Chrome “Half Machine From the Sun” (1979-80 released in 2013)


This is a double album that Alex actually pledged to to help get made (he’s such a fan!) It came out in 2013 and is “lost recordings” from 1979-80. I really like the packaging on this album, the picture on the front is so bizarre and fun to look at and the cover itself has a really smooth matte that makes you want to touch it. Plus, orange vinyl!!


The first song, “Anything," ends with sped up vocals that made Alex LOL and call them “goofballs.” The second song, “Salt,” starts off pretty goofy too. I feel like I’m not hearing this “goofball” vibe as clearly as Alex does though. It feels a little bit like an inside joke. It’s a little unlistenable to me right now. Like, this song starts with some drums that sound like they’d be in a more normal rock/punk/pop song, which just makes me wish I was listening to that kind of music instead of this “seminal avant-punk psychedelic outfit…known for their de/re-construction of Rock ‘n Roll and Sci Fi punk collage of searing rock with noise, innovations, weirdness, sound-bites, hooks, pile driver rhythms…” it goes on and on!!! I can’t read it anymore. A: Who wrote this on their liner notes, and B: what the heck are you talking about??

Song three is a long one, 8:37. It’s called “Looking for Your Door,” and sounds like a very weird version of some kind of Doors song. Mr. Mojo Rising or whatever. Opposite the garbage about how this album is avant punk with pile driver rhythms is an essay by Helios Creed, so I’m going to take these eight minutes to read that.

I really like the way this essay is written, it’s like Helios is just talking to you. I really like this line where he explains how him and Damon Edge were on the same wavelength: “We were both into…weirdness, scary noises, alien noises, and just noise for noise’s sake.” I have to say, reading this essay while listening to “Looking For Your Door,” makes me actually kind of like the song. It definitely works as pretty good music to read to.  I just really like the idea of being into scary noises.

Alex just said, “just listen to all the mayhem. The dings, and beeps and synthesizer, it’s like, out of control.” The mayhem doesn’t stand out to my ears very much though, I can only hear a bigger sound which is a little weird for me. But that’s okay. Damon Edge and Helios Creed were into weirdness and scary noises. They’re totally doing that.

On to side two. The first song, “Autobahn Brazil,”  is instrumental except for the dying sea-creature vocals in the background. I think that pretty much sums up side two for me. Like I said, this is more background reading music to me. On to side three!

The first song is called “The Inevitable.” We’ve moved on to human sounding vocals but they still sound underwater and dreamlike. This is sort of like anxiety dream music, like you’re really late to something and you can’t remember what it is. It’s the kind of song you could play in that kind of dream.

The next song is really peppy! It’s called “Fukishima (Nagasaki)" and feels very heroic.

This feels like it’s kind of only for really hardcore fans. I mean,  these were the songs that weren’t good enough to make it onto an album when they were together, so I’m feeling pretty bored by the end, but I can just tell that Helios Creed and Damon Edge were cool dudes, with cool names who were into scary noises, and that makes this album totally worth it for me.

Chrome “Blood on the Moon” (1981)

Well, I’m finding the cover of this album very uninviting. Alex had to point out to me that it’s the figure of a man, I couldn’t see it at first. All I was seeing was blurry ugliness. And, there still two more Chrome albums to go after this! Ugh. It’s not like I’m not liking this band, but I don’t feel particularly excited about exploring 6 of their albums. I think this unappealing cover art really has something to do with it. Here I am, a librarian judging a book by it’s cover. Okay, okay, let’s put it on.

The first song is called “The Need,” and it’s very repetitive and heavy on the drums and light on some laser sounds. Then the vocals come in and it’s like scary talk singing. It’s like a guy’s voice trying to sound scary. It’s the sound of someone working in a haunted house. So far, I am not into this. It’s kind of making me want to roll my eyes. Snoozers. On to song to “Innervacume”(One word.)

This song has more of a funky sound to it, which I like. Still scary though. If all the creatures in the Beetlejuice waiting room scene were hanging out at a party instead of in that waiting room, this is what they’d be listening to.  I don’t know, this song is okay. I could see just having it on while puttering around the house and only kind of half listening to it, but in a good way.

So far this music has been very repetitive. I’m now on song four “Planet Strike.” I feel like it’s not really meant for sitting and purposefully listening to. It feels boring that way. But maybe if I was doing other stuff and it was on, it wouldn’t feel as boring. Lyrics are back with “The Strangers,” this time sounding a lot less scary, but still like, dude talky. It’s not really singing, it’s just vocals.

On to side two. I guess it’s weird that I feel sick of Chrome, because every album I’ve heard so far basically feels like a different band recorded it. Ugh, “Insect Human,” is definitely the worst song so far. No. There is no mood I can think of where I’d want to be listening to this music. It basically sounds like what it’s called. It’s the kind of music insect humans would want to make and listen to. I am not an insect human.

