Random Access: Legalize It

Peter Tosh

Hello everyone hope you had a good week and have an even better weekend, I myself found out I will most likely be working, bummer. Well its Friday, time for some vinyl. Tonight I have randomly chosen Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” 

For those of you who don’t know, Peter Tosh was one of the founding members of The Wailers which included reggae heavyweight Bob Marley as well as Bunny Wailer. Born Winston Hubert McIntosh in Grange Hill, Jamaica on October 19. Tosh who was raised by his aunt, taught himself guitar after watching a stranger perform the same song over and over for almost a whole day. Tosh learned every note and every chord until he was able to play the song himself. After his aunt died in the early 60’s, Peter Tosh moved to Trench Town Jamaica, where he was introduced to Bob Marley and the rest of the Wailers. At the time Peter was the only member of the band who could play a musical instrument and began going to a vocal coach who gave free lessons to the young kids of Trench Town. Peter then began teaching the other members in the band how to play music including Bob Marley on guitar. Soon after the band was formed and picked up by Island Records and in a short while started growing in popularity. During this time Peter Tosh and the other Wailers produced many hit singles and a handful of albums like their debut record “Catch A Fire” and “Burnin”. Unfortunately in 1973 while driving with his girlfriend, Peter Tosh was in a car accident that killed her and fractured his skull in several places. After the accident Peter Tosh and the Wailers never really got along again and when the owner of Island Records told Peter that he would not put out his solo album he left the label and the band.Bunny Wailer however went with Peter and helped him on his debut solo album “Legalize It”

This album which musically sounds very similar to the earlier Wailer’s albums is a far cry from Bob Marley’s “One Love” sort of anthem. Peter who having just left his former band and basically being forced out of his record label appears to be in a very dark place. The song “No Sympathy” talks about being alone, and how even these people he considered friends are no longer there for him. “Why Must I Cry” also deals with hurt and heartache and includes the line ” I never fall in love again”. This is also apparent on “Till Your Well Runs Dry” which describes a women who is constantly doing him wrong but continues to come back to him. The closing track “Brand New Second Hand” deals with the idea that all the nice clothes and makeup can’t cover up what a person is really like on the inside. I like the line “not everything you see glitter is gold” There is one song that I have no idea what the actual meaning behind it is and that is “Ketchy Shuby”. This could be a song about some sort of dance or smoking pot, but what I believe it to be is a song about getting down and dirty( you know having relations). Whatever it is I know that mama and daddy don’t like it.

As different as this album is from earlier Wailers records there are a few reoccurring themes. “Whatcha Gonna Do” deals with the struggles of growing up in Kingston, Jamaica and the battles of getting out of poverty. “Burial” deals with the state of the country and the idea that even though there are different classes people are basically the same. Rich or poor, no one is above Jah. Just like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh was a huge advocate for the Rastafarian movement.  The song “Igziabeher” which translated means “let Jah be praised” is a Rastafarian incantation  about Jah and how he is responsible for everything from the water in the ocean to the animals on the land. It almost reminds me of a bible hymn. There is however, one part of this song that I find a little disturbing. Those who are not with Jah seem to be against him and therefore should be burnt and destroyed, the line “kill them dead before them spread” I found to be a little on the violent side. It’s definitely not a lyric you would hear in a Marley song. Of course with Rastafarian comes smoking marijuana and the title track to this album leaves nothing to the imagination. “Legalize It” is a song about just that, making pot legal and it became a pot anthem of sorts to those who advocated for it. It is also one of Peter Tosh’s better known songs and was a huge hit at his live shows.   

 Unfortunately, Peter Tosh was murdered in his home in Jamaica on September 11 1987 by a gang trying to extort money from him. He had many dark times in his life and his music reflected those times. I find this to be one of the most interesting things about this album, how dark it is for a reggae album. Bob Marley had a way of describing the trials and tribulations of Jamaica but always with an underlining feel of love and hope. Peter Tosh saw it and dealt with it in a much different way. Not only does this album tell about the struggles of growing up poor but is also deals with the idea that friends can betray you and people you thought cared about you can leave. I will always be a Bob Marley fan because I respect the way he viewed the world and the spirit he brought to music but with out Peter Tosh their would have been no Bob Marley.

