Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Album Review: Jerry Lee Lewis- Rock and Roll Time

Jerry Lee Lewis
Rock and Roll Time
**and1/2 out of *****
You don't get the nickname The Killer unless you are a supreme bad ass and Jerry Lee Lewis is most certainly that. We mentioned in the past that we have always been a fan of JLL and think he is, even with his notoriety, still criminally underrated in most circles. His bio is the best ever written on a rock star, it was a privilege to have seen him live and it makes us happy that he is still alive let alone making records such as the one we are about to review, 2014's Rock and Roll Time.  

Jerry Lee Lewis last two releases have been guest-centric with the A-listers dwarfing the man they came to guest with. On Rock and Roll Time there are still guests of the best quality but non except Shelby Lynne takes the mic away from him, everyone else is contributing on an instrumental/backing vocal level. It is Lewis who takes the reigns from the beginning as he comfortably returns to Sun Records and tracks he has covered thousands of times.

The title Kris Kristofferson song rolls out easy with Lewis voice sounding every inch of it's 79 years but still manic enough to bring a smile. When Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" gets a greasy airing it is fitting that both Rolling Stones guitarists help out Jerry with his ode to young love as Richards and Wood give encouragement so Queenie can go go; not mad, but still slinky.     

His blues roll take on Bob Dylan's b-cut "Stepchild" fits his voice perfectly before the barroom stomp and easy roll of Jimmy Reed's "Bright Light's, Big City" which shows off not only Lewis, but a dream team of Neil Young and Ivan Neville. By far the oddest pairing on this disk it pays off with winning results; giving these three a full album worth of material would probably lead some insanely cool playbacks.

Unlike say the cover of "Folsom Prison Blues" which finds Lewis sounding gassed behind guitar pickers Robbie Robertson and Nils Lofgren. The cooking swing of closer "Promised Land" lets Doyle Bramhall cut a bit loose on guitar as Jerry bangs away but the truth is there is nothing vital on this disk but at this point nothing has to be.

The playing is fun and rocking for a man a year away from 80, the tracks are expertly produced and played, Lewis voice is strong and he sounds comfortable in his surroundings. You can't ask for much more at this point from The Killer.   
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Well we are ending 2014 with two of our favorite artists of all time via Uncle Neil and The Killer Jerry Lee. While not their best work, it makes us happy both are still kicking both literally and figuratively. Thanks to everyone for reading in 2014 and stay tuned for Jazzy January starting tomorrow.

Support The Killer here, buy the album here and peep some video below...New and old to end the year proper.  




Hallelujah!

See ya in 2015....

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Album Review: Neil Young- Storytone

Neil Young
Storytone
*and1/2 out of *****
Neil Young had a dream to record with a huge orchestra (92 piece in this) backing him in the same room on some very personal songs. Young is as much of an audiophile as you will find in rock and roll and he will be happy with the sonic quality of the huge swells, but as a creative artist, he may look back with some regret as the songs rarely work with the instrumentation. Then again knowing what little we do of Young, it is doubtful he regrets anything, artistically. 

The pairing is an odd one from the beginning as after the delicate love tune of "Plastic Flowers" comes "Who's Gonna Stand Up?". This is a clear a protest/call to arms song regarding pollution and saving the earth; it is one of the clearest, direct songs Young's ever written and sounds completely out of place with the mellow dramatic flutes, strings and rising chorus that get matched with it. The rising climax is sure cinematic, even with a little tag on the end, but this is just the wrong song for this musical score.

"Glimmer" is one of the few tracks that lends itself to this overblown work but it is more the exception then the rule. It is not only the odd sonic pairings, the flippant nature of the tracks and Neil's performances themselves should be addressed. Young has notoriously recorded without giving two shits about what anyone has thought, but some of these offerings are barely songs. "I Want To Drive My Car" is sung so disengaged it sounds like Young is just making a statement and not really one that should escape his lips. I am also sure Neil gets the blues but he doesn't sound like it or any kind of blues man for that matter on "Say Hello Chicago", he just sounds detached, but the backing band is pretty killer on that one.      

The flip-side to all of this is the solo versions of these tunes that Young includes on the "Deluxe" release of Storytone. Not sure if this is a marketing statement or an artistic one but either way it rescues a few of these tracks. All of a sudden "Who's Gonna Stand Up?" isn't so mismatched and "Tumbleweed" loses it's chimes and Disney-fication to end up the easy beach strumming ukelele number it was always meant to be.

"When I Watch You Sleeping" with just a harmonica and 6 string becomes poignant and had the solo disk been the focus we could laugh off the pomp, but the real, non deluxe release, is the orchestra filled misstep so we need to judge things as they are presented. Less is more on Storytone as the orchestral disk might be worth a curious listen but if you ever go back to any of these tracks it will be the acoustic ones. Hopefully Neil just jumps in his beloved car and moves on to his next all consuming project leaving Storytone behind.  
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Uncle Neil is one of our favorites, but he is also an artist we expect nothing from these days, hence this didn't end up on our let down list in 2015. We will not return to this at all.

Support the artist here, buy the album here and peep some video here:

Monday, December 29, 2014

Megadeth Needs A New Drummer, We Have A Suggestion

So in some surprising news Shawn Drover, the drummer for Megadeth for the last 10 years has quit the band.
With the band planning to record in early 2015 it makes sense that they are on the look out for a new drummer, we have a suggestion:


Mike Sankari is tossing his hat in the ring and as a kick ass drummer we would be stoked for Dave Mustaine to give him a shot.
Mike is a friend who is instrumental in Gotham Rocks and a bad ass skin slammer as well. Hopefully the metal magicians are buying into him. Rust In Peace!

