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Archive for the ‘Frank Zappa’ Category

[POSTPONED: June 22, 2020] King Crimson / The Zappa Band [moved to  2021]

indexI have seen King Crimson four times and have been blown away by each show.  Even hearing many of the same songs doesn’t dampen my enjoyment since the songs are so amazing to see live.

Given the fickleness of Robert Fripp, it’s always possible that the band will break up at any moment.  Given that, I will see them every time they come close, and the fact that they were coming to new Brunswick (super close!) was like a personal invitation.

Normally there is no opening act.   I don’t know if the addition of an opening act meant less King Crimson time.  But the opening act was The Zappa Band.

I’ve been a big fan of Zappa’s work for years, although I never saw him live.  I’ve considered going to the various posthumous shows, but they all seem kind of cheesy.  The Dweezil show is supposed to be okay, but I feel like I;d have to have a real lull in shows to go out to see him.

However, having them open for a show that I was already going to was the best of all worlds.  Especially given the current lineup:

The Zappa Band’s lineup features Zappa alumni Ray White (lead vocals, guitar), Mike Keneally (guitar, keys, vocals), Scott Thunes (bassist) and Robert Martin (keyboards, sax, vocals).  I mean, that’s practically the Zappa band without Zappa right there.  It seems like Dweezil is not even part of this show, which is interesting.

I didn’t know if the end of June would be a safe time to see a show, and clearly neither did KC or State Theatre, as this show was postponed in early April.

King Crimson, originally scheduled for June 22, has been postponed. We have been closely following the developing news on COVID-19 and the current response recommendations from our Federal, State, and Local officials. The health and well-being of our guests, artists, and staff are our top priority. Ticket holders will be contacted as soon as we have a new date. Current tickets will be valid for the rescheduled date, once announced, and if you are unable to make the new date, we will discuss alternate arrangements. Due to the high volume of changed or cancelled performances, we ask that you please wait for State Theatre to contact you in regard to your tickets.

I hope when the show is rescheduled, that The Zappa Band opens.  That sounds like a blast.

 

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SOUNDTRACK: TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON + SOCIAL SCIENCE-Tiny Desk Concert #955 (March 4, 2020).

There is something that sets this apart from many other rap-centric performances.

Perhaps it’s because the music is complicated and fascinating–elements of jazz and prog and not just a 4/4 beat.

Perhaps it’s because on the first song “Trapped In The American Dream,” Kassa Overall on vocals doesn’t dominate the music, he is part of it.

Maybe it’s because singer Debo Ray has an utterly amazing voice, whether she is singing lead on “Waiting Game” (which sounds like it could be from a musical) or the amazing operatic backing vocals she contributes to the opening song “Trapped In The American Dream.”

It’s definitely because bandleader and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is phenomenal:

In the jazz world, Carrington is a celebrity — a 40-year professional musician who’s won Grammy awards and performed with a seemingly infinite list of jazz dignitaries such as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Geri Allen. An outspoken activist, teacher and mentor, she is also the founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, a multidisciplinary program whose motto is “Jazz Without Patriarchy.”

Her skills are really impressive and it’s fun to watch her really get into it.  There’s a moment where she is going super fast on the hi-hat and snare and it’s super cool.

“Trapped” has some interesting guitar melodies that run through the song.  When Ray sings along with them it’s quite magical.  The bass from Morgan Guerin sounds great and it’s quite a surprise when he busts out a saxophone solo.

“A Waiting Game” starts with just a piano and Ray’s voice.  There’s washes of guitar and Carrington hits her drums with her hands–flat open sounds.

The song is very pretty and ends with someone (I can’t tell who) playing bells.  As the bells ring out there’s rather a surprise as Malcolm Jamal Warner (yes) comes out to recite poetry “Bells (Ring Loudly),” in between verses from Ray.

The third tune, “Bells (Ring Loudly),” written by Parks and Carrington, features actor Malcolm Jamal Warner who also wrote the spoken word. Carrington had just seen the Philando Castile shooting and her powerful lyrics imagined what she would say to the offending police officer.

Throughout the set, pianist Aaron Parks plays some fantastic melodies and solos and guitarist Matthew Stevens seems to be perpetually filling the soundscape with little solos and accents.

Social Science [is] a collaboration with pianist Aaron Parks and guitarist Matthew Stevens (both performing here). In the works for some time, their project culminated in 2016 when the cultural divisiveness brought on by the presidential election inspired the trio to take action. “I think there’s an awakening happening in society in general,” Carrington writes on her website, “I feel a calling in my life to merge my artistry with any form of activism that I’m able to engage in.”

This performance features music from the band’s new album, Waiting Game. It’s story-filled, groove-music performed by a group of accomplished musicians who improvise, rap and sing over complex but highly crafted and accessible instrumental motifs. A perfect synthesis of jazz, indie rock and hip-hop influences, the four songs they played address important, culturally relevant protest narratives: mass incarceration, collective liberation, police brutality and Native American genocide.

The final song “Purple Mountains” features Kokayi rapping as Debo Ray sings beautifully with him.  The music in this song is outstanding–complicated and interesting (reminds me a bit of Frank Zappa, which I did not expect).

It opens with some really heavy chords from guitar and bass together while guitar play a cool atonal melody and Aaron Parks played an electric keyboard instead of piano.

