Friday, May 26, 2017

SONGS, BOND SONGS: THE MUSIC OF 007 review

     

     Even though the movies themselves are (usually) gems filled with action, adventure and humor, sometimes people associate the James Bond films with their theme music.  When one mentions LIVE AND LET DIE, the first thing that pops into many people’s heads is not the awesome boat chase: instead, the familiar theme tune by Paul McCartney & Wings is what shoots to the top of their memory pile. Same with GOLDFINGER, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, etc. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who remembers the theme songs to any post-Roger Moore Bond films apart from SKYFALL. That is not because the quality of the music dropped… for the most part.  The same can’t be said about the movies, though.  Heck, does anyone remember the name of any Dalton or Brosnan-era Bond movie?  Oh, you do?  I guess I’m in the minority (and yes, I’ve seen them all!). These days, Bond films are always good escapist fun but they no longer hold the magic that they once did. 

     Andrew Curry from Curry Cuts remembers the fun of Bond films and excitement of hearing the theme songs for the first time. In fact, Andy (nobody else calls him Andy) decided to remind the rest of us about how great the music was so he asked a bunch of his musician friends to contribute updated interpretations of all of the Bond themes for his latest project, SONGS, BOND SONGS: THE MUSIC OF 007. I have to be honest: after his tribute to ‘70s Soft Rock (DRINK A TOAST TO INNOCENCE: A TRIBUTE TO LITE ROCK) and the glorious ‘80s New Wave movement (HERE COMES THE REIGN AGAIN: THE SECOND BRITISH INVASION), I was hesitant to embrace the idea of a collection of updated Bond themes. Hasn’t it been done before? With few exceptions, does anyone remember any theme song after “The Living Daylights” (originally performed by a-Ha)? And besides, if I was in a cranky mood, could I handle dissing a project so close to Andy Curry’s heart? Well, I want to apologize, Mr. Curry… because I was wrong! SONGS, BOND SONGS: THE MUSIC OF 007 is a triumph.

     Like his previous ‘tribute’ releases, Curry gives the artists free reign on the music and almost every one of them knocks it out of the park.  Even when they take the song in new directions (Jay Gonzalez’s “A View To A Kill” and “Nobody Does It Better” by Mike Viola & Red Bank Catholic), the artists still reveal a great amount of respect to the originals. There are so many highlights that I know I’ll forget to mention some. Lannie Flowers’ (the man with the golden twang!) exceptional “James Bond Theme” features nods to themes from GOLDFINGER and LIVE AND LET DIE as well as the Bond-like music from the soundtrack to The Beatles’ HELP. The Stereo Twins (former members of Splitsville/Greenberry Woods) offer up a remarkably emotional “From Russia With Love”. Jason Berk has such a smooth poptastic voice that he makes “Goldfinger” sound as if it was the coolest Barry Manilow Bond theme ever (and yes, that is a compliment of the highest order). The Corner Laughers have a little fun with “Diamonds Are Forever” and remain one of the most joyful bands in all the land. The Popdudes stick close to the Macca arrangement of “Live And Let Die” yet still make it powerful and punchy without George Martin’s big production. Gary Frenay, Freedy Johnston, Brendan Schott & Jack Gideon and Zach Jones made me fall in love with their interpretations of themes that I didn’t care too much about before. Look Park can do no wrong and “The World Is Not Enough” proves it.  I really need to hear more by Minky Starshine, Cirrone, Cliff Hills, Wyatt Funderburk and Gretchen’s Wheel – I can already imagine myself making room on my CD shelf for them! There are few songs/artists that I may not have mentioned but that doesn’t mean I didn’t care for them.  It just means that I know that if I babble on any longer, this review will technically become a ‘book’ and I’ll be forever known as the guy that writes too much… (I'm already too late, I imagine!)

     That is three out of three for Curry Cuts. Can’t wait to see what he does next.  I’m hoping Power Pop versions of AOR hits (imagine 38 Special’s “Caught Up In You” in Power Pop clothes!!) but even if he decides to do a tribute to COP ROCK, I’m all in!

Keep on truckin’,

Schnee, SPAZ Schnee

Friday, May 19, 2017

BMX BANDITS FOREVER review!

     

BMX BANDITS
BMX BANDITS FOREVER

For over three decades, BMX Bandits has been creating some of the most melodic, thoughtful Pop music of the Alt-Rock era.  From their humble independent beginnings in Scotland during the C86 movement up through their albums on Creation Records in the ‘90s and beyond, Duglas T. Stewart and the boys & girls in the band have never steered away from their Pop purpose. Unafraid to show their humor and sensitive sides, the Bandits’ albums could go from whimsical to reflective without batting an eyelid. The Bandits have always managed to play with your emotions using plenty of charm and wit. While their albums have been pretty eclectic affairs over the years, the band’s revolving line-up (with Duglas being the only constant member) has continued to shine even if they weren’t always in the spotlight. And with at least nine albums and a few dozen singles behind them, BMX BANDITS FOREVER might be their most truthful and honest musical statement to date.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

HAIRCUT 100/Paint And Paint (Deluxe Edition) review!

     

     Haircut 100 was quite the band in 1982. Their debut album, PELICAN WEST, was the product of six very different personalities that came together to create one fantastic album. From Latin to Funk to Pure Pop, the album blended the band members’ musical influences perfectly. The thought that the album was created by a group of kids just barely into their 20s was quite astounding.  Even today, that timeless album is just as thrilling as it was when it came out 35 years ago. The lads in H100 were in the midst of recording their second album when lead singer/songwriter Nick Heyward left to pursue a solo career. For a brief moment, it seemed like that was the end of the line for H100 members Marc Fox, Les Nemes, Phil Smith, Graham Jones and Blair Cunningham. Thankfully, the lads still had something to say…

TODD RUNDGREN: An EXCLUSIVE interview!


LET’S DO THIS:
Todd Rundgren talks about WHITE KNIGHT

     Todd Rundgren needs no introduction. His ‘legendary’/‘iconic’ status is well-deserved. End of story.
     WHITE KNIGHT, Todd’s 2017 release, finds Rundgren continuing to move forward, but this time he’s brought a few of his musical friends with him. While technically an album of collaborations, WHITE KNIGHT is most certainly not a ‘duets’ album… in the traditional sense, anyway. Every guest on the album – including Daryl Hall, Robyn, Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Joe Walsh, Trent Reznor, Joe Satriani, Moe Berg (The Pursuit Of Happiness), John Boutte and others – brings their own personality to the party, making each track feel different from the last. While Rundgren may be the name on the album cover, he allows every collaborator to make their presence known. Totally modern and relevant, WHITE KNIGHT still features Todd’s distinct musical thumbprint and is a pleasure from start to finish.
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to track Todd down while on tour and have a chat about WHITE KNIGHT and the magic behind it…