All in all, thumbs down for Blood on the Moon! This album was underwhelming, annoying and boring at best. And insect human was just the worst.

Chrome “The Visitation” (1976)

Clear Vinyl you guys!!!!! Totes into it. Also? I’m totes P! We’re having a baby you guys, and you know what that means- pretty soon I’ll have to start writing “My Baby’s Stupid Record Collection.” Wah!

Alex just told me that this is Chrome’s first album and does not have Helios Creed on it. It will also sound very different from the one I just listened to and very different from the one I’ll listen to next. Let’s put it on!

Sidenote: Do you think if all records were clear I’d be really excited about a black one? Hard to say.

Ooh we’ve got lyrics! And kind of dramatic sounding ones. I like his voice. This definitely has a 70s feel to it. I just asked Alex, “What does this remind me of?” And he said that our friend John Colpitts says it sounds like the Grateful Dead. No, that’s not what I’m thinking. Television maybe? David Bowie? Anyway, the first song is “How Many Years Too Soon,” and it has a devastating feel about it. The guitar is pretty emotional and passionate. Every once in a while the lyrics break and it goes into this romantic love sick tune. It sounds like a bird flying through the sky. And it really sounds so different from the last album. Seriously.

The next song is called “Raider,” and has a very psychedelic vibe - you kind of want to listen to it while staring at a lava lamp and wearing a headband.

Return To Zanizbar,” drops the psychedelia and is almost almost punk-ish because he’s saying all of the lyrics instead of singing them. I like this song a lot. I think it might be my favorite on the album. If you’re going to click on one song, click on this one.

But then the next song, “Caroline,” is a snoozefest. It has kind of a eastern funky feel about it, but ultimately, I’m not impressed. I feel like this album is very up and down with trying to figure out it’s identity. Also, it’s just so crazy that this is the same band that put out “Read Only Memory” only two years later!

On to side two!

The first song, “Riding You,”  starts off with a kind of spooky vibe of wind and wind chimes and ominous drumming. There’s also laughter and crying sounds. Very Halloween! Then a crazy guitar comes in! But the vocals sound too far away, they were much more clear and pronounced on “How Many Years Too Soon.” I think this song would have followed “Return To Zabzibar” better. Just get rid of “Caroline”! I think it’s a great song to start an album side with because of the spooky introduction.

But then you get “Kinky Lover,” totally going the way of Caroline. They totally squandered the awesome title “Kinky Lover” on a plodding song that feels like it goes nowhere, but still goes on forever.

Alex just said “this album sounds like they were super fried. Like they were doing tons of acid. I love that sound.” I’m not sure what that sound is exactly, but I’m pretty sure I’m not feeling the song “Kinky Lover.”

“Sun Control,” almost almost sounds like a dance song at first. It definitely has sampling potential. So if you’re into that thing, I think you should check it out and make something weird and new out of it. I like this song, it sounds messy and wrong at times.

Memory Cords Over the Bay,” appears to be taking us on a journey home. I like the name of this song. This song has a playful and exciting feel about it.

Ultimately, I would say that this album was mediocre for me. There were a couple of songs that I liked, but they are not at the high yet super weird quality that they achieve in “Read Only Memory.” That’s okay guys, that’s what’s practicing for. I’m glad you kept on going.

Chrome “Read Only Memory” (1979)

I’m going to start this post by saying I’m sorry I haven’t posted in so long! I’ve been putting it off mainly because of Alex’s filing system. You see, he has all of his Christmas albums filed under “C” for “Christmas.” And guess what’s next? About 5 Christmas albums. You might be reading this and thinking, “Oh yeah, Christmas music. Who needs it? Am I right?” But that is not why I have been putting off the Christmas album reviews. The truth is that I am SO into Christmas. I am into Christmas so very much that I force myself to not even think about celebrating it in any way until the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, I have a lot of rules. For example, you can’t get your Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, that’s too early. But December 1 and after is ok. I love Christmas so much that I know if I allowed myself to even think about celebrating it too early in the year, it might ruin the magic of the Christmas season for me. It’s kind of like how I OD’d on watching the Rushmore dvd in college. And the last time I watched it I didn’t really like the movie anymore. And I know that that was no one’s fault but my own, because I had no self control with that movie. If that happened to me with Christmas, I don’t know what I would do.

So after much procrastination, I decided to change the rules a tiny bit, because hey, I made them up, I can change them as I please, and the way Alex files his records is just stupid. It was either that, or not write another post until the day after Thanksgiving, and that’s just dumb. So, new rule! I am saving the Christmas albums until December, where I will review them throughout the month in the true spreading-out-Christmas time joy- spirit that I love so much.

