Monday, December 31, 2007

Trolling the Underground : Happy New Year!

This is going to be a much shorter TtU than usual, because this time it is ALL about the music, and NOT AT ALL about discussion.

First off, many of you may not have seen this Blondie/Ramones post from way back. It was my 3rd TtU post! It highlights what these two bands were doing on Dec. 31, 1979.

As for this year, my first offering is from my earliest New Year's boot, and one of my earliest altogether. It comes from the man I trolled immediately after the Blondie/Ramones post, the incomparable Louis Armstrong. While I'd like to share his short,sweet instrumental Auld Lang Syne with you, it was unfortunately marred by an idiotic radio voice-over, covering the entire cut. Instead, I'll play a cut that embodies all that New Year's Eve is about - partying. Here's a rollicking number called Indiana from San Francisco's Downbeat Club 0n 12-31-54.

Besides Guy Lombardo, the musical act that made the most of New Year's Eve is doubtlessly the Grateful Dead. They threw a New Year's Bash almost every year they were around, and can you imagine a better party? I have to imagine, because I never saw one except on TV. One of the most famous was the 1978 New Year's Eve show from Winterland. The Dead came on after the Blues Brothers and the New Riders of the Purple Sage, played until dawn, and then served breakfast to the audience. What a way to bring in the year. Here's one of my favorite Dead tunes, Playin' in the Band, straight from the soundboard on that night. It's a fairly mellow rendition that starts with some characteristically quirky harmonies between Bob and Donna, but turns into a sweet jam.

To everyone reading this, I wish you a happy, prosperous and safe 2008.

And to 2007, I won't miss you. Feel free to kiss my ass on your way out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

50 Greatest Rock Soundtracks of All Time

From the folks at Conde Naste Media (they pub Vanity Fair and other snooty hooty shtuff):

The "Movies Rock" 50 Greatest Rock Soundtracks of All Time

Much to be discussed (and disgust, to be sure).

Cross-posted at Film Freaks Film Club

Monday, December 17, 2007

Trolling the Underground : Christmas Under the Bridge

As you can guess, Christmas music is pretty much a find-it-where-you-can proposition where the underground is concerned. While there are a few artists that do special Christmas performances, few of those are likely to be recorded by stealthy means, and those that are broadcast are usually not by artists that people who record by stealthy means would listen to. I've never seen a Perry Como bootleg, for instance, and if I've seen any Anne Murray shows, I didn't take notice.

However, I do know of a few classic Christmas tunes, and searches on my fave boot sites for "Christmas" and "Santa" yielded results from the sublime to the ridiculous. As a result, the very first Trolling the Underground Christmas Collection is going to be a bumpy sleigh ride. There are some very happy songs, and at least one that is really rather sad. There are some funny songs here as well, including one that is funny mostly because it is just so, so bad (and I think you'll be surprised as to which one that is). A few are definitely good for putting that WTF?? look on the faces of friends, neighbors, and unwanted in-laws when mixed into your Christmas tunes! Serious or goofy, happy or poignant, hard or soft, there is something for everyone in this mix.

Two things before we get started. One, I wish I knew more about editing sound files - that way I could have clipped off some extraneous between-song chatter. Some of it may amuse you, though. If you know how to clip it and want to, go ahead. The rest of you can do what I do...... deal with it. Second, if you plan to put these on a disc, as they most certainly deserve, remember that they all come from different sources, and normalize the disc so that they all come out at the same level. Otherwise you're likely to be adjusting the volume a lot.

I put them in what I consider a nice order with a good balance of moods, although some of you may not want to use ALL of them (give them all a listen, though, they're worth it.) Use any or all in your collections as you wish.

Happy, optimistic cheeriness is always a good way to start a Christmas disc, so I'll begin with one of three Beatle-related cuts. This is, in fact, from the very last McCartney & Wings concert, recorded by Paul for a future release that never happened (with the exception of one released cut, Coming Up). Despite what I'm sure was a bittersweet occasion, the song still kicks us off with all requisite McCheesiness. From Glascow on December 17, 1979, this is Wonderful Christmastime.

Next comes a quiet, sweet acoustic tune, one of the first I thought of when I conceived this project, as it is one of the oldest Christmas tunes done by a rocker that I know. This is Greg Lake at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, England on November 6th, 2005. The song is called I Believe in Father Christmas.

Taking a turn toward the serious, I have the first of two duets from Bruce Cockburn's annual Christmas shows, which always seem to have plenty of guest stars. This was from a radio show on December 12, 1993, and features Bruce with Jackson Browne. Not a huge fan of either, I was attracted by the title of the song - Rebel Jesus. Obviously, this is not a deck-the-halls kind of tune, but rather a far more thoughtful song that Browne takes a few pains to keep from being misconstrued. What do you think of it?

Fourth, we go to the WTF? file for a twist on an old favorite. How could I see, and not include, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Twisted Sister??? 'Twould be a sin. And it seems that, in this version, Ol' Santa was getting more than just a little kiss! Mommy sounds like she'd be worth a trip down the chimney any old night. This comes from Trädgårn', Gothenburg, Sweden, on November 13, 2007.

I was looking to include in this collection a cut from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show that our very own Nat saw recently with her son. In particular, I wanted to find the song that her son liked the most. Well, as the song says, two out of three ain't bad. While I was not able to find a recording of the show that they saw, I did find several others, including this one from Hershey, Pa. on November 4, 2007, just a few days before the target show. The song is the one I sought, Wizards in Winter, a bombastic instrumental piece that might actually be a little cheesier than the McCartney song, but has a few cool solo passages and definitely swings the pendulum back from the bizarre.

Getting quiet again, we move to a secluded piano somewhere played by an obviously worn-out John Lennon in November 1970. He had finished a grueling writing and recording project for the Plastic Ono Band album, and was kicking back with Yoko and trying to hash out ideas for what would eventually become the Imagine album. The recordings from this show the very rawest, earliest kernels of the ideas he would soon begin working with. There are two versions of a song called Happy Christmas, with neither being fully developed but one more so than the other. This is that version. While I'm sure it will never be a holiday fave, it is a nice snapshot of John Lennon the Songwriter fiddling and farting about with part of an idea.

