Sunday, August 31, 2008

ORNETTE COLEMAN, LIVE AT CHICAGO JAZZ FEST, 8/31/08. Living in a place like Chicago where there's great stuff to see/hear/do almost every night (at least during the warm months), you get used to the idea of missing most of it. For example, Ornette Coleman himself gets scheduled to close this year's Chicago Jazz Festival, a free show no less, and I was still thinking about skipping it. Then, I heard that the lineup was Denardo on drums and... two basses? One acoustic and one electric? And Ornette and that's it?? Suddenly I didn't think I would skip it anymore. That just sounded bold. The day of the show came, and our friends were having an awesome BBQ at 5PM. Ornette went on at 8:30PM, which meant we would have to leave the BBQ at 7:30, drive to the nearest train stop and park our car, take a 30 minute train ride downtown, and then walk a good five or six downtown blocks to Grant Park and join a few thousand people at the Petrillo Band Shell... sounds complicated but driving our car all the way downtown and trying to park it somewhere was even more impossible. (All this being another big reason great shows are often missed.) And of course, the BBQ wasn't easy to leave - they had a kid's pool set up and at 8:00 PM, 30 minutes after our scheduled departure time, the kids were still swimming. True to form, no one else there was interested in going to the show, even all the jazz fans (there were two other people going but they were on bikes and had no kids), but somehow we finally got out of there at about 8:10 and, after missing a train by seconds, waiting 20 minutes for the next one, and then getting downtown and walking down the wrong street for at least a block, finally got to the bandshell with about 20 or at most 30 minutes left in Ornette's set, aaaannnndddd..........

It was the best 20 or 30 minutes of live music I've seen all year, if not in years. After the hustle and bustle of getting downtown, the idea of time simply dematerialized once we got into earshot of the band. They were playing a ballad, Denardo sitting out and Ornette on trumpet. The two bassists, Tony Falanga on acoustic and Al McDowell on electric, were building up a gorgeous fragile misty dream fabric through which Ornette's horn cried and keened. Worth the "price" of admission already, and after that, Denardo got back on the drum kit and the pace picked up considerably - they played "Dancing In Your Head," among others - but the tone stayed fragile and delicate, elegant and dreamy, even as the chops and ideas got weird as they so often do when the Colemans are in the house. Denardo is simply not a normal drummer, and no one can pierce through the surface of a tune with pure love/cry/want like Ornette can. He is 76 years old and did seem like he was pulling his punches a bit, but the way he used this softness and delicacy to his advantage was stunning, as was his interaction with the rest of the band, feathery lines willowing in and out of bubbling and driving rhythms. That said, the closer was "Song X" and it rocked as hard as almost any rock band I've seen. Falanga played the gutbucket driving bassline, relentlessly pushed by Denardo, while McDowell brilliantly took on the role of pianist or guitarist, splashing flamencoid chord clusters and slippery single-note runs for Ornette to dance around and in. That sound is definitely still dancing in my head today and I'm sure it will for quite awhile....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


8/26/08 - DJ Larry Dolman
"JAZZ SPECIAL (sort of)"

Max Roach "Mendacity" (Impulse!)*
Warmer Milks "Colburn II" (Every Label Ever)
John Fahey "Ghosts" (Little Brother)*
Albert Ayler "Ghosts" (Revenant)
Sonny Sharrock "Hit Single" (Cartoon Network)*
Sonny Sharrock "Promises Kept" (Axiom)*
Jimmy Giuffre "Time Will Tell" (Columbia)
Prince & the Revolution "Around the World In A Day" (Paisley Park)
Spectrum "How You Satisfy Me" (Silvertone)*
Evie Sands "I Can't Let Go" (Rhino)*
Amiri Baraka "Bang, Bang Outishly" (Rhino/WEA)*
Thelonious Monk "Misterioso" (Blue Note)*
Miles Davis "Saturday Miles" (Columbia)*
Sunny Murray "Black Art" (DIW)*
Joakim Skogsberg "Offer-Rota" (Tiliqua)*
Warmer Milks "Here At Home" (Paranormal Overtime)*
Grateful Dead "What's Become Of The Baby?" (Warner Bros.)*
Grateful Dead "Mountains of the Moon" (Warner Bros.)*
Led Zeppelin "Stairway to Heaven" (Atlantic)*
Mahavishnu Orchestra "The Dance of Maya"
Black Sabbath "Supernaut" (Warner Bros.)*
Joakim Skogsberg "Fridens Liljor" (Tiliqua)*
Neu! "Lila Engel (Lilac Angel)" (Astralwerks)*

