TOP PICKS TO HISS!
Ya remember that old saying "when it rains it pours"...well, that's certainly true when it comes to me! And I don't just mean when bad things happen in typical plague of toads fashion either! While it's true that when things go wrong for me in my life (what there is of it) I'm bound to get skewered royally, but oftimes when good ol' Lady Fortune smiles upon me she sure's grinnin' pretty wide and believe-you-me it's those kinda moments that make it well worth being alive and kickin'! And guess what...the lady's been smilin' so much upon me as of late that I woulda thunk the top of her head woulda plunked off sorta like in that cartoon that popped up on the cover of JAMMING WITH THE EDWARD because o'er the past four or so days I've received SIXTEEN (count 'em!) Cee-Dees for my dining and dancing pleasure and you can just believe that the arrival of these platters to my front stoop has been one of the most exciting happenings of 2007 so far! In fact, I haven't been this happy since the time I was accidently locked inside the geisha house overnight so you know this is a momentous occasion!
Anyway it ain't like I dove head first into all of these shiny pancakes at once...gotta save a few for those lean moments next week...but here's just a sample of what I've been grooving to as of late and if you're as anal-retentive hang-onto-my-every-word as I think you are I'll betcha you to'll be buying up alla these compact blitzes sooner than you can say "Hey sailor!"
Afflicted Man-THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 2-CD set (Senseless Whale Slaughter Australia, or available through Forced Exposure)
Well it looks like THE ARCHIVAL DIG/REISSUE OF THE YEAR has already arrived and it's still February! Really, I can't think of anything topping this classic two-disc excursion into pure sonic bliss coming out at all within the next ten months making this the hands-down winner already! I mean, this one's so great, so high energy, so heavy metal (in the best CREEM sense), punkazoid and all of those things I used to like (still do!) in rockaroll music that I find it hard to fathom than any other blast from the past could excel as great as the Afflicted Man does here! So unless somebody digs up the lost tapes of Lotte Lenya jamming with the Stooges that remain buried in the Kremlin's darkest archives these Afflicted Man recordings are "thee" hands-down winner!
Packaging is a lie (these are not the "complete" recordings as none of the Accursed platters with Steve Hall [the Afflicted One] including their sonic-blaster swansong "Going Down"/"I Didn't Mean It" from '84 show up here) but the music is as pure as can be with all of that wild wah-wah guitar in full force complete with the great dud-crank bass/drums backing harkening back further than the late-seventies punk visage expected well into the early-seventies of classic British thud (Groundhogs/Pink Fairies/CRUSHED BUTLER!!!) that sorta puts all that talk about late-seventies UK punque as a unique political statement where it belongs. Sounding more like that band from down the way you remember from your fetal days in '71, The Afflicted Man lays down a non-stop barrage of distorto guitar one-string solo playing unheard since at least 1969 and "1969" complete with perfect snot-nosed disaffected commoner English attitude and a primal crunch that I think was too much even for the hardest of hardcores at the time.
All three singles and all three albums (as the Afflicted or Afflicted Man...remember my Accursed schpiel a few paragraphs up) are included and even a guy who's been around the block a few times like me can be in for a few mental shakeups. (Such as on the previously-unheard-by-me "142"/"Senseless Whale Slaughter" single which on the "B"-side finds Hall surprisingly showing a bit of ecological concern for the monstrous sea mammal populace!) Not a bum note or duff track is in sight on these wah-wah wowzers that have enough of that repeato-riff hypno-drone to take you into dimensions unknown even if you don't sniff the epoxy that Hall so aptly warns us about on his MUSICAL BAG sides!
And oh those liner notes! Can anyone really get to the heart of the Afflicted matter as the author of those apt and totally "right on" words? Golly, I wish I could write like that!!!
Owing as much to Amon Duul II as the Clash, in fact even more so (check out the guitar on "Sun Sun" and play it next to any track on YETI), THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS might just be not only "thee" acid punk reish of the year but the only bright light for the rest of this not-that-bad decade. One to definitely seek out, if only to prove to your pals just how shallow and worthless a lotta the music the Afflicted Man (and a good hunkering portion of the late-'70s/early-eighties British punk class) ultimately led to is!
Airway-LIVE AT LACE CD (LAFMS)
Listening to Smegma has definitely gotten me more and more interested in the rest of that old Los Angeles Free Music Society catalogue, and what better place to start'n with this recently-reissued live disque featuring LAFMS stars Airway? Often described as sounding like a DC-10 giving birth to a Piper Cub while YOU act as midwife, Airway live up to their legend with this '78-vintage platter that sorta reminds me of the sonic scrapings that would result from the vacuuming of your ear canal for radioactive earwigs boring their way through your pituitary. (Frankly. I'm not exactly sure where the pituitary gland is located, but the word sure sounds nice!) Heavy duty screech that belies all that blab about El Lay being the zone-out capitol of the world...this, like the rancid rock scene cloistered in the burgh, proves that beneath the glamour and glitz there was a rabid seething undercurrent that would come to a head in only a few short years. And we're still cleaning up all the pus strewn about!