Dylan Cover #170 Yellowbirds "Series of Dreams"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Yellowbirds playing "Series Of Dreams" 
In the beginning of this year we mentioned of a new collection of Dylan covers that we were very excited about. It has taken us some time but for the month of December we will focus on 5 songs from Bob Dylan In the 80's Vol 1. Put on your Members Only jacket and enjoy.  
Thoughts on Original:
An ambitious track that really should have kicked off Oh Mercy. In fact reading the Wikipedia entry on this song gives you a bit of insight into Dylan's notoriously flippant studio style; had this started Oh Mercy it would have been kept in even higher regard then it already is. The first time we came across it was on The Bootleg Series 1-3, along with "Blind Willie McTell" and "She's Your Lover Now" we were simply stunned such amazing songs were just left in the outtake pile. "Series of Dreams" closes that amazing collection and makes you want to re-listen to the whole damn thing.      
Cover:

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
We have never seen the Yellowbirds or heard them, but we are familiar with Sam Cohen's first band Apollo Sunshine having caught them live in the past.
Thoughts on Cover:
It is a straight ahead pleasant cover of an amazing song. the build up of instrumentation is easy going and fluid. While it doesn't depart much from the original recording it is still a fine cover to end this month's look at 80's Dylan. Grab the album here and support a good cause.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Full Show Friday: The National 2/8/14 Sydney, Australia

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's.  These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week.. The National!
It's Boxing day so we thought of a group that named it's best album after the day (check notes; realize I am wrong, don't care, it's the day after Christmas). We got a long set from the Connecticut/Brooklyn indie rockers The National for you. If you are a fan of the band this is a great representation and a super long gig so enjoy.

We are kinda in-between on the band, their already mentioned album The Boxer was really proper, and the song "Apartment Story" has always been our favorite by the band. We reviewed High Violet and it was a tough one for us as a "critic" because personally we got bored by their style but musically we respect them greatly. They are a deep headphone band with lots of odd little touches that impress, but overall the songs can be muted, a weird combo. I guess the band are white middle aged rockers for dad's which has it's place but never really speaks to us all that much.  

That said this is a good show, give it a whirl on this Boxing Day.

Enjoy:

Setlist:
9:49 Don't Swallow the Cap
14:33 I Should Live in Salt
18:45 Mistaken for Strangers
22:05 Bloodbuzz Ohio
27:08 "A New Drink" (interlude)
27:40 Demons
31:20 Sea of Love
35:02 Hard to Find
39:22 Afraid of Everyone
43:39 Conversation 16
47:39 Squalor Victoria
53:32 I Need My Girl
57:28 This Is the Last Time
1:02:49 Lean
1:07:32 Abel
1:11:19 Slow Show
1:15:40 "5 AM in the Polar Vortex" (interlude)
1:16:24 Apartment Story
1:20:14 Pink Rabbits
1:24:44 England
1:29:52 Graceless
1:34:16 About Today
1:40:52 "My Brain Gets Tangled Up" (interlude)
1:42:12 Fake Empire

Encore

1:48:40 Learning (Perfume Genius cover)
1:51:22 Humiliation
1:57:23 Mr. November
2:02:02 Terrible Love
2:07:16 Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks (acoustic)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from Rock The Body Electric

Have a Happy One:
Here is our favorite Christmas song for the Holiday, sing it Clarence!



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Album Review: Spider Bags- Frozen Letter

Spider Bags
Frozen Letter
*** out of *****

The Spider Bags newest release Frozen Letter is the fourth from the North Carolina based three piece and it is a bit weirder looser and sketchier then the bands past garage rock efforts. The group was hesitant to put this record out, recording it more for themselves, but decided to release it in the end and Frozen Letter bares the mark (both good and bad) of an off-the-cuff offering.

The opener "Back With You Again in the World" has a build up that hints at more before a twangy sax solo throws the first curve ball at the listener. It's lighthearted chatter at the end lets you know the band isn't being to serious but with this tracks engaging tempo change the listener is left wanting more; this happens a few times on the disk.

"Japanese Vacation" scratches the pop/rock itch before a clanging finale, while the you weren't alive vibe of "Summer Of '79" bounces forward on a great bass line and cowbell motif. The album contains a few tricks, alternate mixes like in "Coffin Car" which ends while a different version of the tune plays low in the background, unfortunately that alt track sounds like a hipper version.

The band is really flippant about almost everything and that looseness is both engaging and frustrating. "Walking Bubble" is a good example with it's layers of nuanced riffs matched by lyrics that sound like first draft nonsense. That is until the doozy of a line "In the town I live/the lord is risen/There aren't any jobs/unless your working at the prison" is dropped and makes you reconsider the whole song. Upon reexamination it is just that; an amazing line surround be less then average ones.

The one place it is hard to fault the band on any front is "We Got Problems". Helped out by Superchunk's Mac McCaughan the band gets heavier and proceeded to jam out for five and a half minutes, showcasing an exciting aspect to their group dynamics for the first time.      

Frozen Letter comes off feeling like a practice session put to tape and offered up for consumption. There is an intimacy that is engaging but a rough feel that persists; if the band had put a bit more effort into things there could be a great album lurking just off in the distance.
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Support the band here, buy the album here and peep some video below:

Live:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Year In Review 2014 - Top Ten Albums - Part 3 (5-1)

Another great year is finishing up for Rock The Body Electric and we wouldn't be a proper music site if we didn't end the year with a "Best Of" list, so without further verbiage RtBE Presents it's third part of the Best of 2013 Top Ten Albums (5-1):

Part 1 and 2 if you missed them
In the instance that RtBE has reviewed the album either on the site or somewhere else we will link to that review and just give a quick summation, just click on the name and title and you can read it.  RtBE worked with the Glide Team to give input on the their Top 20 so expect some overlap

Again the focus here is on full albums, not singles, but full releases you can slap on and listen to the all the way through. We know these are a dying breed, but it still is the way we consume music, no shuffle or singles for us. We will remove ourselves from the rankings but we wouldn't mind if you gave it a listen.

