Chinese Man “Racing with the Sun” (2011)

I have to admit, I’ve been putting off reviewing this album. Mainly because it’s three records long, and not very popular and a different kind of music than I normally review. I’m not sure I’m going to know how to write about it. I’d much rather write about the Stevie Wonder album we were listening to all morning, but we both know the rules. So here it goes. Positive attitude starting…!

This album was a gift to Alex from our friend Alexis who lives in france.The album cover has pretty interesting illustration and is a gatefold, so you could stare at it for a long time while you’re listening to this music.  I’m realizing that the first three sides are “Racing With The Sun,” and then the other three sides are “Remix With the Sun.”

The first record starts with a slightly sensual beat and a lot of vocal samples, some are in French, not all of them. This music has a quiet, chilled out feel to it. If you live in a dorm, and are smoking weed with some friends, you should put this album on. The second song has a person saying “One, past,” over and over, but at first I thought she was saying “one, cats.” While it would not have made any sense, I would have been really into that.

Based on the album artwork, and what I’ve heard so far, it seems like there’s a mixture of Asian and american old west influence in this music. Eastern and Western perhaps?

The next song, “If You Please,” has a great beat, then a peppy melody comes in on a mystery instrument. Some kind of Middle Eastern horn? I like the style that it gives the song. It feels happy.

The next song reminded me of Manu Chao when it started. I forgot about that band!

Side B goes back to that Middle Eastern sound and has samples of Jesse Jackson saying “I am somebody,”  which gives the song a really exciting, immediate feel.

This really feels like chill-out music and it’s fun to just sit and listen to it without too much comment. It would definitely work as good background music, when you’re just hanging out at home doing something quite like reading, or if you have people over to smoke weed and play board games or something like that.

On to side C! The first song has an interesting Rap/Leprechaun sound, pretty unique if you ask me. But actually, it makes the song sound pretty silly. We’re back with an upbeat Middle Eastern sound again with J.O.G.J.A. go add this song to your workout mix right now.

I think this album does a great job at keeping a feeling going throughout - hip-hop, Middle Eastern, kind of jazzy cowboy album. It works, trust me. Although it might be a little over kill with the remixes. I don’t have much to say about the remixes. I feel like I just wrote about these songs. I can’t really appreciate the remix of a song I’ve only heard once. You want a remix to be a fresh take on a song you already love and are familiar with. I’m not there yet with these songs.

Of course, just as I finish that paragraph the best remix so far comes on. Listen to this song right now. Alex said it sounds like Italo disco. Sweet. Gotta love those horns.

Overall, this review took me two days to write, and I didn’t go into song by song detail like I usually do, but I like this album, and will probably play it again. If you’ve never heard of Chinese Man, click on the youtube links. See what you think!

"Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of The Haunted House" Walt Disney Productions (1964)


Oh my god you guys, I am SO excited to listen to this record. While this is definitely more Halloween appropriate, the order of the records cannot be changed! And there is a crispness in the air tonight, and I did just buy some pumpkin donuts from the supermarket so the timing is close enough! I’m really excited that this “Most terrific collection of recorded sounds,” was put out by Disney in 1964, but look at this part written in bold on the back:

“This particular Disneyland record, CHILLING, THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE is not intended for young, impressionable children from three to eight.”

This is going to be SO SCARY. Let’s put it on.

According to the back cover, side one contains ten stories in sound in which the narrator sets up the situation and the sound effects take over and tell the story. Side two is a collection of sound effects grouped by category. “These may be used to create your own stories in sound.”

It starts talking about a haunted house in the second person. “You decided to investigate, and you never return!” Oh god, there’s a spooky cat! And a creaking tree in the wind, oh no, now there’s howling and moaning. This house is definitely haunted. Now there is some very scary screaming. Yikes.

Okay, we’re on to the next story “The Very Long Fuse.” which tricks you into thinking a bomb will not explode, but then it does. Not that scary. The next one is called “The Dogs,” and tells the story (in second person) that I was attacked by a dog as a child and now I hate dogs? Then there are barking dogs and a yelling man.

Next! “Timber.” This time I’m a “handsome woodsman.” And then there is the sound of sawing for a very long time. I think I’m going to have a sawing accident, I can feel it. Yep. I fell out of the tree. More screaming.

