Thursday, August 4, 2016

We'll Have a Time - Dear Nora

We'll Have a Time
Dear Nora
Magic Marker Records  MMR012

The debut album by Dear Nora is my favorite record by Katy Davidson.  It was recorded when Dear Nora was an actual band as opposed to a Davidson solo project like the later Dear Nora albums and her work as Key Losers.  Davidson still wrote all the songs but the rhythm section of Marianna Richey and Ryan Wise provides some welcome oomph to her songs and I appreciate Richey's harmony vocals as well.  It was produced by Amy Linton of the Aislers Set in her basement and with its reverb laden sound it reminds me of their albums.  The album begins with "Rollercoaster" which is a languid song driven by Davidson's jangly guitar and a prominent bass line from Wise.  As is typical of many of the songs on the album, the lyrics are simple and repetitive.  The propulsive "'Round and 'Round" is my favorite track on the record.  It is one of the hardest rocking songs Davidson has ever done and shows off the advantages of the rhythm section and Richey's vocal support"Since You Went Away" is a self-examination song in which Davidson examines her faults which caused her to lose a friend or lover.  The song sounds like sunshine pop with its catchy melody bolstered by surf guitar style riffs from Wise and Davidson and strong harmonic support from Richey.  "You Looked Like a Portrait" features energetic guitar work from Davidson but unfortunately no rhythm section.  The song sounds naked without it.  Wise and Richey return for "When the Wind Blows" which is another bouncy sunshine pop song.  "Springtime Fall" is a quiet song with some of the best lyrics on the album.  Its introspective character is typical of the thematic sophistication of Dear Nora's later work.  Side two continues in a similar vein with "I'm Turned Inside Out" which is another subdued sensitive song of self-examination that references the changing of the seasons.  The record picks up speed with the ebullient "Everyone's the Same" which is a goofy song about unrequited love that gets me boppingThis is another one of my favorite tracks.  "Early to Bed" is another gentle song with a classic pop sound that evokes early 1960s girl groups.  "Number Twelve" is a lethargic instrumental.  It picks up a little energy as it goes along, but it doesn't really go anywhere.  It sounds like a backing track missing its vocals.  I find it mildly engaging because I have a thing for jangly guitar lines.  "From My Bedroom Window" is a simple song with a repeated refrain about being watched through a window.  It starts quiet and slow before exploding into the most raucous song on the album.  The album abruptly shifts gears with the delicate "A Lullaby."  It is a very short, but sweet love song that gives the album a tender finish.  From a strictly artistic standpoint this is arguably Davidson's weakest album.  With its lightweight lyrical content and power pop sound, it resembles Dear Nora's early 7" records more than Davidson's later Dear Nora records which are more personal and idiosyncratic and her recordings as Key Losers which are far more musically sophisticated.  She has certainly grown as an artist and I admire that.  However this record makes me happy whenever I play it which isn't really the case with "Mountain Rock" or "California Lite."  Some listeners might find it excessively precious and twee, but I dig that, especially when it is accompanied by jangly sunshine pop.  Davidson has obvious chemistry with Marianna Ritchey and I wish they'd work together more.  I'm also a fan of their CD as Lloyd and Michael, "Just as God Made Us."  This album is recommended to fans of Ladybug Transistor and the Aislers Set.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

