Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

From the Crown and Anchor, Las Vegas, NV 12-31-2010!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Patti Smith Group - Teenage Perversity and Ships in the NIght

I bought this vinyl bootleg when it came out in the late 70's, but hadn't pulled it out in ages. It stills stands up as one of the best 70's boots and a superb document of the PSG at their finest.

This was recorded at the Roxy in Los Angeles in 1976 - not long after the band's debut album, Horses, was released to immense critical acclaim. The set list for this show is, of course, mostly drawn from that record, but it has some nice surprises. Side one opens and closes with Velvet Underground covers - Patti was not afraid to wear her influences on her sleeves - starting with the appropriate "We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together" and finishing with a spot-on take of "Pale Blue Eyes" that moves effortlessly into a short coda of "Louie Louie"!

In between, the band pulls out "Privilege (Set Me Free)", from the soundtrack of the sacrilegious movie of the same title that they did not record until the Easter album, "Ain't It Strange" (with Lenny's spoken intro audible, unlike the LP's version which has this buried in the mix), "Kimberly", and "Redondo Beach" (before which Iggy Pop jumps on stage to say how great the band is). All of these are given an extra intensity and some changes - especially lyrically - here and there.

Side two opens with "Pumping (My Heart)" from the 2nd record which goes into her two tour de forces, "Birdland" (beginning with a monologue where Patti is simply speaking to the audience that blends seamlessly into the song, almost without you realizing it) and "Gloria". Terrific audio trips of fantasy!

The climax is their punk-rock take on "My Generation" with John Cale on bass, sounding like he is simultaneously mangling and tripping over his instrument, and with such performed by everyone with such wild abandon that words become negligible but the energy is palpable. Fantastic!

These cats excelled in the studio, but their live shows were a true experience and this recording does its best to take you back to those times. Essential for any fan!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

All the Young Dudes, The Biography - Campbell Devine

Obviously, I have written about Mott the Hoople many times before and they have been a fave band of mine since discovering them when they hit big with Bowie's "All the Young Dudes". I went back and discovered their earlier works which are rawer and wilder, overall, and were the blueprint for the later British punk bands. Their 3 CD Anthology was a wonderful find for me and the live CDs of their early days are a continuing revelation.

This book recounts the guys' lives and careers, from their early days of rival bands playing through England and Germany to their days of stardom, headlining large halls. There are some terrific tales of recording sessions with Guy Stevens and tales of the road (though I think there could have been more lurid details that have been left out) told by each of the original band members. This is an authorized biography so each person had been interviewed and gives their points of view, though Overend Watts (his real - middle and last - name!) seems to speak more than most, other than Ian. Apparently Watts was a main instigator in their career, so this seems more than fitting.

Almost half of the book is about Ian Hunter's solo career which, while I admire his talent, was never that interesting to me. The rest of the guys in MTH went on to Bad Company (Mick Ralphs) and various spin-offs (Mott, the British Lions) before more-or-less retiring from music - or at least live bands.

Still, a fantastic tale of one of the best bands of the 70's. Get it!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Xmas to Me!

Presents from my wonderful wife!

A nice, black Mandolin and a new Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi (since my original ones are too beat to work any more)!

Friday, December 17, 2010

damn, the Captain is gone...

Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, dead at 69

SAN FRANCISCO – Musician and artist Don Van Vliet, who performed a complex brand of experimental rock under the name Captain Beefheart, died Friday. He was 69.

The Michael Werner Gallery in New York confirmed Van Vliet's death in California due to complications stemming from multiple sclerosis. The gallery exhibits his paintings.

Van Vliet was probably best known for the album "Trout Mask Replica," which was released in 1969 by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band.

The album's angular, dissonant take on blues rock and Van Vliet's growling, surreal lyrics put him outside the mainstream, but staked his place in rock history.

Rolling Stone magazine recently ranked "Trout Mask Replica" number 58 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album was produced by fellow experimental rock pioneer Frank Zappa, a high school friend from the desert town of Lancaster, Calif.

"Record producers have always been certain that Don Vliet was just a hype away from the big money," according to a 1970 profile in Rolling Stone. "But Beefheart stubbornly continues what he's doing and waits patiently for everyone else to come around."

By shunning commercial success and a more accessible sound, Van Vliet became a role model for subsequent generations of musicians. His music is cited as an influence on the rise of punk, post-punk and new wave. Beefheart is also claimed as a kindred spirit by free jazz musicians and avant-garde classical composers.

In the 1980s, Van Vliet turned full-time to art. He painted in a raw, expressionistic style and showed his acclaimed work widely even as he withdrew from the public eye.

He is survived by his wife of more than 40 years.


Beefhart has been a fave of mine for decades and I've just recently converted Melanie to the cult of the Captain, so this is particularly sad...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Congrats Alice Cooper Band, Dr. John, Tom Waits, Leon Russell and Darlene Love!

Alice Cooper, Darlene Love, Neil Diamond in Hall

That point came on Tuesday, as the 2011 class for the Cleveland hall was revealed. Diamond, whose hits include "Sweet Caroline," made the list, along with the Alice Cooper Band, New Orleans musician Dr. John, Darlene Love and singer-songwriter Tom Waits.