The end of the song when Kokayi is rapping faster with yea yea yeas in the middle is really intense and cool.

“I hope that you can enjoy this music because it can be heavy,” drummer and bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington told the NPR crowd gathered for this Tiny Desk. “We’ve tried to figure out a way to make it feel good and still give these messages.”

“There is so much we can be angry about but you can’t really stay there,” Carrington told NPR. “Instead, you can reach somebody on a human level.”

I was totally won over by Social Science.

[READ: March 30, 2020] “Carlitos in Charge”

This story was really great and also an interesting (presumably true) look into what (might) happen at the United Nations.

This story was written in a fluid and ease to read style.  I especially enjoyed the lengthy passages of lists that he threw into the story.

Carlitos was nicknamed “Charles in Charge.”  Why? because he didn’t like standing out in an American middle school with such an ethnic name.  So he asked to be called Alex P. Keaton. But his father pronounced it like Alice, which didn’t help.  So he settled on “Charles in Charge.”

Carlitos has worked in the United Nations building for a little over a year assembling data for the Health Department.  And in that short time he has had sex with

the South Korean ambassador, the spokesman for the Swedish Mission, and Irish delegate, a Russian interpreter, an Iraqi translator, the assistant to the deputy ambassador from El Salvador, an American envoy, the chief of staff for the Ukrainian prime minister, the vice presidents of Suriname and the Gambia, a cultural attache from Poland, the special assistant to the Saudi ambassador, the nephew of the ruling party’s general secretary of Laso, a distant cousin of Castro, a film director from Mauritania, countless low-level staffers, a few guides, a half-dozen tourists and Brad.

He says that they had to leave their phones in a lock box on the second floor so cruising happened the old fashioned way.

He got the job through a college friend William Mycroft Quimby–Quim–an authentically Irish fellow living in Brooklyn. He says it was weird working for the world and not his country.  But really his jobs was “Convincing the U.S. to do no harm.”

The United States was immune to easily interpretable, commonsense data on everything–pollution, tuberculosis, birth control, breastfeeding, war, rape, white phosphorous, blue phosphorous, red phosphorous, lithium, P.T.S.D., G.M.O.s, slavery, winged migration, lions, tigers, polar bears, grizzly bears, panda bears, capital punishment, corporal punishment, spanking, poverty, drug decriminalization, incarceration, labor unions, cooperative business structures, racist mascots, climate change, Puerto Rico, Yemen, Syria, Flint, Michigan, women, children, wheelchairs, factory farms, bees, whales, sharks, daylight savings time, roman numerals, centimeters, condoms, coal, cockfighting, horse betting, dog racing, doping, wealth redistribution, mass transit, the I.M.F, CIA, I.D.F., MI5, MI6, TNT, snap bracelets, Pez dispensers, Banksy.  It didn’t matter what its was if the Human Rights Council (or Cuba) advocated one way, the U,S, Went the other.

He soon learned that people used their liaisons to influence decisions.

Do you mean blackmail?
Not blackmail, but, yes, blackmail.

Many of those dalliances resulted in changed results on important bills.

As for Brad, he met Brad at a bar.  Brad also worked at the U.N. but in a different department.  They started dating and got pretty serious. Their one rule was no talking about business.  That worked very well until something was bringing Brad down.  They tried not to talk about it but it soon became too much.

It turned out that Brad was working on a bill calling for a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate war crimes in El Salvador.  (Charles in Charge’s family is from El Salvador).

The problem was that China signaled support for it and the U.S. can’t go on record agreeing with China about a human-rights issue.  That would be a bad precedent.  Carlitos said he had been working at the U.N. long enough that this made sense.

China was supporting the resolution because El Salvador cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan. If El Salvador and Taiwan agreed with each other, that might change China’s decision.

Brad wonders of Charles in Charge cam have an impact on this momentous vote.

The way the story and the vote play out are both pretty surprising.

I enjoyed this a lot.

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SOUNDTRACK: KASVOT VÄXT-“Death Don’t Hurt Very Long” (1981/2018).

Back in 1994, Phish started covering a classic album for its Halloween costume. In 2015 they covered the Disney album: Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House, which pretty much meant all bets were off.  So in 2018, they decided to cover an obscure Scandinavian prog rock band called Kasvot Växt and their sole album, í rokk.  This proved to be a big joke–they were a nonexistent band.  They had so much fun creating this band, that they even enlisted others to expand the joke.  This included impressively thorough reviews from WFMU and from AllMusic.

The joke is even in the name: when translated together Kasvot Växt and í rokk means “Faceplant into rock.”.

Here’s some more details they came up with:

The Scandinavian prog rock band purportedly consists of Jules Haugen of Norway, Cleif Jårvinen of Finland, and Horst and Georg Guomundurson of Iceland.  The album’s label, Elektrisk Tung, supposedly went out of business shortly after the LP’s release and little information about the record appears on the internet. Bassist Mike Gordon made a tape copy of í rokk in the mid-’80s and Phish would play it “over and over in the tour van in the early ’90s.” In the Playbill, guitarist Trey Anastasio insisted, “Every time the Halloween discussion comes up, we talk about Kasvot Växt. We honestly were worried we wouldn’t have the chops to pull it off or do justice to the sound, but when it came down to it, we just couldn’t resist any longer.”

