Archive for the ‘Bucks Free Press’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Live Phish Downloads 5.8.93 UNH Fieldhouse, Durham, NH (2007).

This concert was recorded on my birthday.  Although I wasn’t there (and wasn’t even really a fan at the time).  This is the last show of the tour, so they thank the crew and have a lot of fun with that.  This is a great 3 CD set because there’s a lot of strong bonus material at the end of disc 3.

The set opens with a rocking “Chalk Dust Torture” and segues into a really tight “GuelahPapyrus”—I love how they can start and stop in total synch.  There’s great harmonies on “Rift” and a perfect tempo-change into “Mound.”

Then comes a jamming 12 minute “Stash” with a lot of bass sections.  It segues into the delightfully bizarre “Kung” and then returns to “Stash” for another minute before switching to “Glide.”  “Glide” has more great harmonies with a very long pause (over a minute of silence, which gets the crowd excited) before ending the song. It’s followed by a great version of “My Friend, My Friend” that segues into a 13 minute Reba.”  Trey thanks the crew and everyone for the tour after which they play a very jazzy “Satin Doll.”

The first set ends with a blistering “Cavern.”

Set Two opens with a minute of “David Bowie” before Page turns it into a cover of The Allman Brothers’ “Jessica” (including a Simpsons’ “D’oh”).  “David Bowie” returns with a 10 minute jam–no solos, just the band rocking–before mellowing out into a reggae version of “Have Mercy” by The Mighty Diamonds.   That two-minute slow down is followed by a scorching soloing conclusion to “David Bowie.”

They take a kind of break with “The Horse,” an acoustic guitar piece for Trey (It’s very pretty and one of the few times I’ve heard him play acoustic).  It turns into a great “Silent in the Morning.”  There’s a nearly 10 minute “It’s Ice” in which each player really stands out—Mike’s bass, Fish’s drums, Page’s keys—everyone is highlighted in this quirky staccato version which segues perfectly into a 16 minute “Squirming Coil.”

There’s a great jam in this song with a lengthy piano solo.  The ending is wildly erratic and weird (and I suppose is technically a “Big Ball Jam”) as they continue to jam for a few extra minutes before launching into “Mike’s Song.”  Like “Bowie,” “Mike’s Song” is broken up to include a bluesy cover of “Crossroads” with lots of piano soloing.  It segues back into the end of “Mike’s Song” which doesn’t really sound like an end to the song.  But it’s followed by a pretty “I am Hydrogen” which launches into a great, funky bass roaring “Weekapaug Groove.”

Towards the end of “Groove,” Page stars playing “Amazing Grace and as it softens up, the band sings a quiet a capaella version of the song.  And then the launches into a jamming version to end the set.

The encore is a loose “AC/DC Bag” for a nice end to the tour.

The Bonus songs include “Shaggy Dog” from the 5/8/93 soundcheck. It’s just guitar and voices with good harmonies.

“Tweezer” and “Tela” come from 5/6/93 Palace Theatre – Albany, NY.  “Tweezer” is totally rocking and 19 minutes long.  There’s a bass-filled jam in the start and it gets dark and a little crazy in the middle.  It slows way down to just one drum and one bass note and then segues nicely into a very pretty “Tela.”

The final bonus track is a crazy 32 minute “You Enjoy Myself” from 5/5/93 Palace Theatre – Albany, NY.   It features special guests Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit as well as the Dude of Life.  There’s a funky middle section of 3 to 5 note motifs repeated.  There’s a lengthy bass solo—just Mike.  It segues into a series of descending riffs until more percussion comes in and someone (Dude?) is talking (incomprehensibly) into the microphone.  Then comes bongos and horns.  I believe there’s even a vacuum solo.  The end of the song has a jazzy scat sing along with the guitar and some rally heavy drums at the end.

On many of the discs, the bonus material is sort of interesting to have but on this one, the “Twezer,” “Tela” and YEM” are outstanding in and of themselves.

Here’s a longer essay about this show by Kevin Shapiro.

[READ: May 8, 2017] The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories

It’s always weird to read posthumous stories, especially if you’ve been a fan of the author for years.  But like the previous collection Dragons at Crumbling Castle, this book collects stories from when Terry was a young lad (between 1966 and 1973) in the Children’s Circle of the Bucks Free Press. He says that they are as they were except that he tinkered here and there with a few details and added a few lines or notes, “just because I can.”

There are 13 stories in the book, and they explore variations on Pratchett’s themes like that the unfamiliar is not the enemy (necessarily) and that people can and often will be surprised by how others react to things.  He also has  a story idea that would blossom into the Carpet People stories later on.

