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Archive for October 2nd, 2014

Old Friends: Legacy Collects Simon & Garfunkel Discography

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Simon and Garfunkel - Albums CoverPaul Simon met Art Garfunkel in the halls of Queens, New York’s P.S. 164 in the sixth grade, with both young men cast in a school production of Alice in Wonderland. They soon bonded over a mutual love of music, and by 1956, Simon and Garfunkel were performing locally as “Tom and Jerry,” modeling themselves on the Everly Brothers, with whom they would later collaborate. Though he and Simon briefly split in the early 1960s, they reunited for 1964’s Wednesday Morning 3 AM, a low-key collection of folk songs, including a number of originals penned by the precociously talented Simon. It was lost in the shuffle of the British Invasion, however, and Simon retreated to England while Garfunkel resumed his studies. When Columbia Records decided to reissue Wednesday Morning’s “The Sound of Silence” with electric overdubs in September 1965, Simon and Garfunkel were presented with ample reason to reform: the song was climbing its way to No. 1, hitting that coveted spot on New Year’s Day, 1966. Their second album, Sounds of Silence, was recorded in December 1965 during that heady time when “Silence” was making waves in the music industry. The rest is history. Though 1970’s Bridge Over Troubled Water remains the final Simon & Garfunkel studio album to date, the subsequent decades have been marked by numerous reunions. As long as both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are performing, chances are another reunion will eventually take place. For now and always, though, their legacy exists in the small but vital catalogue they’ve left behind.

On November 24, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings will issue Simon & Garfunkel’s The Complete Albums Collection, a 12-CD Box set containing:

  • All five of Simon & Garfunkel’s stereo studio albums released between 1964 and 1970, newly remastered from first-generation analog sources;
  • First-time remasters of The Graduate soundtrack and 1981’s The Concert in Central Park;
  • 1972’s Greatest Hits album (which contained some unique performances unavailable elsewhere); and
  • Live concert albums from 1967, 1969 and 2004, as first released in 2002, 2008 and 2004, respectively.

Hit the jump for more details on this new collection including pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 2, 2014 at 14:51

Reviews: The Posies, “Failure” and Game Theory, “Blaze of Glory”

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Game Theory - Blaze of GloryThere’s something about power pop.

In this era of EDM and songwriting-by-committee (not that there’s anything wrong with that – is there?), there’s still something about a couple of guys armed with little but guitars, harmonies, and their own imaginations, driven to create a joyful noise. In this era when radio is dominated by music that can’t be duplicated onstage without benefit of technology, there’s something about the thought of musicians just plugging in and getting back-to-basics.

Omnivore Recordings is at the vanguard of keeping the flame of power pop alive – the genre whose name was coined by Pete Townshend in the late 1960s to describe “what the Small Faces used to play, and the kind of pop The Beach Boys played in the days of ‘Fun, Fun, Fun.’” Power pop, then and now, is all about bold, bright, melodic, guitar-driven nuggets that you just can’t get out of your head. The Omnivore team has lavishly expanded two home-recorded debut albums that stand among the best, most creative, and most exuberant of the genre: Game Theory’s 1982 Blaze of Glory and The Posies’ 1988 Failure.

Power pop, however, doesn’t strictly define Blaze of Glory (Omnivore OVCD-96). The album, recorded in singer-songwriter-frontman Scott Miller’s bedroom at his parents’ house, could wear any number of tags as well: D.I.Y. rock, college rock, alternative rock. Miller formed Game Theory out of the ashes of Alternate Learning, his college band based in Sacramento and Davis, California. Alternate Learning had released an EP in 1979 and an LP in 1981 before disbanding early in 1982 and paving the way for Game Theory. Miller created his new band with Alternate Learning alumna Nancy Becker (keyboards/vocals), Fred Juhos (bass/guitar/vocals) and Michael Irwin (drums). It’s telling that Miller once roomed at school with Steve Wynn, who formed The Dream Syndicate in 1981 and became a leading light of the Paisley Underground sound; Wynn contributes to the liner notes of Omnivore’s reissue, recalling how he introduced Miller to power pop legends Big Star. It turns out that Miller wasn’t influenced by Alex Chilton and company (though “he took to the band on one listen,” per Wynn), but rather by The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Elvis Costello. All of those influences seeped into Game Theory, albeit with a heavy sheen of new wave, rendered in lo-fi style with prominent keyboards and guitars.

There’s certainly a dose of early Costello-esque acidity; on the raggedly primitive “Tin Scarecrow” (a lyrical Wizard of Oz amalgam), Miller wryly sneers, “Now you’re the way of the vacuum/Another human being’s freedom in the suck bag,” followed by appropriate sound effects! There’s a marked Beatles feel in the vocals and the arrangement of “The Young Drug,” despite its proclamation that “The future’s black and blue…it’s not 1962!” But if “The Young Drug” sounds a bit like what Andy Partridge was concocting with XTC at roughly the same time, Game Theory more closely resembles Devo on the full-throttle new wave attack of “White Blues.”

“Date with an Angel” shows Miller’s rapidly-evolving songcraft, via both the dynamics of its melody and its lyrical rebuffing of love-song conventions. “All I Want is Everything,” a frenetic post-punk rocker that lasts just slightly more than a minute, has Miller in biting mode: “She destroys me because she loves me/It’s like a wire around my neck/It’s making me a nervous wreck/I push away but still I cling/All I want from her is everything.” Yet he’s still attracted to the object of his affection and ire. Ditto on “Stupid Heart,” with Miller vocally recalling John Lennon in his vocals over a thumping blues-rock beat and insisting, “You could make suicide so easy…” Sonically, it’s one of the trippiest compositions here and the closest to explaining Pink Floyd as a part of the DNA of Game Theory! The more relaxed “You Give Me Chills” also finds the singer confronting a girl who makes him “so afraid” with typical ambivalence: “I don’t want to/still I stay.” The style and sound may be different, but Miller’s barbed lyrical musings on love follow a line that can be drawn all the way back to the Tin Pan Alley of yore.

One of the pleasures of Blaze of Glory is its stylistic variety within the D.I.Y. context. A martial beat drives “Mary Magdalene” (“’Cause sometimes I feel just like Mary Magdalene…Lord, this must be the blues”). Its Kafka reference befits the college-rock tag, but not nearly so much as “Bad Day at UCLA,” naturally. The song is presented on Omnivore’s reissue in three distinctive recordings: the persuasive original, a charmingly rough live version, and a brief reprise. Miller’s youth isn’t specifically addressed often in his songs on Blaze, but he supplies an evocative set of soul-searching lyrics for “Sleeping Through Heaven” which drip with post-collegiate angst but also with cleverness and sharp observation.

There’s much more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 2, 2014 at 10:32

Posted in Game Theory, News, Reissues, Reviews, The Posies

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