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Random Access: Synchronicity

Synchronicity        I have decided that starting tonight and every Friday after I am going to pick a random record from my collection and do an in-depth review of it. I have decided to do this for two reasons, one I want to share my thoughts and opinions about these records and two it allows me to dive deeper in to some of the records I own. My selection for tonight is “Synchronicity” by the Police.

The Police were an English band formed in London in the late 70’s. Fronted by bassist Sting the band made their mark by helping bring reggae into the main stream. Along with Sting was Andy Summers on guitar and Stewart Copeland on drums. “Synchronicity” is the bands 5th album and last studio release before breaking up in 1986. The album’s title was inspired by a book called “The Roots of Coincidence” by Arther Koestler. Sting who was a huge fan of Koestler’s also got the title to “Ghost in the Machine” by some of his work. Synchronicity finds the band leaving their reggae infused sound for a more worldly one. The whole album gives the listener a feeling that everything is connected or synchronized in some way. Songs like “Walking in Your Footsteps” and “O my God” talk about how there was life before humans and how there will be life after we are gone and that perhaps God isn’t necessarily as involved as we think. While Sting lends his voice and writing ability to most of the record, the other two members but in their two cents as well. “Mother” written and sang by guitarist Andy Summers talks about his relationship with his mother and how every women he meets ends up being his mother. I shouldn’t say he sings on this track because it is more like him talking in a creepy voice instead. Drummer Stewart Copeland also writes a song on this record called “Miss Gradenko” which talks about this person and whether or not she is safe. The title tracks on this record “Synchronicity I” and “Synchronicity II” are my favorite tracks on the record, both have a strong beat and the more traditional sound of The Police. With hits like “Every Breath you take” “King of Pain” and “Wrapped Around my Finger” it’s no wonder why this album not only went to number one in the UK but also in the states.

All in all The Police were a great band in my opinion but I just don’t like this record nearly as much as their first “Outlandos d’ Amour”. That album for me is by far the best work The Police ever did, songs like “So Lonely” “Roxanne” and “Can’t Stand Losing You” not only deliver the great reggae sound that I love but also adds an element of garage rock as well. “Synchronicity” however, just doesn’t offer the same kind of power as that album or really any of the other three. Basically what you get on this album is a handful of hits, and some creepy tacky songs and if you hate the hits you are left with just a sour taste in your mouth. I’m not sure if this was due to problems in the band or if this was just simply the direction they were wanting to go but for me they had a good thing going so why change.

Like I said I am a big fan of the Police, I thought they did great things for reggae and had a really interesting sound and even though I wouldn’t ever pick this album over any of the other four I’m glad I own it.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is a Great Find Right?

This weekend my wife and a friend of ours were out checking out some local garage sales, baby clothes and vinyl for us and furniture for the friend. We happened upon one just a couple blocks from our house that had two but not all three of what we were looking for. Vinyl and furniture, I was so excited mainly because this was the first one I had been to that actually had vinyl. I ran to the boxes like a little kid and started tearing through them. I got a little discouraged at first glace because I started seeing a lot of Christmas albums and Chet Atkins, not to say there is anything wrong with Christmas or Chet Atkins, just not my taste. Anyway about half way through the first box I came across a Yes and Rush record, unfortunately neither had the jacket but the records themselves were in pretty good shape so I said why not. I also found a pretty nice three record set of what I thought was a collection of  singer-song writers but later found out it was just a symphony of guitars doing other peoples songs. Then I found it, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Now this is not the infamous Beatles record that has gone down in history as one of the most influencial albums ever made ( in fact Rolling Stone magazine has it ranked as the number one record ever) but in fact a soundtrack to a movie by the same name. Apparently back in the late 1970’s a Broadway musical was made using the Beatles record as the soundtrack for the play. From what I have read it was about a group who fights with the music industry as well as evil forces who are trying to take the musicians instruments. I don’t know I have never seen it but it doesn’t sound that good, apparently there are only a couple of lines throughout the whole play. Anyways I picked it up because on the cover I saw the name Peter Frampton and on the back acts like Aerosmith, Earth Wind and Fire, Alice Cooper and even the Bee Gees. I remembered seeing people talk about this album online but couldn’t remember what they said about it. The album was only a dollar and with a line up like that I thought it was a pretty safe bet. I was wrong. 

