Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gentle Giant

With their theatricality and multi-instrumental aptitude, these guys could have given prog a good name. Free Hand remains a fave. Saw 'em at Avery Fisher Hall ca. '76 with Frank Santora, who really was a giant. Miss you, buddy.

Little Walter's "Hate To See You Go"

Awhile back, I had a moment of crate-digger's envy at Doc's when I saw a cat with a vinyl copy of Little Walter's Hate To See You Go in his hand. Sure, I've had it on CD for many more years than I had it on vinyl, and it remains a fave at mi casa. But that cover -- a close-up of Marion Walter Jacobs' knife-scarred face that speaks to the way the man lived and died (in 1968, of injuries sustained in a fight) -- is as much a piece of art as the music contained in the grooves, and needs to be seen in as large a format as possible, like the pics from Avedon's In the American West.

I first heard the record my last semester of college via my bassplaying roommate, who also introduced me to Harry Partch and Captain Beefheart (we were both kind of obsessed with hobos at the time), as well as Ornette Coleman. My text that semester was the September 1975 Jimi Hendrix issue of Guitar Player, and we practiced songs for hours in between abusing various substances until both of us inevitably dropped out.

I'd been listening to blues for about four years then, but I hadn't heard Walter's worldly-wise barroom brand of jump blues before. Years later, after moving to Texas, I'd spend a couple of years trying to master all those jazzy inversions Robert Jr. Lockwood was playing behind Walter on tunes like "I Got to Find My Baby," as well as the "flutter picking" with which Luther Tucker decorated the doomy, minor key "Blue and Lonesome."

There were a couple of songs I was familiar with from Paul Butterfield ("Everything's Going to Be Alright," "Mellow Down Easy") and Freddie King ("Key to the Highway") albums, and "I Had My Fun" was a much more swinging rewrite of the venerable "Going Down Slow," which I knew from versions by Eric Burdon and Howlin' Wolf. Aside from his amplified harmonica prowess, Walter was a singer of singular insouciance, with a falsetto unmatched by any of his blues contemporaries; attitudinally, he was a precursor to hip-hop figures like Flava Flav and Snoop Dogg.

When I went to Korea, I had this album on one side of a cassette that had Junior Wells' Hoodoo Man Blues on the other. When I was an NCO Academy instructor, I used to play this album in the auditorium before doing a walk on with a harp to wake the students up in the sleepy hour after lunch. I unhesitatingly recommend it, along with the aforementioned Wells album, Otis Rush's Original Cobra Recordings, and Howlin' Wolf's Howlin' Wolf/Moanin' in the Moonlight, to folks who say they don't dig blues.

7.30.2011, FTW

HIO's underpromoted performance at Doc's Records went better than anticipated. For one thing, it was cooler in the area around the li'l stage than we'd expected, and more folks showed up (mainly guitar players who were there to see The Panic Basket, some of whom arrived after we'd finished playing due to some confusion on the go-time). T. Horn broke the seal on his new, improved percussion rig (now with two drums and a cymbal in addition to the PVC pot-lid construction), sounding more like Milford Graves than Elvin Jones, while I gave the metal erhu (one-stringed, bowed Chinese instrument that he built after I described one I saw a guy playing on Pike Street in Seattle) its inaugural spanking. Then Terry had to split to make it to his gig at Tomcats West, playing bass for Stone Machine Electric.

This was The Panic Basket's first live performance, and as previously mentioned, a bunch of guitar players (Kavin Allenson, William Shannonhouse, Ron Geida, Bill Pohl) made it out to see 'em. Darrin Kobetich played solo acoustic to start, with a much better sound mix than when HIO heard him at formerly fonky Fred's a couple of months ago. Darrin picked up his SG for the Panic Basket portion of the show, with Darryl Wood playing an old Gibson bass (Ripper? Grabber? I forget the names of these things) as well as his grandfather's banjo in addition to doing laptop stuff. Darrin's electric playing has gained some fluidity; at times the net effect was like hearing Allan Holdsworth sitting in with Pink Floyd. Nifty stuff; we wanna do another show with them at Doc's when it gets a li'l cooler. And I bought my sweetie a live Little Feat album before Hickey 'n' I headed back to mi casa for din-din.

