Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Move on "Colour Me Pop"

T. Tex Edwards just posted vid of the complete show -- the Move minus Ace Kefford but before Rick Price supplanted Trevor Burton, playing their ca. Shazam repertoire. Stunning, and a great find.

The Rolling Stones' "December's Children (and Everybody's)"

I wouldn't call myself a Rolling Stones fan. Maybe it's because my ex-wife was such a big one. Maybe it's because I was always kind of indifferent to hotshot singers. (I wanted to be the guy behind the guitar.) Still, when I was starting to play in the early '70s, it was the Stones of Get Your Ya-Ya's Out and Sticky Fingers that everybody around me was trying to emulate -- the sound of those guitars and the sloppy-tight band dynamic. And for boys a half a generation older than me, the Stones were the Ur-role models of sartorial rebellion. (When I interviewed Ron Asheton, he went on at some length about Brian Jones' hair, boots, etc.) They spawned a wave of garage band imitators, too, although like Allen Lowe, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would bother with the Stones after the Chocolate Watch Band existed. Watch 'em on the T.A.M.I. Show, having the audacity to follow James Brown (and Jagger copping his moves). Then quick cut to Gimme Shelter, the Maysles brothers' documentary record of the '69 tour, Mick in his precious little Uncle Sam suit playing at being "the devil," until Altamont taught him 'n' the boys the real difference between "bad" and Evil.

Brian was _the guy_, though. "The undisputed leader" until there was something worth fighting over. Looking at old video now, it becomes apparent how many of the really cool guitar parts he played. Ultimately, it was the songwriters who surpassed him, leaving him to recede into drug-addled irrelevance, until he drowned in his swimming pool, or maybe was murdered by a shady building contractor, the first in what'd become a litany of drug casualties. But even as late as Beggar's Banquet, he contributed beautiful slide and harp. Sure, Mick Taylor was a superior technician, but what did mere _technique_ have to do with being in the Rolling Stones? Keef ran out of inspiration not long after that (even Chuck Berry, Ry Cooder, and Gram Parsons will only get you so far), and has spent the next 40 (!) years going over and over and over the same ground. I tried hard to convince myself I liked Some Girls, but in the fullness of time, what I really liked was the spirit of the young Texans I met when I moved here the summer it came out. Tattoo You had some good moments, and I'll forever have the memory of seeing 'em play in the piss-pouring rain in the Cotton Bowl right before we moved to Memphis in '81 (not to mention Keef tossing his cups onstage with the New Barbarians at the Tarrant County Convention Center, 1979). But I say again, Brian was the guy. After him: sound and fury, signifying not one goddamn good thing.

December's Children was their fifth American album, from 1965, anchored by their Dylan "Like A Rolling Stone" ripoff "Get Off My Cloud," which Nik Cohn posits was their most archetypal early hit. Because U.S. and U.K. release schedules were so different, the LP took its cover from the Brit Out of Our Heads but only a third of its content -- two covers and two originals. Larry Williams' "She Said Yeah" is the most frantic-sounding thing they ever recorded, replete with Wyman's monstro fuzz bass. The roots of MC5 are audible here. "Talkin' 'Bout You" is a slow, sexy, swampy Chuck Berry number, almost as great as "Down Home Girl" from sophomore LP The Rolling Stones, Now! (arguably the pinnacle of their early R&B phase), which Josh Alan still covers in his live set. "Gotta Get Away" and "I'm Free" are archetypal early Jagger-Richard originals, which are really based on soul music forms (cf. the Arthur Alexander cover "You Better Move On") but don't hit that way because the singing's not that good. They finally got a whole album of originals out with Aftermath in 1966, the U.K. version of which is probably my favorite Stones album. All of these songs are pretty similar, in sound and subject matter. Of the ones on December's Children, "Singer Not the Song" and "Blue Turns To Grey" are my faves.

My absolute favorite tracks on December's Children, though, are the two retreads from the Brit Got LIVE If You Want It EP, which also supplied the version of "It's Alright" that appeared on the 'Meercun Out of Our Heads. Shabbily recorded, with armies of screaming girls in the background (but not overwhelming the music like on the U.S. GLIYWI LP or, say, the Kinks' Live At Kelvin Hall), Bobby Troup's "Route 66" and Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On" embody everything that was admirable about the early Stones (and provided fodder for bands at least as late as the Lazy Cowgirls): energy, sleaze, and an affinity for American roots. Bless them and their Moment.

Monday, December 27, 2010

RON speaks

Psst! Hey, kid! Wanna hear an internet radio tribute to Captain Beefheart?

Includes interviews with John French and Gary Lucas. Listen here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Black Dotz - "Milk Cow Blues"

Oh. My. Gawd. Can't wait to play a show with these guys at Lola's on January 8th.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Richard Thompson - "From Galway To Graceland"

My favorite song of his. Dig the way you can hear the connection in his music between English and Appalachian folk music and C&W. Also like the way, in the first version of this I heard, that the protagonist is "...humming 'Suspicion' / That's the song she loved best," since Terry Stafford had the hit version of that, not Elvis.

12.25.2010, FTW

Enjoyed big English brekkie and Avengers marathon with Hickey, got to see one of my kids and two of my grandkids for a minute, spoke to my sister-in-law, big sis and ma by telephone. Decided to forego a party invitation after drinking all day long.

Thinking about music stuff for 2011.

1) Wanna find out when the other Stoogeaphiles' other bands are busiest, book five months' worth of shows when they're not, and plan HIO activity around those times. Repeat the process in the summertime. My goal is to spend less time playing rock 'n' roll secretary and more time running and doing outside stuff.

2) Steedo Smith from Shotgun Messenger reached out to me about wanting to do a "dirty blues" project a la Animals. Would be cool, since Steedo's a great singer, and it might be a good oppo to play some fingerstyle, open tunings and slide like I do when I'm not playing with anybody.

3) Will Wells and Josh Anderson from One Fingered Fist are plotting a "Christmas album from hell" and solicited my services for same. Could be fun if it happens.

4) One of these days, Will Risinger and I will record together again, and Indian Casino Records will release the compilation for which we recorded a track and I donated a PFFFFT! track.

5) Need to find a time when Frank Cervantez isn't busy with school and 'shed some more Hendrix and Allmans, maybe some Neil Young and Richard Thompson too.

Fairport Convention w/Linda Thompson - "Sloth"

Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick - "Sloth"

Listening to Richard Thompson's 2000 Years of Popular Music while awaiting the arrival of Matt Hickey, and remembering playing this Fairport Convention song with Dave Relethford, Carl Johnson, Michael Lee, and Mark Rignola in 1977.

The Scrooges - "No Fun"

Auggie Wrenn's Christmas Story (from "Smoke")

Friday, December 24, 2010

Stoogeaphilia/The Black Dotz/The Bipolar Express @ Lola's, Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Speaking of which...

