Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lush Split

So in the early 90’s there were three important bands for me.  The Cure, Cranes & Lush.  All three of those bands had albums I could listen to on repeat and whom I would seek out bootleg recordings and attend their concerts at every opportunity, sometimes driving a few hours in order to do so.  And I remember seeing them at Lollapalooza and the MC of the day coming on stage and proclaiming that this band was going to be around for a really long time like the Rolling Stones, which is funny since out of those three bands and even out of most of the bands on the bill that day, they’ve had the shortest life-span. Not to mention the thought of Lush as the golden girls kicking about onstage.   My first time seeing them was in a small venue in Raleigh, NC with a horrible Flaming Lips (another band that has outlived and skyrocketed past them in popularity) as opener.  It was the tour for Spooky, which loads of people seem to think is their best album and which incorrectly got them labeled as shoegaze over the years thanks to Robin Guthrie’s production.  But overlooked at least in the US lodged between Spooky and Lovelife (the album that saw them transform into a straight up indie pop group) was this remarkable album Split.  They started to shed the effects that Robin Guthrie painted them with and the songs took on more structure as opposed to just the wall of jangly guitars with high female voices cooing over them, It even had a few moments where they attempted to get back to their more punky side like ‘Blackout’.   It was actually more in line with the Cure than with Cocteau Twins, Ride or Slowdive, the last three having never really made an impression on me although apparently whom every nu-gaze band worships along side of MBV.  Much like those nu-gaze bands, to me what set Lush apart was that they weren’t just guitar sounds set to pop music, they actually had decent songs to go along with it.  Seems they were always too ethereal for the rock fans and too rock for the ethereal fans but were just right for somebody like me.
So anyways, I haven’t really listened to Lush in a long while. Occassionally I’ll hear the song “For Love” someplace and think “oh”.  But I saw something about them on the internets and decided to give it another spin.  My conclusion is conflicted:  The songs and the band are great, the production I can’t really get with.  It’s not bad but it’s dated and sounds a bit lifeless.  If it was blaring I could get into it but listening at a normal volume left a little to be desired. Little things like the guitars lack power, the drums are too far in the background, the bass could use a bit more low end or punch or something.  It’s like I’m listening to a rough mix of an album as opposed to the real deal.  To me I like every song on this album except for maybe Desire Lines & Never-Never and I don’t particularly dislike them, they actually remind me of rainy car rides in a white mitsubuishi mirage that has since left us.  Maybe they tried to polish this one a bit too much, the production should have been closer to Lovelife and I think they thought it was too big of a jump to go from the Guthrie produced Spooky to a straight up alterna-rock album.  Unfortunate.  This is one of those album that I hope down the line will get snatched up in the wave of remastering and repackaging with b-sides old albums since nobody will buy the new ones craze.  Having a decent version of Rupert the Bear would be cool as well since I think the only copy I’ve got of that is a Flexi-disc.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Judge Dredd vs Judge Death

The thing about Metal bands are that they're not able to tap into the wealth of love, i'm in love or i'm out of love content most bands draw from.  To compensate, they delve into writing songs about all the things they geek out about in absence of relationshiops.  Things like Metal Music (Whiplash-metallica); Literature (Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner – Iron Maiden);  Post-Apocalypse Fantasy (Post Apocalyptic City – Testament); Wars (anything by Slayer), Doin It (anything by Motley Crue) and Comics (I Am The Law – Anthrax). 

 And due to my interest in metal in the late 80’s, this song by Anthrax introduced me to the world of Judge Dredd and my introduction to Dredd was through an anthology on his adventures with Judge Death, a Judge from another dimension who declares that all crimes are committed by the living and therefore living is a crime and punishable by death.

I’m not sure what happened to my copy of this comic, I mean graphic novel, maybe it wasn’t even mine to begin with but a loaner that I kept for an insanely long time. At any rate it vanished and just recently as I was ebaying I gave a search (I think also because I recently watched that Big Four DVD which contained a set by Anthrax) and purchased  Judge Dredd vs. Judge Death.  After receiving it, I noticed a couple of things.  This wasn’t the same thing I had back in the early 80’s although it contained the same stories plus a few more and two, I thought the copy I had was in full-color but this is only black and white and three I guess I don’t really dig the comic format as a storytelling device.  The art was cool and Dredd was kicking ass as per usual but Death and the other Dark judges really steal the show and are under utilized.  While I guess most people seem to get introduced to comics via Marvel or DC, 2000AD titles like Dredd and Bad Company were the ones that caught my attention and maybe I'm judging the entire comic world based on their work primarily, what I noticed is that I require a bit more depth to enjoy a story and the comic world just leaves too much up to the imagination or comes across as shallow if you don't fill in the blanks yourself.  For me I think it’s inability to really portray emotions realistically is what keeps me from being engaged.   It was fine when I was a teenager  when just the cool artwork was enough but I’m just not into it anymore, despite still digging the art and general idea of the book.

A brief run down of the plot line:  As hinted above, Judge Death skips over to MegaCity-One to lay down the law of his world which is Guilty of Life, Sentenced to Death hard line  stance.  The Judges of MegaCity-One have to figure out how to stop him and fast.  A Psi-Ops Judge, Judge Anderson, traps Judge Death in her mind and Judge Dredd uses some futuristic bonding spray called Boing to seal both her and Judge Death in a capsule of some sort.  Fast forward to Judge Death Lives, his three compadres from his dimension sneak over, Judge Mortis, Fear & Fire and con some Megacity Dweller into cutting a hole in the capsule for Death to escape.  This goes off without a hitch but the Judges are of course alerted and take on Judge Death again eventually following the Dark Judges back to their dimension to make sure they don’t return.  In the end it wasn’t Dredd that saved the day but the souls of all of Judge Death’s victims on his own world using Judge Anderson as a medium to exact their revenge.   Cool huh?  When I was 16 definitely but not so much now.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad comic just that comics aren’t really my cup of tea.  1 for Nostalgia 0 for me. There’s also a few more stories added at the end, like the War Games against the Sovs.

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