Monday, 1 February 2021

Guadalcanal Diary ‎– Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man (1984)

Style: New Wave, Rock & Roll
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Elektra

01.   Trail Of Tears
02.   Fire From Heaven
03.   Sleepers Awake
04.   Gilbert Takes The Wheel
05.   Ghost On The Road
06.   Watusi Rodeo
07.   Why DoThe Heathen Rage?
08.   Pillow Talk
09.   Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man (Part 1)
10.   Kumbayah

Bass – Rhett Crowe
Drums, Bongos – John Poe
Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Murray Attaway
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Steel Guitar, Autoharp – Jeff Walls
Producer – Don Dixon

Like R.E.M., the B-52's, and Pylon, this fine band hailed from the unlikely independent-rock hotbed of Athens, GA. The long jangle pop shadow of R.E.M. is extremely strong on this release, with seven of the ten tracks showing either full or partial influence of that group. Fortunately, the songs here are excellent, exhibiting much variety within this style. "Trail of Tears," a haunting antiwar number, sounds the most like their Athens counterparts. "Fire From Heaven" is more up-tempo, intense, and dynamic, while "Sleepers Awake" is an ominous, slowly unfolding song. "Ghost on the Road" is primarily a fast country-punk number that saves its R.E.M. stylings for its yearning chorus. "Gilbert Takes the Wheel" and the title track are jangly instrumentals, the former being a fast rocker with a thudding beat, the latter being a lengthy slow-tempo selection exhibiting noticeable psychedelic traits. Other territory is touched on as well. "Pillow Talk" is a winsomely energetic Everly Brothers-influenced song. The brilliant "Watusi Rodeo" is a jumpy pop number sporting over-the-top surf guitar licks and inspired hilarious-yet-uncomfortable lyrics about "Ugly American" cowboys in Africa. There's also an eccentric cover of the missionary hymn "Kum Ba Yah," complete with appreciative background audience shouting, an energetic drum solo, and extreme contrasts of loud and soft dynamics (sometimes within the same verse line). This odd yet strong album is well worth hearing.
David Cleary / AllMusic

dc Basehead ‎– Play With Toys (1991)

Genre: Hip Hop, Jazz, Rock, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Imago, Emigre

01.   Intro
02.   2000 BC
03.   Brand New Day
04.   Not Over You
05.   Better Days
06.   Ode To My Favorite Beer
07.   Hair
08.   Evening News
09.   I Try
10.   Play With Toys
11.   Outro

Drums– Brian Hendrix
Guitar, Vocals– Michael Ivey
Scratches – Paul 'DJ Unique' Howard
Written-By, Producer– Michael Ivey

An alternative rap cult favorite, Play with Toys is the mysterious Basehead's shining moment. Originally released by the long-gone Émigré label -- an American 4AD wannabe with a design wing and everything -- the album is Basehead rapper/producer/leader Michael Ivey's snoozy vision of "slacker rap," which is organic, lazy, smart, and head over heels in love with beer for some reason. Hops and barley and their negative effects on the body are the topic of "2000 B.C.," a slow shuffling track with loose guitars, real live drums, and Ivey's echoing mumbles pining the loss of 2000 brain cells. "Ode to My Favorite Beer" opens with the sound of a pop-top, then slides into a strange soundscape that comes very close to the dream pop of A.R. Kane, making another 4AD connection. When Ivey delivers "Clair and Cliff Huxtable never lived around here" on the great "Better Days," he's depressed, not ghetto proud like the hardcore ballers would sound. Filled with these lackadaisical, down-and-out moments, this debut album with a hangover isn't for everyone. It really didn't have much of an influence once alternative rap and indie rap began to flourish, either, but Toys deserves its cult status and sounds like little else in the hip-hop universe.
David Jeffries / AllMusic