Cover is $8 over/$10 under 21. Y'all come.

The Black Dotz/The Black Arm Band II - "Barnburner"

New lineup: Wanz Dover - throat; Ian Hamilton and Greg Prickett - guitars; Ross Boyd - bass; Clay Stinnett - drums. Can't wait to hear them play this at Lola's on Saturday, January 8th, with the li'l Stoogeband and The Bipolar Express.

ADDENDUM: Well hold on there! Here's another: "Death to Sally."

Bob Seger & the Last Heard - "Sock It To Me Santa"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12.22.2010, FTW

Not exactly the day I wanted, but not a bad day.

While running this morning, it occurred to me how many musicians I dig are now deceased. Last night we watched a Clash documentary without realizing today is Joe Strummer's death anniversary.

Tonight we watched We Jam Econo for d. boon.

Replaced all the preamp tubes in the Twin. It's still farting on some low freqs, so next week when we prac, I'll take it to the spot and try connecting it to Marlin's cabinet. Might have to have James take a look at it after the holidays after all. Marlin has offered me the loan of his amp again. Bless him.

The good news is that now the Twin has that sweet Duane Allman/Steve Hunter tone, which I'll defile with excessive volume and F/X.

I asked for Stoogeaphilia shows and for my sins they gave me three: January 8th at Lola's with The Black Dotz (now up to a five piece, 80% of them ex-Falkon) and Bipolar Express, January 22nd at Mambo's, and February 19th at Sunshine Bar in Arlington with Magnus. Still have to talk to the fellas about 1919 and Landers Machine Shop, and see if Ray has had any luck hooking up the Grotto with Hanna Barbarians.

HIO remains on hiatus. We had to cancel a planned recording session at Marty Leonard Chapel because T. Horn was unsure of his return time from Montgomery. Planning some spatial performances/recordings, but out next scheduled show isn't until May (Arts Goggle at Landers Machine Shop).

My plan for 2011 is to spend less time Facebooking/rock 'n' roll secretary-ing and more time pounding the pavement. Got to see if I can stick around to see my grandkids graduate from college. Hickey and I discussed making a three-mile run mandatory before all HIO recordings/performances.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A lot of people playing guitar much better than I can

As long as your art lives, you live -- dig?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beefheart consumer guidance

Dude in the Village Voice warns Beefheart neophytes against running out and buying Trout Mask Replica because it's difficult to listen to, but fuck that dumb shit. (Wonder what Charles Ives would have had to say about that?) Here's my two cents:

1) Trout Mask Replica. Of course. The CD medium was very kind to this album. It's one where it's actually advantageous not to have to get up to change sides, and the smiling folks at Warners did a real fine job of transferring the album art (featuring the beautiful solarized photos) and helpful lyric sheet (not included with any copy of the LP I've ever owned) to the CD-slick format. And so what if it takes you a few years to crack this nut? It's one worth cracking. There are also vinyl reissues available for them what wants 'em.

2) The Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot. Another instance of the CD format serving Don's music well. Two of his most accessible (but not totally neutered) albums on one disc, with beautiful graphics.

3) Doc At the Radar Station. His second greatest album, IMO. You owe it to yourself.

4) Lick My Decals Off, Baby. My actual fave, totally unavailable on CD, but you can still find copies of the 2005 vinyl reish.

5) Safe As Milk. It seems to me like this'd sound a bit quaint to the younguns, but again, the '99 CD reish on Buddha (not Buddah -- confused?) has served it well, appending a bunch of the pre-phasing Strictly Personal tracks that were available ca. '95 as I May Be Hungry But I Sure Ain't Weird. The rest of 'em are on the '99 Buddha reish of The Mirror Man Sessions, which is an acquired taste but one which I recommend.

6) Ice Cream for Crow. Enervated and end-of-the-road sounding, this '82 swan song still ties up some loose ends dating as far back as '67, and has actually improved with age.

7) Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller). A lot of people will tell you this is the one to get first. I am not one of 'em. Instead, if you can find it, try laying hands on Dust Sucker, an imperfect imagining of what the original unreleased '75 Bat Chain Puller would have sounded like (including toons that eventually appeared on Doc At the Radar Station and Ice Cream for Crow), plus some live stuff from '77 at the wrong speed. We'll never hear the rill thing until Gail Zappa gets up off it.

8) Grow Fins: Rarities 1965-1982. Forced Exposure is still listing this 5CD box on their website for $85; I'll believe it when I see it. Otherwise, it'll cost you two bills to get a sniff of it via Amazon ($45 and change for the MP3). Admittedly for completist/obsessives only; wish I hadn't sold my copy when I was hungry (but not weird), but I managed to snag a vinyl copy of the Trout Mask House Sessions when Xeric/Table of the Elements briefly released 'em a few years back. Worth the price of admission to hear the TMR songs sans vocals so you can really hear what those poor long-suffering cats were playing. Amazing stuff.

9) Merseytrout: Live In Liverpool 1980. There are lots of live bootleg Beefheart recordings out there. This one from near the end is the best, IMO. And that's all I have to say about it. Goodnight, sweet Captain.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pssst! Hey, kid! Wanna hear some outtakes from Captain Beefheart's "The Spotlight Kid?"

Via T. Tex Edwards' blog.

Pssst! Hey, kid! Wanna see a website devoted to obscuro Texan (and other) punk?

By his own admission, Austinite Ryan Richardson came late (ca. '85) to the punk party, but he made up for it in spades by operating the Existential Vacuum reish label back in the '90s, and the Break My Face website dedicated to "underachieving and underrated punk rock pioneers" to this very day. Check him out, why doncha?

Art Tripp on Beefheart

Beefheart: Two last things

1) A Spotlight Kid outtake via Gary Lucas, "Funeral Hill," is here.

2) A recording of Don's voice reciting his lyrics to "Fallin' Ditch" is here. "Who's afraid of that fallin' ditch / Fallin' ditch ain't gonna get my bones."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Beefheart tribute on Perfect Sound Forever

Go here for reviews of all his albums and an appreciation by Jason Gross.

Ben Ratliff on Beefheart

From the NYT.

Beefheart mixtape

1) "Alice in Blunderland" (from The Spotlight Kid): The guitar solo, by Elliot Ingber aka Winged Eel Fingerling -- the one muso Don ever allowed to extemporize -- sounds like the end of the world. Seeing my college roommate play this song with his band from home in 1975 changed my life.

2) "Kandy Korn" (from Mirror Man): As I wrote earlier, this was easier to hear in this extended version than the original Strictly Personal one. It's just dumbo psychedelia with a nice jam section that features descending chords in waltz time, but oozing atmosphere. "Be reborn."

3) "Click Clack" (from The Spotlight Kid): Don's version of train music.