This year in the ranking there were a host of good albums but few that are great. We think these 5 form a clear distinction with numbers 10-5, which you can read about here. These top 5 albums all are a major step above those in our opinion and it just happened to be that 5 stood out, some years it is 3 others none really. Just the way it goes and it makes us happy to be able to create music and get a chance to write about: 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dylan Cover #169 Liam O Maonlai & Glen Hansard "Pressing On" Live

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a live cover by Liam O Maonlai & Glen Hansard playing "Pressing On" 
In the beginning of this year we mentioned of a new collection of Dylan covers that we were very excited about. It has taken us some time but for the month of December we will focus on 5 songs from Bob Dylan In the 80's Vol 1. Put on your Members Only jacket and enjoy.   
Thoughts on Original:
From smack dab in the middle of Dylan's Jesus Phase and just barely sliding into an 80's Dylan collection "Pressing On" is a central musical number on the 1980 Saved album which saw Dylan move away from the fire and brimstone of Slow Train Coming to the more polished easy and slick Gospel sound. The tune itself is fairly straight ahead but has some fine faith lyrics and of chorus a big Sunday Service ready chorus. One of the most direct songs from Dylan's most direct phase. 
Cover:

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I have liked Glen Hansard from afar, but have never really dug into him too much, I know good friends who really enjoy him. As for Liam O Maonlai, who is the real star in this live cover, I have never heard of him but that is about to change; that was some soul singing right there.
Thoughts on Cover:
So we cheated a bit this week going with a live take of this song which Glen Hansard covered for the charity disk, but how can you deny this version?!? Amazing these Irish lads get into the holy spirit and during Christmas week we couldn't find a better cover. Enjoy the holidays with friends and family whatever you believe...Press on.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Full Show Friday: Mumford & Sons 2012 iTunes Festival

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's.  These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week...Mumford & Sons!
A few beefy years ago our friend recommended this group to us. Not bad, but not really our cup of English bluegrass tea. Either way we wanted to showcase some acoustic action this week as the last few Full Show Friday's shows have been funk filled and noise rock prone. With that in mind we kick it back to Mumford & Sons.
 
The full setlist is below but songs we dug from this set in 2012 were "Little Lion Man", "Roll Away Your Stone" and "Dust Bowl Dance". Enjoy:

1:54 Lover's Eyes
7:53 Little Lion Man
12:57 White Blank Page
18:02 Not With Haste
22:58 Below My Feet
29:00 Timshel
32:47 Roll Away Your Stone
38:00 Lover of the Light
44:56 Thistle & Weeds
51:05 Ghosts That We Knew
58:42 Awake My Soul
1:03:45 Whispers in the Dark
1:08:50 Dust Bowl Dance
1:15:40 Where are you Now?
1:20:40 I Will Wait
1:25:43 The Cave

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Album Review: Thurston Moore- The Best Day

Thurston Moore
The Best Day
*** out of *****
With a self titled release and a picture of his mother on the cover it would be easy to guess that Thurston Moore would be continuing with his acoustic based introspective solo project work on The Best Day, but here instead he offers a Sonic Youth-light effort that affirms he can still make glorious noise, but doesn't showcase anything new from the legend.

Bringing back into the fold drummer Steve Shelley and adding James Sedwarda and Debbie Googe in the Lee Ranaldo and Kim Gordon roles respectively, Moore has assembled a unit that sounds a lot like his famous one. The music itself on The Best Day plays like copyrighted SY action if not as abrasive and right off the bat the group gets exploratory.
  
Opener "Speak To The Wild" roles out easily and builds with distinct guitars and a steady beat for over eight plus minutes. "Forevemore" ups the game in the same vein going for almost twelve minutes through different soundscapes of experimental post punk rock. These are the two longest running tracks on the disk and set the tone that the group is not afraid to free up and improvise. They also happen to be the most satisfying overall efforts as the interplay works well.  

After those two run their course the band becomes tighter with the punky "Detonation" and "Vocabularies" before expanding again for the closing combo of the excellent seven minute instrumental "Grace Lake" and "Germs Burn". Musically there is not much different from the later day Sonic Youth it is just the lyrics and vocals that can begin to get stale.

While Sedwards is a great guitar foil and Googe brings her rhythmic noise pedigree from My Bloody Valentine not having Ranaldo and Gordon to vocally change the script can lead to Moore overload. While his vocals have never been his strong point, his lyrics have been very poetic and here nothing really sticks or hits home. The strongest lyrics seem to be regarding mixtape making love on "Tape" as Moore sounds more honest here then repeating "I Want To Love You Forevermore" over and over again.

With Chelsea Light Moving's excellent one off release Moore felt invigorated, aggressive and still expanding his musical and lyrical horizons. Here it sounds like he went back to a safe musical place and one he has visited so often it seems a touch derivative. While longtime fans (present company included) will find solace in the familiar clashing guitars, The Best Day isn't the freshest, something he mentioned his famous band was lacking...not much has changed solo.   
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We love Thurston, but this one didn't really speak to us as some of his recent past releases have, even though there isn't much wrong with it, it made us just reach for a SY album.

Anyway, support the artist here, buy the album here and peep some video below:


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Spin's Phish Songs List: A Round Table Discussion

So there was this a few months ago and it was painful to read. RtBE decided to poll our friends who collectively have been to over 3,912 Phish shows to see their thoughts on the topic.  Here is the discussion that took place:

Album Review: Candi Staton- Life Happens

Candi Staton
Life Happens
***and1/2 out of *****
Not everyone gets out of volatile relationships so it is with great joy Candi Staton came out of her "hell on earth" marriage to former MLB player Otis Nixon not only in one piece, but creatively inspired enough to release her come back album Life Happens

There is a sense of joy that is tempered by a clear feeling of relief on the 14 tracks on the disk. The blues and soul are also present as Life Happens marks the triumphant return pairing of Staton and Muscle Shoals legend Rick Hall. That classic Muscle Shoals sound is flowing through the disks opening and clearly best track here "I Ain't Easy To Love".