For Your Love - The Yardbirds

For Your Love
The Yardbirds
Epic BN 26167/LN 24167

The top picture depicts a counterfeit copy of this album that I bought in Berkeley in the early 1980s.  I was pretty green back then, I could tell it wasn't an original copy because of the sleeve which was thin like an 80s sleeve not heavy like 60s albums.  Also it was far less expensive than what originals normally sold for.  However the record had what appeared to be an authentic Epic label so I assumed it was some sort of reissue.  I had seen plenty of bootlegs by then but they were always shoddy looking, so it never occurred to me that this was a bootleg.  Years later I acquired a mono original.  It is a little worn but it still sounds better than the counterfeit which is a decidedly inferior pressing.  I probably ought to just get rid of the fake one but it amuses me to be reminded of my youthful folly.  This was the Yardbirds' debut album in the United States.  It has no U. K. equivalent being cobbled together from singles, an EP and a couple of unreleased tracks.  Although Jeff Beck is depicted on the album cover and discussed in the liner notes, he only appears on 3 tracks (from the EP.)  The rest of the tracks feature Eric Clapton on lead guitar.  He left the band when they shifted from blues to a more commercial pop-oriented sound as represented by the Graham Gouldman penned title track which was the group's first hit single.  I am a big fan of that song, it was the song that made me fall for the band when I heard it on an oldies radio station as a young teenager.  It is extremely catchy, driven by typically crisp drumming from Jim McCarty with a dramatic shift in tempo in the middle.  It is augmented by bongos and Brian Auger on harpsichord which expands its instrumental texture.  It is a brilliantly produced, classic single.  My two favorite tracks both feature Jeff Beck.  The band's cover of Mose Allison's "I'm Not Talking" is breathtaking.  Beck practically invents hard rock guitar in the song with a devastating riff and two smoking hot solos that leave me saying "Eric who?"  The interplay between Beck and the rhythm section is thrilling and gets me going big time.  I think this was the most exciting rock song ever recorded at that point and it still sounds fantastic fifty years later.  The band employs the same formula for Keith Relf's bluesy "I Ain't Done Wrong" which has more dazzling guitar work from Beck including a spectacular solo and a dynamic duet with Relf's harmonica.  Nobody in rock was making music like this before Beck joined the Yardbirds.  You can literally hear a new style of rock being created.  Nothing else on the album comes close to these three tracks.  The best of the remaining songs is a cover of Calvin Carter's "I Ain't Got You" which features what I consider Clapton's best studio solo with the Yardbirds.  It is a hard driving performance and my favorite version of this much covered song.  It was originally the b-side of the group's "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" single which is also on this album, but it should have been the a-side since it a much better record.  "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" is too slick and poppy for my taste, I prefer the rawer live version of this song on "Five Live Yardbirds."  The song only comes to life during Clapton's all too brief Chuck Berry-style guitar solo.  Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would" was the band's first single.  It was a flop but I think it deserved a better fate.  It is an energetic song driven by an urgent guitar riff with a frenetic harmonica solo from Relf in the instrumental rave-up.  The b-side of that first single was "A Certain Girl" which is not particularly memorable although I enjoy its call and response structure as well as Clapton's noisy guitar solo.  "Got to Hurry" was the b-side to "For Your Love."  It is a lumbering blues instrumental dominated by Clapton's sterling guitar work that foreshadows his future work with John Mayall.  "My Girl Sloopy" would later be a massive hit for the McCoys under the title "Hang On Sloopy."  The song doesn't sound like a Yardbird's song and their version isn't very convincing, particularly in Relf's awkward vocal.  Jeff Beck's guitar runs make the song listenable and the group does manage to cram four rave-ups into the song.  The group's cover of the Shirelles' "Putty (In Your Hands)" isn't really a Yardbirds style song either.  I've read that Jim McCarty claims that the group recorded this song and the cover of Major Lance's "Sweet Music" to appease Clapton who thought they would be better singles than "For Your Love."  I find it hard to believe that Clapton had such bad taste and in any case both songs were recorded before "For Your Love."  Neither song was originally released in England which is hardly surprising.  "Sweet Music" was one of the worst recordings the group ever made and it severely exposes Relf's limitations as a vocalist.  It was produced by Manfred Mann and it probably would have been better suited to his own group.  I love every Yardbirds album that I own and this one is no exception but I'm hesitant to recommend it.  You can get all the essential tracks here on compilation albums and not have to suffer through "Sweet Music."  On the other hand the record is historic and I love the cover.  I'm so fond of it that I can't even bring myself to get rid of my counterfeit copy.  The record has an aura to it that you don't find on most comps for which I recommend it to passionate Yardbirds fans.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Oh, Inverted World - The Shins