The decision to go with an obscure album few have heard or even heard of appealed to the members of Phish. “We’ve paid tribute to so many legendary bands over the years, it felt right this time to do something that’s iconic to us but that most people won’t have heard of,” Gordon said as per the Phishbill. “And with these translations we’re really performing songs that have never been sung in English before.” Keyboardist Page McConnell added, “I love the mystery surrounding this whole thing. If those guys ever hear we did this I hope they’re excited because we absolutely intend it as a loving tribute.” As for what Phish fans can expect? “A weird, funky Norweigan dance album! Get out there and put your down on it!” exclaimed drummer Jon Fishman.

While the listings for the 10 tracks on the original í rokk were in a Scandinavian language, the titles appear in English in the Playbill. Phish called upon a Nordic linguist to translate the lyrics to English for tonight’s performance.

These songs do not really sound like a Norwegian prog rock band.  They do sound an awful lot like Phish (although with a more synthy vibe overall. The band has this part of their live show streaming on Spotify under the Kasvot Växt name.  And I’m ending the year by talking about each song.

This song continues in that darker, sleazier mode with the slinky bass and dirty keys.  The vocals are by Fish and he’s singing in a growly/Frank Zappa style.

Frozen in place (death don’t hurt very long)
Cast into space (death don’t hurt very long)
Transported too fast (death don’t hurt very long)
You know it don’t last (death don’t hurt very long)
Up from the ground (death don’t hurt very long)
Shaken by sound (death don’t hurt very long)
Descended from apes (death don’t hurt very long)
You’re just changin’ shapes (death don’t hurt very long)

At over 8 minutes, it’s one of the longest songs in the set and it totally rocks.  There’a lengthy, raw sounding solo and the song turns into a heavy jam.  It’s really good.

[READ: December 20, 2018] “Canon”

This story was written in 1926 and has been translated by Ryan C.K. Choi

This is a short piece.  It opens with a young man deciding to become a socialist and his father threatening to disinherit him.  But the young man persisted.  His studies suffered and his attendance at school became less frequent.  Eventually he dropped out and got a job.  Although he continued attending meetings .

After all, a world-wide socialist revolution was under way. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 8, 2018] Phish

I have never seen a band two nights in a row in the same place before (I have seen Tori Amos three times in four days but that was at different locations).  I knew that Phish always mixed up their sets so that two nights in the same place never contained the same songs.  This was a great way to hear even more different stuff.

Tonight’s show was very different for me though.  My daughter was in the 4H Fair play before the show (she was a wicked stepsister in Cinderella).  I certainly wanted to see that.  It was super fun, although pro-tip…she needs to exaggerate her on-stage behavior more.

I was afraid I’d be late for the show (4H traffic is shocking!), but traffic was light and I made it to Camden in okay  time.  I had to park over a mile away (and still pay $30).  It was a 15-minute brisk walk to the stadium during which time I was feeling kind of down about the whole event.  There were lots of drunk people and scalpers and hawkers and ugly sights abounded.  Plus it was hot and I was in a hurry and then I got to the gates and the line was huge.

I also knew that I was much later than the night before so I wouldn’t get a choice spot at the railing like the night before.

I bought a corn dog (yum) and walked up to the lawn.  I decided to purposely pick a different part of the lawn tonight (Page’s side).  And just as I climbed the stairs I saw Armando, my friend from the night before.  I was hoping to see him and was kicking myself for not coordinating with him.  But I love the serendipity of running into him like that.  He was talking to a woman who turned out to be his mom!  She lives closer to the venue than he does so he was staying with her for the night and he invited her along. She had been to many concerts with him (how cool is that) but had never seen Phish so she was excited for something new.  She was great to hang with.

He had a spot along the railing again and got ready for Night #2. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKPHISH-Live Phish Downloads 12.7.97 Nutter Center, Dayton, OH (2007).

This concert included five covers out of a total of nineteen songs.

The show opens with a fairly slow “AC/DC Bag,” but there’s a seamless segue into an excellent cover of Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer” (only the second time they’d played it).  There’s some spacey sounds in the jam which then segues nicely into ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” a groovy blues.  The whole thing ends in a jaunty bluegrass “My Minds Got a Mind of Its Own.”

I have to admit at this point I’m pretty bummed by the setlist.  The songs are all good and the jams are fun, but if I were at this show I’d want to some actual Phish songs, you know?  I know a lot of people love the covers, but that’s not what I’m here for.

They rectify this with a fun “It’s Ice.”  There’s a lengthy piano solo and then the song segues into two deep cuts from Billy Breathes–a one minute “Swept Away” and then a one minute “Steep”–before closing “It’s Ice.”

Up next is a 10 minute “Theme from the Bottom” with a long solo and great harmonies at the end.  Then the band plays a great funky “Tube,” a non-album track with some great 70s sounding keyboards from Page.  After a pause (apparently the lights went out).  You can hear them chatting a bit and then they pick up a 6 minute instrumental called “Dayton Jam” that plays with the themes from “Tube.”

The set closes with a 12 minute “Slave to the Traffic Light.” There’s a great solo from Trey followed by a mellow section before coming to a good solid end.

Usually there’s a few really lengthy jams in the second set, but this upcoming set is full of mid-length songs.

