Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Long, Hot Summers: Fuck! The Police!

Yes, welcome to New Year's Eve and another edition of EN Brazenly Attempts to Game SEO with an Unnecessarily Provocative Title. Today we are gathered to celebrate not the de-evolution of the US into an ultra-authoritarian, hyper-militarized Banana Republic Blue Gulag where cops feel entitled to slaughter anyone (especially those of color) who doesn't submit with utmost deference to their will... but something a lot more joyous and smile-worthy than that old mess. That's right, today is the 72nd birthday of guitar maestro and Police-man Andy Summers.
And what better way to mark the occasion than with a performance of that storied band at the very height of their prowess and appeal, in front of 60,000 screaming devotees at none other than The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum? I've spent a few days and nights in that old concrete edifice myself in the last 12 years here in the East Bay, but not for concerts. Unless Moneyball is music to your ears, and not just some elaborate ruse for the Athletics' ownership to be allowed to cast their mendacious, profiteering corporate welfare agenda as some sort of unprecedented and emulable program of innovation. And don't even get me started on the Oakland Raiders!! Oh well, don't think of it as sports... think of it as a way for sociopathic billionaires to manipulate the regional pride and sense of identification in people for their own greedy and self-enriching ends.
But meanwhile, back at Andy Summers' birthday... this one is part of Bill Graham's legendary "Day On the Green" concert series, staged as they were all throughout the Bay Area back in the halcyon days of 1970s/1980s Northern California. According to the ticket this was quite the Eighties extravaganza, with The Fixx, Thompson Twins, Madness and Oingo Boingo rounding out the bill.
One of the more understated-yet-immediately-recognizable guitar players around, Andy Summers was a part of music long before he joined up with Sting and Stewart Copeland and conquered the world. A fixture of Kevin Ayers' 1970s bands, he came up in the seaside west English town of Bournemouth in the 1960s alongside King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp, with whom he also made two seminal, unforgettably awesome LPs in the early part of the aforementioned '80s.
This particular set is fevered and high-energy, featuring The Coppers touring their chart-topping Synchronicity opus in adoring stadia the planet over. In the video Sting thinks he's in San Francisco but at least he gets it's called the Bay Area. He mentions at one point that the last time The Police played the Bay, it was in front of 50 people in the UC Davis Student Union. This DVD is from a pro-shot master VHS tape, apparently created in real time and fed to the in-venue video boards so the people up in section 315 could see WTF was going on.
I can't tell if there are also big screens by the sides of the stage, but if they were there they likely were showing this feed, plus it likely went to the Diamond Vision scoreboards in the stadium (only this winter to be upgraded!!! Can you believe that? Don't get me started LOL) as well as the indoor West Side Club (that's the big bar/restaurant in the Coliseum, still almost entirely the same as it was in 1983 and even 1973) and the luxury suites that overlook the field on which this Police concert (and many, many other extremely classic ones) took place.
The Police
A Day On the Green
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Oakland, CA

 01 Voices Inside My Head (intro tape, cuts in)
02 Synchronicity I
03 Synchronicity II
04 Walking In Your Footsteps
05 Message In a Bottle
06 Walking On the Moon
07 O My God
08 De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
09 Wrapped Around Your Finger
10 Tea In the Sahara
11 Spirits In the Material World
12 Hole In My Life/Hit the Road Jack
13 One World
14 King of Pain
15 Don't Stand So Close to Me
16 Murder By Numbers
17 Every Breath You Take/Roxanne
18 Can't Stand Losing You/Jamaica Farewell

Total time: 1:35:33

Sting - lead vocals, bass
Andy Summers - guitar, vocals
Stewart Copeland - drums, vocals, percussion
Talented Background Singers Sting is too wrapped up in his own colossal ego to mention by name, but whom my research indicates were Tessa Niles, Ray Schell, Sandy Owens and the incomparable Dolette McDonald - backing vocals

NTSC DVD from what looks like a master VHS tape, timecode at bottom
So there you have it, another year by the boards, huh? 2014 was an especially wild and memorable year, and I wish any and everyone reading this the safest possible celebration this evening and the most prosperous and ecstatic 2015 they can imagine. I'll be back in the New Year with more installments of sonic illumination, trust me on that. And oh yes, of course the warmest possible birthday wishes to Andy Summers, a good cop born this day in 1942!--J.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Here Comes the Son: The Faith of Funk

