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> The Old Albums Review, First-time play impressions....
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Popchartfreak
post Dec 9 2020, 08:11 PM
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OK, this is a feeble attempt to make headway into the backlog of hundreds of albums that I've never had time to play. To force me to listen to them, and it's a right old mix bag, I'll prob just pick one out at random each week and blather on about what I think on one hearing. Chances are, I won;t have Time to do a second listen for a few years...so appropriately up first is the final album of a CD-box-set of 5 fab ELO albums, the first four were great...




TIME - Electric Light Orchestra (1981)

1. Prologue - Computer-generated-vocalisations as seen from a 70's point of view - Roy Wood did this on his fab Boulders track Miss Clarke & The Computer. I get all nostalgic about them!

2. Twilight - 1981 second album single that struggled to get to 30 in the UK charts, but is actually rather fab, a manic-paced, driving ELO song that would have been big a year or two earlier, but the UK music scene was shifting rapidly over to synth/New wave bands. Topped my charts.

3. Yours Truly 2095 - swirling strings, rapidly-paced and rather good, I think. Only 75 years to go then. I am liking the sci-fi Time-based thematic tracks so far.

4. Ticket To The Moon - the lesser ballad side of a double A side single in early 1982, it wasn't a massive fave of mine at the time, oddly considering anything featuring a ticket to the Moon is bound to perk my interest. It's a bit plodding, to tell the truth.

5. The Way Life's Meant To Be - another chart-topper for me, and a complete and total chart flop everywhere in mid-'82 as by this time ELO's chart fortunes declined rapidly. Purely a music fashion thing, as this is a wonderful slightly-50's-style gem with a great tune. I could imagine Buddy Holly singing it, and the little Phil Spector touches are terrific. The strings are restrained and underpin the emotions: "I wish I could be back in 1981" sort of future nostalgic from a not-so-great present set in the future - quite a few from that time might echo that these days...

6. Another Heart Breaks - a pounding heart rhythm starts up the track, and continues as guitars chime in for a bit, till the almost-whispered vocals pop in briefly. Pretty much instrumental so far, loving that guitar riffing. Very nice indeed.

7. Rain Is Falling - Rain-fall sound-effect start, and a mid-paced sparkly ballad, a sort of mellow companion piece to Out Of The Blue's dramatic Thunder & Lightning. Ooh time-transporters in the lyrics, but that doesn't seem to stop the rainfall washing away lonely tears. Bit of a Smokey Robinson borrow there. Jeff never slow in borrowing from Motown greats (see Showdown/Marvin Gaye).

8. From The End Of The World - Another upbeat-rhythmed downbeat-lyrically-doomladen-pending. Is it about 2020? Great ending, lots of stuff in this track, all of it catchy.

9. The Lights Go Down - Here's a departure, Jeff does reggae-flavoured sunny pop, lots of space in this one, strings not in evidence. Pleasant hook, really nice.

10. Here Is The News - another driving rockpop track in the tradition of Sweet Talking Woman but without the hook and downbeat instead of soaring. This was the less-played better side of the double A third single, but the lack of a memorable chorus was a problem - not really single material, should've gone with The Way Life's Meant To Be earlier. It's good though, still went top 10 for me at the time.

11. 21st Century Man - turns out he was, as ELO came back as a thing in the 2010's, a good thing too. A slow ballad, pretty in parts, I can see why the album wasnt a big hit: it's all very downbeat, bar the next track & Twilight. ELO tended to have rousing stuff in between the sadder stuff.

12. Hold On Tight - pure 50's rock'n'roll set to a thumping beat and grinding guitar sounds and piano, and it's a great pop song, the French bits are delicious, the verse/chorus all merges beautifully & flawlessly for their final big hit, it's all hooky throughout. Obviously had to be the 1st single. Upbeat and optimistic and clearly Twilight & this book-end a moody album with a bit of postiivity. Topped my chart, of course.

