Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Last Exit - Iron Path (1988)

OK, let's get serious again.

Last Exit was an absolute beast of a band. Sonny Sharrock, Peter Brötzmann, Bill Laswell and Ronald Shannon Jackson in an improvising free-jazz/blues/funk/thrash maelstrom. Unfortunately, I never saw them play but I have all their live albums (which are available to buy for download at the usual places) and they are terrific.

Here's a clip of them in action from the YTs.
Great googly moogly!

Here is their sole studio album. It's not quite as awe-inspiring as their live albums, and it seems a bit more arranged than their seat-of-the-pants imrov on the other records, but it does have its moments. 'Sand Dancer' is a Sonny Sharrock piece that's similar to his overdubbed solo Guitar album (another Laswell production). And I'd like to think that 'Devil's Rain' is inspired by the godawful Ernest Borgnine/William Shatner horror movie.

I think Last Exit might have actually done some reunion gigs in late 1993 in New York (or at least I once spoke to someone who claimed to have been to one - not sure whether there were any recordings) but any long-term reunion was, alas, cut short by Sonny Sharrock's early death in 1994.

A1: Prayer (4:38)
A2: Iron Path (3:28)
A3: The Black Bat (for Aki Ikuta) (4:33)
A4: Marked for Death (2:20)
A5: The Fire Drum (4:20)
B1: Detonator (3:47)
B2: Sand Dancer (1:55)
B3: Cut and Run (2:30)
B4: Eye for an Eye (4:54)
B5: Devil's Rain (4:13)

Sonny Sharrock: Guitars
Peter Brötzmann: Saxophones
Bill Laswell: Bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson: Drums

Produced by Last Exit/Bill Laswell
Engineered by Martin Bisi
Recorded and Mixed at B.C. Studio, Brooklyn, New York.
LP Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk

Virgin, USA, 1988. Cat # 91015-1

320kbps mp3

[re-up 29/4/12] 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Thanks to the people who are linking to me:

Inconstant Sol
Music Hertz

If you (or anyone else) could tell me the name of that nifty looking gizmo you use to generate the links, I'd like to return the favour.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Scatterbrain - Here Comes Trouble (1990)

OK, let's have a bit of fun.

I put this here mostly so I could recollect the time I saw these guys back in '92 or '93 in Sydney.

They'd recently had a top-20 hit with 'Don't Call Me Dude.' You know, this song with the silly video:

Yeah, that one.

They were playing at the Marquee club in Camperdown, which was about two minutes' walk from where I lived at the time. And it was pissing down. I mean torrential rain of Biblical proportions. Just 'orrible. I think a combination of the weather and some SNAFU by the promoters meant that only about two dozen people turned up. This was in a room that could probably squeeze in a thousand people (there had recently been some ugliness when Faith No More were booked to play there before they had a hit with 'Epic,' but arrived just at the peak of their popularity, and there were a lot more people wanting to get in than could fit). Anyway, the guys in Scatterbrain came out and put on a great, hilarious show for the couple of dozen people there. They had an extended session in the middle of the set where they took requests from the audience, and did their best to play them. Somehow all the songs they played would morph into the intro to Midnight Oil's 'Beds Are Burning,' with that chugging E chord (or whatever) and the band croaking "out where the river brooooke..."

They spent the rest of the gig playing their own material and covers, dissing their promoter and making a lot of jokes at their own expense. At the end of the night they put the entire audience on the guest list for the next night's show in Parramatta (which, unfortunately, I could not attend).

Anyway, here's their debut album. I gather singer Tommy Christ and guitarist Glen Cummings had previously recorded a couple of records as Ludichrist, but they changed direction, put a bit of humour into their songs and became Scatterbrain. Aside from the jokes, these guys really can play - as you can hear in the riff-fest, 'Down With The Ship,' which I'm sure is an idea that has occurred to a million garage bands, but these guys managed to get it on MTV:

They made one more album, which stiffed, and then they disappeared. I used to see their second album a lot in cut-out bins but never got around to buying it. Their first album is a lot of fun, though.

A1: Here Comes Trouble (3:54)
A2: Earache My Eye (2:47)
A3: That's That (3:57)
A4: I'm With Stupid (5:05)
A5: Down With The Ship (Slight Return) (2:29)
A6: Sonata #3 (1:52)
B1: Mr. Johnson and the Juice Crew (1:55)
B2: Goodbye Freedom, Hello Mom (4:49)
B3: Outta Time (3:36)
B4: Don't Call Me Dude (5:16)
B5: Drunken Milkman (1:18)

Tommy Christ: vocals
Glen Cummings: guitar
Paul Nieder: guitar
Guy Brogna: bass
Mike Boyko: drums

Produced by Paul Nieder, Tom Soares & Scatterbrain
Engineerd by Tom Soares with Joe Pires & Jamie Locke.
LP mastered by Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk.

