Tuesday, October 31, 2006

spooky tooth

Ho hum, it's Halloween and blogs the world over are posting relevant tunes - songs about death and ghosts and such like. (especially the mighty Spread The Good Word)

Here's some more scary shit right now. Get behind the sofa.

Unsane - Bath

Unsane - 4 Stix (Led Zepellin cover)

Golly, these chaps are very grumpy. Unsane were (in)famous for having police photos depicting the aftermath of murders and suicides on their record covers - whooo, scary, eh?

Or is it? In their attempt to sound like serial killers, they come across as... well, a bit stroppy. I used to love Unsane but really, lads, there's nothing hard about playing loud electric guitars, is there? Calm down, eh? Having said that, still love that version of "Four Sticks".

Genius/GZA - Swordsman

Now this young man certainly is rather cross, isn't he? At least the music is scary. Classic Wu-Tang spin-off here, the album is interspersed with dialogue from chop-socky films and the like.

Again, trying to put the wind up you but not quite there. Nice try, tho'...

Nah if you want REALLY terrifying stuff, any fool knows that it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for, yes?

Van Dyke Parks - The Eagle And Me

Not content with sending Brian Wilson careering over the edge of sanity, Van Dyke released Song Cycle, an album that sends right-thinking people everywhere screaming into the basement - this track was a single, for gawd's sake... Van Dyke looks as though his clothes were chosen for him by his mother. And then he killed her. Just wrong.

Please, don't have nightmares...

Visit - Unsane
Visit - Liquid Swords on Wikipedia
Visit - Van Dyke Parks
Buy - 'Unsane' by Unsane
Buy - 'Liquid Swords' by Genius/GZA
Buy - 'Song Cycle' by Van Dyke Parks

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

miles ahead - part four

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the late great Miles Davis. Here are parts one, two and three.

I met up with an old friend the other week and we were chatting about the blog and he said that he enjoyed reading it but he avoided the jazz posts... Arch, if you're reading this, you should REALLY give this one a listen as we're about to get into the relams of Miles davis' electric output.

Recorded in 1969, Bitches Brew took abstract jazz improvisations and played them on electric instruments with a straight rock backbeat (following on from In A Silent Way a couple of months earlier).

This recording is taken from Black Beauty, a recording of Miles' group at the Fillmore West, San Francisco, on April 10 1970. Miles was trying to engage with as wide an audience as possible (he even dropped his usual performance fee to play at both of Bill Graham's Fillmore venues). But judging from this questing, relentlessly abstract music, he could hardly be accused of selling out...

Miles Davis - Miles Runs The Voodoo Down (live, 1970)

There really isn't a whole lot to say about this except LISTEN, because this is as funky as you like. The band take the most straightforward track on Bitches Brew, the slow, driving blues of Miles Runs The Voodoo Down, and turn it inside out.

Things start out slow, low and dirty until the rhythm kicks up a gear at 2:17 (never fails to make me smile); particularly love the percussive keyboard stabs from 3:10, which get even more frenzied under Steve Grossman's soprano sax solo (around about the 5:00 mark). Things get seriously abstract from 7:30 onwards, especially when they start monkeying around with the Echoplex from 9:14 - this is the bit that I really love, where they have the balls to make some seriously messed up noises. The abstract squiggles finally coalesce into an almighty roar at 11:29

It's not really that far removed from the abstract deconstruction of So What that I posted in the previous part, just the sounds they were using move it into the jazz-rock zone. And don't get me started on people who think that anything after 1966 isn't jazz... It's jazz because Miles Davis called it that. He's more intelligent than you. Shut Up. Listen.

Man, this recording is 36 years old. Who's doing anything this interesting these days? Miles was so far ahead of music that he's practically standing behind us right now.

Buy - Black Beauty: Miles Davis at Fillmore West
Visit - Miles Davis (wikipedia)

Monday, October 16, 2006

trouble man

My favourite Marvin Gaye album is also his most misunderstood, his 1978 divorce settlement release, Here, My Dear. When Marvin divorced Anna Gordy in 1976 he was so hard up that his lawyers came up with a solution whereby Anna would receive Marvin's advances for his next album and recoup the royalties until an agreed amount was reached. Marvin initially didn't want to put much effort into the album, as his ex-wife would get all the money. But he gradually became obsessed with the project, viewing it as a way to finally rid himself of Anna.