Yes, I’m a “Cat Fancier” in “Your Pet Cat,” tell me something I didn’t know! But uh oh, is this cat going to turn on me? AH!! Screaming cats it’s the worst sound! And that’s it!  On to “Shipwreck.” I don’t know if I consider the sound of a crashing ship scary, but it is a sound effect none the less. This next one does sound like an actual nightmare scenario, having to cross an unsafe bridge. Alex just said, “is this too scary for you?” Oh god, it’s crumbling. Of course it is. I bet there’s going to be a scream…there it is! And a splash into water! I wish I could see the person who did all of these screams while he was doing them in a studio.

Uh oh, this one is “Chinese Water Torture,” and it’s just the sound of dripping water. I’m waiting for the scream, I hope it doesn’t sound racist. Nope, it’s racist.

Next is “scary” attacking birds. (Not scary.) And finally, “The Martian Monsters.” You guys know I love space sounds! These Martians have laser’s and they’re trying to eat me. It’s pretty gross.

I found this really sweet website, talking about memories of listening to the record as a kid. I especially liked this part:

“Despite my love for the record, I never owned one myself.   One of my neighborhood buddies had the record (the orange 1973 version) and I would go to his house often to sit in front of the wooden console stereo record player and listen to it over and over again.   Sometimes we would act out the stories, pretending to be walking over the “Unsafe Bridge”, or being attacked by “The Martian Monster”.

My buddy’s dad was famous for his haunted house set up at Halloween, complete with a glowing, flying crank ghost, and the “Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” blaring throughout the neighborhood. In the air was the smell of burning leaf piles, the crunch of dry leaves underfoot, my face, sweaty and cold under a cheap plastic mask; perfect Halloween memories!”

On to side two! This time it’s pure sound effects and we’re going to have to use our imagination to make up the story. Track one: “screams and groans.” Especially scary. Also, a little funny. This really would be great to play during a halloween party. Next we’re on to “Thunder, Lightening and Rain.” which can be scary if you let your imagination go wild and if there are howling dogs in the background. Wait. Or are they werewolves??  The next two are cats and dogs which are my least favorite sound effects on this, especially because the cat sounds are so horrible, and freaked Murdock out big time. But after that we have “A Collection of Creaks,” which is just the best title ever. Also, creaks are super scary. Although one of the creaks totally sounds like a fart. It’s pretty funny.

Fuses and Explosions,” doesn’t really feel scary to me, but they are kind of good sounds, but then we have another collection with “A Collection of Crashes.” Another perfect name. The “Birds,” track sounds like monkeys, so don’t know what’s going on there. Then we’re back to the Chinese Water Torture theme with “Drips and Splashes.” I Love how “Drips and Splashes” is scary. I think this track is mainly for the sound effect part and nothing else. Hopefully this one won’t have fake Chinese in it. It doesn’t. And finally back to spooky space sounds to wrap it all up!

The best tracks on the album are the first on on side one and the first one on side two, but overall, this would be a pretty fun thing to play at a Halloween party. Happy O’Hollaween!

The Chi-Lites S/T (1973)


I’m surprised by the utilitarianism that is this album cover. Could this possibly be the most boring album cover in the world? What makes it great though is the back, not just because we get to see a picture of the Chi-lites in matching outfits but because the previous owner of this record put a check mark next to each of the songs on the album.


What does the check mark mean? It’s next to every single song. Was it some kind of superior rating system and only the great songs got a check, and before he knew it, he’d given every song on the album a check? Or did he just like to check it off after he’d heard it, like a to do list. If that’s the case, it was like he was just trying to get through the thing- I could have totally used a check mark system while listening to Trout Mask Replica.  So what does it mean, this is a check plus album or a to-do list album? 

The first song is “Homely Girl,” these lyrics are interesting and this song includes a taunting flute. It’s a classic ugly duckling story about a girl who everyone makes fun of in high school. It feels funny, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be. I could see the song in a comedy with Will Ferrel and Amy Poehler or something. But the vocals are so smooth and sweet. Check!

Moving on to “Go Away Dream.” This song has much more of a soul funkiness about it. I could see slow dancing to this song on a dance floor somewhere. Well, maybe medium dancing, it’s not that slow, but not that fast. I like it. Check!