4) "Grow Fins" (from The Spotlight Kid): When I was an NCO Academy instructor, I used to play the harp intro to this to wake up the sleepy students if I had to lecture first thing in the morning or right after lunch. It always did the trick, but somebody kept stealing my harps.

5) "Electricity" (from Safe As Milk): Country blues meets psychedelia, complete with theremin.

6) "Abba Zabba"(from Safe As Milk): Almost Chinese, huh?

7) "Peon" (from Lick My Decals Off, Baby): Pure beauty, and as the Nervebreakers' Mike Haskins says, "musical telepathy."

8) "My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains" (from Clear Spot): Of all things, a love song.

9) "Bat Chain Puller" (from Shiny Beast): More train music. A hypnotic highlight of the shows I saw in '76.

10) "Suction Print" (from Shiny Beast): A favorite from loads of live audience tapes, the Magic Band opened with this both times I saw 'em.

Mo' Butter

Here's a teaser for a Paul Butterfield documentary his son Gabriel was trying to put together a couple of years ago. Apparently Warner Music wasn't allowing them access to his dad's toonage. A damn shame. It's a story more folks need to know.

And here's some dodgy vid of Paul jamming with B.B. King in 1968.

And of course, Monterey (Elvin Bishop on guitar) and Woodstock (Buzzy Feiten). In both cases, the song is Charles Brown's "Drifting Blues."

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Vegetable Orchestra

Founded in 1998, this Vienna-based ensemble performs on instruments made from fresh vegetables. Thanks to Charles Cook for sharing the link and some much-needed levity.

Remembering Beefheart

I don't think I'd actually heard any of Don Van Vliet's music before I went off to college when I was 17. I'd read a review of The Spotlight Kid in Creem, and St. Lester on Mirror Man in Rolling Stone, but I never heard a Captain Beefheart record until I found a copy of The Spotlight Kid in the cutout bin of Just A Song on Central Avenue in Albany.

Around that time, I met Bruce Wade, whose band at home actually played some Beefheart music (as well as some Zappa), and he introduced me to a lot more, teaching me how to play "Kandy Korn" off Mirror Man (where it was longer and the parts were easier to hear than amid Strictly Personal's psychedelic murk) and spoon-feeding me Trout Mask Replica a song at a time. At the time, we were both obsessed with hobos, and Don seemed to fit right in alongside Harry Partch, whose music Wade introduced me to via a copy of the Columbia album with "Barstow" on it that they had in the university library downtown. We saw Beefheart with Zappa when the Bongo Fury tour came to Albany -- was it the Palace Theater, or the RPI fieldhouse in Troy? -- early in '75. Don sang "Willie the Pimp," and blew a wild solo on soprano sax until Frank cut it off. There seemed to be some _tension_ there.

The magnitude of Beefheart's achievement didn't really kick in for me until I'd dropped out of college and was back living at my parents' house, working in the record store, and talking a lot about music with the slightly older cat who'd been our local Jim Morrison simulacrum when I was in middle school and high school and had subsequently done a lot of acid and gotten obsessed with music "without time, without notes," which was what he thought Beefheart represented. But listening to audience tapes of Beefheart shows that we passed around, and a rehearsal tape of a couple of guitarists we knew who played Beefheart music (one of them, Kenny Duvall, even went out to California to audition for the Magic Band), it finally struck me: this music wasn't complete chaos. In fact, it was through-composed (although I didn't know that bit of jargon back then). On the shitty illicit cassette recordings we shared, I could hear ensembles of musicians completely different from the ones who'd played on the records, playing the same arrangements note-for-note.

Back then we pretty much bought into the mythology, which probably originated with a couple of credulous Rolling Stone articles by Langdon Winner, that depicted Don as a kind of cuddly surrealist. In the fullness of time, other writings -- Mike Barnes' fact-dense but dry bio, Bill Harkleroad's diffident little memoir, John French's sprawling reminiscence -- painted a less flattering portrait. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. But while Don might have been a tyrannical, manipulative bully to his band boys (my theory is that as he started garnering critical acclaim as an Artiste, he wanted some payback for the shit he'd had to take when he was the terrible tyro fronting a locally popular desert blues band), and French and Harkleroad, in particular, might have been instrumental in helping to realize his ideas, there'd have been no project absent Don's creativity, however primitive his means of musical communication.

I was fortunate to see him twice in 1976, at My Father's Place in the village of Old Roslyn on Long Island and at the Bottom Line in Manhattan. His band included Denny Walley, who'd played slide in the Zappa Bongo Fury band, and three musicians who'd form the core unit for the next couple of Beefheart albums: Eric Drew Feldman, Jeff Moris Tepper, and Robert Williams III. They played songs from every released album (except for the two crappy "Tragic Band" ones on Mercury that Don disowned), as well as a lot of material that'd show up later on Shiny Beast and Doc At the Radar Station. They knew enough repertoire to play different sets both times I saw 'em, unlike the Zappa band of the time, which played identical sets on three different occasions. I had tickets to see Beefheart in Dallas in '78, but I had to miss the show because I was supervising the unloading of container trucks at the record store I'd come to Fort Worth to open while the wheels were inside having a party with the label reps, back when such things existed in Dallas.

Doc At the Radar Station was one of the four or five records I listened to relentlessly (on a turntable I'd bought from a guy for five bucks that needed a nickel on its tone arm to track, run through my tweed Fender Deluxe) when I was living on Las Vegas Trail in the winter of '80-'81. I still think it's among his best works, a little angrier and less whimsical. I had Ice Cream for Crow on cassette when I was stationed in Korea, '82-'83, and I thought Don just sounded tired. Only years later did I realize that some of the songs on that album were almost 15 years old by the time he got around to recording them. It wasn't long afterward that Don retired from music for a career as a painter. At the time, I heard that his art agent told him he'd always be considered a dilettante as long as he continued playing music. Considering the lack of financial success he'd had in music, you can hardly blame him.

Regardless of all the bizarre cult-stories, Trout Mask Replica remains one of the most unique and enduring musical statements to come out of American rock in the '60s -- as undeniable as Pet Sounds and The Velvet Underground and Nico. Lick My Decals Off, Baby is even more sublime -- the band and Beefheart at the height of their creative powers, Artie Tripp's marimbas replacing the second guitar and adding a whole new range of intriguing textures. The Spotlight Kid is a great, if enervated, slab of swamp blooze murk, and Strictly Personal, superfluous flanging F/X and all, remains a psychedelic masterpiece -- Son House on psilocybin. The most accessible items in the catalog remain Safe As Milk, which sounds to these feedback-scorched ears like a perfectly acceptable slice of blues-based Nuggets-era garage psychedelia, and Clear Spot, produced by Ted Templeman of Doobie Bros./Van Halen fame, a crisply-recorded example of '70s L.A. funk-rock a la Little Feat or one of those.