Finally, trombonist Patrick Crossland said he'll be back in the DFW area in December or January, so we'll be planning an HIO show or recording with him as soon as we know his for-real itinerary.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Great Tyrant

Reviewing their just-released LP There's a Man in the House for FW Weekly and remembering what a great band this was. RIP Tommy. Had this digitally three years ago, before iTunes sent 70 percent of my music to the widowmaker. It's much better on sweet, sweet vinyl anyway. I particularly dig the way the end of "Still Birth" sounds like the sun coming up.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Animals, JH, FZ

Before and after our recent trip to Seattle for my wife's 50th, when we visited Jimi Hendrix's grave in Renton, I've been listening to a lot of music I discovered when I was 13 and 14, and trying to remember what it was like being a fan before all of this stuff made sense to me. The other night at Stooge prac, Teague was telling me how he discovered Hendrix, Sabbath, and King Crimson when he was 12. For me, the crucial discoveries of my, uh, "wonder years" were the Animals, Hendrix, and Frank Zappa. Forty years later, I still find myself heading back to them like a car with a bad steering linkage.

I first owned half of the Animals' In the Beginning, a live recording from 1963 which I now have on a Sundazed CD, on a French BYG album in their "Rock Generation" series that paired it with one side of Five Live Yardbirds. I bought it at the Cornell University record co-op, where my best buddy from middle school and I used to hitchhike after he moved upstate the summer before 8th grade. We'd pretend to be college students, buy beer, and shoot pool in the student union. Somehow we never got caught. The record co-op was also where I bought the Deviants' Disposable, the Count Five's Psychotic Reaction, and Contact High with the Godz, to my friend's great bemusement. (I'd just discovered Creem and St. Lester.)

Back then, I suspected that the Yardbirds were cooler because they had all the hotshot guitarists, but I sure owned a lot of Eric Burdon records, even if I wound up taking half of them (the hipi ones) in my neighbor's back yard and smashing them up with rocks. (I was a fickle fan.) Besides being a shameless trend-hopper and providing the template for Dick Shawn's Lorenzo St. Dubois character in The Producers, Eric was the only singer from the first generation of Brit R&B to really seem possessed by the spirit of music the way, say, Mitch Ryder and Wilson Pickett were (I didn't hear Van Morrison's work with Them until much later), and he made a lot of good records, particularly Animalization and Animalism, which I still listen to today. He also played one of the best shows I've ever seen at a "county fair"-type event in 1998 and penned an autobiography (Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood) that's not a half-bad read.

In the Beginning proves that he was a fully-formed performer before waxing "House of the Rising Sun." The band, led by organist Alan Price (before he unassed, having managed to obtain the arranger's credit for "House," which probably kept him living pretty high off the hog for a long time), blasts out the Berry, Diddley, and Hooker faves with a lot more balls and swing than any of their Brit contemporaries from further south; in comparison, the Yardbirds' somewhat contrived frenzy sounds a little quaint today. Sure, guitarist Hilton Valentine blows a few outrageous clams, but it's all part of the atmosphere, which is sweaty, beery, and heap big fun.

Rainbow Bridge and More Experience were the first Hendrix records I owned after Are You Experienced. The latter was a fairly dodgy live recording of the Experience on its last legs, Royal Albert Hall 1969, on a cheapie Brit label (Ember), but it was also the first place I ever heard "Little Wing" (best recorded version, for my money) and "Voodoo Child." The former I owned for a season when it was new before I let it go the first time I sold my whole collection in '72. Some of the songs have been compiled on Blues, Voodoo Soup, First Rays of the New Rising Sun, but heard together as they were first released on sweet, sweet vinyl, this undervalued-and-deleted soundtrack to a crap movie that was never released hangs together even better than The Cry of Love.