It opens with a jam-filled 9 minute “Timber” and then a 7 minute “Wolfman’s Brother.”  This segues into yet another cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” before settling into a fast-paced 14 minute “Reba,” the longest song of the night.  The solos in the song remind me a bit of Frank Zappa.  It’s really amazing how tight they are during these jams.

Before they begin the next song, you can hear Trey ask, “Guyute?” and they play a 10 minute jam with a really fun middle section.  The show ends with a 12 minute “Possum.”  So while there are no really super long jams, there are a number of pretty long jams.

The Encore is a great loose version of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.”  I love how they handle the end.  The classic chord progression that ends the song is done sort of like that but more just fun noisy chaos.

[READ: March 6, 2017] The Forbidden Stone

I really like Tony Abbott books. He has tackled many different stories and I’ve found that I haven’t been disappointed by anything he’s written.  This series, The Copernicus Legacy is in the vein of The 39 Clues, although there are plenty of differences.  But as an outline, the premise is the same–some kids (and an adult) are trying to save the world from bad guys by collecting a bunch of things that cannot fall into the wrong hands.

Whereas The 39 Clues divides the family into 4 warring clans, this series seems to be basically good guys and bad guys.  The good guys are inspired by Copernicus.  This works out well because the main family loves astronomy.

So the main family is Wade Kaplan and his father Roald Kaplan.  Wade follows in his father’s footsteps and loves the stars and science. Roald is re-married to Sara (who is on a business trip as the book opens).  Sara has a son named Darrell.  Darrell is hip and cool and plays guitar.  He is also always hungry (a trait that Abbott loves to have in at least one character, although I haven’t seen it as being very important yet–and it seems to fade as the book goes on). I assume that Roald is not Darrell’s father as well, but I got a little lost in the family tree.  The crux is that Wade and Darrell are stepbrothers–and they get along really well.  The rest of the crew includes Wade’s cousin Lily and her friend Becca.  Lily is a techie girl who is able to wield a smart phone like a librarian.  And then there’s Becca  who is, interesting. Wade has had a crush on Becca (who is super smart and can speak several languages because her parents traveled so much) for a long time.

Okay, so there’s five people.  How does the excitement start? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Vegas 96 (2007).

This show was recorded at the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 6, 1996.  The set also includes a DVD.

The show has a great amount of classic songs, a few big rarities, some cool covers and a whole lot of surprises.

Wilson has a really rocking beginning (everyone is going nuts during the can you still have any fun) until just before the “blap boom” part when it slows to a halt with about 20 seconds of squalling feedback.  Then they launch into an excellent non-jamming version of Frank Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia.”  It is followed by a fast romp through “Poor Heart”—one of the fastest I’ve heard.  It ends really noisily and then segues into a funky jam that’s mostly keyboard.  After 5 minutes it resolves into “2001,” which also ends noisily with scratchy guitars that segue into a very fast “Llama.”

This has been a simply rip-roaring show thus far.  And then they settle down for a 26-minute “You Enjoy Myself.”  The “Boy Man” section is very funky and the following jam stays funky with a lot of high-pitched bass soloing from Mike and a lot of percussion thrown in as well.  The song ends with a vocal jam but instead of doing weird sounds and screams, trey starts singing “doh doh doh donuts, I like donuts.”

I tend to think of “YEM” as set-enders (since that’s my experience with them), but this is still mid-set and they follow up with a synth and piano version of “Cars Trucks Buses” which seems like it’s going to morph into “Kung” but instead it becomes a loud, brash “Down with Disease.”  The set ends with a rocking “Frankenstein.”  I tend to thing they play this and “YEM” a lot because they seem to be on a ton of official live recordings.

Set 2 opens with a funky “Julius” (a song I always assume is a cover but which isn’t), and a nice version of “Sparkle” (with a super fast “laughing laughing” section at the end).  “Mike’s Song” runs about 10 minutes with a really noisy middle section and then segues into “Simple.”  There’s a lengthy piano section that turns into a rocking jam that goes on for quite a while (the whole song is over 18 minutes).  It winds down eventually and returns to a lot of piano.  It is followed by a noisy and raucous “Harry Hood” that feel really raw.  The song is 15 minutes and there’s a long solo before the “you can feel good” part.

Then comes a big, 11 minute “Weekapaug Groove.”  About midway through the jam the whole band stops dramatically and perfectly. They run through a bit again and stop perfectly again (except for an extra snare hit).  It’s amazing how tight they are.  The end grows very quiet as the band prepares for a quiet a capella “Sweet Adeline” (it’s so quiet all you hear is the crowd shushing everyone–this is the major downside to them doing these barbershop songs).  They come out of that with a set-ending, totally rocking cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times,” with Fish singing the “I know what it means to be alone” part.

The encore proves to be about 35 minutes long.  There are lots of guests and surprises.  And the band walks through a version of the “Harpua” story.  Ler and Les from Primus come out to start the song.  The chorus is done in half time—which is rather unsettling.  The story leads to Les singing Don Bowman’s “Wildwood Weed.”  I had assumed he made up but he obviously didn’t.  Then it’s back to “Harpua.”   In this version of the story, Jimmy walks to Vegas with his cat Poster Nutbag (Trey tells everyone to put all their money on 17).  As they get “closer to Vegas” they hear voices singing “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” (a song by Patsy Montana).  It is sung by the Yodeling Cowgirls.  (There’s some “Happy Trails” in there as well).  Then there’s more of the “Harpua” story and as they approach Las Vegas they see Four Elvises.  Which leads to a singoff of “Suspicious Minds.”  This contest was between four Elvis impersonators with Fish joining in at the end.  Unmentioned (as far as I can tell) are John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (on backing vocals) and actor Courtney Gains (on percussion). And then everyone launches into a wild “Suzy Greenberg” including the Elvises.  During the jam at the end, one of the Elvises turns the song into “Susie Q.”