Music by Scatterbrain. Lyrics by Christ, apart from 'Earache My Eye' by Cheech & Chong with Guy De Lorne and 'Sonata #3' by W.A. Mozart

In-Effect records, USA, 1990. Cat # 88561-3012-1

320kbps mp3
[Links Fixed 21/1/12]


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blind Idiot God - Undertow (1988)

Since the first album has been so popular, here is the second one. This time they had a big-name producer in the substantial shape of Bill Laswell. The material still veers between full-tilt hardcore (with fancy chords and time signatures), dub and funk. 'Alice in my Fantasies' is a cover of a Funkadelic song. I'm sure I heard this on the pre-gig tape of a show by Oren Ambarchi many years ago, recognised the Funkadelic tune, but had no idea who was playing. I picked up this album a couple of years later (I think I actually found this one in the £2 bin in a shop in London) and the mystery was solved. I was on a bit of a Bill Laswell kick at the time, since he was putting out a lot of interesting stuff on his Axiom label, and recognised Blind Idiot God from the John Zorn namecheck mentioned in the previous post. Zorn actually made a guest appearance on the CD of this album, but doesn't appear on the LP. I think the track with Zorn was from a 12" 45 of 'Sawtooth' (which I do not own).

BIG made a third album after this, which was only released on CD in Japan. They also appeared (as a commenter last time noted) on Praxis's Sacrifist album, another Laswell project.

A1: Sawtooth (2:22)
A2: Clockwork Dub (4:29)
A3: Atomic Whip (4:28)
A4: Watch Yer Step (3:14)
A5: Drowing (6:03)
B1: Major Key Dub (4:10)
B2: Alice in my Fantasies (2:56)
B3: Rollercoaster (4:36)
B4: Dubbing in the Sinai (3:49)
B5: Wailing Wall (3:05)

Ted Epstein: Drums
Gabe Katz: Bass
Andy Hawkins: Guitar

Recorded & Mixed at B.C. Studios by Martin Bisi, May & June 1988.
Produced by Bill Laswell.
LP mastered by Howie Weinberg at Masterdisc.

All songs by A. Hawkins except 'Alice in my Fantasies' by Eddie Hazel and George Clinton.

Enemy Records, USA. 1988. Cat # EMY 10

320kpbs mp3
[Links fixed 21/1/12]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blind Idiot God - Blind Idiot God (1987)

So here's a tasty little sucker from the SST label. I first heard of Blind Idiot God when John Zorn namechecked them in the liner notes for his Spy vs Spy Ornette Coleman tribute album. It struck me as a cool name for a band (apparently it's taken from H.P. Lovecraft - thanks Wikipedia). Certainly it's a memorable one, and when I came across a couple of their albums some time later (they only made three) I picked them up, and think they're pretty cool.

They were a power trio from St Louis, Missouri, and managed to get themselves in with the Downtown scene in New York. Hell, I won't bore you with the details that I just found on the internets - you can look it up yourselves. What I will say is that to my knowledge it's unusual for a hardcore band to begin their debut album with a quote from the introduction to Stravinsky's Firebird, and to perform a cover of an old Meters single (there's a Funkadelic cover on their second album, which I will also put here if this one proves popular).

Aside from the hardcore, funk and classical influences, there are several dub-influenced tracks on side two. If you like this, might I also suggest Dub Trio for your dancing and dining pleasure.

A1: Stravinsky/Blasting Off (2:16)
A2: Shifting Sand (3:42)
A3: Tired Blood (4:56)
A4: Wide Open Spaces (4:59)
A5: Subterranean Flight (4:46)
B1: [I Need] More Time (2:37)
B2: Dark & Bright (4:51)
B3: Wise Man Dub (4:33)
B4: Stealth Dub (4:43)
B5: Raining Dub (5:01)

SST Records, USA, 1987. Cat # SST 104

Andy Hawkins: Guitar
Ted Epstein: Drums
Gabriel Katz: Bass

All songs by A. Hawkins & B.I.G. except I Need More Time by the Meters, Wise Man Dub by G. Katz & B.I.G.