It took me three or four years after Jimi's death to realize that _all those sounds were guitar_. I was struggling to come to grips with the instrument as a player then and most of what he was doing was incomprehensible to me. Similarly, when I was 13 or 14, I knew nada about blues or R&B, so the root sources of his music were obscure to me, even though I was discovering Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker around the same time. All I knew was that Hendrix's music sounded BIG and ASSURED. Only after studying his music extensively (instead of what I _should_ have been studying during my abbreviated college career) did I recognize the synthesis he performed of Delta blues (which he learned off his father's records and whatever radio broadcasts one could pick up late at night in 1950s Seattle), frat rock 'n' roll (which he absorbed hanging around the Spanish Castle, where bands like the Wailers, Sonics, Raiders, and Kingsmen would hold forth), chitlin' circuit R&B (which he played as a touring sideman after bailing out of the 101st Airborne), Bob Dylan (whose music he heard while playing in Greenwich Village dumps), sci-fi, the sonic possibilities inherent in loud electric guitars, and his own considerable imagination.

I still prefer Jimi's post-Experience music. To these feedback-scorched ears, the more freewheeling structures he began employing on Electric Ladyland and further refined as he went along were better suited to his Wagnerian orchestral concept of composition than his earlier attempts to shoehorn all of that into Brit pop psych formats. Even incomplete, his multitracked guitars on Bridge sound symphonic, especially the exquisite jam "Pali Gap" and the studio "Star-Spangled Banner." The 1970 Berkeley "Hear My Train A-Comin'" (which was criminally truncated in the Jimi Plays Berkeley movie, whose editor seemed to think it was more important to capture the beginnings and ends of songs than all that messy stuff in the middle) is one of his greatest live lumbering Hooker-esque blues explorations, up there with "Machine Gun" from Band of Gypsys. And my favorite minute in the whole Hendrix canon is the intro to "Hey Baby," which it took me 30 years to get around to learning but I remember being muy impressed by hearing Teddy Rispoli play back in '74.

Finally, Weasels Ripped My Flesh is my favorite Frank Zappa album, and I once wrote a lengthy screed about it for Phil Overeem's now-moribund First Church of Holy Rock and Roll website. (If you use the link, you gotta scroll down.) When I got it back when it was new, I hated it -- or at least wasn't sure whether I liked it or not.

Prior to that, the only Zappa I'd heard was a Mothers of Invention compilation in the MGM "Golden Archives Series," which consisted of anthologies of all the artists that label boss Mike Curb dropped from the label for being "drug related" -- besides the Mothers, this included the Velvet Underground, Blues Project, and Tim Hardin. Curiously, the censorious label saw fit to include the line "I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me on the streets," previously excised from We're Only In It for the Money, in the version of "Who Needs the Peace Corps?" that appeared on this comp. My best buddy and I memorized all the lyrics to songs like that one, "Concentration Moon," and "Call Any Vegetable" in the same way we memorized whole albums by the Firesign Theater, because we thought they were hi-larious.

There wasn't much on Weasels that was funny, with the possible exception of Ray Collins' smarmy vocals on "Oh No." About the only things I could relate to at first were the guitar rock of "Get A Little," "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama," and the little jam-out "The Orange County Lumber Truck." There was a lot of bizarre improvisation, which I'd learn later was guided by Zappa's onstage conduction (examples of which you can see in the Baby Snakes movie and a Youtube vid of FZ appearing on Australian TV in 1973); Lowell George as a German; Roy Estrada's operatic insanity; Motorhead Sherwood's snorks; and a song (the first half of "Dwarf Nebula Processional March") that was used in a '60s tire commercial.

The album ended with two minutes of noise and feedback that used to get me flying across my room to take the record off (like the Stooges' "L.A. Blues" used to). But there was also Sugarcane Harris' bluesy take on Little Richard's "Directly from My Heart to You" (you've gotta hear it on vinyl, since the additional music at the end of "Didja Get Any Onya?" on the CD ruins the transition into it, in the same way that the additional noodling on the CD Hot Rats ruins the transition from Ian Underwood's solo into Sugarcane's on "The Gumbo Variations"). And "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue" remains one of Zappa's greatest compositions. Overall, Weasels was my gateway into things like free jazz and modern classical music. If it didn't directly lead me to 'em, the way the list of influences in the Freak Out! liner notes was intended to, it definitely prepared me to hear things like Dolphy's Out To Lunch and Stravinsky once I was ready for 'em.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RON speaks

Ron Asheton radio interview from 1988, remembering hanging out in Ann Arbor and his early experiences playing with the Dirty Shames and the Prime Movers.