Good morning and a very funky Christmas to you all!
This thing started last holiday season, when I put together that big 3CD Christmas music jaunt. I spent too much time in retail spaces these last few weeks, so you'll be thankful to know these two discs contain not one single note of Christmas music... seeing as how one more rendition of Let It Snow would have sent me into the mall with an assault rifle and a box of exploding Yuletide ammo.
Anyhow this began life as the second CD of last year's monster compilation, and over the course of the last 12 months it has metastasized into what you see below and taken up permanent residence in my phone, which doubles as a music player.
Yes, the gospel-music-loving atheist is back with a double dose of absolutely face-frying, backbeat-driven Jesus Jams in honor of the Birthday Boy. If you put either of these discs on as you unwrap your other presents today, there may be a danger of people's clothes coming off and possible suggestive -- yet always faithful -- gyrations.
I tried to keep most of the songs from the previous incarnation and heap on a whole bunch more into the mix, and to my utter astonishment the hand of the Lord -- sporting a vintage 1970s Mood Ring, no less -- descended to sprinkle holy soul across the entire two and a half hours. Think of it as the music of Saturday night meeting the sentiment of Sunday morning... on a Thursday afternoon.
Christadelic Funk vol. I - Here Comes the Son

01 Larry Jon Wilson - Canoochee Revisited (Jesus Man)
02 Bill Moss & the Celestials - Keep On Using Me Jesus
03 James Austin - I'll Take Jesus for Mine
04 Eugene McDaniels - The Lord Is Back
05 Voices of Conquest - O Yes My Lord
06 Sons of Truth - With Jesus You're Free
07 Crownseekers - Keep On Trusting the Lord
08 Holy Disciples - I Know Him
09 Preacher & the Saints - Jesus Rhapsody part one
10 Inspirational Gospel Singers - Same Thing It Took
11 Gospel Comforters - Jesus Will Help Me
12 Sensational Friendly Four - Rock In a Weary Land
13 Pastor T.L. Barrett - Like a Ship
14 Trevor Dandy - Is There Any Love
15 Larry Norman -  Why Don't You Look Into Jesus
16 The Meditation Singers - I Love My Jesus
17 Sensational Five Singing Sons - Share Your Love with the Master
18 Martha Bass - Since I've Been Born Again
19 The Brooklyn Allstars - I'm Glad You're Mine
20 Masonic Wonders - I Call Him
21 Mel & Tim - Keep the Faith
22 Marion Gaines Singers - Grandma's Hands
23 Agape - The King Is Christ

Total time: 1:19:52

Christadelic Funk vol. II - The Faith of Funk

01 Wilson McKinley - He
02 Armstrong Brothers - Can You Treat Him Like a Brother
03 Rance Allen Group - Hot Line to Jesus
04 The Gales of Joy - Ain't No Change
05 Last Call of Shiloh - Message of the Gospel
06 Golden Echoes - Packing a Grip
07 Sam Taylor - Heaven On Their Minds
08 Edwin Hawkins - Jesus, Lover of My Soul
09 The Doves - The Lord Is My Shepherd
10 Dorothy Norwood - Come and Go with Me
11 Jordan Travelers - God Will Answer
12 Ike & Tina Turner - Walk with Me
13 The Southerners - Jesus Is Real to Me
14 Mighty Walker Brothers - God Been Good to Me
15 Sweet Singing Cavaliers - Everytime I Feel the Spirit
16 Stovall Sisters - Praise His Name
17 Liz Dargan & the Gospelettes - Everything's Gonna Be Alright
18 Al Green - Jesus Is Waiting
19 Ray Charles - Heaven Help Us All
20 Jasper St. Company - Solid Ground

Total time: 1:19:33

vol. I & vol. II:
So there you have it, my contribution to your Christmas morning dance number, all wrapped up in the cybercloud for your enjoyment. I hope each and all of you have a most fantastic holiday season and I hope this crazy music adds to everyone's personal Nativity scenes today. Feliz Navidad, Funkateers!--J.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Zappadan Aykroyd

