Double Nickels on the Dime – Minutemen (1984)


Double Nickels on the Dime is the third album by American punk trio Minutemen, released on the California independent record label SST Records in 1984. A double album containing 45 songs, Double Nickels on the Dime combines elements of punk rock, funk, country, spoken word and jazz, and references a variety of themes, from the Vietnam War and racism in America, to working-class experience and linguistics. After recording new material, each band member selected songs for different sides of the double album, with the fourth side named ‘Chaff’. Several songs on Double Nickels on the Dime were outsourced to or inspired by contemporaries, such as Black Flag‘s Henry Rollins and Jack Brewer of Saccharine Trust. Double Nickels on the Dime is seen not only as Minutemen’s crowning achievement, but, according to critic Mark Deming, ‘one of the very best American rock albums of the 1980s’. … Minutemen were formed by guitarist D. Boon and bassist Mike Watt, both from San Pedro, California, in 1980.[5] After their previous band, The Reactionaries, disbanded in 1979, the pair continued to write new material and formed the band with drummer Frank Tonche a year later. Minutemen signed to the Californian independent record label SST Records following their second gig. George Hurley, the former drummer of The Reactionaries, replaced Tonche as drummer soon afterwards. The Minutemen were noted in the California punk scene for a philosophy of ‘jamming econo’; a sense of thriftiness reflected in their touring and presentation. …”
Wikipedia
Pitchfork
Graded on a Curve: Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
allmusic (Audio)
YouTube: Double Nickels On The Dime LP 1:22:49

The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash and the Wheels of Steel (1981)


“As digital sampling becomes more and more pervasive as a recording technique, the belief that anything is possible in a studio nowadays is also on the rise. But in 1981 ‘The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash and the Wheels of Steel’ took the cut-and-paste-sound approach used covertly on many records today (when they’re not abusing Auto-Tune) and the scavenging of other songs as its very subject. The number asks: How smart can you steal? How slick can you mix? This technical apex of one of rap’s leading disc-spinners is tremendously influential; many of today’s dance-music and rock productions are unimaginable without it. Flash started as a South Bronx dance-hall disc jockey whose trademark was taking his favorite rock and rap songs and repeating their hottest elements for heightened effect. Although credited to the full vocal group he supported, ‘Wheels of Steel’ was a solo shot by Flash designed to show off the wizardry that knocked ’em out live. After a stuttering intro, Flash lets Blondie’s ‘Rapture,’ Chic’s ‘Good Times,’ and Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust,’ as well as snippets from earlier Flash/Five singles glide in and slam out of the unwavering beat. These songs of different tempos all fit without being forced. Spoken sections, boasts, and song apexes are finely woven into an amazingly seamless whole. Before the serrated-edged righteousness of ‘The Message’ and ‘White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)’ turned attention to rapper and writer Melle Mel, the group was a showcase for Flash. This is why.”
boingboing
W – “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash and the Wheels of Steel”
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: Grandmaster Flash – The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel (original mix)

Subway Sect – Peel Session 1977


“Subway Sect to end the week – Their first session for John Peel, recorded on October 17, 1977 and first broadcast on October 24th of that year. Subway Sect were one of the first British punk bands. Although their commercial success was limited by the small amount of recorded material they released, they have been credited as highly influential on the Postcard Records scene and the indie pop genre which followed. The core of the band was singer-songwriter, Vic Godard, plus assorted soul fans, who congregated around early gigs by the Sex Pistols until Malcolm McLaren suggested they form their own band. Subway Sect were among the performers at the 100 Club Punk Festival on Monday, 21 September 1976 – sharing the bill with Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Clash and the Sex Pistols. The first line-up of Godard on vocals, Paul Packham on drums, Paul Myers on bass and Rob Symmons on guitar lasted for 4 gigs before Mark Laff replaced Packham. …”
Past Daily (Audio)
YouTube: Subway Sect – Peel Session 1977

Dub Housing – Pere Ubu (1978)


“Though Pere Ubu‘s tenure on Mercury lasted one record, their departure for their unlikely home of Chrysalis (at the time the label of Jethro Tull) resulted in Dub Housing, widely considered their masterpiece. Darker and more difficult than The Modern Dance (indicated by the cover’s darkened apartment complex and stormy Cleveland skyline) with plenty of bleak soundscapes (e.g., ‘Codex’), Dub Housing also includes ‘Navvy’s’ bouncy burble (featuring Thomas yelping ‘I have desires!’), and ‘(Pa) Ubu Dance Party’s surreal big beat. Make no mistake, as much as Ubu indulged in arty dissonance and mucked about with song structure, this is very much a rock & roll record, albeit one made by a band interested in pushing the envelope when it came to sound, song construction, and performance. As much as this is a band effort, the guitar of Tom Herman and the synthesizer of Allen Ravenstine frequently stand out. Herman’s strong, polished playing veers from assertive riffing to assaultive noise; Ravenstine, who may be one of the all-time great synth players, colors the sound with ominous whooshes of distortions, blips, and blurbs that sound like a sped-up Pong game. But, as is often the case with Ubu, it’s David Thomas‘ singing (here at its most engagingly unrestrained) that is front and center. Part comic foil, part raging madman, Thomas utilizes all of his limited range in a whacked expressiveness built around hiccups, yodels, screeches, and, sometimes, singing. Dub Housing sold next to nothing and signaled the beginning of the end of Ubu‘s relationship with Chrysalis, but it remains an important and influential American rock record.”
allmusic
W – Dub Housing
Favourite Album-Pere Ubu
Genius
iTunes
YouTube: Dub Housing 10 videos