This is one of my favorite shows.  The inclusion of the Primus guys and the crazy version of “Harpua” is just spectacular.  And by the end, everyone is having a great time.

[READ: April 1, 2017] “Las Gaviotas”

I enjoyed the way this story seemed really unsettled, just like its protagonist.

Finley is a in a relationship with Neil.  But she is currently hanging out at Brace’s apartment.  Brace is Neil’s old roommate.  Neil is in the other room with Brace’s girlfriend Alice.  They are all pretty drunk.

Brace is everything that Neil is not: he is big–not fat, just big–with a voice and presence to match.  And while Finley loves Neil–she keeps telling us that–there’s something about Brace (that name!) that she is drawn to.  She also hates Brace’s girlfriend Alice who has “otherworldly beauty.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto Ontario (August 11 1994).

This is a monster show.  Nearly three hours long!  I’ve said before that I’d love to have professional recordings of certain shows and this would absolutely be one of them. Most of the show sounds pretty good although near the end the audience starts talking a little too loud. But man, what a set list.

This is one of the last shows Dave Clark played before leaving the band. This show was on the same day Introducing Happiness was reviewed as a new release in Now Magazine. (See the review below right).  The Setlist was a carefully constructed chronologically arranged 36 song, 2-set night.

They open the showing by thanking everyone for coming out on short notice, whatever that means.  Dave says they had 35 songs on the list  (they play 36 in total).

The first four songs are from Greatest Hits
Higher & Higher, Crescent Moon, Canadian Dream (which hasn’t gotten much play in the available shows) and Ditch Pigs.  They joke about their older songs: because we play some older music sometimes, like now, we forget the words, right Tim?  They also thank “anybody who helped us last night to cut our live track and video of Claire.”

The next song is “Royal Albert (Joey II)” which never appeared on an album, formally, so who knows how old it actually is.

Then there are five from Melville  (+1 later on)

A slow “Saskatchewan” builds very big by the end with Dave taking some of the last verse.  Tim observes that it’s a rough start tonight, although it all sounds quite good.  “Chanson sans Ruelles” has a quiet middle with a brushed section on drums.  When the song is over, because it is sung in French, Clark chimes: Tim Vesely for Governor General.  Bidini agrees saying, “he is Ray Hnatyshyn of rock.”  Upon assigning the rest of the cabinet: Bidini would be minister of sport; Tielli would be Finance Minister (of course) and Clark would be Minister of National Resources he is a national resource unto himself.

They start “When Winter Comes” and then they state:   at this point in When Winter Comes we’d like to express individually what the review in Now Magazine meant to us (if you click on the image it seems to come out a little more clearly).  Each of the four sings something.  Bidini: “nothing sweet nothing.”  Clark recites to the rhythm of his drum beats: “you know, Dave, I really like the things that they say all day but I got to know so I can tell you.”  Giving up he says, I love that Sloan album they gave one N–it’s better than the last one it’s better it’s cooler… why be mean to such a good band?  Bidini chimes in: “So the reason our album sucked is because Dave Clark listened to Sloan too much, obviously.”  Martin kind of mumbles his response but it’s something along the lines of, “I guess it mad me sad but it’s just another thing for a shirt.”  Tim says 1) we have to work really hard to complete that hoser rock opera.  The other thing is that its my weekly paycheck … 120 bucks?”  The rest of the song sounds great.

Clark: the next song [“It”] is one of my favorites and we don’t play it enough.  It’s followed by a fairly slow version of “Record Body Count” that gets the crowd really riled up.

“Woodstuck” is also not on a record.  But it’s a great song which they introduce as an “ode to a friend of ours who was really really into the hippie culture.”  1994 is the 25th anniversary of Woodstock (and the Woodstock ’94 concert).  Dave says to someone “you got that at the original Woodstock at the Pizza Pizza kiosk. Woodstock ’94 is brought to you by Pizza Pizza and their new… herbal pizza.”   In the “intermission” of the song Bidini throws in the lyrics to “Blitzkrieg Bop” with the same melody as the main song.

Referencing something, Bidini says Dan Aykroyd walked by and he was really polite, he said “excuse me,” which is pretty nice.  Clark jokes, “Did you say Ghostbusters?”

Next there’s 8 from whale music (+2 songs later)

“Sickening Song” sounds great and bright.  Afterward Dave sees “Matthew” and says “You got engaged?  Cool, congratulations young lovers. It’s our second Green Sprouts anulmen….no engagement.”

“Who” sounds good but they have a little trouble with those last few thump thump notes.  Soul Glue adds a heavy rocking coda to it.

Dave starts “Queer” by chanting “We’re here, we’re queer, we will not go away.”  At the end, Dave recite sa poem that ends, “Acceptance, forgiveness, and love.” which he says is from Broadway Danny Rose.  They also throw in a verse from “Good Guys and Bad Guys” from Camper Van Beethoven.

