Thursday, March 27, 2014

Come Sail Away: Sassy Sarah Swings

OK, today was a tough one, folks. Major heavyweights all sharing a birthday... who gets the nod? There were three candidates, two guys and a gal. In the end, the men -- tenor sax titan Ben Webster and Genesis founder Tony Banks -- cancelled each other out and I decided to go with the lady. This blog is such a Supreme Sausage Fest anyway, so I thought we gotta mix it up and get some female energy up in here.
Yes, the Divine Miss Sarah Vaughan -- often called "Sassy" and "Sailor" for her choice vocabulary selections -- would have been 90 years old today. Is there a more distinctive 20th Century voice we can name? Wait'll you see her command the stage in this unreleased footage from 1969 I've got posting today. It's not just her neon orange lipstick that stops the show... when you can sing as expressively and with the range of someone like her, no one is talking much in the audience during your set.
I just have to say, thank Heavens for German TV. These rebroadcasts they run are so historic and enthralling, if I had the satellite station on which they air I'd likely never want to leave the house. Just the other day the WDR HD channel ran a whole Kraftwerk set from 1970, and I grabbed it even though I can't even watch HD videos on my computer because it's too old and 2008 for that type of thing. But I have that hour of footage, just for when I get a better desktop!
This Sarah Vaughan concert isn't in HD (yes! I can watch it!) but looks marvelous regardless. The audience know they are in the presence of utmost musical royalty and are hanging on every note and every phrase like there is nothing else going on in their world at that moment. Sarah swings and swoops through 61 minutes of standards and then-current pop songs in her own sweet way, causing the assembled to go suitably nuts at every break between tunes.
And they should go crazy, this is Sarah V. we are talking about here. Many, many people feel she is the greatest voice of all time or at least of our lifetimes; there are debates about this idea all the time raging across the interwebs, and her name comes up regularly and often as a contender for that ultimate accolade. Regardless of who is #1, she's definitely got her hat in the ring for Most Distinctive and Awesome Singer of the 20th Century.
Sarah Vaughan
Berliner Jazztage
Philharmonie Hall
Berlin, Germany

01 Just One of Those Things
02 Fly Me to the Moon
03 band intros
04 Serenata
05 Time After Time
06 The Trolley Song
07 By the Time I Get to Phoenix
08 The Sweetest Sounds
09 Polka Dots and Moonbeams
10 Day In Day Out
11 What Now My Love
12 Love Is Hanging Around the Corner
13 Didn't We?
14 Misty
15 If I Had a Bell

Total time: 1:01:06

Sarah Vaughan - vocals
Johnny Veith -piano
Gus Mancuso - bass
Eddy Pucci - drums

PAL DVD from a WDR-TV digital rebroadcast
1.89 GB/March 2014 archive link
This is such a stellar set... I was poking around the web and found this recollection by Torsten Kappel, who saw her in Denmark a week previous to this set and can sum it up better than I can. He writes: 

"This material is from the early concert at 4 pm on November 9, 1969. German television videotaped additional songs from the late night session. I attended the concert in Tivoli, Copenhagen some days earlier, from which some songs were also televised. (About 20 minutes of music). Miss Vaughan shared the bill with Lionel Hampton and his Big Band. It is a pity that there are only few videos available with her from her early career (1945-1955). The earliest one is from the late forties and not generally accessible to the public. I guess at that time US television did not use many black artists, and she must have been one of the first 'cross-over' artists, who gained popularity also with a white audience. In that sense she was (also) a pioneer. Her voiced darkened through the years and became deeper. From 1981 on you could feel that she was somehow exhausted, but in Berliner Jazztage 1969 she was still at her peak, good-looking and sensual. There were no other female pop or jazz singers who could sing ballads like Miss Vaughan. Ella Fitzgerald for example performed all songs much the same way, but Sarah Vaughan had a deep understanding of the essence of ballads. Just listen to 'My Funny Valentine'. Even today it is hard to find a voice with that quality. She remains the greatest female jazz singer of the 20th Century."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Harp of Glass

