's not as heavy as the first, but a little more prog oriented, which suits the band nicely. Definitely worthwhile to check this one out.
Family - Music in a Doll's House: This progressive folk album from 1968 had been on my wishlist for quite some time before I finally acquired it this past week. This is a fantastic album, one of the gems of the genre. Using blues, rock, and folk elements, it creates an album that reminds me a little of Jethro Tull's Stand Up, but at the same time is remarkably different. It's quickly becoming a favorite discovery of the year.
Hawkwind - In Search of Space: I've been on a serious Hawkwind binge all winter long. It started with my obsessive listening to Warrior on the Edge of Time, which I'm still listening to at least once a week. The binge was only strengthened by the gift of a killer Hawkwind T-shirt for Christmas. I realized that I never got their second album and sought it out this past week. You can really hear the band moving forward from the first album (which I love, but which doesn't necessarily the sound Hawkwind is identified with). A lot of these tracks exist on Space Ritual, which has been a favorite album of mine since High School. "Master of the Universe", "We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago" and "Children of the Sun" are so amazingly good that I find it hard to believe I've lived without this in my collection for so long.
Mercury Rev - Deserter's Songs: In the last Roundup, I mentioned that Mercury Rev were rehearsing in the back room while I was record shopping the other week. I knew this band on second-handedly through friends back in college, but I've been meaning to listen to them for a while as they are based in the next town from me and we share acquaintances. (I actually sat at the same table at a wedding with them a few years ago). Well, they sounded fantastic rehearsing and so I decided to finally give them a good listen. The problem was, I had no idea where to start. I decided on this 1998 album because it seems to be considered their best. I was hoping some of the songs I heard them play would be on it. As the first song came on, I realized it was the first song I heard them rehearse. Then the second and third followed suit and it didn't take me long to realize I heard them play most of this album in order. I gather they are planning a tour to play this album. If so, I'm there and I highly recommend everyone go. This album is wonderfully sad and beautiful dream-rock. Definitely an album I'm sorry I missed back in my youth.