So, that means today I’m reviewing Chrome, which based on the cover, I’m guessing is going to be the complete opposite of a Christmas album. I hope I made the right choice! Let’s put it on.

The liner notes are in poster form. I’m into that. I’m shocked that this album is from 1979, I guess I’ve always thought Chrome was from the 90s. I know Alex really likes them, but I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to them, but if he ever mentions them my brain is like, oh that’s some 90s band. Time to change your ways, brain!

Theres a sticker on the form that says “Original Soundtrack from Read Only Memory,” but Alex said, he thinks that’s a joke. So far, this much is kind of scary, totally appropriate for a chilly October night. But it feels scary in an intriguing way, like I could also listen to it while soaking in the tub or doing something where I was trying to relax. Is relaxing and feeling scared something you can do at the same time? I feel like it is. I bet there’s a German word for it.

I just asked Alex if “Damon Edge” and “Helios Creed” are made up names and he laughed at me while saying yes. I’m into both of those names. It makes me feel like this band has somewhat of a literary vibe about them if those are the names that they picked up. They sound like names writers would create. Even though, so far there have been no lyrics at all. Also, I have no idea what song I’m listening to at this point, because this album is obviously an art project and not the kind of music that’s preoccupied with making sure one song is distinct from the next another. I feel like I should be listening to this music while walking through a museum, or a haunted house. I’d take either.

I just asked Alex if he would make me some tea, and then made a kind of scary chipmunk face at him. He said, “Are you making a scary face because of this music?” And I said, “Yes, that’s how someone who listens to this music asks for tea.”

I’m liking this though. My house feels really cozy right now, I just ate a delicious dinner that I made myself, (coconut beet soup, rack of lamb, and roasted brussels sprouts) and we have a fire going because it’s a true fall night, and this strange music is really adding to the cozy environment in some very unexpected/unexplained way. It’s the relaxed/scared feeling I’m talking about. It’s a real thing!

I also think it would be kind of funny if someone walked into the living room right now. We’re just sitting here in silence, listening to this crazy ass music, and we’re both completely sober. What a bunch of delightful weirdos.

OH MY GOD IT’S HAPPENED AGAIN YOU GUYS. WE’VE BEEN LISTENING TO THIS AT THE WRONG SPEED!! I love this speed! Oh no, what the hell is the real speed going to be like??

We’re just going to listen to the first side again. I’m finding that it actually doesn’t sound that much different, just a little more urgent and jarring. It’s still good. Is that the mark of an amazing album? If you have this album, listen to it at 33RPM, it’s so worth it, even though it sounds a little more like real music at the right speed.

I just went to the Chrome Wikipedia page. That’s totally what I thought they would look like. Oh man, Damon Edge is dead. That’s sad.

On to side B. So, “I am the Jaw,” is standing out. That would be a cool username for something. Like metafilter or Alex just said, “my favorite line on this entire thing is ’they call me a cannibal, they call me a pygmy.’” And I was like, “on this entire thing? there’s no talking up until now!” And he said fair point. Alex just told me that all of Chrome’s other stuff doesn’t sound like this. I’m okay with that. Because even though I’m really enjoying this, I don’t know if I could handle several albums worth of Chrome, and I know there’s more to come.

And that’s it! Well, I really enjoyed that. I’m going to remember to listen to it again especially around Halloween. Maybe if you’re feeling crazy, you could file it under “H” for Halloween.

Alex says: Ok, so just to get this out of the way - the two best Chrome albums, “Half Machine Lip Moves” and “Alien Soundtracks” are two I don’t have on record. I’m not happy about it, it’s just the way that things have shaken out.

Like just about anyone who got into Chrome after the early 80’s, it was through those two albums. Touch & Go reissued them as a single CD in the 90’s and since I studied the Touch & Go catalog like the Talmud, it was only a matter of time until I heard them. But my entree into the band was actually pretty roundabout.

After I graduated from High School, I moved in with my bandmates Allan and Michael and we had a raucous, debauched, sometimes fun, sometimes miserable summer. Michael, who was one of those nodes that teach you so much more about music than you could possibly repay them for, made me a bunch of cassettes that I used to play as a I drove around, and for whatever reason I did a terrible job actually labeling them. One of them was Chrome, and it sat in my car, unlistened to and unlabeled, for months. And then one day, I was in the parking lot at Washtenaw Community College, tired of listening to Devo and Polvo, and I grabbed this unmarked tape and popped it in.

It was unreal. It was like listening to Mick Jagger make prank phone calls from outer space. It was silly, and terrifying, and angry and fun. And for the life of me, I had no idea where I got the tape or who the band was. So I just left it in the tape deck for months. And then one day Michael got into the car and was like “Oh, yr groovin’ on this Chrome record, huh?” and it was like a great burden of not knowing was lifted off my shoulders.

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.