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Archive for the ‘King Crimson’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TOM JONES-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #220 (June 7, 2021).

Tom Jones does not look as sexy as he once did (he was 81 on June 7), but wow his voice is as powerful as ever.

It’s a poignant moment in the life of a singer whose career spans 56 years and more than 100 million records sold; the passing of his wife, Linda, in 2016 after 59 years of marriage was devastating and resulted in the longest break between recordings of his career. But now Tom Jones is back with a new album, Surrounded By Time, and ready to share his deepest feelings, channeling songs by others with a voice still rich and muscular.

Jones may be 81, but you can see the generations of musicians who want to play with him here.  Stephanie Ward (with a great organ sound) could be his granddaughter and I’ve seen drummer Jeremy Stacey play with King Crimson!

The songs on the album (and for this Tiny Desk) deal so eloquently with time and aging. Tom Jones sings Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup Of Coffee” and going “down to the valley below.”

“One More Cup of Coffee” opens with some slow upright bass  and gentle drums.  I love Ward’s organ sound on this track.  Spare but perfect.

Then, he takes on Malvina Reynolds’ folk tune “There’s No Hole In My Head” and turns it into a fierce statement about being yourself.

For “There’s No Hole In My Head” Ethan Johns gets a surprisingly Indian (sitar?) sound out of his guitar.  Nick Pini switches to electric bass and Jeremy adds percussive sounds to his drums.  Tom really belts out the song.

He ends the set with “I’m Getting Old” a slow, sad ballad.  Ward plays piano and Jones sings these words.

When Tom Jones was 33, and after one of his infamous shows in Las Vegas, jazz composer Bobby Cole presented him with the song “I’m Growing Old.” With lyrics including “I’m growing dimmer in the eyes / I’m growing fainter in my talk / I’m growing deeper in my sighs / I’m growing slower in my walk.” Tom Jones didn’t feel old enough to do it justice, but he held on to it. His performance here brought me to tears and is well worth the wait.

I love to think of Jones as a young stud belting out songs.  Hearing him singing about being old is pretty intense.

[READ: July 1, 2021] “Dream Fragment”

This month’s issue of The Walrus is the Summer Reading issue and features three pieces of fiction  and three poems.

The second piece is a poem. It is about the winter, which is a little odd for a summer reading issue.

An unnamed woman was seen at her door speaking to each of the seasons.  She had a clear preference for winter.

The weather was jealous and would see what it could make of her face. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: VOIVOD plays Nothingface (streamed May 31, 2021).

When I saw Voivod a few years ago, I was delighted with how good they sounded.  I only wished they’d played a few more songs from my favorite album of theirs, Nothingface.

Well, here it is, mid lockdown and the Voivod guys have answered my request.  They are going to play the entire Nothingface album live.

Over two days in May they recorded the entire album live–an album that all four of them had to learn all over again.  Some songs they had never played live.  And, of course two of the guys were not in the ban when Nothingface came out.   Indeed, bassist Rocky was only 15 and guitarist Chewy was only 13 when the album was released.  [It’s not that weird, singer Snake was about 25 at the time].

It could have been a disaster (but they wouldn’t have aired it, I’m sure).  But if you’re going to replace a unique composer like Piggy, who better to use than the kid who has been a fan of Piggy since he was 13?  Chewy gets Piggy and has even written tab books for all of Voivod’s albums–showing all of the complex and bizarre stuff that Piggy created.  Rocky actually acknowledged Chewy’s books as what helped him to learn the songs (even though he played the album every day for a year when it came out).

They did not play this in front of people.  Rather, they played in a studio.  But director Catherine Deslauriers designed the studio to project images behind the band as they played. It doesn’t feel quite like a Voivod show since they interact with the audience so much, but it feels very live.

From the opening chord of “The Unknown Knows,” this show was amazing.  The sound was fantastic–I was especially impressed with how great the drums sounded.  I don’t think I ever realized what a beast Away was on the kit.  Rocky’s bass sounded awesome and Chewy’s guitar parts were spot on.  Snake’s vocals sound pretty good too considering he’s thirty years older.  His voice is unique in metal–that thick accent and slight growl–and it’s all in place.  When Chewy hit that screaming bent note and the song paused then jumped into the next part, it was magical.  And when Chewy played those crazy chords in the section after it I knew the whole thing would be great.  Oh, and Rocky’s bass sound during the end part was perfect.