1. I'm not really one for politics, but as I stand by and watch plutocratic pigs both lipstick-wearing and otherwise drag another election into sheer post-American Idol incoherence, it sure feels good to play "Mendacity" by Max Roach. From his Percussion Bitter Sweet album, this is one blistering anti-political tune. Roach's wife-to-be Abbey Lincoln starts the song by stating the theme bluntly: "The campaign trail winds on and on in towns from coast to coast/The winner ain't the one who's straight, but he who lies the most." Then comes the solo by Eric Dolphy on alto sax, and it is supreme artistry, also blunt but still incredibly lyrical, both outside and inside, ranting at the mendacity, mocking its cloying bluster, and at the same time crying in pain at the real lives being thrown away behind all the maddening mendacious diversions. Then the band drops out and Roach plays an unaccompanied drum solo that really sets things straight, a heraldic call for clarity amid this despair and confusion. Extremely serious, disciplined, and clear as a bell, with huge pauses for emphasis, it seems to represent the antidote: straight talk with fists ready. Then the band comes back in with the theme, and Abbey sings one more verse that really ups the ante: "Now voting rights in this fair land we know are not denied/But if I tried in certain states, from tree tops I'd be tied!" For much more on Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, go to this page. Scroll ALL the way down on that page for some comments and a poem by Amiri Baraka. More Amiri Baraka later in this show.

2. John Fahey's "Ghosts" is from the double 7-inch called The Mill Pond, one of his greatest late-period releases. It's certainly one of the harshest, with four devastating noise/folk tracks, including one terrifying howl called "You Can't Cool Off In The Mill Pond, You Can Only Die" (Side C). That one came up on my iPod shuffle one day at work, and after a couple minutes I walked over to see who was playing the terrifying music. I wasn't surprised to see it was Fahey, but I was impressed. The song title was too long to fit, so I watched it slowly scrolling across the iPod screen, "You Can't Cool Off In The Mill Pond," and here I am, already unsettled by the sound, as the rest of the title comes across: "You Can Only Die." Damn, thanks a lot John. Heavy dude. "Ghosts" is Side A, the quietest and most song-based of the four, not an Ayler cover, but a calm fingerpicked number over which Fahey does some wordless singing. It's eerie as hell but also melodic and surprisingly gentle.

3, 4. "Hit Single" is the cheeky title for the theme Sonny Sharrock came up with for the Cartoon Network TV show Space Ghost Coast to Coast. He recorded it with powerhouse drummer Lance Carter back in 1994, six months before his unexpected death from a heart attack at age 54. (Turns out Carter also passed away young, at age 51, in 2006.) Not sure how Sharrock ended up being asked to do the theme - did Bill Laswell hook it up? Speaking of Laswell, I was never a fan, but I could never quite ignore him either, and my favorite shit he ever did, hands down, is his work with Sharrock. The solo album Guitar is dreamy and gorgeous and the jazz quartet album Ask the Ages is fantastic. Sharrock writes all the tunes, co-produces with Laswell, and plays guitar with the serious lineup of Pharoah Sanders on sax, Charnett Moffett on bass, and Elvin Jones himself on drums. First track "Promises Kept" is 9 minutes long... Sanders takes the first solo and there's a moment about halfway through it, as he is just ramping up the free-blowing steadily higher, when Sharrock suddenly leaps in with explosive electricity... add the thunderous rhythm section and you might have one of the 10 or 20 single most group-explosive moments in fire music history, I'm not kidding.

