Saturday, July 11, 2009


Nothing new to write ye about today so I think I'll stick with some oldies to help sate my eternal mission to edjamacate you illiterate musical mavens out there. So bear with me this weekend as I write about some of those great Affinity releases that not-so-strangely enough have been taking up a good portion of my vinyl listening time as of late. I gotta admit that I dig the dickens outta these albums which not only have a similar white lettering on black cover scheme (sometimes reversed), but collect not only a good portion of the classic BYG label but a bevy of European rarities for easy enough access and musical fulfillment. Best of all, it seems like these albums (released by Charly of all people!) are still easy to find here in the present day so it ain't like you'll have to break the band at Monte Carlo to afford 'em! Anyhoo, the following recordings are just a few of the Affinity-label albums that I have been listening to and enjoying as of late...there are more, and if you do a thorough search of this blog you may be able to find even more reviews of these albums that have thrilled and chilled me for quite some time. Maybe not, but it sure is better than scouring other blogs to read about the neuroses and utter degradation of living in Melbourne in a house your folks put up the money for while working as a record shop clerk trying to osmose that decadent Genet-like lifestyle. Hope you enjoy huffing your bowel gas mate!

Don Cherry-ORIENT 2-LP set
You can get hold of the recent reissue of this featuring an ant walking on the yolk of an uncooked egg on the cover, and I think even Charly themselves have put this 'un out with a new BYG mockup cover, but just for the sake of building up my record collection with all of those discs that eluded me in the seventies and eighties I decided to opt out for this version with the standard white block letters on black which could be found at just about any "specialty" record shop's jazz section way back when. And rilly, for an album that seems to elude most discussions of Cherry this is pretty snat, better than MU or ETERNAL RHYTHM even, showcasing the famed Coleman sideguy leading two trios (featuring such then up-and-comers as Johnny Dyani, Han Bennick and wife Moqui on tamboura) '71/'72 not only winging it on trumpet but playing some primordial piano and flute not to mention vocals, at one time urging the staid French audience to do a little singing along themselves! A lotta these Cherry albums (at least for me) tend to get a little too other-worldly but ORIENT kept my attention up throughout with only goes to show you that I'm either starting to mature as a serious discerner of the finer, more etapoint parts of fine musicianship or that music today is so shabby and merely a reflection of the sick society we really live in now that ANYTHING from the distant past automatically sounds good in comparison. I wouldn't count out the former, but I'd probably put all of my moolah on the latter.
Theolonius Monk Quartet-SPHERE LP

Hokay, I gotta admit that I never was that much of a follower of this just-pre avant bop stuff like I assume some of you more astute readers are, but dang it if Monk's entire flat-fingered style just didn't have this particularly satisfying and primitive quality to it that set the stage for all of the Cecil Taylors and Paul Bleys who were just about to follow (the leader I'm tempted to say). Recorded live in Paris '67 with a band that I think ain't quite as sympatico as one that woulda had people like Sunny Murray or Malachi Favors backing him, but still sympatico enough I reckon.
Cecil Taylor-STUDENT STUDIES 2-LP set

Funny, the back cover states that this was a BYG recording but I don't recall ever seeing it mentioned on any of the Actuel discographies I have leading me to beliece it was put out by BYG proper before their specialty avant label was inaugurated. Whadevva, this double-disc recording from a Parisian gig in '66 features Taylor and his unit traipsing some pretty familiar if still angular territory with the usually high-ended results. Listen for yourself the transition from early-sixties free expansion to late-sixties over-the-top atonalism signalled by the blowing of a police whistle! Also features Jimmy Lyons, Alan Silva and Andrew Cyrille, not to mention some pretty hot cops swiped directly from "Nefertiti the Beautiful One Has Come" off the sainted album of the same name (Arista/Freedom variation).
Charles Mingus-LIVE

Recorded at the Antibes Jazz Festival in '60 with Dolphy in tow, nothing extremely special but still meaningful enough as a live document from one of the bigger hotheads in jazz. It might be easier to latch up the two-CD Cornell University set which gives you like triple the music at half the cost, but for Mingus dabblers this one won't hurt any.
Max Roach-AGAIN 2-LP set

