Sunday, 23 May 2010

Mothers' Boy

This takes me back - not to Atlanta, Georgia or anywhere like the West Coast - no, back to North London; to nineteen-eighties' sun-soaked afternoons, chillin' out at a friend's house, French-doors welcoming an appreciative breeze, sharing a few beers, getting Chinese-eyed, all while listening to Little Feat.

It did tend to be Waiting For Columbus that was spinning; but I have since gained this little beauty, capturing the classic lineup of Little Feat at what I feel was their peak period, 1974.

This is a far more intimate, and authentic recording than Columbus - which is still an essential album, especially the recent expanded version, that's well worth getting - but this gig is absent of the horns and brass they later brought in; filling out their sound and to a certain extent, for me, giving it too much production value.

It's in the rawness of this recording that its real value lies; and at 320, it sounds superfine.

Me ol' mucker Hackenbacker once described Little Feat as 'cocaine for the ears', and he was spot on. Coke vibes just ooze from their sound.
(Liam Gallagher eat your heart out.)

It's curious in a way that I've always loved Little Feat, as I'm really not a fan of that West Coast, country-tinged, rock, boogie kind of thing.
The Grateful Dead, New Riders, The Burritos, Poco, Barefoot Jerry, even The Byrds, they just never did it for me; I never really connected.
But Little Feat; well, they're a different kettle of fish altogether.

Essentially, in a nutshell, it's all about Lowell George.
For me, he was Little Feat.

But of course as a band, all the elements worked so well together.
Bill Payne's jazz-rock styled keyboards juxtaposed with a very funky rhythm section, and George's legato-styled chromium slide - a Sears Roebuck eleven-sixteenth wrench socket - supported by Paul Barre's rhythm guitar just worked so damn well.

And many of the songs, especially from this period, are mini-masterpieces.
George used to write songs in what he described as a 'mosaic style': fractured, different, often quite oblique parts, stitched together into a single song; breaking away from the conventional formula so associated with this style of rock.
Something I feel he gained from serving his apprenticeship with The Mothers of Invention.

There are two stories associated with how Lowell George came to leave The Mothers.
Number one is that George played Zappa his song 'Willin'', and Zappa told him it was so good he had to leave the band and go off and get his own outfit together.
The second being that George played Zappa his song 'Willin'' and Zappa immediately sacked him for writing an ode to dope.
Both stories are plausible.
Zappa disbanded The Mothers of Invention encouraging them to form their own or infiltrate other bands to carry on where they had left off.
But then again Zappa was notoriously anti-drugs, and George was apparently quoted stating 'Zappa sacked me because I wrote a song about dope'.

(Which reminds me of one of my favourite anecdotes about Zappa, told by Pamela Zarubica, one time Suzy Creamcheese, as cited in Ben Wilson's The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play:

'At the end of the show, on the way out some typical type came running over to Frank seemingly to shake his hand. Instead, he placed a small object in it which I immediately recognised to be hash.
I should have grabbed it and marched out the door, but all the people were standing around to see what Frank would do.
He just looked down at the hash and said, 'What is it?'

The numbers of freaks stood around in complete shock, trying to figure out how the freak of them all could not only not want the hash but not even know what it was

which all seems to go along with and support the second version of how Lowell George came to 'leave' The Mothers.
But before he left he did get to play on the Zappa project, the wonderful GTOs' album (FZ not wanting to be play on the album himself, fearful that his inclusion would detract interest away from the band), so his time with Zappa wasn't all bad.
And in essence, if he did sack him, forcing him to go off and form his own band, from George's perspective, it really was the best thing Zappa could have done for him.

Of course, George is a very idiosyncratic player, but there are indications occasionally in his playing that hint at Zappa's style; particularly evident during his solo in 'The Fan', probably my favourite Little Feat number; in fact the whole track isn't a million miles away in sound from what Zappa was doing around 1974 (think of albums such as Over-Nite Senstaion and One Size Fits All).

