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ShadowyKnightOfRain

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(㇏( ͡⚆ ͜ʖ ͡⚆)ノ)つ──*°*☆⊗☆*°*

Member of Listal since January 2023. I actually discovered this pseudo-soft-core pornographic website about a year and a half prior, but wasn't very interested in joining at the time (why no, not even the gratuitous amount of breasts and asses plastered all over the front page was enough to make me join!). Finally decided to create an account here because I needed a place to catalogue some stuff, and the previous website that I had been utilizing for this purpose wasn't cutting it anymore. Still testing the waters, but so far Listal doesn't seem too bad (userbase also doesn't come across as being utterly annoying. Perhaps a tad women-obsessed and simpish, but not too annoying).

About my collections

Ratings of items are based upon how much personal enjoyment I get out of them. I also don't care about what's considered "good" or "bad" to enjoy. All that matters to me is that I be genuine with my opinions, preferences and beliefs (regardless of whether anyone else agrees with them or not). My rating scale is pretty reasonable, and is as follows:

4-5 (8-10) = Highly enjoyable items & All-time favourites
3-3.5 (6-7) = Stuff that is satisfactory, although it has low to moderate replay value (due to various inconsistencies)
2-2.5 (4-5) = Mostly mediocre, underwhelming or I just don't care for it too much
0.5-1.5 (1-3) = Detestable junk (usually irritating, but some of it can also be quite humorous as well XD)


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Rated 11 movies

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The History Of SLAB! 1982-1990 (53 items)
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Published 3 days, 6 hours ago
An Examination Of Devil Doll With Mr. Doctor (58 items)
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X1OO: Goth(ic) (100 items)
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X1OO: Metal (100 items)
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X1OO: Punk (100 items)
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Recent reviews

The Frozen Autumn - Pale Awakening (1995)

Posted : 1 week, 1 day ago on 31 January 2023 08:06 (A review of Pale Awakening)

The Frozen Autumn was originally founded in the spring of 1993 in Turin, Italy as the one-man Darkwave project of vocalist/keyboardist, Diego Merletto. In an interview, he once elaborated on the significance behind the name of this project, stating the following: "I was really fond of the idea of a 'frozen autumn' as the vision of a melancholic season but at the same time 'put under ice' like a picture of my emotions". Guitarist Claudio Brosio would gain membership in The Frozen Autumn a short time after in order to assist with studio sessions and live performances. Not before long, the Italian duo found themselves at home recording a five-track demo entitled Oblivion. They also eventually performed at their very first concert in Ferrarra, Italy supporting the German Darkwave group, Endraum, who coincidentally had just initiated a new record label (Weisser Herbst) around this time. Endraum actually happened to be fond of The Frozen Autumn's music, so as a result, a record contact was offered to the two individuals and they accepted, officially debuting in 1995 with Pale Awakening. The breathtaking artwork which features a radiant, cerulean firmament shrouded by clouds of silver and ebony (with what appears to be some kind of crown-shaped dome or castle protruding in the midst of them) perfectly represents the musical content and its atmospheric, ethereal and lugubrious nature. Upon first listening to Pale Awakening, it also quickly becomes apparent that this duo gathered their inspiration from a myriad of Ethereal Darkwave, Synthpop, Post-Punk and Gothic Rock groups of the 1980s. Elements of Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode and most importantly, Clan Of Xymox, can be identified in this group's self-proclaimed brand of "Frozen Wave" (other influences include The Chameleons, X-Mal Deutschland, Sad Lovers & Giants, Legendary Pink Dots and Skinny Puppy amongst various others). 

