Archive for the ‘music’ Category

021

Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk   1977 EMI (Originally on Kling-Klang)

022I was recently on an Electronic/ Krautrock kick and I wanted to replace my much-to-well-worn copy of Trans-Europe Express. While at the record store I got skunked on the Kraftwerk, but re-discovered another great electronic album from a very unlikely source(more of this to come). So, basically I am reviewing my original copy that has…a lot of…character. It’s not that bad, actually…I am just kinda crotchety when it comes to these things.  Anyway, I will not say much about T-E E because so much has been said about it already, be it in reviews or, more importantly, by other artists albums which were so strongly influenced by Kraftwerk’s landmark album. If you listen to Radiohead, Bowie’s incredible “Berlin Trilogy”, most New-Wave bands or even Afrika Bambaataa’s classic, Planet Rock, one cannot help but notice that none of this music 024would’ve sounded like this without Kraftwerk. Just check out The title track’s synth line after the vocorder “trans-Europe Express” chant amd then look up Planet rock…you get the picture. Kraftwerk will someday be regarded as important to popular music as the Beatles, the Stones, Jimi Hendrix…you name it. They didn’t push musical boundaries, because they forged a new kind of music. There were no rules. They built their own instruments. Nothing could sound like this.  Here are some tracks…enjoy

011

Trans – Neil Young   1982 Geffen Records

And now for the sleeper. The last guy anyone would expect an electronic album from. Neil young has given the world some of the most beautiful acoustic music it has ever heard as well as some of the most introspective and daring electric guitar jams. He was known and loved for these two things…which is probably what made him make this album. He is famous for being extremely prolific and when record label execs would try to corner him by saying”we want a classic rock album”, he delivered them an album of rock-a-billy cheese…because he could.

012He had recently got his hands on a Synclavier and a Vocorder and started to make these songs(he admitted later, under the influence of Kraftwerk) that would baffle his fans and critics alike. It was generally hated and it was never released on cd in the U.S.. Hence, it is basically unknown and that is a shame because it is amazing. As with everything Neil does, it is beautifully recorded and mastered. The pressing is great and it’s lack of popularity kind of assured it being in near mint condition and very inexpensive. Songs like We R In Control actually still manage to rock. Transformer Man has heart and almost resembled an opera if Klaus Nomi performed it. The album brings a warmth and soul to the so-called Krautrock genre that is usually not present. Also, the album art is great…from the Deloreon type space cars on the cover to the heart-in-blade runner and computer font on the back. I was very happy to pay only 3.99 for this near-mint copy of a 30 year old classic…until I thought about it more. It’s kind of sad the something like this could be relegated to a bargin-bin. There is more background to the story that made me thing this(from 1980-1982 he was spending most of his time with his son Ben, who was going through therapy sessions after being born with Cerebral Palsy and was not able to speak. The songs he was writing were laced with the emotions he was dealing with and the lyrics and tone of this and the album previous, Re-ac-tor, reflect that). I guess I find it hard to write off an artists work simply because it wasn’t what people wanted at the time. No matter, through technology, you don’t need a record player to hear this work now…here it is

We R In Control

Transformer Man

Sample and Hold

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012

LHI Years: Singles, Nudes & Backsides  –  Lee Hazlewood           2012   180g Record Store Day Special Issue

014Psychedelic Country…You gotta love that shit. Lee Hazlewood’s music is like Lou Reed performing to a Bacharach-scored spaghetti western on acid…and that can’t be bad. Mr. Hazlewood has made a long career and a lot of albums(with femme fatales like Ann Margaret and Nancy Sinatra) full of songs that are so melodic and lush they would make Neil Diamond blush and so bizarrely haunting they could have been on Tom Waits’ mid-career lp’s. This 2 lp compilation, made for this year’s Record Store Day, is full of the fucked up vibes that you feel as though you’re listening to elevator music if you swallowed a fist full of molly just before the doors closed. Side C is where it’s at with No Train To Stockholm (Scandinavian cowboy music?), Won’t You Tell Your Dreams and my favorite, Hey Cowboy in all it’s bizarre-death-dream glory.

