Back in October, we provided a glimpse into the making of the new Kowloon Walled City record Container Ships (check out part 1 and part 2). Now, to celebrate both its Tuesday release and the fact that it's REALLY fucking good, the band was kind enough to send along a tour van mixtape full of tuneage. And in keeping with the days when high speed dubbing was a real time saver (especially for those 120 minute cassettes), each side is themed. First up? A.M. Gold jams for the van, courtesy of vocalist/guitarist Scott Evans and bassist Ian Miller. We'll let Scott take it from here: "You just played a show full of screaming-dude bands at jet-engine volume. Now you're driving eight hours to do it again and it's your turn to pick the soundtrack. The last thing you want to hear is more dudes screaming. No, you want real chord progressions under string sections and great singers. You want smooth adult contemporary jams, like Mom listened to. You remember it: the days got shorter in autumn, and on crisp October afternoons, you'd leave your BMX bike on the lawn and lay on the sofa in the wood-paneled family room, reading The City of Gold and Lead again while Mom cooked spaghetti and sang along to Linda Ronstadt, and everything was okay. Those days will never return, but at least there are only two goregrind bands on the bill tomorrow night. Ian and I love this shit. Here's some of our favorite A.M. Gold jams."
Feel free to easy listen along here.
Bread's “It Don’t Matter to Me" (from 1973's The Best Of Bread) When I listen to The Best of Bread, the testosterone drains out of my body. So pleasant! There are so many great jams on here, like "Make It With You," "Baby I'm-A Want You", "Diary" and "Everything I Own". There are a few rockers too, but fuck that. It's hard to pick a favorite song, but I'm going with "It Don't Matter to Me". The strings, the jazzy bridge, the almost pathetically selfless lyrics—they all hit the spot.—Scott Evans
Gary Wright's "Love Is Alive" (originally from 1975's The Dream Weaver) I could go the rest of my life without hearing the title track again, but The Dream Weaver is a gold mine of deep cuts. The only other song to chart, "Love Is Alive", is a bona fide banger. Even if you're not familiar with the O.G. version, you may recognize the hook from 3rd Bass's "Wordz of Wisdom". To prove that white former child actors can bring the funk, I submit this 1976 Midnight Special rendition, featuring a young Steve Porcaro destroying on Minimoog alongside angelic cowbellistas from another dimension. Dream Weaver is especially welcome on post-show drives, as there are no guitars to be found on it anywhere. Plus that album cover! Glorious.—Ian Miller
Buckingham Nicks' "Long Distance Winner" (from 1973's Buckingham Nicks) Every tour van has Rumours and Fleetwood Mac onboard. That's just science. But 1973’s Buckingham/Nicks deserves the same treatment. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks recorded this before they joined Fleetwood Mac, and it is so goddamn good. I don't mean that in an ironic "it's crappy but good" way—you know, the way people get about C-level proto-metal—but I mean it's genuinely great. The songs are full of the hooky songwriting juice that B/N injected into the Mac, the performances are perfect and the record sounds beautiful. Almost every song on this record is amazing, but I'm picking "Long Distance Winner", which I can never hear enough.—S.E.
Loggins And Messina's "Angry Eyes" (from 1972's Loggins And Messina) These guys are best known these days for being punchlines on Yacht Rock, but L&M’s eponymous 1972 effort is surprisingly solid. Lots of quality guitar-pickin' augmented with the best session cats early-'70s LA session culture could provide. "Good Friend" sounds like a Dream Weaver outtake, but "Angry Eyes" is my number one jam. It's basically a verse and chorus, four-plus minutes of inexplicable jamming (including an EPIC FLUTE SOLO), then another verse and chorus. That's songcraft, people!—I.M.
10cc's "I'm Not In Love" (from 1975's The Original Soundtrack) You probably know this song even if you've never heard a 10cc record. These guys were smart and experimental and weird, and they did a lot more than smooth A.M. jams, but "I'm Not In Love" is smooth as shit. One cool thing about this song is the simple, weird, arrangement—this could be a Radiohead song. Watery Rhodes, backing vocals, that one little bass drum pulse, and that's it. And all those layers of vocals were recorded and manipulated with analog tape in 1975. Three weeks just to track backing vocals! Here's a great article about the making of this song.—S.E.
Hall And Oates' "She's Gone" (from 1973's Abandoned Luncheonette) On their first three records, H&O were still trying to figure out how to present their Philly soul-inspired sound to a new, mostly white audience. There was a lot of experimenting going on, which resulted in some serious misfires (like most of War Babies). But side one of Abandoned Luncheonette has the highest hit-to-miss ratio of any of the early stuff, as it includes "When the Morning Comes", "Las Vegas Turnaround" and (of course) "She's Gone". Bernard Purdie played drums on all those songs, and they're all awesome. Coincidence? I don't think so.—I.M.
Seals And Crofts' "East Of Ginger Trees" (from 1972's Summer Breeze) On any night in San Francisco, you can find a band of dudes who look pretty much like this—except they can’t sing or write songs to save their ass. WRONG. It’s easy to pick a Seals & Crofts mega-hit like “Summer Breeze” or “Diamond Girl”, and those are great too, but I’m picking “East of Ginger Trees”—still folky and chill, but with an early King Crimson or Jethro Tull vibe. While you listen to it, picture these dudes opening for Black fucking Sabbath and Deep Purple at the California Jam in 1974.—S.E.
*Order a copy of Container Ships here.
**We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2) Early Graves All That Remains Bison B.C. A Life Once Lost Fight Amp Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander) Vision of Disorder Grave Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2) "Best of" Rush (Part 1) (Part 2) Dawnbringer Ufomammut Shadows Fall Horseback Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2) Torche "Best of" Meshuggah Astra Pallbearer Barren Earth Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)