The impression of the '80s shows up in the production as well, which embodies a lo-fi, "retro" feeling. This album almost sounds as if it could have been recorded nearly a decade earlier (If you were to play this music to someone who has absolutely zero knowledge of The Frozen Autumn or their history and then ask them to take a guess as to what decade it might have originated from, there is a great possibility that they would most likely say the '80s). However, it should be clarified that some of the music also occasionally has a mild Ambient/New Age type of vibe to it that is somewhat indicative of the 1990s. Pale Awakening unravels with a touch of suspense and mysticism in the form of the seven-minute, eponymous instrumental that serves as a beautifully haunting introduction to the album. As it commences one hears ominous, brooding, gothic-toned synthesizers, the glistening tintinnabulation of chimes and other strange effects (which for some reason make me think of the paranormal or a mischievous, spiritual entity making clatter in a hollow, decrepit basement). Claudio Brosio then signals the transition by performing a dramatic melody (one which might've just been partially inspired by the Halloween film theme, or so it reminds me of that) on his acoustic guitar, with Diego Merletto accompanying him on piano soon after. Perhaps it's a tad repetitive, but it's still a highly mesmerizing instrumental (one that I rarely ever become weary of. Unfortunately, it was edited down on the 2009 reissue). Right from the beginning, Clan Of Xymox's spirit can be sensed. "Again" happens to be the very first song that Diego ever composed for The Frozen Autumn back in 1993. In his own words, it was "elicited by visions of trees, rain and the subsequent fog, all autumnal ingredients" (his picturesque description serves as an accurate reflection of the music). "Again" is beautiful and crystalline, somber and lethargic, frigid and lonely. Gorgeous yet mournful keyboards flourish throughout, immersing the entire atmosphere with their presence. Diego just sounds depressing and spiritless (I mean that in a positive way), as if he was experiencing an immense sadness in his life at the time. 

"And now the rain is calling
My name in vain
The flower fields around me, I'll see no more
I've no words to think, to say
I just want to dream again..."

"Winter" preserves the element of coldness, as well as the sensation of melancholia. Quite a wonderful song with a pristine, icy nature. It's definitely capable of evoking all sorts of cold, mental imagery in one (a panorama of a barren landscape covered in snow or an opaque, gray sky usually come to mind whenever I listen to "Winter"). Here, a slight reference can probably be made to the Australian group of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, Dead Can Dance, as "Winter" kind of bears some resemblance to "Xavier" in some aspects (particularly the melody of that synthesized flute). "Another Tear" is another jewel to behold (a personal favorite). The Frozen Autumn gives it a darker shade of sound while not sacrificing too much ethereal beauty. Eerie, otherworldly synthesizers are heard as it begins. Chiming keys (whose tone resembles that of little bells) and a cool EBM beat (which usually always makes me want to tap on something, replicating its pattern as I go along) then follow suit. Diego lowers his vocal register to attain a baritone/bass tone here. The harmonious crescendo of ethereal keyboards and sorrowful guitar melodies that occurs during the chorus truly feels touching and even "transcendental" (much emotion can be felt there, sending chills down one's spine). 

"I cannot see another tear
From the window of your heart
And in this afternoon
I'm scared of another fear
To see the future of this life without a reason"

"Onyria" possesses an enchanting, almost idyllic nature, gathering musical elements from both Clan Of Xymox and Depeche Mode. While it can be a little repetitive and extensive, it still makes for an enjoyable listen nevertheless. Lyrically, "Onyria" gives the illusion that it may be Diego's serenade to some mysterious dame where he expresses his affection and yearning for her. He once stated that "Onyria" is about "the classical wish to escape reality". The lyrics were actually written by a local Italian poet by the name of Loredana Fayer. Can "This Time (80s Song)" be a tribute to the decade which generated all of the music responsible for inspiring The Frozen Autumn? Or is it simply just about the nostalgia of their adolescence? Maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with any of these things, I am not certain (all I can do for now is speculate). Either way, this is a fabulous Synthpop tune and one of the most enthusiastic or "danceable" to be found on Pale Awakening (although it should be noted that the feeling of gloom never truly goes away). A little of The Cure comes to mind here as well. "In The Nighttime" is an elegant, romantic Darkwave/Dream Pop ballad delicately laced with Claudio's pleasant acoustic guitar and Diego's serene piano. Best listened to in the evening, preferably when darkness has fallen (just as the title suggests). "Wait For Nothing" incorporates a vortex of futuristic synthesizers, along with the sparing use of electric guitar (which gives the track a slight Gothic Rock edge) and snapping beats that reminds me of those antiquated typewriters.

