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Sunday, March 29, 2015

(the) Records - s/t~, Crashes*

Name: The Records
Albums: s/t~, Crashes*
Years: 1979~, 1980
Style: Powerpop, Pub Rock, Glam
Similar Bands: Badfinger, Kinks, Byrds, Cheap Trick, Big Star
"One-Word" Review: Easy Going Harmonic Pop
Based Out Of: England
Label: Virgin, Atlantic Recording Company, Warner Communications
 The Records - Cover & Back
 The Records - Gatefold
 The Records - Lyrics & Record
 The Records - Sleeve & Record
 Crashes - Cover & Record
Crashes - Back & Record
The Records (1979)
  1. All Messed Up & Ready to Go 3:45
  2. Teenarama 4:00
  3. Girls That Don't Exist 3:38
  4. Starry Eyes 4:21
  5. Up All Night 4:33 /
  6. Girl  4:06
  7. Insomnia 3:00
  8. Affection Rejected 3:50
  9. Phone 3:20
  10. Another Star 4:38
Crashes (1980)
  1. Man With a Girl Proof Heart 2:47
  2. Hearts Will Be Broken 3:52
  3. Girl in Golden Disc 3:47
  4. I Don't Remember Your Name 3:38
  5. Hearts on Her Eyes 3:20/
  6. Spent a Week With You Last Night 3:09
  7. Rumour Sets the Woods Alight 3:06
  8. The Worriers  3:29
  9. The Same Mistakes 4:15
  10. Guitars in the Sky 4:08
Album Ratings (1-10): ~8.5

Members & Other Bands:
John Wicks - Rhythm Guitar, Vox~* (Kursaal, Flyers, Rachel Sweet, Dave Nachmanoff, Josh Wink)
Huw Gower - Lead Guitar, Vox, Producer~ (The Ratbites from Hell, Rachel Sweet, Dragons, Magic Muscle, Carlene Carter, David Johansen, Graham Parker, Brian Copsey & The Commotion, Rick Springfield, Monks)
Phil Brown - Bass, Vox~* (The Janets, Rachel Sweet)
Will Birch - Drums, Vox, Producer~* (Kursaal Flyers, Rachel Sweet, The Paley Brothers, Richard Anthony)
Ian Gibbons - Keys~
Jude Cole - Guitar, Vox* (Moon Martin & The Ravens, Nugent, Del Shannon, Jewel, Lifehouse, Honeyhoney, Billie Myers, Beth Orton, Rocco Deluca)
Barry Martin - Guitars* (Kursaal Flyers, The Hamsters)
Robert John Lange - Producer~
Tim Friese-Greene - Producer~
Dennis Weinreich - Producer~
Bill Price - Engineer~
Dave Bellotti - Engineer~
Jeremy Green - Tape Op~
Richard Manwaring - Engineer~
Steve Prestage - Tape Op~
Peter Scarbrow - Management~
Neil Terk - Art Direction~
Wayne Maser - Photography~
Andy Cheeseman - Personal Management~
Craig Leon - Production, Engineer*
Gary Langan - Remix*
Mick Glossop - Producer, Engineer*

I've never heard of the records, despite their generic and obvious name. I found these Records records at two different times. I really like the first album's packaging, with the gatefold cover and obvious record store artwork plus Robert Palmer-esq girl shopping and standing in front of ragged concert posters. I assume it will be a gritty pub rock band, and probably power pop mixed in.

Album Review: Power pop best describes The Records, with a touch of Glam. Their biggest hit, Starry Eyes, was from their first album, Shades in Bed, released in the US as a self-titled album, reaching Billboard’s #41. Crashes did not yield any singles, and the record company lost interest in the band. Birch turned to managing bands and started a sightseeing rock bus tour company in the UK. 

