Monday, September 15, 2014

Chikkin - Which Came First?

Chikkin - Which Came First?

Egg EGA-3690, Canada, 1978

Not much information about this band other than that they were a three piece from the Toronto area. I can't really slot this album into any particular genre as there are so many influences thrown about that it tends to be a bit of a mash-up. Pop commercialism, rock balladry, sixties whimsy, spacey electronics, jazz excursions and a great dollop of quirkiness; they all come and go without apparent aim.

There actually are some good moments and interesting ideas to be found. Certainly album opener "Replica" with it's funky wah'ed guitar is worth a listen. As well, track 5, the jazzy instrumental "Spacious", showcases some nice guitar and piano work.
Ultimately, though,  Which Came First? fails in three important ways. The above mentioned lack of stylistic direction is one, but I don't think this is the major factor, as several bands have recorded great albums that are far from stylistically linear. A second failure I find is in the mixing. The bass and drums are too forward for my liking, often burying the other instruments. The biggest letdown, however, is in the overall sound, and especially the vocals. I have seen them described as wimpish and really, I can't say it better. There just seems to be no meat here.
All said, I don't think of this as a bad album per se, but rather a big disappointment. I do hear alot of potential here. Perhaps with more time spent writing and some better vocals Chikkin could have made a pretty good rock album. In the end I am left wondering what could have been.

Where this album excels, oddly enough, is in the packaging, so much so that I could even scratch my head and wonder if the music was written to provide reason for the physical product. The band name appears in reflective silver foil on the front cover which is only a slightly interesting gimmick (that hasn't stood the test of time well as it seems most copies are damaged in this area). However, upon removal of the vinyl from the sleeve we find that Chikkin's album, which is on the Egg label (har har), is pressed on clean white vinyl with a lovely yellow label so that the disc itself looks like a big fried egg. And this is why I, and I would suspect many others, bought this album unheard in the first place. Note that original packaging includes an inner lyric sleeve.

Side 1 - 1. Replica 2. Upthisclose 3. Martyr In Vinyl 4. Correspondence 5. Spacious
Side 2 - 1. I'm Not A Sin 2. The Quitter 3. Moonlit Hill 4. Starbrite 5. Big Dream Sell

Greg Evans-bass/synthesizer/vocals;
David Tomlinson-drums/percussion/vocals;
Eddy Valiquette-guitar/vocals.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Gabriel - Abnormal Situation

Gabriel - Abnormal Situation

private press, no label/no cat. #, Canada, 1983

Here is an interesting thrift store find. This private pressing is by a band who appear to be from Manitoba, possibly the Winnipeg area.
Playing mostly 60s/70s rock covers, with a few originals thrown in, the album is a mix of live (at the Royal Albert Arms Hotel in Winnipeg) and studio recordings, the live tracks having a muffled sound quality. The covers are not bad, demonstrating some decent guitar work. Kudos to them for even taking a stab at the Hendrix version of "Star Spangled Banner", but watch out for their dire attempt at The Police's "Roxanne"

Of the originals "Dragon Attack" is especially fine with some ripping lead guitar. I played this track three times in a row upon my first spin of the disc. The track "Fifteen", however, is pretty bad.
I have no idea if Gabriel ever made it beyond this self-released album, but I am pretty happy to have found this. A nice and obscure artifact from Winnipeg's early 80s rock scene. The Royal Albert Arms Hotel is still going with music on a nightly basis. If I am ever in the area I will certainly check it out.

Side 1 - 1. Abnormal Situation 2. Fire 3. Holiday 4. My Generation 5. Can't Explain 6. The Star Spangled Banner 7. Dragon Attack
Side 2 - 1. La Grange 2. Roxanne 3. Taxman 4. Fifteen 5. Allright Now 6. Every Little Thing 7. Goin' Down The Road

Russell Mattern-drums/vocals;
Brent DesJarlais-vocals;
Clayton Halverson-guitar/vocals;
Brad Allison-bass/vocals.

Live tracks recorded at The Royal Albert Arms, Feb. 18/19 1983.
Studio tracks recorded at La Garage 589, Oct. 10-Nov. 10 1983.

You can check out the Royal Albert Arms Hotel's facebook page here:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

V/A - The Music Of Cosmos - OST

V/A - The Music Of Cosmos - OST

I should have posted this a few weeks ago, but I have been busy with other things and haven't posted here in a while (will endeavour to change that!).
To celebrate the new updated version of the series Cosmos I present the vinyl soundtrack to the original Carl Sagan hosted series which ran for 13 episodes in 1980.

RCA Victor ABL1-4003, Canada, 1981

Presented in a gatefold sleeve this album features excerpts (sadly) of music featured in the series. While heavy on classical pieces, notable inclusions for progressive fans include music from Vangelis, Synergy and Roy Buchanan, which are full of electronic atmospherics befitting a journey through the galaxy.
The pieces are arranged in three suites per side and segue into each other. Sometimes this works, sometimes not so much. All in all it is an interesting artifact and because of this album I will be seeking out a copy of Roy Buchanan's 1978 LP "You're Not Alone".