Wait, what now??? It's Phil Keaggy's 63rd birthday and it doesn't even merit a Wikipedia music birthday portal page mention? What is the world coming to? And exactly who is Phil Keaggy, you ask? Oh, just one of the greatest living guitar players, no big deal Wikipedia. No need to mention him at all; it's not like he has anything, in terms of pure instrumental prowess and career longevity, on the singer from the Lemonheads or nuthin'.
Slights like this cannot go unrejoindered, so just for that -- after I made an entry on there for him -- I pulled out this classic 1971 Glass Harp set from KSAN-FM in the Bay Area and set about a little light remastering. You see, before Phil was a Christian Contemporary artist, he was 1/3 of one of the heaviest, jammingest psychedelic rock outfits around, and in the Fall of 1971 they came west from Ohio to play in San Francisco, with a stop in nearby Marin County for the late-night radio concert I am posting here for your ongoing auditory pleasurization.
And oh, what a set they played. You listen to this and you say to yourself, wait just a second.... this guy was twenty years old when he played this show?? Guitar players many times that age would struggle to come up with the kind of melodic inventiveness and sheer improvisatory eloquence Mr. K is laying down on this tape. Just what he gets into with the volume pedal alone, you're like "Whaaaaaaaaat? He did not just do that."
After 45 minutes of bluesy, open-ended prog-rock mayhem, the unaccompanied guitar solo section of the last, marathon tune diverts into a classical recital on Les Paul Goldtop Standard, and then segues into a Chet Atkins-ish country venture that treads closer and closer to Hendrix "Electric Church" blues territory before exploding into full Voodoo Child Shuffle mode as the band come blasting back into it. Then it settles back down into a really nice flute solo by the bass player. Do you miss the 1970s yet?
As for the remaster, I threw a little sonic pixie dust around to help emphasize Phil's (epic, razor sharp, highly influential) guitar a little more, as I felt the guitar is essential to this music and it was buried a bit in the mix. Some of the track breaks were all over the place, so I corrected these, as well as eliminating some repeated tape overlap material at the very end of Children's Fantasy. There were also numerous sector boundary errors to mend and a big ol' dropout in the California Jam where one channel faded out for about ten seconds and the mix migrated to the other channel. I fixed this to shift to mono during that part for smoother, less intrusive listenin'. The spectral analysis for this wasn't your typical FM off-air capture by any means -- it had presence all the way up to 18 or 19,000 Hz so it could conceivably be a pre-FM reel, I haven't a clue.
 Glass Harp
Pacific High Recorders
Sausalito, CA
EN remaster

01 Intro by Tom O'Hare
02 Never Is a Long Time
03 California Jam '72
04 Village Queen
05 Song of Hope
06 Changes
07 Look In The Sky
08 Children's Fantasy
09 Can You See Me

Total time: 1:13:17

Phil Keaggy - guitar, vocals
John Sferra - drums, vocals
Daniel Pecchio - bass, flute, vocals

KSAN-FM broadcast, possibly from a pre-FM reel
Phil Keaggy, agree with his religious beliefs and his abandonment of this style of music for Christian fare or not, is one of the world's greatest living guitar players and his birthday deserves a mention on the Wiki page for the subject of Musician's Birthdays, goddammit. Anyway this is a good way to celebrate despite that unconscionable omission, so enjoy this utterly smokin' live-in-the-studio concert by Phil's original group, themselves acknowledged by many to have helped invent what is now termed the "jam band" genre. --J.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Assembled from Scratch: The Better Upsetter

