The Killers – Hot Fuss (Epic 2017 #142)

The Epic 2017 Project #142: 170522

The Killers – Hot Fuss (2004)

The Killers’ debut studio album, released on June 7, 2004 in the United Kingdom and on June 15, 2004 in the USA. Hot Fuss produced several commercially and critically successful singles: “Mr. Brightside”, “Somebody Told Me”, “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “Smile Like You Mean It”.

The album reached number seven on the Billboard 200 chart and number one on the UK Albums Chart. And as of December 2012, had sold more than seven million copies worldwide, including more than three million in the United States and more than two million in the UK, where it has been certified seven-times platinum. It has also been certified platinum or multi-platinum in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.

The album and its first three singles went on to garner five Grammy Award nominations. Rolling Stone ranked Hot Fuss the 43rd of its “100 Best Albums of the Decade”, and it is one of the five most recent recordings listed among the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Gigwise readers voted it the number-one “Best Debut Album of All Time” in 2013 and Rolling Stone ranked it the 33rd of its list of “The 100 Greatest Debut Albums of All Time”

Grace Jones – Living my life (Epic 2017 #132)

The Epic 2017 Project #132: 170512

Grace Jones – Living my life (1982)

Living My Life is the sixth studio album by Grace Jones, released in 1982. It was the last of three albums she recorded at the Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas.

Jones had already recorded two reggae-oriented albums with the Compass Point Allstars at the Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, with the most recent, Nightclubbing, becoming her most successful record to date. She went back into the studio in 1982 to record an album which would be her final offering in the unofficial Compass Point trilogy. This time around, Jones recorded only one cover, “The Apple Stretching”, which was originally written by Melvin Van Peebles and used in the Broadway show Waltz of the Stork. “Nipple to the Bottle” was co-written with Sly Dunbar, while, apart from “My Jamaican Guy”, the other tracks were collaborations with Barry Reynolds.

The title track “Living My Life”, despite receiving a limited single release, was ultimately left off the album. Further outtakes included the track “Man Around the House” (written by Jones and Barry Reynolds), and a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”. Both tracks were released on the 1998 compilation Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions.

Joe Jackson – Look Sharp (Epic 2017 #123)

The Epic 2017 Project #123: 170503

Joe Jackson – Look Sharp (1979)

Joe Jackson and his band, using money earned by Jackson from touring with the cabaret band Koffee ‘n’ Kream, began recording ‘Look Sharp’ from late 1977 to spring 1978 in a studio in Portsmouth. However, after producer David Kershenbaum heard a demo tape from Jackson, he signed Jackson to A&M Records in 1978, after which Jackson and his band quickly re-recorded the album. This was then followed by a tour to promote it.

“Is She Really Going Out with Him?” was released as a single in the UK prior to the release of Look Sharp!, but it, as well as follow-ups “Sunday Papers” and “One More Time,” failed to make an impact on the charts. Look Sharp! also stalled upon its initial release, but upon the re-release of “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” in Britain (as well as a single release in the US), the album grew in popularity, reaching the top 20 in America. After the performance of the first album, the band quickly recorded a follow-up, I’m the Man, which Jackson describes as “Part Two of Look Sharp!”

Sometime after the album’s release, Jackson put this on website:

What can anyone say about something they did so long ago?! I’m not embarrassed by it, or not by most of it, anyway. It positively reeks of London 1978–79 and, well, it is what it is. I’m glad people liked it, and still like it, though I think some of that is nostalgia and a tendency to romanticise peoples’ first albums, as though later ones must somehow be less ‘authentic’. For a first album, this one’s not bad, but I was only 23 when I made it and it would be pretty weird if I didn’t think I’d done better things since.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TzKSFbsh2Y

Ian Dury – Laughter (Epic 2017 #059)

The Epic 2017 Project #059: 170228

Ian Dury – Laughter (1980)

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The Blockheads had undergone a significant personnel change since their previous album, “Do It Yourself”. Chaz Jankel, who played keyboards and co-wrote most of that album’s songs, had left in the wake of a stressful tour. Jankel’s place on guitar was taken by Wilko Johnson of Dr. Feelgood. Johnson had considered retiring from the music business until he was asked by Davey Payne and Dury, old friends from their pub rock days, to join The Blockheads. The new-line up first appeared on the ‘I Want To Be Straight’ single, which was released before the album, and reached number 22 in the UK pop charts.