The only thing was that they didn’t play the coda to the song, but really, that’s quite alright.  They had to move on to “Nothingface.”  The jump from the angular sharp parts to the catchy “lapse of time/syncho-freeze” is just so good.  An I really enjoyed watched Snake sing the “Cold cold choke cold” part.

Before “Astronomy Domine, there was a brief interview with Snake.  He talks about how he didn’t want to do a cover, especially someone as big a Pink Floyd.  He also jokes about how hard it was to learn the harmonies–it was like Spinal Tap. But Piggy knew what he was doing.

And the harmonies with the new guys sound perfect.  They had been playing this on the tour that I saw them, but my show was a little shorter because it was three bands so they didn’t play it.

It segues perfectly in the opening bass notes of “Missing Sequence.”  It’s a cool slow moody intro before snake shouts NOW!  The harmonies on this song are so good and the way it jumps from this chugging heavy part to the staccato “down down, far underground” is tremendous.  Away’s alternating double bass is a great component.  There’s another great place for Rocky’s bass to sound fantastic.

Rocky speaks before “X-Ray Mirror.”  He speaks only in French and talks about seeing the Nothingface tour when he was 15 and just loving it.  He even took a promotional poster and had Snake sign it years later when they met.

I love the jazzy riff in the middle of the song and the thrashing double bass drum–Away’s drumming is just outstanding in this song.  Followed by the resolutely King Crimson chords  and the great fast thrashing section with the funky bass line and the wild solo

“Inner Combustion” has a striking ascending guitar riff that leads to the heavier section of the song. The distinctive snare blasts between each verse is such a distinctive aspect.

Chewy interviews before “Pre-Ignition” and he talks about how the album was the soundtrack to his teenage years.  He was 13 for this, his first show.  He was shorter than everyone but pushed forward and stood by the speakers until he got pushed back by the mosh pit.  he also mentions a launch party that aired on Solidrock.

Chewy studied contemporary composers in a course.  He was listening to a song and said “woah Stravinsky stole something from Voivod.”  Strange chords and time changes.  There’s even middle eastern harmonic minors.   Those orchestral guitar parts are so cool and very dramatic.  There’s really harsh chords and Away going nuts on the drums.   I always like the vaguely Middle Eastern part “ground and rock and sand come crumbling tumbling down.”

Away introduces “Into My Hypercube.”  He says whenever we go on tour I like to buy scientific magazines to read on the road.  In the 80s it was Omni and Discover.  He came upon an article about scientists representing visually a cube in 9 dimensions.  He and Snake had a chat trying to imagine living in a hypercube in a 9 dimensional building and he wrote these lyrics.

Away says that this song reminds him of “Remember Tomorrow” from Iron Maiden–his favorite metal album.

You can hear that in the slow echoing bass opening.   I love the way it goes angular and harsh and segues perfectly into the more catchy mosh part followed by a really heavy pounding section before a ripping guitar solo.  And once again Rocky’s great bass sound ends the song.

The show ends with “Sub-Effect” a song that builds dramatically into a pounding bridge and has a complicated riff that jumps into the “too late for SOS” funky bass and unusual guitar melody.  The show fades to black on yet another of Piggy’s bizarre but wonderful chords.

In a couple of weeks they are playing all of Dimension Hatross, and album I don’t know as well.  Bu I have time to learn it.

[READ: May 30, 2021] Redfork

I had just read a couple of violent and bloody graphic novels when I picked up this one.  The cover alone is pretty gruesome.  And I thought, what is it with stories that need to be so gory?  I don’t have an answer for that.

Then the story opens on a couple of hicks trying to steal drugs from the doctor’s office.  I have little time for stories of meth addicts, so that combined with the gore, meant that this story had a long way to go to engage me.

And yet it did.

Because it went places I never would have expected.

