Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I hate the smell of burning plastic in the morning!

In case you were wondering why my posts have dribbled off to nothing in the last month or so, it's not just that I'm busy or lazy, though I am both. I suffered, oh how I've suffered, a motherboard meltdown and my computer has been in the shop for the last 4 weeks. I just picked it up again yesterday evening, so it should take me a few days to get it set up again just the way I like it and I will resume ripping those LPs shortly. They had to re-install the system software as well, so I barely recognize the set-up now. I might just ease into it slowly and get some CDs up in the meantime so please stay tuned. Thanks to those of you who have left comments and continued to visit during my absence. I've read them all and will try and follow up on some of the requests.

Cheers, SamIam

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jane Siberry - Jane Siberry (1981)

This was my first true introduction the the incredible artist once known as Jane Siberry and who now goes by the name of Issa. I've always enjoyed female singer/songwriters (in the vein of Melanie, Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega), but Jane has always stood apart for me owing the the quirky nature of her voice and her subject matter. This was apparent from her first album recorded in 1980 and financed by tips from her part-time waitressing job and bartered studio time. I've been fortunate to have seen her both in concert at small venues and at large outdoor folk festivals many times over the years and although the music may have changed it always kept the intimacy that she displayed from the beginning. I've picked up all her LPs and CDs (and a few concert Ts) over the years and encourage you to discover this talented artist by picking up any of hers works, you won't be disappointed. This will be the only one I post, strictly as an introduction. She has a web site,, that should be the model for all artists on how to make your music available online (See below for details). Please support her and all independent artists.