During he first verse of “Self Serve Gas Station,” the tape gets a little wonky.  And Martin’s changes the line: “What went wrong with Martin?  Is he stoned?” Someone shouts “yeaahh” and there’s the retort: “how do you know?”

Martin plays the blistering riff to RDA a few times before they take off with the song.  And then it’s time for a short break.

Clark announces, “we’re back.  This song is called “You Shook Me All Night Long with a Shaved Head.”  “Shaved Head” is quite pretty and slow.  They introduce James Gray of Blue Rodeo on keyboards and Tim plays accordion for “What’s Going On?”

They play 2 from the Whale Music Soundtrack.  About “Song of Flight” Dave says, “we played that song in Kingston and a smallish college student did a bird dance in 7/8.”  And then for those who got a free single at the Bathurst Street Theater, they play “Torque, Torque.”

Then there’s 10 from Introducing Happiness (+1 song later).  They introduce “Claire” as “Wet Home Alabama.”  After Fan Letter to Michael Jackson, they say, “The king is dead long live Lisa Marie and Michael.  Congrats to Michael on his wedding… that’s three Green Sprouts weddings.”

After mentioning a convoy, Bidini asks Clark “What was your CB handle?”  “Fuzzy Wuzzy.  I played CB with my best friend–it was strictly platonic.”

As Earth/Monstrous Hummingbird opens, you can hear a lot more crowd noise.  Talk of “I’d like to hear that recording.”

After “Me and Stupid,” Dave says “I’m afraid that when we go to England and play in front of  packed house of 150 British screaming Moxy Fruvous fans and we get up there to play California Dreamline” this is all that’ll come out  (some crazy nonsense noises) and they’ll love us and we’ll be on the cover of all the music magazines and we’ll never be able to face anybody in Canada again.”  Clark disagrees: “bullshit don’t believe your own mythology.”

“The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos” is “about a great Canadian band.”  And “Artenings Full of Gold” is weirder than ever, the “digging a hole” section sounds very much like Zappa (with high-pitched laughing whoooos).

Really fast PROD after which Clark asks, “how’s it feel to be in Ontario after the legal drinking hour?”

In the beginning of “California Dreamline,”Martin messes up and has to start over.  And then they all mess up…hold on false start.  Someone jokes, “Sounded like the Stones alright.”  They resume mid-song.  Martin says, “Stop.  Fuck this song let’s move on.”

So they pick right up with “Horses.”  Its fast and powerful and at the end he chants: “help break the owners of Major League Baseball, boycott professional sports.”  Speaking of sports, “Might as well award the Montreal Expos works series champion right here and now, ok.”  Then Dave says, “to my friend Steve from Hamilton…that didn’t count the CFL in that boycott of professional sports, all teams except the Hamilton Tigers.”

Bidini continues, “You braved the cold and blizzard conditions… oh it’s August, sorry.  So our record came out Tuesday with general release in October when they’ll play the Bathurst Theater.  He gives a plea to “Help Canadians music dominate worldwide in the 1990s.”   Clark, “And don’t forget those condoms when they’re at the Commonwealth Games.”

They come back for an encore with “Row.”  It’s sweet and quiet—not a really exciting encore, honestly.  But it’s followed by a romping “Legal Age Life,” which gets everyone really moving.

Such a great show.  It’s shows like this that make me wish that a) I knew about the band back then and b) I had actually seen them live.

[READ: June 5, 2017] Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest

This short story is a brief description of an older woman’s life.  Not a lot happens in terms of plot, but it is a wonderful story full of detail and character with a satisfying ending.

Marie is a maid at a motel.  She has worked there for nearly 30 years.  She is Catholic and goes to confession often.  But “she was more flexibly Catholic than strictly Catholic, so she did believe in birth control.”  The condoms she found stopped bothering her because safe sex was better than abortion.

Over the years she had seen the drug users go from needles to pipes to meth and now back to needles.

She also learned to be clinical about the messes she cleaned up: feces and urine to made it sound like she was helping people rather than dealing with the worst of them. (more…)

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6616 SOUNDTRACK: CHUCK BROWN-Tiny Desk Concert #217 (May 16, 2012).

chuckI’m puzzled by a few things with this Tiny Desk Concert.  The first is a note that This story originally ran on Sept. 28, 2010.  The second is the note that Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go music, died Wednesday. In 2010, he brought his full band to the NPR Music office — and put on a party like no one else.

That isn’t confusing in itself, but I have to wonder why it took them two years to air this concert, which is quite a fun rave up.  Are there other shows they didn’t air?

Okay, so I had no idea who Chuck Brown was.  And the blurb anticipated that

The name Chuck Brown might not mean a whole lot to people outside the Washington, D.C., area. … In D.C., Brown is widely known, even revered, as the Godfather of Go-Go, a title he’s held since the late ’70s. Though he started out as a jazz guitarist, Brown invented go-go, a style that incorporates funk, jazz, R&B, hip-hop and dancehall, and has mostly stuck with it ever since.

So, Go-Go, huh?  I never heard of that either.