5, 6. This Evie Sands song, as heard on the Rhino box set One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost And Found, sounds incredibly familiar to me... maybe someone covered it, or maybe it's just that the band Spectrum ripped it off for the first song on their awesome 1992 album Soul Kiss (Glide Divine). I swear in some places it's almost note for note (new lyrics though). I could see Sonic Boom being into this tune. I could also see it being a complete coincidence. Whatever. Wait, this just in: The Hollies covered it in 1966. I really don't think I've ever heard that version, but maybe.... oh shit, even more breaking news, our (high on) crack research staff has just turned up this blog post, in which it is revealed that Linda Ronstadt also cut a version in the late 1970s! Hmm, that was when her Living in the USA album (1978) was getting tons of plays at my house, thanks mom and dad... could it be... um, nope. It's actually on her next album, 1980's Mad Love, the one where she went New Wave. Maybe that's where Sonic Boom heard it! I guess I might've heard it then too, but I don't think so. It doesn't matter anymore, I'll just listen to the Evie Sands version. By the way, I think I actually love Linda Ronstadt, especially 1974-1978 era. She could belt out some country soul, for serious, and she picked classic songs. I keep thinking of her version of "Heatwave" by Martha & the Vandellas. Her studio bands were just organic enough that it didn't get drecky, aka "the Wachtel zone." I could be wrong about all of this, it's kind of a fuzzy memory. Hello? Anybody still here?? As for that Rhino box, despite it's hugeness (120 tracks on 4 CDs!) it's just not satisfying my love of 1960s girl group soul. This shit has to be listened on the original 45s, I'm convinced. CD allows for too much of it at once and it kind of just gives you a sugar headache. Especially when the music is mastered so brightly and cleanly. When you hear this stuff on a 45, or through the crackle of AM radio, it sounds murky and mysterious, and the imagination fills in the rest as grandiose and glamorous. On CD it's just another golden oldie where everything is adorable but the lights are on so bright that you can see the scotch tape holding up the decorations.