Here's a guy I've had passing interest in if only because at times he was an avant garde trailblazer (WE INSIST!: THE FREEDOM NOW SUITE with then-wife Abbey Lincoln being one beautiful example). It's those other times I worry about, but thankfully there's little moan and groan to be done over these two early-sixties French recordings which show Roach and group in suitable pre-avant bop groove romping through everything from hoary oldies to bleak originals and even Lincoln shines with her wonderfully-twisted rendition of the oft-banned "Love For Sale". Coulda used "Triptych" or some other mega-moaning on the eventually-Hollywoodized Lincoln's part, but this'll do until I can find my tape amidst a good three-plus decades of cassette kultur collecting.
The Spontaneous Music Ensemble-1.2. ALBERT AYLER

Interesting reverse cover her with black and aqua lettering on a white background! Dunno if this is in reference to the "whiteness" of this English free jazz ensemble led by drummer John Stevens who sport a pretty hefty back catalog himself, but no matter what I really enjoyed this sparse setting slow-burn free jazz fest that reminds me of PEOPLE IN SORROW for some strange reason with Julie Tippetts' vocalese fitting in well amidst the soprano sax/bass/drums setting.

Sorry to say that this is the last in my series of vinyl bootleg reviews (unless I can whip up another stack of 'em somewhere in the bowels of my collection perhaps in a month or three), but as far as going out I thought I'd better go out in style with this triple set of early booted Dylan wares that the Eyetalian Joker label released back in the early-seventies. I dunno how many of you remember the Joker label, but they were, and I believe still are, what you would call a "budget" company that had a hefty back catalog of albums and singles mostly using recorded material that somehow fell through the copyright cracks (at least in Italy) and for the most part were legal booty not only there but maybe even here as well. Earlier editions of their albums sport what I guess was their entire back catalog on the back covers featuring a wide bevy of opera, jazz, classical, ethnic and pop releases from stars of both an Amerigan and an international variety, and amidst the Verdis and Bing Crosby/Nat King Cole Christmas albums that Joker were plugging away were a variety of offerings by then-current chart-topping rock acts which in retrospect seems strange given the questionable nature of these albums and their easily-enough obtainability in stereo shops and outta-the-way hip music emporiums nationwide. Their BEATLES/STONES LIVE double-header actually featured recent TMOQ items in pop-crackly mono, while a bunch of Jimi Hendrix jams somehow got onto the label roster in order to sate the crazier of his fans amongst us who used to snatch up those flybynight albums of his that were all the rage back in the mid-seventies. There was even a Led Zeppelin live set which naturally seems to be a highly desired album amongst seventies marijuana-laden supermarket box boys who now have more than a few bucks to splurge on their high school fantasies, but as far as the most famous of the Joker rock bootlegs go, the three volumes of the Bob Dylan RARE BATCH OF LITTLE WHITE WONDER series seem to be the best known and perhaps biggest sellers, having like BEATLES/STONES LIVE gone into numerous printings with cover upgrades well into the early-eighties and (compared with other seventies-era boots) continue to go for mere scratch which always satisfies a budget-conscious bootleg aficionado like myself.

This particular edition of the Joker Dylan saga features all three LITTLE WHITE WONDER in one box set proudly emblazoned with a mid-seventies live Dylan shot belying the fact that none of the material on these platters was recorded after 1965. Naturally that don't matter especially for a fine fellow like myself who always thrived on such misinforming cheapness, but in whatever form these albums come in I'd say they certainly are worthy of your ol' victrola not only given how they present the less-nauseating aspects of the early Dylan saga, but because for the most part they do have a nice bared-wire intensity to 'em that seems pretty neet esp. considering what a wuss the man could turn out to be at times.

Most of this comes from those various early Dylan pre-Columbian motel room tapes that TMOQ made good use out of not forgetting the grandaddy bootleg of 'em all GREAT WHITE WONDER, while a few Band-era rehearsal tracks show that just about everybody in the mid-sixties had a good handle on just what rock & roll was supposed to be, even if most of 'em wafted off into the ether before the decade was over. Dylan ain't preachy and gnawing like he coulda gotten at times (balling Joan Baez does strange things to lads, and lassies too come to think of it) and I gotta say that I found nada in the way of objectionable folkie self-introspection or narcissic pose anywhere to be found. I did find many a (gosh-dare-I-say) exhilarating moment here such as on Dylan's early electric thumper version of "Baby Please Don't Go" not forgetting such obscuros as "Dusty Old Fairgrounds" which Blue Ash decided to turn into a spiffy number on their debut platter as well.

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