Tuesday, August 26, 2008
PLAYLIST: 66.6 FM WBLSTD (CHICAGO)
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.
Posted by Larry at 9:03 PM
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