"Scent Of Innocence" happens to be the only song that Claudio provides the vocals for. He doesn't necessarily sing as well as Diego, but I don't really have much issue with his performance. Absolutely zero percussion is featured here, only darkened acoustic strings and more of Diego's ethereal keyboards. Just a quick note: If you listen to the 2009 reissue of Pale Awakening, you will not find "Scent Of Innocence" there. For some reason, it was removed and the reissue instead features the Electro mix of "This Time..." and "Bio-Vital" as bonus tracks (while these are nice, I usually don't like it when material is snipped off from the original albums). "When The Dreams Became Memories" arrives in the end. At eight minutes and twenty-seven seconds, it is the longest track on this album. Like "Onyria", I acknowledge that it does tend to be quite extensive and repetitive. However, that alone does not necessarily make it lackluster. I certainly enjoy the ambiance that is showered over the listener here, which can be described as tranquil or somniferous, but still remaining subtly dark and haunting. To summarize, The Frozen Autumn's Pale Awakening is a marvellous gem of Ethereal Darkwave that unfortunately doesn't appear to have ever received much attention or appreciation (not then, not now). That's a shame, as in my honest opinion it is truly an enthralling album, one with a genuinely cold/ethereal atmosphere. I think that it's also worthy of being mentioned alongside classics such Clan Of Xymox's Medusa, Cocteau Twins' Head Over Heels and Lycia's A Day In The Stark Corner. The Frozen Autumn went on to produce more commendable releases (some of which may actually be more superior on a "technical" level), but I will always personally maintain the belief that Pale Awakening is where they ascended to their zenith.


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The Birthday Party - Junkyard (1982)

Posted : 1 week, 2 days ago on 30 January 2023 04:43 (A review of Junkyard)

Junkyard may have been The Birthday Party‘s final release (not counting The Bad Seed and Mutiny! EPs of 1983), but at least they managed to go out in a scuzzy blaze of glory. After 1981’s Prayers On Fire, one would think that these Australian lunatics couldn’t get more raucous and out-of-control, yet they somehow managed to boost up the ante of extremity on what in my opinion is probably The Birthday Party's best offering, the ever-so rambunctious Junkyard. The sound that these Aussies achieve here is kind of like a blend between Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Captain Beefheart’s The Magic Band and The Cramps, except in the form of Post-Punk. The Birthday Party surely know how to mix things up though as there are a bunch of different musical styles present on this record including Noise Rock and even a smidgen of Lounge, Blues, Funk and Jazz. Much can be said about the drug-fueled leader of the pack, Nick Cave. Throughout the record, the guy sings with much crazed passion. One moment he might be heard making some goofy voices, and in another he might be wildly screaming his head off like a banshee (all the while spitting and spewing abstract verses of prose and poetry). Violence, murder, tragedy and other nonsensical mayhem all appear to be widespread topics found in this particular set of tracks. As for the tall and thin Rowland S. Howard, he plays a twisted guitar, one that is well out-of-tune and loves to make all sorts of scratches, screeches and scrapes. 

Bass is also an instrument that is very prominent on this album. Like a wolf among a herd of sheep, it just stands out with all that low, distorted rumbling. It is reputed that during the time when Junkyard was being recorded (typically on late nights, if I recall correctly), bassist Tracy Pew had to serve time in jail for driving while intoxicated (allegedly also for other offenses such as theft). Despite this, The Birthday Party still managed to pull through and got this record finished with some outside assistance. Barry Adamson was brought in as a temporary replacement, filling Tracy’s shoes (or should I say, cowboy boots?) as the bass player. While drummer Phill Calvert gave decent output in the past, he was ultimately let go, reportedly as the group just didn’t feel satisfied with his percussion abilities anymore. Multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey proves to be a significant, versatile member playing additional guitar, bass, drums and even the saxophone. Recorded at Armstrong’s Audio Visual studios in Melbourne, Australia with producer Tony Cohen (“Kiss Me Black” and “Kewpie Doll” were recorded separately at Matrix studios in London wth Richard Mazda), Junkyard has an ultra low-fidelity production which makes it sound as if it was recorded on some hazy night inside some sleazy, broken-down studio located in some rural part of town (while specific reissues have been remastered, that low sound and mucky feeling still remain, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in this case. Just make sure to turn that volume knob up!).

