Christmas Music

Before you get the horrors and have to leave, I don’t mean Christmas Carols being mutilated by the under-talented. This is the music I got for Christmas. I will start by admitting that I chose all but one of these titles. The first are used records and the last is a new CD.


Shriekback - The Infinite
Shriekback – The Infinite

I first saw and heard these guys singing “Nemesis” on TV when I was in grade twelve. What a shock, Peter Gabriel was singing “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time” and these guys were grinding out “Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis.  No one moves a muscle till the dead come home.” How insanely grand and black at the same time. I hadn’t heard anything like it before. Suddenly there was a new world of music that I had never known was there; Sisters Of Mercy (This Corrosion), Screaming Blue Messiahs (Wild Blue Yonder), Killing Joke (Love Like Blood) at the end of the video clip shows. I owe Shreikback a big debt as they were the guys who let me see past Chart Pop.

Shriekback - Oil & Gold
Shriekback – Oil & Gold

I had the “The Infinite” which is a collection of earlier recordings (probably released to cash in on “Nemesis” sudden chart success) many years ago but I went mad for a moment and sold a crate of records and this was in it. Tip, don’t, and I mean never, ever, sell your records as they are so much a part of your life. Sure, next month you will be like Lady Ga Who? but in a few years that music will be important to you again. Anyway I was happy to get this back and joy of joys “Oil & Gold” was right behind it in the rack -I had Nemesis after all these years – yoink! Even better these records had been part of a loved collection as they are some of the cleanest used records I have ever bought. My luck they were in the $4 bargain bin.

Listening to the music I can see that, especially on “Oil & Gold” the de-melodification of music was at work back in the mid-80’s I noticed it then and looking back it is apparent that part of their mystique was a sparing, minimalistic use of melody and progression. At this time the strategy seems to have created things of value, perhaps not the greatest songs ever, but forms worthy of being called art.


Tomita - The Bermuda Triangle
Tomita – The Bermuda Triangle

I have already written a post about Tomita. He has always been an influence on me as a composer. I have not had a copy of “The Bermuda Triangle” before and this find fixes that. For a moment I was thining I had found one of this later self-composed works which don’t seem to be available here. But no this is a “classical” album from 1979 full of his trademark sound and morphings. Maybe not his best but great to have it in the collection.

John Waite

John Waite - No Brakes
John Waite – No Brakes

“Missing You” is one of the stand-out songs of the 80’s. It is as close to perfect as a song can get. Sadly John Waite has never really matched this song after. Funny how that can happen, a good songwriter can outdo himself so well that he is snookered. The album “No Brakes” is well done but it can’t help but pale a bit with this gem in the middle. After a few listens no doubt I will come to know the other songs better and start to see the whole. It does sound well produced as was much music in the 80’s.

Whilst on the subject of “Missing You” please don’t take his duet with Alison Krauss as this song in it’s best light at all. I think it is a shame he ever did this. It is like a death wish, covering your own song that was so perfect in the first place. You’ll note that Don Henley has not meddled with his “Boys Of Summer” and John should have learned the same lesson. Maybe he needed the money. This is the one you want.

R.E.O. Speedwagon

REO Speedwagon - Hi Infidelity
REO Speedwagon – Hi Infidelity

“Hi Infidelity” was such a huge album when I was just getting into pop. It was on the wrong side of Depeche Mode to be a have-to-get record for so long. However R.E.O. Speedwagon were up there with Foreigner & Journey for radio airplay, even in Australia. This isn’t a groundbreaking record in any way but has tight songs in a pop/rock format and of course the singles. I got the hankering for this when trying to listen to Daughtry.

Sad to say but when I showed this record to someone at the table and they asked if it had “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and I said oh not that wasn’t REO Speedwagon, wasn’t that Chicago or someone like that? BZZZZZZZZZZZ. Wrong! Dumb too as I have a best of Chicago and that song isn’t there. That was these guys. How time has us forget – and now I feel the need to own that wonderfully shiny song too.

The Angels (Angel City)

The Angels - Take It To The Streets
The Angels – Take It To The Streets

The Angels (Angel City in the USA) were one of the most important bands in the development of what became known as OZ Rock in the 70′ and 80’s. The bands rarely broke out of Australia which is in many ways a loss for the rest of the world but being isolated made for a sound and style that was unique, even though fed from the same British & American veins. The Angels core line-up was Brewster, Neeson, Brewster and they rocked like no one else.

Sadly Doc Neeson, the singer, went his own way and the band has foundered ever since. On this record they have Dave Gleeson (formerly of younger Oz Rock band Screaming Jets) in front. Initially this is a hard record to get into as Gleeson comes off sounding like a Doc clone and only Doc can do Doc. Every line is just waiting for that dripping-ire feel that Doc Neeson did so well. This leaves songs seeming a bit stripped of their true glory. Interestingly the more stripped back result brings to mind their very first record which leaned Country in moments and definitely Rockabilly in others – Blues Rock. This is not a bad thing as that is a good record. I think in time, with acceptance that this isn’t Doc singing, “Take It To The Streets” will be a solid record. After all the Brewster brothers do still know how to play.

There is also a Live disc attached to this album recorded in my home town earlier this year. I only dipped into this so far and I must say it sounded loose and rough. But to be fair I think that these bands sounded like that in the day and the crowds in the beer barns loved it. I preferred the studio records but I will give it a go.

Leave a Reply