Archive for the ‘Henry Rollins’ Category

929SOUNDTRACK: LES CLAYPOOL AND THE HOLY MACKEREL presents High Ball with the Devil (1996).

holy After making Tales from the Punch Bowl, Primus took a brief hiatus (again).  And in that time, Les made a solo album.  And it is a full solo album.  Les plays all of the instruments on the album.  There are some guests, especially on “Holy Mackerel” (the song that feels the most like a full song.  Mirv from Limbomaniacs plays on a few songs and Jay Lane plays drums on a few songs.  Joe Gore plays guitar on 2 songs and Charlie Hunter plays guitar on “Me and Chuck.”  Les is a decent player on the various instruments although the songs with the guests are more robust.

Les said he had a bunch of songs that he felt weren’t quite right for Primus.  And I can see what he means.  Because, while the voice and bass is unmistakably Primus the album doesn’t sound like Primus.

Having said that, “Running the Gauntlet” does sound like a ditty (1:36) that Primus might play between longer songs.  “Holy Mackerel” feels like it could be a Primus song, but not exactly–there’s something slightly different about it.

But really once you get to “Highball with the Devil” the disc takes on more of a solo feel with Les playing in different but established styles–things that just wouldn’t really work within Primus.  “Highball with the Devil” has a fun bass riff and simple guitars.  I really like it and you can see why he didn’t give it to Primus.  “Hendershot” is a kind of surf rock song (Mirv on guitar).  It’s really fun  “Calling Kyle” has some good music to it, but I don’t really like the vocal delivery.

“Rancor” is a faster song (only 1:22) with Les’ crazy vocals.  “Cohibas Esplenditos” features the electric bowed backsaw (from Mirv) and a cool guitar and bass riff.  “Delicate Tendrils” has a very heavy guitar sound and a simple bass riff.  It is the backing sound for a Henry Rollins story.  Rollins is recorded low in the mix, which makes his story sound more like mumbling and is therefore less effective.  The fact that it is the dark and violent Rollins, not the funny Rollins makes it seem too dark for Les, even if the music works for it.

“The Wakening” features Jay Lane on drums and is a simple slap bass funk song.  “Precipitation” and “George E. Porge” are both solid songs.  “El Sobrante Fortnight” is a fun story song with a good funk bass and Mirv’s cool guitars.  The disc ends with “Carolina Rig” which features Les playing one of his interesting riffs over a sample from a fishing show.

Despite the fact that the album cover makes it look like an entirely homemade (and done cheaply) affair, the quality of the recording and of the songs is quite high.  It’s a good way to see what else Les can do.

[READ: January 12, 2015] “Rosendale”

I had read a few things from La Farge before.  And in looking at my post about “Another Life” from 2012 I see that April P (the main character in this story) was a bartender in the previous story.

April P returns in this story as the main character–a girl who had worked as a bartender but has moved to Rosendale to get away from the busy life of Boston and to settle in as April P, writer. She is living with a woman named Dara.  Dara is a potter and, unhappily for April P, she is a very handsy (April P. is convinced that Dara wants her).

April has been writing a novel called The Bar Girl, but since she has moved to Rosendale, she can’t seem to focus on it.  Dara had invited her to work at the ceramics store, but she said no way.  Rather, she began working at a strip joint (her only friend, Jenny, works there and said it was easy money–and it is–it’s like moving around with no clothes on).  Dara greatly disapproves of course.

I loved the way the story was constructed.  After the first section (in which we learned all of the above) the next section begins: “But this is all background information.  The actual story of Rosendale begins on a rainy Monday evening in March.” (more…)

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hhftSOUNDTRACK: G.L.O.B.E. & WHIZ KID-“Play that Beat Mr DJ” (Double Dee & Steinski Payoff Mix) (1985).

doubledeeThe original of this song (1983) was simply the drums and simple keyboard riff.  The “Payoff Mix” done by Double Dee & Steinski added the incredibly dense layer of samples that really make this song interesting (actually the samples are more interesting than the rap).