Once again, how could I resist downloading a Christmas song by Kiss? Even if it was the no-makeup-only-two-original-members Kiss that played at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne, In. on December 26, 1987. Unlike the Twisted Sister tune, however, I think you'll find this version of White Christmas to be different than you're expecting, considering the source.

I had to go hunting for this next one as well, since I knew it but didn't already have it in my collection. I didn't think I'd be able to get it, either, since the torrent was old and so poorly seeded, but a few extra seeders came out of nowhere to help me get all three discs worth in no time (unlike the Kiss and Twisted Sister tunes, I wanted to get ALL of this)! While it isn't a traditional Christmas song, it has been around long enough to be a traditional rock and roll Christmas song, and it is a short little rocker indeed. From the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park (somewhere in England, presumably, as this is a BBC recording) on December 24, 1977, here's the Kinks with Father Christmas.

Plunging headlong back into the absurd, next is the Beatles, fresh from what must have been one hell of a night of partying, attempting to record their annual Christmas Message for the Beatles Fan Club on November 11, 1965. From what I've read, they would record four or more ten-minute sessions in order for the editors to get one floppy single's worth of Beatle banter to use for the fan club. You can tell that the boys are full of good intentions, with the glaring exception of John, but are stretching for ideas. Some of this was actually used, but I don't know what. I'm betting that it wasn't the bit about babies being sliced, frozen, and packaged. I don't know if they were on drugs when they recorded this, but I certainly hope to God that they were. You'll get some chuckles from it, and its inclusion in any party listening will CERTAINLY derail a conversation or two.

The next song comes next because of the beautiful segue that it starts with. Even though that segue was actually referring to a different song, it works just fine coming from that Beatles clip. It also serves as a fine counterpoint tune in any collection of religion-based Christmas songs. From the Greek Theater in Los Angeles on June (yes, June!) 1, 2001, here is Spinal Tap describing Christmas with the Devil.

The penultimate song goes back to being serious, and to making one think not about sugar plums, but about the serious and sad things that offset the shinier aspects of the season. Then again, what would you expect from Lou Reed, sleigh bells? Not hardly. This is Lou's duet with Bruce Cockburn from Christmas with Cockburn on December 20, 1992. It's called Christmas in February.

Rounding out these dozen selections is a traditional tune, but not a traditional Christmas tune. Nonetheless, it is a song that fits right in, and lifts the spirit (which will need a little lifting after Lou gets done with it). It's from the only gospel band I have in my collection, and the only one I've seen live. I speak of the legendary vocal group the Blind Boys of Alabama. When I saw them open for Peter Gabriel several years back, I was dumbfounded when, amidst their wonderfully harmonized gospel songs, the music for House of the Rising Sun began to play. What a strange selection for this group, I thought. I was even more dumbfounded when instead of House, they began to sing Amazing Grace! Never before had I seen the obvious - that the two sets of lyrics had exactly the same meter, and were musically interchangeable! Astounding, it was. I've been looking for a recording of that arrangement ever since, and still haven't found it. This arrangement, however, from the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Or. on July 5, 2007, will show you what I mean. Rather than the organ riff of the version I saw them perform, this is a bluesy guitar-backed rendition that ends this collection on a high note both musically and spiritually.

I hope that a lot of you will download and enjoy this collection, and I hope you'll let me know what you think of the songs and the order I put them in. And please, let us know what your mother-in-law thinks of the Twisted Sister tune!

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cheezy's Musical ABCs

I think I'll do mine featuring mainly dance/house/electronica acts, of which I am still very fond:

Aphex Twin
Basement Jaxx
Chemical Brothers
Daft Punk
Evil Nine
Future Sound of London
Groove Armada
Hoxton Whores
Inner City
Junior Jack
Frankie Knuckles
Narcotic Thrust
Plump DJs
Roni Size
Stanton Warriors
Sven Vath
Crystal Waters
X-Press 2
Yello (pictured)
Zero 7

Nat's Musical ABC's

No, I wasn't tagged, but I'm playing along, and I'm using all alt-country/Americana/roots artists. (don't quibble with me about the categorization, some of the picks fall loosely within the range, or have at some point in the career.)

1. Ryan Adams
2. The Byrds
3. Calexico
4. Drive-By Truckers
5. The Eagles
6. Five Chinese Brothers
7. Gillian Welch
8. Heartless Bastards
9. Indigo Girls (whew, "I" could have been tricky!)
10. The Jayhawks
11. The Knitters
12. Leftover Salmon
13. Mary Gauthier
14. Neko Case
15. Ollabelle
16. Patty Griffin
17. Quicksilver
18. Robinella
19. Son Volt
20.Tim Easton
21. Uncle Tupelo
22. Varnaline
23. Wilco
24. Texas Tornadoes (ok, so I stretched it)
25. Yonder Mountain String Band
26. Dan Zanes

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

O' Tim's ABCs of something completely different

Joe has made this impossible for me, so I am going to go with painful counter intuition on my ABCs:

1. Anthrax
2. Beastie Boys
3. Chicago
4. Daughtry
5. Everclear
6. Fugasi
7. Notorius B. I. G.
8. Hagfest (amazing what you can find with Google)
9. Illiterate Puppy (sounds bad to me)
10. J. Lo (okay, not rock, but still painful - NRBSP)
11. Korn
12. Loverboy
13. Megadeath
14. Nickelback
15. Ozzy Osbourn
16. Linkin Park
17. Queensryche
18. Lee Ann Rimes (NRBSP)
19. Slipknot
20. T-Pain (NRBSP)
22. Jon Bon JoVi
23. Lil Wayne (NRBSP)
24. XCon4God (another Google winner!)
25. Yngwe Malmsteen
26. SwiZZ BeatZ (NRBSP - I’d fall asleep but for the fucking subwoofer)

BONUS: I simply have to throw in .38 Special for a “number” band.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Joe the Troll's ABCs of Music

1. Mose Allison
2. Jeff Beck
4. Dr. John
5. ELP
6. Bela Fleck
7. Grateful Dead (I hated choosing between them & Peter Gabriel)
8. Hot Tuna
9. Iron Butterfly (not actually a big fan, but "I" is a toughie.)
10. Jethro Tull
11. King Crimson
12. Little Feat
13. Mahavishnu Orchestra
14. National Health
15. Anders Osborne
16. Pink Floyd
17. Queen
18. Max Roach
19. Steely Dan
20. Taj Majal
21. U.K.
22. Violent Femmes
23. The Who
24. XTC
25. Yes
26. Frank Zappa

Well, I guess I saw both extremes on this one. There were several letters where I had to choose between ones I like a lot (like with "G") and at least one where I had to choose between bands I didn't care that much for. I mean, Iron Butterfly is OKAY, I guess. They come out ahead of anyone else I can think of that starts with "I" (that being the Indigo Girls, Insane Clown Posse, the Isley Bros. and Tommy Iommi. Yeesh).