I took it home cleaned it up a little and could tell by the first track which is the title track by the Bee Gees that this wasn’t going to be for me. I should of known by the year and the fact that this was the Bee Gees that this record was going to be very disco infused. It’s like they took classic songs from this album and “Abbey Road” and said “lets do that but only with a little disco flare to it”. I couldn’t believe it, even the groups like Alice Cooper and Peter Frampton who do so much that I love couldn’t get it right. Now I’m not some Beatles snob who thinks that anyone trying to cover the Beatles has committed some sort of act of sacrilege, in fact I have heard many covers that I really enjoy. This however, did not work, they didn’t change up the songs themselves enough to really feel like they were experimenting or doing  their own version of the song. In many cases it sounded just like the original but with bad harmonies or just cheesy music. On  “I want you” which is a great song the vocals are just being spoken in a real creepy voice that does nothing for the song. Actually this album reminds me of a more current take one Beatles work that copied and used their music in a feature film called “Across the Universe”. It was basically the same idea, using  Beatles songs as a background for a musical. Although I liked these versions a little better, I felt while I was watching it that I just wanted to hear the originals rather then these counterfeit versions.

There were a couple of decent songs though but not many. One was Aerosmith’s version of “Come Together” and the only thing that really saved this one was the fact that it sound so similar to the original, although I was surprised how boring  Steve Tyler’s vocals were. His voice just didn’t pack a punch like you’re use to hearing with him. “Strawberry Fields Forever”  by Sandy Farina was another one that wasn’t great but on an album that had so many bad songs was a welcomed version. I have to say that this is one of my absolute favorite Beatles songs so I am a little bias. Other then those two and maybe a couple that were okay but not really worth mentioning the whole album was a big flop. It’s not surprising though since most soundtracks in my opinion rarely make there mark that this was such a bad album. I guess I had high hopes because of the material and the the line up but it just goes to show that when you have a good thing like the Beatles it takes something really special to make it better then what it was.

Borrowing Vinyl: The Double Edged Sword

Lately I have been going out to my dad’s house to visit, eat, and yes borrow vinyl. This started a couple of months ago when I was running out of records to listen to and wanted some new blood in the mixture. Like I said in a previous post my dad has a fairly good collection of records, maybe not the most but the really good ones like Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Cream, and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. These are also original pressings mind you which I am not above reissues but there is something very cool about listening to a record that came out when it did and not after the fact. Take “Dark Side of the Moon” for example, sure now everyone knows how great of an album it is but imagine those who heard it for the first time and had no idea what they were about to hear. That’s what original vinyl kind of does for me even though I own “Dark Side of the Moon” on Cd, its kind of like listening to history. On top of all that my dad’s vinyl is in very good condition I mean his “White Album” has all the portrait pictures of the Beatles for crying out loud. Lately I have been trying to stay clear of the records that I know and love, not because I don’t want to listen to them but because when I go to his house and check out vinyl, I’m interested in the groups I don’t really know or the ones that maybe I heard about and want to check out one of their albums. Recently it has been those albums that I have found the most interesting plus it lets me know that if I see one of these babies in the wild I need to grab it. However with this there is a dark side( no pun intended). 

