Archive for the ‘Gorillas’ Category

SOUNDTRACKJUST SAY NOËL: A Gift for You from Geffen Records (1996).

This is a weird mix of songs.  I purchased this all those years ago because I loved the Sire Records Just Say series, and this seemed like a fine addition.  But this album really pushes what might have been anticipated in a Christmas collection.

Look at the names!  Beck! Sonic Youth! (when they were riding high), Elastica! But man, this is just a crazy mix of stuff.

BECK-“The Little Drum Machine Boy” (NSFC)
This is like 7 minutes of drum machine nonsense from Beck.  There’s mention of the Hanukkah robot funk.  Gonna drop some Hanukkah science.  And then 7 minutes of Beck’s nonsense lyrics.

AIMEE MANN with MICHAEL PENN-“Christmastime” (NSFC)
This is a little mopey because Aimee is always a little mopey.  The Michael Penn parts are a bit more upbeat.  They sound great together, but “all alone at Christmastime” isn’t really much for holiday cheer.

SONIC YOUTH-“Santa Doesn’t Cop Out On Dope” (NSFC)
I had no idea that this was a cover.  Martin Mull recorded this back in 1973.  That explains the spoken word part that doesn’t sound like something Sonic Youth would construct.  But after the spoken intro, they turn the end into 2 minutes of utter noise.  Thurston sings the actual song almost a capella with strange noises in the background and twinkling bells.  The last 40 seconds are just squelching noise.  And they end with Thurston saying “Merry Christmas, David Geffen.”

THE POSIES-“Christmas” (NSFC)
This song is downbeat and sad (“you made me for the last time.  That’s okay Christmas means little to me”).  The chorus is kind of pretty though.

THE ROOTS-“Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa” (NSFC)
I had no idea that this was a cover.  And never would have guessed it was originally by The Roots.  It is shockingly about incest. The Roots version is even darker (and the recording features an echoed voice making it even harder to hear the words).

This version is bluesy and slightly funky in a very white way.

REMY ZERO-“Christmas” (NSFC)
This is muted and mopey and I have literally no idea what its about.

This is without a doubt the best song on this record.  Although as far as I can tell aside from chanting (and playing) the melody from the Christmas song “Gloria In Excelsis Deo” there is no connection to Christmas whatsoever.

WILD COLONIALS-“Christmas Is Quiet” (NSFC)
This is six-minute mellow folk dirge.  Her voice is pretty, but good lord, six minutes?  Even a build up and backing vocals doing la las can’t rescue this.

XTC-“Thanks For Christmas”
Obviously, I love this song as I have mentioned elsewhere.

The Toys song is such a weird inclusion–clearly it’s only here because they own the rights.  But it’s a really pretty song and it should be played more at the closing of the year, for being a lovely optimistic song.  Even though I like this version, I’d like to hear a cover from someone else with a strong voice (and not necessarily Seal, or whoever that is, joining in).  I’ll bet it could be done really well.

TED HAWKINS-“Amazing Grace”
Hawkins has a low gravelly voice.  This is a lovely cover of just him and his guitar.

So overall, this is a disappointing collection of songs.  Most of them can’t be played in a festive way.  But there are a few rocking standouts.

[READ: December 12, 2017] “Announcements”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This was a fun, light-hearted look at Wedding announcements.  And of course, as with any fun, light-hearted look at something, there were undercurrents of seriousness that made the story even better. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKPHISH-Live Phish Downloads 8.13.93 UNH Fieldhouse, Durham, NH (2007).

Despite the Phish tour ending in May, the picked up again just three months later.

“Lengthwise” starts of a capella.  Guitars slowly come in as washes and then “Llama” rocks out with some great blasts and a lengthy keyboard solo from Page.

“Makisupa Policeman” is fun with a few screams from Fish.  This version really highlights the reggae aspects.  There’s a trippy middle section with twinkling pianos that segues into a terrific version of “Foam.”