I don't normally like to tag people, so I'll just tag O'Tim, because he'll love it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Soundtrack of Jefe's Life

See O'Tim's post below for the details. This was way too fun!

Hidden - Supersuckers

Something - The Beatles

Thank You - Led Zeppelin

True Love Way - Kings of Leon

Linger Awhile - Lester Young

Pay for What You Get - Dave Matthews Band

One and Only - Teitur

Have Thine Own Way Lord - Johnny Cash

Hush - Tool

10. WHAT IS 2+2?
Lil' Liza Jane - Fats Domino

You're All That I Want - Kiss

Lonesome Head - David Fathead Newman

Yesterday to Tomorrow - Audioslave

In Dreams - Roy Orbison

Exanthem Fumble - Black Market Flowers

Abraham - Jack Kerouac

Melatonin - Radiohead

Marmaduke - Charlie Parker

I Left My Heart in San Francisco - Tony Bennett

Mrs. Rita - Gin Blossoms

Got You Where I Want You - The Flys

Let it Die - Foo Fighters

It's crazy how well some of these line up! My personal favorites were that my life's purpose is to linger awhile, and that my biggest secret is Mrs. Rita. Ah, she was a minx!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The soundtrack of my life

Here’s a meme I've not seen before, and it's pretty cool. By posting it here I am tagging all the authors of Where The Vibe Is, and anyone else is welcome to post their results in comments.

The rules:

1. Put your music player on Shuffle
2. For each question, press the Next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER WHAT (this is in capital letters, so it is very serious).


21st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson

Crosseyed And Painless – Talking Heads

LaGrange - ZZ Top

Jammin’ – Bob Marley

Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) - The Doors

Feelin’ Alright – Traffic

Conservative Christian, Right Wing Republican, Straight, White, American Males - Todd Snider

Achilles Last Stand - Led Zeppelin

A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke

10. WHAT IS 2+2?
Give Back The Key To My Heart - Wilco

John Barleycorn Must Die - Traffic

I Second That Emotion - Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

Laugh Laugh - The Beau Brummels

Home At Last – Steely Dan

Eyes Of The World - String Cheese Incident

A Wolf At The Door – Radiohead

Let’s Work Together - Canned Heat

I Need More Love – Robert Randolph & The Family Band

That’s How AIDS Began - Todd Snider

After The Goldrush – Neil Young

Salt Of The Earth – Rolling Stones

The Man Who Loved Life – The Jayhawks

I'm thoroughly amazed at how some fit in so perfect, while others might have fit better under a different question. I'm also amazed that no Dead showed up, but I did get the Jerry/Merle Motown cover and the String Cheese version of "Eyes." This is cross-posted at my personal blog Much That Is Hidden.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Hartnoll Brothers

Popular music is full of siblings who have made music together, and a lot of them have had rather tempestuous relationships. The fightin' Gallaghers from Oasis spring to mind, as do the Davies brothers from The Kinks. And, going even further back, I believe the Everly Brothers didn't speak to each other for the odd decade or two.

An exception to this rule are Paul and Phil Hartnoll from the seminal electronic act, Orbital. Hmmm... Must have been all the E they took. It's hard to stay angry at someone when you're pilling your tits off.

Despite the lack of any high-profile familial bust-ups, it's a truism of life that all good things must come to an end. And so, after four memorable appearances at Glastonbury, seven great studio albums, and a stonkingly good valedictory tour in 2004, Orbital broke up. Along with the likes of Leftfield, Underworld and the Chemical Brothers, they will be remembered as one of the most vital and innovative electronic bands of the 90s.

(If you're unfamiliar with their work, check out these videos for a taster - The Box and Halcyon).

But what are the Hartnoll boys doing nowadays? This year has provided us with the answer, so it's time to don my metaphorical music reviewer's hat and give the following pair of CDs a listen:

Long Range - Madness and Me

I saw Phil Hartnoll's Long Range at The Big Chill back in summer 2006, so I was expecting a CD of their new material pretty soon afterwards. I didn't think I'd have to wait over a year anyway!
Not to worry - it's here now. And it's got all the ingredients for a great dance album. Filthy basslines? Check. Insistent beats? Check. Heart-fluttering melodies? Check. The title track is a particularly beautiful piece of music.

The only exception to this tale of excellence is the song 'Your Face', in which Long Range 'succeeds' in sounding like some godawful German heavy metal band from the 80s. I don't know what Phil was thinking of there, but the result is complete shit.

Nevermind, things get back on track with the excellent Just One More and it doesn't detract from what's a very promising debut from this band.

8 out of 10.

Paul Hartnoll - The Ideal Condition

Wow, this is an entirely different kettle of fish. It's been said that Paul wants to get into making soundtracks for movies, and it certainly sounds like it. Much of the material comes across like the soundtrack for a movie - a bloody good one.

A lot of The Ideal Condition couldn't be described as house music - or, indeed, dance music of any kind - so a lot of Orbital fans probably won't like it. But personally I love the airy, orchestral, almost pastoral sound of tracks like 'For Silence' and 'The Unsteady Waltz'.

There are still harder, clubbier tracks (and the poppier 'Please' featuring the distinctive vocals of The Cure's Robert Smith) but the overall feel is sweeping and grandiose. For example, 'Nothing Else Matters' is one of the most beautiful electronic tracks I've heard in ages, and the final track 'Dust Notes' reminds me of the sort of grand, overblown orchestral piece that wouldn't sound out of place on the Floyd's 'Atom Heart Mother'.