Singing with Jason Isbell and John Paul White, Staton tackles a tune written by Angela Hacker and James Leblanc, performing with that classic slippery soul backing instrumentation. The end result is a dynamic offering that changes singers POV's over a grooving beat and easy organ. Staton's voice is passionate and when paired with the fellas accentuated even more distinctly for her powerful blues and soul; a real show stopper tune.

Her relationship with Nixon gets a direct account on almost all of the tunes including "Beware She's After Your Man" as Staton offers some sage advice for future relationships over a funky bass line. "Treat Me Like A Secret" and "My Hearts On Empty" both keeping the funky soul moving as Staton gets her pipes blaring showing off her vocal and lyrical chops having written both of these successful tracks.  

Things aren't perfect, the production at times can become too easy listening such as the background on "Where Were You When You Knew" and "Commitment" sounds closer to that 80's cheese sound then it should; a more traditional gospel instrumentation would better suit the subject matter.

Staton sounds invigorated and matches perfectly with her players like on "Close To You" and the mix of funk/soul/disco on "Three Minutes To A Relapse" which is a powerful testament. The resilience of Staton is inspiring and a track like "Even The Bad Times Are Good" is a great number that matches that 70's Muscle Shoals with Staton's vocals effortlessly, hopefully her personal life stays as positive and powerful as Life Happens.    
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Great disk. Support the artist here, buy the album here and peep some video below:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Year In Review 2014- Top Ten Albums Part 2 (10-6)

Here is Part 2 of RtBE's Top Ten Albums of 2014.  (Part 1 was here if you missed it) We are continuing our Year In Review for 2014 and lots of goodies still to come...
In the instance that RtBE have reviewed the album either on the site or somewhere else we will link to that review, just click on the Band name and title to get there. RtBE worked with the Glide Team to give input on the their Top 20 so expect some overlap. 

Again the focus here is on full albums, not singles, but full releases you can slap on and listen to the full way through. We know these are a dying breed, but it still is the way we consume music, no shuffle or singles for us. We will also remove ourselves from the rankings but we wouldn't mind if you gave it a listen.

After the jump you will see our list for numbers 10-6, this year seemed to be top heavy with a few really amazing releases and then a sizable gap. These are all excellent and worth your hard earned money and hard drive space, so without further ado Click that read more link.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dylan Cover #168 Craig Finn "Sweetheart Like You"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Craig Finn playing "Sweetheart Like You" 
In the beginning of this year we mentioned of a new collection of Dylan covers that we were very excited about. It has taken us some time but for the month of December we will focus on 5 songs from Bob Dylan In the 80's Vol 1. Put on your Members Only jacket and enjoy.  
Thoughts on Original:
All of the songs on Infidels  stuck around to long in the Bards brain (which we talked about before). While "Jokerman" overwhelms as a rambling waterfall of a song the first time you hear it, "Sweetheart Like You" is clear evidence of that fact that things were left to simmer on the stove longer then needed. It is a mix of condescension, sexy, sexist, insecure and scattered. In fact those things make for an amazing Dylan tune, but in this case I don't feel it really adds up to a classic or much of a very good song at all.    
Cover:

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Craig Finn? Never heard of him...actually for anyone who reads this regularly you know we are enamored with Finn and think he is one of the top three lyricists in rock and roll today; and yes that includes the man who this series is about. We love Finn, he speaks to us both literally and figuratively. Even when we can't dig on the new album we love his lyrics.
Thoughts on Cover:
What was said up there about what makes this song feel a bit odd in Dylan's hands is exactly what makes this a perfect choice for Finn to cover. He nails the awkward, questioning, insecure vibe and makes it more charming and palatable. They way he guys back to the hat line in the finale? Brilliant. It all means nothing or everything in that moment. The music is rock solid as well, making this one of the better covers on the collection.   

Friday, December 12, 2014

Full Show Friday: Nirvana 4/10/90 Blind Pig, Ann Arbor, MI

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's.  These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week.. Nirvana! 
This Full Show Friday is going to toss it back to a little band from the Pacific Northwest that didn't do much except, you know, change the course of popular music exponentially. Nirvana is up today and this show from 1990 is a great one. Compiled for Youtube, the video puts you right on the stage and the sound is better then could possibly be hoped for. Kurt's bass in particular is bumping for this full set, keeping things rock solid amongst the noise.

This is before the band hit it big and they are on their Bleach tour. You can hear and see some magic on this small stage as the band was yet to hit it big and still (relatively) happy and hungry. Digging through the set for some highlights; we love the opening "School" slamming with aggression, two of our favorite covers from the band "Love Buzz" and "Molly's Lips" as well as a mega "Spank Thru" a powerful "Negative Creep" hits hard as well. There is something engaging about the Bleach album and today's live show is a great example of that era in Nirvana's career.  
 
Enjoy:
 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Year In Review 2014- Favorite Live Show of 2014

The live show is a slippery thing. There are lots of variables at play most having little to do with the performance itself.  Does the venue have enough bathrooms?  Is it going to rain?  What day of the week is it on?  Did I have a shitty day at work before hand?  Did tickets cost waaay too much? All of this effects one's opinion of a live show before the band even tunes up and with reason, but when the stars align, there is no place RtBE would rather be then in the moment of magic occurring spontaneously from the stage.

Live Music Has No Equal.   

While we can't see every show that is out there, we try our hardest to see as many as we can (and more then most) here at RtBE.  Sure there are a few left in the calendar year, but for now here is a listing of of the best concerts we were fortunate enough to have seen in 2014. Also because who doesn't love arbitrary rankings, one show at the bottom that took the top prize as RtBE's 2014 Show of the Year. To continue our Best of 2014 just click that Read More button and get started

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Album Review: Ryan Adams- Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams
**and1/2 out of *****
When an established artist decides to self title an album at some point in their ongoing career it means one thing, rebirth. The artists want to make a statement that this is who they are now and going forward. It can be successful or fall flat but there is no doubt that self titling means a lot more then: just couldn't think of a clever album name.