Oh, I think that taunting flute is back in “Too Good To Be Forgotten.” This song has a little bit of a Caribbean feel to it. It’s definitely the kind of song you would want to roller skate to during a birthday party at the roller rink. Check Plus!

Well, the next song made me start spontaneously start clapping, so that probably all I need to say about that one- you get it- I love it! Check plus plus for “I Found Sunshine.” I found sunshine when I found this song.

I’m pretty sure the next song, “I Never Had It So Good (And Felt So Bad)” is about getting a divorce. He’s a free man! But he misses the fact that no one waits up for him at night anymore! He makes excuses to the hat rack by the door! This song starts with that wistful type of talking that songs sometimes do. I think talking in a song like that always sounds cheesy no matter what, I’m never into it, except for that fact that it usually makes me laugh. This song has got a ton of emotion behind it, but I don’t think I can give it a check mark, I’m sorry to say.

On to side two, with “Marriage License.” Oh, I know this song! These lyrics are ridiculous! And yet….possibly profound?

I wish that a marriage license

Was just like a driver’s license

That expires every two years

With an option to hold

Just in case love doesn’t grow cold

Grow cold, grow cold, grow cold

The youtube comments are really into the lyrics too. This one is my favorite “Some people do think like this song. Never give up on your marriage. Make it work. If you can’t then this is the song for you. Listen to the words and get your understanding.” Check!

After two slow songs, we’re getting funky again with “I Forgot To Say I Love You TIll I’m Gone.” This song has a happiness about it. It’s not the best song on the album, but it would definitely be easy to skip to, and how can you not like a song when you’re skipping? Check!

I kind of just flowed through the last three songs, wrapping it up with the chilled out “Stoned Out of My Mind.” I’m declaring this album a check plus! It will put you in a good mood.

Alex says: The first of my friends to get a car was my bandmate Allan, who rolled around in a Datsun 210, a little hatchback that kinda smelled like dirt, but in a pleasant way. But the first of my friends to get one of those high school cars we could roll eight deep in was my other bandmate Jamie. He got a 1978 Mercury Cougar with a torn and sun-cracked vinyl roof that he named “Cougar Puss.” One of the features of this car was a car stereo with an 8-track player.

I remember the day he got it, five or so of us got in and drove to Value Village in Ypsilanti, and scooped up every 8-track we could find, one of which was this Chi-Lites album. We mostly stuck to stuff we knew - I think there was some classic rock in there. But a few months later, I was in the car with Jamie and Allan looking for a secluded spot to pull over and smoke pot, and Allan said “dude, Jamie, put on the Chi-Lites. You have to hear this crazy song.” Apparently, the draw of listening to a song called “Stoned Out of My Mind” while we were stoned out of our minds was too great to resist. 

I picked this up at a street fair in the West Village in 2005 or 2006, but just listening to it like this with Sarah made me realize I haven’t listened to it nearly enough.

Ray Charles “The Genius Hits The Road” (1960)


So, most of the records Alex got from Platter World haven’t actually been put away yet, they’re in a pile on our living room floor, obviously! We just realized that Ray Charles was supposed to come before Cheap Trick, so I’m doing it now. This record is from 1960! It is not a reissue! And every song appears to be about a place, which is why it’s called “The Genius Hits The Road.” There’s also an essay on the back by Rick Ward, and it’s good. This is how it starts, you can read the whole thing here.  

“Discovery of the genius of Ray Charles gives the same effect as winning the daily double, making a hole in one, or scoring a touchdown.  His performance creates a feeling of exhilaration and warmth and a deeply personal identification with a true artist.  His honest singing, with complete immodesty and abandon, makes a familiar standard song and entirely new experience.  Ray gives himself wholeheartedly to a song, and his ability to express himself musically is a quality envied by persons with less creative talents”

Okay, let’s hit the road! The first song “Alabamy Bound,” is not what I was expecting for Ray Charles, it almost has a Sinatra feel to it at first, but then his singing reminds me that it’s him. This song is really festive, almost latin sounding. We’re starting off with a bang!

Song two is Georgia on My Mind, which I will never ever get sick of. Why does this song make me feel like crying? I have to stop typing and just listen. Hold on. Sometimes its awesome to just sit and listen to a song and do nothing else.

