Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE Danny By The River aka Winterlong aka Electric Prayers (BOOTLEG) 

DON CHERRY Live in Ankara (SONET)
DESMOND DEKKER Rockin' Steady: The Best of Desmond Dekker (RHINO)
ERIC B & RAKIM Paid in Full (4TH & BROADWAY)
BOB DYLAN Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (COLUMBIA)
NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (REPRISE)

The Neil Young & Crazy Horse show is from 1969 in Cincinnati, the then-standard opening solo set by Neil followed by the then-standard closing electric set by the original quartet of Neil on guitar, Danny Whitten on guitar, Ralph Talbot Billy Talbot on bass, Billy Molina Ralph Molina on drums, all four on vocals, and I'm surprised to find that this is the second Crazy Horse bootleg in a row where I've preferred the acoustic set to the electric. I mean, it's still a good listen with plenty of good jamming, but for laser-beam live-band interplay you still can't beat the studio takes on the Everybody Knows LP. Sometimes that's just the way it is. On that night in Cincinnati "Down By The River" was 19 minutes long, which is maybe a few minutes too long, and nowhere do Whitten's rhythm guitar stabs snap the whole band to breathtaking attention like they did in at least two places on the LP version. Gonna have to put that one on later, as well as conduct further research on various other live NY hypotheses....

I can't let go of the El Jesus De Magico album, or maybe it won't let go of me. I never quite 'get it' when it's on or quite 'remember it' when it's over, and I'd even go so far as to call it 'uneven'... but yet there remains something really compellingly despondent about its slow-grinding, jammy, psyched-out grooves.

Wow, the iPod shuffle played a 1978 album by Don Cherry and followed it with a 1992 album by his stepdaughter Neneh Cherry. Both albums are terrific, the one by Don an easily overlooked live set recorded in 1969 at the US Embassy in Ankara (Turkey), with a local rhythm section, which is pretty cool when the drummer turns out to be the thunderous Ofay Temiz. Side two is really cool, all tunes segued, some spacy jamming on various Turkish folk themes giving way to a Cherry composition that gives way to a sweet version of "The Creator Has A Master Plan" (always good to hear Don sing) that gives way to a definitive DC two-flutes-at-once coda called "Two Flutes." As for the Neneh album, it was the thoughtful and delayed follow-up to her big-selling1989 debut Raw Like Sushi. I've been listening to it since the year it came out, and I still love every song, even when she and Michael Stipe himself fist-pump their way through "Trout," the ultimate show of Lollapalooza Nation camaraderie. Stipe is actually straight-up rapping on this one and I don't even care, it just makes me want to get a smart drink and check out information tables in a chill-out tent.

Having a nice evening with Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, which I just might be ready to declare the 4th-most-underrated Dylan album of all time. It first shuffled up at about 4:45PM, right as I was getting off the train and walking over to the grocery store, opening with a sweet ten minutes or so of instrumental three-chord tone-poem played by combinations of Dylan, Roger McGuinn, and Bruce Langhorne on guitars, with none other than Booker T. from the MGs on bass. And of course "Billy" is a great song in all its iterations, and of course "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" is one of the greatest of all songs, and hearing this stuff reminds me that I can check out the director's cut of the movie sometime soon, which is a nice feeling... James Coburn's finest hour...

Broselmaschine album remains incredibly deep... don't miss the track 7 "Schmittergung" with its near 10-minute kosmische spoken word extensions.

If you were wondering, the list of albums at the top of this post is of the albums I listened to today, in order. The first eight came up continuously in one iPod album shuffle playing session, but after Eric B & Rakim I broke shuffle and played the sublime 1971 full-length debut Anne Briggs album because I overheard a co-worker upstairs playing it in passing and wanted to hear the whole thing back in my office downstairs. And now, after playing the Briggs once, and then starting the iPod back up a couple hours later with a fresh album shuffle, it has gone right into four more early 1970s folk albums, right in a row: first Dylan (1973), then Broselmaschine (1971), then Collie Ryan (1973), and then the fourth one being the Briggs album again! Okay, I'll call the Don Cherry > Neneh Cherry sequence a fluke, but this has gotta be taste-recognition software, right?


GUNS & ROSES Use Your Illusion II (GEFFEN)
VIV Sea Shells Listening (PEBBLE)

Still mostly bored with black metal, but there is something about Canada (see also Wold), which would after all be an appropriate musical heir to Norway, another resource-rich decadent suburban caucasian lifestyle happening on the next harsh-but-lush wintry continental shelf just 3000 miles across the pond, and it was with these heavy latitudinal thoughts of the climes of the great northern earthen pole in mind that I had a good listen to the Hammer of Antichrist CD by the Canadian "BESTIAL BLACK DEATH DEVASTATION!!!!" metal band Conqueror just this morning. The disc compiles two of their records, the War Cult Supremacy full-length from 1999 and the Antichrist Superiority demo from 1996. War Cult Supremacy has a better recording and is a powerful album, but I just don't think the riff onslaught trances out as much as it does on Antichrist Superiority, and yes, it's probably because it's easier for me to get lost in the grimy depths of demo fidelity. Either way, it has an overall raw and hungry surging power where the full-length sounds just a little more clinical and well-fed.

Put on Use Your Illusion II just to hear opening track "Civil War" and took it off soon after... the Izzy Stradlin tune is okay, though not as good as the stuff on the Ju Ju Hounds album... I love "Yesterdays," but after that was just not in the mood to sit through the Dylan cover, even if the delirium of "Get In The Ring" did await on the other side....

That's Sea Shells Listening by VIV in the upper right, image from Sound Projector magazine)

VIV is a group from the Brighton, England area... they sent a 3" CDR two or three years ago (under the name of Vole) and it was good and fresh-sounding improvised music, essentially free jazz but with a strong folk and prog undercurrent, a group tone that has come even further to the fore on this superb new full-length called Sea Shell Listening. Standard instruments like saxophones and drumkit mix uniquely with marimba, tapes and electronics, folk-style acoustic guitar, and other intangibles for big long tunes that are in fact mostly swells of dynamics and tone, certainly as close as anyone else has gotten to late-period Talk Talk playing the sound of strong flower petals breathing quietly after a thunderstorm..... 

The debut album by the Cosmic Jokers is about as deep into pure ambience as 1971 kosmiche rock got while still sounding like a rock band (i.e. keys, guitars, bass, and drums, sometimes even vocals), more specifically a mean rock band... not overtly, but it's in there... with German rock, no matter how beautiful or celestial, the meanness comes via a certain starkness of instrumentation and tone.

I'd never heard of this The Younger Generation 12" before but it's from 1979 and features Cowboy, Kid Creole, Melle Mel, Mr. Ness, and Rahiem (aka The Furious Five without Grandmaster Flash being mentioned on the label, although he is mentioned in the lyrics). Melle Mel sez: "Rap like hell and make it sound like heaven." Sequence song is also a slammer, take it from someone who knows...

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