When the two boys were stealing drugs, the doctor walked in on them and one of the boys got scared and killed him.  The story jumps to six years later when Noah is getting out of prison.  He is huge–been working out the whole time, clearly.  His best friend D-Ray is there to pick him up.

I don’t know who storyboarded this book.  Maybe it artist Nil Vendrell, but he did some really cool things.  I love on one of the early pages as they are driving back home, the car stays in the middle of the frame but the scenes change around it and in the white borders there’s random townsfolk–showing everything Noah sees.  It’s very effective.

As is a later page that runs clockwise–counter to all graphic novel reading.  But it’s done with such a great purpose and effectively conveys a moment of two people at a distance from each other. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: April 1, 2020] Stick Men [rescheduled from August 5, 2020; moved to April 28, 2022]

indexSellersville Theater has been experimenting with limited seating at some shows.  But they decided to postpone this one.  I’m assuming if it’s a “real” band as opposed to a cover band, they’d want as much capacity as possible.  Regardless of when this gets scheduled, I can’t wait to see these guys up close.

Back in June, as larger shows were getting postponed into August and September, I held out hope that August might allow for some smaller shows like this one.

I had never heard of Stick Men until after a King Crimson show when I heard some fans talking about how amazing Stick Men are.

The band is a trio of Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter.  Levin and Mastelotto play in Crimson (stick and drums respectively) and Markus Reuter plays his eight string touch guitar covering much more ground than a guitar or a bass.  Mastelotto’s drumming encompasses not just the acoustic kit, but a unique electronic setup too, allowing him to add loops, samples, percussion, and more.

To be able to see these musicians up close (without all the distractions of the amazement of a King Crimson concert) would be so cool.  Stick Men play once in awhile, although the last few times they’ve been around I couldn’t make it.

Rescheduled to April is a good thing, although I wish they were somewhere closer than Sellersville.

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[POSTPONED: December 22, 2020] KT Tunstall / Dina Hall [rescheduled from May 5th and June 28th]

index

It seemed like the third time would be the charm for this show at Sellersville.  Especially pushing it all the way back to December.

Well, KT Tunstall is going to play this venue some day.  And maybe by then I’ll be ready to see her.

Interestingly, she is playing two other venues locally and each one has a different opening act, so perhaps your choice of venue wil depend on who is opening.

I had forgotten about KT Tunstall. I had her first record and then didn’t realize that she had had a couple of other (big) hits since “Suddenly I See.”

I wasn’t going to go to this, but her name has been popping up all over the place.  And the more I see her listed, the more I’ve thought about going.  This was definitely a maybe since so many other shows are cancelled anyhow.  She’s also touring with Hall and Oates this summer and she seems to be doing a lot of local shows as a headliner. All of this repetition has me thinking I might go see her. But mostly I’m intrigued by how much her name is going to show up in these posts soon.

Dina Hall is a folksinger from Bethlehem–originally from Sayreville NJ. When she’s with her full band she rocks out a bit more. I’m not sure if this was a solo or a band show.

seller

 

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[POSTPONED: August 5, 2020] Stick Men [moved to April 1, 2021]

indexBack in June, as larger shows were getting postponed into August and September, I held out hope that August might allow for some smaller shows like this one.

I had never heard of Stick Men until after a King Crimson show when I heard some fans talking about how amazing Stick Men are.

The band is a trio of Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter.  Levin and Mastelotto play in Crimson (stick and drums respectively) and Markus Reuter plays his eight string touch guitar covering much more ground than a guitar or a bass.  Mastelotto’s drumming encompasses not just the acoustic kit, but a unique electronic setup too, allowing him to add loops, samples, percussion, and more.

To be able to see these musicians up close (without all the distractions of the amazement of a King Crimson concert) would be so cool.  Stick Men play once in awhile, although the last few times they’ve been around I couldn’t make it.

Rescheduled to April is a good thing, although I wish they were somewhere closer than Sellersville.