The artwork is another thing that deserves special mention here as well. The front cover of Junkyard presents a crazy, witty illustration by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, who was an artist and automobile designer, probably best known for his affiliation with Hot Rods. Here, one sees a demented humanoid/creature recklessly driving a metallic, trash-can heap of a car. He has one hand on the wheel as he holds a frosty birthday cake with the other (adding to the humor). His slimy tongue flies out of his stinking mouth and crooked teeth while a thousand warts cover his pale, rotting flesh. His bloodshot eyes indicate that he may be under the influence of some alcoholic beverage or narcotic. Also seen at the tip of the bumper is a pot-bellied, flea-ridden character known as “Rat Fink” (a popular mascot created by Ed). The vermin stands upon the bumper shooting bullets of hot lead at a terrified feline. All this makes for a highly visually-appealing cover. In a 2012 interview, Mick Harvey stated that he has never really liked this eye-grabbing piece of art, and also felt that it did not accurately represent the album’s musical content too well. I can respect that opinion, but I tend disagree with it a little - I personally think that Ed’s artwork tends to go hand-in-hand with The Birthday Party’s musical cacophony. It just feels as if it helps to portray the trashy world of Junkyard (it also lets those unfamiliar with this album know right off the bat that they are in for one hell of an experience if they choose to go along for the ride).

The reissue of Junkyard kicks off with a bang as The Birthday Party anxiously ignite the fuse on the stick of dynamite that is “Blast Off”. This full-throttle rocker was originally recorded in London 1981 with producer Nick Launey. Suffice to say, “Blast Off” packs a feisty punch with its mischievous attitude. “She’s Hit” tells of an unfortunate tragedy where the daughter of an evangelist has been murdered by an anonymous axeman. Tracy Pew‘s corpulent, clunky bass (along with clinking cymbals and clamorous drums which crash and collapse at sporadic times) introduce us to to this rather somber song as it progresses at a snail’s lethargic pace. Roland's Blues-y (almost sitar-like) guitar strings are placed in juxtaposition of Mick's dirty, fuzz guitar while Nick relays to us a sad tale through his peculiar prose and wordplay.

"Now there’s action on the basement stairs
A monster 1/2 man 1/2 beast climbs
I hear the hatchet (grind grind)
Pilgrim gets 1 hacked daughter
And all we guys get are 40 hack reporters
Uptown a 100 skirts are bleeding
Mr. Evangelist says
She’s hit ev’ry little bit"

“Dead Joe” is the first of two songs on this record that Nick co-wrote with his girlfriend at the time, Anita Lane. “Dead Joe” (which seems to be about a fatal automobile collision) is loaded with unadulterated aggression and black humor. I especially like how Mick rhythmically pulverizes the drums/skins to a bloody pulp (“PA-PA-PA, PA-PA-PA-PA-PA-PA-PA!!!”). A sizeable portion of the “music” here comes across as discordant and harsh, but some trace of melody can actually found in “The Dim Locator”, a very catchy tune with a Rockabilly/Psychobilly flair to it. While it is uncertain to me whether “Hamlet (Pow, Pow, Pow)” is The Birthday Party’s farfetched take on William Shakespeare‘s classic or not, it definitely happens to be one of the most intense songs here. The wretched screams of Nick give the impression as if he has come under the iron grip of some demonic possession. The abrasive, screeching guitars are tantamount to dozens of nails scratching on an old, cracked-up chalkboard. Although these lads may behave like a bunch of lunatics throughout most of Junkyard, they also have a softer side, and this is properly showcased on “Several Sins”, which is a slow-burning ballad that meshes Gothic Rock, Blues, Lounge and Surf Rock (for some reason, the guitar strings tend to remind me of a 1960s spy film as well). However, the debauchery soon resumes next. “Big-Jesus-Trash-Can” mixes good, old-fashioned Rock ‘N’ Roll with a splash of Jazz. Instead of the calm, crooning of “Several Sins”, Nick’s vocals now turn into a series of annoying, raucous squawks here.