Perhaps most importantly, Don stayed married to Jan for over 40 years. Tonight we share her sorrow for her loss.

Paul Butterfield

Born on this date in 1942 (_not_ 1941; go fig). Here he is on TV's To Tell the Truth.

R.I.P. Don Van Vliet, 1941-2010

The Junky's Christmas

Jaki Byard

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rory Gallagher on Beat Club

Doctor Midnight & the Mercy Cult

New band fronted by Hank Von Helvete of Turbonegro fame. Thanks to Sir Marlin Von Bungy for the link.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12.15.2010, FTW

Feeling pretty wound up lately. Tomorrow night I'm going to buy all new preamp tubes for the Twin, hoping that'll resolve my grinding noise problem. Friday morning at TCU, I'll pin second lieutenant's bars on my son-in-law, and wear a tie for the first time since RadioShack went business casual. My middle daughter's baby is due the day after the next Stoogeshow is scheduled.

So lately I've been stumbling around in the messy New England attic that is Allen Lowe's Jews In Hell: Radical Jewish Acculturation, which is further subtitled Or: All the Blues You Could Play By Now If Stanley Crouch Was Your Uncle and Or: Dance of the Creative Economy: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Space Gallery and Love the Music Business. Like my other inspirators Josh Alan Friedman and Jeff Liles, Lowe's a writer who plays music (or a muso who also writes), a deep and distinctive thinker about all kinds of American music. (Think: Joe Carducci if he didn't have as big of an axe to grind, or maybe just a different axe.) He's a fan of the _real_ "old, weird America," not the NPR-sanitized version of same that's come about in the past 15 years or so via No Depression (R.I.P.), T-Bone Burnett, et al. And like Darrin Kobetich, he's a homeboy to boot, having grown up in Massapequa, Long Island, with Elliot Easton (ne Steinberg) of the Cars, although he unassed as soon as he could for Boston, New York City, and New Haven before settling in Maine in the mid-'90s.

Jews In Hell is a sprawing 2CD he self-released in 2007, and it's taken me a few spins to get into its ebb and flow, which encompasses a handful of disparate elements: 1) Lowe's skronky, garage-blues guitar playing (he also plays beautiful post-bop alto sax, electric banjo, bass, and synth), which reminds me of guys-that-can't-play in the same way as fellow Yankee free jazzer Joe Morris' fretwork sometimes does, but with ideas that are way too developed not to be intentional -- crazy like a fox; 2) his lyrics and vocals, which sound like d. boon singing through a karaoke machine, an effect that is not wholly inappropriate; 3) a wind trio in which Lowe plays alto alongside Randy Sandke's trumpet and Scott Robinson's contrabass clarinet; 4) two tracks of estimable avant guitarist Marc Ribot's solo interpretations of Lowe compositions; 5) three tracks where front-rank jazz pianist Matthew Shipp performs on Lowe-penned homages to Jaki Byard -- another ivory-tickler who knew how to look both forward and backward -- either solo or in duo with the composer. Listening to stuff like Eugene Chadbourne, the Godz, Double Nickels On the Dime, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago prepared me for this stuff, which veers wildly from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again, but it's definitely a worthwhile listen, one I still haven't fully absorbed yet.

My other obsessive listen o' the moment is GOD, a 2CD reissue of basically everything recorded by the late-'80s Orstralian band of that name: 40 tracks consisting of an album, a single, a "mini-album," a couple of tribute compilation tracks, and a live recording of their last-ever show. These guys were like 16 or 17 years old when they were laying this stuff down, which makes them the greatest high school band since the Rationals, and they switched instruments and lead vocals like they were the Yayhoos or something. Their sound was equal parts punk, metal, and arena-rock, their riffarama tough enough and their lyrics sharp and funny enough to give a more seasoned and mature band like, say, the Celibate Rifles a run for their money.

They went on to big things, too: Joel Silbersher, who had his own radio show as a pre-GOD teen, went on to found Aussie stoner-rock institution Hoss; Tim Hemensley was in Bored! (a right mess of a band, given frontguy Dave Thomas' penchant for self-destructive onstage dementia, but one that did a better take on the early Stooges than anyone else outside of Mudhoney) and the Powder Monkeys (with his Bored! bandmate, John Nolan; the onstage visual contrast between fireplug Hemensley and gangling Nolan was quite striking); Sean Greenway was in the Yes-Men, and Matty Whittle in Sauce. Sadly, both Hemensley and Greenway OD'd in the early 2000s. There's a bit of video I've got that isn't on Youtube, but should be, of a funny interview they gave in conjunction with the live-on-TV version of their single "My Pal" that _is_ Youtubeable. (For an example of their humor, hear their fake 'Meercun horror movie at the end of the "unabridged version" of "Chockablock Rock 'n' Roll.") It's only heartbreaking if you know how two of the kids wound up.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Who @ Tanglewood, 1970

Speaking of which...this might not top Leeds sonically or Isle of Wight visually, but it's definitely as worthy an addition to the canon as the '69 London Coliseum show. Why in the name of, um, Tommy (last full performance in the States, with roughly the same setlist as Isle of Wight) don't they release this?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Son House

Best footage of him I've seen yet.

Git-tar players

1) Michael Rudden: My idol, my best friend, my nemesis. You're still with me every time I pick up a gtr, and I owe you more than I can ever repay.

2) Jimi Hendrix: The water I grew up swimming in.

3) Jeff Beck: From brilliant-but-erratic to Zen master. The trick is to stay alive.

4) Pete Townshend: This is cheating, because you're really a songwriter first, but the combination of angry and goofy in your stage persona helped shape me as much as all the yelling and feedback on the first MC5 album.

5) Ron Asheton: Forget Iggy. I want to be the kid in the shades with the Go-Kart T-shirt.

6) Frank Zappa: All cerebrum, but what a tone.

7) Eddie Hazel: All heart, but what a tone.

8) Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages made me believe in the electric guitar again ca. '91.

9) Greg Allen: When I was sitting in with Tiny & the Kingpins back in '97 and stinking it up big, you came up to me afterwards and said, "BUDDY GUY!" Thank you, sir.

10 Michio Kurihara: Rainbow made me believe in the electric guitar again ca. '08.


1) The Nomads - Showdown 2 - The 90's [sic]: Double CD compilation on Sympathy for the Record Industry, focusing on the albums Sonically Speaking, Powerstrip, and Cold Hard Facts of Life, plus single, compilation, and 20th-anniversary-live-at-Hultsfred-festival-with-special-guests tracks. I can't get over what a great band this is.

2) dalek - Abandoned Language: More apocalyptic experimental hip-hop, but a little too much to take this morning, as the vibe is a little too reminiscent of Inception, which we saw last night. (Thanks to my big sis for this and the next.)

