MVDnEWS: Max’s Kansas City

Max’s Kansas City: 1976 & Beyond 
coming to CD ad Vinyl on May 5th via Jungle Records
 
The original Max’s Kansas City 1976 pioneering punk club album,
extended with an extra 30 tracks and historical notes

Max’s Kansas City is the legendary New York City nightclub that became the focal point for the city’s hip artistic community from the late 60’s until the early 80’s. In its initial period, it was famously often populated by Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd, and played host to new artists such as the Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, the Stooges, Bruce Springsteen and countless others. It became a base for jet-setters, glam rockers and celebs, until the scene faded and it shut its doors at the end of 1974.

Reopened in 1975 under new management, Peter Crowley was hired as music director. The new young bands he booked helped spawn, in tandem with CBGBs, the New York City punk scene. In 1976 Peter compiled a studio album of acts associated with the club, Max’s Kansas City 1976, to help promote the club. It featured the first released recordings of Suicide, The Fast and Warhol-era veteran Wayne County, whose title-track gave a roll-call of many of the famous acts who’d regularly performed there.
Now the original album is reissued as Max’s Kansas City 1976 & Beyond, greatly extended to 40 tracks on a double-CD and a selection of 25 tracks on a double-LP. As well as the aforementioned Suicide, Fast and Wayne County, the new extended album features the New York Dolls, the Stillettos, the Offs, the Senders, Philip Rambow, VON LMO, Iggy Pop, Knots, Roland Alphonso, Cherry Vanilla, Nico, Joy Ryder, Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers and Sid Vicious amongst many others. It includes many previously unreleased tracks and rarities. Compiled by Peter Crowley, who also contributes notes detailing the history of the album. Writer, musician and Max’s scenester Jimi LaLumia provides historical overview sleeve-notes along with biographies of the artists in a 20-page booklet.

Jimi LaLumia writes:

Max’s Kansas City 1976 as an expanded edition two record vinyl and double CD collection, celebrates the historic first compilation of recordings by bands that were making big noise in New York City, and, thanks to a hyper active UK music press, around the world in a pre internet, truly underground manner. Melody Maker, a British music weekly, was especially keen on the post Velvet Underground / New York Dolls / Alice Cooper / Iggy & The Stooges scene that was inspiring the most unusual creatures to want to be in bands.
The Max’s album was my go to album for months; finally, tracks from Wayne County, Cherry Vanilla, and The Fast… Not to mention Suicide and Pere Ubu. I got introduced to Harry Toledo and the John Collins band: I won’t go into all the details here, because I wrote extensive detailed liner notes for the Jungle Records UK re issue coming in May, with additional notes from Peter Crowley, which are worth the price of the album, not to mention all the added extra tracks, so I’ll simply say that if you think you know everything about the late 70’s downtown scene, some additional reading material and bonus tracks are headed your way.”
Complete details, hi-res cover art, specs, etc can be found HERE and additional assets HERE
This item can be pre-ordered via MVD Shop or on Amazon

What Do You Do With a Problem Like Elbow?

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Elbow has yet to make it big in Jap. . . the United States.  I’m not sure why.  Their sensibilities should be perfect for a variety of radio formats here.  But, sadly, Elbow remains generally unknown.  I first came across them because Greg Spawton of Big Big Train recommended Elbow as well as Mew as two of his favorite bands.

Then, of course, Peter Gabriel produced a stunning version of the band’s “Mirrorball.”

Since 2009, I’ve ordered the bands complete catalogue, much to my own personal happiness.  For whatever reasons (and I’m sure there are several, but they remain unexamined; Socrates would not approve), my favorite albums from the band are THE SELDOM SEEN KID and BUILD A ROCKET BOYS!

Continue reading “What Do You Do With a Problem Like Elbow?”

If 1982 Came to 2015: The Receiver’s ALL BURN (Kscope)

Review of The Receiver, All Burn (Kscope, 2015).  11 tracks.

All Burn (Kscope, 2015).
All Burn (Kscope, 2015).

Formed a decade ago, The Receiver is the brothers Cooper – vocals, synths/keyboards, bass.  Each of the brothers handles vocals while Casey plays keyboards and bass and Jesse plays drums.  ALL BURN is the band’s third album, the first with Kscope.  The thing that strikes the listener immediately upon hearing the new album is the quality of the vocals and the vocal lines and melodies.  They are gorgeous.  Absolutely and completely gorgeous.  So gorgeous in fact that one could drown in their beauty.

Kscope has labeled The Receiver as “symphonic dream-prog” and if they had to be compared to another Kscope band, they would come closest to Sam Healy’s always-stunning North Atlantic Oscillation.  The Receiver resides on the pop end of Kscope’s offerings, they’re still far more pop than NAO.  Indeed, the best comparison would be to Thomas Dolby’s first album or something from mid-period OMD. Though the production—for the most part—is 2015, the sound is very 1982.

[As a side note, I’ve often wondered what a Big Big Train or a Porcupine Tree would do with One of Our Submarines.]

A moment ago, I mentioned the vocals.  Again, let me state: they are amazing, and these two brothers know how to sing together, and they especially know how to write vocal lines.  They use their voices rather perfectly for the lyrics.  In this way, they are far superior to Dolby or OMD.

If there’s a problem with the album, it’s the production of the bass and keyboards.  The musicianship is excellent, but the end product sounds tinny.  Frankly, I’m having a hard time gauging what’s exactly “not right” with them.  I think it’s that the vocals are so good and so well done that the bass and drums sound a bit thin and superficial, as though they were added on merely to make this a pop album.  It’s possible this is also due to the limitations of streaming the music—I’m listening to it streamed through an online promo on my MacBook Pro.  So, not ideal listening conditions.

Back to the good.  All Burn is pop in the best sense.  There are lots and lots of catchy hooks and lots of returns and repeats to key sections in the music. Still, there’s enough mystery and variety in the music to make it not simply another pop outing.  Songs such as “Dark Matter” have a Steven Wilson feel, and “April Blades” might have come from a Vangelis album.  The music grows moodier and moodier as the album progresses.  My favorite song, by far, is the penultimate track, “How to Be Young,” an existentialist pop navel gazer with lots of backwards production.  The final song, “These Days,” is probably the poppiest, taking us back to an Alphaville moment.

Don’t let my criticisms hold you back.  If you like good pop or pop prog, this album is for you.  If you want to imagine what a “Golden Age of Wireless” would sound like in 2015, buy this.  Or, if you simply love glorious vocals and vocalists, get this.  I probably won’t come back to this album too often, but I am quite interested to see what they do next.