Biography: []
More than twenty years after her first musical release, Jane Siberry has become renowned both for her hauntingly beautiful music and for her strength as a creative, innovative artist. With eleven major recordings, three poem books, her own independent label, and the acclaim of fans and peers alike, Siberry continues to redefine and challenge herself as one of contemporary music's most original creative voices.
Jane's refusal to follow fads, trends and fashions has been her signature from the earliest days of her musical career. Her preparation for launching her full-time career as a performing artist consisted of earning a BSc in microbiology at the University of Guelph. Rather than clashing with her artistic spirit, the scientific method infused Jane's work with a deeper understanding of the physical world and reflected her curiosity and appreciation for detail. Her unending desire to find and describe the essence of human experience has led her through numerous musical inventions in a multitude of forms; the unique outlook of scientist and musician shines through them all, earning her the passionate loyalty of music-lovers world-wide.
Jane released her eponymous first recording, financed by contributions from diners in Guelph restaurants, in 1981. She was signed to Canadian label Duke Street Records by 1984. The result, No Borders Here, produced her first 'hit'--’Mimi On The Beach’. A year later, The Speckless Sky went gold and Jane began to receive awards and international attention. In 1987, Jane signed with Warner/Reprise and produced the haunting and enigmatic albums The Walking and Bound By The Beauty. Bound By The Beauty is very likely the only recording on a major label to have been recorded in an apple orchard. Its acoustic simplicity, particularly after the heavy production values of her previous recordings, gave her listeners a hint of the independent path that Jane would follow on later recordings.
Her unique musical vision caught the ear of Brian Eno, who helped out with Jane's next project, When I Was A Boy (1993). On the strength of songs such as ‘Sail Across The Water’, ‘Temple’ and ‘Calling All Angels’ (a duet with k.d. lang), When I Was A Boy became Jane's biggest commercial success and garnered her worldwide acclaim. Director Wim Wenders used ‘Calling All Angels’ in his film Until the End of the World, and the song has since been used in a wide range of film and television shows, including Pay It Forward (2000), Roswell, Six Feet Under and Deadwood. Ever restless creatively, Jane's follow-up album Maria (1995) was a jazz-inspired recording that reflected Jane's interest in more 'present' improvisational music.
In 1996, Jane struck out and formed her own recording label, the Internet-based SHEEBA Records, in an effort to find a place where she could find creative freedom in all aspects of her work.
Through SHEEBA, she has been able to distribute not only her music but an ever-expanding repertoire of creative endeavours, including books, DVDs, sheet music, clothes, and ‘all things Siberry’. She has also been able to make available projects like the Beauty Train DVD, which has been described as 'what if Jane Siberry had her own TV talk show?'
Jane's first release through SHEEBA was a collection of songs she had written in her teens. The appropriately-titled Teenager was followed by A Day In The Life NYC (1997), an experimental sound collage of voice mail, yoga classes, cab rides and studio recordings with artists including Joe Jackson, k.d. lang and Darol Anger. Then came the voluptuous New York Trilogy (1999), which was recorded at New York's famous Bottom Line Club. Based on three extraordinary theme concerts, the sessions produced Child--Music For The Christmas Season, Tree--Music For Films And Forests and Lips--Music For Saying It.
At the turn of the millennium, Jane reached into the past, coming forward with the lush Hush (2000), a collection of American and Celtic folk songs and spirituals. In 2001, Jane gathered collaborations with other artists such as Peter Gabriel, Hector Zazou, Sotoma Takafumi, Joe Jackson, Nigel Kennedy and even Barney the Purple Dinosaur, into the anthology City.
In 2002, Rhino Records produced Love Is Everything, an anthology and tribute to Jane's work, including the fourth installment of her’Map Of The World’ song series, subtitled ‘Pilgrim’.
In 2003, she began work on what was to be another Christmas recording. The project soon developed a life of its own and emerged as a fresh interpretation of music from Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn, and other classical artists who have written spirituals linked to the Christmas season.
SHUSHAN the Palace (Hymns of Earth) is a gorgeous and virtuosa performance. To celebrate its release, Jane took a band of excellent musicians on an intense cross-continent concert tour in November and December 2003 that took them from New York City to Los Angeles, and from Vancouver to Toronto. SHUSHAN was met with critical praise as both a recording and live performance. "...the singer-songwriter gives the impression of being at the peak of her powers...applause, cheers and two standing ovations" (The Victoria Times Columnist); "SHUSHAN is easily the most beautiful album you will ever own" (Stylus, Winnipeg).
2004 saw Jane recording the title song for the new Care Bears movie and touring for most of the year through Canada and the United States. Her performances included appearances at the Montreal Jazz Festival,with highly respected pianist Tim Ray; a tribute concert for Neil Young curated by Hal Wilner in Brooklyn, NY; and an invitation to a literary festival in Madison, Wisconsin.
2005 has been a watershed year for Jane as she continues to be a pioneer in marketing her work as well as creating it. In June, Jane discontinued the production of all CDs and merchandise and launched ‘The Log Cabin’, an online MP3 store at her website ‘The Log Cabin’ enables her fans to download Jane's entire musical catalogue (much of which was out of print) directly from the artist. More unusually, in addition to music, Siberry has made available her music videos and talk show Beauty Train at high quality, and has plans to sell e-books as well in future. By moving from physical to electronic inventory (which requires no maintenance and you never run out of stock!), Jane will concentrate on her latest original recording, tentatively entitled Lily. This will be the first original recording Siberry has made since 1993’s When I Was A Boy. Her leap to virtual inventory mirrors her strong steps towards devoting herself even more completely to being a pure artist. She will also move away from having a ‘home’, ‘car’ and anything she considers anti-’travelling light’ to simply living where she works. Her response to ‘where do you live?’ will not be ‘nowhere’ but ‘everywhere’.
Jane was recently honoured by the Canada Council as outstanding artist in the field of music with the 2005 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award.
June 3, 2006, Jane now known as Issa packed her Manolos, Armani suit and pearls into a knapsack, booked into a studio in Brussels and began writing songs about canoes, birds, mysterious money inheritances and her concerns for teenagers. Returning home to Canada, she continued writing in Vancouver
and is currently bringing thirty-three songs up to completion.