Oh, Inverted World
The Shins
Sub Pop  SP 550

The debut album by the Shins is one of my all time favorite albums.  I can't believe it is already 15 years old, it stills seems so fresh to me.  The first time I heard the band was when I heard "New Slang" on the radio while driving to work.  It astonished me so much that I pulled over to listen to it more closely.  People make fun of that scene in "Garden State" where Natalie Portman tells Zach Braff "New Slang" will change his life but I get what she means (even though I also hate that scene.)  As was the case with Belle and Sebastian (who I fell in love with around the same time) I felt a strong personal connection to the Shins.  For awhile these two bands were the soundtrack to my life.  I listened to them all the time and when I wasn't listening to them I still heard their songs in my head.  All the songs on this record were written and sung by James Mercer.  The album begins wonderfully with "Caring is Creepy" which is an enigmatic song expressing alienation and unhappiness.  The song has a soaring melody driven by cascading keyboards and jangly guitar runs over which Mercer sensitively croons the words.  "One by One All Day" features the line that gives the album its title.  It is an evocative description of coming of age in a rural setting.  It is a rollicking song with a lot of propulsion that strongly appeals to me.  The music shifts dramatically for the languid melody of "The Weird Divide" which poetically reminisces about a past relationship.  The oddly titled "Know Your Onion!" recalls adolescent alienation and unhappiness.  I like the reference to favorite records and books being Mercer's only fun back then, I felt quite similar feelings for awhile as a teenager.  It features a punchy rocked up tune with a ebullient pop sound to it.  "Girl Inform Me" is a charming and neurotic love song that evocatively captures the anxiety of a new relationship.  It is irrestibly catchy jangle pop that fills me with joy whenever I hear it.  Side two opens with "New Slang" which expresses alienation from a town and frustration with an unrequited love in stunningly poetic verses that have always enraptured me.  It is a simple folk rock song but I find the melody haunting and mesmerizing.  Mercer's poignant vocal moves me immensely.  I consider it is one of the best pop songs I've ever heard.  "The Celibate Life" dissects an unfaithful girlfriend.  It is another captivating jangle pop tune that makes me feel good to be alive.  "Girl on the Wing" looks back wistfully at a disintegrating relationship.  It is a choppy rocker smoothed out with power pop sweetness that gets me bopping.  "Your Algebra" is a mysterious and slightly sinister song with an appropriately creepy melody that stands out sharply from the other tunes on the record.  It concludes with an odd coda featuring spooky keyboard music and children's voices and laughter.  The album returns to its normal sound with "Pressed in a Book" which is a prickly song that describes the tension between friends.  It is jaunty power pop with a pounding riff driving it.  The album ends with "The Past and Pending" which is a devastating account of a break-up loaded with powerful metaphors.  It is a gentle tune with a delicate arrangement.  It gives the record a sensitive and emotional finish.  Thus concludes an absolutely perfect record, an album that I consider to be a masterpiece.  Lyrically and musically it pushes all my buttons, I find it endlessly listenable.  I wish it had been around when I was an unhappy adolescent, it would have been my Bible.  For better or worse I'm far removed from that, but I remember it well and I think that is why the album still resonates strongly for me.  I'm always drawn to personal music and the way Mercer poured his heart out and drew from his experiences and alienation to create his songs is tremendously compelling to me.  To me that is what good art is all about.  Recommended to fans of early Belle and Sebastian.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Airing of Grievances - Titus Andronicus

The Airing of Grievances
Titus Andronicus
XL Recordings  XL LP 397

I heard this band on KXLU a few times but wasn't interested in them until I saw them open for Okkervil River at the Wiltern.  Their performance was tremendously exciting and energetic so I decided to check out one of their albums.  This was their debut album originally released on an indie label in 2008 before being reissued by XL in 2009.  The band gives the album a theatrical structure in the lyric sheet organizing the songs into two parts plus a prologue and an epilogue.  The lyrics are overtly autobiographical, drawn from lead singer Patrick Stickles' experiences as a youth and in college.  The prologue consists of "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ" which like all the songs on the record was written by Stickles.  It starts slow and distant, practically inaudible at normal volume, then it kicks into a fast tempo section with an Irish music flavor reminiscent of the Pogues.  The song attacks the world with extraordinary vitriol apparently inspired by Stickles' unhappiness attending college in the titular town.  At the conclusion of the song there is a reading from Shakespeare's play "Titus Andronicus."  It comes from the end of the play where the villain Aaron expresses his lack of remorse for his evil deeds and his regret that he didn't do more of them.  Part I begins with "My Time Outside the Womb" which describes Stickles birth and childhood in New Jersey.  The song is a rocker that mixes power pop with old fashioned rock and roll.  The gloomy "Joset of Nazareth's Blues" takes a poke at religion and outlines Stickles grim view of life.  Musically the song sounds like a crazed street musician covering Bruce Springsteen.  "Arms Against Atrophy" recounts a high school band trip to San Francisco where Stickles broke his arm as well as a dream in which his mother attempted to kill him with nail clippers.  It is a punky rocker with a throat-shredding vocal from Stickles.  "Upon Viewing Bruegel's 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus'" has no obvious connection to that painting but instead features more of Stickles nihilistic philosophizing.  It is raucous power pop with punk attitude.  That concludes side one and part I.  Part II begins with "Titus Andronicus" in which Stickles describes the misery of being in an indie rock band.  The song ends with Stickles howling "your life is over" repeatedly.  It is a thunderous song with a lot of drive.  The band generates an impressive wall of sound.  The misery continues in "No Future Part I" in which he describes himself as "dying slowly from Patrick Stickles disease."  The song expresses a desire to runaway from unhappiness as well as thoughts of suicide.  The song starts slow, almost dirge-like which serves its depressing message well.  Beginning with the instrumental break it becomes noisier without increasing the pace too much, this part reminds me of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.  "No Future Part II: The Day After No Future" is a song about the apocalypse.  Unlike "Part I" it rocks out fiercely and just as loudly with lots of guitar noise becoming shoegaze-like at the end.  There is a reading at the conclusion of the song from the end of Albert Camus' novel "The Stranger."  It includes the famous line about Meursault laying his heart open "to the benign indifference of the universe."  The epilogue features the song "Albert Camus" which is not about the author but rather describes adolescent stupidity and misbehavior in a small New Jersey town.  The indifference and the apathy the people in the song feel towards life is presumably intended to be compared to the existential perspective expressed in Camus' work.  The song is another frenetic assault on the eardrums with a shoegazy finish.  This is one of the darkest pop records that I've ever heard.  At times it seems more like a suicide note than art.  I was an alienated adolescent and I haven't forgotten what it was like, but this is so extreme I have trouble relating to it at times.  Also I find such a steady stream of negative feelings wearying to listen to, there is no humor or expression of warmth to offer any respite.  The album is aptly titled, I don't think I've ever heard such a prodigious venting of spleen.  The record's saving grace is the music which is wonderfully dynamic and passionate.  It combines the raw energy of punk rock with the song craft of power pop and shoegaze with thrilling results.  Also Stickles is a very expressive singer which makes his ceaseless whining a lot more palatable.  Recommended to Nirvana fans who think Kurt Cobain was too cheerful.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Radio City - Big Star