The whole set consists of excellent versions of their songs, and they're really smokin': very hot.
But the most poignant song here is without doubt 'Cold Cold Cold'.
A song that has a macabre sense of foreboding about it; a song that seems to predict Lowell George's own demise.
The opening lines, in hindsight, seem distinctly precognitive:

'Cold, cold, cold,
Cold, cold, cold,
It was freezing cold in that hotel'

George dying of a heart attack, aged thirty-four, five years after this recording, in a hotel room at the beginning of a solo tour.
But essentially Little Feat were a good time band.
And that's the way they should be remembered.
Their music is uplifting; life affirming, and like the best things in life: very, very moreish.

Little Feat -Electrif Lycanthrope (1974)

Rock & Roll Doctor
Oh Atlanta
Two Trains
The Fan
On your Way Down
Spanish Moon
Skin It Back
Fat Man in the Bathtub
Cold Cold Cold
Dixie Chicken
Tripe Face Boogie

CD rip to mp3s raised to 320kbs (deservedly!)
Give your ears a toot here

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Wot a Performance!

Donald Cammell was plonked on this earth for one reason, and one reason only; and that was to make the movie Performance.

Along with Nicolas Roeg, Co-Director and cinematographer, Cammell managed to capture the fin de siecle of the nineteen-sixties like no other film maker.

Essentially a film about identity; Cammell, the most post-modern of film makers, loaded the film with imagery and symbolism; utilizing cut-up editing techniques to create montage sequences enriched with meaning: ripe for interpretation.

The use of Mick Jagger (his first acting role) as the hermetic washed-up rock star Turner, was pure visionary.
If you want to encapsulate the end of the sixties and its 'Love and Peace' ideology who better to use as a vehicle.
And it was soon after the making of this film that the Altamont Free Concert took place; captured in the movie Gimme Shelter; a film released in the same year as Performance (Warners got nervous about releasing Performance, hence the delay); identifying Jagger as an icon who really did represent the death of an era.

The selection of James Fox as Chas, the hard-boiled gangster, was also very astute.
He's so disgustingly horrible; he's pure authentic.
Considering Fox had not played a bad guy before, Cammell obviously saw something dark within him that he really brought out in his portrayal of Chas.

(Fox took time off from acting after Performance, suffering stress. Some suggested playing Chas may have blown his mind; but his response to that was his mind had been blown long before, and put his mental problems down to the use of hallucinogens.)

Chas is representative of a new breed.
A performer; a performer of violence; of violent acts, of intimidation.
And he loves it, he gets a real buzz out of it.

But he goes too far; upsets his masters; has to escape: go into hiding.

Hence the hideout at Turner's place.
Turner finds this strange new type of performer fascinating, and attempts to find out what it is that makes him 'tick'.

Turner knows that Chas is the new rock star; his own time is over; violence is the new rock n roll.
He attempts to break him down by drugging him; freaking him out; trying to blow his mind.

He even attempts to penetrate his consciousness by placing himself into Chas's hallucinatory vision; becoming the criminal boss; attempting to run things his way.

(A sequence from the film that is now considered instrumental in the development of the performance rock video.)

Turner realises by the end of the film that to move on, to remain an artist of any interest, he must enter and give way to Chas's world.

So Chas wins out.
And it's Turner who has his mind blown.
Death symbolising change and progression.

For who is it who really knows where they are going?

As for the music.
Well what I am presenting here is what can only be titled The Performance Soundtrack, The Rocket Mix.
It's not that I want to be presumptuous or dare I say it, pretentious; no, it's just my original source for the soundtrack was for some reason incomplete.

So, to beef this up a little, I've taken the original tracks and mixed them up with some movie samples.

(O and just for a bonus I added my favourite version of 'Memo From Turner', lifted from the Stones' boot Pro Masters - Outs & Alts.)

I think it sounds real good.
All segueing together rather nicely; even creating a bit of a narrative.

But hey, if you haven't seen the movie, you must.
At least half a dozen times; believe me it just gets better and better.

Various Artists - Performance Soundtrack (1970) Rocket Mix (2010)

Gone Dead Train
Chas at Work*
Rolls Royce and Acid
Powis Square
Wake Up Niggers*
Chas Meets Turner*
Natural Magic
Chas Tripping*
Memo From Turner
Hassan I Sabbah*
Poor White Hound Dog
Blues For Chas*
Turner's Murder
Turner's Murder*
Hallucinatory sequence - Memo From Turner*
Memo From Turner (Rolling Stones)#

All from Soundtrack unless indicated
* Sampled from film
# Bonus track

Performers include Jack Nitzsche, Mick Jagger, Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, Lowell George, Merry Clayton, Buffy Saint-Marie and others.

