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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Album Review: John Clarke - Fred Dagg Anthology (1998)

It's easy to say nowadays that New Zealand comedy isn't funny.  Granted, our comedic output is these days perhaps less than optimal, but that isn't to say we had our share of comedic greats.  The late, great Billy T James, for instance, left an indelible mark in the memories of all New Zealanders old enough to remember who he was, and 27 years after his untimely passing, remains a favorite icon, notable for his wisecracks, impressions and of course, that laugh of his.  Another Kiwi legend, John Clarke, who eventually carved out a lucrative career over the ditch, began his comedy career locally, with his stereotypical farmer alter-ego, Fred Dagg.  Dagg was for me, not just wonderfully funny, but represented what I think in many ways the modern Kiwi bloke should aspire to be.  The vernacular, the mannerisms, the image - everything about him has been lost through the passage of time to external influences, particularly the Americanization of the traditionally Anglo-Celtic New Zealand culture.  And in many ways, that's a tremendous shame.  Political correctness has likewise made his comedy a little less palatable to modern audiences, unfortunately.  The album I'm reviewing here, Fred Dagg Anthology, captures brilliantly everything about Kiwi culture, devoid of the influence of the Hollywood media machines.   And it's a shame that we've relegated large aspects of it to the past, and yet speak of Dagg as the Kiwi cultural icon he was.  We need to absorb ourselves more in the life and times of Frederick Dagg, and the more, the better.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Album Review: Johnny Cash - John R. Cash (1974)

I won't lie when I say I love the music of Johnny Cash.  He's one of my favorite all-time artists, up there with, but not limited to, Bob Dylan and Chris Rea.  He's made some really great songs of his own, and of course, he's done some outstanding cover versions of other people's songs.  Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind" comes to mind here.  And he has also done some impressive versions of traditional songs, such as "My Old Kentucky Home", which is the opening track of this album, and it's by far the best song here.  In fact, the only other song I would bother playing with any degree of regularity would be "Reason to Believe." Whilst not bad as such, the rest of the album comes across as somewhat mild and lackluster.  I won't be falling asleep any time soon, but then again, I won't be dancing across the room, either.  I have heard much better Johnny Cash records than this one.  But I can also expect to hear much worse albums as well.  Meh, it's OK, I suppose.  B

Monday, October 1, 2018

Album Review: Kevin Bloody Wilson - Kev's Krissmas, Vol. 2 (2018)

I very rarely review comedy albums, with the last review being a Robin Williams stand-up album.  However, having been a fan of Kevin Bloody Wilson for nearly 22 years, I had to check out what is his second Christmas-themed album.  And it's a beauty.  It's easily his best album in many, many years, since Kalgoorlie Love Songs, which, for me,was his last great album.  Not that the albums in between were bad, mind you.  On the contrary.  They were all good.  But Kalgoorlie Love Songs was where it was last at for me, Kev-wise.  I still listen to the likes of "Hello John" to save me from having to swear 24/7.  And on this album, the cussing is still plentiful and profound.  "Deck The Halls" is an indelible f***fest, and "Oh Cum By The Face-full" pushes the boundaries of "decency", with pedophilia from a priest's perspective being the theme of the song.  People will complain about this song, more than most KBW songs, of course, but like Kev says, D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F.  "Dingle Berries" adds a scatological element to the album, in keeping with the finest of KBW recording traditions.  And should you wish to induce a heart attack in the most uptight of wowsers, I think this album should do the trick quite nicely.  Bloody brilliant!  A

Friday, September 28, 2018

Album Review: Tina Turner - Private Dancer (1984)

I recently decided to give this album a bit of a spin, having read various reviews on it, with most of them holding it in high esteem.  And for the most part I think they're right.  I seldom listen to anything by Tina Turner nowadays, but know all the big hits nonetheless.  And so I decided to try something new, and I'm glad I did with Private Dancer.  The album starts on a fantastic note with "I Might Have Been Queen" and the classic "What's Love Got To Do With It"  "Better Be Good To Me" is my favorite out of the lot of them, and "Steel Claw" takes on a rather "Meat Loaf-esque, Wagnerian rock kind of song that I like more than I probably should.  "Private Dancer" was originally written by Mark Knopfler and recorded by Dire Straits, and it shows.  She even sings a remarkable cover of the Beatles' hit, "Help!", and suffice to say she could've done much worse.  It's not an album that will have you dancing willy-nilly around your abode, but it's an interesting and remarkable album nonetheless.  B+

Album Review: Traveling Wilburys - Traveling Wilburys Volume Three (1990)

The first album by the Traveling Wilburys is without a doubt one of the more fun albums to listen to and one of the best supergroup records ever made.  No obligations of any kind motivated the creation of that particular album, contractual or otherwise, and it shows in every song.  It was, in fact, such a good album that, despite the untimely passing of Roy Orbison, the boys decided to get together one more time and record another album.  The end result was Traveling Wilburys Volume Three.  Now, many will be wondering, of course, what ever happened to "Volume 2?"  Well, Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever is probably the closest thing we'll ever get to a "Volume 2." This album is technically "Volume 2" in spite of the name.  It was also their last album, unfortunately, and the weaker of the two albums that they produced in total.  "Wilbury Twist" is perhaps too silly, but "If You Belonged to Me" showcases Dylan at his Wilbury best, the likes of which we haven't heard since "Tweeter & The Monkey Man."  "She's My Baby", in contrast to their earlier hits, is a bit of a letdown, but still manages to be listenable.  "Poor House" seems to be getting more palatable every time I listen to the album, which is not often nowadays.  The final verdict - yeah, it's not too bad.  B+

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Album Review: Rod Stewart - Camouflage (1984)

Camouflage is a terrible album, the worst I've heard from Rod Stewart and probably one of the worst albums to come out of the 1980s.  There are only two decent songs on this album - "Some Guys Have All The Luck" and "Can We Still Be Friends."  And that's pushing the term "decent" quite a bit.  This certainly feels more like a contract-filler to me - there's just no soul, no motivation to it, nothing.  Dull as ditchwater and almost as entertaining as a group of puritan, conservative housewives discussing the joys of crochet, you'd only buy this if you're an obsessive-compulsive collector or if you think "Some Guys Have All The Luck" has some potential going for it, for which you'd probably be right.  Otherwise, wait until this goes cheap.  The C plus rating I'm giving it is for the aforementioned songs.  There's plenty of vastly superior Rod Stewart albums that you should be listening to, even from his somewhat maligned eighties period.  Hell, give me Every Beat of my Heart any day, and apparently that's rubbish.  Compared to this, however, I'd beg to differ.  C+

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Album Review: Joe Satriani - Surfing With the Alien (1987)

Joe Satriani's Surfing With the Alien is an album I should've reviewed a long time ago.  I had completely forgotten just how good it was and had subsequently consigned it to the admittedly extensive list of albums I only ever listen to every century or so.  Like many albums, I only bought it because it was going cheap.  That, and because it had "Always With Me, Always With You" on it.  A great song, no two ways about that.  But it's certainly not the only great song on the album, as I had found out after giving it a spin three or four times.  And now I'm also digging "Crushing Day", "Hill of the Skull" "Lords of Karma" as well as the staple "Satch Boogie."  Plenty of other good songs here too.  Despite my initially lukewarm reception to this album, I've come to have a great deal of respect for this record.  Even if I do have a tendency to put it away and forget about it completely.  A very nice album indeed.  A-