The misconception is that Here, My Dear is Marvin pouring his heart into the microphone, exemplified by the album's keystone, "When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You". But I think the truth is more revealing, twisted and way more interesting!

Throughout most of the album, Marvin is keen to portray himself as the hard-done-by divorcee, chewed up and spat out by a wife who had been evil and unfaithful. Bear in mind this is the man who had (in 1973) performed the whole "Let's Get It On" album as a love letter to Janis Hunter, then aged 16 (one key track on that album was co-written with Anna Gordy!). By the time the divorce came through 3 years later Marvin and Janis were living together with two children.

Marvin Gaye - You Can Leave, But It's Going To Cost You

The album as a whole is an extreme example of someone telling their side of the story - they didn't have Heat in those days, I guess... But knowing that most of the accusations Marvin makes (that Anna stopped him from seeing their child, amongst other tasty tit-bits) are either made up, wildly embroidered or told from the exaggerated viewpoint of "the wronged man", far from making the album ridiculous, actually makes it a fascinating peek into... well, I guess you have to call it quintessentially male self-pity.

From stuff I've read, Marvin appears self-obsessed and deeply troubled. By this time, most of his money had gone up his nose (hence the bizarre divorce settlement). Marvin was perpetually plagued by performance anxiety (both public and private), which made it even harder for him to live up to his role of "lover of all ladies". He added the "e" to his surname in an effort to distance himself from his father, a sexually ambiguous cross-dressing preacher.

Marvin Gaye - Everybody Needs Love

The complex nature of his relationship with his father makes for one of the most beautiful and revealing musical moments on the whole album, during 'Everybody Needs Love'. At 40 seconds, he sings the line "And my Father, he needs love" - all the lines before this (flowers, bluebirds, babies, all god's children need love) are sung straight, almost whispered. But when he gets to his father, the harmony takes a brief detour and he hits one of his beautiful high notes - it's like he can't sing it straight because their relationship was so complicated. I don't know - maybe just a coincidence, but then there are no coincidences, right? This track also features the only example I know of an "aural wink-to-camera" at 1.40 ("... even a superstar *cymbal crash*"). Cocky bastard!

Marvin Gaye - A Funky Space Reincarnation

It's not all bitter recriminations and one-upmanship - there's even this bizarre bit of psychodrama. Here, Marvin imagines sometime in the future, getting stoned on Venus-ian drugs at a party and getting it on with someone he feels like he's met before. But it's not Janis, it's Anna. The subtext seems to be that, despite their divorce, they're destined to always be together in some way. And also (perhaps more sinisterly) Anna will always be his and that that he can have her any time that he wants her. Creepy.

This album is very strange and incredibly one-sided but in a sense it's his most honest - "Here, My Dear" is all Marvin, all his arrogance, all his pettiness and all his insecurities. And it would be nothing if it wasn't as funky as anything and a showcase for Marvin's beautiful mutli-layered vocals. Weird and utterly essential.

Buy - Here, My Dear
Visit - Marvin on Wikipedia

Sunday, October 08, 2006

god, show me magick

"The Secret Chiefs are said to be transcendent cosmic authorities responsible for the operation and moral calibre of the cosmos, or for overseeing the operations of an esoteric organization that manifests outwardly in the form of a magical order or lodge system. Their names and descriptions have varied through time, dependent on those who reflect their experience of contact with them." [more]

Secret Chiefs 3 is a band formed in the mid-nineties by Trey Spruance, Trevor Dunn and Danny Heifetz - respectively the guitarist, bassist and drummer in Mr Bungle. The line up has changed with each record, but it's fair to say that Spruance has remained the "chief" creative force - excuse the bad pun.

Steve's recent post reminded me that I hadn't contributed to the Rally since April. Whilst I offer no apologies for this state of affairs, it seems like an appropriate time to contribute again. In truth, I had considered writing something about Secret Chiefs 3 for a while, but in a "5 degrees of separation"-sort of way, it was Steve's live album post that finally did the trick...

To be more precise, it was Hibbett's comment. Here's how my brain works:

Modern Lovers Live > Jonathan Richman > he needs to get his sinuses sorted > as does Chuck Mosely, vocalist on Faith No More's first couple of albums > FNM? I prefer Mr Bungle > but I like Secret Chiefs 3 even more.