Through the years I have borrowed many things tools, games, Cd’s, movies etc. None of these things have been harder for me to give back then vinyl. I’m not sure what it is, there is something about listening to a really good record and then knowing “crap I have to give this back”. Even though I know my dad would tell me to keep them as long as I wanted. I think it has something to do with not getting to put them in my own personal collection. It’s like when your friend would come over and have that really cool baseball card to show you and then take it away at the end of the day. Even though you got to see it and touch it and do pretty much all you could with it there was something about not getting to keep it. I know this probably makes me sound like some kind of hoarder or that I am missing the big picture when it comes to vinyl but I’m not. I love listening to these records, I think I want them to show off and to say “hey look what I got”. The other downside to burrowing vinyl depending on what you take is how sad it makes your own collection in comparison. Don’t get me wrong I love the vinyl I have, I wouldn’t own it otherwise but I am missing so many of the classics. For instance I don’t own a single Led Zeppelin or Beatles record, I know you can start judging me now. The truth is I just haven’t come across any of these and the ones that I do people want an insane amount of money for them. I figure eventually I will buy these records, sure they will be reissues but I try and keep my addiction to a cost effective level. Borrowing these records brings me such joy and such pain. I guess that’s life the yin and the yang, the good and the bad, and all that but seriously I am very grateful to my dad to allow me to burrow these items that I know have made such a big impact on his own personal life. Along those same lines without him I wouldn’t  have been introduced to so many great musicians so thank you. 

Here is a brief list of some of the albums I have had the pleasure to burrow but the pain to give back. “It’s a Beautiful Day” by the same name, “Vanilla Fudge” same name, Robin Trower’s ” Bridge of Sighs”, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ” The Circle Will Be Unbroken”  Eric Burdon and the Animals “The Twain Shall Meet” I know most of you already know about these albums but for me they were brand new gems and I thoroughly enjoyed them. 

 I have never been a person who saw

 I have never been a person who saw an early Christmas gift and had to have it, or found out what I was getting for a birthday present and asked to open it right then. That all changed since I got in to vinyl. My philosophy on this is why listen to something later when you can listen to it now. This became apparent yesterday when my wife came home with a very familiar shaped package under one arm. At first I thought it was a delivery for me but quickly noticed the name on the box and realized that the box was way to big for what I was expecting. After a brief time of trying to push it from my mind, I asked what was in the box. She tried to play if off but soon confessed it was an early father-to-be present for me. I quickly realized that the chances of their actually being records in the box quickly increased . So I told her it would be no big deal to go ahead and let me open it and that I would be totally fine having nothing to open in a week, which was true. So being the good wife that she is she agreed and I ripped open the box. Inside where two records I had added to my soundstage wishlist, Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago” and Damein Rice’s life album “Live at Fingerprints: Warts and All. This is a quick review of both albums. 

Bon Iver is a band the consists of manly one man Justin Vernon and “For Emma, Forever Ago” is their first studio album. Released in 2008 this album is a very quiet acoustic record with many times having Justin Vernon by himself playing very simple melodies and his signature sound. This whole album was recorded almost entirely in a hunting cabin in Wisconsin, which in my opinion is very clearly heard not only through the recording but also in the lyrics themselves. There are many lines that deal with nature and the cold. When I listened to this album it made me think of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden Pond”. It’s like you can hear that he went out to the middle of nowhere and wanted to create this record in pure solitude. I’m pretty sure that’s how it happened, Justin would record the acoustic parts, write the lyrics and then when it came to adding the occasional drums or extra vocals he would then return to the studio. This album has some pretty good songs on it including the very first song I heard by them “Creature Fear”. Some others that I enjoyed were “Skinny Love”, “Blindsided” and the title track “For Emma”. I will say overall I was a little disappointed with this album, for instance the vinyl itself was very noisy, there was a lot of popping and crackling. On some records this is okay, lots of times if I am listening to a rock album or something that is really heavy with sound this doesn’t bother me. On certain records though it just won’t do. Sinatra is a good example or any really good jazz record, you just don’t want a lot of noise because it takes away from the music. Now if the record was cheap or old you expect a certain level of vinyl noise because the record has been used but on new vinyl there is nothing that irritates me more then badly pressed new vinyl. Along with it being a sub par pressing the songs themselves for the most part were a little to  obscure for my taste, I’m not saying I have to always know exactly what an artist is trying to say in a song but on a record like this that is so intimate I like to know for the most part what  kind of message is being expressed. Iron and Wine is a great example of a group that has  a really intimate sound and really intimate lyrics and yes I don’t always know what the full song is about but the feeling of the songs is not usually lost on me. There was just something about Justin Vernon’s lyrics that were just a little to abstract for me. I don’t know if it was because he came up with the music first and after listening to each track developed lyrics to go along or what but the songs just didn’t seem to gel. This isn’t to say I regret having this record or that its not a good record other people might listen to it and hear a completely different sound and have a different experience. 