Review: [Stewart Mason/AMG]
Until East Side Digital finally issued Jane Siberry on CD in 1994, this 1981 album was difficult to find even in the singer/songwriter's native Canada. Originally released on the tiny Toronto label Street Records, Jane Siberry is a low-budget affair with none of the lushness that began to predominate in Siberry's music as early as 1983's No Borders Here. Still, Siberry's lyrical quirks are already in full effect, as on the bizarre little girls-talk vignette "This Girl I Know" and the "what I did on my summer vacation" essay "The Sky Is So Blue." Though the album isn't quite the barebones folk some articles about Siberry made it out to be later in her career, it's still a pretty minimal affair compared to, say, The Speckless Sky. Siberry plays the majority of the instruments herself and sings almost all the vocals in self-harmony. Fewer than half of the nine songs have percussion, and John Switzer, who would go on to become Siberry's main musical foil, is restricted to playing bass on a handful of songs. The results are roughly akin to Joni Mitchell's early-'70s albums viewed through a post-punk prism, with the downright poppy "Marco Polo" and the amusing "Writers Are a Funny Breed" among the highlights.


An Open Letter From Issa About Self-Determined Pricing MP3 Info

Hello Everyone!
I wanted you to hear about this from me first. The Sheeba store has a new pricing policy.
Like many, I'm restless and impatient with living in a world where people are made to feel like shoplifters rather than intelligent peoples with a good sense of balance. I want to treat people the way I'd like to be treated. 'Dumbing UP' (as opposed to 'dumbing down').
NOT donations
NOT pay-what-you-can
NOT guilt-trips
NOT tests of your integrity
You decide what feels right to your gut. If you download for free, perhaps you'll buy an extra CD at an indie band's concert. Or if you don't go with your gut feeling, you might sleep poorly, wake up grumpy, put your shoes on backwards and fall over. Whatever. You'll know what to do.
FOUR choices on pop-down 'buy' button
1. free (gift from Jane)
2. self-determined (pay now)
3. self-determined (pay later so you are truly educated in your decision)
4. standard (today's going rate is about .99)
STATISTICS BAR: You can see what the paying trends are.
GIFTS: You can still send mp3 gifts to friends with any payment choice.
* online credit card authorization (about .45/order (not per song); credit card merchants (visa, amex, mc) cost from 1-3% per order; balance goes to artist
* if your order costs $0 (free) these costs are bypassed.
2/ COST of CDs:
* about $2.50 to manufacture. This doesn't include training as a musician (ok, so my parents didn't charge me rent for lying on my bed playing guitar), studio time, etc.
Things to ponder. Not too long, though. Life is out there waiting.
I am making a choice to work this way and take full responsibility for whatever it may bring to me. You make your own decision and stand by it, too. This is not a guilt trip. Feel no pressure.
The most important thing is that the music flow out to where it could bring enjoyment. And THAT is the best thing you could give me.

Issa (formerly Jane Siberry)

MP3 @ 192Kbps 58.8 MB

Will the real Jane Siberry please take a bow.
PW: apoxonrox

Track list in comments

The Berlin Wall of Sound - The Chesterfield Kings (1990)

Definitely not one of my favourite LPs from this once-upon-a-time rockin' garage revival band. Their first two early 80s records wallowed neck-deep in the 60s garage sound to produce some very listenable tracks. Following a short hiatus and band re-organization they re-emerged sporting a dirty seventies sound that just didn't work for me. Maybe it will for you, so here it is for the sake of completeness as I haven't seen this posted elsewhere. Where do garage revival bands go to die?