When it’s over you hear someone shout “Stash?” before they launch into a 12 minute “Stash.”  There’s some unusual soloing in the middle which Trey calls the “Friday the 13th” jam.  And then he introduces the “butt with protruding arms” (Fish) to play the washboard. It’s “Ginseng Sullivan” which was performed acoustic with Trey on acoustic guitar and Fish on “Madonna” washboard

Then comes a 15 minute “Fluffhead.”  It opens with some lovely acoustic guitars. Later during part of the jam they chant “just a bundle of joy” several times.

It’s followed by the short “My Mind’s Got a Mind of It’s Own” in a very honkey-tonk style.

It’s followed by a very pretty “Horn” that segues into a 20 minute “David Bowie.”  Fish starts the hi-hats while Trey plays a whole bunch of riffs first—like “My Favorite Things” and “Beat It.”  Trey also teases “The Mango Song” and “Magilla.”   The song starts properly about 4 minutes in.  The jam goes in all different direction, a slow section, then a fast and rocking jamming.  There’s some whistling and then a very jazzy hi-hat section.  The end is super fast with a wicked guitar solo.  It’s a great set-ender.

Set two opens with”Buried Alive,” a fast short song that segues into a lovely “Rift” and a relatively slow “Bathtub Gin.”  The bass is particularly chunky during “Gin” and then the song slows completely to give Mike a little funky slap bass action.  “Bathtub Gin” which runs to 15 minutes, includes, among other things, a “Weekapaug Groove” jam.  There’s a groovy keyboard solo with shouts of “Ole!”

There’s a bit of an awkward transition into “Ya Mar” but once they get going its smooth sailing especially when Trey shouts, “just Leo and the drums” and they break it down to just keys and drums. This segues into “Mike’s Song,” but Mike has fun by still singing “Ya Mar” and it seems to mess everyone up until they catch on and go with it.  The 12 minute “Mike’s Song” includes teases of Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold”

“Lifebuoy” is very pretty and there’s a brief “Oh Key Pah” before they launch in to a show ending “Suzy Greenberg.”  For an encore they do a very quiet (unmic’d) a capella “Amazing Grace.”  The notes say that the song was performed “without microphones and is inaudible on the DAT and cassette soundboards. To present the entire performance, an additional audience source provided by Kevin Shapiro and Judd Nudelman was used.”  Mostly you hear a lot of people SHHHHing (why do people whoop during quiet moments like this?). But they follow it with a rocking “Highway to Hell” (which sounds a lot like AC/DC’s version.)

The rest of the disc includes some soundcheck stuff.  A goofy version of “Love Me Two Times” with them trying to sound like Jim Morrison.  The 1 minute Indiana Sound check jam is fun.  And then the final track is nearly 9 minutes of them setting up the washboard for “Ginseng Sullivan.”  It’s interesting if you care about their recording process, but it’s tech more talk than music.

So this set list is pretty similar to the show in May.  There’s a lot if duplication.  And yet, according to the essay by Kevin Shapiro,

 Summer 1993 was a time when each show somehow surpassed the last.  This show is legendary among Phishheads based almost entirely on the second set!  Instantly famous for its mind-melting (or is it mind-melding?) Bathtub Gin > Ya Mar and Mike’s Song > Lifebuoy … The entire show is risky and magical in so many ways.   [It had] already been accepted as legendary and literally begs for release…. Without them, the catalog – some would even say the fan experience – is simply incomplete.

So that’s a pretty rave review.

[READ: June 5, 2017] Ich bin ein Anderer

This book (translated as I am an Other) was created by Walter Ego (great name) and is written in English (not Ego’s native langauge).

This is a collection of drawings and short essays all in praise of failure, inadequacy and unprofessionalism.

Ego draws simple stick figure line drawings and aphorisms to celebrate insecurity. (more…)

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rjSOUNDTRACK: YUSUF/CAT STEVENS-Tiny Desk Concert #411 December 9, 2014).

catAs this Tiny Desk Concert opens, Bob Boilen tells his story of being 17 years old and saving up money to buy a guitar so he could learn Cat Steven’s “Father and Son.”  He says he’s now old and has a son and the song still means a lot.  And that introduction makes the song even that more emotional when he plays it later.