The samples included:

  • Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five
  • Play It Sam…Play “As Time Goes By” (Avalon/As Time Goes By) by Humphrey Bogart (dialogue spoken from the movie Casablanca)
  • That’s the joint – Funky Four Plus One
  • Take the Country to N.Y. City by Hamilton Bohannon
  • Don’t Make Me Wait (Acapella) by Peech Boys
  • Stop! In The Name Of Love by Diana Ross and the Supremes
  • Rockit by Herbie Hancock
  • Situation 12″ by Yazoo
  • Starski Live at the Disco Fever by Lovebug Starski
  • World’s Famous, Hobo Scratch, D’Ya Like Scratchin’ and Buffalo Gals by Malcolm McLaren
  • Apache by Incredible Bongo Band
  • Tutti Frutti by Little Richard
  • Last Night A DJ Saved My Life by Indeep
  • I’ll Tumble 4 Ya by Culture Club
  • Speech by Fiorello La Guardia from Reading the Comics – July,1945

Double Dee & Steinski went on to make some other great mashups (and these sound amazing since they were done circa 1985).  I particularly like Lesson 3.

Here’s the one that made them famous:

[READ: November 23, 2014] Hip Hop Family Tree 2

This volume picks up right where the previous one left off in 1981.

First we meet Doug E. Fresh who, devoid of records, starts the trend of beatboxing.  We also see The Sugarhill Gang doing a rap over the song “Apache” (while dressed like Native Americans).

The book bounces back to California (Oakland this time) where we meet Too Short, a great high school rapper who is interested in making money from his skills.  We also see a young Ice-T doing his gangland thing

Then it jumps back to Rick Rubin whose love of punk and metal (these goings on are happening at the same time as Black Flag is trying out a young Henry Rollins, and Bad Brains are in high gear–and often times the crowds mix amiably) fuses with his love of rap.  he really wants to be able to capture the rawness of the live sounds of both types of music onto a record (enter the Beastie Boys).  And, strangely enough (although perhaps it should be expected), Malcolm McDowell enters the picture.  We also see Fab Five Freddy making “Change the Beat” which includes a since-very-heavily sampled “Freshhhhh” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK:  DINOSAUR JR and HENRY ROLLINS-Live on KEXP, December 27, 2011 (2011). 

Back in 2011, Dinosaur Jr did several shows in which they played their Bug album in its entirety.  They also brought Henry Rollins along.  Not as an opening act–he rightly suggests that rock audiences wouldn’t want to hear him talk for 45 minutes, but as an interviewer.  Before each set he asks the band a few questions that a long-time fans might want to know.

In this concert spot he asks some questions as well, although none are all that interesting (I assume he saved the good ones for the paying audience).  But that’s neither here nor there because what we care about is the reunited Dino playing songs.  And they sound great!

It’s a four song set: “Little Fury Things” an absolute scorcher of a version of “Yeah We Know.”  And great version of “Freak Scene” and (a surprise for me) their cover of “Just Like Heaven” (which I think of as a novelty but which still sounds great).  I love that it still ends with the roared “YOU!!!”

The band sounds great–the guitar is loud and overwhelming -Murph and Barlow sound great too.  And Mascis’ voice sounds exactly the same–which is a good thing.  It’s hard to believe they were separated for so long.   This set is totally worth hearing.

[READ: October 16, 2012] “Jack and the Mad Dog”

This is a strange story in which the protagonist is “Jack, that Jack, the giant-killer of the bean tree.”  This story works to update the Jack story now that many years have passed and Jack is older, less mythical.

It begins with Jack waiting for a farmer to fall asleep so he can have sex with the farmer’s wife (for $4).  Then we see that Jack had drunk some moonshine on the way there (he is drunk for the first time).  He waits and waits for the farmer to leave, but the farmer is on to him and tells him to go home.

Frustrated, Jack leaves only to run into the Mad Dog.  The Mad Dog is sent to bite Jack and give him rabies–in other words, the fairy tale is over.  But Jack has a few resources left and he evades the dog’s bite.  As he flees, with the dog in hot pursuit, Jack sees a number of maidens and he runs with them until they catch him checking out their asses.  They turn tables on him and ask him to defend his past of lechery and debauchery. (more…)

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You’ve got to have balls to cover the most popular album of all time.  Everyone knows Dark Side of the Moon, according to Billboard charts everyone probably owns a copy of Dark Side of the Moon.  So, you’re taking on a pretty big task here.  But the Flaming Lips aren’t called The Fearless Freaks for nothing.

