Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Various Artists - Music from the Motion Picture Ferris Bueller's Day Off (2016)

For the film's 30th anniversary, La-La Land Records put together this motion picture soundtrack.  And most publishers allowed licensing, save those of Bert Kaempfert, The Beatles and Dave Wakeling. According to unverified sources, no official soundtrack was originally released for the film in 1986, as writer/director/producer John Hughes felt the songs would not work well together as a continuous album. Here's what Hughes did instead, in his own words:
You know how, when you're a kid, you love it when you get mail? You feel important, like someone's paying attention to you. Well, we used to do that - every time someone wrote a fan letter to one of our cast members, every piece of mail that came in, we'd put their names on our mailing list and mail out huge packages every time a new movie was about to come out, kind of like what Disney does now - posters, rolls of stickers, all sorts of neat stuff. In fact, the only official soundtrack that Ferris Bueller's Day Off ever had was for the mailing list. A&M was very angry with me over that; they begged me to put one out, but I thought "who'd want all of these songs?" I mean, would kids want "Danke Schöen" and "Oh Yeah" on the same record? They probably already had "Twist and Shout," or their parents did, and to put all of those together with the more contemporary stuff, like the (English) Beat - I just didn't think anybody would like it. But I did put together a seven-inch of the two songs I owned the rights to - "Big City" [sic] on one side, and... I forget, one of the other English bands* on the soundtrack... and sent that to the mailing list. By '86, '87, it was costing us $30 a piece to mail out 100,000 packages. But it was a labor of love. I cared about my audience and I cared about these movies.
*"I'm Afraid" by Blue Room - ed.

In other words, this is as close as we're going to get - although you can create your own soundtrack using the guide below.  Extensive liner notes from film music journalist Tim Greiving.

What surprised me about this soundtrack was the high quality of Ira Newborn's original music cues, even when removed from the images of the movie. Also, the "Star Wars" theme is not the original recording, but a brief Newborn arrangement. (I said Star Wars and you just imagined the image below, didn't you?)

While I was re-watching the movie to compile the list below, two thoughts occurred to me: 1) there are an unbelievable number of huge plot holes in this thing and I could care less, and 2) Ira Newborn's cues play a huge role in the movie and this soundtrack compilation CD brings that fact to the fore.

You might also want to check out: Now Playing Podcast Reviewed 'Ferris Bueller's' 30th Anniversary Soundtrack (46 minutes)

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart. The La-La Land Records website claims this is a limited edition of 5,000 units.

Tracks (35 tracks, 76:45):

Based on my 2009 Blu-Ray, the "Bueller...Bueller...Edition," here's a chronological list of the music cues from the movie:
  1. Opening scene: WLS radio jingle
  2. CD track 10, Ferris in Bed
  3. Ferris showering/dressing: Love Missle F1-11 by Sigue Sigue Sputnik (Ultraviolence Mix) (CD track 1)
  4. MTV Moonman Theme
  5. CD track 11, Cameron in Bed/Ferris Goes Hawaiian
  6. Ferris dancing in bedroom: Jeannie (Theme from I Dream of Jeanie) by Hugo Montenegro
  7. Ferris on his synth: Blue Danube waltz by Johann Strauss
  8. CD track 13, Nurse
  9. CD track 14, Ferris on Line 2
  10. CD track 15, Bueller, Ferris Bueller
  11. Picking up Ferrari from Cameron's garage: Oh Yeah by Yello (CD track 2)
  12. Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron head into Chicago: Beat City by The Flowerpot Men (CD track 3)
  13. CD track 30, Couglin Bros. Mortuary
  14. Entering parking garage: B.A.D. by Big Audio Dynamite (CD track 4)
  15. CD track 16, Mom Checks on Ferris
  16. Chez Luis scenes: CD track 31, Celebrated Minuet (actual title: Minuet from String Quintet in E, Op. 11, No. 5 by Luigi Boccherini)
  17. CD track 17, Jeannie Turns Ugly
  18. CD track 18, Rooney on Patrol
  19. CD track 32, Ballpark Baloney
  20. CD track 20, Rooney Sneaks Around/Star Wars (Main Title)
  21. The Art Institute of Chicago: Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (Instrumental) by The Dream Academy (CD track 5)
  22. Von Steuben Day Parade: CD track 33, Polka Medley (Wildfire Polka/Vienna Penny Polka)
  23. Parade lip synching: Danke Schoen by Wayne Newton (CD track 6)
  24. Parade with marching band: Twist and Shout by The Beatles (with marching band overlay, CD track 35). Original can be found on Please Please Me.
  25. Picking up car from garage: CD track 33, Polka Medley (Wildfire Polka/Vienna Penny Polka)
  26. Leaving garage: Radio People by Zapp (CD track 7)
  27. Cameron's lakeside breakdown: I'm Afraid (Instrumental) by Blue Room (CD track 34).
  28. By the pool with Cameron on diving board: Taking the Day Off by General Public. Can be found on the 1993 I.R.S. Records re-issue of the Hand To Mouth album.
  29. CD track 22, Cameron Takes the Heat
  30. CD track 23, Oh Shauna Jeannie
  31. Ferris saying goodbye to Sloane: The Edge of Forever by The Dream Academy (CD track 9)
  32. Ferris running home: March of the Swivel Heads by The English Beat. Can be found on several compilations and the 2012 Edsel reissue of the Special Beat Service album.
  33. CD track 25, Dog Food Rooney/Ferris Goes to Bed
  34. CD track 26, Mom, Dad and Ferris
  35. Closing credits/Rooney on school bus: Oh Yeah by Yello (CD track 2)

