Saturday, 12 August 2017

Sunshine Pop a little different: Doug Randle - Songs For The New Industrial State (1970) (2009 Lights In The Attic) Flac & mp3@320

Wow, i have not hear the record for a very long time until today and like every time it's great to listen to the album of Doug Randle, a musician from Canada. It's really a great album of sunshine pop with critical lyrics. The lyrics are not about the usual themes in this kind of music. The music is great orchestrated pop and sunshine pop. I highly recommend the album. To me it's a little masterwork!

"I think there's a hell of a good buck to be made out of solving our problems. So we'll probably solve them for better or worse."
--Doug Randle, quoted in the original liner notes to Songs for the New Industrial State.
There's a funny mix of cynicism and optimism in that quotation from Canadian songwriter Doug Randle that nicely sums up the prevailing sentiment of his lone album. Originally recorded only for broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1970, the record was ostensibly given a new lease on life when the Kanata label picked it up the following year for release, but poor distribution ensured its quick trip into the recesses of Canadian music history, where it remained until now.
On its surface, Songs for the New Industrial State is a sunny pop record adorned with many of the baroque trappings of adult-aimed light music records and California pop-psych, but there's much at work within that glossy interior. Randle turns his background composing music for advertisements inside-out with lyrics that carefully dissect the very methods he employed to sell things and lay their phoniness bare. In the late 60s and early 70s, lyrics decrying the artifice of a plastic world and environmental degradation weren't uncommon, but Randle does it differently, sometimes with a charming awkwardness that leaves the notion of rhyme scheme behind. He'd written musicals for the CBC, and that background is evident here, too-- the album as a whole feels something like an inversion of the industrial musicals that large companies frequently staged at shareholder meetings and sales events from the 40s into the 80s.
Randle doesn't sing or play anything on the album, instead serving as the composer/conductor while steady studio hands take care of the instrumental parts. The dual vocals of Tommy Ambrose and Laurie Bower, which alternate between harmony and unison singing, give the record a distinctive, plush feel. They help to sell Randle's vision of commerce trampling nature and peace of mind amid the fanfare of trumpets and strings as surely as the lady who sang "My Bathroom Is a Private Kind of Place" sold American Standard fixtures. Randle's open-hearted sincerity and tendency to say exactly what he's thinking without irony means that a lot of modern listeners will have to make a bit of an adjustment for lines like "Warm wood/ It looks like warm wood/ Touch it/ It feels like colored plastic."
"Nicolston Dam" has some of the album's best imagery as Randle contrasts the pace of modern life with just sitting and watching trout leap over a dam, which nicely ties in the environmental themes that are also on his mind. On the odd, harpsichord-stuffed "One-Way Swimming" he offers to a hypothetical partner a way to get even further from the modern world: swimming out into the middle of the ocean. It doesn't quite advocate suicide, but it does suggest that falling off the edge of the world might be a nice escape. At the other end of the record, "Vive La Company" is a satirical portrait of a company man and his wife who tailor their interests and conversation to help him up the corporate ladder while their children walk to school singing commercials.
Randle's battle between cynicism about modern life and wide-eyed optimism is ultimately won by the latter, as he ends the album with "Life Will Be Worth Living". Naturally, many concerns on the record still ring true today, even if our ways of talking and singing about them have evolved as our society has moved from industrial to post-industrial. I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but the album is a work of singular vision that earns its second airing through Randle's inventive sense of arrangement and to-the-point honesty.(

       Flac p1  & Flac p2         mp3@320

The 13th Floor Elevators - Bull Of The Woods 1969 (1993 Collectables Records) Flac & mp3@320

While the 13th Floor Elevators' debut album caught them as they were still buzzing with the excitement of their musical journey through inner space and Easter Everywhere found them exploring the possibilities of the recording studio as well as their own creative process, their final studio set, 1969's Bull of the Woods, documented a band that was running out of gas. Legal problems were dogging the Elevators and preventing them from touring, they were justifiably unhappy with their record company, lead vocalist Roky Erickson was beginning to buckle under the group's steady diet of LSD, and lyricist and founder Tommy Hall was growing tired of the demands of the group after the difficult process of writing Easter Everywhere.

As a consequence, guitarist Stacy Sutherland became the de facto leader of the group during the recording of Bull of the Woods, writing most of the songs and singing lead on several numbers, and in his hands the 13th Floor Elevators were a very different band. Sutherland's compositions on Bull of the Woods are more languid and pastoral than the material that dominated the first two albums, and while there's still a psychedelic undertow to this music, Sutherland's music was gentler and his lyrics more solidly grounded in the real world than what he created in tandem with Erickson and Hall. At the same time, Bull of the Woods also showcases Sutherland's consistent strength as a guitarist, and his fluid lead lines and melodies rooted in country and blues figures are Texas psychedelic music at its purest and most refreshing; after the psychic roller coaster of the 13th Floor Elevators' first two albums, Bull of the Woods is a relatively quiet trip to the countryside, and it's joyous, frequently beautiful stuff. Unfortunately, the sessions for Bull of the Woods were recorded quickly, and producer Ray Rush overdubbed an incongruous horn section on several numbers at the insistence of International Artists Records, but even in compromised form, Bull of the Woods is a testament to Stacy Sutherland's talents and his often overlooked role in one of America's trulyvisionary rock bands.(

In my ears a very comfortable album by the band and maybe it was the right step into the right direction at the right time. And i think the band and the environment had known that some things must change. If you are interested in the Elevators and don't know the album give it a try.

Have fun
              SB1                              Flac p1  &  Flac p2         mp3@320