13. Epilogue - short n sweet, like the end of a theatrical show...

Must say, a much-better album than I was expecting. Never heard it before, though I have a vinyl copy of the next one, and didn't rate it much at all. Not up to Out Of The Blue, A New World Record or Discovery standards, but pretty good anyway. Deserved to do better than it did.
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Colm
post Dec 9 2020, 08:27 PM
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This is a good idea. I might also review your choices.
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dandy*
post Dec 9 2020, 09:02 PM
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I like this idea. I've got loads of albums that I never really gave a chance to at the time, could be interesting to revisit some of them

(definitely won't be ELO though!!! laugh.gif )
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King Rollo
post Dec 10 2020, 04:10 PM
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An excellent album to start with and a very good review. Time was first album I bought, £4.99 on cassette from Argos at a time when Argos sold records. I might have played this album more than any other. I know every little sound on it now. Jeff Lynne's production is fantastic throughout. It was certainly a change of direction from Discovery with less strings and more synths. I like the way it stands up as a piece of work with each track merging into the next one and a storyline running through it. 21st Century Man would be my favourite track from it. Most ELO fans think Jeff made a mistake omitting Julie Don't Live Here Anymore which ended up as the B side to Twilight. I do like Another Heart Breaks but if you replace that with Julie, the album would be even better. I think you'll like this one with the Abba sounding piano and Bee Gees type vocals:


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Popchartfreak
post Dec 10 2020, 07:51 PM
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QUOTE(Colm @ Dec 9 2020, 08:27 PM) *
This is a good idea. I might also review your choices.


feel free Colm, differing (or similar) opinions are always fascinating! smile.gif
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Popchartfreak
post Dec 10 2020, 07:52 PM
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QUOTE(dandy* @ Dec 9 2020, 09:02 PM) *
I like this idea. I've got loads of albums that I never really gave a chance to at the time, could be interesting to revisit some of them

(definitely won't be ELO though!!! laugh.gif )



Good idea - I too have loads of ancient albums I played once and thought hmmm I'll just play the singles. Cough, Hootie & The Blowfish, cough! laugh.gif
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Popchartfreak
post Dec 10 2020, 08:05 PM
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QUOTE(Rollofsellotape @ Dec 10 2020, 04:10 PM) *
An excellent album to start with and a very good review. Time was first album I bought, £4.99 on cassette from Argos at a time when Argos sold records. I might have played this album more than any other. I know every little sound on it now. Jeff Lynne's production is fantastic throughout. It was certainly a change of direction from Discovery with less strings and more synths. I like the way it stands up as a piece of work with each track merging into the next one and a storyline running through it. 21st Century Man would be my favourite track from it. Most ELO fans think Jeff made a mistake omitting Julie Don't Live Here Anymore which ended up as the B side to Twilight. I do like Another Heart Breaks but if you replace that with Julie, the album would be even better. I think you'll like this one with the Abba sounding piano and Bee Gees type vocals:



Thanks Rollo, yes that's nice, I may even have played it in 1981 as I bought all the singles, but I don't recall hearing it at the time - I was always a bit dismissive of B sides as a rule, bar Beatles, Abba, Pet Shop Boys where I made the effort laugh.gif

I think that was a good first album to buy, and it does stand up well as a complete work rather than a series of random tracks! Mine was The Archies' Everything's Archie cos I was mad on the TV show songs when I was 12 laugh.gif

The next one I do will be a near-50-year-old Xmas album, as it makes sense to do it now - I bought it for 50p on vinyl a couple of months ago, for nostalgic reasons, and it may be surprisingly pleasant or hideously monstrous. Could go either way.... biggrin.gif
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Popchartfreak
post Dec 15 2020, 08:07 PM
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THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY CHRISTMAS ALBUM (1971)

I got this on vinyl second-hand for 50p a few months back, cos I was mad keen on The Partridge family's 1st TV season when I was a boy in Singapore, and the songs especially. My fave was the Danny/Ruben Kincaid (The manager) banter, danny was a rascal, the rest of the family was as wholesome as The Osmonds.