3) Fred Frith - Step Across the Border: Beautifully photographed B&W documentary of the avant-garde muso ca. '88-'89. Inspiring viewing of a cat who's clearly tuned into the music of everyday life. Makes me want to play with HIO, and the little couple in the train station at the end reminds me of me and my sweetie in about 20 or 30 years. Nathan Brown once said that Frith's '60s band Henry Cow was "like Zappa without all the bullshit," and I'm inclined to agree. Fred even recorded with the Ensemble Modern.

4) Allen Lowe - Jews In Hell: Radical Jewish Acculturation: Double CD of uber weirdness by a guy I first became aware of from an article in one of Francis Davis' books. In the '90s, Lowe briefly headed a cultural organization for the city of New Haven, CT, while playing free jazz saxophone on the side. He's a musicologist of some note, penning the tomes American Pop: From Minstrel to Mojo On Record, 1893-1956 and That Devilin' Tune: A Jazz History, 1900-1950, and curating expansive CD anthologies of pop, jazz, and blues that are like a millennial Harry Smith anthology. As if that weren't enough, he also plays guitar and cut this out-jazz opus with co-conspirators including Marc Ribot and Matthew Shipp. Recent spins of Eugene Chadbourne primed me for this.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

HIO in the Green Room @ the Kessler Theater, 3.9.2010

The PriceMaster

Performance art disguised as a yard sale. From Denton, of course. Thanks to Frank Cervantez for sharing.

Que Sera Syringe

Can this be Jeff Liles playing "acoustic instrumental speed-metal?"

HIO @ the Kessler Theater, 3.28.2010

Fred Frith

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Worst Christmases ever

1) After they repealed the blue laws in New York, I used to work in my record store from Thanksgiving until New Year's without a day off. It was always the week before Christmas that "interesting" things happened, like the time I woke up in my bed with three Suffolk County police officers standing around me, asking if I wanted my license back. It seems I'd broadsided a car in the parking lot at Jack in the Box and left the scene. When my dad heard the knock on the door and saw the spinning cherry, he had the presence of mind to look and note that my car was in the driveway, indicating that I probably wasn't dead. He then poured a glass of Scotch, which he pointed to when the cops asked if I'd been drinking. I wound up paying a fine and having to make good with the other motorist's insurance company. Shortly thereafter, leaving the scene went from a minor offense to a misdemeanor. I'm a lucky asshole.

2) Then there was the time I almost got in a fistfight with a guy I worked with, on the sales floor, in front of customers. Instead of firing us, our boss sent the other kid to the store to buy some beer. "You two -- go in the back and drink this! NOW!!!"

3) The last Christmas before I left home, my parents got back at me for all those Christmas mornings when my sister and I had barged in and woke them up hours before dawn. I'd gone to sleep with my foot on the floor to stop the room from spinning, and at 6am, they busted into my room and started jumping up and down on my bed, yelling, "IT'S CHRISTMAS! IT'S CHRISTMAS!" It took everything I had not to vomit all over them.

4) Then there was the time when I was living in Benbrook with my daughter and one of her friends wanted to take us out for Christmas dinner -- a nice sentiment, but the only place you could eat sitting down on Christmas Day in Benbrook was the Waffle House, where they ask you how you want your steak done and then when they bring it to you, it's a quarter of an inch thick, so basically looking at it makes it turn grey.

5) The year after Lady Pearl Johnson passed away, her brother Ray called and asked me if I wanted to play a gig with the B.T.A. Band on Christmas Eve in Midway, TX -- halfway between Dallas and Houston. I said sure. On the drive down, we noticed how many big fields there were in Midway (located near the state prison in Huntsville) and wondered what on Earth we'd gotten ourselves into. It turned out that the guy who'd booked the gig forgot to go open up the venue (a big community center-type hall) the night before and turn on the heat, so it was actually colder inside the hall than it was outside, and anyone who showed up for the event soon thought better of it and left. We were drinking coconut flavored rum, and Quincy the bassplayer (R.I.P.) and I would go out to the car periodically to warm up our hands. When it became evident that no one else was coming, we decided to play to fulfill our obligation, and played to maybe eight people for about 30 minutes, wearing coats. Drove back to Fort Worth and made it back to my house around the time the sun was coming up.

Bands I got into by writing for the I-94 Bar

1) Sonic's Rendezvous Band. They were only a rumor when I first read about 'em in Creem ca. '76: a Detroit "supergroup" made up of refugees from the MC5, Stooges, Rationals, and Up. Guys like Geoff Ginsberg and "ig" shared their tape stashes with me, and eventually I wound up writing a history of the band for the Bar that wound up in Easy Action's SRB box set. To my ears, maybe the fullest flowering of Dee-troit ramalama.

2) Dictators. I thought they were a joke when I saw them open for Jeff Beck in Albany in '76, but I found out better when I saw 'em twice at Clearview in the early '00s. Definitely the best live band on the boards at that time, and they also made a great comeback album, D.F.F.D.

3) Nomads. The best live band I've ever seen after the Clash and the Dictators. Now approaching 30 years as a band, these Swedes swallowed all of rock 'n' roll whole (well, only the coolest parts -- mainly rockabilly, garage, and punk, but with a heavy edge) and spit out something that was theirs alone.

4) Celibate Rifles. Sure, sportscaster-by-day Damien Lovelock has the same flat, nasal, EveryAussie's voice as the singers from Men At Work, Midnight Oil, and the Hoodoo Gurus, but he pens some above-average socially conscious punk lyrics, and has the hellacious guitar tandem of Kent Steedman and Dave Morris, plus whoever's in the rhythm section at the moment. The most consistently great Orstralian band.

5) New Christs. Rob Younger's post-Radio Birdman bests RB on melody and emotional intensity. Distemper from '89 is their magnum opus, but you can't beat their early singles, collected on Lance Rock's Born Out of Time, either.

6) Died Pretty. In a just world, these guys would be as big as U2 and REM, but supposedly when they got their big shot at the States in the early '80s, the CBS flack responsible for their publicity was irked by frontguy Ron Peno's bisexuality and dropped the ball. Doughboy Hollow, their best moment, remains an under-appreciated classic.

7) Turbonegro. The first time I saw the mighty Me-Thinks, they impressed me by opening with three songs from Apocalypse Dudes, the best rock album I'd heard in 20 years. Imagine a Norwegian hybrid of Alice Cooper and the Village People, with great (if very transparently derivative) songwriting, a ten year old boy's obsession with profanity and scatology, and real dementia. Happy Tom, the ideas guy, works as a management consultant in Oslo, which in a perverse way makes sense.