“Kiss Me Black”, the second song Nick co-wrote with Anita, is also pretty fun and quirky, but not as spectacular when compared to its predecessors. Barry's bass guitar does have a deep tone though and sounds great. The reverb of the vocals makes one wonder if Nick recorded himself singing while in some dingy, littered bathroom. Bits and pieces of “6” Gold Blade” tend to remind me of both Captain Beefheart and The Stooges. Here, an unfaithful dame gets murdered for having a sexual affair with another man. That's quite grisly indeed, but "6" Gold Blade" is still a keeper. "Kewpie Doll” isn't too dissimilar from “Kiss Me Black” in its unabashed wackiness. A cool tune as well, although it's probably the second most forgettable one for me. When the end comes, these fellows go out the same exact way they came in - By making a grand commotion. On the outlandish “Junkyard“, grinding guitars and plodding beats all build up to a catastrophic climax as Nick completely loses his head (yet again!). I have no idea what this one's about, but it stands out as another highlight.

"One dead marine through the hatch
Scratch and scrape this heavenly body
Every inch of winning skin
There’s junk in honey’s sack again"

The reissue aggregates two more extra tracks to Junkyard - These are the 1981 singles of "Release The Bats" and a second, alternate version of “Dead Joe”. It does not really differ much from the first, but there are a couple of minor differences to note. One would be the sound quality. This version sounds like it was recorded during a live performance or something, and sports a lot of reverb (another small difference is the sample of a devastating car wreck that can be heard during the middle). “Release The Bats” is a Gothic Rock staple that The Birthday Party recorded with Nick Launey in April 1981 (along with “Blast Off”). The rumbling drums and bouncy basslines bring to mind Iggy Pop, while the comical lyrics allude to vampires and "sex horror" (allegedly parodying the goth subculture that was gaining traction around this time in the '80s). In conclusion, Junkyard simply happens to be one of the most outrageous Post-Punk albums ever crafted, and it might just be (no, it IS) the best that The Birthday Party has to offer. To put it bluntly, this is mainly a suitable record for those craving lots of twisted fun and noise (those yearning for music of a toned-down, sanitized or "mature" nature should probably look elsewhere).


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Punishment Of Luxury - Laughing Academy (1979)

Posted : 1 week, 4 days ago on 28 January 2023 05:06 (A review of Laughing Academy)

Punishment Of Luxury formed in late 1976, initially for the “Mad Bongo Theatre Group” in Newcastle, England. Amongst the members of the early line-up that performed on John Peel’s show in 1978, were Brian Bond (vocals, keyboards), Neville Luxury (guitar, backing vocals), Malla Caballa (guitar), Jimi Giro (bass) and Jeff Thwaite (percussion). The inspiration behind the moniker of the group came from Italian artist Giovanni Segantini‘s 1891 painting, The Punishment Of Luxury (which was originally known as “The Punishment Of Lust”, until it was purchased and retitled in 1893 by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England. The reason for the title change was allegedly because people of this epoch thought that it was “too provocative”). According to Brian, the group originally “got together for musicals – One based on Orwell’s '1984', another for a nasty factory owner in Cumbria“. In 1978, the first single, Puppet Life, was released through the Small Wonder record label (on which more acclaimed groups such as The Cure, Bauhaus and Crass also released material). Steve Sekrit later replaced Thwaite on drums, while Caballa is also reported have departed around this time. The newfound incarnation of Punishment Of Luxury released their first album, Laughing Academy, in 1979 through United Artists records.

This quartet plays an eccentric style of music that is like a cross between New Wave and artsy Punk Rock (with bits and chunks of Funk and Hard Rock thrown in here and there. I feel somewhat compelled to also say Glam Rock, but that might not be very accurate). Punishment Of Luxury are often compared to the likes of XTC, Wire and Gang Of Four, and while that’s actually not too far off, I still like to think that they have their own sound. However, just like most musicians and groups, Punishment Of Luxury do have a wide and rich array of influences which include the likes of Sparks, Devo, Frank Zappa, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Sex Pistols, Robert Fripp, 10CC, Roxy Music, George Formby, Todd Rundgren and Charles Trenet. Science-Fiction and “the idea of people trying to do something different being laughed at” are some of the lyrical concepts behind Laughing Academy (there also appears to be some messages of the political/societal variety present here). The lyrics are quite humorous and abstract (they can probably be interpreted in a number of different ways), yet they often also seem logical or intelligent at times. Some might argue that this album hasn’t aged exactly well, but it has a sort of slick production, and the amalgamate of creative songwriting, competent musicianship and comedic yet smart lyrics all make for a winning combination. Despite that, the music could prove to be somewhat of an “acquired taste”, as for some it might be a tad too "quirky”. For other individuals who tend to be more adventurous with their music, lots of potential sonic euphoria is to be experienced on Laughing Academy.