Recorded at B.C. Studios Brooklyn, NY January & February 1987 by Martin Bisi.
Produced & Mixed by Martin Bisi and Blind Idiot God.
LP Mastered by John Golden at K-Disc.

320kbps mp3
[Links fixed 21/1/12]

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society - Mandance (1982)

Some more Ornette-inspired insanity.

I bought this from Ashwoods some time in the late 80s, I think. The pencil scribble on the label tells me I paid six bucks for it. Those were the days. There used to be racks full of albums like this that nobody but me seemed to want.

I'm afraid I know very little about Shannon Jackson beyond the few records I have that he appears on. He's played with Cecil Taylor, on Ornette Coleman's early electric recordings, with James Blood Ulmer, Bill Laswell and the monster improv band Last Exit. I am not a musician, so I can't tell you technically what he's doing, but he seems to have a very idiosyncratic drumming style.
Oh, and he's from Fort Worth in Texas, which is also Ornette Coleman's home town (Jackson is ten years younger than Coleman).

This is the first major label recording by his Decoding Society (I have a few earlier ones on obscure German and US labels). The band features some extraordinary players, who would become famous to varying degrees in their own right, most notably Melvin Gibbs and Vernon Reid (whose name on the sleeve probably persuaded me to part with six ill-gotten bucks back in my student days). The music here swings between heavily composed sections and wild improv (sometimes simultaneously). It's wild, swingin' and often funky.

A1: Man Dance
A2: Iola
A3: Spanking
A4: Catman
A5: The Art of Levitation
B1: Belly Button
B2: Giraffe
B3: When Souls Speak
B4: Alice in the Congo

All compositions by Ronald Shannon Jackson
Arrangements by RSJ and the Decoding Society

Antilles Records, UK, 1982. Cat # AN 1008

Ronald Shanon Jackson - drums
Henry Scott - trumpet and flugelhorn
Zane Massey - tenor, alto and soprano saxophones
Vernon Reid - electric guitar, steel guitar, Roland guitar synthesizer, banjo [why doesn't Vernon play a bit of banjo with Living Colour, eh?]
Melvin Gibbs - electric bass
Reverned Bruce Johnson - fretless electric bass, electric bass
David Gordon -trumpet on A1, A2 and B3 (replacing Henry Scott)
Lee Rozie - additional tenor and soprano saxophones on A1, A2 and B3

Recorded live in the studio, New York, June 1982, by Neal Teeman and Akili Walker.
"Decoded by Ron Saint Germain"
Produced by David Breskin and Ronald Shannon Jackson

320kbps mp3
[Links fixed 22/1/12]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lenny White - Venusian Summer (1975)

Oh Noes! It's Fusion!

I imagine I am not alone in avoiding this album for a long time due to its, frankly, hideous cover art. But it's a very groovy number, and mercifully mostly free of the greater excesses of fusion that you might have expected from just looking at the cover, although it does have a mini-moog solo or two. And just look at the list of synthesizers in the credits.

Lenny White was one of the battery of batterie on Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, and later joined Chick Corea's Return to Forever. Must admit, I've never really dug RTF, other than the first couple of albums with Airto and Flora Purim. Maybe I'll give 'em a go one day. Lenny's lately been playing in a trio with Larry Coryell and Victor Bailey, whose recordings I've enjoyed.

This one features guest spots from such notables as Larry Young (aka Khalid Yasin), Larry Coryell, Al DiMeola, Hubert Laws and Jimmy Smith (not sure whether this is The Incredible Jimmy Smith himself, but I think it might be). As a bonus, unlike several albums of its ilk, there are no fawning references to L. Ron Hubbard in the liner notes.

This was Lenny's debut album as leader. I gather it came out on CD on Wounded Bird some years ago, but seems to be unavailable now. Fairly common on vinyl, though, and easy to spot with that cover.

Recorded June and August 1975, Electric Lady Studios, New York.
Engineer Dennis MacKay.
Produced by Lenny White.
Mastered by John Dent.

