Silver Apples - Silver Apples/Contact
Man, people believed in new music in 1969. I'm not talking about hippie indulgence, but really expanding what constituted music and the means to make it. Silver Apples was a duo that sounds just as futuristic today, mixing minimal melody over mechanized beats. Singer and percussionist Simeon plays an instrument of his design also called The Simeon (devised of "nine audio oscillators and eighty-six manual manual controls...The lead and rhythm oscillators are played with the hands, elbows and knees and the bass oscillators are played with the feet."), taking self-indulgence aesthetic to new glorious heights. Adding to hi bleeps and bloops are Danny Taylor's short circuited monotonous drumming. It is utterly alien but heart warming in the same regard. Like if Stereolab really meant it.
Graham Parker and the Rumour - Squeezing out Sparks/Live Sparks
This has turned out to be my favorite of the haul. I've tried to get into Graham Parker a number of times before, even with this album, but it never took. He was someone I wanted in my arsenal for those occasions when someone was going on and on about the early Elvis Costello records, wanting to be able to nonchalantly trot out "Sure, but have you ever listened to Graham Parker...." Well, now I have and can and will. The album is dated as fuck but his tone still lacerates, cracks like the new wave whip when it was tight and insouciant. Went after all the urges, 'til some kind of truth emerges, we felt those deadly surges - that is a couplet worth drunkenly quoting in a moment of vodka-truth, and every rockabilly band worth its anachronistic salt should be covering "Saturday Night is Dead" in their encore set. I fear diminishing returns will quickly emerge if I go too deep into the late 70's pub rock thing, but this album is killer and timeless.
King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
One of theses days I will have to face the fact that I not only like prog rock, but I kinda love it in a dirty little secret way. This dinosaur sat facing in the reshelve rack, beckoning and I heeded the siren call of all that jazz flute and soft, padding drums. This record is gorgeous, especially the narco-sylvan "I Talk To the Wind." The much ballyhooed "21st Century Schizoid Man" come out a little too dated, not enough Black and too much Sabbath, but the rest of record is indulgent elf-rockery of the highest order. Robert Fripp might be the key figure of King Crimson, but its Ian Macdonald's keys and flutes and Mellotron figures that really owns the day here. A man could nod out on the couch with magnificent results with this records toodling and mooding away in the background.
Also, back in the mid to late 80's, New Orleans DJ Coyote Jay Calhoun hosted a Sunday night show Sneak Music Previews where the pop radio authorities loosened his leash and let him play Oingo Boingo and The Cure and Bauhaus and so on. We didn't catch college radio out in the sticks, so Sneak Music Previews was like a ship on the horizon to us. He was a huge King Crimson fan and would toss in liberal doses from the Adrian Belew era KC, but I remember one night, perhaps his last, he played the entire 9 minute of the title track. I hated it then, thinking that this old hippie had lost the scent of his trail, but now it makes me think fondly of him.
Mission of Burma - A Gun To The Head: A Selection From The Ace Of Hearts Era
I know it is well nigh-sacrilege to say this being a man of my vintage, but I could never really get into Mission of Burma. During my college DJ years, they were one of those bands that I knew was consistent, that I could throw nearly any track off Vs in a set and they would maintain the pace long enough for me to figure out something I really wanted to play. I cannot imagine the ease of having a database to plod through, allowing you to line up a show in advance. Back then, you would get a spark of inspiration, and then put on a long enough song to give you time to run back to the stacks and hopefully dredge up the album necessary to turn that spark into a roaring fire of playlist genius. Mission of Burma was one of those bands.
Listening to it now, I can see the error of my ways. I would have been way into this back then: it's just martial enough, just mopey enough, just nervous enough. I would have scrawled snippets from "Academy Fight Song" in the margins of my notebooks - stay just as far from me as me from you/make sure that you are sure of everything I do/because I'm not not not not not not not not .....your acadeMY! - I think it might be too late for me now, though were time travel be possible, I'd somehow make a cassette of this CD and tap a long-haired neurotic 20-year old me on the shoulder and say "here".