Fungi Girls album

Now you can order the Fungi Girls' Some Easy Magic on CD or sweet, sweet vinyl from their label, Hozac Records, so you can sing along with all the songs when they play with the li'l Stoogeband and Austin's The Strange Attractors at the Wild Rooster on 8.27. Dan Lightner sez it's also available at Doc's in Fort Worth. So there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pink Floyd at Pompeii

Ray played this DVD at Stooge prac last night. Reminded me how much I dug seeing it in the theater (twice!) when it was new. Somebody's even got the whole director's cut streaming on Youtube for now. Have to see if I can find a VHS copy of the 'riginal flick.

"Quadrophenia" next year?

Oh my. Rolling Stone reports that the 'orrible 'oo (which is to say, Townshend and Daltrey with backing musos) will tour Quadrophenia next year. So, if they play Dallas and the ticket's not too dear, looks like I might be taking my sweetie to see 'em (her first time, my fourth), since it's such a resonant piece o' work for her 'n' me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blue Snaggletooth

Dig the latest band project of Chris "Box" Taylor, Ann Arbor-based guitarist/bassist who's shared stages with Scott Morgan (whose last eponymous album he's all over), Ron Asheton (after whom his son is named), and Deniz Tek. Rawk! Via Bandcamp.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

HIO @ Doc's Records, 7.30.2011

And lest I forget, we're playing at Doc's a week from today with Darrin Kobetich and The Panic Basket (aka Darrin plus Daryl Wood doing an electronica 'n' electric guitar thang). We'll start around 5p because Terry has to go play with Stone Machine Electric later that night. It's going to be hotter than hell. We may fry an egg on a cymbal (with a contact mic attached, of course). And weigh ourselves before/after the performance. Perhaps the best suggestion yet comes from artist Carol Ivey, who suggested that we get a big block of ice and an electric fan. Perhaps she meant so we could mic the fan (or the ice), but I'm also thinking that maybe we could play until the ice melts. Possibilities abound.


That's right, kids. Li'l Cleveland indie-that-could Smog Veil just announced on their Facebook thingy that a new Rocket From the Tombs LP, Barfly, is in their warehouse now and will be available for pre-orders in a couple of weeks, with a September 13 release date. RFTT being, of course, the reformed Cleveland proto-punks whose original incarnation contributed musos and material to both Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys. This'll be interesting to hear.

ADDENDUM: But wait, there's more. Apparently it's on the UK (?) label Fire Records, and will include the tracks "I Sell Soul" and "Romeo & Juliet" from their Smog Veil 7-inch. And Fire plans to reissue the 2002 archival collection The Day the Earth Met Rocket From the Tombs. Neat, neat, neat.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Psst! Hey, kid! Wanna see a doco about A Tribe Called Quest?

ADDENDUM: Opens July 29th at the Angelika in Dallas.

HIO to Houston cometh

That's right, we'll be in H-Town August 12-14 with Sarah Gamblin for the Houston Fringe Festival, appearing at the Frenetic Theater at 10:30p on Friday, 8:30p Saturday, and 6:30p Sunday.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New JoCo toonage

From the forthcoming Wish To Be Nautical, dig "We Choose the Moon" and "Left Out to Rust."

New Fumes - "Trust"

Here's ex-Ghostcar guy Daniel Huffman's cover of a Pretty Things song from S.F. Sorrow.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I'll admit to being a tad ambivalent about the whole country-rock thang. On the one hand, just this morning I've been listening to stuff like the Byrds' The Notorious Byrd Brothers and the 'Mats' "Can't Hardly Wait," which to these feedback-scorched ears will always belong to Woodeye, the late lamented Cowtown cowpunks fronted by Carey Wolff, who has written more songs that can bring a tear to my eye than anyone else I now personally, and half of whose erstwhile bandmates are now in Hayes Carll's band. And I can't forget the months back around the start of the Millennial decade that I spent sweating it out in Frank Logan's music room or a piece-of-shit studio over on Craig Street with Frank and Nicholas Girgenti, practicing their 'riginals and songs by the likes of Wilco and the Bottle Rockets. But country-rock is one genre (like blues) that when it's good, can be very, very good, but when it's bad, is horrid. (Pure Prairie League, anybody?)

