The (Almost) Daily Album Review Debut!Posted: November 23, 2015
I’ve been trying to think of a blog project, and I finally came up with one. The idea hit me while at a friend’s birthday party where the night was spent spinning vinyl records for hours and hours. It got me thinking that, since I ripped all my CDs into my computer, I haven’t really spent time with full music albums. I’ve listened to songs dumped onto my phone to listen to on the go and had some random play lists throw up tracks that hadn’t been listened to in a while, but that’s it. My music collection became little more than a convenient data mine for background noise.
Well, not today.
Starting now, I’m going to spend time listening to, enjoying and absorbing full albums as they were meant to be heard. And (almost) every day, I will post an album review. This is going to be interesting, because along with the hits of my much-younger days (the ’80s and ’90s), I also have an eclectic mix of promo discs and forgotten gems that I got during my days as a music journalist for The Spill Magazine, and as a record store slave.
Let’s get to it.
The (A)DAR – Over 60 Minutes With… Strange Advance
The mid-1980s were a time of great change in the music industry. Compact discs (CDs) were transitioning from technological novelties for well-heeled audiophiles into the format for the masses. Vinyl records were slowly being pushed out of music stores, making the transition to CD essential for bands to maintain shelf space in the burgeoning digital age.
This created a conundrum for a number of Canadian acts threatened with banishment to the vinyl clearance bins. While it was obvious CDs were going to be the dominant music format in a very short time, transferring those old analog masters to digital was an expensive proposition — financially risky for small-market can-con acts with limited international appeal. Thus, the Over 60 Minutes With… collections were created.
A uniquely Canadian phenomenon, Luba, Helix, Frank Mills, and Zappacosta were but a few of the acts who received the Over 60 Minutes With… treatment. These were compilations put together using material from two or three albums, taking advantage of the longer playing time CDs had over records. In the case of Strange Advance, their Over 60 Minutes With… album consists of songs pulled from their first two records, 1982’s Worlds Away and 1985’s 2wo.
While the once-rare individual releases are now available pretty much anywhere digital music can be downloaded, I still like how this 16-song collection flows as an album. It opens with the dreamy, ambient “Worlds Away,” then kicks it up to a classic ’80s dance vibe, moving into songs like the other big radio hit, “We Run,” the anthemic “Home of the Brave,” and coming full circle with a reprise of the “Worlds Away” hook.
The album sounds a little dated these days, but the song writing and lyrics are still solid. Any fans of modern synthesizer bands like Metric or The Killers can find something to love in Strange Advance, and Over 60 Minutes With… is a good place to start the journey.