Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Jazz Noise Here

It was a stroke of pure casting genius to have Ringo Starr play Frank Zappa in the bonkers movie 200 Motels.
Since Frank's demise in 1993 others have played him, too; many others.

They've played him baroque, in tribute, rock, orchestral, straight, a capella, avant garde and jazz.
And it's the jazz genre Mar Vista Philharmonic decide on for playing Zappa.

The brainchild of Tommy Mars, the Mar Vista Philharmonic (Mar Vista being the district in L.A. where they play and record) collectively refer to themselves as 'Zappa's last touring band' (although I'm not sure they were [?]), and the 'Band from Utopia', which I presume means the band from nowhere.
(It's all puns, of course: Mar Vista Philharmonic is itself a pun (Tommy Mars, the area and the Mahavishnu Orchestra [!]); 'Band from Utopia' refers to Zappa's Man From Utopia, and if they do come from 'nowhere', then they come from Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch, which tells us 'I Come From Nowhere'.
Man, it all starts folding in on itself! Where's my medicine!?)

Seven musicians in all, MVP play some very cool jazz. There's no holding back on the chops, and even with my not very with it jazz ears I can tell these guys really know what they're doing, and they do it really well.
I'm sure Frank wouldn't have had it any other way.

The piece here was recorded in 2003, ten years after Frank's death, and was performed in tribute to their old master and muse.
A twenty-five minute mash or medley of Zappa's tunes woven together into one piece of live music.
The way familiar melodies ('Chunga's Revenge', 'Treacherous Cretins', 'Inca Roads'...) emerge from this piece of music is rather like spotting a recognisable face among a crowd of strangers; they just float out and greet you, and you immediately feel comfortable, safe; but then you lose sight of them and you become lost again (lost in music); eventually you find solace as another familiar face comes along, and hey, you immediately feel comforted, connected; but not for long....
It goes on like this for some time - well, twenty-five minutes actually, as I said earlier....
(Did you find it? My medicine?)

Anyway. It's really good. And if you like interpretations of Zappa's beautiful music, then this is well worth checking out.

Mar Vista Philharmonic - Shut Up and Make a Jazz Noise Here (2003)
Dedicated to FZ. Recorded by BBC Radio 3, broadcast on Jazz on 3, Dec 3.

Albert Wing - Tenor Sax
Bruce Fowler - Trombone
Walt Fowler - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Kurt McGettrick - Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinette, Flute
Tommy Mars - Keyboards, Vocals
Arthur Barrow - Bass
Vinnie Colaiuta - Drums

Excellent rip from cassette captured FM broadcast @320kbs
Visit Mars here

Monday, 21 November 2011

Ol' Folks Boogie

It was while watching Martin Scorsese's take on the life of George Harrison the other night, that a right nice George tune came to mind; a song originally performed by Cilla Black and then turning up on Ringo's Rotogravure.
And as I haven't got any Cilla, thought I'd dig out the aforementioned Ringo; the only Ringo record I own.

Listening to the album now, the Harrison track, 'I'll Still Love You', really stands out.
Ringo of course brings his jovial but rather limited vocal ability to it, but it still shines.

George, poignantly, just so happens to be one of the only artists associated with Ringo who is absent on this recording; it seems to feature pretty much everybody else from the mid-seventies' rock canon; including, in no particular order: John Lennon, Paul & Linda McCartney, Randy & Michael Brecker, Harry Nilsson, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Jim Keltner, Sneaky Pete, Melissa Manchester, Klaus Voorman, Van Dyke Parkes, and many, many others.

Friends and acquaintances readily wrote for Ringo, and as well as Harrison's tune being covered, both Lennon and McCartney hand over some goods.
John Lennon's 'Cookin'', probably the next best song on the album, features Lennon on piano, the last time he'd be recorded until his Double Fantasy sessions.
Paul's song ('Pure Gold'), well, just typically Paul, really, but obviously written for Ringo to sing; and the same can be said of Clapton's very light and breezy number ('This Be Called a Song'), which even features some extremely exuberant steel drums (he must have been off the smack by then).

(I've included the writers in my track listing - someone may be interested, I guess....)

From the ashes of the Beatles, Ringo always seemed to be the guy having the most fun.
He didn't have to be 'heavy' or serious, and because he didn't have a great weight of expectation burdening him, he could do pretty much what he liked; and Ringo liked having fun; and that's what this album represents: a rich, successful man having fun with his mates.
Because of who he is, his fun is made public; but being who he is doesn't guarantee new success. This album flopped on release, and is, to my surprise, long deleted.

You wouldn't have thought Ringo albums featuring Clapton, Lennon, McCartney et al. would get deleted, would you?
Listening to it again now, after many years since I last played it, it's really not that bad.
And it does, for my money, just pass the audition.