8) Yayhoos. What? A band with four lead singer/songwriters? How are you going to market that? Dan Baird (ex-Georgia Satellites, whose voice is a litmus test for how prejudiced you are against rednecks), Terry Anderson (pride of Bunn, NC), Eric "Roscoe" Ambel (Steve Earle sideman, ex-Joan Jett's Blackhearts and Scott Kempner's Del-Lords, bar owner and rootsy-rock producer extraordinaire) and Keith Christopher (who made friends with every single person at Poor David's the night I saw 'em there) remain (when together) the best American band this side of Los Lobos, and a lot funnier to boot.

9) Saints. These despoilers exploded out of backwater Brisbane at the same time as Radio Birdman was doing the same thing in inner city Sydney, but they arguably accomplished more with less. The original Saints kicked up as much racket with just three pieces as Birdman did with a lot more firepower (their BOC-influenced lineup including two guitars _and_ keys), and they released the very first punk single in the UK, beating the Damned and the Sex Pistols to the punch. They went on to release three albums before imploding, but frontguy Chris Bailey, who looked like he could honestly give a shit about _anything_, kept the franchise going for 30 years until 3/4 of the 'riginals reunited at a festival in 2007.

10) Ed Kuepper. The man behind the guitar in the 'riginal Saints, ol' Ed's kind of the Aussie Neil Young: he keeps releasing albums with the same songs on 'em, but they're really _great_ songs. Interestingly, neither he nor Bailey has taken shit from anybody over the years for "not being punk anymore." I rue the day I sold my copy of I Was A Mailorder Bridegroom.

Andy Shernoff

The bassplayer-songwriter-mastermind of the Dictators has been touring a solo show where he tells stories and plays songs a la Ray Davies. Here are a few vids, along with an interview I did with him for the I-94 Bar when the Dics played at Club Clearview back in 2001. My omission of their comeback album D.F.F.D. from my end-o'-decade wrap up was a scandalous error. Mea culpa.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Greg Shaw: Dialogue with the Garage Guru

I just posted a very long interview I did with Bomp Records pasha Greg Shaw back in Y2K on Facebook. I think I set the permissions so anyone can see it. It's a piece of fan scrawl of which I'm particularly proud, touching on subjects that include "rock journalism," the indie record biz, punk, fandom, the internet, "the romance of the artifact," public discourse, fashion, youth, and more.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Stopped at Doc's on the way back from checking my blood pressure at CVS (ah, decrepitude!). My thought was that if I was going to buy anything, it had to be good enough to make it worth foregoing a run on the way home. Stumbled into a copy of Strange Meeting by Power Tools, the record Bill Frisell made with Melvin Gibbs and Ronald Shannon Jackson in 1987. You can hear a lot of what Nels Cline's doing now in Frisell's F/X-laden atmospherics. It wasn't long after that the guitarist abandoned this direction for something more, for want of a better phrase, NPR-friendly. While it's not as bracing as the more guitar-heavy records Shannon cut with the Decoding Society (Red Warrior, Raven Roc) or (Heaven knows) Last Exit, it's still nice to have in the collection, second-line cover of "Unchained Melody" and all. Scratch another one from the want list.

Came home to find a mailbox overflowing with goodies, some of which I ordered and some of which my sister-in-law in Seattle ordered for Christmas prezzies from an Amazon wish list I'd forgotten I had (thanks, Cari and family!).

I once found The Best of the Chocolate Watch Band at CD Warehouse for three bucks, and the cat there told me he didn't think he'd ever sell it. I let it go at HPB one of the times in the past decade when I was selling all my stuff, but my sweetie won't let me do that now, and I'm gradually re-acquiring all of the gooduns I let go back then. These guys were the most archetypal of Nuggets-era American garage psych bands, and they were totally manipulated in the studio by their producer, Ed Cobb, who'd previously produced the Standells, a band that could only have existed in Hollywood (their lineup included an ex-Mouseketeer and the brother of the guy that played Riff in West Side Story). Lead singer Dave Aguilar had the best vocal sneer this side of Jagger or Van Morrison, and the musos (studio cats more often than not) blended early Rolling Stones influences with Eastern exoticism, fuzz 'n' feedback nicely. A big influence on both the Nervebreakers and the Nomads, my two favorite bands whose names begin with the letter "N."

Larry Harrison originally sold me Pachuco Cadaver by the Jack and Jim Show, a collection of Captain Beefheart covers by avant-garde uber-weirdo Eugene Chadbourne and ex-Mothers of Invention/Magic Band drummer the late Jimmy Carl Black ("the Indian of the group") back in the late '90s, when Beefheart reissues were starting to appear along with things like the I May Be Hungry But I Sure Ain't Weird collection of Strictly Personal outtakes, the Rhino compilation, the Revenant box set, Mike Barnes and Bill Harkleroad's books, etc. Pachuco Cadaver sounds like nothing more than the Beefheart canon performed by a gang of psychotic hillbillies, with a guest appearance by the Sun Ra Arkestra when their bus breaks down in the Ozarks. I like it real much, and will have to remember to play it for T. Horn the next time he's over (not that he gives two shits for Beefheart).

I'm still digesting Gutter Tactics, the 2009 album by experimental/political hip-hop duo Dalek (sorry, fellas, but I can't make an umlaut on this keyboard). More to follow.

ADDENDUM: These guys (Dalek and his collaborator Octopus) sound like Pinkish Black if they were a hip-hop band. The sound is oppressive and ominous, opening with Malcolm X's chickens coming home to roost and a scathing indictment of America's crimes, terror by the light of the CRT, warfare as the paradigm for any human interaction. This is as far from, say, Public Enemy's ethnocentric but hopeful rants as P.E. was from Kurtis Blow and "The Real Roxanne." But the dread isn't all-pervasive, or it'd lose its edge. Going to be spending a lot of time with this in the days to come.

Japanese "Fiddler On the Roof"

Hmmm, I'd seen what must have been rehearsal vids of this, but never anything from the stage.

12.9.2010, FTW

Waiting for the phone man to come, I plugged in Mr. Amp and dicked around with the preamp tubes some more. While the rattling was gone even at volume when Marlin replaced a couple of 'em and played his SG through the amp at the prac pad, it was still present when I plugged in the Epi. Curious, but I'm thinking it has to do with the different harmonic characteristics of our respective axes. I'm woefully ign'ant about this stuff, considering how long I've been playing, so I looked online for a dummy-level explanation and some info about the specific tubes I need. Looking online, it seems like they only run about $10 apiece, but the writer also recommends replacing all at once to maximize lifespan, so that's a quick $80. Feh. Time to do some comparison shopping.

The millennial decade bites the dust... ADDENDUM

Looking back over a tentative end o' decade list I compiled awhile back, I couldn't believe I forgot these gooduns. Starting in 2006, with Marcus Lawyer's Top Secret...Shhh project, a nice snapshot of a certain moment in Fort Worth music history that I was privileged to participate in. Doc's Records has a copy of this on the wall for a C-note, if anybody dares...

