Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lee Perry & King Tubby Upsetters 14 Dub Blackboard Jungle
J.D. Emmanuel Wizards
Jimmy Giuffre The Easy Way
Steve Martin Let's Get Small
FNU Ronnies 7"
Mayyors 7"
Dry Rot Subordinate 7"
Koro s/t (aka 700 Club) 7"
Washington Phillips What Are They Doing In Heaven Today? LP
Third Ear Band s/t

Man what a great dub album, the one with the long name that is commonly referred to simply as Blackboard Jungle... the cover says "produced and directed by Upsetter Lee Perry" but King Tubby was an engineer, and really this is a historic Scratch/Tubby collabo that sounds about exactly like you might expect... paranoid and wobbly rhythms accented by mad jazzed-out soul horns (sometimes I think these horns are the most consistent Perry trademark), all shaken to hell by Tubby's armageddon mix, the perfect compliment for Perry's brass arrangements because you can hear not only the horns of Jericho but the walls coming down all around them. So many depths and nuances in Jimmy Giuffre's music, especially in the classic trio where his tenor sax is weaving with Jim Hall on electric guitar and Bob Brookmeyer on trombone. One instrument, one mind, one voice that speaks in counterpoint.... So far I prefer this 'inside' trio stuff to his 'free jazz' experiments like Free Fall, but that could change... okay, finally got the vinyl of the bizarre sci-fi 7" by the FNU Ronnies (in a sweet first-time order from Bistro Distro, excellent transaction and source for various punk records) and I'm a little taken aback because I'm used to the brighter and cleaner sound of the mp3s. The first song still sounds pretty bright as it rocks your socks off with a relatively classic punk tightness, but from there it just gets weird.... side two has vocals that sound like that 'second lead singer is a small barking gremlin' thing from 90s screamo, and each side has some sort of confouding and short second track that hangs on there like a misshapen vestigial limb. On Side B the two tracks are separated by a spaced whistling breakdown. Fuck, I'm listening to side B right now for the 3rd time in a row, no way I can get a handle on these low-end heavy movements. I think even they barely understand. This is the first time I've ever listened to Dry Rot, I have no idea what this 7" is gonna be like... before I even put it on I'm vibing off the song titles ("Skin Debt," "Trench Diggers," "Enslaved," "Points of Force," "Bind and Salt," "Release") ... feels thick too, what's in here, a foldout sheet with lyrics and artwork? Damn, it's actually a booklet with lyrics and artwork, a full-page drawing for each song, full-color cover. And now it's playing and the band is pretty raging. A little of the Antioch Arrow/Angel Hair frenzy of yore but with a different swing to it that works pretty well. Koro is a legendary early 1980s hardcore band from Knoxville, Tennessee - Uncle Tony wrote about 'em here seven years ago
(an article that incidentally singlehandedly triggered the entire w***d-punk/HC/DIY revival of the 2000s...... just kidding?) so I checked out this reissue Bistro had of their 1983 s/t EP (also known as 700 Club) and they are pretty weird and frenzied, certainly leaning towards the psycho Void and Die Kreuzen side of things that emerged in '82... regardless Koro has a different twist, maybe just slightly less weird, still very fast and alienating stuff. I think I heard that the original goes for over $1000. And finally, being based in Portland seems to give Bistro the inside track on the also Portland-based Mississippi Records label, as they have a lot of their stuff and sell it for the Nice Price. Great label, they did the Phil Cohran Malcolm X Memorial LP, a mysterious "70s Thai Orchestra" LP that has had some people muttering the name "Alan Bishop" (although the correct phrase to mutter is "Siamese Temple Ball"), some roots/gospel-type comps like Life Is A Problem, and this, perhaps their single finest achievement, a lovely LP of the music of Washington Phillips. This was a guy who recorded 16 songs in the 1920s and no one is sure exactly what instrument he played... according to Wikipedia it "has been variously identified as a Dolceola, a Celestophone, and a Phonoharp (and also is considered by some to be an instrument entirely home-made by Phillips)." Either way it creates a chiming and tinkling otherworldly atmosphere over which his heartfelt gospel vocals move and emote in unpredictable patterns of their own. Guaranteed dream-state.

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