Archive for the ‘Amy Jean Porter’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RUSH-“You Can’t Fight It” (1973).

This is the B-Side of the first single Rush ever released (The A Side: a cover of “Not Fade Away”).  It was released briefly but has been long out of print.  Thankfully, people on the internets have access to all kinds of things. It’s pretty clearly Rush–Geddy sounds right, and it sounds like an Alex solo, so I think it’s fair to say that this is genuine.

It’s a pretty decent hard rock song from the 70s.  It sounds like it could be from any of the second tier bands back then.  It’s got some boogie and some swagger and it seems like it’s not about anything important (rock n roll, apparently).

While I’m obviously glad that Rush went on to bigger and better things, it’s fun hearing how confidently they fit into the context of music by their heroes.  This song has a cool riff, it’s quite heavy and it shows promise.

For a band that never releases B-sides or rarities or anything like that, I’ve been pretty surprised to see what is in their internet closet.


(By the way, I’m not advocating the visuals of the video–I haven’t actually “watched” it–just the audio).

[READ: August 25, 2011] Of Lamb

This book is sort of subtitled: Poems by Matthea Harvey, Painting by Amy Jean Porter.

It’s the “poems” part that I have a hard time with, actually.  But let me get to that in a moment.

This book takes a nifty idea (an idea very similar to one that Jonathan Safran Foer is using in Tree of Codes, which, see tomorrow’s post) and fully realizes it.  But what’s funny is that she doesn’t tell you what this idea is until the afterword of the book.  So while I was reading it I wasn’t really sure what I was seeing.  The afterword made me say Oh, I get it now.  But I don’t feel that I can review it without explaining what she has done.  So, if you don’t want to know anything about the “secret” behind the book, skip the next paragraph.

[Spoiler?  Maybe.]

Okay, so essentially what Matthea has done is, she has taken a book at random (literally one she bought for $3 at a used book store), in this case, A Portrait of Charles Lamb, and she has created her poems out of that book.  In other words, on every page, she would find the words that she wanted to keep and she whited-out everything else (you can see an example in the book).  But rather than presenting the work like that, she had Amy Jean Porter make weird and cool paintings to go with every page’s worth of text (I assume Porter did the lettering as well?).  Since the book is about Charles Lamb, it was very convenient that his sister’s name was Mary.  So there was a Mary and a Lamb on almost every page.  Hence this sort of update of the Mary Had a Little Lamb story.

[end possible spoiler warning] (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FRANK ZAPPA-Does Humor Belong in Music? (1995).

Frank Zappa made money and found fame by writing dirty, funny songs.  Yet he was really a great guitarist and a serious composer.  But hey, when you need the money to make your studio, you write songs about “Penguins in Bondage.”  When I was in high school my friend Al introduced me to Shiek Yerbouti, and I was hooked.  I’d never heard songs that were so intentionally funny.

So, this live collection is kind of an odd assortment, given the title.  I mean the first song is an instrumental (ie. not funny at all except for the title “Zoot Allures”).  “Tinseltown Rebellion” however is pretty darn funny.  The mockery that goes on (and the call-outs range from The Scorpions to Culture Club and The Tonight Show) is nasty and offensive, but never really wrong.  And this is when you find out how good a Zappa stage show was.  The band was tight, they could play all kinds of crazy things and, as in this song, they were always in sync even when improvising.

This disc is a collection of songs from a 1984 tour.  I rather like this incarnation of the Zappa band (Ike Willis is pretty amazing at any time).  And they play tracks from across Zappa’s output.  Although there’s times when the disc sounds really abrasive (some of the solos–like on “Bondage”–are really piercing and not very smooth, and the drums can be very electronic sounding).

Of course, that’s the kind of music that Zappa wrote (“What’s new in Baltimore” is very electronic sounding–beautiful but mechanical–which is why it’s so amazing to hear it live–even if it doesn’t sound human, exactly).

And just so you know it’s not only Zappa showing off (although he kind of is since he hired all the musicians) in “Let’s Move to Cleveland,” everyone gets a solo…keybaords, drums…everyone.  And the final track “Whipping Post” sees his son Dweezil taking the lead guitar solo (which feels really human and rocks the dickens off the place).

For many of Zappa’s later “live” records, he compiled songs from all over the place (a very common practice for live records).  On some of the collections he even mixed a tour from the 70s with one from the 80s.   Now the thing that I just recently realized (even though it’s spelled out in the liner notes) is that these songs are cribbed together from different songs (!) (on “Cleveland” the piano solo is from St. Petersburg, the drum solo is from Vancouver, and the guitar solo is from Amherst College…weird, eh?  And what about the backing music, where does that come from while the solos are spliced in?)).  So, they’re not really live, except they kind of are.  And, heck that’s kind of funny too.  If you care about things like that it kind of ruins the “authenticity” of the recording.   But if you don’t, they sound pretty darn good anyway.

So this is not his funniest stuff, but it’s still an interesting live collection.

[READ: November 12, 2010] More Things Like This

I don’t know where I learned about this book, but I recently found it used for about $4 and I was pretty psyched to both find it and to pay a pittance for it.

As the subtitle indicates, this book is a collection of drawings that have words on them and are funny (but which are not “cartoons” (although some kind of are)).  The impetus for the book was a show at apexart of exactly this sort of thing.  The book expands on the show and includes many artists who were not in the show (including several very famous artists).

The Foreword by Dave Eggers offer the rationale behind the show & the book: Image + Text (usually referring to the image) + Humor = Good enough for us.  And it also asks pertinent questions: Why is it that so many of these artists can’t spell?  And why is it that when they screw up a word, instead of starting over, they just cross the word out and write it again?  Why is it important to some of the artists that the drawings appear casual, even sloppy?

And more. (more…)

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