Except in Ryan Adams case...

When asked about the title he was quoted as saying:
"I could not think of a name for this record. Everything I came up with sounded so stupid. Everything sounded like a King Crimson album title, some convoluted shit. [...] I was like, I can’t call this Shadows or something, I just can’t do it."
Well exception to every rule I guess.

As for the music contained on the self titled release, all of the tracks are straight out of Tom Petty B-Cuts bin circa '82. The whole album is nailed into that time and space and would make great adult contemporary FM radio staples if that thing still existed; that isn't a good thing.

The opening track "Gimme Something Good" takes that Petty sound and mimics it, constructing a full sounding track with co-producer Mike Viola helping out along with (coincidentally?) Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on organs. It ends up the best all around effort (the Elvira video doesn't hurt) but all of the other tracks on the disk are in this style. "I Just Might" goes a bit of the Bruce Springsteen "I'm On Fire" route while the Steve Winwood light "Am I Safe" has some questioning emo-influenced lyrics over a pure pop vibe.

Lyrically Adams stays generic, smack dab in the middle of the road on every track. He's tired of giving up, you're his wrecking ball and there is comfort (or fear?) in the shadows. Nothing new or very memorable on the lyric front but the music deserves a bit more attention. 

The album gets an extra half of star to the rating because of the immaculate production and sound that is alive on this disk. Sure the early 80's weren't a great time for music but if the albums during that period had this crisp clear deep sound, things would have been better. Whether stripped down simple six strings or deep bass and organs the sound is lush and full. Self produced, Adams has displayed (as well as on other releases) his expert production touch proving PAX AM studios are a sonic delight.

If he wants to be the next Tom Petty that is well and good, Petty won't be doing it much longer, but the one thing Petty had was hits in bunches and unfortunately at the end of Ryan Adams not one tune sticks with you.
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Support the artist here, buy the album here and peep some video below.

Album Review: Tweedy- Sukierae

Tweedy
Sukierae
*** out of *****
The humanity and family affair behind the recording of this disk should grab the headlines as Jeff Tweedy recorded with his son Spencer on drums and the disk was named and dedicated to the wife/mother of the titled nickname Sukierae who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. A lot of emotions are running around this huge 20 track double disk and it can be jumbled at times, there is little doubt that sleeker/any editing would have crafted a better listen but effort can't be faulted. In a time when twitter and sound-bytes rule more then ever there is still something endearing about grandiose length.   

The group of players mix up delicate pop ditties with more atmospheric wanderings as things effortlessly touch everywhere in-between. While the opening blast of angsty art rock sets up a false pretense "Please Don't Let Me Be So Understood" contains excellent, direct lyrics amongst its clanging, proclaiming "I don't want to grow up boring". Mortality is everywhere here as "Nobody Dies Anymore" plainly puts things in a more conventional fashion while "Low Key" keeps the pop vibe going with soothing backing vocals.

"World Away" flashes Led Zeppelin guitar riffs as "I'll Sing It" amps up the electricity closing out the first disk. The second album gentle flows out a few classic Tweedy effort's like "Flowering" "New Moon" and "Summer Noon" that would work well on (and be highlights of a few) Wilco releases.

The ambiance setting tracks rarely rise above much more then filler like "Slow Love" and "Down From Above". "Diamond Light Pt. 1" whirls around on some running drums, an eastern vibe and keys proving the best of these types of tunes. "High as Hello" wraps up the totality of the disk by layering tons of instrumentation and sound; big drums get dance-driven behind crisp clean electric guitars and weird digital effects all threaten to swallow Tweedy's lyrics under an avalanche of playing.

The family (and some friends) put out a testament album that seems to not know what to say in a completely fine rambling confused way; one that family's deal with disease know too well. There is also an overloaded feeling here with the double CD and separating this into two unique releases, or keeping tracks to revisit or scrap later, would have worked better overall. However, this is more then just a collection of basement tapes that don't go anywhere as Sukierae radiates warmth and love. 
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For the record I like double albums a lot and still listen to albums only (fack shuffle). While I like the texture of Sukierae I just felt there was too much filler to go above 3 stars.

Support the band here, buy the album here and peep some video below:

Live:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Year in Review 2014- Top 10 Albums Part 1 (The Just Misses & Let Downs)

Another great year is finishing up for Rock The Body Electric and we wouldn't be a proper music site if we didn't end the year with a "Best Of" list, so RtBE Presents the Best of 2014 Top Ten Albums: The Just Misses & Let Downs:

In the instance that RtBE has reviewed the album either on the site or somewhere else we will link to that review and just give a quick summation, just click on the name and title and you can read it.  RtBE worked with the Glide Team to give input on the their Top 20 so expect some overlap

Again the focus here is on full albums, not singles, but full releases you can slap on and listen to the all the way through. We know these are a dying breed, but it still is the way we consume music, no shuffle or singles for us. We will remove ourselves from the rankings but we wouldn't mind if you gave it a listen.

Today we are going to focus on the "Just Misses" of our top 10 and unfortunately the "Let Downs" released this year. Obviously these are just our personal preferences, feel free to voice your opinion in the comments.  Expect installment 2 (#10-6) soon, but for now click on the jump:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Dylan Cover #167 Hannah Cohen "Covenant Woman"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Hannah Cohen playing "Covenant Woman" 
In the beginning of this year we mentioned of a new collection of Dylan covers that we were very excited about. It has taken us some time but for the month of December we will focus on 5 songs from Bob Dylan In the 80's Vol 1. Put on your Members Only jacket and enjoy.  
Thoughts on Original:
"Covenant Woman" is the third song on Saved which was the middle of Dylan's "Born-Again" period and while some have said there is a deeper darker meaning in the lyrics, I believe during this period Dylan put his lyrics directly on the table with no symbolism or nefarious shadows behind them. Sure I could be mistaken, but I think this is pretty honest...if a pretty boring song at that.
Cover:

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
I have not heard of Hannah Cohen before I checked out this cover. She is a New York model/singer with one album out Child Bride.
Thoughts on Cover:
Stirring and deep, Cohen does an amazing job as do all the players/arrangers involved. Her voice starts things off and dominates in a chilling fashion, but the starkness is slowly brushed aside by a rising sweetness as the instrumentation overpowers the vocals in walls of sound. The middle of the tune finds a mellowed out Cohen lightly signing with reassurance before one last chorus swirling uptick. This is one dense and engaging cover much more interesting then the original.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Full Show Friday: Karl Denson's Tiny Universe 8/25/12

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's.  These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week...Karl Denson's Tiny Universe!
Here is a great pro shot, pro sound set from 2012's Camp Barefoot in Bartow, West Virgina of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. The funk has got to flow today ya'll! A few months ago we mentioned that Karl got the exciting opportunity to tour with The Rolling Stones, here's hoping that tour went well. This set focuses on his Tiny Universe work and the groove is slick from the drop.

Shake off those winter blues and get down. Enjoy:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Album Review: Ghostface Killah- 36 Seasons

Ghostface Killah
36 Season
*** out of *****
While there is another hip-hop release that will get more attention which Ghostface Killah has been a part of recently, it is 36 Seasons which will be the more satisfying work of art. This isn't your typical hip-hop offering as it comes tied in with a comic book and plays like superhero/film noir; lyrics act as visuals...you practically see the film pitch happening as the songs unfold.

Quick overview: this is the story of a resurrected superhero Tony Stark who through the help of Dr. X (Pharoahe Monch) breathes through a mask and seeks revenge on those (various characters played by Kool G Rap, AZ and Kandance Springs etc.) who doubled crossed him as he returns home to Staten Island after nine years (hence the album title). 

The album could be weighty/out-right-silly but flows quick and clean with a lot of help from The Revelations a Brooklyn soul band who does the playing throughout the album backing Ghost and setting the dramatic tone. They take the forefront on their cover of "A Thin Line Between Love And Hate" admirably and expertly close things with the instrumental "I Love You For All Seasons" but primarily keep to the backing route letting their crisp snares, bright pianos, guitar leads and bass bottom support the characters in the foreground; their contribution to the overall tone and success of the concept can't be overstated.
  
Ghostface may not be in his full prime (see Fishscale) but even when trying out a concept album in full bloom he finds his home (literally and figuratively) in the hard rhymes that slam so much storytelling into the lyrical bars that they overflow. Ghost is always the leading man and with reason, but his co-stars get lots of air time and are crucial to the story and the album.

A cast of hip-hop veterans are on hand like Kool G who brings his gravelly verses to the brutal "The Dogs of War" and along with longtime MC AZ set the whole thing in motion on "The Battlefield". Nems and Shawn Wigs inject some young energy into "Homicide" but all guests blend well with the players and GFK. "Blood In The Streets" is the final battle (with a killer guitar lead) before Ghost reigns supreme allowing for anyone to "Call My Name".  

The album is planned to roll out all out once, no singles or really stand out tracks but as a whole 36 Season works if it is a bit sparse and vague at times. Surprising for a project that seems like it could overwhelm with too much production, grandiose themes and visions of future marketing tie-ins; the 14 tracks are sleek and quick, if anything a touch minimalistic. The soulful playing from The Revelations and short track timing allows the audio theatrics to sail by successfully for Ghostface and crew, never bogging things down with exceeding repetition. Enjoy the album before the inevitable mini-series, play, or big screen release comes from 36 Seasons.
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A different sort of release from Ghostface Killah. Worth checking out if not earth shattering or genre defying it is artistic and nuanced. The Revelations were just that and will need to dig into them more....

Buy the album here, support the artist here, peep some video here:
   

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Steve Albini on the Current State of Music

This is a really good, long article/speech that I think was found on longform (our new favorite site) Steve Albini goes very in depth during his keynote address at Melbourne's Face The Music conference.
 If reading long speeches ain't your thang, you can see Steve speak it right here:

He brings up lots of interesting points and comes out of it sounding rational regarding a lifer in the music industry addressing things from every angle. He truly believes things are in a great state currently and that speaks volumes coming from him.  We agree, there is a lot to still say on the issue like how can bands support themselves, create art and still make a living, but those problems have probably always existed.

If you are not familiar with Mr. Albini's work please become so, we reviewed one of his recent production efforts here. Below you can check out some of the music he created:


and some that he has worked on as Producer/Engineer:


Year In Review 2014- Best Album Art

We kick off our Year in Review section of 2014 with a favorite feature in the Best of... area.  Like in years past we will be choosing our Best Albums of the Year, a few we were underwhelmed with and our favorite show. Today we are starting out by judging books (records) by their covers (vinyl sleeves, jackets, digital pics, etc). We are going to support the creative minds behind the Best Album Art Work of 2014
The biggest gripe RtBE has with digital music is not the quality (that has been massively improved the last few years) nor the disposal nature of it (still a problem, but whatever), it is the lack of amazing album covers and art work.

Sure there may be great artists out there but seeing it on a screen, in iTunes or elsewhere is nothing compared to holding an LP cover or even a CD booklet with pages of lyrics, pictures etc. Thankfully the rise of vinyl is helping this dilemma but it is still not enough. The hours we spent staring at covers while listening to music can not be adequately recorded, it added new dimensions to the sounds...Anyways...   
This was a pretty down year for us in cover art land. Nothing really jumped out as amazing at all. Oh and since we actually released an album this year, we need to take our first release out of the running. Although we do love the cover art which was an amazing photo taken by Bruno _Pek_ We did nothing to alter it as we felt it completely encompassed Angels & Vagabonds as is and I feel contends with any we selected below. It is pretty cosmic someone from Italy nailed our name and feeling with one shot for the cover of The A&V EP.
 Thanks again Bruno.  Now on to the art...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Free Mp3's: 30 Days of Grateful Dead Download

Here is a free gift after the nonsense of spending spree's that went on this weekend. The Grateful Dead do their annual contest called 30 Days of Dead in November allowing old time fans to guess the versions of tunes. Now they are all here for you to download and listen to (Scroll down to the bottom to download them all in one shot).
The 30 Days of Dead offering is an interesting one as most fans of the band are stuck on shows not jumping from around from different eras, at least that's never how I listen to them. In past years we have been all over this, but we haven't given the good ol' Grateful Dead much love on RtBE in 2014. While we don't listen to them that often they sound is kinda always playing in our heads which is nice. 