The inventor of dub -- some might say the inventor of reggae itself -- turns 78 today... appropriate given where vinyl records began, circling at 78RPM and all. And you best believe the influence of birthday boy Lee Scratch Perry is as inestimable and completely unquantifiable as the oceans of wax produced since Edison first forged the wheels of steel. 
He is one of the sonic architects of the music of our lifetimes, affecting even those who have nothing at all to do with Jamaican music in general or reggae in particular. The way he puts sounds together forms one of the pillars of the approach to music production on this Earth. To encapsulate what he means to contemporary music is a whole lot more than one silly blog post can hope to cover. But I'll do my best, limited as it may be.
The experiments undertaken by Scratch and his cohorts in the 1970s have had repercussions across the board musically... like I was saying he is one guy whose output has shaped ideas and approaches for artists who may not have ever even heard his music. This is one of those artists so monumental you could almost say he is partially responsible for the way we hear our lives, not just the music that inhabits and embellishes our lives.
Dub, as they say, is a weapon. Its rivers run wide, deep and far across the world. The whole concept of the remix as we understand it could almost be said to have been conjured out of whole cloth at Black Ark -- his beyond legendary studio facility, constructed in the front garden of his Kingston abode -- in the early 1970s through to the end of the decade. He pretty well had to burn it down (which he did in the early 1980s), given the scorching sounds he birthed there in the years leading up to the conflagration. I picture him squirting lighter fluid all over it like Hendrix at Monterey.
There is nothing like this music... it's like a drug voyage for your auditory sensibilities, even 40 years since its advent. Why Lee decided to begin to do the things he did cannot be accurately speculated upon... what clicked in his head that drove him to deconstruct the mix of a song in the ways in which he ended up doing is one of those mysteries of Creation that may not ever be completely comprehended by us mortals. But from the moment he hooked up his first slapback echo and dropped out his first vocal line, there can be no denying that the world as it was changed irrevocably at that instant. Folks like Bill Laswell and Adrian Sherwood must have had itches they couldn't scratch when they were kids coming up in the ranks and this stuff was making the rounds.
So to mark the occasion of this Rasta lion's 78th, here's my first attempt at a split post... one compilation of seminally essential excursions from the dawn of dub, and one recent unissued performance where he leads an all-star ensemble through an hour of incendiary and incantatory megadub mayhem, live onstage in New York City just last Memorial Day weekend.
Lee Scratch Perry & Friends

Kingdom of W

01 Lee Scratch Perry & The Congos - Fisherman Dub
02 Lee Scratch Perry & The Heptones - Dread Lion
03 Lee Scratch Perry & Aura - Full Experience
04 Lee Scratch Perry - Justice to the People
05 Lee Scratch Perry & Jah Lion - Wisdom
06 Lee Scratch Perry & The Jolly Bros. - Dreader Dub
07 Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters - Vampire
08 Lee Scratch Perry - Jah
09 Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters - Woman's Dub
10 Lee Scratch Perry with Bunny & Ricky - Bush Weed Corn Trash
11 Lee Scratch Perry - Favourite Dish
12 Lee Scratch Perry - Flut In the Ark
13 Lee Scratch Perry & The Heptones - Three In One
14 Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters - Dub Fu Ye Rights
15 Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters - Doctor On the Go
16 Lee Scratch Perry - Bird In Hand
17 Lee Scratch Perry & The Jolly Bros. - Conscious Man Dub
18 Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters - Kingdom of Dub
19 Lee Scratch Perry, Dillinger & The Upsetters - Dub Organizer
20 Lee Scratch Perry & The Heptones - Super Ape
21 Lee Scratch Perry - Disco Devil (extended mix)

Total time: 1:19:28

Lee Scratch Perry & Subatomic Sound System vs. Adrian Sherwood
featuring Addis Pablo, melodica
Le Poisson Rouge
New York City, NY

01 intro
02 Zion Blood
03 Introducing Myself
04 Sun Is Shining
05 Disco Devil
06 Black Panta
07 Rastafari Live
08 Vampires & Informers
09 Million Dollar Weekend
10 Inspector Gadget
11 One Drop
12 War Ina Babylon

Total time: 56:58

pre-FM digital recording for Red Bull Music Academy Radio
690 MB total FLAC/March 2014 archive link
There you have it... enough deep roots music to keep your tree watered for a good while. I posted each CD separately so you could access one or both, with concurrent high-bitrate mp3s of the first one for those so inclined. Enjoy this descent into the headnodic depths of dub... and thank you and happy birthday to Lee Scratch Perry, a gargantuan ganja giant of the mixing desk born this day in 1936. :)--J.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is It Swede? Bill Frisell's Malmö Mysteries