7-18. Okay, we had a couple warmups earlier in the show, now for the full-on jazz portion (not really). It starts with a recording from another Rhino/WEA box set, In Their Own Voices: A Century Of Recorded Poetry, in which Amiri Baraka reads "Bang Bang, Outishly." For the intro and refrain of the poem he sings the theme from Monk's "Misterioso" and it's just blown-out and mic-clipping enough to make me think of some kind of Black Sabbath riff, which reminds me that the main riff from "Bitches Brew" by Miles Davis has always sounded to me like some sort of funkified Black Sabbath, and is in fact now starting to seem like some kind of actual Monk/Sabbath midpoint. To further investigate I spin Thelonious Monk's sublime 1948 recording of "Misterioso" on Blue Note Records and then follow it with "Saturday Miles," the mega-turbulent 20-minute-plus medley on Side D of the Miles Davis At Fillmore double in which "Bitches Brew" at its most Sabbathian features heavily, recorded live in June 1970. As the track ends results are inconclusive due to slack-jawed soul-drool at the altar of heavy, so instead of doing the obvious and playing Black Sabbath (that doesn't come until a little later) I keep flying headlong into post-jazz turbulence by bringing back Baraka (here calling himself Leroi Jones because it's 1965) reading his incendiary poem "Black Art" backed by drummer Sunny Murray and no less than Ayler, Cherry, Grimes, and Worrell. At first I was gonna play it safe and put on "Black Dada Nihilismus" (in which Jones reads with the New York Art Quartet on their self-titled 1964 LP for ESP-Disk) but the imp of the perverse in me put "Black Art" on instead, simply because it pisses so many people off, or let's just say "starts a dialog." I'll stay away from some of Jones's more infamous bitch-slaps right now, but I will quote this choice nugget: "We want 'poems that kill.' Assassin poems, poems that shoot guns. Poems that wrestle cops into alleys and take their weapons leaving them dead with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland." Man, why didn't Charlton Heston and His Moral Outrage drum up publicity for this record instead of "Cop Killer"? He missed the boat by 27 years! The record label was even called Jihad! America could have whined "Why does Mr. Jones hate so much?" and maybe, just maybe, a few noble folks would have dug just a little deeper and noticed that he had already given a fairly serious answer to that question just a few lines later: "Clean out the world for virtue and love, let there be no love poems written until love can exist freely and cleanly." Maybe the record would've actually gotten repressed a couple times. Alright, alright, let's cool things down a little, I think we could all use a change of pace, and boy do I have one. It does relate to the previous though, as it is another raw exploration of the human voice... in fact, it is just a guy, all by himself, humming a basic melody over and over for almost 6 minutes... and, even though the guy is from Sweden, I'll be damned if the melody doesn't sound a whole lot like that Sabbathian/Monkian riff from "Bitches Brew." In fact, it's no change of pace - this track is crazy too. The vocalist is Joakim Skogsberg, from his strange and dark 1971 psych/folk album called Jola Rota. He probably did know "Bitches Brew," right? It had come out just a year earlier, on an album that sold very well worldwide.... but then again the style of singing is 'jolor,' which is apparently an ancient Swedish folk style, a lot older than Miles Davis (although the only info a google search for keywords like swedish+jolor+folk+singing et al seems to bring up is this Skogsberg album). This is where we lose the jazz transmission, as the vocal atmosphere of this track is so weird I feel like I can only follow it up with two more deeply strange voice-based cuts, the first one brand new by Warmer Milks from the POT series of numbered CDRs ("POT" stands for the name of the in-house label Paranormal Overtime, in case you were wondering, and this particular track is from the disc called "POT 7"), and then the absurd "What's Become Of The Baby?" by The Grateful Dead. In A Long Strange Trip, Dennis McNally writes: "In 'Baby,' Garcia wanted the sound of the entire band to come out of his voice, which required voltage-controlled amplifiers, filters, and pitch followers, which had not yet been invented. Once again, their ambitions had overshot their skill. And the descent into total lunacy initiated by mixing while inhaling nitrous oxide majestically confused everything." In Living With The Dead, Rock Scully writes "I'm not even counting the muezzin's-call-to-prayer and Gregorian chant on the utterly weird 'What's Become of the Baby' (which I attribute to too many hours spent under tungsten lighting)." In his consumer guide, Robert Christgau's entire review of Aoxomoxoa, the 1969 album this song is from, was this: "One experimental cut which hasn't made it for me yet, otherwise fantastic. (A)" I think I know which cut he was referring to. I don't even like this song myself, but I feel like I have to play it on the radio at least once just to see if anything happens. It might start more dialog than "Black Art." And next, we atone with "Mountains of the Moon," a much lovelier song from the same album, and as long as we're working out 60s/70s power baroque, which one gets you higher, mountains of the moon or a "Stairway to Heaven"? About a week ago I listened to "Stairway to Heaven" for the first time in many years because it came up on the iPod shuffle. I had been avoiding it because I just didn't feel like it could ever sound new again, but there it was last week, taking me by surprise in a brand new context (my very own radio station with a 16,000-song library, thank you Apple Corp!), and my god, get past the guitar student cliche the intro has become and what a riveting long-form ballad it is, especially the instrumental refrain after each sung verse. Bravo to Maestro Page for writing that one, holy shit, those raw electric guitar sounds playing beautiful folk chords, chiming and gnawing into each other, building crazy tension, no drums, etc. I'm hearing more of the subtle and complex bass playing by John Paul Jones than ever too (I'm no audiophile but I know my mp3s of this album are encoded at 320kps and I honestly think that has something to do with this whole epiphany - how about that for a completely different opinion about digital sound than the one gathered from the Rhino/WEA Girl Group Sounds box above). Man, when this show is done I think I'm gonna pull that Erik Davis book off the shelf, put this album on repeat, and hit the couch... but first we've got time for a few more, and it's time to give Sabbath and Skogsberg their due by playing a couple of their more motorheaded numbers, to make up for skipping the former and then playing a not-completely-indicative cut by the latter. And to close the show: one of my favorite pieces of German motorheaded nonsense ever, "Lila Engel" by Neu! Whew! (Doesn't rhyme with Neu.)

Ladies and gentlemen: Evie Sands.

