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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Bram Tchaikovsky - Strange Man, Changed Man / Pressure / Funland

Name: Bram Tchaikivsky
Albums: Strange Man, Changed Man ~ / Pressure ^ / Funland *
Years: 1979~, 1980^, 1981*
Style: Rocking New Wave~ & Classic Rock~^
Similar Bands: The Knack, Cheap Trick, Big Country
"One-Word" Review: Classic-Wave-Pop
Based Out Of: Lincolnshire, England
Label: Polydor~^, Radarscope Records~^, Radar Records~^, Artista*
SMCM~ Cover & Insert
SMCM~ Back & Insert
SMCM~ Record
Pressure^ Cover
Pressure^ Back
Funland* Cover & Record
Funland* Back & Record

Strange Man, Changed Man (1979)~
  1. Robber 3:06
  2. Bloodline 3:48
Pressure (1980)^
  1. Let's Dance 5:11 (Micky & Bram)
  2. Heartache 2:47 (Bram)
  3. Letter From the USA 3:17 (Micky)
  4. Can't Give your Reasons 3:48 (Bram)
  5. Pressure 2:49 (Bram)/
  6. The Russians Are Coming 3:21 (Micky & Bram)
  7. Hollywood Nightmare 3:23 (Denis)
  8. Misfortune 3:12 (Micky & Bram)
  9. Jeux Sans Frontieres 2:40 (Micky & Bram)
  10. Mr. President 4:07 (Bram)
  11. New York Paranoia 4:10 (Bram)
Funland (1981)*
  1. Stand and Deliver 3:30
  2. Shall We Dance? 3:06
  3. Heart of Stone 3:30
  4. Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache 2:40
  5. Model Girl 4:32/
  6. Why Does Mother 'Phone Me? 3:29
  7. Used to Be My Used to Be 2:56
  8. Soul Surrender 3:30
  9. Together My Love 3:50
  10. Miracle Cure 2:44
  11. Egyptian Mummies 4:18
Album Reviews (1-10):SMCM~ 7.0
Pressure^ 6.5
Funland* 6.5

Members & Other Bands:Bram Tchaikovsky(Peter Bramall) - Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Producer (Motors)~^*
Mike Broadbent - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vox~
Denis Forbes - Vox, Bass, Guitar, Keys^*
Lord Richard Itchington - Bass*
Keith Line - Drums ^
Keith Boyce - Drums & Percussion~
Derrik Ballard - Drums*
Bernie Clark - Keyboards*
Mike Oldfield -Tubular Bells (on Girl of My Dreams)~
Nick Garvey - Producer, Backing Vox, Bass~* Piano, Guitar* (Motors)~*
Andy McMaster - Backing Vox*
Lew Soloff - Trumpet*
Jimmy Maelen - Percussion*
Hilly Michaels - Drums*
Peter Ker - Producer~
Rocking Russian - Sleeve Design~^
Audry Dewar - Photography~
Jim Roper - Photography~
Richard Ogden - Ozone Management~^*
Mike Robinson - Engineered^
Michael Barbiero - Engineered*
Don Wershba - Asst Engineer*
Keith Morris - Photography^
Albie Donnelly - Sax^
Andy Parker - Sax^
Mick Kearns - Sax^
Bob Andrews - Piano^
Carolyn Beale - Illustration*
Howard Fritzson - Design*

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of Bram Tchaikovsky. From the artwork and photography, I had imagined that this would be New Wave, with long drawn out tendencies. The Russian imagery (different from the album I just reviewed The Bolshoi) makes me think of cold & dark melodies. But the brilliant colors and "action lines" tout urgency, so perhaps the songs will be quick and jerky, rather than stark and vacant.

Album Reviews: With three albums to review, the actual reviews will be shorter, not focused on the songs as I've been doing. And I want to create a basic feel for the records individually, and how they change, and as a whole.

~The first album, Strange Man, Changed Man, feels like one solid piece of work without much variance from song to song. His voice is low and flemmy/nasally, and it is double-layered, making it sound thicker, as if there are overlapping vocalists. The songs are jittery, rock tunes, full of chugging guitars, and quick drum beats. "Robber" is very quick paced in rhythm, and has a very catchy melody and guitars. It stands out only because it is the catchiest and poppiest of the songs. "Girl of My Dreams" was their big hit, and it is a break from the rest of the album in style. It is more straightforward radio rock hit, that plays like a small-town USA Mellencamp or Tom Petty song set musically to "I Fought the Law." "Lady From the USA" is another break in style, as it is a slow, country fueled ballad. "I'm A Believer" is a cover of the Monkees' hit. It is a rougher, southern rock version. The familiar melody falls apart with the chorus, where the first few lines are continued with the verse's melody. The catchy hook of the original's chorus is wasted on two lines rather than the entire chorus. The verse of the final song, "Turn On The Light" sounds like Steve Miller's "Rock N' Me," right before Miller launches into the line 'Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A.'

^Album 2 starts off with a slight variation of the same style of SMCM in "Let's Dance." The vocals are not as deep. It still has the jittery style, but the music is not as dense. "Heartache" is a catchy, repetitive tune, which converts back to the vocal style from the first album. It seems like whenever he references something about the US in a song, the music must be steeped in honky-tonk/rockabilly guitars. "Letter to the USA" is no different. I keep expecting "Can't Give You Reasons" to launch into the instrumental break of "More Than A Feeling." The melody of the song is the same as the 4 notes that lead into the loud, guitar wailing musical break in Boston's song. Musically, "Pressure" reminds me of oldies rock n' roll, but more recently, it reminds me musically of the Blasters. It is a very fast jittery rocking' piano & brass driven song. "The Russians Are Coming" & "Hollywood Nightmare" are in the style of power-pop like Bad Company or Foreigner. "Misfortune" is a minimal acoustic, folky campfire tune. The rest of the album resorts to classic rock in style.

*Funland begins with a powerful pop rock hook in "Stand and Deliver." From "Shall We Dance," the rest of the album is the first return to New Wave in a long time, arguably since the first album. "Why Does My Mother 'Phone" begins with a bunch of phones ringing, and he throws on a week, fey voice for the first verse. All this is over a repetitive guitar strum. By the third verse, we are back to the dual layered vocals, and the song slowly picks up to become complex with more voices come and join him. A trumpet sounds, and the song adapts a Spanish tempo. "Used To Be My Used To Be" and "Miracle Cure are country songs. The first being folk and the second being honky-tonk. Between them, "Together My Love" is a slower love ballad. And the final track "Egyptian Mummies" is a dark, disjointed mix of new wave sounds and metal guitar.

Listening to the three albums consecutively, you can see the progression from new wave to classic rock, and finally the blending of the two on the third album. I think the strongest songs are on the first album, but over all, there is not much deterioration from the first through to the last record. The image and personlization is continuous and consistent through out.

Stand Out Tracks:

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