Welcome to my Bill Frisell birthday post of a concert that might be from 1996, is likely from 1994, and contains one song whose title eludes even the most persistent sleuthing by me.
Bill -- one of the planet's most recognizably-toned guitarists of the last 30 years -- is 63 today... he shares a birthday with my mom, who is 72, loves John Denver and Frank Sinatra, and has less than no idea who Bill Frisell is. How is this relevant? It isn't, although it gives me a chance to work my mother into this post and give her a birthday hug. Did I mention that this concert is from Sweden, which is also where Bill Frisell's grandparents come from? Who said this wasn't a family blog?
Like I was saying, this one circulates in a few different guises, but appears to be from the tour supporting This Land, Bill's 1994 record. There's an absolutely awesome version of Muddy Waters' I Can't Be Satisfied in it. Joey Baron hits the drums, sometimes softly and other times not very softly. I really like what the trombone player is doing. Bill improvises on Thelonious Monk and then there's a long version of Resistor... and then they play a funky little song which, for the life of me, I cannot figure out WTF it is. I did make sure this show isn't as yet part of Bill's thoroughly fantastic Live Download Series, which you should buy all 19 volumes of immediately. Just to get the setlist halfway straight, I had to translate a page from Cyrillic. And you think I'm joking.
Bill Frisell Sextet
Malmö, Sweden

01 Lookout for Hope
02 BF improvisation on "Crepuscule with Nellie"
03 Resistor
04 Unknown Tune
05 I Can't Be Satisfied
06 Is It Sweet?
07 Throughout/Rag

Total time: 1:09:54

Bill Frisell - guitar
Don Byron - clarinet
Billy Drewes - alto saxophone
Curtis Folkes - trombone
Kermit Driscoll - bass
Joey Baron - drums

recorded from a digital FM broadcast
Maybe one (perhaps both) of these big dogs can be sent out in search of the Unknown Tune... otherwise we're just going to have to live with the uncertainty of it all. What is for sure is that Bill Frisell here is one Hell of a guitar player, and you should hit the button and grab this beautiful show so you can properly appreciate people like him who are born on March 18th. If you don't, I'm afraid my mom may want a word with you. --J.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dublin Your Pleasure, Day 2: Belfast and Furious

All right, here comes Part Dhá of the St. Patrick's Day posts! This one is very, very Irish and features lots of Irish people singing and playing fundamentally Irish music. This continues yesterday's theme, but now we are throwing caution to the winds and going Full Force Gaelic, if you will.
Everyone knows these artists; they've been around our whole lifetimes and I'd imagine their influence will travel in extension well past their time spent on Earth once they leave us. The Chieftains are themselves the bedrock of Irish traditional music in the world and Van Morrison is, well, Van Morrison and he needs no introduction as the inventor of the now-more-popular-than-bacon-and-eggs Celtic Soul style. Put them together on a Belfast stage and marvel, obviously.
So let's forget all the useless and hyperbolic words here and paste your smilin' Irish eyes to this vintage broadcast around the VM/Chieftains record Irish Heartbeat, a concert taped for British TV in 1988 and never issued in any home video format despite the overall appeal of this music and these seminal artists. This capture comes from a super hi-fi VHS tape off the airwaves and I think it'll do the holiday trick just fine, as long as you watch it under the influence of a Car Bomb (yummy alcoholic drink, tastes like a cross between a whiskey and a white Russian) or twelve.
Van Morrison & The Chieftains
"Songs Of Innocence"
An Ulster Television Production
(Broadcast on Channel 4 in UK)
The Ulster Hall
Belfast, Ireland

01 Tore Down a La Rimbaud
02 In the Garden
03 Rave On John Donne
04 Did Ye Get Healed
05 Star of the County Down
06 She Moved Through the Fair
07 Ta Mo Chleamhnas Deanta
08 I'll Tell Me Ma
09 Carrickfergus
10 Celtic Ray
11 Marie's Wedding
12 Boffyflow & Spike
13 Goodnight Irene
14 Moondance

Total time: 50:18

PAL DVD from master HQ VHS of an off-air recording
This is a pretty wild concert, with Van the Man slurringly declaiming his way through a whole stack of traditional material in an almost eerie, darkly jazzy style, whilst the estimable Chieftain guys provide an authentic backdrop augmented by Van's whole band of the time. Anyway go ahead and pull it down, fire it up, and be assured that it comes with the sincerest of Erin Go Braghs! --J.
Shona Fhéile Pádraig!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dublin Your Pleasure, Day 1: The West Coast of Clare