Soundtrack ripped from cassette @320kbs
Samples ripped from DVD @320kbs
Stones' track ripped from CD @224kbs

Excellent quality throughout.

Identify with Chas and Turner here

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Soho A Go Go

Staying with a jazz flavour.
Here's a bit of fusion for ya.

Firstly with a fine piece of rock jazz.
Brand X utilizing Phil Collins to perform an unusual - for them - vocal for his and guitarist John Goodsall's 'Soho'.

Riff led, Goodsall displays his chops, and for a Brand X number this is very accessible.

The original B Side pairing is more familiar jazz rock territory; both instrumental, and both leaning more towards the avant-garde, importing a little oblique funk into the mix for good measure.

Unique to this recording, the two tracks are firmly steered by Percy Jones's busy, busy, bib-a-de-bob bass patter; a sound that really allowed Brand X to stand apart from the o so many fusionists who were at work around this time.

At their best Brand X were a great band - too prolific for their own good, I feel - and if you fancy a little more of this, check out Livestock, their live album from 77; that's where they really nail it.

Brand X - Soho 12" (1979)

Noddy Goes to Sweden
Pool Room Blues

Excellent Vinyl rip @320kbs
Get mixed up here

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Et Maintenant Quelque Chose de Completement Different


Now all this bloody political nonsense is out of the way, I'll move out of my little punk phase and give way to something completely sweet.

Yeah I know, he looks hanging, don't he?
But don't be put off by his well lived in septuagenarian persona.
I mean, it's not as if Jacques Loussier needs to prance around like Jon Bon Jovi or whoever; he isn't Vincent Crane or Keith Emerson-like in his performance either.
No, he just sits at the piano sedately, mainly stoic, but riffs on tunes in a manner that is quite extraordinary.

Interpreting J.S. Bach is really what Jacques Loussier has become famous for, and it's Bach pieces that make up the majority of this set, but both Debussy and Erik Satie also get the Loussier treatment.

Yes, it is jazz musicians playing interpretations of classical pieces, but they also bring blues phrasing into their sound, managing to take the original compositions to places that makes them so much more than mere variations.

And you really don't have to be a fan of classical music or jazz to dig The Jacques Loussier Trio - their fusion is unique; placing Loussier and his band in a genre all of their own.
They're certainly more than just a covers band, that's for sure.

Originally produced for the BBC in 2004, this incredibly well recorded set is both dynamic and sublime.
The chemistry between piano, bass and drums is pure alchemy; the nuances created are simply delightful.
It's the kind of music that just makes you feel happy, uplifted, glad to be alive.

So give this a go.
Let it wash over you.
And I bet it'll put a smile on your face.
And blow your baroque socks off!

The Jacques Loussier Trio - BBC Session, 2004

Bach - Prelude in C Major
Bach - Gavotte in D Major
Bach - Pastorale in C Minor
Bach - Aria from Suite in D Major (Air on a G String)
Bach - Italian Concerto
Debussy - Arabesque No. 1
Satie - Gymnopedie No. 1
Bach - Tocata and Fugue in D Minor

Immaculate rip @320kbs from DVD of original BBC4 broadcast
Obtenir here

And do listen out for the Eminem moment during Bach's Gavotte.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Experimental Conception

Still a fascinating album to listen to is this; the first, and undoubtedly the best release Glaxo Babies produced.

As a band they went through many changes, adapting to the ever developing sounds and styles so prevalent of the nineteen-eighties' alternative music scene.
But in my opinion, they never bettered Nine Months to the Disco; they were never more adventurous, nor successfully progressive.

Simon Reynolds, in his rather wanting tome Rip It Up and Start Again, mentions Glaxo Babies merely as a footnote in regard to The Pop Group, stating they 'pursued slightly different versions of funk.'
But Glaxo Babies were far more than a band who just set out to subvert funk tropes; for as is apparent on this album, industrial music and avant-garde jazz were equally important to their, at the time, quite idiosyncratic sound.