So along comes Badcreek, a Fort Worth outfit that my friend Frank Cervantez (Sub Oslo, Stumptone) sez sounds like "the Bottle Rockets [running] into Marc Ford at Ol' South and [giving] him a ride home while listening to Uncle Tupelo." Besides the recommendation of someone whose opinion I respect, what caught my attention about these guys was their lineup, which includes Linc Campbell (ex-Mockingbird Cartel, ex-Suiciety) on guitar, Bob Nash (Raging Boner) on bass, and Riyad Elmasri, whom I remember being ubiquitous on the set in the waning days of the Wreck Room and during the brief existence of the Fairmount, that bridge-too-far on Magnolia that had the misfortune to _just_ precede that 'hood's more recent resurgence.

I'm encouraged, listening to the rehearsal recordings they have online at Reverbnation. Frontguy Eric Waldron does indeed have the same deadpan delivery as the Bottle Rockets' Brian Henneman, and the band's sound is more in the messy, feedback-oozing rockaroll mold of Crazy Horse than the more stripped-down manner of many "Americana" purveyors. It's a dense, harmonic-rich sound, with the ringing overtones from the guitars reverberating over the riddim boyzzz' deliberate pace while Riyad interjects occasional Al Kooper-on-Highway 61 Revisited washes into the mix. Plenty of chances to catch 'em live in the coming weeks, too, with gigs booked at Lola's on July 21st, the Grotto on July 22nd, and Tomcats West on July 29th.

7.16.2011, FTW

Amazing how many people I dig were born within a week of each other. Today is my oldest daughter's berfday, and Transistor Tramps/Stoogeaphilia axe-slinger 'n' new papa Richard Hurley's. Monday is scribe/spoken word artist/Kessler Theater talent booker Jeff Liles', and Tuesday is my sweetie's. Must be something in the water.

Bands I mean to check out: Badcreek, Foat Wuth country-rockers including Linc Campbell (ex-Mockingbird Cartel, ex-Suiciety) and Bob Nash (Raging Boner), and The Baltic Sea, the rock project of guitarist Ray Suhy, whose work on Allen Lowe's Blues and the Empirical Truth knocked my socks off.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Confessions of a Stoogeaphile

I'm the world's shittiest fanboy. Seeing the Stooges' iconic 1970 Cincinnati Pop Festival performance on broadcast (!) TV when I was 13 changed my life, but I've never seen 'em live, although I've had plenty of chances: a net bud in San Francisco repeatedly offered me tickets to reunion shows, but they always seemed to coincide with shows I was playing, and I'd rather play than watch anybody.

Besides, I'd already witnessed the bit that I needed to see when I saw Ron Asheton play those songs, twice with J. Mascis and Mike Watt at SXSW around Y2K, once with Scott Morgan's Powertrane in Ann Arbor in 2002, an event that got me so high I almost didn't care when I got shitcanned from my corporate slave gig a week later. When I made my late '90s girlfriend watch a dubbed VHS copy of the Cincinatti performance, she was shocked: "You want to be like Iggy, don't you?" But it wasn't true; I wanted to be RON. I'd seen Iggy ca. 1980 at the Palladium in Dallas. His best song was the Stones' "I'm Alright" and Joan Jett (with Eric Ambel on guitar) wiped the floor with him. True story.

I started a Stooges cover band back in 2006 that was supposed to be a one-off but wound up lasting for five years, so far (touches wood). Stoogeaphilia has been wish fulfillment for me in the same way as seeing Ron play those songs was. I'd been waiting to play 'em since I'd picked up a guitar, but back in the day, I got nothing but grief from my contemporaries for digging the Stooges (and MC5, the Velvets, Flamin' Groovies, Nuggets, all the stuff that's so revered now).