Piano man Leon Russell was honored with a musical excellence award, previously the sideman category. Executives Jac Holzman and Art Rupe were given the Ahmet Ertegun Awards.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Elvis Costello – Live at Hollywood High

Elvis hit Hollywood in 1979 promoting his first two albums and the upcoming release of his 3rd record, Armed Forces. Originally, 3 songs from this gig (“Accident Will Happen", “Alison”, “Watching the Detectives”) were included as a limited edition EP with the new album, but this CD is the first official release of the entire, terrific concert.

This shows the Attractions at the absolute height of their power – more together and rehearsed than the (also great) Live at El Macambo gig that also just came out – and is a fantastic document of this amazing band.

Opening with the then-new “Accidents Will Happen” as an acoustic piano ballad, the group blasts into the frantic “Mystery Dance” followed immediately by “Lip Service”. They finally take a breath long enough for Elvis to speak to the adoring crowd to introduce the (comparatively) sedate “Living in Paradise”. They give a nod to the upcoming release with “Goon Squad”, one of the best from that record, though missing the ominous backing vocals. Actually, the backing vocals are nearly missing throughout most of this recording – it sounds like someone is trying throughout, but that is the one problem with the otherwise fine mix.

Continuing with a pretty faithful rendition of “…Red Shoes”, they then do another new one, “Party Girl”. “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” is updated with some new keyboard sounds and an extended, moody instrumental middle section. This Year’s Model is represented by cool versions of “This Year’s Girl” and “No Action” and after this Elvis performs his country’n’western tune, “Stranger in the House”, that I don’t think he ever “officially” released, though Rachel Sweet did a great version on her debut.

A high energy take on “The Beat” (with a newly added guitar part) precedes the lovely “Alison”, which leads into a speedy “Lipstick Vogue”, highlighting the crazy talented Attractions. Some nice feedback introduces “Watching the Detectives”, with one of Elvis’ catchiest guitar riffs ever. Film noir put to music highly successfully!

The set closes frenetically with crazed versions of “You Belong to Me”, the fabulous “Radio, Radio” and the powerful “Pump It Up”. They come back for rockin’ takes of “Waiting for the End of the World” and a rousing “Miracle Man”.

Another excellent live release from the best Elvis Costello time period! Definitely pick it up!

I really doubt that Jim cares these days

Doors' Jim Morrison to get pardoned in Florida
Kinda funny that anyone even bothers with this kind of thing decades after the fact. Seems a silly thing for lawmakers to worry about...

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Insect Surfers – Aces & Ales, Las Vegas, NV 12-4-10

Guitarist Dave Arnson has been leading various incarnations of the Insect Surfers across the country for over 3 decades now. Though the line-ups change, the quality always remains the same, for Dave manages to find some of the finest players to work with at all times. Arson himself is an excellent and imaginative guitarist who still ping-pongs and windmills across the stage without missing a note and while playing intricate harmonies with his fellow players.

The band this night was all new to me, but obviously were all seasoned players who fit right in with the vision of high-energy, instrumental rock’n’roll, played with finesse and style. Most of the tunes were reasonably new, though some classics, such as “Polaris” (borrowing slightly from Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot”) and “Tiger Shark” were also featured.

Along with fellow Los Angeleans, the Black Widows, the Insect Surfers are among the finest instrumental bands playing today.

Unfortunately, due to receiving inconsistent information regarding time slots and our need for a nap before going out, we missed the local opening band, Thee Swank Bastards and their hula-hooping go-go dancer, but they sounded damn good over the phone when I called for set times!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music

Widely seen as Lou Reed’s “fuck you” to his fans, his record company and the music industry in general, MMM sees Reed playing amplifiers, effects boxes and tape machines, but no traditional instruments. This ends up being futuristic (still) robotic noise music, but is not completely random or unplanned (at least, Lou claims it isn’t). There are sounds similar to strings, horns and even bird calls throughout, making it reminiscent of many different genres – in fact, his record company wanted to release it on their classical label as an “experimental/electronic” album, but Reed insisted that it was a “rock” record and got his way.

This could easily be sci-fi soundtrack music – I envision some outer space opium den/bordello when listening to this. Or, maybe some far distant rave where people don’t need a beat to swing to.

The vinyl release was a discount-priced double album set, so the CD is composed of 4 “suites” of about 15 minutes each. I was thinking that it should just end abruptly and start over again as if on a loop, but the vinyl had a repeating run-off groove, so the CD ends with a minute or two of the repeat and then stops.

Certainly not for the weak of heart or the close-minded – this is pure noise as music and as such is quite interesting but not something that is easy to listen to on a regular basis. I did find it oddly soothing on my work commute, though!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Gretsch Electromatic

My latest acquisition - a hollow body Gretsch Electromatic. Great action and a beautiful, warm sound for the jazz and blues pieces that I've been working on. I prefer double cutaways in general, and this single cutaway starts lower than on most electric guitars, but this is a fine instrument and was a great purchase!