The 180 gram double lp collection was remastered and pressed beautifully here. The strings soar and the horns almost seem to drip giving Lee and his bombshells a beautifully strange environment to dance in. And once again, packaging reigns here…the pic speaks for itself. Fuckin’ Lee Hazlewood!

Hey Cowboy

frank1970

(Pic is actually from Bath Music Festival later that summer)

1970/03/07 Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA  71.44   AUD, B+/A-

Set List:
01 Intro ~ Tune Up [4.45]  02 Sharleena [9.21]   03 Preamble To Twinkle Tits [1.28]
04 Twinkle Tits [7.17]  05 Interlude [2.28]  06 Preamble To Directly From My Heart To You [1.36]
07 Directly From My Heart To You [5.34]  08 Preamble To Chunga’s Revenge [1.22]
09 Chunga’s Revenge [23.22] 10 Preamble To Willie The Pimp [2.33] 11 Willie The Pimp [11.59]

This time, it’s the spring 1970 Hot Rats band, consisting of FZ(guitar), Max Bennett(bass), Aynsley Dunbar(drums), Sugarcane Harris(electric violin), Ian Underwood(keyboards, alto saxophone) tearing the roof down with material from Hot Rats and (the at the time, still unreleased) Chunga’s Revenge. This band was given a distinct identity and feel among Zappa geeks by the addition of Sugarcane’s electric violin. He is showcased on this night with a great setlist, perfect for his improv style. This night is also preserved with a great(especially for it’s time) recording that has been lovingly restored by the folks at Zappateers.com. What a night this must’ve been.

After the tune up, the band launches into an early, psychadelic-bluesy(compared to it’s later reggae incarnation) version of Sharleena. The first Frank solo is great, but then Sugarcane ratchets it up a notch on his solo, hosing the crowd with a rainbow assault of slithering notes that wash over the crowd, leaving them in a daze. This daze doesn’t have time to last, as Frank steps it up again on his second solo and destroys the room…he can do this at will. Finally, as if sensing the crowd needs to be rescued, Sugarcane comes back and simply plays beautiful variations on the Sharleena theme and puts out the fires before wrapping the song up and giving the crowd a breather. That’s how Frank opens a show!

Next up is Twinkle Tits, which is an amazing journey that fuses jazz and baroque together into a hyper ballet of notes, tones and time signatures that all battle for balance. At times it feels like it might all fall apart but that’s the thing about Franks bands…they held it together. I don’t know how, but they did. Around the 5:40 mark the band drops out, leaving just drums and bass to hold the groove for a few seconds(the musical equivalent of taking a deep breath before jumping off a cliff into unknown waters). Then Franks comes in and takes the song into a war zone for about a minute and a half, until the recording is unfortunately cut and comes back into the “interlude”, which is in itself, amazing…I just can’t help but wonder what the hell must have happened on that stage during the minutes the tape was cut. Maybe it got so crazy the tape recorder couldn’t handle it and just shut itself off? Ha, maybe not, but it’s just a thought.

Following the madness of the opening numbers, Frank gives the crowd a chance to recover with a fairly straightforward blues, Directly From My Heart To You. There is a great Sugarcane solo here, but this serves mainly as a rest for the beast that was to be unleashed next…

Chunga’s Revenge would prove in years to be a staple in Frank’s repertoire, opening many shows and serving as a band intro vehicle, but on this night it was something much, much more. First, the song had yet to be released on an album yet, so the crowd was probably hearing it for the first time on that night. Second, it was played with such ferocity that even the band must’ve been a little scared. Finally, it was a juggernaut, lasting over 20 minutes, going in a hundred different directions. Sometimes the band would lock in on a groove and ride it together for a bit and then someone would jump out of the gate and try and pull it in a different direction. It was true collaboration and improvisation, only touching down here and there to return to the safety of it’s great bass line theme… and then, Boom! the band is off again, shredding the building to pieces. There are too many amazing moments to mention(FZ taking delicate control around the 10:07 mark only to abuse his Gibson shortly after is one), so included below are two youtube clips containing the entire trip. Enjoy.

