Sunday, July 22, 2007


Since we moved to Toronto last year, one of my favourite record shops is Kops on Queen Street. They have a nice selection of cds and vinyl and have been marking down the prices lately so I have picked up quite a few bargains.

Recent purchases have included Zanzibara: Golden Years of Mombasa Taarab 1965-1975 [Buda Musique 860119]. This collection is wonderful and the music displays centuries of cross-cultural contact and assimilation with Bollywood filmsong particularly looming large over the mix of Arabian musical forms, Western and Eastern instrumentation (the Tashkota, a Japanese instrument being a popular addition) over "...a strong Kenyan coastal and Swahili tinge". As usual Buda Musique has done a first rate job with informative liner notes, photos and cover scans.

What can I say, there is so much music in the world and I want to hear it all.

Next up is Lucio Battisti's 1972 album Umanamente Uomo: Il Sogno [Water Music. Water 175]. The sticker blurb caught my attention with references to "experimental pop" and "gorgeous, unusual arrangements" and the cd does deliver an engaging blend of singer-songwriter plaintiveness with progressive rock and lite-psych flourishes. Special mention should be made regarding the avant-garde closer "Il Fuoco" which calls to mind some of Sonic Boom's dronecentric cuts.

If you enjoy David Axelrod's late 60's/early 70's albums, Serge Gainsbourg or (perhaps) Tim Buckley, I think you'll be pleased with the album. I was.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Yellow Pills

The Yellow Pills: Prefill [Numerogroup 004] compilation has been on my 'to buy' list for a while with the only thing holding me back being the price that hovers around the $35.00+ mark. Long story short, I won the 50/50 draw at work so I would like to thank my co-workers for their help in expanding my music collection.

Jordan Oakes compiled this double disc set of obscure power pop recorded (primarily) between 1978 - 1982 and it's a great collection that plays like a mixtape from a friend. Not every track is a winner of course, but the parade of breezy jangly pop and snappy vocal harmonies makes for a very enjoyable listen. Standouts (for me) include the Toms' "Sun" and the Tweed's homage to buying vinyl "I Need That Record" as well as the tracks by LMNOP, Speedies and the Shoes, the latter being probably the best known act on the collection. Special mention should be made regarding the first rate packaging from Numerogroup with excellent liner notes and documentation, something I've come to expect after buying the label's Grand Bahama Goombay set.

I have to admit that I'm a recent convert to power pop. Sure I remember the white shirts and skinny tie bands of the New Wave era and I liked some of the music well enough at the time, but it was always a minor interest at best. A few years ago I finally took the plunge and bought Big Star's #1 Record and Radio City and slightly later, The Raspberries Capitol Collectors Series disc [CDP-592126]. Both have been steady residents of the CD player, at home and in the car. Now that I think of it, power pop sounds best while driving. Try it, you'll agree with me.

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