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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Long After Dark”

        Produced by Tom Petty and Jimmy Iovine

        Design by Tommy Steele and unreadable name

        1982 Backstreet Records

        $5.99 at Amoeba San Francisco

“Long After Dark” was released in 1982. When you see the Tommy Steele designed logo on the original sleeve it’s like you’ve been sent back in time and landed at Bayside High or The Peach Pit of Beverly Hills. The music on the wax however, is, as always with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, for all time. This album, about the anger and deliverance that comes from loving another, has some of Petty’s best songs- “You Got Lucky,” “Change of Heart,” and the obscure gem “Same Old You”- as well as maybe the best line he has ever written, “You were the moon and sun/ You’re just a loaded gun now.” This was the first record with multi-instrumentalist Howie Epstein on bass and is still, 30 years later, evidence of the immortality of genuine all-American rock and roll music.

By Chris Carson

  

Graham Parker “The Mona Lisa’s Sister”

         Produced by Graham Parker and Brinsley Schwarz

         Cover painting by Jack Drummond/ Cover concept by Graham Parker/ Sleeve design by Laurence Stevens

         1988 RCA Corporation

         $2.99 at Amoeba San Francisco

It is a theory, not a law, that the image of Joan of Arc in rock music is used by songwriters who fancy themselves poets. Graham Parker is a pinball poet of sorts, who got his start in the pub rock scene of early 70’s London, and on his solo album, “Mona Lisa’s Sister,” he uses the classic image if Joan of Arc on the stake as a vehicle for discussing more modern issues, like teenage drug abuse and pregnancy, plane hijackings, and no smoking signs. The sound on the record is more acoustic then Parker’s work with his old band The Rumor, but his signature subversive lyrics remain loud and clear. The album cover, a painting by Jack Drummond of a nun in sun glasses smoking a cigarette is still eye catching in this era of Christopher Hitchens and Mother Theresa bashing. This particular copy, purchased for $2.99, skips a bit so it may be worth dropping the extra few bucks for a cleaner copy. But, if you are new to Graham Parker postpone this album all together and buy “Squeezing Out Sparks,” from 1979. It is a good introduction to Parker as it contains “Local Girls,” one of the best pop songs of the last 35 years.

By Chris Carson

  

Robert Fripp “Exposure”
           Produced by Robert Fripp
           Cover Design by Chris Stein
           1979 E.G. Records Lts.
           $2.99 at Amoeba San Francisco
 
After previous years working with Brian Eno on albums like “No Pussyfooting”, and “Another Green World”, guitarist Robert Fripp (of King Crimson fame) arrives at “Exposure” as his first solo album. According to Fripp’s linear notes, “Exposure” originally intended to be a trilogy in relation to Darryl Hall’s (of Hall and Oats fame) solo album “Sacred Songs”, and Peter Gabriel’s (of Genisis fame) “II”. Due to label issues, this trilogy didn’t come into fruition. But the album does feature producing and vocal collaborations by Hall, Gabriel, Eno, Phill Collins, and even Fripp’s girlfriend of the time. Throughout “Exposure”, Fripp combines pop sensibilities like, prog rock and new wave, with sonic experimentation. But the album isn’t great through and through. Unless your a huge freak of hevy prog rock, the A side can be a little bit jarring (Darryl Hall’s voice is a maniacal caveman wishing to be artsy), and slightly too clean of production in its attempts to be chaotic. The title track on the B side clearly shines through. A funky bass rhythm bounce over hypnotic drum snaps, as Fripp’s signature ethereal “Frippertronic” guitar drones over. All the while, vocalist Terre Roche screams in writhing Yoko Onno style only one word: “Exposure”. The song has a classic Krautrock feel, which I hoped “Exposure” would have from the gecko. The B Side, front to back, has some great moments of Fripp trying to tug and release frail Ambience, through his “Frippertronics”, against encroaching heavy rock elements and subervsive music concrete techniques. Despite being his premier solo album, “Exposure” isn’t a highlight in Fripp’s discography. “God Save The Queen” / “Under Heavy Manners”, the follow up second and third album, are twice-fold better: beautifully mediative like his early works with Brian Eno. If your a vinyl completionist nerd “Exposure”, “God Save The Queen”, and “Under Heavy Manners” are the new trilogy Fripp intended, so for $2.99 this pick up wasn’t a bad cop.

By Christopher Moore

  

Luther Vandross “The Night I Fell in Love”

         Produced by Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller

         Art Direction George Corsillo

         1985 Epic Records

         $4.99 Amoeba San Francisco

If you are not familiar with the work of Luther Vandross, this 1985 release may sound a bit like the music you hear when waiting to see the dentist. True, the album does contain a few slow jamz- “”If Only For One Night”, “Creepin’”, “Other Side Of The World”- and Marcus Miller’s bass lines, as well as the heavy emphasis on drum machines and sythenthizers, give it an 80’s sound. But this album is worth a listen for no other reason than it is a great showcase of the artist’s thick, golden vocal ability. The record sleeve is interesting too, as an example of American R&B’s transcendence through pop culture: keyboards and synthesizers were played by Nat Adderley Jr., son of jazz great Nat Adderley, Lisa Fischer, who went on to win a Grammy in 1991 and is currently working with The Rolling Stones, provided backing vocals on the album, the Art Director, George Corsillo would go on to design book covers for the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, and of course, Vandross’s music remains a constant influence on hip-hop.

By Chris Carson

Iggy Pop “Blah, Blah, Blah”

            Produced by David Bowie and David Richards

            Art Direction and Design by Nick Egan

            1986 A&M Records

            $4.99 at Amoeba San Francisco

The first track on this album is Iggy Pop’s rendition of the Johnny O’ Keefe song “Wild One”, though it’s title was changed to “Real Wild Child.” A younger generation of rock fans will probably recognize it from a Ford or Toyota commercial from years ago, just as they may recognize “Lust for Life,” the first track on Pop’s classic 1977 album of the same name, as the song from a string of cruise line commercials. The fact that Pop, who once lived in a house with his fellow Stooges, where the kitchen ceiling, according to the book Please Kill Me, was stained by the blood that would spurt from the band members veins when they pulled the junk needles from their arms, has had much of his work used in ads for family friendly companies is a sign of the, well, pop in Pop’s music. This particular record, though it exemplifies Pop’s style of head nodding rock and roll, and his signature cool but creepy crooner vocals (Pop is like the guy you want to be but would be uncomfortable having in your apartment), is shaded by the heavy production hand of David Bowie. Just as Pop’s first album “The Idiot” sounds like an extension to Bowie’s Berlin-era albums, “Blah, Blah, Blah” sounds like it could be a Bowie solo album.

By Chris Carson

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