Here are some thoughts on albums I received as birthday presents:
The Dukes of Stratosphear, 25 O’Clock (reissue) – Since this was a set of songs released in the eighties made to sound like they were from the sixties, I guess it’s only fitting that it would be re-released around now. I already had the songs on Chips from the Chocolate Fireball, but there are a good number of extras on here. There’s a booklet with background information from Sir John Johns, The Red Curtain, and Lord Cornelius Plum (better known as Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding, and Dave Gregory) on the project and the songs, and the disc itself includes a few demos and other additional songs recorded in the Dukes’ vein. I already knew three of the demos and “Open a Can of Human Beans,” a song that the band did for a charity project, from the Fuzzy Warbles collection, but the others were new to me. The demo of “What in the World??” sounds quite different from the finished version. “Nicely Nicely Jane” and “Susan Revolving” are demos that were never fleshed out into entire songs, and which sound pretty similar to each other, but definitely had potential. “Black Jewelled Serpent of Sound” is rather forgettable, but I quite enjoy “Tin Toy Clockwork Train,” which was apparently originally conceived as “Tin Toy Aeroplane” for XTC’s never-released bubblegum project. I’ll probably end up getting the companion volume, Psonic Psunspot, at some point, although I understand that doesn’t have any previously unreleased songs, just the songs from the album and a few demos.
Jenny and Johnny, I’m Having Fun Now – A collaboration between Jenny Lewis and her fiancé Johnathan Rice. Hey, Jenny, haven’t you learned the lesson about forming bands with your current boyfriends yet? :P Seriously, I like Jenny, but I really don’t know Johnny’s work, and I guess I’m somewhat jealous of him. Not that I really think I could date Jenny, but celebrity crushes typically aren’t logical, and she’s just so adorable.
I have to admit that I prefer the songs where Jenny does the brunt of the singing, like “My Pet Snakes” and “Just Like Zeus,” but it’s a good record overall. There are some mythological and Biblical references in the lyrics, and we all know I tend to be a sucker for those.