Biography: [Matt Carlson/AMG]
Upstate New York's Chesterfield Kings landed upon the growing punk/new wave scene in the late '70s with an unbelievably raw '60s rhythm & blues sound that borrowed heavily from pre-1966 Rolling Stones. The group, so unlike any other underground sensations of the period, arguably kickstarted the entire '80s garage rock revival, which flourished in small circles until the end of the decade.
After releasing two scene-defining LPs, Here Are the Chesterfield Kings and stop!, the combo changed its lineup and sound. With only singer Greg Provost and bassist Andy Babiuk remaining from the Kings' 1979 incarnation, the band rescinded its promise never to sound like anything from rock's post-1966 history, and began to generate a '70s Rolling Stones/Flamin' Groovies hard rock image and sheen, which culminated in its 1994 LP, Let's Go Get Stoned, a sendup/tribute of post-Aftermath Rolling Stones.

Review: [Matt Carlson/AMG]
After taking three years off from recording, the Chesterfield Kings finally released The Berlin Wall of Sound in 1990 and no doubt frightened many longtime fans by relinquishing every grasp on '60s garage-rock, instead delivering a New York Dolls/Heartbreakers approach. Retaining only original singer Greg Provost and original bassist Andy Babiuk, the album is surprisingly heartfelt, despite a wooden blues progression and some overblown, metallic nonsense that borders on the edge of ridiculous. The Hammond organ has disappeared, but The Kings make the new sound work for them, at least until the end of the record.

MP3 @ 192 Kbps 73.2 MB
No need to get off the sofa.
PW: apoxonrox

Track list in comments.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Live With Long Hair [EP] - The Miracle Workers (1988)

Here's a special treat to reward those of you who have been patiently awaiting a new post from yours truly.

It's a CD EP with four live tracks from those Portland, OR 80s garage revivalists The Miracle Workers. These tracks are from a soundboard recording from a show in Enger, Germany during their 1988 European tour and as far as I know these tracks are outtakes from their Live at the Forum album release. Enjoy.

1. Teenage Head
2. You Don't Know (How Young You Are)
3. Lights, Camera, Action
4. I Got A Right

MP3 @ 192 Kbps 24.8 MB

I do the best that I can.
PW: apoxonrox

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sweeney Todd - Sweeney Todd (1975)

I've never really been a big fan of the mid-70s Glam-rock scene but I'll make an exception for this killer LP from Vancouver's own Sweeney Todd. It's a non-stop exercise in groovin' on the dark side of glam. This is one I picked up on it's release, having heard the lead single "Roxy Roller" on AM radio of the day, and it quickly became one of my favourites. Unfortunately, Nick Gilder left the group soon after the record was recorded and Sweeney Todd never really amounted to much without him (and neither did Nick in my humble opinion, "Hot Child in the City" notwithstanding). The follow-up version of the band, with a young Bryan Adams doing his best to be Nick Gilder, released a further album which really isn't that memorable (but surprisingly enough is the one that got re-released on CD!). Other than the obvious hit, tracks to watch for include: "Juicy Loose", "Rock n' Roll Story", "Sweeney Todd Folder" and "Rue de Chance", hell I like them all. So kick back those bell bottoms and platform shoes and boogie on back to when glam was king.

