Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quick shoutout to the BBC Network for making so many good music documentaries. I can't imagine ABC, NBC, CBS, or even the mighty FOX network itself have made any documentaries about the same era of American music that are this consistently good. I don't even think PBS has (but if someone can correct me with some YouTube links please do).


Synth Britannia:

Prog Rock Britannia:


Here's a bonus embed of part 2 of the Jungle doc, just so you can go to the 2:43 mark and see some serious studio business by an MC whose identity I can't quite figure out other than "Rodney":

Not to mention other awesome shows like Julian Cope's Modern Antiquarian...

and of course...

(not to mention)...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

SCORPIONS Virgin Killer

Thanks iPod shuffle for reminding me that all of those incredible lost 1970s private press hard rock albums that have surfaced on blogs and $19-$41 reissues the last few years may be cool but, at their best, are approximately half as good as Virgin Killer. I've been listening to this album since I was about 14 years old (replacement cover edition, thank god), at which time Duke Wisdom and I became (I'm assuming, probably correctly) the only two residents of Fremont County, Iowa to be full-fledged members of the Cult of Uli Jon Roth. Don't get me wrong, any Dieter Dierks-produced Scorps album is gonna be good... everybody in Fremont County and a lot of other places loved 1980s radio hits like "No One Like You", "The Zoo," and of course "Rock You Like A Hurricane." All fine tunes, and there were many more, but there was just something on fire about 1970s Roth-era Scorps... the tunes were punchier, and the guitar playing was far beyond other fine but notably more lethargic Hendrixians of the day such as Trower and Marino. Check out "Catch Your Train":

P.S. Here's Roth telling the story of how the album's striking title and beyond-dubious original cover came about [via]: "The lyrics incidentally were a take-off on KISS, whom we had just supported on a tour. I was fooling around and played the riff of the song in the rehearsal room and spontaneously improvised 'cause he's a virgin killer!' trying to do a more or less way-off-the-mark Paul Stanley impersonation. Klaus immediately said 'that's great! You should do something with it.' Then I had the unenviable task of constructing a meaningful set of lyrics around the title, which I actually managed to do to some degree." C'mon, Klaus... Paul Stanley impersonations are always fun and should be supported when in the practice room, but everybody (except Paul Stanley and the members of KISS) know that they should never be used for actual song ideas... maybe this wasn't yet common knowledge in 1975-1976.

P.P.S. You may already recognize Dieter Dierks as the producer of several krautrock classics... a whopping 13 out of Julian Cope's Top 50.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I was just now doing the usual hasty three-days catch-up with my Google Reader feed when something made me stop scrolling... a Feb 16 post on the Root Blog referring to a Feb 15 post on the Ongaku Blog about the medication-related death of Shizuka Miura in late January. In this day and age when basically every week seems to bring a flurry of RIP tweets and posts and blogs and retweets of the news of the death of another great soul-touching musician, I couldn't believe that this particular news had taken almost a month to get to me. Her long-running band always was underrated. They were named after her; she played guitar, sang the songs, and was, I think, the principal songwriter. In 1994 they released a CD called Heavenly Persona on the venerable Japan psych label PSF, and during the following year came the album that really knocked my younger self out, Shizuka Live on the Persona Non Grata label. They really didn't have any other official releases, but both of these records are gloriously desultory documents of their blown-out and deeply melancholy acid-ballad sound. A lot of attention will be rightfully given to the beyond-explosive lead guitar by her then-husband and former Fushitsusha member Maki Miura, but it is Shizuka's guitar playing and singing that set the tone of the band absolutely. This video posted by the Ongaku Blog is an excellent example. If the band's stage presence doesn't grab you, just minimize the browser and let the waves wash over.....

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Thanks to a couple recent posts on the Kill Rock Stars blog I've been watching a bunch of YouTubes by this band over and over again. This is really entrancing stuff... hard-hitting, fresh and punching rhythms that underpin an ethereal triple-vocal attack. In an interview at the Brontosonix blog they say, "When we were first writing songs in Grass Widow we were like, "Are people gonna like this? These songs feel really good to play-but what does it actually sound like?" There was really no pre-conceived notion of how we wanted to sound. I guess our main focus was pushing the borders of our ability and that is what Grass Widow is."

The video for "Tattoo" is a cool in-the-studio documentary thing, and that live set at the Brooklyn Museum is excellent, with sound that is really present and intense. (Same two vids that KRS posted, but check out the related vids too.)

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