No one in D.C. can really explain why go-go hasn’t traveled beyond the city’s environs — we love it here, it’s all over our commercial R&B and hip-hop radio stations and, at least when I was in high school, a go-go in a school’s gym was the most packed party of the weekend. Chuck Brown is a local hero. A few days after he played our offices, Brown and his whole band played at the Redskins’ stadium for the halftime show.  So to have Brown play a corner of our office — not a 90,000-capacity football stadium — was like a dream come true for a lot of NPR staffers. Sweat started pouring immediately, between the 11 musicians (that’s congas and a stripped-down kit; saxophone, trumpet and trombone; two backup singers and a rapper) and all the go-go-heads in our building.

Brown played four songs for about 25 minutes.

Go-go is mostly about the groove, though, and Chuck Brown just settles in and leans back. He showed up looking like a million bucks in a vest, Dior shades and his signature hat, and then he did what he does best — get the crowd on his side and hand its members something to dance to.

Go-go is based on a syncopated beat and the use of congas in addition to drums.  So “Senorita” is like a combination of reggae salsa and 50s singing (I can’t help but think he sounds like Frank Zappa when Zappa does his rather funny voice).  The song is slow but smoldering and fun to sing along to.  There’s a Santana guitar vibe too.

“Chuck Baby” is the hip hop element of his music.  His rapper is not very inspiring though.  She seems a little stiff.  And the song is a little flat when he’s doing the call and response–he sounds cool and seductive and they sound more bored than “naughty.”

Before the third song everyone starts chanting “wind me up chuck!” which he lets everyone know www.windmeupchuck.com is his website. “Wind Me Up!” / “Bustin’ Loose” starts with lots of call and response.  “Bustin’ Loose,” is a funky song with very James Brown accents and everyone singing the refrain: “Gimmethebridgenow, gimmethebridgenow.”  The song has been a hit in D.C. since 1979.  The backing vocalist on this song feels a bit looser (apparent as she sings “I feel like bustin’ loose).

The crowd was yelling out requests, too: “Chuck Baby” and “Run Joe,” a go-go cover of the Louis Jordan song.  “Run Joe” / “It Don’t Mean A Thing.”  “Run Joe” has a Jamaican flair “Policeman is on the premises.  What is he doin’ here?”  His guitar playing is really inspired throughout the set, but especially at the end of this song.   He does a lot of playing the same melody as he sings.  The song segues into a version of “It Don’t Mean a Thing” in which he slips in “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that go-go swing.”

This set was really a party.  And Brown was just full of energy.

[READ: January 12, 2017] “Surrendering”

The June 6 & 13, 2016 issue of the New Yorker was the Fiction Issue.  It also contained five one page reflections about “Childhood Reading.” 

This reflection beings with Vuong explaining that his family moved to the U.S. from Vietnam when he was two.  He was an ESL student from a family of illiterate rice farmers who saw reading as snobby.

When he entered kindergarten, he found himself immersed in a new language.  He quickly became fluent in speech but not in the written word.  In fourth grade his class was given an assignment to write a poem in honor of National Poetry Month.  Normally his poor writing skills would mean that he was excused from such assignments.  He would spend time copying sentences out of books in the classroom.  But this time he decided to be ambitious and write a poem. (more…)

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zweigSOUNDTRACK: TERENCE BLANCHARD FEAT. THE E-COLLECTIVE-Tiny Desk Concert #460 (August 5, 2014).

blnachAfter a few quiet Tiny Desk Concerts, it was fun to get something big and bouncy.  I don’t know Blanchard, but I really enjoyed his band set up.  Blanchard plays trumpet, and with the E-Collective, he’s got a guitarist, bassist, pianist and drummer.

In the first song “Soldiers”, I was sort of amused because when Charles Altura (a guitarist he met online) plays his 2 minute guitar solo, Blanchard isn’t doing anything.  It was  funny way to start the concert with the main guy doing nothing.  But Altura has a great sound–jazzy and interesting with a flair not unlike Frank Zappa.  It continues with a lengthy solo from Blanchard.  I like the jagged edges of this song–the funky bass and the angular rhythms.  It’s about 8 minutes long and it’s fun to watch Blanchard just digging the music when he’s not actually playing.

“Confident Selflessness” begins with a cool drum setup by Englishman Chris Bailey.  Over the great beat, Donald Ramsey, (Blanchard’s high-school classmate) lays down a great funky bass line.  And then it’s a wild solo from pianist Fabian Almazan.  I love the way the song switches back to that angular/funky sound during the refrains.  Blanchard seems to be playing the trumpet with some kind of effect on it during the first part–or he’s playing very quietly.  But later, he gets a good solo in.  Bailey also plays some wild drums fills while the rest of the band repeats the staccato motif.  This song is also about 8 minutes long.

He introduces the final song, “Breathless” by saying that there is typically a spoken word section, but he’s not going to do that.  The title references the police brutality and the dying words “I Can’t Breathe.”  This song is much more mellow, with a lengthy piano solo.  There’s a soaring, uplifting trumpet solo in the middle of the song (which is about 10 minutes long in total).  It’s a really pretty song, although I do prefer the more lively bouncy tracks.

As I was saying after the last two, quieter Tiny Desks, it’s fun to hear the audience whoop it up so much.  And Blanchard even plays a jokey riff at the end.

