Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: P. Hux - Tracks & Treasure Vol. 1

You know the drill.

Any recording artist who has been around for awhile, especially in our current fragmented music scene, collects odds and ends over time. A culled album track here; a tribute album cover there; and dusty demos everywhere. Eventually a critical mass of them accumulate and out comes the Rarities Collection no one except die hard fans was clamoring for.

As I said.... we all know the drill.

Luckily, no one informed P. Hux of this, as his Tracks & Treasure Vol. 1 rises above the usual fate for these kinds of albums. In fact, Tracks & Treasure sounds more like a planned album than most efforts you hear these days. Some of this has to do with the consistently high quality of the songwriting, but there is also the continuity of sound P. Hux has employed since at least the late 1980's.

The 10 listed tracks contain a good half dozen songs which will appeal to anyone who has enjoyed P. Hux's long players. "Things Could Be Worse" is a rocker which could have easily fit in on P. Hux's classic 1995 album Deluxe. "My Girlfriend" and "Kifissia Girls" are brash loud tunes, fully realized recordings of the sort you rarely find amongst odds and ends and leftover bits. Huxley even revisits his earliest days in a terrific reworking of "The Air Gets Colder" by his early band The Blazers - he even tacks on the original as a hidden track just so we can all hear how he has always had it.

On the album only the classy Badfinger cover "Perfection" and the cheery 30 second throwaway "Pop Dreams" lets the listener in on the varied origin of the material here, but they are so well done they simply fit in perfectly.

All in all, this is a very solid effort. And you don't even have to be a Parthenon Huxley fanatic to get it.

Grade: B+

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Baby Its You"

My Beatles criticism project continued:

This classy cover of the David/Williams/Bacharach composition (also done by The Shirelles) shows just how much the Beatles were a band of their time. The opening "Sha la la la la la la" performed by the backing vocalists (George most prominent), places the song not only in terms of style but also in an entire era of music.

Lead vocals are handled by John, whose approach is both tender and firm. The lyric explains to a girl why she is the only one for the singer. It is straightforward enough. That it works so memorably here is due to the subtle sense given that this is the first time the singer could truly say this. There have been other girls (why else would he say "It's not the way you kiss, that tears me apart"?), but now he only wants the one. ("What can I do? Can't help myself! 'cause baby it's you.")

This is not to say the girl is worth it. It becomes clear that she is probably not quite as sold on our protagonist as he is on her. ("You should hear what they say about you - cheat - cheat - cheat")

The arrangement has a nice mid-tempo rock and roll feel. The drums and vocals propel the song forward nicely. There is something inexorable about the whole thing. Even the slight organ and guitar solo adds to the feeling that this all has to end in tears. ("Don't what nobody, 'cause baby it's you.")