Rustichelli & Bordini

Opera Prima (1973)

http://www.mediafire.com/?tukye69doc1

Check out that bizarre cover art! This is Italian prog of the highest calibre, and sadly this is their only album. A notable feature of this album is the inclusion of only drums, keyboards and vocals. Their sound however, is remarkably full as there are a LOT of keyboards. Another notable feature of this album is the terrible, terrible vocals. Even going by the relatively low standards of Italian prog, these are pretty damn bad. Fortunately the singing mistake isn’t quite enough to ruin the album, which is top notch bombast, memorable melodies, and an enormous load of sweet Mellotron. The first two tracks on this aren’t all that good in my opinion (with some seriously comedic singing on “Icaro”), but things really get going after that. “Un Cane” opens up with a short piano introduction and then some super fat synth comes out of nowhere. “Dolce Sorella” features a nice melody and finishes with a solo that would make Rick Wakeman proud. The rest of the album is more of the same- a synth lovers dream. One of the best of the Italian 70’s if you can tolerate the singing. A minor historical note: Bordini would play the drums for the Cherry Five a couple of years after this album was recorded, the band that would later become Goblin.

The Breeders

Pod Demos

http://www.mediafire.com/?xkeytnkyt0i

At the time, The Pixies were my favorite band in the universe. The Smiths and Cocteau Twins were runners-up. My teenage mind latched onto Frank Black’s primal screams on Surfer Rosa and loved the eclectic smorgasbord of Doolittle. This teenage mind liked Bossanova and told Trompe Le Monde to talk to the hand. I saw them with the Ciure and Love and Rockets and my heart swooned at the possibilities of music. Now I am much older and calloused and I look back and wonder why I thought their first two albums were a door to all that was new. I still view Loveless, Queen is Dead, Heaven or Las Vegas and Viva Hate as impeccable gems, but the Pixies just haven’t aged well with me.

The Breeders’ debut, Pod, is a horse of a different color. It still gets played regularly and it grows more loved with each listen. I like First Splash a lot and find something to love on the other two, but the overall legacy is weak except for Pod. I used the term “supergroup” already today, but here we go on our hackneyed path again. In my mind, the Breeders were much more than Kim Deal. The band included Tanya Donnely of Throwing Muses, Josephine Wiggins of The Perfect Disaster and Britt Walford of Slint, who recorded under the alias of Shannon Doughton to preserve the all-girl flair. When you listen to the demos for Pod, it becomes apparent that they had a lot more to do with its success than you may think.

Pod was produced and engineered by Steve Albini. Known for his work with  Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac as well as production credits on albums by Nirvana, Superchunk Page and Plant and Pj Harvey. It was always obvious that he beefed up the sound of Pod, but one listen to the demos and it points to how Albini and Britt Walford made this album a great one instead of a good one. The demos include all of the Kim Deal tracks and excludes the Beatles cover as well as a few others. The demos are a great insight into the creation of the album and stand on their own as an album, but it lacks the forboding, metallic guitars and creepy atmosphere of the finished product. Yes, this is the case with most demos, but the contrast is schocking.

In the finished product, Walford’s drumming is pushed to the forefront and is recorded higher in the mix than than Deal’s vocals at times. In addition, Deal and Donnely’s guitars sounds more abrasive and harsh while Wiggs’ bass is prominent and drives each track with an air of aggression. The finished product is genius while the demos sounds almost twee. There is no Pod as wel know it without the pounding drums of Walford and Albini’s raw reconstruction of these songs. You may say this is unfair since these are demos. However, the band’s direction after Pod shows that they were always a catchy pop band with rough edges instead of the infinitely more interesting band which recorded Pod.