The whole thing winds down with Willie The Pimp…well it doesn’t wind down as much as it comes to an end…there is no letting up here, more like closure. It, like the rest of this amazing performance, is not to be missed.

Frank and the boys were on fucking fire this night. I am so glad to have finally heard this incendiary performance captured in such fine quality. Thanks again to Zappateers.com. If you haven’t heard this show yet, download it and prepare to have your mind blown. If you HAVE heard this recording before…well, listen again and PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN…AGAIN.

Sharleena

Chunga’s Revenge (pt. 1)

Chunga’s Revenge (pt. 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMtd60Ox1z4

This is an amazing doc loaded with great footage all about the notorious year of 1977 in NYC. It chronicles the necessity/birth/rise of Punk downtown, Disco from the Gay scene to midtown and Hip Hop in the Bronx. It puts it all in context politically and culturally. One of the best docs on NYC in the 70’s I’ve ever seen….enjoy

023It’s Your World – Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson    1976 Arista Records

Side one “Just Before Sundown”

“It’s Your World” (3:52)    “Possum Slim” (6:00)    “New York City” (4:45)

Side two “Nightfall”

“17th Street” (5:45)    “Tomorrow’s Trane” (7:20)   “Must Be Something” (5:20)

Side three “Late Evening”

“Home Is Where the Hatred Is” (12:10)    “Bicentennial Blues” (8:40)

Side four “Midnight and Morning”

“The Bottle” (13:30)    “Sharing” (5:55)

024This double lp concert set was recorded on the bicentennial (July 1st-4th 1976) and reflects the mood of the United States in the truest sense…reflection being an exact opposite view. While the rich white men were busy chopping up the country, everyone else was scrappin’. This set is loaded with biting commentary that is masked only by the funky and almost airy (not soft…airy…the flutes lent a counterpoint of  lightness that was practically a necessity).  The tunes were a mix of soul, funk, spoken word and jazz that big Gil is now legendary for and considering the size of this project, it never feels lost or meandering. Cuts like side 0213’s “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” and “Bicentennial Blues” put you right in the middle of the feelings of hopelessness the non-rich, non-white, non-male’s were living with. There is also a huge vibe of NYC haze in here and all one has to do is look up the doc “NYC 77″(see next post) to see the state of things for the 5 boros(well, the Bronx/Brooklyn mainly). Remember that Daily News cover “Ford to NYC…Drop Dead”…think of that and pop these lp’s on your turntable. Allmusic writer Hal Horowitz praises the record as G.S-H’s most completely realized work, and that “its Centennial-centric time frame” makes it “lose little of its impact… These tunes have lost none of their lyrical edge or incisiveness throughout the years”. I generally disagree with everything this asshole says buy in this case, I couldn’t agree more…so today, if only today…I wouldn’t shank Hal Horowitz…Thanks Gil


010Disintegration – The Cure        1988  (reissue 180 g)

Side A “Plainsong” – 5:12  “Pictures of You” – 7:24  “Closedown” – 4:16
Side B  “Lovesong” – 3:29 “Last Dance” – 4:42  “Lullaby” – 4:08
Side C  “Fascination Street” – 5:16  “Prayers for Rain” – 6:05 “The Same Deep Water as You” – 9:19
Side D “Disintegration” – 8:18  “Homesick” – 7:06  “Untitled” – 6:30

