Tuesday, October 13, 2009


SUN RA The Antique Blacks (SATURN)


"Comin' Back To Me" is such a great forlorn psych folk tune. Really love Surrealistic Pillow, from top to bottom, ever since I bought it for a dollar back in the mid-80s... I was not a hardcore kid... After Bathing At Baxter's may be 2nd best, but I don't think it comes close, it's like saying Radio Ethiopia is better than Horses just because it's weirder.

Thanks iPod album shuffle for bringing up Sukram Gurk, which I haven't listened to in a few years, but of course remains an underknown classic of wrecked German heaviness for a select few hundred (couple thousand?) listeners. Siloah started as a commune-style large-group folk/chant/wasted band (their s/t debut, also great) but somehow mutated into a psychedelic waysted organ trio for this, their second album (only constant member is vocalist/guitarist/organist/guru/hairfarmer/painter Thom Argauer). "Feast of the Pickpockets" remains my favorite song and song title. I used to hate the later-recorded slick/pop bonus track "She Is On My Mind" but today I found myself suddenly loving it.

Even having listened to a good 40 or 50 Sun Ra albums over the last 20 years, every couple years another one comes along and floors me, and tonight it was The Antique Blacks. This is one of the most present and least murky sounding Arkestra recordings... it's still a raw live recording, but with really sharp sound, and the content is very heavy -- tons of organized noise, definitive spoken word, and gospelized anthems driven by that funky electric piano (a rather possessed version of "Space Is The Place," for example). Recorded live in Philadelphia in 1974. There's also a bunch of under-credited wild electric guitar on here, which has led to some amusing speculation... from the definitive Campbell discog: "Curtis Fukuda says the guitarist was 'a medium height Afro-American of lean build', putting the quietus on intriguing rumors about Ted Nugent, who told Melody Maker that he once made a session with The Ra. John Gilmore says that Dale Williams used his wa-wa pedal a lot but thinks 1974 is too early for him; he recalls a guitarist named Sly around this time."

Speaking of Philly, been wanting to see Kurt Vile & the Violators live for awhile and finally got my chance on this night at the Empty Bottle. Babysitter couldn't come over until late so I missed Ken Camden's opening solo guitar set which got some rave reviews and Terry Riley comparisons from people. I missed Plastic Crimewave playing solo too, but unfortunately did see The Love of Everything play plodding emo singer/songwriter stuff for awhile. The place was quite packed (not bad for a Tuesday night) and when the Violators promptly came out the crowd was revved, myself included. While the band sat quietly, Kurt started out solo on shimmering reverbed-out 12-string acoustic and played a superb version of "Heart Attack." Very fun to hear his wry lines like "You better get your head re-screwed on!" live... wouldn't have minded a few more solo songs, but the band joined in for song two, a huge-sounding anthemic number that I didn't quite recognize but it was great and the crowd loved it. The drummer is awesome, the three-guitar attack is huge, Jesse Trbovich is a great utility man (playing crucial sax and harmonica and maybe more), and the atmosphere in the place was triumphant like it was the E Street Band playing a Saturday night at the Stone Pony in '74. (Okay, I don't really know what I'm talking about there but you know KV has gotten some apropos-enough Springsteen comparisons, and there was something like a "hometown heroes at their home-away-from-home" thing happening at this show that was legitimately exciting.) That said, it wasn't a perfect show... the vocals were kind of low and mumbly, which may have been the mix, or it may just be that KV's talking blues style doesn't always cut live like it does on record. They did a shruggy version of "Good Lookin' Out" from the Hunchback EP that seemed like it was barely 2 minutes long, and a couple other songs suffered a similar fate. And, as great as the three guitars sound together, the Carduccian in me thinks the band would sound better still with a bass player. All that said, I really dug the show... getting into the whole Violators approach has really made the new Childish Prodigy album click for me after initial reservations, and there were a lot of great performances -- versions of "Freak Train" and the Dim Stars cover "Monkey" especially come to mind, as well as two set-closing solo numbers ("My Sympathy" from God Is Saying and "Slow Talkers" from Constant Hitmaker) that really tied a nice bow on the whole thing.

P.S. it's 10/23/09 and the Violators are still on tour!

Oct 23 2009 9:30P Spaceland Los Angeles, California
Oct 24 2009 8:00P fernwood Big Sur, California
Oct 25 2009 9:30P Casbah San Diego, California
Oct 27 2009 8:00P Modified Arts Tempe, Arizona
Oct 29 2009 10:00P Bash Riprocks w/ Thomas Function and Yussaf Jerusalem Lubbock, Texas
Oct 30 2009 9:00P Mohawk w/ The Black Angels Austin, Texas
Oct 31 2009 8:00P Lounge on Elm Street w/ Giggle Party and The Aquaholics Dallas, Texas
Nov 1 2009 8:00P Sang House Fayetteville, Arkansas
Nov 2 2009 9:30P Hi-Tone w/ Lovvers & Drug Wars Memphis, Tennessee
Nov 3 2009 10:30P 529 w/ Lovvers & Carnivores Atlanta, Georgia
Nov 4 2009 8:30P Local 506 Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Nov 5 2009 9:00P Black Cat w/ the New Flesh Washington DC, Washington DC

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