Biography The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia
Nick Gilder (lead vocals) Jim McCulloch (guitars) John Booth (drums) Budd Marr (bass) Dan Gaudin (keyboards) Clark Perry (lead vocals; replaced Gilder 1976) Bryan Adams (lead vocals; replaced Perry 1976) Skip Prest (guitar; replaced McCulloch 1976) Chris Booth (lead vocals; replaced Adams 1977) Grant Gislason (guitar; replaced Prest 1978)
British-born Nick Gilder settled in Vancouver at a young age and after finishing high school, decided to pursue his love of singing. In the early 1970's he and his writing partner Jim McCulloch put together their version of a glam band, Sweeney Todd, with John Booth, Budd Marr and Dan Gaudin. They hooked up with newly-arrived British producer Martin Shaer, who owned his own recording studio, and created the bed tracks for their first album. Shaer approached London Records about the band and London signed them in 1975.
Their self-titled debut was released in 1975 and the single "Roxy Roller" eventually went to No.1 in Canada. This success caught the eye of Chrysalis Records in the US, who managed to lure Gilder and McCulloch away from the band. Gilder would go on to a rather successful solo career.
Clark Perry was brought in for lead vocal duties, and Skip Prest was recruited for guitar. At this point, the production company that Shaer worked for got into financial difficulties and handed over Sweeney Todd's contract with them to him; he found himself owner of the band.
Very quickly, however, it was discovered that Perry was not working out despite the re-charting of the "Roxy Roller" single which peaked at #90 in the US.
In due time, 16-year-old Bryan Adams took over the vacant spot. How Adams joined is described differently by all involved - either he approached them or they approached him - but suffice to say that Shaer was impressed with his personality, his fledgling song-writing abilities and his ability to mimic Gilder's vocal inflections down to the syllable. The youngster got the job.
Into the studio went the new incarnation of the band, and the result was If Wishes Were Horses, which also featured three songs co-written by Adams. Despite a grueling touring schedule to promote a couple of singles (including the third re-issue of "Roxy Roller" which hit #99 on the US charts), including some dates with Trooper, the album failed to sell as well as the first ST album and late in 1977 Adams left the band. He was replaced by Chris Booth.
Adams's departure signaled the end of the band. Prest left shortly thereafter to work with the Rocket Norton Band, to be replaced by Grant Gislason, but this version didn't last long and they called it quits in 1978.

MP3 @ 192 Kbps 69.7 MB

A night at the Roxy.
PW: apoxonrox

Track listing in comments.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


No I haven't quit blogging. It's been a long and hectic spring in SamIam-land. House renovations and the new job kept me extra busy in April then a "work" trip to Belize took me out of the country. I'm back now and though the claims on my time are still pressing I will try and find some breathing room in which I can update the blog and respond to some of the comments left here. Thanks to those of you who have been checking for a pulse while I've been absent. I'll also need to find the time to visit other blogs and catch up on some of the great music I've been missing. Stay tuned and I'll try and get some LPs up for the weekend, particularly the long-delayed Sweeney Todd.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Garden in the City - Melanie (1971)

An oddball grab-bag of an album in Melanie's repertoire, put together and released without her knowledge after she had changed labels. Understandably it's not as well realized as some of her regular releases, but it does have some strong tracks; "Garden in the City", Stop, I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore", and "People in the Front Row". Her originals are as good as any on her other albums, but the covers don't quite work for me and I can see why they were left off her official albums. Still it's always pleasurable to listen to Melanie's voice and straightforward guitar playing. Released at the same time as (and ultimately competing with) one of her strongest LPs, "Gather Me", it's not hard to see why this album was largely overlooked at the time and may have confused potential record-buyers. Don't you just love record labels and the whole corporate music scene, where making a buck today overshadows the artist's best interests and future career. Oh wait, that applies to almost the entire corporate system and western culture in general [inappropriate socio-political rant interrupted]... Just enjoy the heartfelt music in the spirit it was made.

Review [Charles Donovan/AMG]
Sneakily marketed by Buddah as a new album after Melanie had left the label, Garden in the City was actually made up of recordings that hadn't made the grade for earlier albums plus a couple of songs from film soundtracks. That didn't augur well for the set, but in fact it isn't too bad. Melanie makes light work of the Jagger/Richards tune "Jigsaw Puzzle," tackles "Lay Lady Lay" with aplomb and even turns in a respectable standard, "Somebody Loves Me." "People in the Front Row" finds her battling it out against a full-piece orchestra; it's a hammy piece, full of nonsense lyrics and staged laughter that is either a hoot or a travesty, depending on your tastes. It's no surprise that Melanie was apparently dismayed at the appearance of Garden in the City; any listener unaware of its true origins would have assumed she was regressing. This curiosity is now remembered more for its scratch 'n' sniff "smell Melanie's Magic Garden" cover than for its content.

MP3 @ 192 Kbps 72.6 MB

Come and smell Melanie's Magic Garden.

Track List in comments.