You can’t go wrong with Disintegration (unless you are looking for a happy, pop record by the band who did Friday, I’m in Love…then you fucked). To me it has everything that makes The Cure great… Long, gothic, love tragedies that crawl, penitent over glass at a snails pace to proclaim their devotion only to find out it’s too late. I think the first side is probably one of the most beautifully depressing song cycles ever committed to vinyl (ahhh, maybe not, but you get the point). This album came out in 1989 and I heard it for the first time in the spring of 1990(sixth grade…perfect timing) and I initially got it on cd and devoured it. It (along with the Smiths/Morrissey and 10,000 maniacs) was a stand out in my large(for a 12 year old) music collection, which consisted mainly of Rock, Metal and Hip-Hop. It made me sad but in a good way and I wasn’t even sure why… then after the first few “Heart breaks”…well, I stopped listening and finally heard it. Every stubbed toe and “no” from Mom was the end of the world and this album understood that. The only reason it wouldn’t be a perfect “record the paramedics find spinning in ones room, needle popping over and over in the run-off groove, is that there are a couple of songs that sort of pick up the pace and while they are great songs, when one is taking their (truly) last sip of Bordeaux, standing on a wobbly chair, noose looking fancy and a note pinned to their shirt that says “No Funeral”…One simply doesn’t want  hope. In all seriousness, it is a gorgeous album, who’s 4 sides each play out like individual series of sonnets, letting you know that while it might NOT be ok, at least Robert Smith has it as bad as you…and that is beautiful…comforting.

Just Check the “lyrics” to Plainsong. More of a conversation, but like a dagger

“i think it’s dark and it looks like rain” you said
“and the wind is blowing like it’s the end of the
world” you said “and it’s so cold it’s like the
cold if you were dead” and then you smiled for
a second.

“i think i’m old and i’m in pain” you said
“and it’s all running out like it’s the end of the
world” you said “and it’s so cold it’s like the
cold if you were dead” and then you smiled for
a second

sometimes you make me feel like i’m living at
the edge of the world like i’m living at the edge
of the world “it’s just the way i smile” you said

Plainsong

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZoYzne9Tpg

Pictures Of You

006Seventh Son of a Seventh Son – Iron Maiden  1988

 Side A
1. “Moonchild”   5:39 2. “Infinite Dreams”  6:09 3. “Can I Play with Madness” 3:31 4. “The Evil That Men Do”  4:34
Side B
1. “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”  9:53 2. “The Prophecy” 5:05 3. “The Clairvoyant” 4:27 4. “Only the Good Die Young”  4:42

I got this on tape when I was in 5th grade and didn’t get it…For all the reasons I love it now. It’s progressive (the last Maiden album to have longer song structures) and is the first Maiden album with synths. They add a cruddy feel of an 80’s horror b movie in the middle of the classical/metal dueling lead guitar lines. The opening track “Moonchild” (see link at bottom) sets the table: A folk/Satanic tinged intro (“seven holy paths to hell, and your trip begins…”  and then Boom, the synths start and the song erupts, full of imagery that brings a smile to any fun-loving anti-Christ’s face). This was another “sort of concept album” by the boys, this time dealing mainly with insanity caused by the paranormal and astrological as well as my favorite…Lucifer. “Can I play with Madness ?”and “the Clairvoyant” are 2 more examples of the marrying of the 80’s synths and the “New Wave Of British Heavy Metal” sound they helped build. They caught a lot of shit for the synths, but listening today it sets this record apart from some of the other interminable shit that muddied the metal scene at the end of the eighties. Thank Lucifer for that!

005Of course, a huge reason to love Maiden albums on vinyl is the artwork. They basically created the badass, demonic cover art genre with their character “Eddie”. The only way to truly take it in is holding the 12 X 12 cover in your hands after you drop the needle. He is once again used to maximum sickness on the front and back cover, as well as on the label itself. The only thing scarier looking on this album is the band’s wardrobe…dig the Hard Rock Cafe shirt and the fucking COSBY sweater! Tragic!

008

Moonchild…

nico4

Nico  The Marble Index   1969 Elektra Records (Dutch pressing)

Maybe it was the piece  on Nico by Nate Gelgud that I recently reviewed that got me to break out my Nico records, but it reaffirmed my belief that she made one of the sweetest albums ever as well as this, one of the scariest ever. Still, I love them both equally. Her first record after working with the Velvets, Chelsea Girl is beautiful and at times breezy(I know, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit), but Marble index is the beautiful downer of a creepy art album that could only find a contemporary if  Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen collaborated. Nico teams up with John Cale…say no more…I will however post two tracks, one from Chelsea Girl and one from Marble Index to show the progression(or downward spiral)

These Days – Chelsea Girls

Facing The Wind – The Marble Index

FZ 13-ii-79.