I am back after a week of work-inundated zombie stupor to bring you the first of two consecutive posts timed to coincide with St. Patrick's Day. Today features one of my favorite fountains of Irish & Celtic traditional music: a group called, fittingly, Planxty.
But first, an explanation: just WTF is a Planxty anyway? A Planxty is the name given to compositions specifically created in honor of or dedication to an individual or family... a concept initially thought up by the renowned blind troubadour and harpist of turn-of-the-18th-century Eire, Turlough O'Carolan. Sort of an acknowledgement of the artistic patronage of wealthy folks, like the list of donors they show before a PBS program comes on TV... but with more stringed instruments, more mixolydian mode -- the central melodic/harmonic spine of most Celtic music -- and of course transposed to 1713 Ireland.
This band was central to the rise to prominence that Celtic music has enjoyed in the last 40 years, and in particular via one essential, seminal contribution. In 1981 Dónal Lunny (founding member) and Bill Whelan -- who had just joined the band -- were commissioned by the Eurovision song contest to compose a piece to accompany Irish step-dancers on the annual telecast of the competition. They did so, titling it Timedance... and it was the rave of the show. Ten years later they redid the piece in extended form as the music to Riverdance, itself one of the most popular cultural touchstones of Celtic music and dance that will ever be. 
I have included Timedance (the original, never-reissued version) as a bonus track for today's share, which is a complete, professionally recorded concert of Planxty at the Olympia in Dublin in August of 1980... or rather, a complete concert cobbled together from a week's worth of shows at the Theatre and illicitly issued by their disgruntled, recently-sacked manager back then. Only 1000 cassettes of this were made, and only a few hundred were sold (only in England, for some reason) by the time the band got the thing withdrawn. I offer it here sourced from the original reels... after 33 years it circulates in trading circles like this, but has never been formally re-released in any way since the initial, unauthorized cassette edition in 1980.
Olympia Theatre
Dublin, Ireland

Disc 1
 01 Plains of Kildare
 02 Emigrant's Farewell
 03 Chattering Magpie / Lord McDonald
 04 As I Roved Out
 05 Nancy Spain
 06 The Gold Ring
 07 The Jolly Beggerman
 08 Set of Reels
 09 Kellswater
10 John O'Dreams
11 Three Jigs (Tierney's / Out On the Ocean / Pay the Reckoning)

Disc 2 
01 Johnny Cope 
02 I Pity the Poor Immigrant
03 The Irish March
04 Smeceno Horo
05 No Time for Love
06 West Coast of Clare
07 Good Ship Kangaroo
08 Timedance (bonus track, 12" single 1981)

Total time: 1:51:55

 Christy Moore - vocals, guitar, bodhrán
Andy Irvine - vocals, mandolin, bouzouki, harmonica
Dónal Lunny - vocals, bouzouki, guitar
Liam O'Flynn - vocals, uilleann pipes, tin whistle
Bill Whelan - keyboards
Nollaig Casey - fiddle

professionally recorded master reels   
679 MB FLAC/March 2014 archive link
Here is a link to the full programme for this series of concerts, should you desire further edifying information. I'll be back within hours with the second of these St. Paddy's day posts, but for now please do enjoy this slice of Irish folk mastery from one of the primary purveyors of such. And may you be a half an hour in Heaven before the Devil knows you're dead ;)--J.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Birthday Meta: Ornette At 84

watersheds birthed from
skies of America; the
endless wet depths kept

like baseball and jazz...
one's about hits; the other
can't get in the charts
baseball came at 2
but jazz took til 22
catching up to do

when first this music
found me, one jam stood out: The
Shape of Jazz to Come
the twisted, taut lines...
where did the theme end and the
solo begin? Wow.