In other words, it's fookin' brilliant.

9 out of 10.

So there we have it. A narrow points victory to Paul.

The feeling back "in the day" was that Paul was probably the real brains behind Orbital. I think this was mainly due to the fact that Phil, during the live shows, used to cavort around and wave his arms around and generally look like he was having just as good a time as the audience - while Paul generally kept his head down and seemed to be doing most of the 'knob twiddling'.

Despite this public impression, I reckon these albums show that the talent in the Hartnoll family was shared around fairly evenly.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Manic Monday

It's the last Manic Monday before the official kickoff of the Bigassed Neverending Commercial Holiday Joy Season! Spend, spend, spend!
Acoustic Blues - Paul James (reissue)
Explorer - Duke Robillard (reissue)
New Blues For Modern Man - Duke Robillard (reissue)
Live Shots - Joe Ely
Greatest Hits - Keith Urban
Old Town School Of Folk Music, Vol. 4 -Various Artists
Angel Down - Sebastian Bach - I guess he has time for music now that his gig on Gilmore Girls is up.
A bunch of Holiday Gift Packs are coming out on Capitol Records, each from a different artist (i.e. Pat Benatar, Blur, Blondie, etc. Each features a CD and DVD.)
Ask Forgiveness - Bonnie Prince Billy
Fly Me Courageous - Drivin' N' Cryin' (reissue)
Awakening Live - Melissa Etheridge
Genesis - a bunch of reissues of their 80's stuff on Rhino
Dose - Gov't Mule
Y34R Z3RO R3MIX3D - Nine Inch Nails
Colorado 88 - Phish (and more live Phish, too)
Jukes - Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes - Springsteen light is reissued this day.
Joshua Tree - U2 - 20th Anniversary reissue
The Brit Box: U.K. Indie, Shoegaze, and Brit-Pop Gems of the Last Millennium - Various Artists - Rhino's gift box in a cool-looking package. 78 songs. Stone Roses, Smiths, New Order, Supergrass, My Bloody Valentine, and many, many more artists.
Jesse Winchester - reissues
That is all. Now enjoy the turkey this week, if you're in the USA, and if you like turkey.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Contrast Podcast Needs YOUR Vote!

As you may or may not know, I participate in a weekly podcast, Contrast Podcast, produced by the fab Tim Young. Each week, he assembles a themed podcast featuring songs introduced by the participants. This week, the theme was Random Shuffle, so each participant shuffled a player and submitted the first song that came up, with a short intro. My song this week was Summer's Coming by Sean Watkins. Next week, the theme is 1986, so I've chosen a song, recorded an intro, and emailed it off to Tim to be part of the podcast next week.

For year's end, Tim's doing a Contrast Podcast Festive 50, and asking folks to submit their favorite 5 songs of 2007. I would love it if any of you would join in the fun. Here's what to do:

1. Decide on your 5 favourite tracks of 2007 and put them in order from 1 (your favourite) to 5 (your fifth favourite). (Note: he's a Brit, so favourite=favorite. Yes, I'm a smartass.)
2. Send this list to me at with ‘Contrast Podcast Festive 50’ in the message title by the 27th November.
3. This is open to all contributors and listeners to the podcast .. so spread the word. The more votes we get the better it will work.
4. Three lucky list-makers (pulled out of the hat randomly) will win a copy of the ‘The Trucks – Titties ep’ including my remix!!
5. I will then put the lists together to make a chart and invite contributors to introduce songs that they have liked.
6. The podcast will go out from 18th December to 1st January with a countdown of the top 50 .. hopefully!

If you are shy about recording an intro when/if your song makes the cut, I can do one for you. So, come on, help us out!

What did I submit? It was tough, since there are many songs I couldn't get enough of this year, but my list is:

1.You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb - Spoon
2. Right Moves - Josh Ritter
3.Boy With A Coin - Iron & Wine
4.Down In The Valley - The Broken West
5.Head Like A Hole - Giant Bear (NIN cover)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Oldies but Moldies.

Nat of local fame recently discussed the five oldest records in her collection. That got me rooting through the old lp collection, and reminiscing quite a bit. I was all about the black vinyl disks when I was a kid.

My answer, therefore, would have been much too long for a comment, so I'll list mine here.

First of all, there is a lot missing from this collection. After all, I wasn't always about the music I dig now. In elementary school, my collection was chock full of K-Tel collections with names like Fantastic!, Dynamite!, and Out of Sight! I also had everything Kiss yarked up until the under-the-belt combo of the horribly inept Kiss Alive II and those solo albums. Egad, those solo albums. This stuff, along with other mistakes, was purged from the collection when I reached middle school, and never missed. Thus, this answer to Nat's question involves just those that survived.

There are two from those days, and I am certain that they predate any of the Kiss albums I bought, anyway. They were both, of course, inspired by my older brothers' collections, and the first was the only band that they both had.

Hours upon hours were spent in my room, using the little record player my parents had bought in the 50s - you remember, the little portable ones that were self contained and made their own case. I pored over the record cover - the first "real" one that was my property. I seem to remember there being a poster with it, but that's long gone now.

I remember digging this because it was one my brothers didn't have, yet it had all the songs that I liked from the albums I'd heard, and a few new ones. It also gave me a chance to hear different versions, since it was a live album. See how early this whole thing started?

The next one was heavily inspired by my eldest brother M___'s collection.

At the time, live music was more of an economic decision than an artistic preference. A single lp cost about $7.00, but you could get a double album for $10.00, and a triple like this for about $13.00. More bang for your buck. Any of them were a big investment for a 4th grader in the day when a copy of The Flash was only a quarter. And thanks to both the radio and my brother's records, I was really into the Beatles and McCartney both. This three-disc set not only gave me new versions of songs I knew, but also a lot of new songs, as well as live versions of Beatles songs! This is one I'd like to replace on CD.

It's interesting to note that while I played the hell out of these records, they are still in fantastic shape. I'd even say the McCartney is close to pristine, despite getting played for years longer than the Grand Funk. I was careful with my music to the point of neurosis, I guess. My reverence started at a very early age.