I remember in the 90’s when the Ray Charles Pepsi commercial was super popular with “You’ve Got the Right One Baby.” I think that commercial sparked a Ray Charles revival, didn’t it? Either way, my family was into Ray Charles just like everyone else, (my grandmother definitely had a “You’ve Got the Right One Baby,” t-shirt) and I love how he’s the kind of musician that everyone will always love at any time in their life.

Basin Street Blues,” has a quintessential New Orleans sound to it - I’ve heard this song a million times played by a million bands. It is making me seriously wish I was at The Spotted Cat right now instead of in my living room. This music is great for any occasion. I feel like I’m going to want to play it again tomorrow morning, it’s Friday night and Saturday morning music for sure.

Why didn’t I dance to “Moonlight in Vermont” at my wedding? Romantic summer songs are so evocative, like how can you not picture a moonlit summer evening when you hear this song? Also, are there any other songs about Vermont? Not a place you hear songs about that often.

Haha,” New York’s My Home” is about how New York is better than all these places like Chicago and Hollywood. Burn, other places! I’ve never heard this song before, there’s a lot of “talk singing” in this one, not my favorite on the album so far, but I’m glad I’m hearing it since I’ve never heard this song before. Oh, but then it get’s bluesy, there we go! Yes, this song is good. It is good and unique.

On to side two with “California Here I Come.” Hmm.. “Deep in The Heart of Texas” unfortunately has an annoying white guy saying “what’s that place again?” And “what place are you talking about?” right before Ray sings, “Deep in the heart of Texas” the entire time. I am not feeling it. Because the way he sings “deep in the heart of Texas,” is so emotional and soulful and this dumb guy is distracting me from that. Pee Wee’s version is better.

Carry Me Back To Old Virginny,” might even be better than “Georgia on My Mind?” Can I really say that? I think it’s definitely equal. This is the only song on the album featuring the “Raeletes,” and they really make the song special. Let’s take it on home with the “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.”

If you get one thing from this review I hope it’s this, if you see Genius Hits the Road at a record store or a garage sale or on ebay, buy it. Just buy it! It’s a gem.

I would like to comment though that it kind of looks like he’s wearing ladies sunglasses on the front cover. 

Cheap Trick - S/T (1977)

The first thing I noticed about this album is that Robin Zander’s pants are too tight. Ew.

Oooh we’re starting off with a real rocking fast guitar sound. Before I looked at the song title, I thought he was saying “hot dog.” He’s saying “hot love.” I just asked Alex if he liked this song and he said, “Loved it. It just fucking wails, it’s nonstop.”

Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace,” has a little bit more of blues sound to it at first but then almost gets ballady with the vocals. It’s kind of an interesting song that way. I feel like this song sounds much more indie than their other songs, which I really like. It makes sense since this is their first album. They sound young and passionate.

I’m really liking the otherworldly and gentle sound of “Mandocello.”

I think this might be my favorite Cheap Trick album so far, which I’m really happy about because I was feeling like I was ready to move on to a new band after the last album, but this one is a pleasant surprise.

The Ballad of T.V.Violence,” really has an gritty screamy ending that ultimately brought the song home for me. It was totally the fire breathing dragon of this album so far.

Alex just told me he was surprised I was enjoying this album because it’s “so metal.” But I think it sounds more indie than metal.

On to side two which is actually called “Side One.” Side one is called “Side A,” which according to the track listing is the true first side but I put it on right by mistake. I get it, there’s no B sides for Cheap Trick! Good point guys, good point.

I’m really enjoying the prettiness of “Cry Cry.” It has a kind of enticing seduction about it. And “Oh Candy,” feels like a great song to end this album on.

All in all, I enjoyed this one, and think I’ll play it again sometime. Thanks Cheap Trick, you were a good time.

Cheap Trick “Dream Police” (1979)

I’m really liking the packaging of this album, but they are going a little over the top with the whole dream police thing, don’t you think? Alex says no. It’s reminding me of Adam and the Ants a little bit with that whole cheeky vibe.

The first song is “Dream Police.” This has got a real rock and roll peppiness to it, that definitely inspires air drumming, at least that’s what Alex is doing right now, and I get it. It kind of reminds me of Journey but cooler sounding.There’s also a Bruce Springsteen-esque build towards the end, which I think is awesome. This is a great song!