It’s a shame that he is so known for the controversy about the fatwa back in the 1980s, but his conversion to Islam is pretty interesting: “In 1976, Cat Stevens almost drowned off the coast of Malibu. In his panic, he says, he shouted, “Oh, God! If you save me, I will work for you” — at which point he recalls a wave that came and carried him ashore. He converted to Islam, changed his name and left the pop world after one last album in 1978.”

He released his first non-spiritual album in decades in 20o6.  He released another one in 2014, which was a record of some originals mixed with standards and blues covers.  He plays two songs from this album here (which is a bit of a disappointment, as I could have easily listened to him play the entire Greatest Hits album).  But these two songs are quite nice.  “I was Raised in Babylon” is a bit dark, although his voice sounds great.  “Doors” was originally written for the musical Moonshadow.  It’s a delicate ballad.  And it also as a religious impact with the final line being “God made everything just right.”

In between these two he says he doesn’t know what to play next, but he has some kind of gadget that he scrolls through.  And he chooses “The First Cut is the Deepest.”  He comments maybe some people know I wrote this one, it wasn’t Rod Stewart.  I really like this song a lot.  It sounds different from the record because it’s just him and his guitar, but his voice is unmistakable. and he sounds great.  And if it makes him feel better, I’ve never even heard the Rod Stewart version.

He dedicates “Father and Son” to Bob and it’s just as beautiful as the original.  And yes, it should make you tear up, especially if you have a child.

After listening to this Tiny Desk I really wanted to see him play live.  I know that he is currently on tour and will actually be in Philly on this very night.  There are still tickets available, but since the cheapest seats cost nearly $200, I’ll be skipping this one.

[READ: April 4, 2016] The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, in which the zoo animals put on a play of Macbeth.  Well, the zoo is ready again for their next performance.  I enjoyed that the audience is aware of the previous play–the kids are even wondering why it’s another tale of woe instead of something happy.  Later when the lion (who was in Macbeth) comes out, someone addresses him as the character from that play.

What I thought was interesting about the way this play was done was that they made the story kid friendly.  I liked this and that it allowed me to share this story with my kids.  Rather than being lovers, Romeo and Juliet want to have a play date, and rather than killing themselves at the end, they wind up hibernating. (more…)

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primatesSOUNDTRACK: OTIS TAYLOR-Tiny Desk Concert #120 (April 13, 2011).

otisOtis Taylor is a big, burly, bearded man who plays the banjo. His band consists of fiddle, drums and electric guitar and bass.

The songs are bluesy without being like the blues, and they are folky without really being like folk music.  And the way he plays the banjo is unlike any typical banjo song I’d heard before.

The blurb explains what makes his songs sound so different:  He plays a style of music he calls trance blues.

Taylor’s music is trance-inducing, and he achieves that effect by playing songs that are modal: Sometimes, they sit on one chord for the entire song. Taylor says that by doing that, by eliminating chord changes, you also eliminate reference points, so songs can run as long as 10 or even 15 minutes in length.

And it’s true.  The basic melody of he first song, “Ten Million Slaves” (which is only 4 minutes) stays the same throughout the song.  It’s the fiddle (played by Anne Harris) that throws the new notes and riffs into the song that keep it so interesting,

He does throw in a simple but affecting solo at the end of “Ten Million Slaves” but it’s more fun to watch him rock out the end of the song.  That song also appeared in Public Enemies, the Michael Mann movie.

He calls his music trance blues music, came from Mali and Mississippi Hill Country.

The main riff of “Ran So Hard The Sun Went Down” is instantly familiar and a little dark.  I love the middle jam section where it just seems to gets bigger and bigger (I guess that’s the trance).

For the third song, “Talking About It Blues,” Taylor switches to acoustic guitar.  This is a fairly simple blues song, but I love the guitar riff that punctuates the verses.  The verse is simple enough “my daddy cut down a tree, make a guitar for me.”  This song features a lengthy solo by J.P. Johnson.