The first track is a re-recorded version of “Puppet Life”. This version is more polished, and in my opinion, definitely surpasses the original one from 1978 in terms of overall quality. As it commences, one hears a nervous man mildly hyperventilating, referencing someone or something, saying “here they come. They’ll never take me away. I won’t go to Room 16”. A stentorian, disembodied voice proceeds and says to him, “YOU WILL” (a cartoon-ish voice then exclaims, “you’re already there!“. Disarrayed gibberish follows soon after). Neville Luxury then propels the whole thing forward with his aggressive guitar antics. While it may appear that the protagonist in the song is suffering from a strong case of paranoia, he actually seems to find himself existing in some type of George Orwell-ian 1984 universe. Both the music and lyrics happen to give me visions of a “carnival-esque, dystopian world”. The lyrics in particular do make mention of feeling enslaved by a powerful authority (or a metaphorical “Big Brother”). Bassist Jimmy Giro once stated in a 2008 interview that “Puppet Life” was about “state oppression because that’s how people ruled“. Even after four decades, I think this song still remains highly relevant (especially in these current times where many people all over the world don’t trust their governments, feel that their privacy is being invaded and their natural-born rights are diminishing with the passage of time).

"Wires stick through my soul, my actions are controlled
Turning me from free man to puppet life
Suspended in puppet life"

“Funk Me” turns out to be more fun and quirky (definitely much less anxious). Playful melodies introduce the tune along with jangly, Disco-fashioned rhythmic guitar and the pulsating, funky bass of Jimi. Brian and the gang make it more outrageous by making an assorted array of whimsical voices (I'm also fond of that cacophonous, discordant guitar solo that shows up around the 2:02 minute mark). With lyrics like “funk me ’til I’m crazy, sex is just a dream, I drink your gaze and dream of dust and cream“, I am not entirely sure what “Funk Me” alludes to (perhaps it's poking fun at the Disco subculture of the 1970s?). Punishment Of Luxury‘s fascination with Science-Fiction becomes apparent on “The Message”. Musically, this tune aligns itself more with Punk than Funk. The very anthemic “All White Jack” also rocks quite hard with a similar Punk-infused attitude, sporting a set of "socially aware" lyrics as well. The keyboards heard during the short interlude in the middle add a slight touch of psychedelia. “Obsession” may be softer in tone, but it has a dark aura lingering around it, featuring flimsy, pseudo-symphonic synthesizers, which at times can sound a little creepy and others regal. This is the story of an insecure, introverted young man who is desperate for love. He appears to obsessively admire one particular girl from a distance. Passionate feelings for her exist within his heart and mind, but he is hesitant to let her know of this for fear of being rejected and humiliated. The outcome is quite grim: As daylight dies, he slips outside and proceeds to stalk this girl. He then abducts her, eventually becoming the one responsible for her murder. At the end, the killer frantically claims it was all just an accident, but simultaneously also remains in constant denial, believing that she is only sleeping (frustratingly demanding her to wake up). 

"It only seems to happen with a corpse or a dream
Dead bodies don’t betray you
They never try to scream"

“Radar Bug/Metropolis” is primarily New Wave (with what sounds like Disco and Hard Rock weaved into it as well). Its bouncy beats and groovy rhythm are really contagious, in turn making the tune a very danceable one. The way that Brian sings here gives the impression that he may have inhaled a small quantity of helium at some point during the recording session. Punishment Of Luxury draws a nugget of inspiration from Devo in “British Baboon”, another straight-up wacky and funky tune. Brian resorts once more to those zany vocal histrionics here (monkey screeches and wolf howling? Get out!). “Babalon” tears a page from the Progressive Rock playbook. Starts rather slow with a set of staccato guitar riffs before rocketing off, presenting odd time-signature changes and some creative arrangements. Great musicianship on everyone’s part here (especially Neville with his acrobatic guitar work). The theme appears to be centered around religion and “The Whore Of Babylon” revelation.