fast forward: finding
free-funk, Dancing In Your Head
perspective switch flipped

harmony motion
melody, careen forth on
shards of cracked rhythm

ev'rything at once
song, beat, contrapuntal time
commercial crass cash
considerations excised,
cutting-room floor false

diamond flawless raw
the tensile dense sense the lens;
balance mends the fence
destined to perfect;
vibratory skill reveals
the Art that remains

no wonder when he
first hit the scene, the critics
wanted to kill him.
Ornette Coleman & Prime Time

Moers International Jazz Festival
Moers, Germany

 01 Impro One
02 Nightwork
03 Asia
04 Song X

 Ornette Coleman - alto saxophone
Bern Nix - guitar
Charles Ellerbee - guitar
Al MacDowell - electric bass
Jamaaladeen Tacuma - electric bass
Denardo Coleman - drums

FLAC from pre-FM reels
Total time: 53:27
Köln, Germany

01 In All Languages
02 Song X
03 Story Tellers
04 Latin Genetics
05 Mothers of the Veil
06 Dancing In Your Head
07 interview with Ornette and Denardo Coleman
08 Space Church

 Ornette Coleman - alto saxophone, trumpet
Bern Nix - guitar
Charles Ellerbee
- guitar 
Jamaaladeen Tacuma - electric bass
Al MacDowell
- electric bass 
Denardo Coleman - drums
Grant Calvin Weston - drums and electronic percussion

PAL DVD from 2005 German TV rebroadcast
Total time: 58:30

both zipped together
1.7 GB/March 2014 archive link
Ornette is looking
at you like this so you'll dig
 that it's his birthday

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Let There Be More Light

Forgive me for not putting this up earlier this morning but I fell asleep after working on it for hours upon hours trying to tweak the levels to be consistent. I even had the inevitable computer crash in the middle of it, just so I could lose three hours of intense and difficult-to-reconstruct work! But no matter... on this page we pull out all the stops to bring you the very finest in sonic seasonings. Take today, for example... a day on which one of the world's most revered musicians turns 68.
Pink Floyd are possibly the most beloved rock band of our lifetimes, so there is literally less than no need to pile on the superfluous and redundant praise. When you have records spending decade after decade in the charts and flying off the shelves 30 and 40 years after you made them, you've passed the audition and there's no sense laying on the superlatives as thick as the reinforced steel columns that metaphorically represent the pillar you are in the realms of modern music.
In addition to a 45+ year career as a player and producer (did you know he discovered English songstress-for-the-ages Kate Bush, just because her dad was his personal physician?), David Gilmour can play four notes and you know it's him. In fact, he is responsible for four of the most famous notes in music history; they iconically begin Shine On You Crazy Diamond and they'll still pack a punch thousands of years from now. A millennium or ten hence, no one will even know who Rush Limbaugh was... but the Floyd will still be a household name. I guess this proves you're better off with a guitar singing about lunatics than you are with a microphone talking like one.
As for today's post, I worked really hard to make it the best it could be and I think you'll appreciate it. PF are a very tough group because they have had such a notoriously tight fist when it has come to controlling their output and seeing that no outtakes and professionally-recorded concerts leak out. You know me, I dig sitting around pasting together these one-of-a-kind, not-sold-in-stores compilations from often unreleased or hard-to-find elements and this is one band that makes it hard to do that cohesively and still offer anything new. There's also the fact that PF music is universally of the highest possible audio quality standard, which makes it impossible to use anything that doesn't sound like it belongs. Lucky for all of us, there is this guy called }-{eywood (PF ROIO guru and crack sound engineer in his own right), and he has got us covered with a number of totally unique and amazing constructions he has made over the years from existing Floyd materials. There's also a wealth of excellent radio concerts from the early part of their career to put to use, as well as a few stray gems hiding in the recesses of the interdimensional planes of discovery. So I managed to pull off what I think is one of the best mixtapes of this kind I've done.
Pink Floyd
Let There Be More Light
alternates and broadcasts