Radio City
Big Star
Ardent ADS 1501

This is a Concord Music Group reissue of Big Star's second album.  A couple of years ago I attended a Big Star tribute show at the Wilshire-Ebell Theater featuring a bunch of power pop musicians including members of the Posies, Bangles, R.E.M., the dB's, Yo La Tengo, Luna, Let's Active as well as the sole surviving member of Big Star, drummer Jody Stephens.  It was a fantastic show played with obvious love and respect by the musicians.  They played Big Star's albums "#1 Record" and "Third" in their entirety but just a handful of cuts from this album.  I guess that makes sense, "#1 Record" is the only the Big Star album with Chris Bell in the line-up and "Third" has a big cult following.  However when I feel like listening to Big Star, this is usually the album I reach for, it is my favorite of the three.  The album gets off to a strong start with "Oh My Soul" in which Alex Chilton combines the blue-eyed soul sound of his previous group, the Box Tops, with the effervescent power pop of Big Star with dazzling results.  The song is full of shifts in tempo and melody punctuated by frenetic guitar solos and a buoyant vocal from Chilton as he sings about romantic frustration.  I consider this to be one of the band's best ever songs.  Chilton and bassist Andy Hummel co-wrote "Life is White" which continues the soul/power pop fusion albeit in a far less charged manner.  The sound is notable for the density of its sound, in particular the howling harmonica that runs through it.  It is a merciless kiss-off song.  Hummel's "Way Out West" expresses romantic yearning for an absent lover.  It is a catchy song driven by a solid power riff with a lovely chiming guitar solo in the break.  "What's Going Ahn" is another Chilton/Hummel collaboration.  It is a slow song with a poignant vocal from Chilton and lots of ringing guitar runs to keep things interesting.  The song expresses disillusionment with love.  The side concludes with Chilton's "You Get What You Deserve" which is a rocker full of hooks and compelling guitar licks and other power pop niceties.  It is an enigmatic song about being realistic about life and accepting it.  "Mod Lang" was written by Chilton and drummer Richard Rosebrough who filled in for Stephens on a few tracks of the album.  It is a riff driven rocker that expresses dissatisfaction, a classic rock and roll theme that suits the song's heavy sound. "Back of a Car" is a Chilton/Hummel tune about romantic confusion and insecurity.  With its soaring vocal, jangly guitars and hyperactive drumming it laid the foundation for a generation of power-poppers to come.  It is another one of my favorite tracks.  "Daisy Glaze" is a group composition about self-destructive behavior in the wake of a break-up.  It is a delicate song with a sensitive vocal from Chilton that shifts into high gear near the end for a power-pop rave up that gives the song a strong finish.  "She's a Mover" is a Chilton song about a wild woman.  It is a straight ahead rocker full of energy and guitar riffs.  Chilton's "September Gurls" is one of the greatest power pop songs of all time, a true classic.  It is a simple song about the ups and downs of love, but the imagery in the lyrics is memorable and the hook-laden tune makes the words' impact powerful and lasting.  The song blew me away the first time I heard it (in the Bangles' cover version) and the Big Star version is even better.  I've heard it countless times and it still sends me every time.  Chilton's "Morpha Too" is a silly love song with a childish tune driven by a piano.  It is the weakest track on the album but still fun.  Chilton also wrote "I'm in Love with a Girl" which is a joyous love song.  In contrast to the rich sound of the rest of the album, this song simply features an acoustic guitarThe simplicity of the arrangement emphasizes the vocal which serves to show what a terrific singer Chilton was.  I find his high sensitive voice very appealing.  It gives the album a tender and heartfelt finish.  I love this record and rank it among the very best albums of the 1970s.  I wish I could have heard it back when it came out instead of having to wait 15 years until I finally got it on  CD.  I grew up in the 1970s hating the music of my generation and admiring the music of the 1960s.  Perhaps if I could have heard this instead of the Eagles or the Doobie Brothers or any of the other crap that was on the radio in 1974, I would have felt better about my own generation.  Nonetheless I'm glad this music is finally widely available on vinyl and getting the respect it has always deserved.  Recommended to fans of the Posies and Sloan.          