The next song, “Way of the World,” is keeping with this peppy rock sound. I could see jogging to this music so far, it feels like it should be moved to. Too bad I just had a cheeseburger and a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone, otherwise I think I’d be a little more bouncy.

The most remarkable thing that the next song has going for it is the title: “The House is Rockin’ (With Domestic Problems)” Not the phrase I thought was going to be in the parenthesis! While “domestic problems,” are a very legitimate thing to write a rock and roll song about and a million songs have already been written about that topic, it’s the phrase “domestic problems,” that just sounds so un-rock and roll! Also, this is my least favorite song so far. I’m not into his singing style on this one. But I do like the guitar solo at the very end of the song.

I’m afraid to say that this album feels like it’s taking a boring turn. There’s a lot of hellish screaming going on in “Gonna Raise Hell.” I realize that that sentence sounds anything but boring, but this song is not doing it for me. Although, now that I’m realizing it’s a pretty long song with a serious jam session towards the end featuring violins and everything, maybe this song isn’t completely boring. It’s just that the meat of it is repetitive but it’s got some interesting surprises, mainly hellish screams and violins.

On to side two! “Voices,” starts with the sound of whispering which would definitely be alarming if you were listening to this song for the first time on headphones. This song has a slow almost Beatles like vibe to it. I like it. It’s a change of pace for this album. And, now that I think about it, this band.

Well, now I see why they made such a big deal about the dream police motif, it’s the best song on this album. At this point it feels like a totally different band than the band who wrote “Surrender” and “I Want You To Want Me.” All in all, I did not love this album.

Cheap Trick “Heaven Tonight” (1978)


So my knowledge of Cheap Trick is the song “Surrender,” which is on this album and the live version of “I Want You To Want Me” that they play on the radio all the time (which I love). They seem like pretty cool dudes though, especially based on the back cover photo which is a picture of one of the band members brushing his teeth in a public bathroom with an outfit on that screams “fuck authority!” next to some square who just shaved and is now tying his tie. Ha! What a square.


Oh wait, but according to the picture on the sleeve, the square is in the band! His name is Bun E. Carlos. And the anti authority dude is Rick Nielsen. So I guess I was reading that picture all wrong! They just have different styles and are totally pals.


Also, it says that Bun E. Carlos plays “traps,” which Alex just told me means “drums.” I have never heard traps called drums before. Never! Okay, so now I don’t think Bun E. Carlos looks like a square at all, especially since he has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth on the sleeve picture.

The first song is “Surrender,” and I’m realizing I’ve never really listened to the lyrics besides the chorus before. I think I always just assumed the Mommy and Daddy’s alright part was sarcastic because most rock and roll songs are anti-parents. But I think this is actually about a kid who thinks his parents are actually cool! I love that. And this line is talking about a soldier’s dick falling off right? “Just the other day I heard of a soldier’s falling off. Some Indonesian junk that’s going round.” And that’s information his mom told him. Pretty cool mom. 

The next song, “On Top Of The World,”  almost has a little bit of a B-52’s sound at first with the slightly menacing bass, but then it gets much more pop sounding, which I’m liking.

The next song “California Man,” isn’t included in the lyrics section. Does that mean it’s a cover? Apparently it was written by a band called The Move. It definitely has a California surf rock feel to it. It’s a little cheesy sounding, and kind of weirdly 1950’s. It’s an example that late 70’s, early 80’s 50’s nostalgia phenomenon, like “Uptown Girl”, or Back To The Future.

I feel like this music is a combination of a lot of things. Like the song “High Roller,” I really like the way they sing the chorus and say “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiigh Roller.” But then sometimes his voice almost sounds like their trying to sound like the Rolling Stones, and then other times it has almost a cheesy blues rock sound to it. I’m all over the place with this song!

I mean, I’m kind of liking how they don’t really sound like any other band. What category is this, punk? Classic/hard rock? According to Wikipedia, the Japanese LOVE Cheap Trick. “They have often been referred to in the Japanese press as the “American Beatles”.” I just asked Alex who he thought the American Beatles were and he said, “well they’d have to record like 8 perfect albums, and then go on to have amazing solo careers.” After much thought, he decided the closest band that comes to that is the Talking Heads. I think I agree. But there’s probably another example that we’re just not thinking of.