This one was a gift from my other brother, R__ . His idea was always to get me music that I wasn't listening to, and broaden my horizons. In this case, however, it's no wonder the lp is in great shape. With the exception of one song, Do You Feel Like We Do, I never warmed up to it. As a kid, I thought maybe I just wasn't "getting it", because this was such a monstrously popular album. I figured I'd like it better as I matured. I didn't. The main reason this is still in the stacks is the fact that I've never found a used record store willing to buy another copy of the damn thing.

The next one was my own decision, made around 6th or 7th grade, and one of the few to escape the "used record store" purges of the 1980s that removed a LOT of records from consideration here.

This is still a great album. When it first came out, my young mind was baffled by Bohemian Rhapsody, but it grew on me in exactly the way Frampton did not. And the first side is simply one great song after another. In fact, I cannot for the life of me explain why I don't have this on CD, especially since good Queen boots have thus far eluded me.

Finally, we come to one that I'm sure I got in 7th grade, as another gift from R___. This time he got it right, as I was ready, largely because of Queen, to start exploring the more progressive rock bands, and Kansas was a terrific primer. While songs like Dust in the Wind are commercial enough for a young listener to consider "normal", songs like The Spider and Paradox challenged me to follow the melodies and rhythms in a way that hadn't happened before. This album prepared me for a lot of bands I listened to later, such as Yes, ELP, and King Crimson, which in turn paved my way toward jazz. Not only that, but it was also a lyrical departure from the teen love that most of the radio fare consisted of, and that meant a lot to me. I wanted something more intellectual than the usual party fare of the day. And look at that cover! The next record R___ got me for a gift was Wish You Were Here. He really hit the nail on the head that time, eh?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Trivia Quiz - Names

The standing rule: No Googling!

Who is the artist referring to in the song? (Give me the artist/song title, people!) No, these are not the exact lyrics, since what fun would that be? (and none of these are super-obscure songs, ok?)

1. She should wake up, since he's got something to say to her. It's late September and he should be back at school, you know.

2. She made a food (CORRECTION, the word is FOOL) of everyone. She broke the rules, but the world was just waiting for her.

3. This bloated hairy thing winnin' a grammy must not get back together with Glenn Frey.

4. This guy had a hard run, runnin' from her window, and he's on his bended knees asking her not to come around anymore.

5. She need not put out the red light or sell her body to the night.

6. This country boy never learned to read and write so well, but he could play guitar.

7. All he wants to do when he wakes up in the morning is see her eyes.

8. Her phone number was 867-5309.

9. He's crawling up my wall, black and hairy, very small.

10. He looks at the night, and it don't seem so lonely. How can he hurt when he's holding you?

The More Difficult BONUS question:

11. She feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Manic Monday

I have been lax in posting these weekly updates, so it's time to get back to it! I just know you're all dying to get the new Britney Spears release this week!

John Lee Hooker - I Feel Good [Deluxe Edition]
The Starkweather Boys - Archer St. Blues

Larry The Cable Guy - Christmastime In Larryland
The Highwaymen - Folk Hits Collection
Various Artists - Bearded Ladies

Blue Rodeo - Small Miracles
Blues Traveler - Cover Yourself
Cake - Cream Of The Cake
Chad & Jeremy - Greatest Hits

Ellen Foley - a couple of reissues - You know, Meat Loaf's chick singer from Paradise by the Dashboard Light
Robert Fripp & Brian Eno - Unreleased Works Of Sterling Genius
Gerry Goffin/Carole King - Goffin & King: A Gerry Goffin And Carole King Song
Joy Division - reissues
The Kinks - The Kinks Greatest 1970 - 1986
Pure Prairie League - reissues
Leon Russell - reissues
Britney Spea....never mind
The String Cheese Incident - a bunch of live on the road cds
Tegan & Sara - reissues
The Texabilly Rockets - Bop Potion No. 5
Sid Vicious - Sid Lives
Gary Wright - Human Love - reissue of a 2000 release
Various Artists - Tribute To Prince - artists include Ice T, Gary Numan, and a bunch of people I never heard of

In other words, nothing much came out this week.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Trolling the Underground : Interstellar Zappadrive

Thirty eight years ago, Paris was slated tohave its first rock festival, the Festival "Actuel".

The festival did occur, but due to bureaucratic nonsense it ended up in Belgium. It must have been one hell of a scene, though. If you look at the list of bands below (click to embiggen) there are some amazing possibilities. I recognize the name Aynsley Dunbar from his work with Zappa and Jefferson Starship, and likewise recognize Keith Tippet from his brief stint with King Crimson in the 70s, but don't know if either of these bands was ever recorded. Better known bands included Yes, the Nice, and the Pretty Things. Zappa was there first as Capt. Beefheart's road manager, and soon stepped up to being the MC for the festival. This presented certain problems, however, since the audience spoke little English and Zappa's command of French was tenuous at best. He abdicated those duties and ended up playing as a guest with many of the bands instead. One of them was Pink Floyd.

I've been wanting to post this for awhile, but couldn't because it's a little too long for the storage I was using before. My new storage site has no limits, so I can post this delicious 20 minute jam from October 25 1969. On that night Zappa joined Pink Floyd onstage to improvise through an uncustomarily long and experimental version of the already long and experimental Syd Barrett classic Interstellar Overdrive.

When I found this, I actually found two different versions of it. One was called Interstellar Zappadrive and the other was Let's Be Frank. Being as it doesn't cost anything, I downloaded them both and gave them both a listen. Not only was IZ the better sounding audience recording, it also came with a few alternate soundboard cuts. What I have here, though, is from the audience - no board of the Zappa stuff. It sounds pretty damn good, though, and has become a favored listen here Under the Bridge. Those of us familiar with Gilmour and Zappa's styles will be able to pick them apart, and it's amazing how easily Zappa fits in with and influences what's going on with the song. Those of you who don't know the difference, just buckle in for some hot psychedelia. You can hear it right here.