[READ: May 15, 2015] The Last Days of Stefan Zweig

This is one of those interesting books that I find at work whose pedigree takes some time to unravel.  This is a graphic novel.  It is based on the novel by Laurent Seksik called  “Les Dernier Jours de Stefan Zweig” (2010) which was released in English as “The Last Days.”  This graphic novel was illustrated by Guillaume Sorel and translated by Joel Anderson.

I didn’t know who Stefan Zweig was when I read this book (more shame on me, i suppose).  Zweig was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer.  According to Wikipedia, in the 1920s and 1930s he was one of the most popular writers in the world.

When Hitler came to power, Zweig left Austria for London (where he was considered an enemy because he was German). He was Jewish, although in an interview he said “My mother and father were Jewish only through accident of birth.”  Yet he did not renounce his Jewish faith and wrote repeatedly on Jews and Jewish themes.

He traveled with his second wife Lotte to Petrópolis, a German-colonized mountain town 68 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro known for historical reasons as Brazil’s Imperial city.  And this is where the story actually begins. (more…)

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greatestSOUNDTRACK: PINK FLOYD-“The Hard Way” and “Wine Glasses” (1974).

glassThis book informed me about these two unreleased Pink Floyd songs (there’s a Wikipedia site that lists some fifty more !).  While the were unreleased in 1974 (from the abandoned Household Objects album), they were eventually released in 2011 on expanded versions of albums.

“The Hard Way” features some “percussion” that sounds like someone taking steps.  There’s a bass riff which I gather is from rubber bands (but very well tuned).  There’s clocks ticking and chiming and tape being unspooled.  It’s a neat idea and while it is absurd to think you could make a whole album with this kind of stuff (in 1974), it’s a surprisingly good sounding track.

“Wine Glasses” was apparently made with wine glasses.  It is all of 2 minutes long.  It was designed to be a full song but was eventually used in the introduction to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.”  I never really considered that there were wine glasses making the sounds (and clearly there are synths added on top), but yeah, so that ‘s kinda neat.

[READ: November 25, 2014] The Greatest Albums You’ll Never Hear

I found this book at work and knew I had to read it.  I was actually surprised at how long it took me to read (there’s a lot of entries).

The title and subtitle pretty much say everything you need to know about this book (and if you need to read it or not).  This book collects a series of writers who give a brief history of some of the more famous (and some not so famous) albums that were never released.  It explains (as best they can) why the albums weren’t released and even gives a percentage chance of likelihood of the album ever seeing the light of day (interestingly, most seem to be a 3/10–they may have been able to use a 5 point scale).

I knew some of the records they talked about (The Beach Boys’ Smile, Neil Young’s Chrome Dreams), but was ignorant of quite a lot of them. And while big fans of the artists may know all of the details about their favorite lost album already (these are sketches, not exhaustive research), there will certainly be some new information.  For instance, I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan but had no idea about the two shelved works mentioned here.

I liked the way the book was done chronologically and grouped by decade.  It was also interesting to see how the “reasons” for the non-release morphed over the decades from “the record label didn’t like it” to “it was leaked online.”

The one major gripe I have with the book is that it is chock full of “imagined” album covers.  This in itself is okay, but it is not made explicitly clear that they are all imagined (credits are given at the bottom of each image, but it took me a few entries to realize these were just people’s ideas of what the covers could look like).  And most of them are gawdawful.  Just really lame and dull (as if they had 20 minutes to come up with an idea).  They mar an otherwise cool collection,especially since some of the unreleased records actually do have proposed covers (even if they were never released).  I see that there is in fact a paragraph about the covers in the front pages of the book, but it is almost hidden away.

In addition to the albums I’ve listed below, I learned some fascinating things.  That Bruce Springsteen has hundreds of songs that he wrote but never released for various reasons.  That Pink Floyd did try to make an album out of household objects (with no instruments).  That the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks was almost simultaneously released illicitly as Spunk.  And that Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album was recently remastered.

The end of the book includes two small sections: other favorites that were never released.  Not sure why they earned only a small column instead of a full entry, but that’s okay.  The second was albums that we eventually did see, like My Bloody Valentine’s MBV and Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy.

So if you ever wondered what happened to that long lost album, this may be the book for you.

A sampling of the unreleased records include:

  • The Beach Boys-Smile
  • Buffalo Springfield-Stampede
  • The Kinks-Four Respected Gentlemen
  • The Beatles-Get Back
  • Jeff Beck-The Motown Album
  • Jimi Hendrix-Black Gold
  • The Who-Lifehouse
  • Wicked Lester
  • Rolling Stones-American Tour ’72
  • CSN&Y-Human Highway
  • Pink Floyd-Household Objects (1974), Spare Brick 1982
  • Dusty Springfield-Longing
  • David Bowie-The Gouster (1975), Toy (2001)
  • Sex Pistols-Spunk
  • Neil Young -Homegrown (1975), Chrome Dreams (1976)
  • Frank Zappa-Läther
  • Beastie Boys-Country Mike’s Greatest Hits
  • Weezer-Songs from the Black Hole
  • Jeff Buckley-My Sweeetheart the Drunk
  • Van Halen-IV
  • Foo Fighters-The Million Dollar Demos
  • Green Day-Cigarettes and Valentines (the author doesn’t believe it was actually stolen)
  • Tapeworm (Trent Reznor and Maynard James Keenan among others)
  • Deftones-Eros
  • U2-Songs of Ascent
  • Beck-The Song Reader

 

 

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