“The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner” (1970)
This begins with a great premise: “Uncle Ron Swimble, the magician, enjoyed performing at parties. He did lots of simple tricks and the kids enjoyed him.  But when he went to his most recent party, things went awry.  But in a way that the kids loved: when his hat fell off, three rabbits jumped out.  And when he bent over a flock of pigeons flew out from under his coat.  The kids were delighted.  But Ron was the most surprised because he had no rabbits or birds in his act.  Every time he moved his hands something vanished or appeared.  It was crazy.  Then they figured out that Uncle Ron had knocked over Mrs Riley’s vacuum cleaner.  And as all the kids knew (but the adults didn’t seem to ) Mrs Riley was a witch.  The resolution to this story was really delightful. (more…)

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dragonsSOUNDTRACK: THE NELS CLINE SINGERS-Tiny Desk Concert #78 (September 7, 2010).

nelsNels Cline has played guitar with Wilco for over a decade, but he has also played with punk rockers and jazz musicians.

The Nels Cline singers are an instrumental collective  that consists of Cline on guitar, upright bassist Devin Hoff and distinctly jazzy drummer Scott Amendola (he plays a lot of percussion including hitting a cymbal with what looks like a chopstick).  They also have special guest Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto on keyboards.

Cline gets some great sounds out of his old beat up guitar (I have genuinely never seen anyone play harmonics on the guitar in the manner that he does).

The music is airy and spacey (especially “B86 (Inkblot Nebula)” which features bowed bass and interesting sounds from Honda and a fascinating array of bell and cymbals on the drum set.

For “Thoughts on Caetano” he switches guitars.  Unfortunately the video seems to keep cutting out around this point so the rest of the show has to be on audio only.  But the sounds that they create are very cool and interesting.

The biggest surprise to me in these pieces is that they are mostly fairly short.  They seem like they could be side-long explorations, but “You Noticed” comes in around 4 minutes or so, and “B86” is only around 3 minutes as is “Thoughts on Caetano.”

The final song has a more jazzy feel.  Complete with a  bass solo and some very interesting drum sounds (I wish I could see how he’s doing them).  This last song is the longest it’s about 7 minutes.

I was really surprised by this Tiny Desk–I had no sense of what Nels Cline would play, and it was a real treat to hear.

[READ: August 19, 2015] Dragons at Crumbling Castle and Other Tales

Obviously death has never stopped anyone from releasing books.  So here is one of the first collections of posthumous stories from Sir Terry Pratchett.

Interestingly, these are stories from when Terry was a young lad.  This is a selection of children’s stories that were first run in the Bucks Free Press (he was a junior reporter).  They are simple but clever, with lots of ideas that Pratchett would explore in greater details as he got older.

There are 13 stories in the book, and they explore variations on Pratchett’s themes like that the unfamiliar is not the enemy (necessarily) and that people can and often will be surprised by how others react.  He also has some a story idea that would blossom into the carpet people stories later on.

“Dragons at Crumbling Castle” (1966) is a story of everyone overreacting when they find a dragon in the castle  (it proves to be a little baby dragon).

“Hercules the Tortoise” (1968) is the story of a brave tortoise who crosses his pond.

“The Great Speck” (1969) is an interesting story of huge worlds on tiny specks and how even they can be territorial

“Hunt the Snorry” (1966) is  a very funny story about brave hunters going in search of an elusive thing which proves to be something else entirely (and which they inadvertently catch).

“Tales of the Carpet People” (1965) is similar to the Speck story in that it talks about very small people living in a carpet and their adventures as they try to see the world beyond (the dreaded linoleum).  I actually found this first story to be kind of dull and confusing, but I can see how it became the basis for greater things.

“Dok the Caveman” (1966) invents all kinds of things but they usually go wrong–nevertheless the inventions themselves are pretty spectacular.

“The Big Race” (1968) differs from all the other stories in that it is about technology (although it is very Pratchettian in the end).  It proves to be a race between a gas-powered car and a steam-powered car (and anyone else who wishes to join the race and cheat if necessary).

“Another Tale of the Carpet People” (1967) was more successful perhaps because they actually got off of the carpet and met new people.

“The Great Egg Dancing Championship” (1972) was a funny story about how cheaters never win (and about dancing on eggs).

“Edwo the Boring Knight” (1973)  Sometimes boring people to sleep can be your greatest weapon.

“The 59A Bus Goes Back in Time”  (1966-67) This story was fun in its time travel (going to the major historical epochs) but more so because of the way the locals reacted to the bus.  And that the bus should always try to stay on schedule.

“The Abominable Snowman” (1969) had a lot of fun with the conventions of exploration and how easy it is to derail a planner.  It also works with the idea of a very tiny creature that everyone is searching for.

“The Blackbury Monster” (1968) is all about how fame may not be the best thing for a small town after all.

“Father Christmas Goes to Work” (1973)  How is Father Christmas supposed to make any money on the other 364 days of the year?  Get to work!  But what can he possibly do?  Not much it seems.  (There’s a happy ending of course).

The text is manipulated to make it very kid friendly (large print when people yell, different fonts, dark pages when it is a dark scene, that sort of thing.  It also has illustration by Mark Beech, but I found them to be really basic sketches.  I would have loved to see more by Pratchett artist Paul Kidby.

I tried to imagine my kids enjoying these stories, but I didn’t really think they would.  Perhaps because they aren’t British and it isn’t forty years ago.  But I enjoyed them.  And each one brought a smile to my face.

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