From 2005, Jack Rose's Kensington Blues, my favorite solo guitar record since Bola Sete's Ocean. R.I.P.

From 2002, Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros' Streetcore. My favorite solo work by the righteous ex-Clash frontguy, and also the first gift I gave my sweetie. Also R.I.P.

Last but not least, can't forget the Hochimen's debut Totenlieder, which I might actually dig even more than its successor that I listed for 2006. No vid on thatun, so here's Reggie Rueffer yakkin' and sangin' a Spot song at a benefit for a late friend back in June. Thanks to Nick Girgenti and Frank Logan for pulling my coat to Reggie (and Woodeye) back when we were sweating it out in that piece-of-shit rehearsal spot on Craig Street ca. Y2K.

Mo' Spacebeach

Just a buncha kids from Grapevine. Taking a cue from Pinkish Black with their between-song pre-recorded stuff, maybe? And these guys don't even smoke cigarettes.

John Entiwistle once wrote a song on this same theme. His "Dr." was Keith Moon, and the "potion" was vodka.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Bye John

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Young Offenders

From S.F., another band I read about in Razorcake, which has their album Leader of the Followers available through its distro.

Panic Basket

Here's the online home of the experimental guitar-and-electronica project of Darryl Wood and Darrin Kobetich. Dig 'em!

The millennial decade bites the dust; here's what I remember

2000: The New Millennium dawned, and the world's computers failed to crash. I was living in a duplex in Benbrook with my middle daughter, working as an editor of user manuals for electronic products at RadioShack (where I'd loitered, actively avoiding responsibility, for seven years before everyone in my department that was better than me left, and they told me I was topped out salary-wise in my non-supervisory position), playing with some of the worst bands ever/never to set foot on a stage, and had just been promoted to master sergeant in the Air Force Reserves. At the end of the year, I bailed from the Reserves. When they told me that I could retire if I stayed another six months, I weighed the fact that Reserve retirement is half your drill pay at the time you retire, and you can't collect it until you're 60, and decided it would be more advantageous to have my weekend a month/two weeks a year back. I'd also been writing about music for the I-94 Bar and the First Church of Holy Rock and Roll for a couple of years. When a tornado hit Fort Worth in March and I couldn't go to work for three days, I wrote a 10,000-word article about the Detroit band SRC for the UK fanzine Shindig. Y2K was also the year I saw the Nomads play three shows in two days on borrowed equipment. Rekkid o' the Year: Lou Reed's Ecstasy, which my buddy Geoff from Philly described as "everything he does that you like, and lots of it."

2001: In January, I interviewed James Williamson, ex-Stooges guitarist and current Sony exec, for the I-94 Bar. I'd been chasing him for two years. Greg Shaw from Bomp told me, "Forget about it, kid." But one day Ron Asheton, whom I'd interviewed a couple of years earlier, called and said, "I saw James last weekend. He's nostalgic about the past and wants to talk." After 9/11, James sent me information about how to talk to my kids about the disaster -- a kind gesture I appreciated. At SXSW, I got to see Ron play twice with J. Mascis and Mike Watt. The I-94 Barman got me accredited as a videographer. My "equipment" consisted of two nine-dollar disposable cameras I bought at the supermarket. My first granddaughter was born in May. Rekkid o' the Year: The Nomads' Up-Tight.

2002: In the spring, I finally got to meet my buddy Geoff in person for the first time, and saw two shows by Scott Morgan's Powertrane with Deniz Tek (Cleveland and Ann Arbor; Ron Asheton also played at the second show). I was so high from the experience that it didn't even bother me that I got shitcanned from RadioShack a week later. My oldest daughter got married right after that, and I went back to Long Island to help my sister move our parents to New Jersey. I scuffled, sold records and musical equipment and played a few pickup blues gigs for money before a friend's wife suggested I try writing about music for pay instead. I pitched resumes to several publications; the Fort Worth Weekly was the only one that responded. Years later, the Italian kid told me, "I never read any of those clips you sent. I just read the first paragraph of your cover letter." My middle daughter graduated from high school, and I got to play with Lady Pearl Johnson for a few gigs at the Swing Club at Evans and Allen before she passed away in December. Rekkid o' the Year: Ann Arbor Revival Meeting, the document of one of the Powertrane shows Geoff and I witnessed, which he released on his Real o Mind label.

2003: I spent most of the year in bars six nights a week "researching," and wrote an awful lot of horrible spec bullshit, as well as getting to write about local bands I liked and admired, including Dead Sexy, Goodwin, the Gospel Swingers, the Hochimen, the Me-Thinks, Sub Oslo, Woodeye, and Yeti. At a Goodwin show at the old Black Dog Tavern (R.I.P. the room and its owner, the cantankerous old Yank Tad Gaither), I met my future wife, who was putting on a benefit to help send a disabled athlete to the Paralympics and wanted some free press. Not long after, I went on the road with Nathan Brown for a week, playing and writing a story for the Weekly. Rekkid o' the Year: Woodeye's Such Sweet Sorrow. Carey Wolff has more great songs than any other songwriter I know personally, and has the power to make strong men weep. Seriously.

2004: I stopped writing for the Weekly and started this blog. What a good idea. Went on the road with Nathan Brown again. Moved into a house with my future wife in May and wrote a bio of Bindle, an obscure local band, in the same style as some of the epics I'd been writing about obscure Detroit bands. Worked for an online ad agency and spent six months playing with a band that fired me via e-mail. After Dubya's re-election, I was so depressed I didn't want to do anything for a month. Rekkid o' the Year: Goodwin's self-titled debut, which made it fun to be a fan again.

2005: Got married on 3.18.2005. Never say never again. In May, started playing with Lee Allen at the Wreck Room every Wednesday night for the next two years and change. Rekkid o' the Year: Bright Eyes' I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, which was actually my middle daughter's but contains the song I heard Conor Oberst sing the night before we invaded Iraq.

2006: Formed Stoogeaphilia with Ray Liberio, Matt Hembree, and Jon Teague. Easy Action Records released their Sonic's Rendezvous Band box set with liner notes abridged from a piece I'd written for the I-94 Bar in 1999. (Thanks, Dave Champion!) Quit the ad agency in the fall. Rekkid o' the Year (tie): the Hochimen's Tierra del Gato (Reggie Rueffer is the only musical genius I know personally) and M. Ward's Post-War (mainly because it reminds me of my kids).

2007: Worked as a researcher on a documentary for a month, then gave my car to my middle daughter and got a job at Central Market. Still there today. Collaborated with my sweetie on Wreck Room Stories (my blather and interviews, her photos), a project we'd talked about since we met. Celebrated my 50th birthday by playing a Stoogeshow at the Wreck Room, which closed in September. My dad got sick two weeks after my birthday. Rekkid o' the Year: the Me-Thinks' Make Mine A Double E.P. Silliness and great rock 'n' roll are not mutually exclusive.