On to side two. “Heaven Tonight” sounds much different than all the others so far. It’s much slower and darker sounding. I like it, it’s almost 90’s grunge sounding to me. It also definitely sounds like a song that people would enjoy doing drugs to.

Thinking about the live version of “I Want You To Want Me,” makes me think that while I’m enjoying this album, they’re probably best live, and probably best live in a big stadium or something like that.

Oh there’s a secret live track after the last song on the track listing! Oh wait, it’s just like a second long, with lots of screaming and a short guitar solo. My guess is it’s from Japan.

I liked this album, I’ll probably put it on again, but it didn’t stand out as a new favorite of mine. But even though I’ve heard “Surrender” a million times, I still think it’s a really great song and wouldn’t mind listening to it a million more times. (Over the course of my life that is, a million more times in a row then I’d definitely get sick of it).

PS- According to his Wikipedia page, Bun E. Carlos is not in the band anymore. It seems like there was some kind of falling out in 2011. The rest of the band says it has to do with his back problems, but Bun E. Carlos says, his back is fine!

Chambre Jaune “Better Dead Than Alien” (1989)


Okay, so first, I just can never recognize how anything French is supposed to be pronounced. I was like “Cham-bray Jew-on?” And then I was like “Juan?” And Alex called my dyslexic and then pronounced it in like this perfect French accent like he speaks French, which he does not. Whatever. Haters gonna hate. Anyway, I don’t think this band is actually French and that they just have a French name. The liner notes and song titles are all in English and it was produced in West Germany! In 1989! That’s pretty interesting.

I just asked Alex if he bought this record just because of the video game imagery on the cover and he said “most definitely.” But then he said, “I wouldn’t have gotten it if it was just any game, it’s a good game.” The game is called “Space Harrier.” I kept thinking he was saying carrier and just yelled “CARRIER?” like three times.

Okay, we’re starting off with a bang with the first song “Stung Right Thru.” It’s definitely loud and defiant sounding. If it wasn’t for the lyrics in the liner notes, I’d have no idea what they were saying, but that’s okay, it’s not really the kind of music you’re going to sing along to. It’s feeling a little cheesy for Alex’s taste to me It kind of sounds like cheesy metal. He just shrugged when I said that.

I’m realizing that they have no wikipedia page or online presence at all! Except for this one YouTube video for a song that is not on this album. They just sound like your friend’s band. Like, they’re fun to go see, and maybe get a little crazy in the audience, but they’re not going to get famous for anything. It’s reminding me of the second album I ever reviewed “The Sound Of A Room Full Of Heads Nodding,” which was a compilation album of Ann Arbor bands, a lot that are made up of people that Alex knows/ went to high school with. It’s good, it’s music and it’s raw and real, and it feels like the people in this band are earnestly into it. But, it just doesn’t feel remarkable to me.

On to side two. Alex said he’s enjoying this because of the fact that it sounds like a high school band. And I am too, in the moment, but I know I’m not going to be like, “let’s put Chambre Jaune on again.” At least I don’t have to worry about butchering the pronunciation again. I would like to point out that the last song on side two, which I haven’t gotten to yet, is called “What Does Your Dick Do In Ma Pudding?” That’s pretty funny. And not to be gross, but let’s just say, if someone handed me a bowl of chocolate pudding right now, I’d definitely be excited to eat it. I just googled “What Does Your Dick Do In Ma Pudding?” and basically got a bunch of gibberish links. One is for “Hasty Pudding Theatricals,” the Harvard theatrical society!

Anyway, this is definitely one of those records I would NEVER have listened to before this project. Alex never plays it, and I’ve never heard of them, so I’m really glad I listened to it. That’s what’s so cool about this record collection, there’s just so much music out there and the chunk of it available to me in my living room feels kind of endless, even though it’s such a small chunk in the grand scheme of things! There’s so much music that’s put out in the world and not much is said about it, not many people hear it, like Chambre Jaune, I suppose. But I’m really glad that exists, that so many people love to make music and want to share it. That’s why records are so much fun.

 Alex Says: Sarah nailed this record. It happens to be one of the first records I ever bought, from the unparalleled Encore Records in Ann Arbor. And it was absolutely because of the Space Harrier cover (Space Harrier happens to have an absolutely fucking killer theme song that I loved so much I did a cover of it).