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I saw the movie in the summer of 1986 with my then-girlfriend-now-wife and loved it from the get-go. I think I've purchased it in VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray versions.

And if you like the soundtrack breakdown above, then click the following link cuz there's more where that came from:

Friday, October 18, 2019

Spyro Gyra - Vinyl Tap (2019)

The band's first album release in six years, this thing is a covers album and I gotta be honest, my initial expectations were low because there wasn't any new material on the CD; I figured the band was simply picking low-hanging fruit. And now I gotta admit I am pleasantly surprised. It's not perfect, but it's hardly a disaster. Here's the skinny from band leader/saxophonist Jay Beckenstein:
It’s cliché (to record covers) in saxophone-based contemporary jazz. We did not want to sound like a fantastic wedding band. I was really afraid that if we didn’t do our own thing, that our identity would be lost. It was imperative in the creative process – and everybody (in the band) knew this in a big way – that things had to be mixed up. Things had to be jolted out of the old way of approaching the songs. We really tried to come up with a new take on whatever (song) we were doing. We put solos into tunes that really are complete extensions that never had anything to do with the originals.
For the most part, they come through. There's only one real stinker and copy couple of others than are just okay. But there's a few roses among the thorns and they mix it up nicely so it doesn't become another Smooth Sax Tribute to Steely Dan.

Aside from Christmas tunes, these aren't the first SG covers, off the top of my head I can name two: Sweet Baby James on 20/20, and The Beatles' In My Life on the (I Got No Kick Against) Modern Jazz compilation. There may be others I'm forgetting

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: TBD

  1. Secret Agent Mash - a mash-up of Secret Agent Man (a #3 hit for Johnny Rivers in 1966) and Alfie's Theme (written, recorded, and released in 1966 by Sonny Rollins). They get the worst cut out of the way here with track 1. Atop a Gene Krupa drum beat, this tries to be a mash-two tunes and fail at both despite a tasty piano solo from Tom Schuman. At this point on my first play, I was dreading the rest of the album, but then came along...
  2. Sunshine of Your Love - a #5 hit for Cream in 1968. Currently my favorite tune on the disc. This Latin flavored arrangement is more SG than Clapton and the salsa instrumentation brings the heat (pun intended). Sweet guitar solo from Julio Fernandez.
  3. Can't Find My Way Home - written by Steve Winwood and released by Blind Faith on their self-titled 1969 album. The first single released from the album, this should get some airplay on your local smooth jazz station. A laid back folksy cover that, like the previous track, SG makes their own.
  4. What A Fool Believes - a #1 hit for The Doobie Brothers in 1979. This is a medley of two arrangements of the tune. In the first, the band plays the song as a shuffle. Meh. However, when the band starts swinging at around 3½ minutes in, things get cooking.
  5. The Cisco Kid - a #2 hit for War in 1973. The band messes around with some mixed meter here. Other than that, there's nothing particularly innovative, but how often do you get to hear a bass harmonica (courtesy of Gary Schreiner)?
  6. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away - released by The Beatles on their 1965 album, Help! Another great arrangement in which the band channels their late '70s Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. 
  7. Tempted - a #49 hit for Squeeze in 1981. The band turns this blue-eyed soul tune into a bluesy waltz with a driving coda. I dig that brief ending and while I exactly can't decide if I like the waltz part of the arrangement or not, I'm certainly not skipping this great tune.
  8. Stolen Moments - written by jazz saxophonist Oliver Nelson and released on his 1961 album, The Blues and the Abstract Truth. The band has fun with this modified blues tune. I've heard plenty of versions of this standard and this funky, syncopated cover is as good as any. Bassist Scott Ambush gets a nice turn.
  9. Carry On - written by Stephen Stills and released by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on their 1970 album, Déjà Vu. Not a wise choice - other than the ending, this tune just doesn't work well with this group. As close as the band gets to sounding like the "fantastic wedding band" mentioned above.
Missing from the disc: a funky Prince cover.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Released October 11, this CD hit my front porch last weekend and has since been in heavy rotation on my morning and evening commutes as well as in my modular workstation. 