The other record my wife got me was Damien Rice’s “Live at the Fingerprints: Warts and All”. Let me just say that if I was to ever become a musician and want to copy another musicians full sound both musically and lyrically it would be Damien Rice. There is something about this guy that I just love, he has a great way of writing really emotional songs and creating this huge sound with often times just being him and his guitar. His voice has such passion that you can’t help believe every word that is coming from his mouth. He also use to tour and record with one of the sweetest female voices in the last twenty years for sure Lisa Hannigan. This women is the full package and I am obsessed with her. This album sounds great it is nice and quiet which is what you want a quiet record to sound like. It came out during the second release by Damien called “9”. It has some of my favorites songs on it like “Cannonball ,Coconut Skins, and Volcano”. It also has a some what different version of a great song called “Rootless Tree”. My only real complaint about the whole record is the fact that Lisa Hannigan just doesn’t have enough time on the album although she does have a whole song which closes off the record called ” I Remember”. I wouldn’t say this is a great live album or even one of the best Damien Rice records but if you have never heard of this guy and you like that singer songwriter kind of feel you have to check him out. I absolutely love everything him and Lisa did and continue to love what I have heard of him by himself, the only problem is he has only released two studio albums and a couple of live ones.

It’s funny a year ago I would of never thought of vinyl being the perfect gift but now I can’t think of a present I would rather receive. So I would like to say once again thank you to my wife for being so considerate this fathers day and I love both albums.

 

P.S. IT’S A BABY GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

WHY VINYL?

Since my addiction to vinyl started friends and family of mine have been asking me “why vinyl”, it seems so out of date. They can’t understand why in a time where most people hold their whole music collection on either an ipod or a smart phone why someone would chose to go back to a musical format that was so out dated. It would be like someone choosing to watch movies on beta when there is Blu-ray. Well from a technological standpoint I would say they are right, although many people argue that vinyl sounds better then even digital music from today. I personally don’t know how I feel about that but I do know that vinyl does something for me that Itunes and internet radio can’t. It forces you to actually listen to the music. I guess for me vinyl has always been in my life since I was a kid even if I didn’t really know it.

It’s funny as a child I don’t remember listening to vinyl all that much, other than my friends trying to see who could head bang the longest to Iron Butterfly or occasionally seeing my dad flip through his albums I never heard it. Being a product of the 80’s vinyl was becoming old news even back then. Everyone was jumping on the Cd bandwagon including my dad. I can still remember seeing his albums and thinking “how can someone have so much music” and that didn’t even include his Cd collection. Looking back now he really didn’t have that much but when your a kid little seems like so much more. So I never listened to records as a child and once I got in to music I went with the obvious choice of Cd’s. As I got older and music stayed in the 18 to 20 dollar range for new Cd’s it became harder and harder to keep up with the bands I like but I gave it my best shot. Then came Napster and Bearshare and Lime Wire, online services that if you had a fast internet connection or a lot of time you could get music for free. This changed everything for me, now I would simply go online and click a bunch of songs and in a day or so I would have them to do with whatever I wanted. Even though I was still buying music, mixed Cd’s or burnt Cd’s became my main form of music, why pay for something when you could get it for free. Then Ipods and Pandora radio came and that took things a step further. Now you could pick which songs you wanted to buy rather than buy the whole album or you could simply put on Pandora, hit shuffle and have endless songs at your fingertips and what made it even better you could pick and chose what you wanted to listen. It seemed like music had found it’s perfect form, endless supply and free for the picking but still something seemed artificial about the whole thing.