Enjoy the download and peep some video of the fella's, one acoustic, one electric:


Album Review:The #1's- The Number Ones

The #1's
The Number Ones
***and1/2 out of *****
I read an interview with the band The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart where they said they would like to be The Exploding Hearts whose amazing album Guitar Romantic is some of the best power-pop/punk ever recorded. Unfortunately (as was stated in the interview) the band is no more with most of its members perishing in an automobile accident in 2003. While TPOBPAH have more of a soft indie vibe to things, The #1's have really crafted the second Exploding Hearts record, complete with poppy punk, tales of late night relationships woes and a bouncing low end. 

The band hails from Dublin, Ireland and may have never heard of the Portland, Oregon group but the similarities are striking and a bit detrimental to this outfit if they are looking to stake out their own turf. That said there isn't really a lot of area or new space to be found in the power pop realm and The #1's have solidly nailed all the best traits of the genre on their first effort which should be commended.

The propulsive "Heartsmash" is the first single from the band and in under 2 minutes gives you the summation of what is in store for a listener. Clanging guitars, a bassline that moves all over the track, a quick scream/drum break and brokenhearted feelings of adventure. All the songs run short showing off their energy without getting cluttered.

One issue that keeps popping up though is the vocal effects which makes the lyrics muffled. A track like "Sharon Shouldn't" has this issue as do others and having confidence in the singing while peeling back the microphone tricks would make for a better overall listen.

Picking on these issues though doesn't take away from the overall fun ride this debut album is. In fact if the worst thing you can really say about a release is that it to closely reminds of a masterpiece, things are pretty rad.
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Support the band here, buy the disk/steam it on bandcamp here and peep some video below:

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dylan Cover #166 Built To Spill "Jokerman"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune is a cover by Built To Spill playing "Jokerman" 
In the beginning of this year we mentioned of a new collection of Dylan covers that we were very excited about. It has taken us some time but for the month of December we will focus on 5 songs from Bob Dylan In the 80's Vol 1. Put on your Members Only jacket and enjoy.  
Thoughts on Original:
The kick-start to his "back to rock and roll" album Infidels, "Jokerman" is a monster. A torrent of images, symbols, thoughts, proclamations, fears and fables; it feels like a dam was broken in Dylan's brain and all of these things just poured out. Musically it moves along but doesn't add much to the towering wordplay as the tune is dominated by the lyrics which seem almost never ending; Dylan has penned wordier tunes, but few feel as heavy as this. Flawed, but reaching for something, it is a not a great Dylan song but it is one that lets us peak into his brain a bit. For more on this tune, check out this post.
Cover:

Thoughts on Cover Artist:
We have really dug on Built to Spill in the past but recent efforts and live shows have left us wanting. That said their official Live album and Perfect From Now On are consistently played on our ear buds and are exhilarating examples of melodic spacious guitar rock for any fan of amazing tunes.
Thoughts on Cover:
A cool pairing but, like a lot of BtS lately, it could have been so much more. One thing that stands out is the nice bass work laid down giving a bit of bubbling to the tune. The guitars are tame in comparison; how about giving it that live "Cortez The Killer" action and exploding the end out into a mega-jam? While nothing is wrong with this cover our hopes were just set a bit higher. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Full Show Friday: Darkthrone Live in Oslo 1990

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's.  These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week.. Darkthrone!
It is upon us!  BLACK Friday! In a tradition we started last year it is time for the most evil Norwegian Black Metal ever; because really it is the perfect soundtrack if you are hitting the brutality of shopping on this day. Granted we here at RtBE are not huge fans of the genre but have researched a few bands after enjoying the documentary Until The Light Takes Us

Here is Darkthrone during their heyday the early 90's when they helped shape the genre. The quality isn't the best, but the music is completely bad ass. A bit more palpable then others in the genre for us to listen to as it goes for a death metal feel. The performance takes place in 1990, hey the same year we highlighted yesterday, but this isn't a parade. It is a show at the beginning of the groups "Unholy Trinity" phase as the Norwegian's moved more from Death to Black metal.  

Enjoy the darkness:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from RtBE!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Make sure you spend sometime over this holiday doing what is truly important...Watching The Last Waltz:


Also make sure to enjoy your time with loved ones and family.

 Last year we had some clips from 1986's Thanksgiving Day Parade, today we are tossing it back to 1990. First up we got some Muppet's as this was the first parade after the death of Jim Henson

Some cool info in that piece.

Now how about Patti LaBelle singing "Wouldn't It Be Beautiful" on top of a giant turkey:


We will also give a shout out to the kids who march and play the music, so here is a full piece on the Marching Spoofhounds as the MHS marching band shares their journey to the parade.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Album Review: The Pack A.D.- Do Not Engage

The Pack A.D.
Do Not Engage
** out of *****
The Vancouver based two piece noise-rockers The Pack A.D. have released their newest album and are paired with Detroit producer Jim Diamond for the first time, so the scuzz factor is amped up on Do Not Engage. Stripped down rock and roll is what guitarist/singer Becky Black and drummer Maya Miller offer.

"Airborne" opens things and lays a positive framework as the group layers fuzz pedals, bury the lyrics, and proceed in a less grandiose My Bloody Valentine style. Tracks like "Big Shot" and "Loser" take punky lyrics and color them with pop flourishes. The self explanatory titled "Stalking Is Normal" puts an interesting female spin on things while "The Water" picks up the tempo and motors in a more traditional rock and roll way.  