Previously revisited for the blog:
A Foreign Affair (2011)Three Wishes (1992)
Down The Wire (2009) Fast Forward (1990)
A Night Before Christmas (2008) Point Of View (1989)
Good To Go-Go (2007) Rites Of Summer (1988)
Wrapped In A Dream (2006) Stories Without Words (1987)
The Deep End (2004) Breakout (1986)
Original Cinema (2003)Alternating Currents (1985)
The Very Best of Spyro Gyra (2002)Access All Areas (1984)
In Modern Times (2001)City Kids (1983)
Got The Magic (1999)Incognito (1982)
Road Scholars (1998)Freetime (1981)
20/20 (1997)Carnaval (1980)
Heart Of The Night (1996)Catching The Sun (1980)
Love & Other Obsessions (1995)Morning Dance (1979)
Dreams Beyond Control (1993)Spyro Gyra (1978)

Various Artists - Smooth Grooves (1999)

I'm always game for a used smooth jazz compilation (especially at a $1.66 price point). Let's spin this thing.

Hey! Weren't those last two in Journey and Bad English? Curiosity piqued.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Soul FruitBrian Hughes
Soul TemptationBryan Savage (with Rick Braun on keyboards)
In The Full Moon Light3rd Force (with Rick Braun on flugelhorn)
Did I Save?Grant Geissman
Something Special3rd Force
Autumn BlueCraig Chaquico (with Richard Elliot on saxophone)
Mulholland DriveBryan Savage (with Rick Braun on keyboards)
Elegance on the CatwalkJonathan Cain
RendezvousDoug Cameron (with Boney James on saxophone)
BandaleroNeal Schon
Here Comes The Night3rd Force (with Peter White of guitar and accordion)

Nothing memorable and a few skippable tracks. And cuts from the Journey alumni? Meh - I've heard much better. The blurb from the back cover (above) claims this compilation is "diverse" but we all know better. But I gotta admit this stuff is very relaxing, calming, and often just what I need. Just don't give it much of your active listening time.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None. Picked it up Wednesday afternoon at the used CD/DVD store while waiting for my optometrist appointment.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Thompson Twins - Original Album Classics (2012)

A box set from Arista featuring the Thompson Twins' second through sixth studio albums as they were originally released in the UK (in other words, there's no disc of the US release, In The Name Of Love). Budget-priced so no bonus tracks. And because I haven't posted this picture on the blog recently, here's the original twins from the Tintin cartoon series (that's Thomson on the left and Thompson on the right):

SET (1982)
11 tracks, 42 minutes

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: (not released in the US)
Peak on Cash Box album chart: (not released in the US)

 U.S. charted singles: Pop Dance
 In the Name of Love1091

After starting strong with In The Name Of Love, this album quickly defaults into a quirkiness that sometimes works, but mostly doesn't - the comparison to Talking Heads below is spot on and I also hear a few attempts to jump on the same train as Malcolm McLaren acts of the time. Steve Lillywhite's production style is evident. That said, I still dig In The Name Of Love, Bouncing, The Rowe, and Fool's Gold. The rest is harmless enough except for the penultimate track, Crazy Dog, which is to be avoided.

Smash Hits, March 18, 1982, p. 27

10 tracks, 38 minutes

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #34
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #43

 U.S. charted singles: Pop Dance
 Love On Your Side456

The group, now a trio, finally found their voice as a synth-pop-funk-dance band, heavy on the pop. In the US, this album was titled simply Side Kicks, and it's a tale of two album sides here: In general, I really dig side one (tracks 1- 5 on CD) while not as much for the quirkier songs that lead off side two. Still, once you accept the oddness, there's really no track you need to skip until you get to the end; just end your play after 9 tracks.