Monday, August 25, 2008

8/25/08 - DJ Larry Dolman

Träd Gräs och Stenar "Rock For Kropp Och Själ" (Silence)*
Sic Alps "United" (Important)
Kraftwerk "Computer Liebe" (EMI Electrola)
Sparks "My Other Voice" (Virgin)*
Omar-S "Day" (FXHE)*
Burger/Ink "Milk & Honey" (Matador)
Rhythm & Sound "Mango Drive" (Rhythm & Sound)
Scientist "Cry Of The Werewolf" (I Hear A New World)*
Congos "Youth Man" (I Hear A New World)*
Horace Andy "Ain't No Sunshine" (I Hear A New World)*
Sister Ola Mae Terrel "Life Is A Problem" (Mississippi)
Rolling Stones "Parachute Woman" (London)
Studio 1 "Silber 2" (Studio 1)
Omar-S "Night" (FXHE)*
Windy & Carl "Whisper" (Icon)
Flying Canyon "Down To Summer" (Soft Abuse)*
Nirvana "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam" (DGC)*
Sun City Girls "Ghost Ghat Tresspass" (Abduction)*
The Homosexuals "Hearts in Exile" (ReR Megacorp/Morphius Archives)

1. Good morning, you are listening to Radio Blastitude, WBLSTD 66.6 FM Chicago. My name is Larry 'Fuzz-O' Dolman and I'll be with you until 8AM, thanks for tuning in. This has been Träd Gräs och Stenar from Sweden with "Rock For Kropp Och Själ," the title track from a 1972 LP release on Silence Records that I don't believe has been reissued. That's "Rock For Kropp Och Själ," easing you into the 6 o'clock hour. Time now is 6:23 AM, we should have sunny skies today, topping out around 78, another glorious late summer lakeside day here in Chitown, so now that we're eased in and waking up we're gonna pick up the pace a little, get the day going. We're not gonna pick it up too fast, don't worry about that, we'll give you a chance to rub the rest of that sleep outta your eyes with this number by the Sic Alps, new on Important Records, it's actually a Throbbing Gristle cover, it's called "United".....

2. Sparks tune is from the Giorgio Moroder produced No. 1 In Heaven album (1976). Selection inspired by the voluminous Sparks discography rundown by Ned Raggett in Arthur #29, it was very nicely written, I can't believe I read the whole thing.

3. "Day" by Omar-S is exactly what house music sounds like in my dreams. It's between that and Gas Konigsforst anyway. "Day" is just perfectly pitched between fast and slow, hard and soft, minimal and lush, R&B and whatever. "'Is that all the record do?'. Yeah bitch, that’s all the record do. Yep your lazy ass needs to do some other shit with it."

4-6. Okay, the reggae tunes are in there via the new Magical, Beautiful mix CDR release, Nearer My God In Spring, on his/their own I Hear A New World label, catalog number IHAN07 in a sweet chipboard case-thing, and I'm telling you, this mix is incredible, it's been in my player for like three weeks now. Just good tunes. Like the man says in the liner notes: "Thank you musicians & sound engineers for this wondrous music. This is great inspiration & beauty."

7. Flipside to "Day" is "Night", it's a 12-inch on Omar's FXHE label. Check out his website where you might be able to get one direct.

8. Flying Canyon might be in my Top 10 Albums of the 2000s. Definitely my favorite Glenn Donaldson production ever, with Orchards and Caravans by The Birdtree and Blood of the Sunworm by the Giant Skyflower Band the closest contenders. RIP Cayce Lindner.

9. An original DGC cassette of Nirvana MTV Unplugged In New York (Live) has been floating around the day job for a few years now. No one knows who brought it. It's been suddenly getting a lot of deck time lately, and it truly sounds better than ever, the warehouse crew all agree. RIP Kurdt.

10. "Ghost Ghat Tresspass" is part of the epic 30-minute-plus track "Ghost Ghat Tresspass/Sussmeier" on the 1996 2CD 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda, documenting an improv between Sun City Girls and violinist Eyvind Kang, "live at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco," probably their 11/21/94 gig. "Ghost Ghat" should be heard by everyone who complains about SCG's wild berzerker improv because it is a sinuous, snaky modal jam with everyone at top form. You gotta hear the way Rick Bishop's crunchy e-bowed (or volume pedaled) (or who knows what) electric guitar and Kang's always-genius violin blend and elevate each other, while the AB/CG rhythm section slowly roll out the scroll underneath. For more great SCG/EK jams (from different shows) check out the VHS tapes The Burning Nerve Ending Magic Trick and If It Blows Up...Park It! And for just a little bit more info check this out.