What delights me about this album is that it is utterly unfaithful to the original.  There’s nothing worse than a cover song that just apes the original version.  With that in mind, the Lips have put their bizarro stamp on the classic album, oftentimes rendering the songs almost unrecognizable–but more on that in a moment.

The two guest stars on the disc are Henry Rollins and Peaches.  Rollins recites all the spoken word bits from the original.  He actually makes a lot of those weird ramblings clear for me for the firs time.  The originals were spoken by a (presumably) high Englishman.  Rollins’ delivery is much more abrasive (but then so is the music).  It works pretty well, especially since Rollins’ laugh is maniacal, although if he sounded a bit more drunken I think it would work even better.  Peaches sings a few of the female vocal bits.  I’ve never been much of a fan of hers but, man, she does an awesome job in covering “The Great Gig in the Sky,” the track from the disc that features a wondrous diva singing and screaming her heart out.  Peaches really lets loose and showcases the power of her voice.

The Lips play on 7 songs and StarDeath play on 6.  They work together on 2 tracks.

StarDeath is fronted by Wayne Coyne’s nephew, Dennis.  I’d only heard one track from them before, and I liked it.  Dennis’ voice is a higher register, like Wayne, but he’s also a bit more subtle. Musically they are less noisy as well, and it’s a good counterpoint to the static of the Lips’ tracks.

So the opener, “Breathe” (Lips) is distinct right away, because the main focus of this version is a loud throbbing bassline. “On the Run” (Stardeath) is completely indistinguishable from the original.  You would never suspect it was a cover.  It’s a bass-propelled, very cool song, but there’s almost no similarity.

“Money” (Lips) stays fairly faithful to the original, except that the vocals are totally auto-tuned.  It makes the song sound really alien, as if coming, yes, from the other side of the moon.

“Time” (Stardeath) on the other hand, is a very delicate, acoustic track, (sounding somewhat like Mercury Rev, actually).  It is something of a counter to the rocking version on the original.

“Us and Them” (Lips) is probably the closest sounding to the original.  It has simple washes of sound and Wayne’s delicate voice.  But, once again, the louder sections of this song are left out.  “Any Colour You Like” (Stardeath) is a much closer instrumental to the original than “On the Run” was.  And “Brain Damage” (Stardeath) is really quite spot on (and may be even creepier than the original).

The ender, “Eclipse” is like a distorted indie rock version of the original.  It works pretty well.

There’s surprisingly little in the way of sound effects (which are all over the original).  I’d have thought they’d populate the disc with all kinds of fun things, but no, they actually play it pretty straight.

My one real complaint about the disc (and actually about Embryonic as well).  The Lips have always pushed the envelope of music.  But lately, they seem to be redlining  a lot of their sounds, making them distort and crackle.  Now, I love distortion when it’s used well, but this “too loud” distortion actually hurts my ears, even if the volume is low.  I find the sound to be unpleasant, and not in a good way.  And I think it’s a shame because the Lips write such great music, that I hate to have it obscured by clouds of noise.

So, yeah, this will never replace the original for anyone.  But it’s a fun experiment and actually sounds a bit like a rough demo for the final release.  In fact, in many ways it sounds like it’s coming from outer space and may be conceptually more accurate for the title.

I saw The Lips and Star Death on Jimmy Fallon.  They played “Breathe” and all eight (or more) guys were on stage.  It was a big wonderful mess.  And they sounded really good together.

[READ: May 11, 2010] ; or The Whale

In 2007, a book was published called Moby Dick in Half the Time.  And, as the title implies, it took Herman Melville’s Moby Dick; or The Whale and truncated it.  The editors basically kept in all of the “plot” and excised most of the “wandering” parts of the story.

So, in 2009, Damion Searls decided to print all of the excised material as a book itself.  This exercise was published in The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 2009 | Vol. XXIX.  So, this “book” is Moby Dick without the “plot” or as the introduction puts it, “all Moby, no Dick.”

This book includes “every chapter, sentence, word, and punctuation mark that Anonymous removed to produce [Moby Dick in Half the Time]” (10).

And so what we get is a very surreal story indeed.  It comes across as a fascinating look into the mind of the (in this version) not named until Chapter 11 or so narrator (since we’ve obviously lost “Call me Ishmael”).  It also comes across in many sections as bizarre poetry.

; or the Whale’s opening line is:

“methodically.” (31). (more…)

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