Monday, April 04, 2005

Classic Rock Monday: Elope, Chrysalis, and Merry Go Round news

I came home on Saturday soaked from a rainstorm and still wondering if I should have bought the (overpriced) Steam lp and the Checkmate lp that I had just been looking at. Turns out that both are on CD for less than the vinyl copies I saw, so it's a good thing I passed, though the cover art (front and back) of the Steam album is wonderfully awful...not sure how I made it to 36 without seeing that (Steam=Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye). At home, I found two CD-containing packages waiting for me. One from my sister (she's trying win me over to a band called Moped) and one from Parasol.

I've been feeling guilty w/regards to Parasol lately. They've been sending me albums that I generally like, but one thing or another keeps keeping me from writing about them. I had planned to post about Sukilove, but first their tour got canceled and then Spoilt Victorian Child beat me to it. And I kind of like Jose Gonzalez, but I've honestly been in a more rocking mood lately and I just can't work up the enthusiasm to do a feature on him.

Third time's a charm. This time I got a copy of a CD called The No Name Record by a band called Elope, yet another Swedish group heavily influenced by 60's English rock. The album has been mentioned on a few other mp3 blogs...consensus seems to be that it's one of the better debuts of 2004 and I'm gonna go with the consensus. The cover art is somewhat misleading in that it looks very "indie rock". If I saw this without knowing anything about it, I'd have guessed that it contained strummy pop of some sort. Yuck, me hate strummy pop. And the name "Elope" doesn't really conjure up much of anything.

Not long ago, Aquarius Records went through all sorts of contortions to avoid saying that Elope often sound incredibly like Cream. It's true that at times you'll be reminded more of The Beatles/Wings/Pretty Things but I think it's safe to say that it sounds like The Beatles/Wings/Pretty Things after they'd spent a lot of time listening to Cream. I'd read the Aquarius review, but I think the phrase "Stoner Rock" had put me off, since it always makes me think of Dead Meadow who don't entirely thrill me. Elope don't pound riffs into the ground, which is what I usually think of when I think of stoner rock (see also Bardo Pond, who I do like, so I'm not sure exactly what my point is).

At it's best, The No Name Record is a very, very, very accurate recreation of what records sounded like in the early 70's. The production is seriously dead on. You could probably sample the intro to Lilith and impress the hell out of your crate-diggin' friends. And Pride Approaching is pretty much good enough to have been a minor hit had it come out about 32 years ago (it's a good example of the Pretty Things resemblance's Miss Fay Regrets by The Pretty Things from their Parachute album for comparison). Repeat after me, "It's true that S.F. Sorrow was the first rock opera, but I really prefer Parachute." Congratulations! You're on your way to being a cool record store clerk!

As the CD goes along, the Cream side of things fades a bit and the Wings/Pretty Things influence seems to get stronger, and I find my interest waning ever so slightly. And whenever the drummer isn't drumming, things are a lot less interesting. God, I sound like I'm writing for Rolling Stone, but the drummer (Anders Person, like you're going to remember that) does a great Ginger Baker.

I always wonder why albums like this don't catch on with the classic rock crowd. I'd guess that if someone were to release newly discovered Cream tracks (even if they weren't particularly great) that it would sell reasonably well, so it's odd that an album like Elope's isn't likely to break out of the alternative market. I'll have to play this for some older rock fans and see what they say...maybe there's some subtlety I'm missing.

Easy to miss reissue alert. Chrysalis put out one unusual and eclectic pop album in the late 60's, and Rev-Ola has recently gotten around to finally getting it out on CD. Definition is a little proggier than I generally like, but on listening to it recently for the first time in a while I was surprised to discover that the record had stuck with me much more than I thought it had. The last track, Dr. Root's Garden is a pretty bizarre must-hear (this mp3 is from have to pay attention to the lyrics). Definitely worth investigating for fans of accessible but weird 60's pop things.

Note also the Merry Go Round (i.e. Emitt Rhodes) reissue!

Lilith by Elope
Pride Approaching by Elope
Miss Fay Regrets by The Pretty Things
Dr. Root's Garden by Chrysalis

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