I'm recovering from a pretty brutal round of oral surgery and in a significant amount of pain, but I will surface here briefly to acknowledge the very special occasion that is today.
Every year from December 4 (the day he died in 1993) to December 21 (his birthday in 1940) devotees of all things FZ celebrate the feast of Zappadan, commemorating the life and immeasurable musical legacy of a certain Frank Zappa. I couldn't, despite the excruciating dental discomfort, allow the last day of Zappadan to pass unnoticed.
There isn't any use describing who FZ is/was if you don't know. I was introduced to him through the Joe's Garage trilogy at age 12 in 1979 by the best guitar player in our middle school class, and my life has never been the same since. There are billions more like me, so resistance is futile.
My face hurts so excuse me if I dispense with the usual glowing verbosities -- it was, after all, FZ who so famously stated that writing about music is like dancing about architecture -- and get straight to the point of this little post, which is a DVD of the FZ parts (sketches, monologues, and musical performances) of his two appearances on Saturday Night Live in 1976 and 1978. These were the only two times he was allowed on the show before being banned forever, for reasons that will likely become clear once you watch this stuff.
Frank Zappa 
"Saturday Night Live"
NBC-TV Studio 8H
New York City, NY
12.11.1976 + 10.21.1978

01 Opening Credits 
02 I'm the Slime 
03 Purple Lagoon 
04 The Killer Trees 
05 Peaches En Regalia 
06 Skating Credits 

07 Opening Credits 
08 Dancin' Fool 
09 The Coneheads At Home 
10 The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing 
11 Night On Freak Mountain 
12 St. Alphonzo/Rollo 
13 Frank's Message 

Total time: 59:28

Tracks 01-06: 12.11.1976
FZ — guitar, vocals
Ray White — guitar, vocals
Eddie Jobson — keyboards, violin
Patrick O'Hearn — bass
Terry Bozzio — drums, vocals
Don Grolnick — keyboards
Alan Rubin — trumpet
Tom Malone — trombone
Ronnie Cuber — baritone sax
Lou Marini — tenor sax
Mauricio Smith — alto sax
Ruth Underwood — marimba, percussion
Daoud Shaw — percussion
Don Pardo — sophisticated narration on "I'm The Slime"
John Belushi — Samurai Futaba on "Purple Lagoon"

Tracks 07-13: 10.21.1978
FZ — vocals
Denny Walley — guitar, vocals
Tommy Mars — keyboards, vocals
Peter Wolf — keyboards
Ed Mann — percussion
Patrick O'Hearn — bass
Arthur Barrow — bass
Vinnie Colaiuta — drums
Alan Rubin — trumpet
Tom Malone — trombone
Lew Del Gatto — alto sax
Lou Marini — tenor & soprano sax
Howard Johnson — baritone sax
John Belushi — Samurai Futaba on "Rollo"

NTSC DVD of off-air master VHS tapes made from Comedy Central rebroadcasts in 1998, with LPCM lossless audio
3.92 GB NTSC/December 2014 archive link
I apologize for the brevity of this but I can barely see the screen, so it's gonna have to do. I hope you have a great rest of your weekend and take a minute to suggestively fondle your special zircon encrusted tweezers in fond remembrance of Frank Zappa and all the pumpkins he made bark so melodiously. Happy Zappadan!!!! :D~~J.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Technophyll: Power Plant Food

Welcome to Wednesday and an anniversary post that's guaranteed to kling und klang in just the right ways.
That's affirmative, it's a 33-year old FM broadcast out of the Netherlands featuring German electronic originators Kraftwerk in all their mechanistically danceable glory.
Beginning in the early 1970s, these guys helped to invent the whole of modern techno and electronica, so there's no sense in describing what they are all about. If you've ever heard Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa, you know exactly how much of a foundation this band is to the way music sounds today.
This is a composite that brings together the complete broadcast from the best available sources, and the people who assembled it did a marvelous job because it all sounds like the same, excellent capture throughout. It makes fine companion live record to their 1981 Computer World LP.
Muziekcentrum Vredenburg
Utrecht, The Netherlands

01 Intro
02 Nummern 
03 Computerwelt
04 Metropolis
05 The Model
06 Radioactivity
07 Computerliebe
08 Autobahn
09 Pocket Calculator

Total time: 49:00

Ralf Hütter – electronics, synthesizers, vocals
Florian Schneider – electronics, synthesizers, vocals
Karl Bartos – electronics, percussion
Wolfgang Flur - electronics, percussion

composite from 2 different FM cassette masters and a vinyl bootleg of another, assembled by Pavemalk in 2013
This is such a great sounding live document of this inestimably influential group and I hope someday a complete show of this 1981 tour will be officially released. But until that day we have this, recorded 33 years ago today and still sounding as ripped from tomorrow's headlines as it must have sounded to the astounded Dutchfolk assembled at the Utrecht Muziekcentrum that evening!--J.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Flight Time: Happy Byrd-day