“We Are Bringing The Finest In American Stupidity To You Tonight” – FZ

1979/03/31 (Late Show) @ Rudi-Sedlmayer Sporthalle, München, Germany

Flac files of the show (and many other FZ shows) courtesy of Zappateers.com, the best online community out there!

FZ, Ike Willis, Denny Walley, Warren Cucurullo, Arthur Barrow, Vinnie Colaiuta, Ed Mann, Tommy Mars, Peter Wolf.

The Deathless Horsie(Band Intros) > Dead Girls Of London > I Ain’t Got No Heart > Brown Shoes Don’t Make It, Cosmik Debris, Tryin’ To Grow A Chin, City Of Tiny Lights->Outside Now ->City Of Tiny Lights > A Pound For A Brown, Bamboozled By Love, Andy, Inca Roads (q: Thirteen), Titties ‘n Beer, The Black Page, Yellow Snow Suite, Bobby Brown, Conehead, Building A Girl

Now that the show/recording info is out of the way, on with the review…Frank was in the middle of an amazing period of creativity and production(even by FZ standards); the year leading up to the tour produced what was meant to be the epic 8 sided Läther album(Warner refused to put out such a beast and Frank was forced to break it up into 3 separate studio albums-Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt & Orchestral Favorites– and a double live lp Zappa in New York) while 1979 would produce the classic double lp Sheik Yerbouti and epic triple lp concept album, Joe’s garage Acts I, II & III. That’s 20 sides of incredible music in about 20 months…and that’s while touring. Find me another artist that can do that and I’ll…well, it doesn’t matter…there is no other artist that can do that.

I will also say that I love this tour’s line-up(they are all great, though) and the songs that made up this tour’s skeleton that serves as each nights springboard to amazing virtuosity. It is a great mix of song-y songs to start things off and then some bigger, more elaborate pieces the band can flex their muscle on. The show opens up with one of the usual opening songs, The Deathless Horsie, a 10 minute instrumental exercise that lets Frank wake the crowd up with his incredibly composed and constructed solo improvs. I know composed imporv seems like an oxy-moron, but that is just how fast Franks mind works. He operated on a different level, hearing things that others couldn’t. This tune also serves as band intros, which can sometimes be quite funny to Frank fans who know the band. It’s where the title of this review comes from as well as the drummer ball-bust: “Vinnie Colaiuta on Doing-pretty-good-considering-he’s-not-feeling-to-well-tonight-even-though-he-got-his-endorsement”. Hilarious! Later the band fires back. I will get to that in a bit.

After the intros comes the standard for this tour- Dead Girls Of London > I Ain’t Got No Heart > Brown Shoes Don’t Make It, Cosmik Debris, Tryin’ To Grow A Chin, City Of Tiny Lights. All are well executed and played with great verve and energy. Brown Shoes in particular has a swagger on top of the usual musical and lyrical craziness that makes it particular fun tonight. Then the show switches gears during City of Tiny Lights because at this late stage in the tour the band has been sandwiching Outside Now(off the yet to be released, Joe’s Garage) in the middle of the song. They had just started sandwiching Catholic Girls(also on Joe’s Garage) in the middle of Easy Meat, so we can see the band chomping at the bit to get the new material out there.

fz79aThe City>Outside Now>of Tiny Lights sandwich was just an appetizer for what comes out of it…the war horse, A Pound For Brown: 20 mins of incredible musical gymnastics that has been blowing Zappa fan’s minds since an early incarnation appeared way back on the Uncle Meat album. Great vibraphone work on this one and the usual shape-shifting time signature wars lead to an (as usual)amazing and beautifully melodic guitar solo. The 35 mins or so that make up this sequence is absolute musical Valhalla.

