Monday, January 21, 2008

Robedoor Closer to the Cliff CD
Colossal Yes Acapulco Roughs mp3s
Pink Floyd Animals mp3s
Amon Duul II Phallus Dei mp3s
Neil Young Bernstein Tapes mp3s

Oh man, with all the drone heaviness I've been exposing myself to (see previous post) stakes is high for another Robedoor CD this month. This new one is from Norwegian label Interregnum, it looks nice (digipak) but it doesn't sound a whole lot different from the other two Robedoor things I've listed here in the last couple months - fine for first-timers but I don't know how essential it is otherwise - the last track had something special about though, so that'll pull me in for at least one more listen.... Okay, I'm fully on board with this Colossal Yes album. The songs may sound a little samey at first, but pay just a little bit of attention and you'll hear constant subtle and slight melodic twists that unassumingly shade the songs into nice varied directions. Lovely singing too, and a great recording job - the horn arrangements, for example, are done full justice. Full-blown addiction may be just around the corner... Even though I've been listening to Animals a whole bunch lately I just noticed these lyrics from "Dogs": "You gotta sleep on your toes, and when you're on the street/You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed." Just menacing enough to remind me that one of the real appealing things about Pink Floyd was that they were always kinda scary.... You shoulda seen it tonight, Phil was eating one of Dad's house specialties, black bean & mozzarella nachos with "party salsa", listening to the album on the stereo, and he said, referring to some harmony vocals, "Dad, whenever we listen to the Grateful Dead, I can always hear JERRY." Such a perceptive kid, I've taught him well, except that the album I was playing was Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance's Anymore for Anymore. It was the first time I'd heard it after downloading it on a whim from some blog a couple months ago (damn you, Totally Fuzzy!). Man, I wish it was the Dead...obviously it does have a similar kinda country-rock sound, or the kid wouldna said so, and no doubt Anymore for Anymore is a nice rootsy 1974 vintage rock'n'roll album, and it'd certainly be good if say The Drive 97.1 FM here in Chicago (insert corresponding classic rock radio station in your town) branched out a little and got hold of a couple of these deep cuts, but there's some things about the aesthetic that are holding me back. For one, it's got a lot of that "Music Hall" sound. What's that, you ask? I don't know, it's "When I'm 64" and "Honey Pie" by the Beatles (not to mention the entire concept of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band), it's that goddamn honkytonk section in "Something In The Air" by Thunderclap Newman, it's something pervasive that sinks a lot of British rock for me, and I'm getting it on about half of this album. I definitely like the "ballads" (like the sweet and lovely "Don't You Cry For Me") better than the "rockers," but either way as far as Faces spinoffs go you're still better off with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Rod Stewart albums. (Hell the first one too, probably, I haven't heard it.) (Fuck, I'm listening to "Don't You Cry For Me" again right now and it's so good I think I might have to eat at least some of those words up there....that was quick!) Ah, Phallus Dei.... God's Cock.... everytime I put it on I'm convinced it's not only the best-titled but simply THE BEST Duul album. That's right punk, better than Yeti. Of course it's not true, but this has still gotta be one of the greatest debut albums in history. Especially for 1969, this is such a fully formed out-of-nowhere burner... how does one explain the way these songs move - they don't just play a beat, or behind the beat, or ahead of the beat, they play something that climbs and undulates, constantly driving and scanning, snaking and coiling through all of the given song's possibilities at once. I mean we've got two drummers and assorted percussionists driving it all like it was Sun Ra's Arkestra and then on the frontline some very adept synthesizer intertwining with the guitars and violin... and as if that isn't enough how about those Nordic operatic 'phantoms of the steppes' vocals?? So many chill-inducing vocal events on here... vikings speaking in tongues, banshees riding into battle.... Wow, after Phallus Dei the shuffle pulled up Neil's Bernstein Tapes. Here I've kinda been on a Neil kick anyway and then one of the greatest of all unofficial Neil albums (okay bootlegs) comes on the player. This is a compilation of solo acoustic performances from various venues on a November 1976 US tour. Everything sounds loose, ragged, and, despite all the downer songs, somehow sparkling and sun-dappled. I just got an e-mail from an associate who described Neil's music as "pure narcotics," and hell yeah, but what's surprising is how true it still is when it's just Neil and a guitar and a stage. The Bernstein Tapes is so good that when I finally heard that Live at Massey Hall album, I was kinda disappointed because great as it is, it just didn't quite compare... btw, here's what the Shakey book says about this stuff: "Joel Bernstein (with the assistance of writer Cameron Crowe) assembled a tape of acoustic performances from the tour (since widely bootlegged) that contains some tremendous stuff, like 'Mellow My Mind' on banjo and, from the final night of the tour at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, a wild version of 'The Old Laughing Lady' that remains the definitive live performance of the song. Also from the Fox comes an amusing rap in which Young enters into a bleary discussion of showbiz with the ghost of Judy Garland." Cameron Crowe's finest artistic achievement, that's for sure.... now I just have to find a copy of Citizen Kane Junior Blues....

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