A1: Chicken-Fried Steak (4:36)
A2: Away go Troubles Down the Drain (3:32)
The Venusian Summer Suite:
A3: Part 1. Sirénes (4:27)
A4: Part 2. Venusian Summer (6:04)*
B1: Prelude to Rainbow Delta (1:13)
B2: Mating Drive (7:43)
B3: Prince of the Sea (11:37)

Nemperor Records, USA, 1975. Cat # NE 435

Lenny White: Drums, Clavinet, Mini-Moog, Eµ synthesizer, ARP 2600, piano, snap bass [whatever that is], percusssion.
Doug Rauch: bass (A1, A4, B2, B3)
Doug Rodrigues: guitar (A1, A2, B2)
Raymond Gomez: rhythm guitar (A1)
Jimmy Smith: organ (A1)
David Sancious: Mini-Moog, organ (A2, A4)
Weldon Irvine: Organ (A2)
Allan Gumbs: electric piano, piano, Clavinet (A2, A4)
Patrick Gleeson: Eµ synthesizer, ARP 2500/2600, Mini-Moog, Oberheim digital sequencer (A3, A4, B1)
Tom Harrel: Mini-Moog (A3), orchestration (A3, A4), flugelhorn (B3)
Hubert Laws: flute (A4)
Dennis MacKay: backwards gong (B1)
Larry Young (Khalid Yasin): organ (B2)
Larry Coryell: guitar (B3)
Al DiMeola: guitar (B3)

All songs written by Lenny White except:
A1 by Dough Rauch & Doug Rodrigues
A2 by Lenny White, Doug Rauch & Doug Rodrigues
B1 by Patrick Gleeson

320kbps mp3
[Links Fixed 22/1/12]

*Side one has some low-volume music looping in the lock groove. I have preserved a few revolutions at the end of 'Venusian Summer,' just because I think things like that are cool.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ornette Coleman - Of Human Feelings (1982)

Some more Ornette and Prime Time

I first became aware of this LP after hearing John Zorn's cover of 'Job Mob' (there entitled 'Mob Job') on his truly mental Spy vs Spy LP. Check it out, kids, it's great.

Back in those pre-internet days I couldn't find a copy anywhere (even though it was only six years old at the time) and couldn't really dig up any information about it. I picked this copy up at a now-defunct record shop down in Pitt St about ten years ago. These days, of course, you can find it on the internets without looking too hard. I've seen a few copies in the second hand bins since. I gather it was released on CD in Japan at some point, but it's long out of print now and I've never seen a copy.

This is on Island's Antilles label, which seems to have been reserved for jazz and other weirdness. Recorded in 1979, but curiously not released till three years later. It was an early digital recording, done - according to the liner notes - direct to two-track (one presumes through a mixing desk) using a Sony PCM-1600, which recorded to ¾" U-Matic video tape in 16-bit resolution at a little under 44.1kHz (which - not coincidentally - soon became the standard for CD quality). So the flac rip should sound pretty much the same as the record.

Anyway, to the music. This is Ornette in funky harmolodic Prime Time mode. Featuring Ornette's son Denardo on drums, the amazing Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass, and Bern Nix and Charlie Ellerbee on guitars. Aside from Ornette's alto, the outstanding feature of this album for me is the weaving of the guitars, panned hard right and left. I don't know which is which (if someone knows, please fill me in) but the one in the left channel is cleaner and more melodic, where the one in the right is more distorted, angular and funky. Don't laugh, but it reminds me of nothing so much as the way the guitars weave together on Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica. And do I detect a Stravinsky quote at the beginning of the first track? There's also Tacuma's terrific bass playing and Denardo's idiosyncratic drumming style. The drums sound a little tinny to me - not sure whether that's a by-product of the early digital recording or just the way he played 'em.

Recorded April 25, 1979 at Columbia Recording Studio, New York.
Produced by Ornette Coleman
Recorded by Ron Saint Germain and Harold Jarowsky
Mastered by Joe Gastwirt

A1: Sleep Talk (3:38)
A2: Jump Street (4:19)
A3: Him And Her (4:20)
A4: Air Ship (6:07)
B1: What is the Name of that Song? (4:02)
B2: Job Mob (4:55)
B3: Love Words (2:55)
B4: Times Square (6:03)

Ornette Coleman: Alto Saxophone

Prime Time Band:
Denardo Coleman: Drums
Charlie Ellerbee: Guitar
Bern Nix: Guitar
Jamaaladeen Tacuma: Bass Guitar
Calvin Weston: Drums

Antilles, UK, 1982. Cat # AN 2001

320kbps mp3
Sorry, folks. I have misplaced the lossless version of this 'un. Will re-up if I find it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Airto Moreira - Misa Espiritual: Airto's Brazilian Mass (1984)

Here's another oddity. This LP seems to be all-but-forgotten. I picked this up for five bucks in Red Eye a few years ago. I was on a big Airto kick after seeing him in the great  DVD documentary about Miles Davis's Isle of Wight Concert. I was seeking out his excellent early albums on CTI and Buddah, along with his collaborations with his wife, Flora Purim.