"I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast
Full of names of blasphemy
And written on her forehead was 'Mystery'
Babalon the great
Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth"

“Excess Bleeding Heart” bursts out with much hyperactive energy, bearing an almost metallic sound. Finally, the title track arrives. Compared to the two previous tracks, “Laughing Academy” is lighter and more mellow with its poppy vocal harmonies. It's not necessarily the strongest track to finish the album with, but it's kind of a suitable one. Although Punishment Of Luxury was a highly creative, talented and unique group, things just didn’t ever really seemed to worked out for them, unfortunately. Shortly after Laughing Academy, they released various enjoyable singles including "Secrets", "Brain Bomb" (what I would personally describe as a weird proto-Thrash/Speed Metal cut), "Baby Don't Jump" (this is basically Mike Patton-era Faith No More, only an entire decade before that), "Engine Of Excess" and "Jellyfish" (a quirky, aquatic tune that REALLY reminds me of SpongeBob SquarePants!), all of which can be found again on the Dojo and Lemon reissues of this 1979 album. However, they were ultimately dropped by their record label (United Artists) when it was taken over by EMI (from there, they further drifted into obscurity). There also exists a rumor (which has been circulated on the internet for some time now) that a magazine by the name of Mojo once placed Laughing Academy in a list of “The 100 Worst Albums Of All-Time”. Did they now? Well, if that’s the case, then that is just amusing. While it might not necessarily be the greatest album ever recorded, it sure as hell isn't one of the absolute worst, either. If I were to ever compile a list of my top 100 personal favorite albums of all-time, Laughing Academy would most certainly have a spot on it.


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Blue Cheer - Vincebus Eruptum (1968)

Posted : 1 week, 6 days ago on 26 January 2023 01:26 (A review of Vincebus Eruptum)

Blue Cheer was founded around 1967 in San Francisco, California. There were a bunch of different members right at the very beginning, but the band (who allegedly took their name from a potent form of LSD that was derived from a laundry detergent) quickly became a power trio consisting of vocalist/bassist Dickie Peterson, guitarist Leigh Stephens and drummer Paul Whaley. In the latter half of 1967, these young men stepped inside Amigo Studios in North Hollywood, California and with the assistance of producer Abe “Voco” Kesh, they recorded Vincebus Eruptum (some say the title is Latin for “controlled chaos” or “conquering explosion” while others say it is a nonexistent term). On their first album from 1968, Blue Cheer radiates extreme decibels of noise as they turn up the volume on their Marshall amplifiers to maximum capacity. Managed by Allan "Gut" Terk (who once had connections with the notorious motorcycle gang known as "Hell's Angels"), Blue Cheer opted to be loud, aggressive and "counterculture", especially at a time when the whole “flower power” thing seemed to be rampant in Rock music (amusingly enough, Dickie once stated that “we were the ugly stepchildren. Everybody in San Francisco scene was all ‘kiss babies and eat flowers’. We were sort of ‘kiss flowers and eat babies’“). I think most individuals already familiar with this power trio would agree that they were indeed one of the hardest and loudest bands to come out of the 1960s (along with the MC5 from Detroit, Michigan). As a matter of fact, Blue Cheer were the first to ever be listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the “Loudest Band In The World” (that title would later be taken by Deep Purple). In an interview, Dickie reminisced about all these things and stated some insightful anecdotes:

People thought we were just making noise. They thought we were a detriment to the scene. I just knew we wanted to be loud. I wanted our music to be physical. I wanted it to be more than just an audio experience. This is what we set out to try and do. We ended up being in a lot of trouble with other musicians of the time. I remember Mike Bloomfield came up to me at the Avalon Ballroom, and he says, ‘You can’t do that’. I said, ‘C’mon, Mike, you can do it, too. All you gotta do is turn this knob up to 10’. He hated me ever since. He was this great accomplished musician and I was this 18 year old smartass. We did have a bit of an arrogance, but it was nurtured by people like that criticising us.