Welcome to Tuesday and another post! December's heating up now and it looks like I might have five days of posts in a row, astonishing. Today we have some fine flavor from the Jazz-Funk Doctor.
He passed from our midst just last year, at the esteemed age of 82, but the life and legacy of Donald Byrd speaks for itself and will last forever. Musician, bandleader, educator, mentor... this is someone who led a life exceptionally well lived over his eight decades on the planet.
Born in 1932, he started with Lionel Hampton and replaced Clifford Brown in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers... at age 21. He went on to record with luminaries from Mal Waldron to Jackie McLean, and was instrumental in helping Herbie Hancock, whose first Blue Note appearances were on Donald Byrd records, get his start.
He was a leading figure in hard bop until the end of the 1960s, when he hooked up with legendary producers Larry and Fonce Mizell and embarked on a sub-career in the then-nascent jazz-funk fusion movement, with a string of incredible LPs for Blue Note in the early 1970s that are among the most influential of the genre. He is, naturally, one of the most often-sampled artists of all time for hip-hop beatsmiths.
In 1982 he received his doctorate in Music and solidified a career as a top-notch educator... something he had begun in the mid-'70s teaching at Howard University, where he discovered the band that was to become his own personal Seventies funk orchestra, The Blackbyrds. This group, with DB out front and before they were known by that name, is the focus of today's sharing fare.
And what a share it is. I spent all day Monday working on making this mind-frying set sound as good as I could... it's an FM reel recorded off of WBCN in Boston in 1973, of Donald and his pre-Blackbyrds burning down the Jazz Workshop in the Fall of that year and oh my, does it smoke.
It was recorded exceptionally well (if a bit staticky in the between-song parts) and only required some dynamic enhancements to the bottom end, which I supplied via Sound Forge 9. I also used some noiseprinting to minimize the truly irritating frequencies of the outburst of crosstalky static that takes place between the first two songs, but applied no such treatment to the music on either side of it. Towards the last minute of the last tune things started to get a little background-noisy, so I did apply 4db of noise reduction there, but it's totally unnoticeable in my headphones. I left everything else as is, except for rejoining the fade containing the repeating segment of applause between the last two songs, fixing a couple of dropouts and retitling/tagging the files.
Donald Byrd
Jazz Workshop
Boston, MA

01 WBCN intro
02 Kwame
03 Fancy Free
04 The Good Reverend
05 Flight Time
06 WBCN outro

Total time: 1:12:18

Donald Byrd - trumpet, electric trumpet
Kevin Toney - electric piano, synthesizer
Keith Kilgo - drums
Ray Armando - conga, percussion
David Williams - bass
Bernard Perry - guitar
Alan Barnes - saxophones, flute

1st gen FM reel, fixed by Jazamo in 2010 and remastered by EN in 2014
I hope this sizzling, scorching set documenting the Good Doctor and his young Blackbyrds-to-be funks you in a deep and satisfying way -- the first song alone is so blazing it's amazing they didn't have to call the fire trucks in -- for years to come! And Happy Birthday Dr. Donald Byrd, who'd have been 82 today but is still destined to live forever no matter the numbers.--J.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Upon John, Gone