ALTER EGO PERFORMS PHILIP GLASS...MUSIC IN THE SHAPE OF A SQUARE/600 LINES 2-CD set (Orange Mountain Music)
This Orange Mountain label seems to be about as dedicated to the compositions of Philip Glass as his own mother would, and besides issuing rare recordings by Glass proper they're also tossing out disques by other groupage and people who have collaborated with the noted soundtrack composer o'er the years. The wop-a-dago band with the keen name Alter Ego being just one...performing the well-known as well as the unheard, Alter Ego do a pretty good job approximating that patented hypnotic Glass drone, but don't they just sound just a wee too Europeon piazza del square most of the time. I miss the gritty feel of the original Philip Glass Ensemble who always seemed more attuned to what's going on and about Glass' music, and although Alter Ego give it a good try I'll probably be filing this one towards the back of my collection to pull out only when those paranoid moments call for seventies avant resensification.
Branca-INDETERMINATE ACTIVITY OF RESULTANT MASSES CD (Atavistic)
I know that on principle I should hate Glenn Branca for forsaking the wild and wooly world of rock & roll for "serious music composition" but since I'm probably the least principled person on the boards I won't. Besides, I kinda get a kick outta these crossover no wave/classical avant-garde/free jazz works that people like Branca as well as Rhys Chatham, Jeffrey Lohn and Rudolph Grey (whose "Flaming Angels" remains hideously unreleased) used to perform back in the eighties when the no wave flame wasn't quite burned out en-toto. Those attempts of yore sorta remind me of what that proposed Wayne McGuire "Universal Musical Form" that NOBODY'S had the brains to put towards fruition would sound like! But anyway, this previously unreleased set of Branca tracks sure dredge up that avant-rock mystique that nobody but Weasel Walter seems to wanna know about anymore.
First cut's the title track with (get this!) ten guitarists (including some of the hipper monikers of the early-eighties post-everything scene) and drums, all sounding like a stroll through a raining glass forest (OK, so I got an "F" in Creative Writing!) but what's really wild is the cut which directly follows, an interview with avant garde granddaddy John Cage who in no certain terms gives Branca a tongue lashing for writing and performing the aforementioned title track which Cage considers a totally "fascist" musical work! Yeah, really...it's not like Cage hated volume, but he sure loathes the dictatorial nature of the piece where nothing is left to chance, sounding surprisingly like a stick-inna-mud on one hand yet you gotta figure that the man hadda've been adverse to the newer tenents of avant sound the same way guys like Kenny Dorham used to spew fire at Albert Ayler! But it is funny listening to the lispy Cage talk about Branca as if he were some jackboot and telling interviewer Wim Mertons that he wouldn't want to live in the kind of world Branca supposedly envisions...I mean, Cage actually came out and said he thought Chairman Mao did many fantastic things for China so just how much credibility (when it comes to political savvy) does the guy have making such an asinine statement as this?!? (It reminds me of the Cage article that appeared in BLACK TO COMM #20 when Bill Shute asked him his opinions regarding the then-recent Tienamen Square riot and Cage responded that it was "tragic" and all but we gotta understand their culture and society and various other situations that are part and parcel to China, afterwards more or less poo-pooing Shute's suggestion that the students shoulda been armed so they could shoot down the evildoers and attain the freedom they so longed for!)
Not that Cage doesn't make some neato points talking about his own anarchistic and ambient chance-operated compositions, but that's Cage describing his own credo and not Branca's, a guy who was operating from a way different plank! And hey, Cage had every right to make his views known even if they were built on a wobbly premise, but most of the time he sounds like some guy who doesn't realize that the parade was over a long time ago!
Closing out the CD is a recording of a chamber piece by Branca which sounds striking in its use of stark and sharp musical form, only this time played on violins instead of guitars. After listening to this and the early "serious" Eno compositions on DISCREET MUSIC I gotta wonder if rock & roll guys are actually better classical composers than the actual composers themselves! It is food for thought, and seems to be the culmination of a lotta that rock/classical meltdown that was going on in the wild and wooly late-sixties.
Virgin Insanity-ILLUSIONS OF THE MAINTENANCE MAN CD (Blues Interaction Japan, available through Volcanic Tongue)
Dunno about you, but despite a few decent layback tracks this Virgin Insanity sounds mostly like the dippy acoustic mellow out sounds that people in Jillery's high school class woulda performed for their very own folk mass. And I thought heavy metal was created to counteract the acoustic miasma of the early-seventies! Now don't worry, it may grown on me, but on which part of the body it does will have me going to the skin specialist in no time!
ALSO PLAYED (even though it is oft-mentioned older stuff!): Can's SOUNDTRACKS CD (Spoon) after reading Hot Scott Fischer's article in EUROCK where he called it a cross between the early Velvet Underground and Space Rock. You could also say the same thing about Hawkwind and Amon Duul, and a three-way blast session will probably send you straight into orbit! Les Rallizes Denudes' STUDIO AND SOUNDBOARD (Box One, Disc Four)-I just got some hot new(ly released) Denudes sides worthy of their own post, but I still can't get over the almost-twenty-minute take of "Ice Fire" that appears here. Fantastic repeato-riff drone that I don't think anyone woulda expected to come outta Japan, other'n perhaps some half-crazed Bataan Death March survivor still upset that his daughter bought a Toyota! And...The Tony Williams Lifetime (turn it over) CD (Verve)...yeah, I know I reviewed it a few posts back but it still has an incredible Vulcan Grip on my psyche. Please, can anyone direct me to a clear and concise history of this incredibly intense "fusion" band, or ANYTHING for that matter other'n the Peter Laughner ref. in a CREEM review as to how Williams thought his band would be great for people who like to listen to their refrigerators turn on and off!
Saturday, February 24, 2007
TOP PICKS TO HISS!