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[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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[ATTENDED: February 7, 2020] Garcia Peoples

I saw Garcia Peoples on New Year’s Eve eve at a Phish after party.  The show was great with them playing their new 30 minute song “One Step Behind” as well as a few others.  For that show, their original bassist Derek Spaldo was in town (after this Philly show I talked to Tom Malach and he told me that Spaldo lives in Chicago and tours with them when he can–sometimes they are a six-piece band).  That show was great.  It was the second time I’d seen them playing a short set and I really wanted to catch them as a headliner. So I was pretty excited to see that they’d be playing Boot & Saddle (even if I’d only seen them a month ago I wanted to check them out again).

When I arrived the place was pretty empty, but by the time Garcia Peoples went on, it had filled in nicely.  I was intrigued by the diversity of ages in the crowd–a lot of old Dead-heads and a few younger frat boy types as well as a lot of (drunk?) women.  I am also pretty certain that Chris Forsyth was in the audience.

The crowd was responsive and really appreciative whenever the guys played some impressive soloing (which was often).

I was intrigued to see that Spaldo was not with them this time but bassist Andy Cush was.  Cush played with them when I first saw them.  This means that there are two guys who know the bass parts to their songs. Pretty cool. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 21, 2019] King Crimson

It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years since I last saw King Crimson, because I feels like it was just a few months ago.

This was my fourth time seeing them in five years.  As I said last time, who knows when Robert Fripp is going to decide to end this iteration, so if they come to town, I’m going to see them.  In fact, I had a ticket for Monday night’s show in Philly as well but I decided not to go because I had been to a show Friday and now Saturday and I had four more shows lined up later in the week (seven shows in nine days is a lot, even for me).

This time I went with my friend Bill.  He drove us into the city for which I was thankful.  He told me he usually just looks for street parking but because he didn’t want to be late he booked a garage.  That proved to be a huge mistake because everyone who didn’t live in NYC also booked that garage and there were only two attendants.  We waited for 45 minutes for our car (which meant I got home at 2AM!).  This was Bill’s first time seeing King Crimson.

He was very impressed.  Of course.

This time the band was back down to a seven piece.  I’m not sure what happened to the eighth member.  It was going to be Bill Rieflin again and then he took a sabbatical and was replaced by Theo Travis.  But apparently he was not included on this tour “when the band opted not to have musicians deputising for Rieflin again.”

Even though these shows have a base of similar songs and players, each tour (and each tour date) has mixed it up somewhat.  So out of the eighteen songs they played that night, I hadn’t seen 5 of them.  That’s a pretty great evolution.   And honestly, the songs I’ve heard more than once (some every time) I’m more than happy to hear again and again.

The last time I saw them I wrote

after they tour Europe, if they came back I would see them again no question.  This time maybe from the front of the balcony for a whole new perspective.

Following my own advice, I scored front row balcony seats to this show, and they were really spectacular.  The band sounded great and it was easy to see what everyone was doing (where to look is a perennial problem).  [My seats in Philly were also exciting–stage left in a balcony box, staring right at Fripp–I’ll definitely try to get them again if they come around in 2020). (more…)

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oct30SOUNDTRACK: NEIL YOUNG-Arc (1991).

arcArc came with Neil Young’s outstanding live album Weld (and then later on its own).  It contains one 35 minute track called “Arc (A Compilation Composition).”

This album was recorded during Neil Young’s tour with Sonic Youth opening (MAN, I wish I had seen that tour).

Because it was 1991 and you couldn’t really look up this kind of information, I just assumed that Neil and Crazy Horse had created some kind of 35 minute jam (even though it doesn’t really sound like all one song, but how closely does one listen to Arc?).

Of course, listening to it now, it is pretty obvious that it’s pieces of shows strung together.  (the subtitle also gives it away, although I don’t think that the subtitle was on the actual disc).

Wikipedia talks about an interview that Neil Young gave in which he says he recorded a film in 1987 called Muddy Track

 which consisted of the beginnings and endings of various songs from his 1987 European tour. Young placed a video camera on his amplifier during the 1987 tour and recorded the beginnings and endings of various songs, and later edited them down into the film’s soundtrack. “It was the sound of the entire band being sucked into this little limiter, being compressed and fuckin’ distorted to hell,”

And in what makes 100% sense, on this 1991 tour,

Young then showed the video to Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, who suggested that he record an entire album in a similar manner. However, Arc was not recorded through video camera microphones, as was the case with Muddy Track, but instead was compiled from various professional multi-track recordings made throughout the tour.