Ringo Starr - Rotogravure (1976)

A Dose of Rock n Roll (Grossman)
Hey Baby (Cobb/Channel)
Pure Gold (McCartney)
Cryin' (Poncia/Starkey)
You Don't Know Me At All (Jordan)
Cookin' (Lennon)
I'll Still Love You (Harrison)
This Be Called a Song (Clapton)
Las Brisas (Andrews/Starkey)
Lady Gaye (Poncia/Starkey/T.Ward)
Spooky Weirdness - outro

Excellent vinyl rip @320kbs
Join the Ringo set here

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Shamanic Wind-Bag

Another artist who wooed Bowie's Meltdown audience in 2002 was Finnish accordion maestro Kimmo Pohjonen.

With his long time collaborator, sonic percussionist and electro beat wizard Sami Kuoppamaki, Pohjonen is able to far exceed the normal limitations of the draft-driven keyboard; creating textures and sounds one would more associate with Korgs and Rolands; conjuring up visions of the waste of tundra, the birch forests, the lakes, and a dark atmosphere that could only emanate from harsh northern climes.
The music just reeks of Finland.

In homage to the Meltdown's curator, the duo performed several Bowie songs as part of their set.
In this twenty-two minute captured extract two of Day-veed's songs can be heard: 'Brilliant Adventure' and 'We Prick You'; plus two original Pohjonen tunes; both very moody and both very dark.

Kimmo Pohjonen - Live at the Meltdown Festival, 2002.
Decent rip from cassette captured FM broadcast @320kbs.
Squeezed sonics here

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Organ Accumulator

Please don't be put off by the moniker, nor by the description 'one-man band'; for the Lonesome Organist is legion, despite his solitary status.

The Lonesome Organist (Jeremy to his pals, Jeremy Jacobsen to the taxman), commonly plays two instruments at the same time; he can play up to four; combinations from organ, guitar, voice, drum kit, accordion, steel pan drum, harmonica, various percussion, and, wait for it, tap shoes.
Yes, that's right, he often plays instruments while accompanying himself with a tap dancing routine, one that creates the perfect beat and rhythm.
Very cool.
But what's the music like? I hear you ask.
Brilliant, is my reply: absolutely brilliant.
He's more than just novelty, and more than mere multi-instrumentalist.
His material is really out there - he ain't doin' 'Rosie', you know - he performs surreal pieces, some hard rock, some (kind of) post-rock, a little electronica, even; but the majority of his pieces have their boots firmly placed in blues territory; appropriate for one who hails from Chicago.

The majority of Jacobsen's recordings are available, and I encourage you to seek them out.
But here's a little taster.
Some live tracks extracted from his performance at 2002's Meltdown Festival, curated that year by David Bowie.
It's only half a dozen songs, but they do serve as a good sampler.
The set begins with 'All the Dirty Swine' and ends with 'Departing the Lonely Ship'; what the tracks are in between I'm afraid your guess is as good as mine.

Well worth checking out, this. Seventeen minutes or so that could cheer you right up.

This guy should have been massive.
Maybe The Lonesome Organist's time is still to come.

The Lonesome Organist - Live at the Meltdown Festival, 2002.
Decent rip from cassette captured FM broadcast @320kbs.
Get Lonesome here

Friday, 11 November 2011


Live Pumpkins' boot; mainly their celebrated set from 1995's Reading Festival.

Already lost in their indie persona somewhat (although Corgan hadn't completely finalized his transition into Cartman at this point), Reading seemed to re-energise the band; getting back to their roots; getting down and dirty.

The best track? 'Siva' of course - haven't you been paying attention?

Other tracks come from other, mainly TV sessions.
With the first introduced by 'fan' Day-veed Boweee. Gasp!

Anyway. Enough.
The Pumpkins are dead. (Aren't they playing in Manchester tonight?)
Long live their seeds.
Smashing Pumpkins - In the Belly of the Beast (1995)

Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Porcelina of the Vast Oceans
Thru the Eyes of Ruby
Cherub rock
Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Track 1: Taratata, French TV, 1995.
Tracks 2-13: Reading Festival, 1995.
Track 14: The White Room, UK TV, 1995.
Track 15: Peel Session, 91. (despite the CD info insisting it came from 95)

CD rip to mp3s.
Art included.
Pumpkin seeds here

Thursday, 10 November 2011


From a time when Corgan was hirsute, and the music shined (just).

A popular boot capturing the Pumpkins at the height of their popularity.
For me it just about remains interesting: Gish is still present, and 'heavy' is still part of the agenda.
But it wouldn't last.
The Smashing Pumpkins were about to become the darlings of the indie scene; and were well on their way to becoming a successful singles band.


Things fall apart.
The centre rarely holds.

