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Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I picked up a few records the other day. Four slabs o' vinyl, 10 bucks; discovering a new band, priceless.

There's not a whole lot of things I love more than 70's Hard Rock, and to find a 'new' band from that era at this late stage is just short of miraculous. In my many years of flipping through record bins in search of the ever elusive Tank or M80 records, I had never come across Dirty Tricks. The cover of their third and final Polydor release, 'Hit and Run' (1977), caught my eye.

Upon closer inspection I noticed that the record had been produced by the legendary Tony Visconti (Bowie, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy). That sold me, and as I continued to peruse that particular bin of used LPs, I found their second record, 'Night Man' (Polydor 1976), and grabbed that one too.

While Dirty Tricks is not the musical equivalent of the lost treasure of the Sierra Madre, they don't suck either. Dirty Tricks sound like a late 70's Hard Rock band, and that is good enough for Jackson. A British act, Dirty Tricks, after getting dropped from Polydor, briefly hooked up with Ozzy after he was booted out of Black Sabbath. I guess the magic failed to surface, and Ozzy soon bailed, headed to L.A., and found Randy Rhoads, who apparently was in possession of the magic.

I have almost purchased Roger Taylor's 'Fun In Space' album countless times, as the Queen drummer's solo debut record has long been a frequent resident of the bargain bins. At 2 dollars, I finally bought it. I remember when it came out, and I remember thinking it could be a good record given the fact that Roger was responsible for some of Queen's more rocking and less pretentious tracks ('I'm In Love With My Car', 'Tenement Funster', 'Sheer Heart Attack', and 'Fight From the Inside'), but it's quick relegation to the aforementioned bargain bins and a total lack of recommendation via word of mouth managed to keep me gun-shy in respect to pulling the trigger on it's purchase.

My suspicions were well founded. While 'Fun In Space' is not complete crap, it ain't great either. Roger has a great raspy whiskey vocal style, and his drum chops are noteworthy. He is also a capable guitar player as evidenced by his guitar playing on Queen's 'News of the World' record, so it is not surprising that he played all the instruments ("approximately 50%" of the synth tracks were played by Engineer David Richards) on 'Fun In Space', which he also wrote, arranged, and produced.

What's wrong with 'Fun In Space'? Songs, or the lack of them. The songwriting is simply not that strong.

I had expected a Hard Rock record given his contributions to the Queen canon, but 'Fun In Space' finds Roger flirting with technology, opting for synths over guitars much of the time. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but it feels like Roger was keeping up with the Joneses, or the Gabriels, or the Sumners more specifically, and the result is a great sounding record that lacks greatness in composition.

The cover art is cool as hell, though. Another Hipgnosis classic.

The fourth record I picked up was a 12" of the Tom Tom Club's 'Pleasure of Love'. I confused this song with their timeless classic 'Genius of Love', which I thought would be a great addition to the collection. I envisioned it being pulled out at parties to enthusiastic response. Oh, well, wrong song. The kicker is that when I pulled the disc out for a spin, I discovered that it was severely damaged, cracked clear across the entire surface, unplayable.

Caveat emptor.

Roger plays guitar on "News of the World"? Which tracks? I haven't had the album for years so I don't have the liner notes.
He plays the rythm parts on his two tunes, 'Sheer Heart Attack', and 'Fight From the Inside'.
Love the cover fro fun in space. Perhaps some vinyl shopping will help drag me out of the doldrums...
Quick fix for doldrums - no TV. Vinyl helps, of course.
Not sure what it says, but the white print on the Fun In space cover looks like Hebrew upside down.
I asked someone who knows an Israeli. It's gibberish. Upside down and backwards.
Only you, Hazmat, only you....
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