There was a film made of this festival called Music Power, and I understand it includes footage of this song. It's never been released, however, due to objections among the artists - including Pink Floyd. It's floating around out there, though, so far eluding your Troll. Another Holy Grail, I guess.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Trivia Quiz Returns!!! a slightly different form. This time around, I'm going to list 15 debut albums. Can you tell me who the artists are without Googling? I deliberately strayed outside my own taste in music to give a wider range of you a shot at it. Here we go-

  1. Cold Spring Harbor (Billy Joel)

  2. Freak Out! (Zappa/Mothers of Invention)

  3. Empty Sky (Elton John)

  4. Truth (Jeff Beck Group)

  5. White Music (XTC)

  6. On Through the Night (Def Leppard)

  7. Los Angeles (X)

  8. Murmur (R.E.M.)

  9. For You (Prince)

  10. Children of the Future (Steve Miller Band)

  11. Ring Ring (ABBA)

  12. Tales of Mystery & Imagination (Alan Parsons Project)

  13. Pretties For You (Alice Cooper)

  14. This Was (Jethro Tull)

  15. Writer (Carole King)

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find 15 debut albums that weren't just titled with the band or artist's name? Yeesh.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trolling the Studio: The Who, vol.1 - Lifehouse

In the last exciting installment of TtS I talked about demo recordings, which are the "test recording" that artists will make of new songs in order to sell them to the record company and show them to other members of the band. These are much more available than unreleased albums, simply by virtue of numbers. In fact, I don't know why I don't see more of them than I do. For every record released, there are a set of demo recordings. You don't get too big to do demos - at least that's what my copy of Pink Floyd's Final Cut demos tells me.

Demos range from raw solo cuts tweaked out on a piano or guitar to fully polished works that might be almost identical to the finished product. The latter are the ones you won't be hearing here. What would be the point?

The Who's songs, unlike many other bands', were never collaborative in the beginning. Pete Townshend laid down the ideas and music for most of their work, especially the operas. Since he was writing the songs, and since he was able to play the guitar and sing well while doing a competent job on bass and drums, he would do the demos, and very fine demos he would do. In fact, no one else has commercially released as many demos as Pete has, to my knowledge. They are, in many cases, legitimate alternative versions of the songs, not just unfinished skeletons. It also seems that few have made as many, also, because while he's released a lot of them, the underground coughs up even more, allowing me to take this album by album.

Who's Next has always been one of my favorite rock albums. I consider it a necessity to a rock collection. Even if you don't think you know the Who, if you've listened to rock radio and you're not too old, you know half of this album. I have long known that it grew from the wreckage of an unrealized project called Lifehouse, but I never knew the story until I looked it up recently while listening to these demos.

Lifehouse was to be the follow up to the very successful Tommy. It was a science fiction story that sounds very much like a popular movie from the 1990s. Pete Townshend had the idea in 1970, however. He got started and did a lot of recording, but the complexity of the project grew, involving film and audience participation over an open-ended period of time. The audience participation part involved the programming of data about a person - physical attributes, personality traits, etc. - into a computer program which would then create a piece of music based on and reflecting that info. The project ultimately failed because it snowballed out of Townshend's control, largely because he couldn't get anyone else to fully grasp his idea. The full story is told pretty well here, and here's a less detailed version that also includes a song list and some interpretations of those songs. It's very interesting reading. Pete was really thinking ahead of his time and outside the box.

At any rate, while the project collapsed, it became more condensed and turned into a conventional rock album, Who's Next, with a couple bits also popping up on the Who Are You album and elsewhere. There are still projects afoot that deal with this concept, and I'll write about that soon.

For now, I'm going to show you a few aspects to this music you've most likely never imagined. First up is the demo version of Baba O'Reilly (If you don't recognize that title, you might think the song is called Teenage Wasteland.) This differs from the FM classic in a few ways. First, it is more than twice as long, clocking in at a little over 13 minutes. It's instrumental. In fact, the length and structure of the piece suggests to me that this was meant to be the overture of the Lifehouse project. While parts of it are identical to what you know, others are completely new (one sounding somewhat like an electronic polka), and others are familiar but different because they are played by Pete instead of the band. Yet despite the vast differences, it begins and ends just like the one you know. I'll be interested to know what you think of it - it's right here.

The second offering is the other FM mainstay from the Who's Next album, Won't Get Fooled Again. This song is arranged just like the finished version. It still sounds completely different. This cut truly points out what a difference the musicians themselves make, and how the Who weren't just taking orders from Pete. It's very cool to listen to, though. Where the finished cut is raw and hard, this version, while still energetic, has a sound much closer to country rock. In fact, I easily closed my eyes and imagined Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young playing while Pete sang. Not only does Pete's drumming remind me of Dallas Taylor, but the overall approach has that unique blend of pissed-off and laid-back that CSNY can reach on a good live Southern Man. It's right here - you can tell me if you hear that same thing, or if you think I'm nuts.

The third and last cut is the demo of one of their more obscure tunes, and one of my favorites, called Relay. Relay is a powerhouse electronic tune about government control and the inevitable underground it breeds. I think I heard it on Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy originally, but I'm sure it's on a CD as a bonus song by now. The one time I heard it on the radio I was stunned.

Once again, this shows the difference between Pete and The Who. It isn't a lesser song by any means - this could be released. It's just wildly different in a wild way. Rather than reminding me of the Who or CSNY, this version of Relay invokes Dr. John more than anyone else. I mean Pete is really laying down the funk right here, at least as much as a skinny white guy from England is going to. It's an amazing new perspective on this song. Once again- listen here and tell me if you hear something different.

I have demos for several more Who albums, but I'll take my time. There's plenty in the studio for me to troll, believe me. We'll not get bored.

This is now my favorite Who photo. I've never seen one that sums them up better. John Entwistle was a rock.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Trolling the Underground : Another Legend Passes.

It's been a rough couple of months in the jazz world. First, legendary drummer and be-bop originator Max Roach died in August, and then keyboardist and jazz fusion innovator Joe Zawinul passed on on September 11, 2007.

You may not know his name, but I'm sure you've heard of the famous band he co-founded with saxophonist Wayne Shorter - Weather Report. You may not have heard one of their albums, but if you've lived in the western hemisphere at any point since the late 70s, I'm sure you've heard the song he's most famous for - fusion classic Birdland.