Another day, another tragic anniversary, huh? This one may be the most awful of all of them.
As in any epochal event, everyone remembers where they were when the news came down. A lot of people heard about it from Howard Cosell -- who'd been John's friend -- on Monday Night Football, of all places. I was 14 and woke up the next morning to the sickening, unbelievable details... and cried and cried. I'm 48 now, but in some ways, I think I am still crying.
I think I am still crying because it's been 34 years and John's been gone almost as long as he lived. Things haven't gotten measurably better on the peace-n-love front since then. I can't imagine why.
There will all sorts of tributes today, but none of them will answer the question of why we can't protect the most talented among us. Why so many great artists and revolutionaries meet the same, violently final ends. Someone once told me it's because this is an ugly, nihilistically mortal species that can't accommodate beauty for very long. I wish I weren't so inclined to agree.
What would he say if he were still here? Hard to imagine he wouldn't be on the front lines of trying to save us from ourselves, just like always. He'd be older now, 74 had he lived. I bet he could have accumulated even more human wisdom in the three and a half decades since that celebrity-seeking cipher (who shall remain nameless because he deserves an eternity of namelessness for his actions) shot him in the back like a coward.
John Lennon is perhaps the central figure of modern music. Even in death and even gone so long and so tragically, his ideas and music cast a long shadow over our lifetimes. The Beatles are the template of what we think of as the modern Rock band, and John was their leader and essential architect. After they split up and he moved to NYC, you could argue his relevance and importance increased... especially after the US tried to deport he and Yoko. There may never be another like him for many's the millennium.
It's easy to forget how back he was when he died, with a chart-topping record (still revered to this day) after a five-year hiatus to raise a child. That's perhaps the hardest part of it: that he was poised to completely blow up the 1980s and never got the chance. We'll never know where he would have went, but at least we'll always have the places he had been.
Here comes but one of those places: a 1969 BBC-1 documentary about 24 hours in the life of John & Yoko. This was rebroadcast a while back but is rarely shown, so I thought I'd put it up here for everyone to enjoy and remember this extraordinary person who only lived to be 40, but whose influence will extend forever.
John Lennon & Yoko Ono
"24 Hours: The World of John & Yoko"

from a 2011 BBC rebroadcast
I will be honest: I hate writing these sad recountings of beautiful people gone too soon from our midst. I'd much rather be sitting here writing about John Lennon's newest record and all the great things he accomplished over the last 34 years, but that's just not real life. So today must be a day to reflect and remember. And imagine what might have been.--J.
10.9.1940 - 12.8.1980

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Harry Birthday

This is a hard one to write about. What do you say about someone who made this extraordinary music, but whose music at the end of the day was just the tool they used to right the wrongs they saw in the world in the most direct way possible?
This guy, he could make dead people sing along. There's performers who are good with an audience, and then there's the ones that take it to another level and make every person in the crowd -- whether it's 7 people or 70,000 -- feel like a willing participant and that he's singing to them specifically.
He believed his music could completely change the world, latching on to the campaign to end world hunger and running with it like a man on fire. All the benefits and worldwide records that followed after he so tragically passed -- again, in a car crash speeding to perform at a benefit in Long Island's Eisenhower Park -- were a direct result of his activities and enlistment of various friends in music. Live Aid, the "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid project... those epochal events were a result of what this guy started.
According to the legend, he himself rarely ate or slept, playing hundreds of shows a year -- with a third of them being benefits for the causes he championed. I think he saw what he was doing as a pathway to reaching people with his message about feeding people, with the music (exceptional as it was and is) almost secondary to the impetus of the activism in which he immersed himself. A means to an end, with the end being that everyone on Earth gets fed.
They just don't make 'em like Harry Chapin anymore, do they? A pity, that... but today is a day to celebrate what he tried to do and what he left us. Having grown up with his songs, and remembering as I do the very spot I was at when the news came that he had died, my job is to post something worthy of who he was.
So to that end, here comes this famous radio concert Harry did one morning in Cleveland in 1979. This version is remastered by a fan project from the pre-FM reel from WMMS-FM and features Harry, minus his band, delivering an hour long acoustic set for a raucous crowd two days before his 37th birthday. They even sing him Happy Birthday, which is what I'm doing here I suppose... see? I am singing along even now.
Harry Chapin
"Coffee with Harry"
Agora Ballroom
Cleveland, OH

01 All the Ones I Counted On Are Gone
02 W*O*L*D
03 Cat's In the Cradle
04 Flowers Are Red
05 I Wanna Learn a Love Song
06 Odd Job Man
07 30,000 Pounds of Bananas
08 Taxi
09 Circle

Total time: 1:02:58

Harry Chapin - guitar, vocals

Remasters Workshop remaster of a pre-FM WMMS-FM reel
325 MB FLAC here
All of Harry's mastery is on display in this show, as he commands the stage all alone and uses the radio host as a foil to crack every one up. I hope you enjoy this one and Remember When the Music had the power to move mountains... focus enough and perhaps those times will make a comeback. I'll bet that'd make Harry -- who, after all, only lived to be 39 -- feel like he had the right kind of 72nd birthday today.--J.
12.7.1942 - 7.16.1981