The drums (by Larry Thompson “Bryant Gumball of the drummers,”) and bass (by new bassist Todd Edmunds) are really simple but they sound great and really punctuate the song.

It’s a short song that segues into the final song, “Think I Won’t” which has a heavy five note riff to open with.  I love that it takes him forver to end this song.  Saying one more time even though they do more than one more time.

I don’t really like blues songs that much.  But this band is really tight and the addition of the fiddle really makes these songs stand out. Plus after those cool droning blues songs I was hooked.

[READ: December 15, 2015] Primates

I had been planning to post magazine stories this week.  Then I learned that it is First Second’s ten-year anniversary and they are trying to promote it with the cool hashtag #10yearsof01.   Since I’ve read a bunch of First Second books in the last couple of months, I’m going to give them a deserved shout out by posting a few in a row and including that hashtag.

This is a non-fiction graphic novel from First Second and it is outstanding.  In a wonderfully kid-friendly style, it talks about the incredible work done by Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas.  And the man behind their success, Leonard Leakey.

The story opens on Jane Goodall.  After visiting a friend in Kenya, she spoke to Dr Leakey (who tells of his childhood growing up in Kenya).  Through their meeting, Leakey gained funding and sent Goodall to Gombe to study chimpanzees in 1957.  She soon discovered them using tools and eating meat.   Her work caused them to, as the book puts it, “redefine tools, redefine Man or accept chimpanzees as human.”

Then she went further and learned so much more about chimpanzees, using techniques that were not exactly scientifically approved (sifting through dung, setting up places for them to eat) but wound up being amazingly effective.

Jane married Hugo, her photographer and then they were visited by Dian Fossey. (more…)

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1352113437munkeemanSOUNDTRACK: EVANGELISTA-Hello, Voyager [CST050] (2008).

helloThis is Carla Bozulich’s first “band” on Constellation. I didn’t really care for her solo album because it sounded way too all over the map.  She has brought in some great musician to rein her in somewhat and it really helps.  This album is still loose and wild and uncomfortable and at times hard to listen to and also really cathartic.  It feels like there is direction to the madness.

The first song is probably the least appealing.  It’s almost a free form poetry slam, but there’s enough incidental music to make it feel like there should be more.–the music doesn’t necessarily follow what’s going on, as if the musicians were told to do what they wanted but weren’t listening to her.

That improv feeling exists throughout the album, but the other songs feel like they have a structure and a melody which really really help.  Like “Smooth Jazz” in which the drums keep a loud steady beat which regulates the tempo and makes her screams all the more intense.  Or “Lucky Lucky Luck” in which a beautiful vocal melody and backing vocal combine with pulsing bass to make a platform for the noisy guitars.  “For The L’il Dudes ” is a creepy string quintet.  But “The Blue Room” is a full complex song with a captivating melody and strings that really work well.

“Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space” is a heavy rock song with great distortion, while “the Frozen Dress” brings back the creepy and spooky sounds. “Paper Kitten Claw” reunites those minimal sounds with a mellow melody.  It feature the great lyric (and theme) “Every time you see the word never, cross it out.”  The disc ends with “Hello, Voyager!” Crazy noises open this 12 minute ramble.  Carla sounds like a crazy preacher and by the end it’s just a free form chaotic mind fuck.  But in a good way.

It’s not always fun to see where Carla’s mind will take you but in this case the crazy trip is disturbingly fun.  Not for the faint of heart.

[READ: May 18, 2014] Munkeeman

This comic came across my desk and I was intrigued by it.  I’ve never read a graphic novel published in India (and written in English) before.  One thing that struck me about the drawing style was how dark (full of a lot of lines and very little white space) the book was.  It’s very busy, demanding a lot of attention.  I prefer my graphic novels to be a little more open and less claustrophobic (okay, I’ll say it, more “white”–racist!–meaning I like more white space in the drawings because I find the heavily drawn dark lines to be a little too busy for me).  But having said that, I enjoyed this style.  The details were always interesting to check out, especially the crowd scenes were Sharma has a lot of fun with background characters (it reminded me of Mad Magazine a bit).