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Live at the Regal - B. B. King

Live at the Regal
B. B. King
ABC-Paramount Records ABCS-509

Most of the world is paying tribute to Prince, but I'm just getting around to my tribute to B. B. King who died last May.  I actually started this post several weeks ago, but then I got sick and didn't feel like listening to music much less blogging.  My introduction to the blues mostly came second hand from English rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Cream and the Yardbirds who imitated American bluesmen.  King was the first genuine blues performer I remember seeing, I saw him when I was a kid in the early 1970s on Flip Wilson's television show.  The first real blues album I ever bought was King's "Live in Cook County Jail" which I picked up as a teenager.  I have to admit that at first I wasn't all that impressed, I preferred the flashiness and showboating of the English guitar heroes.  As I grew older and more musically sophisticated I came to appreciate King's economical and controlled playing style a lot more.  I realized it was better to emphasize feeling like King than to show off technical prowess by playing a gazillion notes as fast you can like Alvin Lee.  This is my favorite B. B. King album, an opinion that is hardly unique.  The album is widely acknowledged as a classic record.  It was recorded at the Regal Theatre in Chicago in 1964 in front of a loudly appreciative audience.  King and his band were in top form as they ran through his back catalog delivering definitive versions of some of his best known songs.  The record opens with "Every Day I Have the Blues" which was a hit single for King in 1955.  It is a swinging, fast-paced performance that is my favorite version of this oft-covered song.  I love it when King's voice soars in the final chorus"Sweet Little Angel" was a 1956 single derived from the old blues song "Black Angel Blues."  King introduces it as a "real oldie."  His vocal is full of gusto.  He was justly celebrated for his guitar work, but his ability as a blues singer was also outstanding.  He shows off his range and power with a very emotional performance that elicits screams from the ladies in the crowd.  "It's My Own Fault" is a cover of a John Lee Hooker song released as a b-side in 1960.  It is a slow, smoldering blues with another spectacular vocal from King backed up by a wailing guitar solo.  "How Blue Can You Get" was a 1964 single for King.  King shows just how blue he could get with a volcanic vocal and some inspired guitar work in the intro.  "Please Love Me" was a 1953 hit single written by King.  It is a smoking hot song that gets me bopping and features a high-tempo yet impressively fluid solo from King.  Side two opens with King's 1954 hit "You Upset Me Baby."  It is a jumping track that opens with an exciting guitar run before King tears into the vocal.  He lets his sax player take the solo which really cooks.  "Worry Worry" was originally the b-side of a 1950 single that was re-released as an a-side in 1959.  It is another slow blues that begins with a long fiery guitar intro from King that rouses the crowd.  When King finally breaks into his passionate vocal the crowd starts screaming and I would have too if I had been there.  It is a stunning performance on every level, the highlight of the album.  I don't think the blues gets any better than this.  "Woke Up This Mornin'" was written by King and was a hit single in 1953.  It sounds like filler practically after the previous titanic track, but it is full of energy and fine singing from King.  "You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now" was originally a b-side in 1960.  It opens with a typically graceful and dynamic guitar solo from King before he gets down with another steamy vocal that he punctuates with short bursts from his guitar.  His horn section gives the song extra oomph as it moves towards its conclusion.  "Help the Poor" was a 1964 single for King.  It is more rhythm and blues than straight blues and gets into a nice groove to close the album.  This is truly a classic album, ten heartfelt tracks of superb singing and playing that showcase King's brilliance.  As a vocalist/guitarist, King was as a virtuoso without parallel.  I'm sure going to miss him.  Recommended to people who believe that the blues need to be sung as well as they are played.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