Behind the scenes with Omar-S

Saturday, August 23, 2008

8/23/08 - DJ Larry Dolman

Rolling Stones "Please Please Me" (Kobra Records)*
Buell Kazee "The Wagoner's Lad" (Smithsonian Folkways)
Chubby Parker & His Old Time Banjo "King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O" (Smithsonian Folkways)
Big L "Ebonics" (Rawkus)
Big L & Jay-Z "7-Minute Radio Freestyle" (MP3)*
Spoonie Gee & Treacherous Three "New Rap Language" (Enjoy)*
Sun Ra "My Favorite Things" (Atavistic)
Witch "Black Tears" (Shadoks)
Sebadoh "Violet Execution" (Homestead)*
Box Elders "Hole In My Head" (Grotto)*
RTFO Bandwagon "Any Way You Know How (Redux)" (Dull Knife)
Hearts of Animals "Stars Say No" (Dull Knife)*
Brainticket "Feel The Wind Blow" (Red Fox)
Bathory "One Rode To Asa Bay" (Noise International)
Bathory "The Return Of The Darkness And Evil" (Under One Flag)
Metallica "Creeping Death" (Music For Nations)
No Pigs "Broken Promises" (Killed By Hardcore)
Urban Waste "Public Opinion" (Killed By Hardcore)
Black Flag "Police Story" (SST)*
Steely Dan "My Old School" (Chance Records Inc.)*
Positive K "Step Up Front" (First Priority Music)*
Chubb Rock "Treat 'Em Right" (Select)*
Underground Resistance "Sweat Electric (inst.)" (S.I.D.)*
Tolerance "Pulse Static (Tranqillia)" (Not On Label)
Sun City Girls "Night in Makassar" (Ri Be Xibalba)
Handful of Dust "Squeesing Parson Foster's Sponge" (Corpus Hermeticum)

1. Stones thing is Keith doing the Beatles song solo, from the Acoustic Motherfuckers bootleg. Turns out it's from 1993, an outtake from the Voodoo Lounge sessions! He does sound old and weary and vampiric and all that but still plenty of soul, no Miller Lite Sponsorship vibes.
2. For more Big L, check out this "freestyle with Jay-Z" youtube. This was on the radio sometime in the late 1990s. This thing is amazing, someone transcribed it here. "Niggaz hear me and take more notes than Connie Chung/My clan plans to get Giuliani hung." Jay-Z is great too: "Jigga incredible/Even my thoughts is federal/Like kidnapping, extortion and corruption/So you know, beatin me will never come/Like a nun or tomorrow, I'm too thorough..."
3. "New Rap Language" is just killer, relentless, if you haven't heard it check it out. 8 minutes, A side of 12" single from 1980. With live congas, now that's old school.
4. For an interesting onstage tour version of Sebadoh's "Violet Execution" from 1991, the year the album came out, check out this YouTube (no video, just audio). Slower, no drums, more explicitly melancholy, lyrically incomplete (which can be a good thing, those lyrics are just kinda gross).
5, 6. "Hole In My Head" and "Stars Say No" are tied for my hit single of the year.
7. "Police Story" is the Dez version from Everything Went Black.
8. "My Old School" is from the Memphis Blues Again bootleg. "Recorded live at the Ellis Auditorium Memphis, TN. April 30, 1974."
9. Before he was a Yo! MTV Raps one-hit wonder, Pos K recorded this 12-inch for the same label that put out "Top Billin" by Audio Two.
10. Saw Connect Force crew breakdance to a remix of the Chubb Rock tune today at the Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival, for which Chubb's lyric "No hatred, the summer's almost done" is a sweet summation. I've enjoyed this festival for five years in a row now, it's right outside my window and the streets fill with that distinctive East Rogers Park "the Venice (or is it Hermosa) Beach of the Midwest" thing at its late-summer finest. Always good food and music and the people are amazing. No hatred at all. Another big musical highlight today was approaching the Morse Avenue Stage in the noon sun looking for the Grande Noodles booth while Tomeka Reid was busting out a sweet long unaccompanied modal/out jazz cello solo, playing with a Jimmy Bennington trio. Through the rest of the set she was using the cello to play the role of a standup bassist, doing some sweet walking lines. I realized halfway through that I had seen her play beautiful music a couple times in Nicole Mitchell ensembles.
11. From the unedited transcript of The Wire interview with Mad Mike Banks of Underground Resistance: "The guy who really laid the blueprint for Detroit Techno, you know him many times he's been mentioned - in fact a woman in France, Jacqueline Caux did a movie about this guy. His name was Electrifying Mojo. Mojo was a Vietnam war veteran, he was a radio man in Vietnam, he did DJing for the troops, and that's where he learned all the different types of music from around the world, and when he got back from Vietnam, he brought that to Detroit, that perspective, so we got to hear progressive rock up next to Falco, Euro synth pop. Of course he introduced Kraftwerk, which for Detroit was huge, he introduced Prince, George Clinton, all these great synth artists that used synthesizers for bass lines and stuff. 'Flashlight' was first played, I'm sure, in Detroit, because Mojo would break the records for the artists. He broke Juan [Atkins]'s early records, Juan's early Model 500, Cybotron stuff. We were really blessed with that wide perspective. I thought it was happening all over the country, because Mojo was so huge, but of course it wasn't, it was only happening in Detroit. So I think he really opened up the ears, and the inspiration, and the minds of young Detroit kids, and I think that's where the whole concept for Detroit techno came from, from Mojo."