Should I have picked up this album in '83? Probably, but, to be fair, I really had no idea what I was doing in the spring of of 1983. I'd like to have a do-over on that junior year in high school, but that's a story for another time. (Wow, that took a dark turn rather quickly, huh?)

Track 3, If You Were Here, became popular through its use in the movie Sixteen Candles. For a full, definitive listing of that fantastic soundtrack, click here.

Smash Hits, March 3, 1983, p. 41

9 tracks, 43 minutes

Note: this release was originally purchased as a cassette tape, later replaced by this CD.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #10
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #9

 U.S. charted singles: Pop Dance AC
 Hold Me Now318
 Doctor! Doctor!111835
 You Take Me Up44

 The Gap69

Now we're to the reason I ordered this box set. As mentioned above, I had this one on cassette and that tape got quite a bit of playing time in my car during the spring of 1984, which was my senior year in high school. I wanted to get a CD copy and this box set was just a few dollars more than the single disc, so why not? Despite the error in the track listing on the album cover, Arista front-loaded the singles so side 1 of my "Qualitape" got quite a bit more playing time in my Pioneer deck than side 2.

I'm partial to the four singles listed above but I enjoyed all 9 tracks during today's spin. As a teen, I thought the album fell apart at the end (I just wanted the hits, I guess), but today I'm liking the subtlety of what was side 2 (tracks 6-9) much more than I did then. Overall, I like Into The Gap much better that Mr. Rimmer:

Smash Hits, February 16, 1984, p. 29

10 tracks, 43 minutes

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #20
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #27

 U.S. charted singles: Pop Dance AC
 Lay Your Hands on Me64614
 King for a Day8

The 2008 deluxe CD edition of this album has previously appeared on the blog: Here's To Future Days. Yes, I played the CD included in this box set for three reasons: 1) for a synth band, this album contains some tasty guitar work courtesy of Nile Rodgers and Steve Stevens,  2) the goal of the The CD Project is to listen to all CDs in my collection (now cleverly dubbed "The Markives" by a faithful reader), and 3) it's a good album with "college daze" memories attached.

Speaking of Thompson Twins in 1985, you remember Madonna, Steve Stevens, and Nile Rodgers joining them onstage at Live Aid for a Beatles cover? I certainly didn't, but here it is:

Smash Hits, September 11, 1985, p. 77

10 tracks, 42 minutes

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #76
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #61

 U.S. charted singles: Pop
 Get That Love31

This is my first exposure to this album - heck, I don't even remember the single by name even though I've heard before on a greatest hits compilation. So the trio has now become a husband-wife duo. This album is dark and, according to this Chicago Tribune article, it's very easy to see why: Currie's mother died on the same day the singer lost the baby she and Bailey were expecting. Heartbreaking.

On this initial spin, Bushbaby, Perfect Day, and Dancing In Your Shoes stand out to me. And I now remember Get That Love, which, as the below review points out, is the obvious pick for a single.

Billboard, April 11, 1987, p. 72

Personal Memory Associated with these CDs: My first exposure to Thompson Twins was seeing the bizarre video for Lies on MTV. I might have like the song better if the video hadn't been so distracting, but that video's DIY ethic was prevalent on the network back then.

During the spring of my senior year in high school, two cassette tapes never left my car: The Romantics' In Heat and Thompson Twins' Into The Gap.  During lunch, my buddies Brett and Roy would pile into the Markmobile and we'd scramble off campus to grab something from a local fast food place before stopping by the convenience store to stock up on candy and gum for our afternoon classes.  Those cassettes usually blasted loudly as we rode around our small town like we were Ren and Willard in a VW bug riding around Bomont.

Here's To Future Days, was put on almost nightly after dinner in my college dorm room as I chewed the fat with buddies Larry and Jim, so I got quite a bit of play time. After listening each night, I usually hit the practice room or visited my new girlfriend. That girlfriend has been my wife for more than 30 years now, so my time spent with her paid off better than my time spent in a practice room.

I saw Tom Bailey in concert last year and he sang all the hits. Not only that, he came out to the lobby afterwards to hang out with fans - none of this $150 "VIP meet-and-greet ticket package" mess for Tom. Cool guy.