Smashing Pumpkins - Astoria '94

I Am One
Geek USA
Cherub Rock
Never Let Me Down Again
Silver Fuck

CD rip to mp3s.
Artwork included.
Pumpkin heads here

Monday, 7 November 2011

Smash Hits!

Man, I really liked Gish on its release; I still do: great album, with some great tunes.
What happened to the Smashing Pumpkins?

It didn't last long for me.
I found Siamese Twin disappointing; Mellon Collie, boring.
What happened to Billy Corgan?

Before the pretension, and whatever else, the Pumpkins recorded some fine music; nowhere more evident than their first e.p. releases.

Both recorded in 91, they capture the band brimming with energy and enthusiasm.
'Rhinoceros' reflects the sound of Gish, with its steady build into a crescendo saturated in squealing feedback; a squall also used to great effect in 'Siva' and the tremendous Burdon & Weider penned 'Girl Named Sandoz'.

I've also included the sampler release for The Aeroplane Flies High from a little later in the band's weird career; mainly for the title track (gutsy piece of grindcore), and just in case, like me, you were unwilling to pay whatever extortionate amount your local record store was forced to charge for Corgan's extended venture that resulted in, what was it, a five CD release. O yeah, and a book.
Mind you, everyone's at it now, aren't they?
Radiohead, Floyd, Beach Boys, et al. they're all bringing out these products that cost around a ton.
Maybe Corgan was a true innovator after all....

Smashing Pumpkins - Lull (1991)

Bye June

Smashing Pumpkins - Peel Sessions (1992)

Girl Named Sandoz

Smashing Pumpkins - The Aeroplane Flies High Sampler (1996)

The Last Song
The Aeroplane Flies High (Turns Left, Looks Right)
Destination Unknown*

All ripped from CD to mp3s
Art included
Pumpkin stew here

*written by Dale & Terry Bozzio & Warren Cuccurullo (just in case there's any interested Zappaphiles out there).

I have a couple of rare Smashing Pumpkins' albums that I will be posting over the course of this week - so if you're keen: keep 'em peeled.

Sunday, 6 November 2011


Cem's the Pearl Jam fan in our 'ouse; but I do like the odd tune.
Which is why I like this: it's full of odd tunes.

Covering 'Em Selves is I guess what Pearl Jam do when they play versions of their own songs [!], but what is most interesting are the true covers that help make up this disparate collection of 'rare' live tracks.

Temple & The Dog and Neil Young maybe the more obvious artists covered, but The Who, Bob Dylan and, providing a platform for the album's best number, The Beatles, are all a little more surprising.
In fact, 'I've Got a Feeling' is really very good indeed; the added beef PJ bring to the song is very effective, and Vedder shudders marvellously all the way through.

So, all in all, quite a fun piece, with some real aural surprises.
Funny enough, I've noticed quite a lot of Pearl Jam in the Blogosphere lately, but I haven't seen this one; an essential addition, without doubt.

Pearl Jam - Covering 'Em (Selves) (1993)

CD rip to mp3s
With artwork.
Have your Jam and eat it here

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Fiddle About

Okay, I admit it.
I've always liked Nigel Kennedy.
He's bonkers isn't he.
What with his vulgar tongue, trampy apparel and love of Villa.
He's about as phony as that boil he had removed on his neck; a pressure sore caused by constantly shoving a planed and shaped lump of wood into the same tender spot. Ouch!

Like most genius types he does seem to urk some people; some bold enough to suggest he couldn't be trusted to play at The Proms.
However, on the sixth of August this year, Kennedy performed to a packed Albert Hall, playing two of Bach's solo violin pieces, and then bringing on his band for the second half to play some very cool jazz numbers.

The Bach pieces he played that night (two partitas for solo violin: No. 3 in E Major & No. 2 in D Minor), despite his masterful interpretation, are not easy listening, and way beyond the parameters of this blog. But the jazz pieces are great, and well worth a listen.

J.S. still has a small part to play, as the opening tune is a Bach mash that shows he really could swing (something Jaques Loussier has known for a long, long time. [Go here]).
The band then move away from the Kappellmeister, and go on to perform three cracking versions of Fats Waller songs.

The sound of Quintette du Hot Club de France is readily evoked; but Kennedy's outfit are cooler, and the fiddle notes are a lot easier on the ear than Grappelli's soaring, busy, busy clusters.
The guitar is checked, too, but still brilliant.
Sometimes less really is more.

All in all, this makes for the perfect accompaniment to pottering about.
I've been listening to this quite a lot lately - the result of a lot of pottering - so if, like me, you like a bit of pottering about: potter to this.
Potter on!

Nigel Kennedy & Band - Prom 31, Albert Hall, London. 6/8/11.

Das Pendel
Chat & Intros
How Can You Face Me Now?
Honeysuckle Rose
Viper's Drag

Excellent rip from DVD captured live digital Radio 3 broadcast @320kbs.
Get cool here