What? Airto with Gil Evans? I'm there! The results are not quite what I expected (actually, I didn't really know what to expect) but it's a bit of a grower. It veers between Morricone-like string and choral arrangements, hot big-band jazz, Brazilian percussive outfreakage and some stuff that sounds like some of Zappa's early dissonant pieces with the Mothers.

I'm not too sure what Evans's contribution was, exactly. He's credited as "Musical Director," and Marcos Silva and Airto with the arrangements and orchestrations. Maybe Gil conducted the band or helped out with the arrangements. I guess his name on the sleeve might have moved a few more records too. The band in question is the WDR Big Band, featuring a few names that are familiar to me: namely Philip Catherine on guitar and Trilok Gurtu on percussion.

There's scant information about the album on Airto's website and it seems to be entirely absent from his All Music Guide discography. As far as I know it was never released on CD, so it remains a bit of an obscurity.

Recorded at WDR Studios, Cologne.
Produced by Heiner Müller-Adolphi

A1: Entróito (8:31)
A2: Kyrie (8:12)
B1: Gloria (11:28)
B2: Comunhão Finis (7:52)

All titles composed by Airto Moreira.
Arranged and orchestrated by Marcos Silva and Airto Moreira.
Musical Director: Gil Evans

Airto Moreira: vocals, percussion.
With the WDR Big Band and WDR strings.

Harmonia Mundi, Germany, 1984. Cat # HM 663

320kbps mp3
Sorry folks, I have misplaced the lossless version of this. Will post it again if I find it.

Well, blow me down. There's a wobbly old taped TV performance of this on the YTs...

...with some sort of explanatory introduction. However my Portuguese is not really up to snuff so I am none the wiser.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane - Mahoney's Last Stand (1976)

Here's a soundtrack from a movie (alternatively titled Mahoney's Estate) that nobody seems to remember anything much about. The soundtrack (released four years after the movie - if indeed the movie was ever released) has faded into obscurity too, although it's a good album in its own right - perhaps the absence of any images or credits from the film on the LP sleeve is an indication that the album should be approached on its own merits.

The two Ronnies were, of course, members of the Faces, one of the best rock bands of the early 70s, until it was overshadowed by Rod Stewart's solo career. Indeed, all the Faces bar Rod appear on the first track on this album. Ronnie Wood had just joined the Rolling Stones when this album was released, and Ronnie Lane, since quitting the Faces before their last tour (I believe because he didn't get to perform his own songs) had produced three quite exquisite albums with his band, Slim Chance. There's a budget-priced compilation CD called How Come that's currently in print. Check it out if you can't track down the Slim Chance albums. I think they might be in print in Japan, but the original LPs aren't too difficult to track down if you have the patience. His most famous work outside the Small Faces or the Faces is Rough Mix, his 1977 collaboration with Pete Townshend, which is usually available in one form or another. Pete appears on a couple of tracks on this album. I'd guess he did a few overdubs on this material while they were preparing Rough Mix.

Ronnie Wood is one of rock music's great team players, first with the Jeff Beck Group (where he was relegated to bass guitar beside his more illustrious leader), then with the Faces, Rod Stewart and the Stones. A gifted multi-instrumentalist (his slide guitar playing is particularly exceptional) who is often underestimated, possibly due to his drunken, laddish image. He's put out the odd solo album, but I have only heard the first one, which is pretty good.

This album was begun at the height of the Faces' fame (such as it was) and completed a couple of years after they split. I gather it was reissued with some bonus tracks (looks like they were Faces outtakes) on CD in Japan several years ago, but is currently out of print.

Ronnie Lane, sadly, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years later and died in 1997. Ronnie Wood continues to roll with the Stones when they are rolling. There was talk of a Faces reunion a few years ago but it just wouldn't have been right without Ronnie "Plonk" Lane.

Recorded at Olympic Studios, London.
Produced and Engineered by Glyn Johns.

LP mastered by George Piros at Atlantic.

A1: Tonight's Number (3:10)*
A2: From the Late to the Early (3:36)
A3: Chicken Wire (2:00)
A4: Chicken Wired (3:45)
A5: I'll Fly Away (0:31)
A6: Title One (3:42)
A7: Just for a Moment (Instrumental) (2:55)
B1: "Mona" the Blues (4:27)
B2: Car Radio (4:50)
B3: Hay Tumble (2:55)
B4: Woody's Thing (1:45)
B5: Rooster Funeral (3:55)
B6: Just for a Moment (2:55)

ATCO records, USA. Cat # SD 36-126.