Vintage TT Pinbacks from my collection.
I wore the one on the left to the aforementioned Tom Bailey show.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Science Fiction (2018)
Greatest Hits (1996)
Big Trash (1989)
Here's To Future Days (1985)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Various Artists - The Glory of Gershwin (1994)

In which people who have no business singing Gershwin sing Gershwin. Produced by George Martin, this tribute album was a celebration of the 80th birthday of harmonica player Larry Adler (1914 - 2001). Adler himself plays the harmonica on each of the songs and it must have been fun for him, so there's that. I'll admit the star power is here and the song selection is impeccable, but this compilation is not for me.

But enough of my thoughts, let's see what the rabble over at Amazon has to say about it:
  • "Not as good as I anticipated, but, hey, it's Gershwin. How bad can it be?"
  • "The rumbling you feel isn't an earthquake it's George & Ira rolling over in their grave."
  • "The best thing about this music is Larry Adler's harmonica" [agreed]
  • "the performances really are unstylistic and unfaithful to the original ideas of Gershwin"
  • "the album is slightly dull; it has the dusty feeling of those specials your local PBS affiliate runs during fundraising week to get donations from nostalgic baby boomers"
  • "ersatz elevator music. The female performers hold the CD together." [I am in complete agreement with that last bit]

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #192, but reportedly a top 10 album in other parts of the world.

SummertimePeter Gabriel
Nice Work If You Can Get ItSting
They Can't Take That Away From MeLisa Stansfield
Someone To Watch Over MeElton John
I've Got a Crush On YouCarly Simon
But Not For MeElvis Costello
It Ain't Necessarily SoCher
The Man I LoveKate Bush
How Long Has This Been Going OnJon Bon Jovi
Embraceable YouOleta Adams
My Man's Gone NowSinéad O'Connor
I Got RhythmRobert Palmer
Somebody Loves MeMeat Loaf
I'll Build A Stairway To ParadiseIssy Van Randwyck
SummertimeCourtney Pine
Rhapsody In BlueLarry Adler & George Martin

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Paul Simon - Father and Daughter (2002)

Promotional CD Single 

I was given this promo disc and thought I'd give it a (very) quick spin. I don't recall the song from the title, but here we go. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, losing to Lose Yourself by Eminem at the Oscars and The Hands That Built America by U2 at the Globes.

It's pleasant enough and has a slight hook in the chorus, but I just listened to it five times through and couldn't hum any of it if you asked. Back on the shelf.

Peak on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart: #20

Track: only 1 track, 4:10 album version.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None. Never saw the movie or even an episode of The Wild Thornberrys that I can recall. Of course, that was 17 years ago so who knows?

Previously revisited for the blog:
Stranger To Stranger (2016)
So Beautiful or So What (2011)
Negotiations and Love Songs 1971-1986 (1988)
Rhythm of the Saints (1990)
Graceland (1986)
The Concert in Central Park (1982)
Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Rodriguez - Searching For Sugar Man: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2012)

Like many people, I came to the music of Rodriguez via the 2012 Academy Award–winning documentary film Searching for Sugar Man. I won't go into the whole thing in this space, but you should watch it if you haven't already. It's an amazing, bittersweet success story of suffering artist. As for the music, it is simply fantastic folk-pop protest music from the early '70s. It is of its time and it's a shame it wasn't more popular here in the U.S. upon release. I should spin this thing more often than I do.

"The recordings, off two albums and a few track sessions, prove Rodriguez to be a gifted songwriter with a penchant for lyrical flourishes influenced by Bob Dylan, and echoing Van Morrison’s jazz-rock-soul masterpiece, 'Astral Weeks.' At times, it recalls another great Latin soul singer-songwriter of the period, Jose Feliciano." - L.A. Times

No liner notes to speak of, but lyrics are included.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #76

Tracks: Don't skip any. I'll be honest - the songs are even better after you've seen the documentary.
  1. Sugar Man
  2. Crucify Your Mind
  3. Cause
  4. I Wonder 
  5. Like Janis
  6. This Is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues
  7. Can't Get Away
  8. I Think of You
  9. Inner City Blues
  10. Sandrevan Lullaby – Lifestyles
  11. Street Boy
  12. A Most Disgusting Song
  13. I'll Slip Away
  14. Jane S. Piddy
Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 14 are taken from the album Cold Fact (1970)
Tracks 3, 8, 10 and 12 are from the album Coming from Reality (1971)
Tracks 7, 11 and 13 were recorded for Rodriguez' unfinished third album and were later included as bonus tracks on the Coming from Reality 2009 US re-issue

Record World, April 11, 1970, p. 18

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Watching the doc quickly followed by purchase of the CD. I've always wanted to re-watch the film at some point and now I'm thinking that today might be that point.