~“All Messed Up & Ready to Go” starts with a steady, confident beat. Power guitars and pulsing vocal delivery characterize the song. The verse guitar is like a less-bubblegummy “Last Train to Clarksville.” The start of the instrumental break sounds like the Talking Heads.
“Teenarama” was also a single, and their second best known song. The vocals are calm and collected, yet the music is very jittery. The vocals are harmonized in a very smooth way. The chorus reminds me of Cheap Trick, where it’s just the title showcased in chorus around some catchy, hooky, chugging power pop chords. It’s a solid Fountains of Wayne style song mixed with a little Jellyfish harmony.
“Girls That Don't Exist” starts with a simple Spoon like guitar and drum beat and an anticipational Dismemberment Plan bass line. After the first verse, the song takes more shape as a Tom Petty classic rock song. After the instrumental section, the lead vocals are supported by high pitch bee-gees like backing vocals. The song is an odd mix of a variety of musical styles combined very well.
“Starry Eyes” was a big hit in the US, even more so than the UK. This version was the original version, not the re-recorded one that’s on the UK Shades in Bed. The guitar that leads off the song is a jangely hook. The vocals start, and it has all the tempo of a Cheap Trick song. The song is a perfect looping verse-chorus with a natural transition back to the start. It is not overpowering or slight, but a nice energetic blend of melodic guitars and power pop. The guitar solo hook sounds like what the strikes tried to recreate.
“Up All Night” begins with a rotating psychedelic guitar melody, and the vocals are mixed nicely with a little echoing reverb. This is a side to side swaying, Beach Boys style, atmospheric ballad. Lots of higher pitched harmonized sections come together for the chorus, which retains a lazy yet aware vibe. It is just an easy to listen to, enjoyable sound.
“Girl” starts off with whining guitar for a moment before picking up power chords with the rhythm guitar. The guitar chugs along rhythmically with the pounding keyboard and it breaks out with power pop chords in the chorus. 
“Insomnia” starts off as a running, training montage soundtrack with strong guitars and rushed tempo. The verse slows the tempo down, as if the insomniac is trying to relax and fell asleep. But the tossing and turning gets the better of the story’s main character, and the chorus brings back the frustrated training tempo. 
“Affection Rejected” begins like a smooth ELO song, with a little prog bassline. The tone is sentimental, and very Badfinger-like. Lots of harmonies and little power flourishes along steady, main melody.
“Phone” carries a very funky bassline, which along with the guitar playing chords with lengthy intervals, makes a sinister back alley tone, like Cold as Ice by Foreigner. The lead vocals are shared…the first set are deeper, and by the breakdown, the higher, Sparks like vocals come along. They then interchange for the second verse
“Another Star” is a more ballady combination of vocals and light electric guitar for the intro. Wailing guitars are added behind soon after, and along with the bass and drums, they create a smooth soaring, cloud hopping melody.

*“Man With a Girl Proof Heart” picks right up from the first album, with catchy melody, chugging guitars. In this case, the vocals are more nasally, and a little like the Ramones or Graham Parker. But the root is still in catchy power pop.
“Hearts Will Be Broken” starts with a whiny rhythm guitar loop, and then the vocals take it back a laid back notch, to smooth power pop easily comparable to Big Star or Badfinger. 
“Girl in Golden Disc” takes us into the gritty bar, for a guitar heavy pub rock intro, and the song flows into a power-prog verse. The bridge into the chorus builds well, and the chorus turns out to be the same as the bridge melody, with a fuller sound. The vocals fade out near the end, leaving the drums pushing on alone. Then the vocals rebuild the song with the lead vocals singing the chorus, and the whole song returns for a short final section.    
“I Don't Remember Your Name” floats in with a fade up and a power guitar melody installs the initial hook. It has a very Beatles structure, with short building verses that end in harmonies, and the repeating hook which has a very Beatley sound.
“Hearts on Her Eyes” was the lone single from this record. It starts with a mid-toned, jangly guitar, and a staggered dual layered voice. It follows a simple, intuitive melody that is not incredibly catchy, but it’s very folksy and nonthreatening. 

“Spent a Week With You Last Night” has a swaggery Beatles guitar-like intro, and the vocal melody also ends in harmonies, again, like the Beatles. As the song progresses, it unveils a sort of southern bluesy rock to the tempo and rhythm, capitalizing on the sound at end.
“Rumour Sets the Woods Alight” builds momentum right from the beginning, with the guitar chugging along as the tempo conductor. The vocals flow over the musical base, and they possess a gentle release when they finally get to the chorus. The song has a nice structure, which keeps it interesting. The short instrumental section is followed by a pause, making the listener think the track is over, but it then picks right back up at the bridge. I do particularly like the melody in the chorus of the song.
“The Worriers” has a bold power pop guitar driven base, but the vocals don’t carry the energy that would match with the music. It does not detract from the music, as these songs are all so full of catchy hooks, but it makes the songs non-threatening, perhaps by design: like a muzzle on a menacing looking dog.
“The Same Mistakes” carries along a simple variant on the aggressive guitar work balance with soft, smooth harmonized vocals. The punishing drums behind the chorus pound the hook into the listener’s ears. The drums build coming out of the chorus, leading into a verse that falters just a little. But the bridge finds its way, and leads into a cereal commercial level of vocal delivery and catchiness. The next breakdown is a little psychedelic, with a “turning me round,” spinning, echoing vocal production and are brought back to finish out the song.
“Guitars in the Sky” feels like a mid-album track, not quite an album finisher. The momentum is building in the verse of the song, not letting the listener come down from the power pop on the rest of the album. This is a song that promises more. There is a little metal mentality in the chord changes and driving guitars and drums. Cheap Trick is again brought to mind.

Stand Out Tracks:~Starry Eyes
*Rumour Sets the Woods Alight

John Wicks & The Records site
Trouser Press
Will Birch Site

1 comment:

  1. I remember hearing "Starry Eyes" on the radio a lot back in the day-these albums are both power pop gems! Brings back memories!