So, upon his passing, a similar thing happened as I reported in the Max Roach post - his history started popping up for download at a rapid rate. Much more so, in fact, than Max, perhaps because Joe's jazz music was appreciated by rock fans to a far greater degree. There was so much that I still haven't given it all a listen. The ones I have listened to have amazed me, and captured my undivided attention in a way that few things have in the past year or so. I should, in fact, have paid a lot more attention to Joe while he was alive.

Hailing from Austria, Joe first recorded with Cannonball Adderley in the 60s. He wrote Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, as song that quickly became a staple in Adderley's live act. I find it interesting because in that band he was playing much more conventional jazz than he would soon be helping invent. Toward the end of the 60s and the end of his tenure with Adderley his style had grown toward that which he'd be more known for. I have to offer something from that era, a sweet and not too long rendition of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy from Graz, Austria on March 15, 1969. Joe's piano solo is as close to country as I've ever heard jazz get. It contrasts the free forms he'd be discovering very soon after this show.

After his stint with Cannonball, Joe worked with Miles Davis on two historic albums; In a Silent Way and Bitches' Brew. These albums gave birth to a new form - jazz fusion. It was this band that not only brought electric instruments into jazz, but also played with rhythms that were much more at home in the rock world while loosening up the melodies to improvisational heights like those that Coleman and Coltrane had previously reached for. They not only started a new branch of jazz which is still strong, but also heavily influenced the progressive rock movement of the 70s (not to mention the Grateful Dead). Since Joe played on both albums, I always assumed that he toured with Miles during those years.

I assumed wrong. While doing some research and looking for pictures, I learned that Joe never played live with Miles Davis until a star studded show ( I mean everyone was there) at La Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris on July 10, 1991. Joe played on two songs (the band changed members completely ten times throughout the show). Both songs are one one track, so I can share them both from the FM recording of the event. The track starts with Joe and Wayne Shorter (ss) playing Joe's In a Silent Way, followed by It's About That Time with Bill Evans (ss) joining Shorter and Davis (tp), Kenny Garrett (as), Richard Patterson (el-b) and Al Foster (d) rounding out the band. It's a great example of the style that fathered one new form and heavily influenced another.

After that, Joe got together with Davis cohort Wayne Shorter to form one of the most successful yet exploratory fusion bands, Weather Report. This band went through a lot of changes and did a lot of fantastic music that I am just discovering now. I've had two of there more popular albums, Heavy Weather and Black Market for many years, but only now, when concert recordings from 1970 to 1980 are literally falling onto my hard drive from afar am I realizing what a great groove every incarnation of this band had and how much interesting stuff they had to offer. So much so that I am nowhere near even the halfway point, and obviously will need to make a separate post of it. I've already heard a 24 minute version of Boogie Woogie Waltz that almost made me splat my spats. I can't go without doing some WP, though, so for now I'll go with the obvious.

Like I said above, you HAVE heard Birdland. Yes you have, if you've lived, as I said earlier, in the western hemisphere, especially if you have gone shopping. This is a really great song, despite being heard on AM radios and shopping mall PAs for the last 30 years. It's one of the rare, those oh, so rare times when good music and mass appeal actually meet and don't spit at each other.

Of course, I have to play a live version, and I'm not happy with the one that I have on audio, so it's very fortunate that YouTube has a far better one on video. You can not only check out Joe, but you'll also see brilliant, tragic bass legend Jaco Pastorius at work. Check it out. You recognize it, don't you?

Finally, I have a slinky, funky tune from his most recent band, The Zawinul Syndicate. I'd never heard this band before, and I have to say I'll be hearing a lot more of them. I couldn't find anything about them on the web but I didn't have that much time to look, preparing as I am for a short road trip. This song, Scarlet Woman, comes from the Rose Theater in NYC on the 27th or 28th of October, 2006. It is so unlike the previous songs in this post it has to be heard to be believed.

That is the crux of what made Joe a treasure. He purposely pushed himself to change his style at all times. He didn't buy records because he didn't want to pick up anyone else's chops, and he hated repeating himself. While he was raised on more traditional jazz forms, once he latched on to fusion he constantly took the point and made sure the form didn't stagnate. There are too few like that in any genre.

This post took quite a while to get together due to my unfamiliarity with much of Joe's music, a weak spot soon to be strengthened by considerable listening. I've downloaded enough to keep this fresh for months. It's a shame that it took Joe's death to really get my attention past a few discs but I guess there will always be things I haven't gotten around to listening to yet. He won't be forgotten, and I have no doubt that there will be a dedicated Weather Report post once I wade through the 70s with Joe and Wayne.

Next: Barring any more jazz memorials, we'll be returning at long last to rock and roll.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gram Parsons rarity surfaces

This just in from Rolling Stone:
A long-lost recording of Gram Parsons playing with the Flying Burrito Brothers in 1969 will be released October 30th. The 27 track set, taped at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom when the group was opening for the Grateful Dead, contains 10 unreleased covers including Hank Williams' "You Win Again" and George Jones' "She Once Lived Here." The recording - taped by Grateful Dead sound man (and LSD King) Owsley Stanley - was discovered two years ago by Amoeba Records founder David Prinz in the Dead's Marin County vault. Blown away by the recording, Prinz decided to try to release it - a two-year process which involved getting permission from the reclusive Stanley as well as surviving bandmates and Universal Records. "I was standing next to the speaker and it was like Gram was in the room with you," he says. "I have never heard his voice like that, ever." Prinz plans on releasing future Parsons archival albums, including more shows with the Burrito Brothers and a rare show from his brief tenure with the Byrds. "Making these shows available is my dream. " Prinz says. "To all Gram fans, this is for you."

Thanks for making my day, Mr. Prinz!

Last year I wrote this GP tribute.

UPDATE: Joe the Bit Torrent Troll was kind enough to dig up some MP3s of this.