Naturally all of this was processed in a nanosecond or three.

Ok, enough beating about the bush. To warm y'all up, here's a track from the band's second album, "Second Grand Constitution and Bylaws: Hurqalya":

Secret Chiefs 3 - Renunciation

On their most recent album, "Book of Horizons" (2004), SC3 have formed 7 sub-bands (only 6 of which are named...), each one representing one or more aspects of their musical interests. Now, I'm developing an aversion to the use of 'eclectic' when describing music, as it's usually applied to bands that play songs at more than one tempo, or use instruments other than guitars, but here goes: SC3 are truely eclectic. You can read more about this elsewhere (yes you can), for now listen to these:

Secret Chiefs 3 [UR] - Anthropomorphosis: Boxleitner

Secret Chiefs 3 [Ishraqiyun] - The 3

Good. Now go buy all their records immediately...

While you're at it, visit the SC3 website and also the Web of Mimicry label pages.

domino rally: 203-305

Without me realising it, we've gone over the 300-track mark. Here's a list of what we've written about recently - I'm listening to them as I write this, it's a pretty weird mix! (Is it really that long since we heard from Jim and Oxbow?! For shame!)
Many of these tracks are long gone so please read the posts and support the artists involved by buying their records. Cheers.

203) Palace Brothers - "Ohio Riverboat Song"
204) Palace Brothers - "Don't I Look Good Today"
205) Inner City - "Good Life"
206) Kim Fowley - "The Trip"
207) Kim Fowley - "Beautiful People"
208) Primal Scream - "Sonic Sister Love"
209) Primal Scream - "Imperial"
210) Sonic Youth - "The World Looks Red"
211) Sonic Youth - "Shaking Hell"
212) Huey 'Piano' Smith and The Clowns - "Don't You Just Know It"
213) Shirley and Lee - "Feels So Good"
214) Clarence 'Frogman' Henry - "Ain't Got No Home"
215) Franco Godi - "Mr Rossi theme (aka Viva Happiness)"
216) 3rd Bass - "Sons Of 3rd Bass"
217) 3rd Bass - "Product Of The Environment"
218) Yello - "Oh Yeah"
219) Yello - "Bananas To The Beat"
220) Yello - "Night Flanger"
221) Let's Active - "Every Word Means No"
222) Jason Falkner - "Follow Me"
223) Brendan Benson - "Folk Singer"
224) Marvin Gaye - "Clique Games/Rick James (Original Version of "Midnight Lady")"
225) Marvin Gaye - "Sexual Healing (Original Vocal)"
226) Marvin Gaye - "Marvin's Message to CBS Records Staff"
227) The Go-Betweens - "Cattle And Cane"
228) The Go-Betweens - "Bye, Bye Pride"
229) The Go-Betweens - "Apology Accepted"
230) Donny Hathaway - "You've Got A Friend (live)"
231) Rush - "Freewill"
232) The Spinto Band - "Brown Boxes"
233) The Spinto Band - "Oh Mandy"
234) David Bowie - "Magic Dance (from 'Labyrinth' OST)"
235) David Bowie - "Port Of Amsterdam (B-side of "Sorrow)"
236) David Bowie - "Growin' Up (Previously Unrealeased Track from the Pin Ups Sessions)"
237) Thin Lizzy - "Don't Believe A Word"
238) Belle & Sebastian - "I'm A Cuckoo"
239) Phoenix - "Rally"
240) The Beach Boys - "Be Here In The Morning"
241) The Beach Boys - "Busy Doin' Nothin'"
242) The Beach Boys - "Anna Lee, The Healer"
243) The Beach Boys - "Transcendental Meditation"
244) The Lemonheads - "It's A Shame About Ray"
245) The Lemonheads - "Alison's Starting To Happen"
246) Codeine - "Pickup Song"
247) Codeine - "D"
248) Idaho - "Skyscrape"
249) Pierre Etoile (Damon & Naomi of Galaxie 500) - "Nineteen Sixty-Nine"
250) Medeski, Martin & Wood - "We Are Rolling"
251) Medeski, Martin & Wood - "Is There Anybody Here That Love My Jesus"
252) They Might Be Giants - "Birdhouse In Your Soul"
253) Athlete - "El Salvador"
254) Athlete - "You Got The Style"
255) Miles Davis (orchestration by Gil Evans) - "My Ship"
256) Miles Davis (orchestration by Gil Evans) - "Summertime"
257) The Jack Rubies - "Lobster"
258) Mighty Mighty - "Is there anyone out there?"
259) Bob - "Kirsty"
260) Mighty Mighty - "Built Like A Car"
261) Petra Haden - "God Only Knows"
262) Petra Haden - "Armenia City In the Sky"
263) Miles Davis - "Straight, No Chaser"
264) Miles Davis - "Milestones"
265) Coconut Monkeyrocket - "Shopping For Explosives"
266) Coconut Monkeyrocket - "Accidental Beatnik"
267) Victor Banana - "Strange Things Are Happening"
268) Victor Banana - "Here Comes Santa"
269) Victor Banana - "Shiver Me Timbers"
270) Victor Banana - "Iamatology Walking Through Lineal Theanthropism"
271) Neil Smythe - "Butterscotch Sunday"
272) The Beatles - "Some Other Guy"
273) The Kaisers - "She's Gonna Two Time"
274) The Kaisers - "She's Only Doggin' Round"
275) The Muppets - "Mahna Mahna"
276) The Muppets - "Pachalafaka"
277) The Muppets - "Halfway Down The Stairs"
278) Shack - "Byrds Turn to Stone"
279) Lloyd Cole & The Commotions - "Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?"
280) Shack - "A House is not a Motel"
281) Dr Coca-Cola McDonalds - "I Don't Like Heavy Metal"
282) Dr Coca-Cola McDonalds - "I Don't Like The Jazz (I Like Heavy Metal)"
283) Dr Coca-Cola McDonalds - "Dr In XXX Shocker"
284) The June Brides - "Every Conversation"
285) Eric Matthews - "Fanfare"
286) XTC - "Miniature Sun"
287) John Coltrane - "Alabama"
288) Julee Cruise - "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart"
289) Julee Cruise - "The World Spins"
290) Jimmy Scott - "Sycamore Trees (from 'Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me' OST)"
291) Los Bravos - "I Want A Name"
292) Little Eva - "He Is The Boy"
293) Curtis Lee - "Gee How I Wish You Were Here"
294) Roxy Music - "Editions of You"
295) Brian Eno - "The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch"
296) Miles Davis - "So What (live at The Plugged Nickel, 23 December 1965)"
297) Young People - "The Night Of The Hunter"
298) Split Enz - "My Mistake"
299) Split Enz - "Six Months In A Leaky Boat"
300) Talking Heads - "The Great Curve"
301) Meat Puppets - "Automatic Mojo"
302) Meat Puppets - "Cotton Candy Land"
303) Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "Master & Everyone"
304) Henry Mancini - "A Shot In The Dark"
305) Henry Mancini - "Peter Gunn"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