Although Ian Dury was becoming harder to work with, the production of Laughter had started out as a relaxed affair, without the presence of Jankel and Dury. Rehearsals commenced in early 1980 at Milner Sound in Fulham, after keyboard player Mick Gallagher had returned from an American tour with The Clash. The group was, at that time, on hiatus after the gruelling promotional tour in support of Do It Yourself. Spurred on by recording commitments, Dury took over the rehearsals to form the basis of his new album and brought in Wilko Johnson, all without consulting the rest of the band.

At that time Dury was an alcoholic, and also addicted to Mogadon, a brand of sedative. Coupled with his bad reaction to celebrity, and his bouts of depression, these addictions caused him to be cantankerous, confrontational, argumentative and controlling. Although these traits had come out during the recording of the group’s previous album, they were at their peak during the record sessions for Laughter. Attempts to question Dury’s judgment would cause explosions of defensiveness and aggression. He also insisted on synchronising the instruments to a click-track, which aggravated a number of the musicians, especially Wilko Johnson. To make matters worse, guitarist Johnny Turnbull suffered a head injury and was afflicted with mood swings. He eventually had a nervous breakdown.

The album was preceded by the single “Sueperman’s Big Sister”, intentionally spelt wrong so to avoid any copyright issues with DC Comics. The single, Stiff Records’ 100th, employed the label for Stiff’s very first (Nick Lowe’s “Heart of the City”) with the track names crossed out and the correct titles and artist (for “Sueperman’s Big Sister”) written in, as if by biro. Laughter was released the same month, November 1980, but the album was not well received by critics and its sales were mediocre. The “Soft As a Baby’s Bottom” tour to support it, however, was a sell-out success. Stiff and Ian Dury parted ways afterwards and he signed a short-lived deal with Polydor Records without The Blockheads.

Blondie – Parallel Lines (Epic 2017 #028)

The Epic 2017 Project #028: 170128

Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978)

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In late 1978, at the tender age of 18, I left home. Following my soulmate northwards, I found a job as a kitchen porter on the campus where the art college she was taking her Ceramics degree was based. For the first year she was (technically) in halls of residence and I was (technically) in staff accommodation on the other side of the campus. But, truth be told, I spent more time in the room she shared with one, Deb Gee. And ‘Parallel Lines’ was, for quite a while, the only record on Debs’ Dansette record player. So we got to know those 12 tracks really well.

Later in the year following release though, we got to see Blondie live as a part of the ‘Parallel Lines’ tour when they played the Loughborough Student Union. Paid £1.75 for my ticket I think! But then my weekly wages in those days were just £30 – so it was still relative!

Tough choice on which track to feature but ‘One way or another’ wins…

Bauhaus – The sky’s gone out (Epic 2017 #018)

The Epic 2017 Project #018: 170118

Bauhaus – The sky’s gone out (1982)

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The Sky’s Gone Out was released in October 1982 by record label Beggars Banquet.

The initial limited edition of the LP included the live album Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape as a bonus. The compact disc reissue of the album dropped the run-out audio from the final track “Exquisite Corpse” and the vinyl edition contains a short recording of drummer Kevin Haskins reading from the play Baal. The Canadian edition of this album also contained a free 12″ vinyl single featuring “Ziggy Stardust”, “Kick in the Eye” and “Lagartija Nick”. This version did not have the distinctive artwork from the US and UK editions, but was instead an enlargement of the cover art from the “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” single.

Suffice to say that I’ve got the original vinyl release complete with the live album. And (although not pictured here) I’m also really proud to have a very limited edition and numbered pressing of the 1983 double vinyl ‘Best Of (1979-1983). Only 500 of these numbered versions were printed. Mine is No. 467.