Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: The Reds, Pinks & Purples “Uncommon weather”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: The Reds, Pinks & Purples
Album Title: Uncommon weather
Year released: 2021
Details: Limited edition, pastel blue

The skinny: When I counted down my favourite albums of the year at the end of 2021, the last one standing was “Uncommon weather” by The Reds, Pinks and Purples. I had never even heard of said act prior to last year but following an email blast from Slumberland Records and trip over to Spotify, I was an instant fan. I went on the hunt for a vinyl pressing of what I later learned was Glenn Donaldson’s third album as The Reds, Pinks and Purples and found the pastel blue variant at one of my favourite indie online shops. It’s such a great record, like pretty much everything he’s released over the last few years. And just as I wrote in my end of the year post, “there’s just something addictive in Donaldson’s short bursts of ear-worm pop. Each of the thirteen songs on “Uncommon weather” sounds immediately familiar and welcoming. There’s loads of reverb and silky smooth synths, peppy drumming and jangly guitars, and above it all, Donaldson channels all of our 80s John Hughes heroes: Robert Smith, Ian McCulloch, and Richard Butler.” I really just can’t help myself from gushing to anyone who’ll listen about The Reds, Pinks and Purples.

Standout track: “I hope I never fall in love”

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: The Rentals “Q36”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: The Rentals
Album Title: Q36
Year released: 2020
Year reissued: 2021
Details: Limited edition run of 500, reissue, 2 x LP

The skinny: The Rentals’ fourth album, “Q36”, took me by surprise and managed to come in at number six on my Best albums of 2020 list. Funny thing is, if I had to redo the same list, this album would probably land even higher on it. I had previously known about the Matt Sharp (ex-bassist of Weezer) fronted band from their ubiquitous 90s alt-rock hit “Friends of P.” and then, much later on, I had become fascinated with their third album, 2014’s “Lost in Alphaville”. However, the self-produced concept double album, “Q36”, really captured my imagination and my heart with its retro futuristic, David Bowie glam rock verve and splendour. The problem for me was that I came very late to party and the original run of 500, pressed to translucent gold vinyl, sold out well in advance of its oft-delayed release date last year. When that original run was finally mailed out, Matt Sharp took to social media vowing that a second, regular black vinyl run would be forthcoming. However, what with the much publicized vinyl production delays, it took almost a full year for him to make good on his promise. Of course, I was right on it and am super happy with my purchase. It sounds amazing.

Standout track: “Conspiracy”

Categories
Tunes

100 best covers: #55 Smashing Pumpkins “Never let me down again”

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I’d consider myself a pretty big fan of Depeche Mode, especially of their period spanning the late 1980s to the late 1990s. In fact, last year on these very pages, I did a series of three posts on the iconic synth pop band, each one focusing on my top five tunes of their three very distinct eras: the prolific 1980s, the popular 1990s, and everything that followed, in a more experimental but still very relevant vein.

Near the end of that middle and very popular period in the 90s, a tribute album was put together by the artists and management team behind the industrial rock group, God Lives Underwater. Titled “For the masses”, it featured reimaginings by said band, but also by The Cure, Veruca Salt, Meat Beat Manifesto, and yes, Smashing Pumpkins. I bought the compilation on compact disc, of course, but was mostly disappointed with it and only ever listened to it a few times. And often those few times that it found itself in my player were because I had a hankering to listen to one of the disc’s meagre bright spots, that is, the track that we are focusing on today.

Smashing Pumpkins originally included their cover of “Never let me down again” as a B-side to the single, “Rocket”, released in 1994, just as they were breaking into the mainstream. The cover’s later inclusion on this compilation was the impetus for my buying the CD, after hearing it quite a bit on alternative radio. It is one of the few examples here that the covering artist really remakes the subject matter into their own thing. Where the original was robotic, dark, cold, and practically unemotional, Billy Corgan and gang inject a bit of warmth and yes, some increased sensuality to the proceedings. They take the convertible out for a ride in sunshine, still wearing sunglasses and cool, of course, the guitars are jangling and the drumming peppy, and Corgan is all snarls and whispery and just this side of screaming it out.

Yeah, it’s a great cover. Can I really say it’s better than Mode’s original synth pop evocation of drug euphoria? Nope.Do I think it’s still worth playing over and over? Oh yes.

Cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.