With Vincebus Eruptum, this power trio also inadvertently attained a primitive Heavy Metal sound by combining their passion for Blues with hearty portions of Psychedelic Rock, Acid Rock, Hard Rock and Garage Rock (one could even argue that their sound had some type of vague Proto-Punk/Noise Rock flair to it as well). Although Blue Cheer‘s music was still primarily rooted in psychedelic, Blues-y Rock (similar to that of Cream or Jimi Hendrix, only noisier and sloppier) and it wasn't truly definitive Heavy Metal (like Black Sabbath or Judas Priest, for example), it did introduce various of the elements that now characterize this genre/style of music (especially with Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal). Despite being innovative for their time, Blue Cheer were not the most “refined” of musicians. The musicianship on Vincebus Eruptum tends to be primitive and disheveled at times but Dickie, Leigh and Paul still perform with a lot of spirit and energy (besides, whoever said that pioneers had to be “perfect”?). While the crude, low-fidelity production also takes away some potency from the music (at least on the compact disc reissue), at the same time it also gives it some grit. Anyway, this vintage Psychedelic Rock/Blues/Proto-Metal/whatever-you-want-to-call-it album contains six tracks: Three are covers and the other half are original compositions. Kicking off Vincebus Eruptum is a hard-hitting cover of Eddie Cochran‘s “Summertime Blues” (which became the band's only hit despite having better, more electrifying songs. This cover made it to #11 on the Billboard singles charts). Blue Cheer makes “Summertime Blues” their own by implementing abrasive guitar riffs, thick bass and a rumbling avalanche of drums.

The second cover present on this album is the sultry “Rock Me Baby” (which was first recorded by BB King a few years earlier, although there are rumors that he re-worked this song from that of another Blues musician. Who really knows for sure). This Blues-based tune initially rolls around with a much slower tempo, only picking up the pace near its boisterous finale. These guys do well in playing the covers of other musicians, but I think their efforts are best displayed on their very own original material such as “Doctor Please” (supposedly about LSD and drugs), which commences with pounding drums and clashing cymbals courtesy of Paul Whaley (whose style at times reminds me a little of Cream‘s Ginger Baker). The droning guitar heard in the first thirty seconds sounds like some type of old, corroded engine struggling to operate. “Doctor Please” gets even more hyperactive in the middle when the speed accelerates with Paul‘s frantic Proto-Punk-infused drumming. Leigh Stephens' wild, extensive guitar solo here ranks among one of his very best on this album as well. On “Out Of Focus”, Dickie Peterson appears to ponder his mental state of well-being. Compared to the previous jam, this one is a whole lot more mellow and groovy, featuring thumping beats that sound like a jangling tambourine (Led Zeppelin surely must've taken a few pointers from "Out Of Focus").

Originally written by Delta Blues musician, Bukka White, in 1940 (and later made popular by Jazz musician Mose Allison) “Parchment Farm” is the third cover this charismatic trio take on. This is a catchy tune about the old, notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary. It usually makes me want to move around (or even dance). Things that make this one a blast is the gratuitous dose of cacophonous guitars and heavy bass-lines, not to forget the swift drumming. Out of all the covers present here, I would say that “Parchment Farm” is by far my personal favorite. “Second Time Around” closes Vincebus Eruptum, and it might just be the cream of the crop of this album. Leigh's guitar performance on here is simply insane (especially considering what year this was). Dickie gives a scalding performance as well, shouting and hollering throughout like a madman, all the while Paul pulverizes the hell out of his drum kit. The raucous finale only further cements Blue Cheer's legacy as being one of the loudest and wildest bands to ever exist in the 1960s. In summary, Vincebus Eruptum is a great record, even if it has too many covers (these are still competent enough for my tastes though). Blue Cheer may not have also been the most musically advanced or technically proficient band of their time, but what they lacked in that area they compensated with pure spirit and raw power. Unfortunately, Dickie Peterson and Paul Whaley aren't with us anymore as they passed away in 2009 and 2019 (due to prostate cancer and heart failure). While it's sad that the classic members of Blue Cheer will all eventually pass away some day (just as everyone else), I am comforted by the thought that their music and history will still be preserved, and they will continue to be fondly remembered by fans for their explosive take on Blues and Rock.


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