Thursday, September 30, 2004

Belle Barth (continued), and Chicago band The Changes

Since I got the requests that I was hoping for, here's side two of Belle Barth's If I Embarrass You Tell Your Friends album. This is Belle performing from her club Belle Barth's Pub (located at 21st Street and Collins Avenue in Miami Florida...I wonder what's there now). How could I have forgotten to give you the catalog number, in case you go looking to buy a copy: #69, but of course. One thing this world really could use is more numbers with sexual connotations.

Side two is the 4:00am show, which might be slightly risque-er than side one, though there's not a huge difference.

Completely unrelated to Belle Barth, except in the sense that both must have had a run in with the police, is Chicago band The Changes. They contacted me (and presumably a bunch of other bloggers) a month or so ago, and I was amazed to find that I actually liked their mp3s. But I was suspicious that they were a major label band on the DL, and then another blog posted one of their mp3s, so I decided to wait.

Since then, they've sent me a CD with some more of their songs and repeatedly assured me that they're actually looking for a label, to the point where I think I believe them. Still, their material is awfully well-recorded and their sound well-formed for a label-less band.

Every review of The Changes mentions The Police, and I'm not going to buck the trend. Especially on their debut ep, the comparison is inescapable and encompasses the playing and the singing. On the more recent material, the lead singer doesn't channel Sting quite so intensely, and I think it's an improvement. Nothing against The Police. It's not their fault that their most irritating song (Every Breath You Take) is their most famous, and I'm not too proud to go bopping around the room to Be My Girl - Sally from time to time.

On The Changes' newer material the influences are less specific, though anyone who listened to commercial radio in the early 80's should still feel at home. As others have noted, you also start to hear aspects of some of the slicker underground bands of the mid to late 80's (e.g. Prefab Sprout, etc.). Here's The Machine whose chorus could really hold its own on a top-40 mix tape from about twenty years ago. Right near the end, there's a bridge followed by an "ooooh" followed by a really nice swirly guitar rave-up to remind us that it's 2004 and we're not listening to a Work Force Block.

(Which prompts me to mention that Scott Muni of WNEW died yesterday. One thing I didn't know until I read the NY Daily News article is that the movie Dog Day Afternoon - which was filmed not far from my house - was apparently based on a phone call that Scott had received while on the air.)

The Changes' website has some mp3s and it's here. If you really want to hear the Police thing, download Her, You and I. There's a live set of theirs available on eMusic, but I'm not sure that it's the best introduction as the performance is a little loose, and this is a group that seems to benefit from the tension between their 80's sheen and their 90's record collection.

Also from the recent batch of songs, here's Not Too Serious which falls closer to Steely Dan on the verse, then rips off Joe Jackson's Stepping Out in a fairly clever way during the instrumental part. It's on their website, but the version here is ripped at a somewhat better rate. They're scheduled to play here in NYC in a couple of weeks, and depending on my sleep schedule, mood, work schedule and so on I may try to pay a visit.

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