From April 4, 5 or 6, 1969, here are a few samples available for download (hopefully until October 29):

Lucille, an uptempo ditty with a psychedelic flavah,

Get Ourselves Together, a firm tune with that hippie country resolve, and

You Win Again, the Hank Williams standard that the Dead added to their repetoire a few years later.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Manic Monday

New this week:
Deborah Coleman - Stop The Game
Magic Slim - Essential Magic Slim
A huge series called "Pure" is being released, featuring many classic country artists, including Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Lee Greenwood, etc.
Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
Billy Joe Shaver - Everybody's Brother
Erin McKeown - Lafayette
Holiday Music is being released by the boatload. 'Tis almost the season!
R & B:
*Bettye LaVette - Scene Of The Crime
- If the one song I heard is any indication, this cd is going to be smokin'! Her voice is in fine form, and her band on this record includes David and Patterson Hood and the rest of the Drive-By Truckers and Spooner Oldham.
Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
The Bird And The Bee - Please Clap Your Hands
Pieta Brown - Remember The Sun
Pat DiNinzio - Pat DiNinzio
Melissa Etheridge - Awakening
Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature
Iron & Wine - Shepherd's Dog - I'm not a huge fan, but I do love the song Boy With A Coin, which is included on the latest Paste Magazine sampler.
The Lemonheads - Best Of The Lemonheads: The Atlantic Years
Nellie McKay - Obligatory Villagers
Joni Mitchell - Shine - her first new release in 5 years.
Iggy Pop - 1977 - reissue
Brian Setzer Orchestra - Wolfgang's Big Night Out
Stars - In Our Bedroom After The War
Tegan And Sara - This Business Of Art
The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
Winger - The Very Best Of Winger - Because we will settle for no less than the very best.
*Pick Of The Week

Monday, September 17, 2007

Manic Monday

Do you think 50 will keep his promise to stop recording???
Hey kids, summer's over and it's time for the serious music to come out, so open the wallets and start bleeding money (or the RIAA will hunt you down!)
Doyle Bramhall - Is It News
Johnny "Guitar" Watston - Untouchable! The Classic 1959 - 1966 Recordings
Bessie Smith - Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out
Mary Gauthier - Between Daylight And Dark
Emmylou Harris - Songbird: Rare Tracks and Forgotten Gems
Reba McEntire - Reba Duets
Iain Matthews - some reissues
Kingston Trio - Lost 1967 Album: Rarities, Vol. 1
A boatload of holiday music gets released this week. Oh, the joy.
R & B:
I hardly mention R & B, but the new Babyface, Playlist, seems like it could appeal to me. There are acoustic covers of James Taylor and Jim Croce and Eric Clapton included. How do I know about this? They are hawking it all over the TV!
Alice In Chains - MTV Unplugged [CD/DVD]
Badfinger - two reissues
Cindy Lee Berryhill - Beloved Stranger - with guest artists John Doe, Peter Case, and Dave Alvin
James Blunt - All The Lost Souls - Because he sold his?
Canned Heat - Live At The Topanga Corral - Reportedly not recorded at the Topanga Corral, but at LA's Kaleidoscope club in 1968.
Chesterfield Kings - Psychedelic Sunrise (new) and The Mindbending Sounds Of The Chesterfield Kings (reissue)
Jamie Cullum - In The Mind Of Jamie Cullum
The Dream Academy - Dream Academy - reissue - Here's your chance to grab Life In A Northern Town, since you didn't hear it enough in 1986!
The Fabulous Thunderbirds - reissues
Peter Hammill - reissues
H.I.M. - Venus Doom - for the gothies out there
Danny Kirwan - Second Chapter [Limited Edition]
Alvin Lee - Saguitar
Ben Lee - Ripe
The Legendary Shack Shakers - Swampblood
Barry Manilow - Greatest Songs Of The Seventies - Um. Right. Maybe the greatest shmaltz of the seventies. And he includes a couple of his own hits!
The Monkees - a couple of compilations
Motion City Soundtrack - Even If It Kills Me
The Polyphonic Spree - Live From Austin, TX - Ok, now I know that series has gone too far. This group sounds like an adult version of The Brady Bunch to me.
Seals & Crofts - A ton of reissues. Speaking of seventies hits, these guys had a few!
Sonny & Cher - Classics
Those Darn Accordians - Squeeze Machine - Has me intrigued.
3 Doors Down - Better Life [Deluxe Edition]
K.T. Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic
Wishbone Ash - First Light
Link Wray - Pathway Sessions
Eddie Vedder
does the Into The Wild soundtrack.
UPDATE: And who is ahead in the 50 Cent vs. Kanye battle of last week's releases?
Billboard reported Friday that Kanye West's Graduation leads with 781,000 copies sold over the 603,000 moved by 50 Cent's Curtis.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Manic Monday

New releases for tomorrow, Sept. 11, 2007.
Homesick James - Shake Your Money Maker - reissue
Eric Bibb - Evening With Eric Bibb
Various Artists - Best Of Mississippi Blues
(includes Otis Spann, Son House, and Memphis Slim)
Kenny Chesney - Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates
Patsy Cline - Country Biography
Willie Nelson - Country Biography
Joan Baez - Carry It On
Ian Matthews - Journeys From Gospel Oak [with bonus tracks] - Reissue.
The 50 Cent vs. Kanye West releases will happen. 50 says he will quit if Kanye's debuts higher. I'm all for that. Maybe Kanye could quit if Kenny Chesney debuts at #1?? And that's all I'm ever saying about rap.
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
Frank Black - Bluefinger
Collective Soul - Afterwords -here is one band I never thought would last this long.
Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True [Deluxe Edition] - This is one of my favorite debut albums ever and I've already got a 2 -cd release from Rhino. How many editions of one release do I need?
Ani DiFranco - Canon
The Dollyrots - Because I'm Awesome
Fleetwood Mac - English Rose - reissue
Peter Green Splinter Group - Time Traders/Reaching The Cold 100 - double album reissue
Joe Henry - Civilians
Nazareth - Complete Singles Collection
Pink Floyd - Piper At The Gates Of Dawn [3-cd deluxe] - the one mentioned last week, with a bonus disc of extras
Emma Pollack - Watch The Fireworks
Johnathan Rice - Further North
Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills
Ann Wilson - Hope & Glory - she does duets with all sorts of people, including Elton John and Alison Krauss
Wishbone Ash - Live in Hamburg