I only had Funhouse for about a year, back then, before my best friend puked my dad's stolen gin all over my record player with the record on the turntable. If such were to occur today, I'd probably just hose it off, but back then, I let it sit for awhile before tossing it out, only to discover that it was impossible to find another copy. (Elektra had already deleted it.) As a result, I didn't own another Stooges record until 1980, when I found a Canadian compilation of their first two albums at Inner Sanctum in Austin.

I got re-obsessed in 1993, when I was recently separated, soon to be divorced, and moonlighting at the record store I'd come to Fort Worth to open, which was still open at the same location with the same manager, although it'd been through three or four changes of parent company since '78. That was when I read Clinton Heylin's From the Velvets to the Voidoids, found validation for all the music I'd taken shit for liking as a teen and started collecting "quasi-official" Stooges recordings, of which there were a ton.

When I started writing for fanzines a few years later, I interviewed Deniz Tek, who put me in touch with Ron. Ron was a nice fella and great storyteller; it was only later that it occurred to me how sad it was that he spent 30 years sitting in his mom's house, telling those stories to anyone who'd listen. His post-Stooges bands weren't worthy of him, with the exception of New Race, the short-lived outfit with MC5's Dennis Thompson and 3/5 of Radio Birdman that toured Australia for a couple of weeks in 1981. My buddy Geoff from Philly said it, and I believe it: "Ron could only play one thing, but it was the _best_ thing." I'm glad that he and Iggy were finally able to bury the hatchet and enjoy a nice victory lap together before he checked out in January 2009.

It was via Ron that I got to interview James Williamson, who'd replaced him on lead guitar for Raw Power. James had subsequently embarked on a career as an electronics executive, giving the lie to Fitzgerald's canard about there being no second acts in American lives. (By now, James is up to act three or four.) He'd become quite elusive; the late Bomp Records honcho Greg Shaw told me, "Forget about it, kid." But one day in 2001, Ron called me and said, "I saw James last weekend and he's nostalgic about the past. I think he wants to talk."

I came to the interview loaded with misconceptions, mostly gleaned from reading Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain's Please Kill Me, but "Straight James" had matured into quite a different cat than the one McNeil and McCain had depicted. Whatever darkness had existed in him as a young man seemed to have been laid to rest; the last time I heard from him before the advent of social networking, on 9/11, he very kindly emailed me information about how to talk to my kids about the disaster. "Junkie skull" my ass.

Just this week, I finally got around to reading Paul Trynka's 2007 Iggy bio Open Up and Bleed, which is definitely the most balanced account of the Stooges' trajectory in print. Ex-MOJO editor Trynka's a great reporter, and if he's less compelling when describing the music than Heylin (whose style can otherwise be dry and snarky), at least he makes the music part of the story, unlike McNeil and McCain. (When Please Kill Me was new, the cat who sold it to me said it was the best music book he'd ever read that contained not one word about music. But without the music, why would anyone care about all those folks' misbehavior?)

While his book isn't an "authorized biography," Trynka had access to all of the principals and gives them all a fair shake. He's a bigger fan of Iggy's Bowie/Berlin period than I am, and he doesn't make me want to hear any music that I know I don't like the way that Greil Marcus can, but he at least puts all of that stuff in context. And his clear-eyed portrayal of the charming, intelligent guy who shares a body with Everybody's Unbridled Id makes for a good read. One which sent me back to my pile of Stooges vinyl and CDs to re-experience a few gems:

1) The Stooges: The remastered Rhino 2CD, which I passed on when it was new but copped when it became Half Price Books-available, offers such wonders as the muted Cale mixes of a few songs, and a few more with Ron's unedited rides. And I actually like listening to "We Will Fall" now.

