The Velvet Underground & Nico (The ’59) #057

The ’59 2018 #057: 180226

The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

This year, Jem of Jemtunes, born in 1959, turns 59. So ‘The ’59’ celebrates 59 years of cracking tunes with a few albums from each year – 1959 through 2018. We’re currently at year 9 – 1967.

The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in 1964 in New York City by singer/guitarist Lou Reed, multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus MacLise (replaced by Moe Tucker in 1965). The band was initially active between 1965 and 1973, and was briefly managed by the pop artist Andy Warhol, serving as the house band at the Factory and Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable events from 1966 to 1967. Their debut was released in March 1967 by Verve Records.

Accompanied by vocalist Nico, the album was recorded in 1966 while the band were featured on Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia event tour, which gained attention for its experimental performance sensibilities and controversial lyrical topics, including drug abuse, prostitution, sadomasochism and sexual deviancy.

Though the record was a commercial failure upon release and was almost entirely ignored by contemporary critics, it’s now widely recognized as one of the greatest and most influential albums in the history of popular music. In 1982, musician Brian Eno famously stated that while the album initially only sold approximately 30,000 copies, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”

In 2003, it ranked 13th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.


Talking Heads – The name of this band is… (Epic #320)

The Epic 2017 Project #320: 171116

Talking Heads – The name of this band is… (1981)

The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads is a double live album by Talking Heads, originally released in 1981. The first disc featured the original quartet in recordings from 1977 and 1979, and the second disc the expanded ten-piece lineup that toured in 1980 and 1981. The album contains live versions of songs that appear on their first four studio albums, Talking Heads: 77, More Songs About Buildings and Food, Fear of Music, and Remain in Light. The cassette edition of the album included “Cities” as a bonus track not included on the vinyl edition – this track has been included on the subsequent CD release.

The title of the album is a reference both to the group’s preference for having no expressed definite article within the band name (as opposed to “The Talking Heads”) and to David Byrne’s minimalist introductions to songs. The album opens with one such introduction: “The name of this song is New Feeling. That’s what it’s about.”

An expanded version of the record, on CD in the United States for the first time, was released in 2004 by Sire/Warner Bros./Rhino. It duplicated the pattern of the original with the first disc featuring the quartet alone, and the second disc a ten-member band. Additional tracks from 1978 are among the eight extra songs on the first disc, and correct running order for the set from the larger band on the second disc.

Unusually for an American band, the original vinyl release came out a year earlier in the UK than it did Stateside.

Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues (Epic #319)

The Epic 2017 Project #319: 171115

Talking Heads -Speaking in Tongues (1983)

peaking in Tongues is the fifth studio album from Talking Heads, released in 1983. Following the band’s split with producer Brian Eno and a short hiatus which allowed the individual members to pursue side projects, recording began in 1982. It became the band’s commercial breakthrough and produced the band’s first (and only) American Top 10 hit, “Burning Down the House”, which was accompanied by a promotional video.

The album’s tour was documented in Jonathan Demme’s film Stop Making Sense, which generated a live album of the same name. (The concert film and live album’s title comes from the repeated phrase “Stop making sense!” during the song “Girlfriend Is Better”.) In addition, the album crossed over to the dance charts where it peaked at number two for six weeks. It was also the group’s highest-charting album on the American Billboard 200.


Talking Heads – More songs about buildings and food (Epic #318)

The Epic 2017 Project #318: 171114

Talking Heads – More songs about buildings and food (1978)

Talking Heads’ second studio album – More Songs About Buildings and Food – was released in July 1978. The album was the first of three Talking Heads LPs produced by collaborator Brian Eno. It saw the group move musically toward a danceable style, crossing singer David Byrne’s unusual delivery with new emphasis on the rhythm section (made up of bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz).

More Songs established the group as a critical success, reaching No.21 in the UK Albums Chart. It featured the group’s first Top 30 single, a cover of Al Green’s “Take Me to the River”.


10cc – The Original Soundtrack (Epic #315)

The Epic 2017 Project #315: 171111

10cc – The Original Soundtrack (1975)

The Original Soundtrack was 10cc’s  third studio album. It was released in 1975 and peaked at number four on the UK Albums Chart. The Original Soundtrack includes the singles “Life Is a Minestrone”, and “I’m Not in Love”, the band’s most popular song.

The album was recorded and produced by the band at Strawberry Studios in 1974 with Eric Stewart engineering and mixing. The album received good reviews when originally released on LP and cassette by Mercury Records in March 1975. It has since been reissued on several occasions with bonus tracks and has been remastered. The artwork was designed by Hipgnosis and illustrated by artist Humphrey Ocean.

“I’m not in love’ also featured on ‘The awesome Mix – Vol. 1’ – the soundtrack to the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy – one of my favourite films of the 21st century so far.


Sparks – Mael Intuition (Epic #301)

The Epic 2017 Project #301: 171028

Sparks – Mael Intuition (1977)

Sparks formed in Los Angeles in 1972 with brothers Ron on keyboards and Russell Mael on vocals. Sparks’ music is often accompanied by intelligent, sophisticated, and acerbic lyrics, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell’s animated, hyperactive frontman antics and Ron’s deadpan scowling. They are also noted for Russell Mael’s falsetto voice and Ron Mael’s keyboard playing style.

While achieving chart success in various countries around the world including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the United States, they have enjoyed a cult following since their first releases. During the late 1970s, when in collaboration with Giorgio Moroder, Sparks reinvented themselves as a new wave/synth-pop band, and abandoned the traditional rock band line-up. Their frequently changing styles and visual presentations have kept the band at the forefront of modern, art-pop music.

Mael Intuition was a best of compilation released in 1977.


Republica – Ready to go (Epic #260)

The Epic 2017 Project #260: 170917

Republica (1996)

Republica was the self-titled debut  released in the USA on 30 July 1996 by RCA Records and in the UK on 5 October 1996 by Deconstruction Records.

Upon its release, Republica received generally positive reviews from music critics and was a commercial success. It peaked at number four on the UK Album Charts. In the United States, it reached number 153 on the Billboard 200 and was also successful in other countries, such as Germany and New Zealand.

Three singles were released from the album: “Bloke” and two hit singles, “Ready to Go” and “Drop Dead Gorgeous”.