Category Archives: Album of the Week

The ELP Permutations, Part 1: Who the hell is Cozy Powell?

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Emerson, Lake, and Powell will always be one of the funniest album titles to me. I remember encountering this at a used CD shop when I was 10, looking at the cover and wondering, “could it be…?”. At this point, ELP were one of the five or six bands I actually liked, thanks to my Dad playing them around the house all the time when I was young. But this was the mid-90s, and I didn’t have a record guide or anything like that, so really the only thing I knew about them was that they put out some cool albums before I was born. For all I knew they’d retired off to some island in the Caribbean, never to be seen again.  Seeing this in the shop answered a few questions for me.  Between the album title and the cover art (which resembled the cover of Scattergories more than the armadillo tanks and shirtless men of ELP past) I was able to figure that they’d likely fallen on hard times, and for some reason Carl Palmer didn’t want to play with them anymore, so they recruited another “P” and quickly dashed something out in the hopes that the fans wouldn’t notice he was missing.
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The Immortals – Mortal Kombat: The Album (1994)

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For years I tried to convince people that this album existed. I don’t remember where I first heard it…was it a friend’s house? The hobby shop? Blockbuster? All I remember is there were hard techno beats and songs about each of the characters. And screaming, lots and lots of screaming. It wasn’t the movie soundtrack, though the infamous Mortal Kombat theme song was on it.

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James Ferraro – NYC, Hell 3:00AM (2013)

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Back in the old days of the Web Reviewing Community there used to be one site which would sometimes grade albums with an additional “squirm factor” on top. I always liked that concept, and even though it didn’t mean what I thought it meant (it actually referred to what his infant son was doing while the album was playing), I still think about it sometimes. In particular when I’m listening to James Ferraro, whose music seems almost deliberately designed to make you fidget in your seat. His music just makes me uncomfortable, even the stuff I really like. It’s as if it’s trying to scratch an itch that’s been injected with novocaine.
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Daler Mehndi – Tunak Tunak Tun (1998)

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Happy 20th birthday to this classic, which was the first viral video I ever saw. Not that I could’ve known it at the time. The idea of something becoming famous through the internet was still a foreign concept to me. Most people didn’t even have the internet at home back then. I sure didn’t. “Tunak Tunak Tun” sits at 91 million views on YouTube right now, though the real number is surely much higher. The SonyMusicIndiaVEVO version has only been online for about four years, before which there were multiple copies, one of which had at least 100m, if memory serves correctly. Not to mention that this primarily circulated during the pre-YouTube era. So it could be well over a billion. Who knows?

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Todd Rundgren – One Long Year (2000)

51LvP0+3IwL._SY355_Today, Critter Jams wishes a happy birthday to one Todd Harry Rundgren. Not only is this his 70th year on the planet, it’s also the 50th anniversary of his first LP with the Nazz, and approximately 45 years since he felt he had anything to prove whatsoever. Todd’s catalogue is full of left turns and did-he-really-do-that? excursions, resulting in a body of work so eclectic and strange that it was really no shock when I saw him perform last year and he started hopping around and rapping into the mic against a video MC. Maybe it was a shock to the other folks in attendance, who just wanted to hear “Hello It’s Me” and that damn Lambeau Leap song. But Todd has never been much for fanservice, especially since he’s cashed in enough that he doesn’t have to be.  You take your chances with him.
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Daphne & Celeste Save the World (2018)

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Daphne & Celeste Save the World is a throwback, both in an obvious way and a not so obvious way. In the first sense, this is just another step in the long line of sequelitis that’s affected our culture since the turn of the century: be it the New Kids on the Block, Full House, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Wolfenstein 3-D, Beavis & Butthead, Aqua, whatever…nothing ever truly goes away anymore, for better or (mostly) worse. For the most part this is just a natural product of modern day living in a capitalist society; pop culture ruled our childhoods so hard that every 30-something with cash has fond memories of something. Now, Daphne & Celeste are not really one of those things; you may remember one of their two hits, you might have remembered that they got bottled off the stage at Reading, you may have even had their CD as a child and annoyed the hell out of your parents with it. But even if you did, you probably have not thought of them since 2001, when Daphne & Celeste got dropped by their label and became…I dunno, librarians or whatever.

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Sting & Shaggy – 44/876 (2018)

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The best thing about this album is that if you listen on Spotify, it’s listed as a Sting album, but every track is annotated as “with Shaggy”. So the song titles become “Don’t Make Me Wait with Shaggy”, “If You Can’t Find Love with Shaggy”, “Just One Lifetime with Shaggy”, and so on. Fitting, because it’s still strange to think of Shaggy as a featured performer. I know the dude’s got like a dozen albums out there, but I still have a hard time thinking of him as anything more than a guest star – the guy you get to spruce up your crappy single cuz your lead can’t carry it by themselves (see also: Busta Rhymes). Even on “It Wasn’t Me” he sounded like a guest on his own song ($2000 Jeopardy question: Who was the other guy? Rickrack or something?). So naturally, one’s thought when it comes to this album is “why is Sting doing this?”, as though just anyone can waltz into New York and record an album with Shaggy.
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