"Animal" is the best offering here showcasing police siren guitar effects with a tambourine and a garage sound that crackles alive. "Rocket" displays the bands pop-rock chops and the underwater vibe/slapping drum of "The Flight" is effective as well but too often the songs on Do Not Engage run out of steam.

Tracks like "Creepin' Jenny" with distorted, constantly pounding cymbals and the bludgeoning "Battering Ram" are symptomatic; decent ideas that in their final presentation are too dull for their own good. Tempos stay stagnate and running over or close to 4 minutes sapping the vitality.

Like a lot of the other bands Diamond has worked with (The White Stripes, Dirtbombs) raw rock and roll is the prescription, except in The Pack A.D.'s case, they overdue it with the cure. These songs are simple, awash in feedback and distortion, but have a poppy center, however almost all run on at least a chorus and a verse too long. The ideas go around and around for extra spins without adding anything to the overall product; edting them down, a tighter reign overall and punchy production would better serve Do Not Engage

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Support the band here, buy the album here and peep some video below:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Track from Imaginary People "Paris In Chains"

A new tune from NYC's Imaginary People has been released with some vintage dancers strutting their stuff. You can watch Imaginary People's newest "Paris In Chains" below:

Love the tempo of the tune and happy to point out that the band had the video's premier on Pure Volume last week. Some inside baseball is that we are friends and went to school with lead singer Dylan Von Wagner and are psyched that he is working with another excellent band after he played with Linfinity who were fun live back in 2010.

We haven't caught up with Imaginary People yet but we are hoping to see them soon.  

Album Review: Gateway District- Partial Traces E.P.

Gateway District
Partial Traces E.P.
*** out of *****

The Minneapolis based rockers Gateway District are at it again with their brand of power -pop-punk that motors. Conceived as a side project the group has produced albums that are on par or surpass their main acts and Partial Traces continues their style for 5 more excellent songs.

Consisting of Maren Macosko - guitar/vocals (The Soviettes) Carrie Bleser - bass/vocals (The Salteens) Nate Gangelhoff - guitar (Banner Pilot, Off with Their Heads, Rivethead) Brad Lokkesmoe - drums (Dear Landlord, Rivethead) the group don't get fancy but reward with their simple style.

Buffeted by the fine fighting vocals between Bleser and Macosko the tunes take on a broken hearted feel that jives with Minnesota winters countered by the upbeat playing and lyrics that shine like rare January sun through depressing snow.

The short bursts of power punk flow in and out with ease but also add tricks to catch the ear such as the distorted guitar outro to "Skyline Drive" or the chugging intro that mimics the boats engine on "Staten Island Ferry". A track like "Corner Store" is right in their wheelhouse as it displays what the band does best but the closer "Coyotes" is the most exciting offering a nuanced feel with it's tempo changes, blasting drums and cinematic lyrics.

Any fan of high energy rock and roll should spin by the Gateway District, and Partial Traces is as good a place as any to start at.
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We simply love Perfect's Gonna Fail, which now thanks to bandcamp you can stream right here. We loved it so much it made our top 3 from 2011. Somehow we missed their 2012 release, Old Wild Hearts, but we are in the process of grabbing that one right now. This EP is more of the same.

Support the band here, grab the disk here or stream it below:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dylan Cover #165 Chet Atkins & Terry McMillan "Don't Think Twice It's Alright"

In this ongoing Monday Series we will be exploring various artists versions of Bob Dylan song's. Today's tune comes from the Chet Atkins & Terry McMillan and is a live cover of "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" 
Thought's on Original:
From the first time we reviewed a cover of this tune:
Yet another one of the mega-Dylan tunes that we haven't covered someone else covering on this site (got that covered?).  Hard to believe because this song is so iconic and flat out awesome.  Biting and yet not bitter, a toss off of the grandest proportions, "Don' Think Twice" is epic and yet so straight forwardly simple.  It easily ranks as one of the bard's best works, truly a classic.  
Cover: 
Thoughts on Cover Artist:
Like another version of this song we talked about, Chet Atkins is one of the very few in this series who probably influenced a young Bob Dylan himself as he is a country music legend. Here he is playing with the late great Terry McMillan on harmonica and that boy can blow.  
Thoughts on Cover:
Beautiful. That is the word that comes to mind when I hear this cover. It is restrained and gorgeous, better off for being simply instrumental. It is a brilliant live cover, never simple but easy flowing. Hopefully like this work week for all of you, enjoy.    

Friday, November 21, 2014

Full Show Friday: Rage Against The Machine London 2010

We search the murky back waters of youtube to find full concerts and post them to the site weekly, come back every seven days to help us celebrate Full Show Friday's.  These shows are of varying quality and may not be here for long so enjoy them while you can...As always, please support the artist every which way, but especially by seeing them live (if they are still playing)...This week...Rage Against The Machine!

I am not sure how I missed the amazing scenario that Chuck D elegantly describes in the opening to today's Full Show Friday, but it is dope. Rage Against the Machine are a fantastic group, one of the very very few who can combine hip-hop and metal. They put on a show we still think about often back in Roseland in '96 that was mega and unforgettable for lots of reasons.

Zack just popped up in Run The Jewels 2 so we thought we would focus on his biggest band (not his first but we love them too). This show is killer and for a pretty crazy reason...fuck X Factor.

Enjoy:

00:00 - INTRO
3:20 - TESTIFY
7:15 - BOMBTRACK
11:39 - PEOPLE OF THE SUN
14:17 - KNOW YOUR ENEMY
20:22 - BULLS ON PARADE
24:56 - TOWNSHIP REBELLION
30:10 - BULLET IN THE HEAD
40:43 - WHITE RIOT (THE CLASH COVER)
42:53 - GUERRILLA RADIO
46:36 - SLEEP NOW IN THE FIRE
52:11 - FREEDOM
1:00:57 - KILLING IN THE NAME