"Spoonie Gee in the Bronx circa 1980"
(picture and caption from the Last Days of Man on Earth blog)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Oh yeah, another new record I've played more than a couple times lately is the one by Eden Express. It's called Que Amors Que, it's on Holy Mountain, they're a trio that share a member with that band Cloudland Canyon.... I haven't heard CC, but EE has done the unthinkable and released a post-1974 album openly influenced by Tropicalia and/or Lounge that I can actually hang with. Yep, these tunes have got the "oohs" and "aahs" and cute jazzy rhythms, but it doesn't work for me as a song album so much as a sound album, with a fuzzed-out hazy edge that can often be just a little sinister. It's also a pretty chilled-out album - in the words of H.M. C.E.O. J.W. himself, it's "as close to NPR and white wine as I'm going to get" - but there's always something odd like reverbed whispers and cackles or other errant noises coming or going in the shadowy corners of the songs. Or, maybe I'm imagining all that, but that's just as good.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saw Joe Carducci do a little reading/Q&A thing at Quimby's Bookstore tonight for 20-25 people. It was great. He read four short excerpts from his books - three from Enter Naomi, none from Rock and the Pop Narcotic - but most of the time he just sat and talked about MUSIC, the way he's always talked about it, not just stylistically, but culturally, economically, geographically. He didn't really get into anything that wasn't already in Naomi and Narcotic, but it was nice to hear it straight from the guy and off the top of his head for almost two hours. He's a soft-spoken guy, "a music guy" as he writes in Enter Naomi (describing fellow SST employee Ray Farrell but it fits him too), which is why he moved from Chicago to L.A. to sleep on the floor of the SST office in 1981, and it's why he was at the bookstore tonight, not for some nostalgia showcase or brag session, but because the music is still out there being discovered. Much like his prose, points weren't so much made as they were accrued, often in roundabout fashion. During the Q&A a guy in the audience asked him for his take on the rock culture of today and how 1980s bands are reuniting and this and that, and Carducci sort of answered it by mentioning, among a few other things, that Saccharine Trust has been regularly playing new material in L.A. for the last ten years, in which time they recorded an album in Germany that long-time fan Bill Stevenson said was the best of their entire career. Earlier he had repeated something that was pointed out in Narcotic, that it's very difficult and rare for a band to make vital music for more than five years, and at another point he gave these ideas further nuance with an insider's description of Husker Du (I'm quoting him from memory here): "The thing about Husker Du was that they didn't like each other enough to practice. [Laughter from audience.] So they'd write their songs separately, get together just long enough to figure out how to perform and record them as a band, and then they figured that three weeks in one shot was the most they could tour without breaking up. That's how they made it work." He didn't even mention reunion fever, because the real question is, are they getting together to play vital music or not? And if so, is their personal dynamic such that they can make it work? And, most importantly, how is the rhythm section?

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