Anyhow, I took it home and listened to it and it was kind of unremarkable, but it was exactly its unremarkability that made it so remarkable. It was like getting a peek into someone else’s music scene and seeing a band that was working with the same influences I was (metal, hardcore, industrial), that may not exactly have the chops to go professional, but was still out there plugging away. And Chambre Jaune had a record out! Suddenly all of this mediocre stuff I was doing in my basement entered this new realm of the possible, mostly thanks to this record. It’s not one that I have listened to in a decade or more, but the fact that there’s a song called “What Does Your Dick Do In Mah Pudding” hiding somewhere in my collection makes me feel happy.

Johnny Cash “Rock Island Line” (1971?)


First discovery: The record in the sleeve is not the same as the album title! They are both Johnny Cash, but the sleeve says “I Walk the Line,” and the record is “Rock Island Line.” Alex actually just picked this record up at Platter World, which we just discovered as New Jersey residents and very sadly, it is in the process of closing its doors. However, that means that they records are going at amazing prices. So if you live in the area, I’m sharing the secret: go check out Platter World before it’s gone forever.

Okay, so I guess we’re listening to “Rock Island Line,” which is a compilation. There’s not good information about when it came out, but it was around the early 70’s, according to I love that this happened actually. It could only happen in a used record store! Let’s put it on! The first song is called “Rock Island Line.”

It appears to be a talking story type song about the rock island train line. Ohh and then he starts singing in the fast way that really makes you think you’re playing the record at the wrong speed!

The second song has a very sweet sounding guitar solo and it does make you want to get up and dance. The main verse is “get rhythm when you get the blues,” so you can tell it’s a dancing song already. If you were listening to this song played live at like a backyard club where everyone was sitting around tables and drinking wine, you would grab your sweetheart and go dance in front of the band. It would be hard not to.

I love how this music feels really simple, but then when you listen to it closely it doesn’t sound simple at all. Like you could play this with one guitar by a campfire, but Johnny Cash’s arrangements really have a lot going on. The third song is pretty sad with the line, “everybody’s baby but mine’s coming home.”

There appears to be a railroad theme with this album. This song is called “Hey Porter.” And the one before it was called “Train of Love.”

On to side two! The wikipedia page track listing is not in the same order as the track listing on my record. BTW. I know more of Johnny Cash’s big hits, so I’m really appreciating this album. Even though most of these songs are about trains, they’re really good. His voice and guitar are just intoxicating. It’s making me feel very calm. Especially “I Heard That Lonesome Whistle.”

Home of the Blues,” has really great lyrics. I’m especially loving this line: Just around the corner there’s heartaches down the street that losers use. If you can wade in through the teardrop, you’ll find me at the home of the blues.” Down the street that losers use is so good.

The album ends with the more upbeat “Wide Open Road,” which makes you want to get up and dance again, bringing us full circle! All in all I love this album! I’m glad it was this album in the sleeve by mistake, and will definitely listen to it again.

Alex Says: Garfield New Jersey is about a half-hour north of us. I didn’t know Platter World existed until I heard there was a record store nearby letting go of its inventory at fire sale prices. So I went up there.

I showed up right when it opened, and it was just me and three or four other guys crate digging. I could tell right away this was one of those “benign neglect” record stores, because it was records on top of records with records hung from the ceiling for decoration, and shelves that were literally crumbling and lashed together with twine to keep from falling apart.

The person who was manning the counter asked me how I heard about it, and I told her I heard online. She told me her dad, Charlie, had run the record store for something like 40 years. I told her it was my idea of heaven, to which she replied “keep coming back, we have about twice as much heaven in the back we’re slowly bringing out.” Periodically, a guy wearing a respirator mask would come out of the back with a sealed box of hundreds of records.

I mostly got disco singles, but I managed to find a couple of albums I was interested in - a Ray Charles record, the original broadcast of War of the Worlds, and this Johnny Cash record. A lot of them were pretty beat up - no sleeves, scratched up. This Cash record looked like it was in good shape, and it was. It’s not the right record, but after listening to a half hour of amazing train songs, that seems like a small oversight.

Cash Cows (1980)

Cash Cows is a Virgin records compilation put out in 1980. Well, it says “Rock 81” on the cover, but the copyright date is 1980. Maybe it’s like how the 2015 model cars are already out. Anyway, compilations are always a little harder to review than albums, because they’re not cohesive but, let’s embrace these cash cows and see what they got!