* I just realised that 'Tonight's Number' is on the excellent Faces box set, Five Guys Walk Into a Bar, so I've omitted that one. Sorry about that.
320kbps mp3 
[links fixed 22/1/12]

Tonight's Number
Kenney Jones- drums
Ronnie Lane- bass
Ron Wood- guitar
Pete Townshend- guitar
Ian McLagan- piano
Bobby keys- brass
Jim Price- brass, baritone horn solo
From the Late to the Early
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Benny Gallagher- bass
Ron Wood- guitar, harp, vocals
Ronnie Lane- guitar, vocals
Chicken Wire
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Rick Grech- bass
Ron Wood- guitar
Ronnie Lane- banjo
Ian McLagan- harmonium
Chicken Wired
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitar,vocals
Ronnie Lane- bass, banjo, vocals
Ian McLagan- piano
I'll Fly Away
The Wood / Lane vocal ensemble:
Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane, Glyn Johns, Bruce Rowlands, Billy Nicholls
Title One
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitar
Ronnie Lane- bass, guitar, percussion
Bobby Keys and Jim Price- brass
Just for a Moment (Instrumental)
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitar, harp
Ronnie Lane- guitar, percussion
"Mona"- The Blues
Rick Grech- drums
Ron Wood- guitar,vocals, harp
Ronnie Lane- bass
Car Radio
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitars
Ronnie Lane- bass
Ian McLagan- piano
Pete Townshend- percussion
Bobby Keys- tenor sax
Hay Tumble
Micky Waller- percussion
Ron Wood- bass, guitars, harp
Ronnie Lane- guitar
Rick Grech- violin
Woody's Thing
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitars
Ian Stewart- piano
Rooster Funeral
Ron Wood- guitar,vocals
Ronnie Lane-  vocals
Rick Grech- violin
Just for a Moment
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitar,vocals, harp
Ronnie Lane- bass, percussion, vocals

All selections written by Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane except I'll Fly Away, which is traditional and arranged by Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane.

Lorks a'Lawdy. Just found a poster for the film. Looks, er, interesting.

I guess at least that goes some way to explaining the various poultry references in the song titles.
UPDATE (27/7/11):  I recently watched the excellent DVD Ronnie Lane - The Passing Show, which features a couple of short clips from the film, so it exists somewhere. Quality-wise the clips look like a videocassette dub from a TV broadcast. I'm in no hurry to see it, though. Enjoy the music.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Music Revelation Ensemble - No Wave (1980)

Some more James Blood Ulmer for yez.

Here he is in "out" mode, as distinct from blues, funk or "harmolodic pop song" mode. Music Revelation Ensemble was James Blood's free jazz combo, usually with his guitar and a horn player out front. Initially, it was with the amazing David Murray, and later had a near-incredible roster door of guest horn players, including Arthur Blythe, Sam Rivers, Pharoah Sanders, Hamiet Bluiett and even John Zorn.

This is their first album, on the German Moers Music label, which seems to have specialised in recording free jazz/improv artists (I assume it was an off-shoot of the Moers music festival). I've got a couple of their other releases by Ronald Shannon Jackson and Phalanx (Ulmer's other "out" group with another great tenor, George Adams). The remainder of the Ensemble's releases were on the Japanese Label, DIW (and appear to be available to buy for download nowadays) and appeared several years later, between 1988 and 1996, when Blood's guitar tone was a little more genteel than it was here. This is like the freer tracks on his early Columbia albums, but taken a whole lot further out than they were.

Terrific sound on this recording too, although Blood's improvised vocals on 'Sound Check' seem a bit distorted. Perhaps the engineers weren't ready for him to start yakking along with the music in phrasebok German.

Jackson would appear on the Ensemble's next, self-titled, album along with Murray and Jamaaladeen Tacuma. Thereafter, Ali would return to the bass seat, and join with Cornell Rochester as the rhythm section for most of their remaining albums. All of the albums are worth checking out if you have a mind to do it.

James Blood Ulmer: guitar and vocal
David Murray: tenor saxophone
Amin Ali: electric bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson: drums and percussion

Recorded at Studio 57, Dusseldorf, June 1980.

A1: Time Table (10:00)
A2: Big Tree (8:45)
B1: Baby Talk (9:36)
B2: Sound Check (8:06)

Moers Music, West Germany. Cat # 01073

320kbps mp3
[Links fixed 21/1/12]

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nick Mason - Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports (1981)

And we're back. Still trying to sort out all this gear, but I'm happy with it so far. This is the very first needledrop with the new stylus and the V-LPS phono preamp.

