Saturday, June 23, 2007

Brian Briggs - Brian Damage (1980)



I'm still in the middle of making a long & painful transition between computers, so I haven't had time to rip any new records this week. Instead I've pulled one from my collection of other peoples' posts (another from a newsgroup--props to the original poster).

Brian Briggs real name was John Holbrook and he was (and, as far as I know, still is) a well-respected mixer and sound engineer who worked at Todd Rundgren's Bearsville Records and, prior to that, at IBC studios in London. In his role as engineer/mixer he worked on the Who's Tommy & Hendrix's Electric Ladyland (at IBC) and with Utopia, Ian Hunter, & the Isley Brothers (at Bearsville). He's likely to be the only artist posted here with multiple Grammy wins (albeit not for his own recordings). He also played guitar on the Five Day Rain's sole album, which is available at the great Lost-In-Tyme blog. More recently he's composed music for TV shows & commercials.

So what about this record? Well, for lack of a better term, I'd call it an underappreciated New Wave classic. But really Briggs' knowledge of the entire rock & roll tradition comes into play as he touches (musically) on a dozen different musical styles popular at the time including rockabilly revival, synth-based new wave, mod rock, surf instrumental, and even world-music. Probably my favorite track is "See You on the Other Side" about 2 guys playing chicken with a train on their scooters--it ends as one might expect but its synth percussion, rock-n-roll guitar licks, & 60's pop girl chorus make it rise to the level of grand musical pastiche. There are also great covers of Eddie Cochran's Nervous Breakdown & Terry Randazzo's Goin' Out of My Head. A second record, Combat Zone, came out in 1982, but I guess neither brought the fame & rewards they deserved.

Tracklist:

  1. Lookin' Out
  2. Nervous Breakdown
  3. See You On The Other Side
  4. AEO (parts 1 & 2)
  5. Psyclone
  6. Goin' Out Of My Head
  7. Spy Vs. Spy
  8. Let Me Hear Talkin'
  9. Lifer

You can listen to it here.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can't we hear some good Teutonic folk music, or some Asatru shamanistic chants?

M. Wizard

angelo said...

very nice post, thx
i wonder how the second LP could sound

Anonymous said...

Many thanks, another rare item. Very cool. Cheers,

Max said...

The 2nd lp is available and apparently cheaper than the 1st (see ebay) if you want to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Spy Vs. Spy was a minor club hit back in the 80's here in Manila. Playing it again brings back a lot of great memories. Tnanks, Max.

Anonymous said...

Nice review. A photo of Brian in the studio may be found here:
http://sls.smugmug.com/gallery/3918456_2Qik6#227449040_5ZEj5

nervoussummer said...

Wow - now how can we get See You On the Other Side onto a compilation CD? Maybe we could add Funky Poodle by Wild Horses too. Huge favorite of early 80s radio station KROQ.

David Alexander McDonald said...

As soon as I get this Ion turntable up I'm going to have to rerip my Briggs collection -- I not only have this, but Combat Zone, which is less quirky, a five track 12" sampler, and "Nervos Breakdown" as a single.

Max said...

David,
If you ever copy Combat Zone, I'd like to hear it!
Max

Tony Renner said...

hey, we're getting ready to jam brian brigg's "combat zone" at vintage vinyl in st. louis... hot out of the 99 cent bin...

-- tony

nervoussummer said...

So Tony St Louis,

what exactly do you mean by 'jam'?

David Alexander McDonald said...

I finally got going today, and as soon as I managed to dig Combat Zone out of the collection, I got it ripped. Here's the FLAC version (Level 5):

http://rapidshare.com/files/143860909/Brian_Briggs-Combat_Zone.rar.html

Hope that works okay for you,a nd sorry about any leftover noise.

Max said...

Thanks David! I'd offer to try and clean up the sound but my sound editor is so old it doesn't handle FLAC & converting to a lossy format would end up making it sound worse. I look forward to listening.

David Alexander McDonald said...

Well, I did run it through BIAS Soundsoap and a mastering plug, but there's still some extraneous noise form the turntable -- I'm not sure where it's coming from. Other than that I think the results are good.

Electric Bozo said...

Holbrook did indeed work at Bearsville (owned by Albert Grossman, not Rundgren - Rundgren was signed to Bearsville Records and did some recording in that facility). Holbrook also worked with Bearsville artist Randy Vanwarmer as a sideman (guitar & keyboards) as well. Most recently he has been behind the console in NYC at the studio co-owned by James Iha and Adam Schlesinger - did work on America's "Here & Now," Fountains Of Wayne's "Traffic And Weather," and the self-titled release from Tinted Windows.

Jlstcui said...

Following up on Electric Bozo's comment, it's worth noting that Vanwarmer -- best known for his overly winsome 1979 pop ballad, "Just When I Needed You Most" -- co-wrote about half the songs on "Brian Damage," including "See You on the Other Side." indeed a KROQ classic.

WordCitizen said...

I've recorded a number of my songs with Brian Briggs in the 1980s, in New York City. I was known as Sir David O'Clock in that time. Brian is the most talented musician, sound engineer, producer, and the most generous friend I've ever met. He saved my life several times. He played guitars, bass, keyboards and percussions on my tracks, and occasionally provided great vocals too. Some of the songs we recorded together can be found under the title "Dance The Newyork" on my site: http://wordcity.webs.com/

Hi Brian! Greetings from Budapest!

Anonymous said...

I've known about "See You on the Other Side" since I was a teenager, but who knew the rest of the album was so good? Thank you so much for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Holbrook is a great hero and this album is BRILLIANT!
I first came across this on a pirate tape in Saudi Arabia, 1 riyal in Dhahran market was great value.

I loved this album so much I bought the vinyl, and so thanks for saving me the trouble of ripping it from there!

Cheers!
Steve.

TXC said...

I encountered "See You on the Other Side" on the Warner Brothers loss leader, "Troublemakers," many years ago. Have wondered over the years about the mysterious Brian Briggs. I haven't heard "Nervous Breakdown" in about three decades. Thank you for the post!

Anonymous said...

AEO Parts 1 & 2!! Nuff said!!

eleeut said...

ditto on AEO!

George D said...

I've been looking for this for years. Thanks so much.

nervoussummer said...

Yes, but I don't have capability of hearing vinyl anymore. Doesn't John Holbrook, Rhino, or anyone out there want to get this on CD? Can it be downloaded? Where? Hi to all fans.

FrankO said...

Brian, where are you? Would love to see you on facebook or something.
I want to thank you for your wonderful music. Made a big impression on me back then, and I still love it now.