And rather than The Pop Group (really a band that are linked with Glaxo Babies due to their common Bristol connection rather than any real musical alliance), they are more comparable with those such as Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, 23 Skidoo, John Zorn, and to my ear at least, on occasion, early Mothers of Invention!

Their experimentalism, unlike so much 'out there' music from that early post-punk period, hasn't dated in the slightest.
It still sounds alive, vibrant and interesting.
And if you fancy downloading this on a whim, not knowing anything about the band, you may well be pleasantly surprised.
I hadn't listened to it for some time - until ripping it today - and it still had the power to surprise, even though it was a very popular play in the past.

Glaxo Babies - Nine Months to the Disco (1980)

Maximum Sexual Joy
This is Your Vendetta
Seven Days
Electric Church
Nine Months to the Disco
Promised Land
The Tea Master and the Assassin
Free Dem Cells
Dinosaur Disco Meets the Swampsstomp
Shake (the Foundations)

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Fill your prescription here

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


So what did you do for your Bank Holiday Monday?
I had a pleasant walk along the beach, then lunched on a punnet of whelks while watching the old folk ride around the harbour wall in their motorized buggies.

After all this sensory experience I felt it was fitting to spend the rest of the afternoon chilling out to some classic punk and early post-punk 45s.
Just seemed appropriate somehow.

Unfortunately I am unable to share the visual imagery associated with the mechanized aged (I'm no Martin Parr that's for sure), nor can I pass on the orally gratifying experience of chewing on a well peppered and vinegared whelk, but I can share some of the music I listened to, inspired by the slow, peculiar, but not unpleasant digestive sensation brought on by the aforementioned mollusc.

Classics all!
Makes for a nice little compilation.


A - Orgasm Addict
B - What Ever Happened To?

Produced by Martin Rushent, 1977


A - Give Me Everything
B - I Love You You Big Dummy

Produced by Tony Wilson, 1978

The Ruts

A - In a Rut
B - H-Eyes

Produced by The Ruts, 1979

Throbbing Gristle

A - United
B - Zyklon B Zombie

Produced by Throbbing Gristle, 1978


A - Memories
B - Another

12" version, Produced by PiL, 1979

All ripped from vinyl @320kbs
A fistful of 45s here


I'm going to try razor clams next week...

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Praising the Dead

There can't be many albums known purely by their catalogue number, but to mark the ocassion of their one hundredth release, Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles Records decided to announce that fact to the world, so this compilation of Dead Kennedys' tracks by a stunning array of various artists became simply titled Virus 100.

But no mere sampler or greatest hits this, no, this varied and eclectic collection of interpretations of Dead Kennedys' songs is all homage; an extremely worthy celebration and fitting tribute to a greatly influential band; and collectively, the band's have really done 'em proud.

Interestingly, it's the tracks that move furthest away from the original genre that are the real stand out numbers: Faith No More's cajun take on 'Let's Lynch the Landlord'; No Means No's a capella rendition of 'Forward to Death'; Napalm Death's nasty, nasty version of 'Nazi Punks'; Kramer's downbeat take on 'Insight'; and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy's transformation of 'California Uber Alles' into a classic piece of agit-prop hip hop.

But truthfully, there's not a weak track on here.
I mean, how could there be?
They're all Dead Kennedys' tracks.
Nuff said.

Various Artists - Virus 100 (1992)

Police Truck - Didjits
Too Drunk to Fuck - Evan Jones & His H-Bombs
Halloween - Alice Donut
Let's Lynch the Landlord - Faith No More
Nazi Punks Fuck Off - Napalm Death
Forward to Death - No Means No
Chemical Warfare - Steel Pole Bath Tub
Saturday Night Holocaust - Neurosis
Moon Over Marin - Les Thugs
Ill in the Head - Victims Family
California Uber Alles - Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
Winnebago Warrior - Mojo Nixon & the Toadliquors
Drug Me - Sepultura
Insight - Kramer
Let's Lynch the Landlord - L7
Holiday in Cambodia - Sister Double Happiness

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Celebrate a dynasty here