Here's a bit of an oddity. The first solo album by Nick Mason, drummer from Pink Floyd. Now, I'm not the world's biggest Pink Floyd fan (although I do have the obligatory Dark Side of the Moon and a couple of other records) but I really like this.

This is often spoken of as a de facto Carla Bley album, since all she wrote all the words and music, and many of the other performers here are often associated with her work (not to mention a couple that she's been married to at one time or another). This probably does a bit of a disservice to Mason, who clearly thought this music was important enough to release as his first (and I think only) solo album. He also had a hand in the engineering (with Michael Mantler) and production (with Carla Bley). It was recorded in 1979 but not released until 1981. I can just imagine the suits at Columbia records talking to their higher-ups: "well, it's not exactly like a Pink Floyd record... it's sorta... uhh..."

Mason, of course, had already established his avant-garde bona fides, having produced Wyatt's Rock Bottom album. Bley, for her part, had dabbled in the world of rock music, having been in Jack Bruce's touring band a few years earlier, and had Wyatt's old mucker Hugh Hopper in her own touring band. Wyatt had also appeared on a couple of Michael Mantler records with Bruce and Bley, so there was a bit of a mutual admiration society around these musicians at the time. Mason, being a rock guy, doesn't really swing in any appreciable way, so he lends more of a rock sound to Bley's compositions than they might otherwise have had. I daresay he enjoyed working on material that was witty and fun for a change too (meow!).

Robert Wyatt: Vocals
Karen Kraft: Vocals
Chris Spedding: Guitars
Carla Bley: Keyboards
Gary Windo: Tenor/Bass Clarinet/Flute
Gary Velente: Trombones
Mike Mantler: Trumpets
Howard Johnson: Tuba
Steve Swallow: Bass
Nick Mason: Drums & Percussion
Terry Adams: Piano (on Boo to you Too), Harmonica and Clavinet (on Can't Get My Motor to Start)
Additional Voices: Gary Windo, Carlos Ward, D Sharpe, Gary Valente, VIncent Chancey, Earl McIntyre)

CBS/Sony, Japan. Cat # 25AP 2047

A1: Can't Get My Motor To Start (3:39)
A2: I Was Wrong (4:12)
A3: Siam (4:48)
A4: Hot River (5:13)
B1: Boo To You Too (3:26)
B2: Do Ya? (4:35)
B3: Wervin' (3:58)
B4 I'm a Mineralist (6:14)

320kbps mp3
[Links fixed 21/1/12]

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back Soon

Just waiting on some supplies: A new stylus and a new - hopefully superior - phono stage.
With exchange rates being the way they are, it works out more than 50% cheaper to buy these things direct from overseas than to buy them locally. Sorry, Mr High St Hi-Fi Retailer.
Do keep those comments coming, though. I know people are downloading these things, and it's nice to get a little feedback once in a while. You never know - I just might be able to fill some requests.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hugh Hopper, Elton Dean, Keith Tippett, Joe Gallivan - Cruel But Fair (1976)

Sorry for the protracted absence (again). I've been experimenting with ripping in higher resolution and various methods of noise reduction, so I might even revisit some of my earlier posts and re-do if time permits.

Here's an LP that needs very little cleaning up, though. I was lucky to find this fairly cheaply on eBay recently, and it's a real beauty. There was a CD of this album released on One Way records some time in the mid 90s, but I think that might actually have been from a needledrop of an original LP. Why look for a drop from a pristine LP on high-end studio gear, professionally mastered, when you can wrap your ears around my amateur lo-fi handiwork?

Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean (both of whom left us in recent years) are of course best known for their work in Soft Machine (or perhaps Dean is best known for giving Reg Dwight part of his stage name).
I first became aware of Keith Tippett (as I suspect did many people) through his awesome comping on some of the early King Crimson albums (Poseidon, Lizard and Islands) and try to get hold of whatever of his own work I can get my grubby mitts on. I believe there are currently CDs of Dedicated to You, But You Weren't Listening and You Are Here... I Am There in print. If you like this album, grab both of those while they're still available (unless you can afford to fork over >$200 for the original LPs).