About 6  years ago I asked for a turntable for Christmas, at the time I don’t even think I had any albums but for some reason I wanted one. Shortly after that I found myself occasionally buying records at concerts not really to listen to but something to maybe get signed by the band. My wife came home one day with a stack of records that she had found at a garage sale and I said “you know what I’m gonna plug this thing in and give these a listen”. My fasination with vinyl still took some time but it was growing. Once I decided I liked this form of music I set out to only collect a handful of albums and only by new bands, no classic rock or anything I might find at a garage sale. I just wanted a small collection to now and again pull out and impress my friends. Well before I knew it I was collecting everything I could get my hands on, going to garage sales, antique malls, thrift stores, basically anywhere that might have vinyl. As I started to collect I notice a real passion for music again that hadn’t ever left but was changed and renewed.

There is a whole process that goes with vinyl from the way you go about finding to listening to it , everything has its right place. I started loving the ritual of putting the record on the turntable and flipping it when it was over. I read the liner notes or studied the covers as I listened and really started to focus on the music that was being played rather then just having it in the background. Music became the reason to listen to an album not to have something making noise while I was cleaning the house. Since vinyl records are so much bigger then Cd’s the art work became as important as the music. I found myself buying an album simply based on the cover even if I had know idea if I was going to like the music. I think one of the best things I’ve taken away from starting to listen to vinyl is my knowledge of music or lack there of. I have always felt that since I have been listening to music for the better part of my life and liking all sorts of different styles that I had at least heard of everyone that was worth hearing ,that could not be less true. In the short time since I’ve been listening to vinyl I have come across better music that is new to me more in the last couple of months then I have in I’d say the last couple of years. There is so much good music out there and a lot of it is only accessible on vinyl. It seemed that what I thought I knew was just a small fraction of what was out there.

So back to the main question and the title of this blog, why vinyl? To me vinyl adds an element to listening to music that had been missing for me, I had become to dependent on internet radio and my ipod. I was hitting the shuffle button rather then listening to a whole album and I started buying music again which for me is half  the fun. I  like having a physical product in my hand, something you can see and touch and smell. Vinyl uses so many of the human senses. Now I’m not saying I never listen to my ipod or Cd’s or anything like that, in fact right now I’m listing to Pandora ( John the Fisherman by Primus) but when I want to listen to music and truly listen to it I head for the vinyl. People can brag about the fact that their computer or smart phone can hold a whole weeks worth of music but to me that’s not a collection, when I look at my vinyl shelf or my Cd collection or even the handful of tapes I still listen to I smile,  that’s a collection and that’s what it’s all about.

First Vinyl Blog.

Hello my name is Bailey and this is my very first post on my new Blog ” All things Vinyl”. Basically I’m starting this because in the last 6 months or so I have become completely obsessed with vinyl records. This means listening to them, buying them, researching them, talking about them. Anything and everything dealing with vinyl records. I was posting all this stuff on facebook, but I think people were getting tired of me going on and on about them so everyone said I should just start a blog and so I did. This blog will be mostly about what I have been listening to and recent finds I’ve gotten. So that’s it, I’m still not sure how this whole blog thing works, chances are I will start this and no one will see it, which might be a good thing since I’m not very good at writing, either way it will be fun for me.