Catch a Fire – Bob Marley and the Wailers (1973)


Catch a Fire was the major label debut for Bob Marley and the Wailers, and it was an international success upon its release in 1973. Although Bob Marley may have been the main voice, every member of the Wailers made valuable contributions and they were never more united in their vision and sound. All the songs were originals, and the instrumentation was minimalistic in order to bring out the passionate, often politically charged lyrics. Much of the appeal of the album lies in its sincerity and sense of purpose — these are streetwise yet disarmingly idealistic young men who look around themselves and believe they might help change the world through music. Marley sings about the current state of urban poverty (‘Concrete Jungle’) and connects the present to past injustices (‘Slave Driver’), but he is a not a one-trick pony. He is a versatile songwriter who also excels at singing love songs such as his classic ‘Stir It Up.’ Peter Tosh sings the lead vocal on two of his own compositions — his powerful presence and immense talent hint that he would eventually leave for his own successful solo career. More than anything else, however, this marks the emergence of Bob Marley and the international debut of reggae music. Marley would continue to achieve great critical and commercial success during the 1970s, but Catch a Fire is one of the finest reggae albums ever. This album is essential for any music collection.”
allmusic
W – Catch a Fire
YouTube: Stir It Up (Live), Concrete Jungle – The Grey Old Whistle Test, Slave driver
YouTube: Catch A Fire 1973 Full Album

Lesson No. 1 – Glenn Branca (1980)


Lesson No. 1 was Glenn Branca‘s first release as a composer. Originally issued as a 12″ EP, or mini-album, it featured two tracks, the beautiful and accessible title track — composed as a response to listening to Joy Division‘s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart,’ and the frenetically assaultive ‘Dissonance,’ which has lost none of its power. The players on this date were organist Anthony Coleman, drummer Stephen Wischerth, F.L.Schroder on bass, Branca and Michael Gross on guitars and, on the latter track, Harry Spitz on Sledgehammer. This compact disc reissue on Acute contains ‘Bad Smells,’ an unreleased track from the Ascension sessions that came two years later. The band here features five guitarists: Branca, David Rosenbloom, Ned Sublette, Lee Ranaldo, and Thurston Moore, as well as bassist Jeffrey Glenn and Wischerth. There is also a QuickTime video movie of “Symphony No. 5” included. One of the most compelling things about this release is how fully developed Branca‘s ideas were even at this early juncture. His micro- and over-tonal notions as overlooked visceral elements in rock & roll prove worthy mettle here, and even on ‘Dissonance’ with its catharsis and knotty harmonics, rock & roll is never far from the fore in his method. ‘Bad Smells’ has a different, more complex dynamic, especially from the outset, but the sense of urgency is there, along with the shimmering, barely hidden melodic frames that keep the entire thing evolving on the axis of its pulse. Guitarist Alan Licht provides a fine critical history and appreciation in his liner notes, making for a historically relevant package. But in spite of its obvious contribution not only to vanguard music, but to Sonic Youth‘s sound, the music here is actually pleasant and compelling to listen to, and does not sound like a relic out of time and space, or a curiosity piece from long ago. Lesson No. 1 is a powerful, wrenching, transcendent piece of rock guitar classicism that, if there is any justice, will get a wider and more appreciative hearing in the new century.”
allmusic
W – Lesson No. 1
Pitchfork
iTunes
YouTube: Lesson No. 1 Full EP

Elvis Costello – With My Aim Is True (1978)


“Anyone can whine. But as a seemingly infinite stream of cliché-obsessed singer/songwriters using misery as a thinly veiled ploy to get laid has proven, very few people can do it well. Drawing inspiration from banal personal miseries and girlfriend tragedies may indeed turn songwriting into some kind of a cleansing experience, but nobody wants to be sprayed in the face with someone else’s emotional Lysol. And being preached to? That’s nearly as bad. Screamy thugs recycling endless bullshit about the oppressive and destructive state of capitalism, and yet selling their records for profit– where’s the dignity in that? Elvis Costello, more so than any other musician before or since, has managed to integrate the insight of personal music and the conviction of political music, while avoiding the self-indulgent pitfalls of both. To put it another way, Elvis Costello could sing a song about the oppressive and destructive state of his girlfriend and pull it off with wit and talent to spare. With My Aim Is True, Costello immediately established himself as the world’s foremost angry geek with something to prove. And while the songs on that album were absolutely stellar, Costello had yet to make his defining statement. …”
Pitchfork
W – With My Aim Is True
This Year’s Model Is Still Elvis Costello at His Angry Best (Video)
YouTube: This Years Model HD (Full Album)