Andy is it’s usual fun and complex self. Here even the vocals are dancing around in unconventional, percussive time signatures. Up next is Inca Roads, another favorite of mine. Tonight the interplay between the percussion and vibraphones with the guitars throughout the whole song is exquisite. Clearly the band is on tonight, the benefits of being in the hardest rehearsed band on the planet, at the end of a tour. They are also having fun in a non musical way, messing with Frank during the next track, the always popular…Titties & Beer. During the breakdown where Frank tries to make a deal with the Devil for his soul, the devil starts to deviate from the script and asks Frank “where’d you get those bruises on your left arm?”…then Franks is caught off guard and the Devil goes back to the script to let Frank off the hook “sooo…you say you like Titties and Beer, Huh?” Frank hops on board…”Hey, I can’t help it if somebody goes out of fucking control in the middle of the night…you stick a nice girl in some stupid hotel room in some place in Germany, next thing you know part of your body’s is mutilated, ya know?” It goes on a bit more, I will leave it for you to hear.

This slams into The Black Page(so named because after frank composed the piece to sheet music, there were so many notes on the page, well, it was black…get it?) which is always a treat, especially late in a gig. This is no exception. Then, as if the night wasn’t already amazing enough, the band drops the Yellow Snow Suite on our heads! This is another prime example of what makes Frank’s compositions so amazing: everything but the kitchen sink. There are so many things happening here all at once. There is the hilarious story/lyrics sung in a sometimes blues/ sometimes doo wop/ sometimes country/ sometimes polka / sometimes swing style. Then there’s the music…tonight the Vinnie plays the first part of Don’t eat the Yellow Snow(until the Strictly Commercial part) drum part in an almost punk style. Then shifting back into the usual style, which is all over the place, leading to Nanook Rubs It. But first…”Enforced Audience Participation…Bavarian Style…Stand Up…Now We’re ALL gonna do something really stupid together, bearing in mind that Stupidity is the only true international language…We Are Bringing The Finest In American Stupidity To You Tonight” Anyway, into Nanook Rubs It’ eventually leading into St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Breakfast’s incredible Percussion/Vibraphone/Guitar high-wire act. This band will not let up.

The show finishes up in typical fine form with the always fun Bobby Brown/Conehead combo winding up with Building A Girl. This show is an incredible treat for me to hear finally. I have a lot of shows from this tour, including the early show from this night, but this one has everything that makes a Frank show so amazing, and it has it in spades. The recording is a very good quality audience capture(especially for it’s time) and although there are many good (and some better auds/sbds) recordings from thins tour with similar-ish setlists like the incredible February Manchester Apollo show, this one is essential listening. Thanks to the great people at Zappateers, who make it possible to hear all of these amazing Frank shows for FREE. Check them out. zappateers1The best resource to find everything on Frank and his amazing bands.    http://www.zappateers.com/bb/index.php

Here is a sample of some live Frank from this tour(not this show, I couldn’t find a youtube clip from this show, but this performance of Inca Roads is similar…

005

Grimes – Visions   2012   4AD Records

006…what, never heard of Indy-Dream-Tronica-Experimental-Glitch-Core? Well, it’s either because you’re an ignoramus, or because I just made it up. Either way, the record is great. The songs are all over the place and yet very cohesive. The production is top notch and yet it was recorded and mixed using Apple Garage Band, which I love because it just proves that artists can take the power back, produce what they want and put out a great product without the pig-fuck record A&R people trying to homogenize the material until every song sound like fucking Rolling in the Deep. This album is an adventure from the drop of the needle(but not like a Radiohead or Weapon, dark, David Lynch nightmare type of adventure…more fun adventure like the Goonies…but if Bjork gave them ecstasy and led the gang) and doesn’t let up until you take the record off the platter and slide it back into the sleeve. That’s even fun, as the artwork and sleeve are both great to look at. If one knew nothing about this007 album, they would be expecting a new Black Flag record or something based on the cover…then this bizarre little party pours out of the speakers. So Pick it up on vinyl(4AD hits Canadian Gold again after Purity Ring, also amazing) and treat yourself to about 50 mins of Indy-Dream-Tronica-Experimental-Glitch-Core, now that you know what the fuck it is.

Just check out the vids to get an idea of what this girl is all about. She is not dull. What the hell is going on up in Canada? Between Her, Purity Ring and Rush finally getting into the (so-called) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2012 belonged to the Canucks in my mind.Love it!