01 Let There Be More Light (mono single edit 1968)
02 Crumbling Land ('Zabriskie Point' OST, extended mix edit 1969)
03 'Sheep' sound effects ('Animals' demos 1977)
04 Pigs On the Wing (complete version 1977)
05 The Embryo (BBC 1970)
06 Cymbaline (BBC 1969)
07 Young Lust (single version 1979)
08 The Violent Sequence ('Zabriskie Point' piano demo of 'Us and Them,' tag edit 1969)
09 Green Is the Colour (BBC 1970)
10 Careful with That Axe, Eugene (BBC 1970)
11 Mother (composite mix by }{eywood 1979/81)
12 Fat Old Sun (BBC 1970)
13 On the Run (DSotM sessions 1972)
14 Hey You (film outtake edit 1981)
15 One of These Days (mono single edit 1971)
16 The Narrow Way (BBC 1969)
17 Wish You Were Here (alternate take with Stéphane Grappelli 1975)

Total time: 1:18:22

All in all, it's a righteous little construction -- the old Oblique Strategy of "It's not building a wall but making a brick" never seemed more appropriate somehow. In addition to supplying rarities, out-of-print items and the like, I also try to put these things together so they make sense as 80 minutes of excellent music to listen to, and I'd like to believe I accomplished something close to that with this one. I could do no less, really... I mean, this is David Gilmour's birthday we are talking about here, amirite? --J.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Fish Cake in the Affirmative

Bass-beastly Rickenbacker ruler Chris Squire is 66 today, so let's acknowledge the utmost seaworthiness of The Fish with the definitive edition of a definitive Yes concert, outdoors in the 100-degree sweaty mud of the old Roosevelt Stadium on a hot June evening in Joisey City in 1976.
This is that odd Yes "Solo Albums" tour, where they didn't have a record currently out as a band but each had their own project in the racks. How '70s is that? At least they didn't just have their mugs on the covers like KISS did... Roger Dean would not have it. Anyway, they play most of Relayer and a bunch of other Affirmative favorites in a most ferocious fashion as the 30,000+ people in the ballpark lose their individual and collective minds in the steamy heat of the New Jersey night. Blazing apace through a two-hour set, they close with a shockingly face-stomping version of The Beatles' I'm Down... just in case you thought all these guys were was ornate, proggy arrangements, gratuitously flashy pyrotechnic instrumental wizardry, and incomprehensibly elfin lyrics about topographic oceans, starship troopers and mountains coming out of the sky.
I'm not sure if Squire broke out his triple-necked bass at this gig, but all five of them play their asses off regardless. Relative newcomer Patrick Moraz tickles the ivories of the approximately twelve million 1970s analog synthesizers and keyboards he has onstage with him to devastating effect, exuding an exuberant confidence in spite of his recent inclusion in the band. And of course the birthday Fish rumbles away in dazzling fashion, without ever once dropping his pick. Is he the only bass player that never uses his fingers? I'm sure there are others but nobody does it like he does.
"Open the Gates"
Roosevelt Stadium
Jersey City, New Jersey

Disc 1
01 DJ intro
02 Apocalypse intro
03 Siberian Khatru
04 Sound Chaser
05 I've Seen All Good People
06 The Gates Of Delirium

Disc 2
01 Long Distance Runaround
02 Patrick Moraz solo
03 Steve Howe solo: Clap
04 Jon Anderson solo: Olias
05 Heart of the Sunrise
06 Ritual incl. Chris Squire and Alan White solos
07 DJ chatter
08 Roundabout
09 DJ chatter
10 I'm Down
11 DJ outro

Total time: 2:01:06

Jon Anderson – vocals, keyboards and percussion
Chris Squire – bass and vocals
Steve Howe – guitars and vocals
Alan White – drums
Patrick Moraz – keyboards

Progressive Rock Remaster Project PRRP 009
remastered from pre-FM tapes from the WNEW-FM archives
This is a monster show -- complete with some of the first super-extensive use of the lasers now commonplace at rock shows, which you'll hear the astonished WNEW DJs on the tape marvel about -- in front of a huge and boisterous crowd. The Nightbird, Alison Steele, even makes an appearance, for all you Seventies FM radio historians out there. Many people refer to this as the ultimate Yes bootleg, especially given its exceptional sound quality and performance... there's not much else to say, other than you should celebrate the birthday of Mr. Squire accordingly by hitting the button and partaking of a symphonically Yes-ified Bicentennial spectacular. Soon, the light... or at least the fireworks! --J.