he really is a groovy cat...

We're talking seminal moments in musical development again here...

It's a 1970's Saturday afternoon - me and Ox are at our Grandma's. We've just finished watching the wrestling on World Of Sport (presented by Dickie Davies) so we turn the TV over double-quick to watch a Pink Panther cartoon - the series where in the opening credits the kid drives a massive car to the Chinese theatre and the Pink Panther gets out the back. I was always dead jealous of that kid - for driving the big car rather than being a snooty cartoon animal's skivvie. I particularly loved the Inspector Clouseau stories...

Henry Manicini - A Shot In The Dark

... which used the theme to A Shot In The Dark throughout.

I was reminded of this at JD rehearsal last night when I started playing the riff and found it totally impossible to stop - it's one of those great riffs that goes round and round in a loop and it's addictive and difficult to stop (apologies to the other band members).

Henry Mancini - Peter Gunn

Mancini wrote some fantastic stuff and listening to these tunes today I was struck by how amazing and wild they sound - there are sections of Peter Gunn where it sounds like something Charlie Mingus would have put on The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady - the talking brass parts and organised chaos going on under the solos, in particular (back me up here, jazz-bo's...).

Like most cartoon characters, the Pink Panther was RUBBISH when he started talking...

Can anyone help me out with the other characters above? Vaguely remember the anteater...

Buy - The Best of Henri Mancini
Visit - Henry Mancini on Wikipedia