The first song is “Respectable Street” by XTC. This song starts really quiet, so I turned it way up, but when the song started I nearly blew out my eardrums. I kind of like when that happens though, as long as you’re not wearing headphones. I like this guys singing voice, there’s something kind of playful about this song, but it’s also a little harder sounding. I like it, I think I’d check out this album after hearing this song. Spoiler Alert: Alex says he thinks he has this album. What is life going to be like when I’m in the “X’s”?? Will we ever know?

The next song is super weird and definitely from the future it’s called “The Black Hit of Space,” by the Human League. It’s got a real attitude about it. The lyrics almost sound like slow rapping at times, and they’re just really having a fun time with all the spaced out intergalactical synthesizers sounds that they can make. Like I feel like they must have been really excited by the the sound of this song. Alex just said, “Can you imagine a major record label putting something like this out now?” Um, no. Never.

The next song “Sheba” by Mike Oldfield is in a language I don’t know. It might be Japanese. Alex just looked it up. They’re just vocalizations, not in any language. It has a very magical and slightly cheesy feel to it. But you want to embrace this song. You want to skip or do Prancercise to it

Also, don’t think I didn’t notice that Captain Beefheart is on this compilation. It’s the first thing I noticed. At least it isn’t a song from Trout Mask Replica.

I’m liking this punk song by The Ruts who Alex has never heard of, and I haven’t either (duh) It’s called “West One (Shine On Me)” Although I liked it more in the beginning, it kind of loses it’s soul halfway through and then all the sudden a super cheesy saxophone really ruins the whole thing! So I take it back, no thanks, The Ruts. That’s the thing with compilations, I feel like they can mess with you  sometimes.

The last song on side one by The Skids, has a unique sound to it that I’m liking. It’s really slow at point but then build into something great. I mean, a song that know how to build can really make you feel so good. LIke it can make your heart beat faster in anticipation, that’s a great feeling. This song is called “Arena.”

On to side two! The first song is called Permafrost from the band Magazine. I was kind of zoning out with no opinion but then he said “I will drug you and fuck you,” and I looked at Alex and he was all ewwww and I was like uh-huh. Alex said he likes this song other than the drug you and fuck you line, that it has a “sludgy synth,” but I was not feeling it.

The next song  is “Hands To Take,” by the Flying Lizards. I’m super into the singer. So far I like this song. I’m pretty sure the only other song I know by this band is “Money.” And I know that song from the Empire Records Soundtrack. Yeah, this song is good. It has a little bit of a Brian Eno feel to it. A little “Baby’s On Fire.”

Oh look who it is. The next song started and my eyes went wide and I immediately picked up the cover to see who it was, I bet you can guess! Alex was all, “did you miss him?” With a satisfying grin on his face. I will say this, at least Captain Beefheart gets a reaction out of me. It a way better feeling than feeling bored about a song. This song is called “Dirty Blue Gene,” and is from an album Alex doesn’t own so I’ve never heard it before, lucky me!  Actually though, I’m kind of into the guitar. I’m kind of liking it a bit. The mayhem is somehow working. My relationship with Captain Beefheart is so love/hate!

Ugh the next song is like some AC/DC crap, I definitely like the Beefheart song better. Way better. This song is called “Are You Sure,” by Gillan. Oh my god the cheesiness is making me roll my eyes so hard right now.

Following the AC/DC crap is a Bob Seger sounding guy named Kevin Coyne. First of all, it really does not follow that last song well at all. And it kind of sticks out on the whole album, it feels like they just didn’t know what to do with this guy so they threw him on this compilation. I wonder if compilations were a legitimate way for people to discover music in the 80s? This song just does not belong here! It’s called “Taking On the World.”

The last song is “Attack,” by Public Image Limited, which Alex just told me was Johnny Rotten’s band after the Sex Pistols. I’m into it. It’s raw and genuine feeling a good way to end this pretty blah album.

And that’s it! Even though there were a few songs I liked on this compilation, I really don’t think I’m ever going to put it on again. Alex says he liked it A LOT and would definitely play it again, but I seriously doubt that ever happening.  I’m officially calling it a dud.