At the same time I was also somewhat surprised at how conventional the story looked.  I don’t know what I was expecting–something more decisively Indian perhaps, but this could have come from an underground comic publisher anywhere.

This is all background to say how much I enjoyed this kind of twisted book.

Incidentally Sharma also directed a film called Tere Bin Laden which is a comedy about an Osama bin Laden double and which sounds quite funny.  I’m going to have to give that a try if I can find it.

So the book starts with an explanation about Munkeeman–he appeared (for real) as an unseen villain in the Hindi film Delhi-6 (which I’ve never seen).  You don’t need to see that movie to quickly learn that there was a villain (the Black Monkey) who is now getting his story told from his point of view.  Especially since the prologue fills you in that nobody ever got a full glimpse of him but he was referred to as The Munkeeman. (more…)

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rickbassSOUNDTRACK: PHISH-LivePhish 01-20 (2000-2002).

livephish To my dismay, my friend Lar recently informed me of a terrible thing that is happening to Phish’s LivePhish series of CDs.  This series came out from 2000-2002 and consisted of 20 CD sets of full concerts.  The “nifty” thing about them was that they were packed in plastic sleeves (4 discs to a sleeve) which had three holes in them so you could store them in a binder (the LivePhish binder with secret pocket for your stash).

Well, it turns out that whatever material they used in the plastic sleeves leeched out of the sleeves and onto the CDs.  For many CDs, it left a goopy residue that wiped off with a little effort.  But on other CDs, the goop actually ate through the paint and, apparently (although I don’t know how) through the music.  When you look at the discs there are clear “holes” in the paint, so you can see right through the disc.  When you play the discs, it ate away at the music as well.

Since this was over a decade ago and Phish is no longer with Elektra and the collections are long out of print, it looks like fans are simply shit out of luck.  I have at least 8 sets that have at least one disc that was eaten away like this.

The shows are available for download at the Phish Dry Goods Store, but then you’re paying $10 for something you already own.

Those sleeves seemed like a great idea, but they clearly weren’t tested for long term durability.

I don’t believe there’s any recourse for this, but if you know of any, do pass it along.  I’m sure fans must have the concerts online somewhere too, but that’s not the point.  Seeing as how the sets are fetching as much as $300 on eBay (which I’m sure no one is paying), there was the possibility that these would have collector’s value.  But clearly not anymore.  Major buzzkill.

[READ: July 29, 2013] In My Home There is No More Sorrow

This book came with McSweeney’s 40.  It is a book unto itself, hardbound and with its own ISBN, so I didn’t feel compelled to read it right then (especially given that the subject was Rwanda and it didn’t seem like an especially happy book to be reading).

But I decided now I was up for it and so in I dove.  And it’s not an especially happy book to be reading.

Bass is a writer with many books to his credits (although I didn’t know him).  He was sent to Rwanda on an assignment.  I gather that as part of the assignment he was sent to teach a writing workshop to local writers.  (The actual purpose of the trip, as far as logistics goes, is a little vague I must say).

At any rate, bass and his family (his wife and teenaged daughter) went to Rwanda for ten days.  And the first few days are as harrowing as one might expect.  I was familiar with the atrocities in Rwanda, but only insofar as I had heard bits and pieces of the story from the news.  I had no idea about the extent of the violence–millions of Tutsis killed by Hutus.  Nor the extent of the way the survivors have dealt with the atrocities in the seventeen years since they happened.  Which is: they have created shrines to the dead and in many cases have not cleaned up or in any way hidden what happened.

And so , we have churches with blood on the walls where people were murdered (I will spare some of the details of the way the children were killed, but I will certainly never forget it).  The family also goes to a shrine where the bodies were exhumed and placed in this area for fuller viewing.  And the creepiest thing about this shrine is that the bodies were packed so tightly in the mass grave–with no oxygen and with quicklime poured on them , that they did not really decompose–they were more or less mummified–their skin just sort of shriveled.  These bodies are practically like living skeletons, left ion their death poses.  That’s another image I will not be able to expunge from my mind any time soon. (more…)

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