Digital Roundup: 3/26/14
Now available on iTunes...
Belfegore, Belfegore: For the longest time, virtually the only Americans who were familiar with the German band Belfegore either grew up in the ‘80s or grew up in Europe, and that’s fair enough: they released a sum total of two albums during their brief existence, and only one of them – their 1984 self-titled effort – ever saw release in the States. Belfegore got a highly belated boost to their profile in 2011, however, thanks to David Fincher using their lone U.S. single, “All That I Wanted,” as the soundtrack to a scene in his film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Was that what led to the remastering and expanding of Belfegore to include an additional half-dozen remixes and alternate versions of songs, or was it just a general celebration of the album’s 30th anniversary? Either way, if you’re a fan of ’80s goth rock and you’ve never heard it before, you’re sure to get a kick out of it.
Buck 65, Secret House Against the World: If your knowledge of Buck 65 (real name Richard Terfry) was limited to the opening line of his Wikipedia entry, then you’d think of him solely as a Canadian alternative hip-hop artist, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with being Canadian – we all have our crosses to bear – the diverse sounds he produces on his albums are no more alternative hip-hop than Beck. In fact, Beck’s not a bad point of reference for describing the feel of 2005’s Secret House Against the World. If you care about critics’ opinions, Robert Christgau gave the album a B+ and said that Buck 65 and his occasional collaborators Tortoise and D-Styles, “reclaim the sonic legacy of Serge Gainsbourg.” Intrigued? Give “Devil’s Eyes” a listen and see how it grabs you.
The Call, Into the Woods: Fans of the Call are likely still mourning the death of frontman Michael Been after suffering a heart attack in 2011, as no one had a voice quite like that guy (although his son, Robert Levon Been, late of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, comes pretty close at times), but at least now both of the band’s albums from their stint on Elektra are available digitally. While its predecessor, Reconciled, features the Call song that more people know than any other, even if they know it because of Tim Cappello’s cover from the soundtrack to The Lost Boys – that’d be “I Still Believe,” of course – Into the Woods was reportedly Been’s favorite Call album, and it’s a choice that’s hard to argue: it’s hard to go wrong with songs like “I Don’t Wanna,” “The River,” “The Woods,” and “Memory.”
Love, Da Capo / The Best of Love: When looking over the legacy of Love, selecting Forever Changes as the band’s best album is the most obvious way to go, but if you decide to go with Da Capo instead, even those who don’t agree aren’t likely to waste their breath complaining about your pick, either. Released in the waning months of 1966, Da Capo was in no way a sophomore slump, taking the psychedelic-folk sound the band had established on their self-titled debut and sounding even more assured than they already had. (Given that that Albert Lee was never exactly lacking in self-confidence, this was a pretty impressive feat in and of itself.) You probably already know the album’s singles, “Seven and Seven Is” and “She Comes in Colors,” but songs like the rocking “Stephanie Knows Who” and the psychedelic “Orange Skies” are well worth exploring. Fair warning: if you find the idea of listening to the almost-19-minute-long “Revelation,” which closes the album, maybe start slow with your exploration of the band and check out The Best of Love first. It’s a great sampling of Love’s catalog, and if you dig it, then you might just you’re prepared to accept “Revelation” after all.
Charles Mingus, Me, Myself An Eye: If you’re a diehard fan of Charles Mingus, then you likely already know that it’s somewhat of a half-truth to call this a Mingus album, since Mingus himself doesn’t actually perform on it, due to the debilitating effects of ALS, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease taking away his ability to hold the bass. Thankfully, trumpeter Jack Walrath took Mingus’s tapes and piano sketches and did a damned fine job of taking these four tracks – “Three Worlds of Drums,” “Devil Woman,” “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting,” and “Carolyn ‘Keki’ Mingus” – and turning them into something that Mingus would be proud of. (Walrath was less than pleased with how his efforts were represented in the album’s credits, however, which resulted in a letter of clarification that appeared in the pages of Downbeat that you can read here.)
High Anxiety / Mel Brooks' Greatest Hits featuring the Fabulous Film Scores of John Morris : Okay, this is a slightly unique collection, but if you’re a Mel Brooks fan, you’re going to want to pay attention, because this is definitely something you’re going to want to own. Although the cover art and the first five tracks of this set are devoted to Brooks’ Hitchcock parody, High Fidelity, the remaining 11 tracks are taken from other Brooks films, including – among others – The Producers (“Springtime for Hitler”), The Twelve Chairs (“Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst”), Blazing Saddles (the title song), and Young Frankenstein (“Puttin’ On the Ritz”). We’re not quite sure why High Fidelity gets all the glory on the cover, but given the classic comedic material contained herein, we’re not going to waste time worrying about it.
The Mod Squad: There are probably other soundtracks that scream “1990s” more overtly than the one for the 1999 film adaptation of the TV series The Mod Squad, but any collection that features songs from Crash Test Dummers, the Breeders, Everlast, and Bjork certainly qualifies for consideration. For the record, the soundtrack is better than the film itself, but, man, if that’s not damning something with faint praise…