2008: Collaborated with my sweetie on Haltom City Nights. Formed PFFFFT! with Matt Hembree, Clay Stinnett, and Tony Chapman. Saw Boris at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio in Denton the day before my birthday, standing 15 feet in front of Michio Kurihara's chained Twins. Rekkid o' the Year: Boris' Smile. Everything I like about them, and lots of it (in marginally different US and Japanese CD and vinyl versions).

2009: Formed Hentai Improvising Orchestra with Terry Horn and Matt Hickey. Wrote an oral history of Suiciety, my last shot at Fort Worth-centric fan blather. Briefly resumed writing for the Weekly. My father died in August. Rekkid o' the Year (tie): Nels Cline's Coward (the best record by my favorite guitarist o' the moment) and the Flaming Lips' Embryonic (which I listened to less when it was new, but has since grown in my estimation to psych-masterpiece status).

2010: My middle daughter graduated from TCU, and her older sister started working at the market, so we actually get to see each other once a week or so. Started writing some stuff about family, probably not for publication. Tending my garden. This is the first year I've been conscious of some age-related health issues. Sucks getting old, but still better than the alternative. Rekkid o' the Year: Mark Growden's Saint Judas, the best work yet from my favorite performer, who played a show at our house for a friend's birthday in October.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Real Punk Radio

Go here for 24/7 streaming punk. Yeah!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Ed Kuepper

Revisiting more music I discovered back when I was a reg'lar contributor to the I-94 Bar. East German-born Ed Kuepper was the original guitarist in the Saints when they exploded out of Brisbane ca. '74 and invented Aussie punk along with Radio Birdman. It's quite a leap from the single-minded thrashing maniac of the Saints' 1977 Paddington Hall show (you can Youtube it) to these more, uh, sensitive and mature works. But it's also a gas to follow the trajectory of a lengthy and productive career I didn't even realize existed until a few years ago.

ADDENDUM: If you want to hear Ed the relentless guitar basher, download Live, Vol. 10 a pretty good 1991 audience recording of his post-Saints outfit the Aints, released on his live-bootleg label Prince Melon via iTunes and Amazon, among other usual suspects. They pummel the Saints catalog into submission pretty well.

The Art Guys

A couple of Houston eccentrics who've been doing cutting-edge performance and video art since 1983. Now the've got a DVD that's available via Forced Exposure.

The Nomads

One of my very favorite bands, here are Solna, Sweden's sons of the Chocolate Watch Band and the Cramps, whose frontman Nick Vahlberg I once interviewed (in tiny type) for the I-94 Bar. Now closing in on 30 years as a band, their two perfect rekkids are Outburst from '84 and Sonically Speaking from '91. Wish I could find the damn VHS tape with the show they played at Casino El Camino in Austin during SXSW 2000. I saw them play three shows in two days on borrowed equipment because they were paranoid about bringing instruments through Customs without work permits. Killed every time.

My scrawl on the I-94 Bar

My end-of-2010 top ten thingy is here.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Mothers of Invention on Beat Club, 1968

Bye, Frank.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Last Clean Feed release of the year

A fat envelope from the little jazz label that could landed in the magic mailbox this afternoon, bearing the following delights, among others:

Saxophonist Tony Malaby's new offering Tamarindo Live hits like a good old '70s loft recording. It features Malaby's trio with the estimable William Parker (perhaps the greatest living free bass player, with Henry Grimes) and Nasheet Waits (best known for kicking the traps with pianist Jason Moran's Bandwagon), augmented for an evening at NYC's Jazz Gallery by Mississippi-via-Chicago trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. The leader's acrid tones recall latter-day Archie Shepp, while the trumpeter's style bristles with blues and Ornettitude. Their loose unisons, with counterpoint from Parker, sketch out the tunes before their solos take off like winding tendrils, and the empathy between the force-of-nature rhythm players is a wonder to hear.

Colombian pianist Ricardo Gallo can be a two-fisted dynamo a la McCoy Tyner, crashing chords like waves on a reef and unleashing cascades of notes that scatter like salt spray. Or he can be a more contemplative composer in a Herbie Hancock vein, spinning delicate webs of song. The Great Fine Line is his latest release with his New York ensemble, Tierra de Nadie, including the Chicagoan multiphonics master Ray Anderson on trombone. The horns (Dan Blake plays soprano and tenor) negotiate Gallo's beguiling contrapuntal melodies, and the signature sound of the record's first half is  the cacophony of their collective improvisations over the tunes' dancing rhythms. Comparisons being odious, I'll still admit to a preference for Pheeroan Aklaff's drumming, which serves the pieces better than Satoshi Takeishi's splashier, showier style. A rewarding listen.

Also noteworthy: HNH, a New York-based trio of Germans (drummer Joe Hertenstein, bassist Pascal Niggenkember, and trumpeter Thomas Heberer) whose music retains a distinctly European sensibility, one that's more cerebral and less visceral than American free jazz; Dreams From A Clown Car by Ken Filiano's Quantum Entanglements, in which Dennis Gonzalez familiars Filiano and drummer Michael T.A. Thompson play the leader-bassist's multihued compositions, aided by saxophonists Michael Attias and Tony Malaby; Afterfall, a multinational and stylistically diverse quintet led by guitarist Luis Lopes, who also plays in Humanization 4tet with Dennis' sons; and Dulces by Billy Fox's Blackbirds and Bullets, a world music-influenced jazz ensemble whose leader plays the maracas.

An impressive year for Clean Feed. Looking forward to hearing what they have to offer in 2011.

4x4 Camaro

WTF? A documentary about a father and son who bond while tricking out a hot car, with music by the Me-Thinks and Barrel Delux. From Vimeo.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Giraffe's "There Is No Devil"

T. Horn recommends this "weird folk" release by Giraffe (James Gardner) on the 12rec netlabel. Will have to see if I can fit it in between spins of Lawnmower and Jack Rose's Kensington Blues, which Auggie appears to like.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

12.1.2010, FTW

Hooray for Sir Marlin Von Bungy, who replaced the preamp tubes in the Twin and fixed the crackling noise problem. Now all I need to do is go buy a couple of tubes at GC to replace the ones he threw in. And I have lots of time to dick around with Mr. Amp before the next Stoogeshow (at Lola's on 1.8). Maybe I'll even use the varsity amp when HIO records again at Marty Leonard Chapel some weeknight in December. Listening to the Lawnmower CD (reviewed below) has reminded me of some things I wanted to try with PF(F)(F)T! at the Firehouse Gallery show we now refer to as "the debacle of debacles."