At Home - Shocking Blue

At Home
Shocking Blue
Metronome MLP 15 353

This is a German pressing of Shocking Blue's second album originally released in the Netherlands on Pink Elephant Records.  It was Mariska Veres' debut album with the band as lead vocalist.  I first encountered the band as a kid on the first rock record I ever bought, a compilation called "Get It Together," which featured their international hit single "Venus."  I liked the song but not so much that I made a big effort to obtain one of their albums which are not all that easy to find in the United States.  About 20 years later I heard Nirvana's wonderful cover of "Love Buzz" on "Bleach" and decided I had to get the original version by Shocking Blue.  Thus I finally ended up with this delightful album which contains both "Venus" and "Love Buzz."  The album opens with "Boll Weevil" which like all but one of the songs on the album was written by the band's guitarist/sitarist Robbie van Leeuwen.  It is a hard rocking song with a rockabilly flavor particularly in the chorus and guitar solo.  The lyrics are slight but Veres sings them with admirable verve.  "I'll Write Your Name Through The Fire" is trippy folk-rock.  The lyrics are of the "gotta ramble" varietyLike most of the lyrics on the record, they sound awkward to me.  "Acka Raga" is a cover of a song by John Mayer (no not that John Mayer.)  It is a raga rock instrumental driven by van Leeuwen on sitar and one of my favorite tracks.  "Love Machine" is greasy rock with stimulating guitar runs from van Leeuwen and a heavy bass riff propelling it.  Veres' vocal sounds slightly hoarse heightening the passion of her delivery.  "I'm a Woman" is a mix of raga rock and soul with a seductive vocal from Veres as she intones quasi-feminist lyrics of female empowerment.  The lyrics are extremely awkward bordering on abstruse which mutes the songs impact although Veres sings them so convincingly that they still convey the song's message.  Side one concludes with "Venus" which was their biggest hit and deservedly so.  The song features a hypnotic guitar riff over which Veres intones alluring lyrics of irresistible desireWhen I heard the song as a boy, Veres' vocal captivated me with her accent and her sensuality and all these years later I still find her performance very appealing.  I greatly prefer it to Bananarama's cover version.  Side two opens with "California Here I Come" which is driven by a strong guitar riff and features a stimulating instrumental break.  It is another "gotta ramble" type song that is a paean to California as well.  Despite the listing on the record sleeve the next song is "Long and Lonesome Road" which is a pounding rocker with an urgent vocal from Veres.  It is powered by a compelling organ riff and plenty of noisy guitar work from van Leeuwen.  "Poor Boy" opens with a lengthy instrumental passage featuring raga inflected guitar runs from van Leeuwen.  After a couple of minutes the vocal part of the song begins with Veres plaintively singing about the unhappy titular character.  She again uses the hoarse quality of her voice to great effect heightening the emotional impact of her singing.  "Love Buzz" begins with a memorable raga-style bass riff augmented by sitar over which Veres sings clumsy lyrics about desire leading to a frenzied rave up in the instrumental break.  Kurt Cobain followed the arrangement for Nirvana's cover but increased the tempo and rocked up the sound more.  I prefer the Nirvana version for its intensity, but being a raga rock fan I appreciate the Shocking Blue version too.  "The Butterfly and I" features more awkward lyrics so much so that I can't even figure out what the song is about.  Veres accent sounds particularly heavy on this track.  The song starts out with a raga rock sound and then halfway through the song it is weirdly transformed by a big band arrangement complete with a couple of trumpet solos.  If nothing else it gives the album a dynamic finish.  I really love the sound of this album, it pushes a lot of my buttons.  Van Leeuwen came up with a lot of great riffs and I like the sitar as well.  Veres was a charismatic and emotional singer and she goes a long way towards compensating for the weakness of the lyricsI suppose the lyrics are not bad for a Dutch guy, but they definitely diminish the strength of several of the songs.  It is still a terrific record though, well worth seeking out.  Recommended to fans of George Harrison's sitar playing.