2) Have Some Fun: Live At Ungano's: Sure, Funhouse is the definitive Stooges artifact and probably my all-time favorite rekkid (I own two copies of the Sundazed reish, one of 'em still sealed, _just in case_). I even ponied up the two bills to hear Rhino Handmade's Complete Funhouse Sessions box set, but I also let it go without too many tears in the wake of getting shitcanned from RadioShack. To be honest, I don't need to hear 23 versions of "Loose;" while it's _interesting_ to know that the lyrics to the first verse were originally "I took a ride on a red hot weiner / Yeah I'm riding on a big hot dog," the final ones are a lot more impactful, and the net effect of hearing all those takes was to validate the soundness of whoever's decision it was to choose the ones that made it onto the released LP. That said, it's nice to hear the rarer-than-hen's-teeth live recordings from 1970 on this other overpriced Rhino release and Easy Action's Popped (although as Trynka points out, the definitive live Stooges document remains the five minutes of Cincinnati performance footage that feature the iconic walking-on-crowd's-hand's/slinging-peanut-butter moment). Especially when "Funhouse" breaks down a minute or so into the song and Ig 'n' the boys take off on a lengthy improvised foray. Trynka's narrative reminds us how experimental they started out, and they _never_ played "old stuff." They weren't making music for the ages; they were about the Now. Ironic in light of how things turned out.

3) Electric Circus: Easy Action released a box set of recordings of the '71 lineup with both Ron and James on guitars, and released one show, probably the best of the bunch, on vinyl. Ig's vocals are low in the mix and the band rocks and roils in a way that's equally turbulent and somewhat lacking in direction. After it had been released, Easy Action honcho Carlton Sandercock managed to track down '71 bassist Jimmy Recca and had me interview him; the resultant document was mailed out to folks who'd bought the box set because that's the kind of cat Carlton is. Myself, I really like Recca's story. He was 18 when he spent about eight months in the Stooges, and his story reads like Almost Famous if it wasn't lame and had real rock 'n' roll in it. Myself, I'm convinced there's a movie in there if somebody wants to make it. Yeah, right, as if.

4) Raw Power: The Legacy remaster makes the original Bowie mix, deleted since '97, once again CD-available, and adds a killer live set, Georgia Peaches, which future Nervebreaker Bob Childress attended while attending college in Atlanta. I've listened to hours of live Williamson-era Stooges, and if this isn't the best of 'em, it's certainly one of 'em, and a good case for Ron Asheton as a great bassplayer along the lines of Ron Wood with the Jeff Beck Group.

5) Metallic K.O.: The album that kind of legitimized shitty-sounding bootlegs when it first appeared in '77, and opened the floodgates for the profusion of live/rehearsal recordings that followed and continue to appear to this day. My theory is that the post-Raw Power Stooges bear such excessive documentation because those songs were never "officially" recorded. One hopes that Scott Asheton's health remains good enough for Ig 'n' James to rectify that now that they're back together, a la Rocket From the Tombs' Rocket Redux.

6) Kill City: An album that I never heard until it was recently reissued, and which I now see as a great lost masterpiece, although not all the songs are great. Maybe the pinnacle of the Pop-Williamson collaboration.

The Stooges are proof positive (as if any more were needed) that living well is the best revenge. They _always_ win. Now, back to reading that Malcolm X bio...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

O.C. in Berlin back in '72

This is some of the purest Ornettitude on vid I've yet beheld.

Pssst! Hey, kid! Wanna see a doco about Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner?

That's right, the two Detroit guitarists who played with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, etc. In 11 different segments, here. Non-snazz aspect: The annoying intro is in all 11 of 'em.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Karbido - "The Table"

7.9.2011, FTW

Feeling kind of uninspired lately. Taking an enforced vacation from playing, and there's nothing I want to write about for the first time since about 2004. Instead, I'm giving my summer to running (rediscovering an obsession from ages 25-40), the films of Akira Kurosawa (for my b-day, my sweetie got me a box set that includes pretty much everything but Ran and Dreams, which I also want to get), and Manning Marable's Malcolm X bio (which I'm reading with an eye to spot the differences with Malcolm's Alex Haley-ghostwritten Autobiography, which changed my life when I read it as a teenager -- one of the few books I was assigned in high school that I actually read).

But last night, after attending a wedding at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, we headed downtown to catch Pablo & the Hemphill 7 at the Flying Saucer. The length of Joe Vano's dreads reminded me that we hadn't seen those guys in about four years -- at Central Market, right after I started working there. Pretty wild that next year will mark their tenth year as a band (!). They've weathered the departure of bassist and original creative spark Marcus Lawyer (of Top Secret...Shhh fame, now living in Austin) and keyboardist/second vocalist Justin Pate, but to these feedback-scorched ears, they're sounding better than ever.