SIDE 1:

1. My Christmas Card To You - written by Tony Romeo, who wrote a lot of their great tunes, as well stuff for Brotherhood Of Man in later years. It must have been an off day. Sweet, cloying, and forgettable

2. White Christmas - Plus side, it's not Bing Crosby again for the 150th year in a row. There is no other plus side.

3. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - it's not in the same league as Phil Spector's Crystals classic. Or The Jackson 5. That 50p is starting to look like it was overpriced, though the vinyl is quality.

4. Blue Christmas - at last something a bit more restrained. There's still the cloying backing singers annoying me, and let's be honest it's not Elvis, but it's at least a bit bluesy. David Cassidy can be awesome vocally when he's committed to the songs he's singing (his solo career was sporadically fab, as were a number of Partridge family singles and album tracks) but his restrained pedestrian approach suggests he wasn't entirely on board with the Christmas cash-in album.

5. Jingle Bells - One of the most annoying christmas songs, this one. I always preferred the kiddie playground re-write Jingle Bells Batman Smells. Given what they were starting with, this marginally funky effort is the liveliest on side one, and not as horrific as you might expect.

6. The Christmas Song - Shirley Jones, David's real-life Step-mum as well as TV mom, takes lead. Shirley was a star of musicals in the 50's, the romantic young lead invariably, and has a set of pipes. She would have been the star of the show if David Cassidy hadn't become a huge teen idol. It's old-fashioned, and it's very much not got the class of Nat King Cole. It's not awful, just mildly pleasant.

SIDE 2

1. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - upbeat, albeit not to the beat of Brenda Lee, a nice bit of guitar underpinning it and the reduced backing singers help no end. Needs sleigh bells. Not as much fun as Mel & Kim, but probably the best track so far.

2. Winter Wonderland - a duet between David, Shirley & the backing singers. Actually that should prob read triet. Made-up word. Not worthy. Phil Spector, who did the definitive version, would be turning in his grave if he was dead. He should be played this daily while he's in prison. That'll teach him. Darlene Love pisses all over this.

3. Frosty The Snowman - OK, this is getting silly now, have they just recorded their own version of A Christmas Gift For You, the entire Spector Xmas album that is still the greatest Xmas album of all-time, ignoring compilations? Slow, dull.

4. Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes is brilliant. This is not even The Partridge Family. Not kidding. It's session singers. They ruined the first Partridge Family album with 2 or 3 godawful tracks. It's like the definition of jolly sickly wholesomeness hell. Forgive me, but it's f***ing dire. Oh this is torture!

5. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - and they couldnt even be arsed to get David Cassidy for the final track. I think it's Shirley Jones drowned out by the Session Singers from Hell. At least it's slow. Want a lesson in how to do Easy Listening? Carpenters. Anything they did. Their worst is a million times better.

And that mercifully is it. Back to the charity shop pile! I really must single out The Ron Hicklin Singers for their contributions towards killing off pop music. Good try gang! Too late Glam Rock was on the way and you were all out on your arses...!
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Colm
post Dec 15 2020, 09:31 PM
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I'm really surprised by the ELO album. Reminds me of Buggles.
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Popchartfreak
post Dec 16 2020, 08:30 AM
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QUOTE(Colm @ Dec 15 2020, 09:31 PM) *
I'm really surprised by the ELO album. Reminds me of Buggles.


I can see that, I think Jeff had been moving towards synths more and more since Discovery smile.gif
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Popchartfreak
post Dec 24 2020, 11:16 AM
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This is one I played when I bought it and never re-visited it, just cherry-picked the Madonna track (mostly) which was on Radio 2 today, so a Xmas replay for the Special Olympics charity CD:



A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS (Various Artists 1987)


1. SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN - The Pointer Sisters

Imagine a sleigh bells shambolic playful mid-80's I'm So Excited with a rougher production value. Not the worst version I've heard (see The Partridge Family review).

2. WINTER WONDERLAND - Eurythmics

Restrained good-natured upbeat synth-xmas version. No sleigh bells, just synth sounds that give a christmassy feel. Annie Lennox singing it, so it's going to be good regardless. Pretty good actually, and being unlike any other version is a real bonus. Still prefer the Phil Spector (of course I do, it's the greatest Xmas album ever) but deserves annual Xmas plays on the radio.

3. DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR - Whitney Houston

Imagine Whitney doing One Moment In Time. This is not as overblown and is all the better for it, the vocal gymnastics kept at bay, though I think it would have worked better without the choir, it might have inspired Whitters to tone it down a tad and go for subtlety.

4. MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY - Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

A live cover version of a christmas song that isn't ever played anywhere, an r'n'b track dating from 1947, and that's a crying shame. This is much better than other Springsteen covers of Xmas classics. I'm starting to wish playlists would dip back into this album, it seems to have been utterly forgotten despite the stellar line-up of still-famous 80's acts. Charming this one.

5. HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS - The Pretenders

A much-covered christmas classic, and one that charts every year for various crooners. It's almost impossible to ruin this one. Almost. See The Partridge Family, they achieved the seemingly-impossible. It's not up to 2000 Miles standards, it's a bit too plodding for that. Nor even Hymn To Her, I Go To Sleep, and assorted Xmas-time singles from Chrissie & the gang (albeit not exactly festive).

6. I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS - John Cougar Mellencamp

The Jack & Diane man who was much more than a one-minor-hit wonder in the US, does a typically rockin' job on the standard. It's short, it's serviceable, it's nothing special.

7. GABRIEL'S MESSAGE - Sting

So, Sting opts for a proper actual Christmas Carol, and it's quite lovely. Dates back to the Basque area in the 13th or 14th century, and it's very very short.

8. CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS - Run-DMC

This was a single, so walk this way, it's like that! Sampling Clarence Carter's 1968 Back Door Santa, but an original song otherwise, so well done boys! I've not heard this since 1987 I think. That's a shame, it's quite decent.

9. CHRISTMAS (BABY PLEASE COME HOME) - U2

U2 at peak-U2 pomp, I still prefer Darlene Love's definitive, but this is better than most other covers on the whole. Worthy.

10. SANTA BABY - Madonna

Should have been a single. The Eartha Kitt 50's version is sublime, Kylie's currently-popular version is fun, but Madonna's is the best: she's in full Dick Tracy-bimbo blonde parody, and it's a swirling, orchestral playful, joyous track. This is the definitive, and at one point used to get annual plays. Madonna seems to be banished these days, for having the temerity to be a pop singer who's over-60.

11. THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

I love this song, always have. I love the Bowie/Crosby revamp, I adore the Royal Scots Dragoons Guards Band 1972 Xmas hit version (and when was the last time you heard that one? Right, never!), and this is not bad either. Proper marching rockband sounding attempt.

12. RUN RUDOLPH RUN - Bryan Adams

Bryan does Chuck Berry, pure rock 'n' roll 80's stylee, and it was recorded live at the Marquee Club London. Bryan's always been an anglophile. Lotta time for him, I have. Not bad.

13. BACK DOOR SANTA - Bon Jovi

Like Bryan & Bruce, still rockin' in the 2020's, this is the actual song used by Run-DMC as a sample in the Clarence Carter version. It's not one I know, I have to say. It doesn't sound remotely christmassy, but if you like shouting along to "ho ho ho ho" or "hey hey hey hey" this is the rocking one for you. They've done worse, they've done better, it's fine.

14. THE COVENTRY CAROL - Alison Moyet

Alison also tackles a traditional Carol dating back to the 16th century. Imagine Shakespeare enjoying this one. It's about that period. Not one I know, but full marks for not being obvious. Very 80's production from Alison and very low-key. Quite nice.

15. SILENT NIGHT - Stevie Nicks

Still a legend, and back then her voice was still pure sweetness, you can't go wrong with this famous Christmas Carol if you can sing in tune. She puts her own spin on it and has Robbie Nevil, then pop-star, on backing vocals. It's lovely. One for Christmas Eve, and the closest to an actual religious christmas song in sentiment.

Overall, this is a great album. programmers of radio shows and playlists could easily delve into this for gems to suit the mood they want.
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Suedehead2
post Dec 24 2020, 02:44 PM
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No mention of Sparksí version of Little Drummer Boy? sad.gif
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Last Dreamer
post Dec 24 2020, 04:46 PM
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My favourite version of "Winter Wonderland" was recorded by Twiggy.