So what you get is 35 minutes of noise (not so much feedback, as guitar rumblings that a band might do as a song slowly grinds to a rumbling halt).

You can hear snippets of vocals.  In particular, you can hear him singing “Like a Hurricane” and “Love and Only Love” in what definitely sounds like the end of a take–as the band’s instruments ring out.

There’s occasional moments where the rumble is interrupted by a burst of drums from Ralph Molina or you can clearly hear some of Frank “Poncho” Sampedro’s guitar and univox stringman.

There’s a little bit of audience response.  At the opening of the disc but especially at the 25 minute mark as a song feedbacks out and the crowd cheers before the band puts out  rocking drum-filled cacophonous ending.

At 28 minutes the “song” actually sort of turns into an actual song with Billy Talbot playing a simple four note bass line.  But that doesn’t last too long before another ending is tacked on.

The last few minutes has someone singing “No more pain” and then shouting a story that is somewhat inaudible although I think I hear “mom” and “post office.”

This is certainly not something to listen to much.  But I found it an interesting sonic experience today.  if nothing else, it made me really wish I had seen that 1991 show.

[READ: August 30, 2019] “Beyond the Pale”

I really like Nick Hornby’s music (and book) reviews.  He and I don’t share the same taste, but we have a lot of moments that overlap (he’s more traditional while I’m more experimental).

In many ways it is no surprise that he hated Radiohead’s Kid A, but the amount of savagery he does to it is quite astonishing.

He essentially compares it to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and Neil Young’s Arc.  Not in content, but in the giant middle finger he feels it is to fans of the band.  Although he does admit that Kid A is “nowhere near as teeth-grindingly tedious” as Metal Machine Music.

He feels that the album stems from the idea that fans are interested in “every twist and turn of the band’s career no matter how trivial or pretentious.”  Although a valid question is what has earned Radiohead its huge audience.  I have not figured that one out myself. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WIRE-Kidney Bingos (1988).

Wire’s first three albums are punk and post-pink classics.  So classic that a Britpop band ripped off one of their songs to make an even bigger hit.  (I rather like Elastica too).

After their hiatus in the early 1980s, they returned with a new sound.  Like King Crimson only with fewer notes.

Their second post-hiatus album A Bell is a Cup even had a single, “Kidney Bingos.”

This song is remarkably far from their early punk sound. It’s almost as if on their first albums, their guitars only had the low strings,  And on this one, they only have the high strings.

The guitars on this song are gentle and jangly.  The bass is pretty similar–nice and deep with a great resonance, although the tempo is much slower and more chill.

The chorus is a really catchy bit if pop fun, even if for 30 years I had no idea that he was saying

Money spines paper lung kidney bingos organ fun

which makes as much sense as what I thought he was saying.

The end of the song throws in some synths and a wordless singalong that shows a real depth to Newman’s voice.

[READ: June 29, 2019] “Pastoralia”

I was sure I had read this story before.  But it turns out I’ve had his collection Pastoralia on my “too read” list but had never actually read it.  In the collection, this story is almost 70 pages.  It’s pretty long in the New Yorker, but i do have to wonder if it is an excerpt as there’s so much that is unexplained.

This story is set in what I think of as the Saunders future.  There’s no ProperName objects as there usually are.  But this future has a lot of the mildly dystopian qualities that Saunders tends to put in his stories

This one includes an exhibit where humans act out historical scenarios in a museum of sorts (the details are never given).

The narrator’s name is never given.  Over the course of a few pages we determine that he is a caveman in an exhibit.  Every day he is supposed to “eat grubs,” “see” a herd of animals and not speak English.  He has a “wife,” Janet.  She is not his real wife, he has a real wife and children.  In fact he doesn’t especially like Janet. She tends to speak English a lot and disregards most other work protocols.

In many respects it doesn’t matter because hardly anyone comes into the museum.  But they are doing a job and they do have supervisors.

When the light dims as if it were night time they each go to their separate personal quarters where they have such modern amenities as a fax machine (this was written in 2000 so that’s not a goof, I don’t think).  (more…)

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