Joe's singing the whole three-set show now, with backing voxxx from guitarist Steffin Ratliff and bassist Matt Hembree sounding pretty fine through their brand-new PA. Steffin, Matt, and drummer Damien Stewart have played together so long in different combinations (incuding Bindle, Goodwin, and, um, Stoogeaphilia, where Sir Steffin's scorching fretwork made "Marquee Moon" our most popular song for exactly a year) that they're all constantly in each other's pockets. Matt can fill as much space as he's given, leaving Steffin to soar as freely as he wants (or not play at all, dubwise). The dialogue between Damien and percussionist Jonathan Irwin is really happening, too. And Sir Steffin's still my favorite guitarist in the 817: aggressive, melodic, with a beautiful tone (on this particular night, he was playing Bobby Zanzucchi's Matchless after losing his beloved Silvertone in the Apache 5 equipment burglary, but he's ordering a custom amp built by a local cat along the lines of a Fender Deluxe).

After all this time, they really own their repertoire, and not just their originals, but every good roots reggae cover you can imagine except "Red Red Wine" (highlight: Black Uhuru's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"). The song I really want to hear them play again, though, is "The Great Bash," a Vano poem with impressionistic spacey backing, which I heard 'em play the very first time I ever saw them, at the now-defunct Rail Market in 2002, on an evening when they were scheduled to play the Saucer later. Seeing the skyscrapers behind Joe from the Saucer's patio reminded me of that night, and a lot of other ones in between then and now. They claim not to be able to remember "The Great Bash," but Damien said that Marcus is bringing the 8-track recording of it the next time he visits Fort Worth, after which I'll resume pestering them to play it. Man for man, I still think they're the best band in the city.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Pablo & the Hemphill 7

Did my heart good to see these boys tonight.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Tokyo Tapeworm

And speaking of demos, here's a nice crunchy one from Dallas garage/R&B guys Tokyo Tapeworm. I dig how Reverbnation, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp have made it possible for bands to get their stuff out there, although how to "monetize" it is another issue.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Drift Era - "Smoking Lamp (Demo)"

Wouldn't ya know it, somehow I've gotten excited about local music again, thanks in part to these guys. But JoCo & Co.: What zackley are you demo-ing for? A major label deal is kind of like a guaranteed student loan. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Fungi Girls

Excited to be doing a show with these guys at the Wild Rooster 8.27. Currently on tour.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

7.3.2011, FTW

Hickey's been under the weather, but still managed to post new music from his Joe and the Sonic Dirt From Madagascar work-in-progress.

He said there's a track on his upcoming Phil Ford collaboration that he wants me to add Bitches Brew-style wankage to. I'm sort of forgetting how to play the guitar right now -- concentrating on running, reading Manning Marable's Malcolm X: Life of Reinvention, and watching Kurosawa flicks from the box set my sweetie got me for my b-day -- but I'll remember in time for Stooge prac on 7.25, when we'll undoubtedly be essaying "Jet Boy," "Ain't It Fun," and "Raw Power" (at the very least). Next Stooge gig is 8.27 at the Wild Rooster. HIO plays 7.30 at Doc's Records and 8.12 thru 8.14 in Houston with Sarah Gamblin for the Fringe Festival there.

Apropos of nothing, I most definitely do not want to join another band, but if I did, it'd be Drift Era. Just sayin'.

Drift Era - "The Day After Rapture Dub"

That's right, kids: dub from Fort Worth, Texas. Sub Oslo lives! (Hear mo' Drift Era jams on Soundcloud.)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Spacebeach - "Upcoming Split"

Also via Mr. Robisheaux, here's some bangin' psych/shoegaze wonderment from 1919 Hemphill's Torry Finley and his boys from Grapevine. The second track even reminds me a just little bit of the last Yeti album. Impressive stuff.

Most Efficient Women

Wow. Britt Robisheaux's new band gots Daron Beck, Sarah Alexander, and Nevada Hill in it.