In this year I changed Kylie and Madonna "Santa Baby" on Ivana Raymonda Van Der Veen's cover in my all-time top 40 Christmas songs.

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Popchartfreak
post Dec 24 2020, 04:48 PM
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QUOTE(Suedehead2 @ Dec 24 2020, 02:44 PM) *
No mention of Sparksí version of Little Drummer Boy? sad.gif


I was totally unaware they had done it! Heading to youtube now.....! ohmy.gif ohmy.gif ohmy.gif








I'm back! Unusual version (which I would expect) but I would never have known it was Sparks, Russell's vocals are quite restrained! Confirms my view that it's a hard song to do an injustice to, in any style or version smile.gif
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Popchartfreak
post Dec 24 2020, 04:49 PM
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QUOTE(Last Dreamer @ Dec 24 2020, 04:46 PM) *
My favourite version of "Winter Wonderland" was recorded by Twiggy.

In this year I changed Kylie and Madonna "Santa Baby" on Ivana Raymonda Van Der Veen's cover in my all-time top 40 Christmas songs.



Not heard the Twiggy version either! ohmy.gif ohmy.gif Youtube it I will... smile.gif



I'm back.

it's not bad, though she herself thinks it was the least-good track on her shelved Xmas album. She should have stolen the tapes and leaked them onto the net 20 years later...
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Last Dreamer
post Dec 24 2020, 05:08 PM
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More Christmas and Twiggy. blush.gif



I love her as beauty lady and good pop singer very much, sadly she is/was very underrated and almost all her records didn't reach UK singles chart. cry.gif



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steve201
post Dec 24 2020, 10:16 PM
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Always love looking at old Xmas compilations as it tells you whatís big at that time especially if itís other artists of the time. Think GD mentioned that in a thread earlier this month.

Was the first Christmas compilation the Now Christmas cd from 1985?
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Popchartfreak
post Dec 26 2020, 10:17 AM
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QUOTE(Last Dreamer @ Dec 24 2020, 05:08 PM) *
More Christmas and Twiggy. blush.gif



I love her as beauty lady and good pop singer very much, sadly she is/was very underrated and almost all her records didn't reach UK singles chart. cry.gif



Yeh I liked Twiggy's stuff, her move into singing from modelling was very unexpected! This is charming, I vaguely recall watching this at the time laugh.gif I'd say this is much better than the currently charting versions of the song, I mean it's Bing actual Crosby singing with Twiggy!

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common sense
post Dec 26 2020, 10:28 AM
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QUOTE(Popchartfreak @ Dec 26 2020, 10:17 AM) *
Yeh I liked Twiggy's stuff, her move into singing from modelling was very unexpected!



I liked Here I Go Again. Great single.
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Popchartfreak
post Dec 26 2020, 10:39 AM
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QUOTE(Christmasteve201 @ Dec 24 2020, 10:16 PM) *
Always love looking at old Xmas compilations as it tells you whatís big at that time especially if itís other artists of the time. Think GD mentioned that in a thread earlier this month.

Was the first Christmas compilation the Now Christmas cd from 1985?


well there's a question! A Very Special Christmas was more a Various Artists collection of new stuff for charity than a Hits compilation, but Now was the first massive seller I think. I bought It's Christmas from 1989, and It's Christmas Time from 1992, but never bought a Now christmas album I think. I think there were compilations of 40's/50's/60's standards before Now entered the market. Certainly K-Tel, Ronco and the other budget TV advertised labels had vinyl compilations in the 70's but they were all "crooner" era acts, and I suspect MFP the budget range of EMI did various artists compilations too, but nothing from the Rock Era. I don't think there would have been enough rock-era tracks to make for a big-seller until around 1980 and in those days labels just didn't do deals with other labels until the Now & Hits albums made it financially worthwhile...

but I stand to be corrected. I certainly don't remember buying one, and the only reason I didn't buy the Now album was cos I already had the singles on vinyl, pretty much for all the ones I was bothered about smile.gif

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