This album was recorded in Oslo in October 1976 for the Norwegian Compendium label (but my copy was pressed in the UK), a few years after Tippett's major label releases. It still boggles my mind that RCA would do something as foolhardy as allowing Tippett and his 50 piece band, Centipede, to record and release a double album called Septober Energy. It was a different time, I guess. I think this album is something of a rarity in Tippett's discography in that he seems to be playing an electric piano on some tracks (I can't tell whether it's a Rhodes or a Wurlitzer or something else). Can't recall off the top of my head whether he does that on any of his own albums.

I must confess I was entirely ignorant of Joe Gallivan's work until I looked him up on Wikipedia just now. I'll leave it to you to do the same.

Hugh Hopper - Bass
Elton Dean - Alto Saxophone & Saxello
Keith Tippett - Piano
Joe Gallivan - Drums, Percussion & Synthesizer

Recorded at The Basement, Oslo, October 1976.
Compendium Records, UK pressing 1976, Cat# FIDARDO 4

A1: Seven Drones (Hopper) 8:27
A2: Jannakota (Dean/Gallivan) 4:41
A3: Echoes (Tippett) 8:42
B1: Square Enough Fire (Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan) 9:22
B2: Rocky Recluse (Tippett/Gallivan) 2:27
B3: Bjorn Free (Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan) 2:16
B4: Soul Fate (Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan) 5:37

320kpbs mp3
[Links fixed 22/1/12]

Technical Note: Ripped in 24 bit/96kHz, declicked using Clickrepair (on the lowest possible setting) and down-sampled to 16 bit/44.1kHz using Audacity. I am still evaluating Clickrepair, but it seems worth the $40 to buy a copy. If used lightly it seems to remove those tiny little clicks without any discernible loss of quality. I've been trying it on noisier albums with mixed success, but I think that might be down to the way I'm using it rather than any shortcomings in the software.
This album is an absolute peach. Promotional UK pressing, with the names CLIVE and MAX (whoever they are) inscribed in the deadwax and a very spiffy laminated Garrod & Lofthouse printed sleeve. I almost feel a little bad about getting it on eBay for only $20.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gábor Szabó - Magical Connection (1970)

Happy New Year, first of all.
It's good to see many of Gábor Szabó's albums coming back into the catalogue, especially his 60s records on the Impulse! label. Here's one that's still out of print for some reason, 1970's Magical Connection on the Blue Thumb label. The follow-up, High Contrast, a collaboration with Bobby Womack, featuring the original version of the Womack-penned George Benson crossover hit 'Breezin',' has been out on CD for some years, but its less famous predecessor on the same label remains in limbo.

There's an invaluable Szabó discogaphy on Doug Payne's website here, which contains more biographical and discographical information than I could provide here. Check it out.

I first became aware of Szabó's name (as I imagine did many others) as the composer of 'Gypsy Queen' which was used as an extended coda to 'Black Magic Woman' on Santana's Abraxas album. I daresay Szabó made more money from that cover version than he did from all of his albums as leader combined. Larry Coryell also covered 'Gypsy Queen' on his excellent Barefoot Boy LP.

I'm a little ambivalent about Szabó's records. His playing is always outstanding, but his records occasionally tend towards easy listening cheese. Sometimes it works wonderfully, as with his bizarre Jazz Raga album (featuring his untutored sitar overdubs). Sometimes not so much. This one's a pretty straight-ahead pop/funk album, with some terrific guitar playing and the amazing Jim Keltner on drums (who also plays on High Contrast). Still not so sure about the version of 'Close to You,' which is maybe a little closer to Karen Carpenter than to Bobby Womack. For more info, have a look at Doug Payne's review.

Szabó's work as a sideman is equally impressive (and often less cheesy). I'd recommend seeking out his work with Charles Lloyd, Paul Desmond and particularly Chico Hamilton. If this post proves popular, I'll see which of his sideman albums are out of print and maybe post one or two.

Blue Thumb Records, 1970. Cat # BTS 8823

Gábor Szabó - Guitar
Richard Thompson - Keyboards (not the Richard Thompson)
Nick DeCaro - Accordion, Keyboards on Close to You, String Arrangements
Wolfgang Melz - Bass
Jim Keltner - Drums
Lynn Blessing - Vibes
Felix (Flaco) Falcon - Congas
Hal Gordon - Congas on Spartacus
Sandra Crouch - Percussion

Tommy LiPuma - Producer

A1Sombrero Sam
A2Close to You
A3Country Illusion
A4Lady With Child
B1Pretty Girl Why
B2Hum a Song (From Your Heart)
B3Magical Connection
B4Fred and Betty
B5Love Theme From Spartacus

320kpbs mp3
[Links fixed 22/1/12]