Monday, August 31, 2015

Astral Weekdays: Moondance Monday

Hello again and sorry for my disappearance.... it's been kind of a bad month and I've been pretty withdrawn. Today I emerge on the month's ultimate day with a birthday boy who's graced these pages twice before, but never on his big day. Until today, that is.
Van Morrison is 70 today. I'd hope that everyone reading this knows who Van Morrison is, but if not, the short version is that he began in the mid-'60s with a group called Them in his native Ireland, and when he went on his own a couple of years later, the world of music would come to know his name in a big way.
The list of massive hits, seminal LPs, legendary concert performances and extensive influence over others goes on from there. Were I to list all his beloved tracks, from Brown-Eyed Girl to Moondance to Into the Mystic to Tupelo Honey and beyond, it would take up the rest of this page.... and perhaps into a second one. 
Surely one of the most beloved vocalists of the last 50 years, it's really impossible to put into words what his music means to the world. I remember hearing him as a little kid and thinking he was a Black American soul singer from Detroit. So much for racial typecasting of who can sound like what.
He is still at it, with no signs shown of slowing or stopping. He is playing tonight in Belfast's Cyprus Avenue, how appropriate is that? "Cyprus Avenue" is a track off Astral Weeks, his second solo record from 1968. It's only one of the ten most revered records of the rock era, folks, nothing to see here. I mean there's more important things, what with Kanye throwing his hat into the ring for 2020 and all.
Anyway there isn't much else to say other than Van turns septugenarian today and I am here to honor him with a (dare I say?) gorgeous remaster of merely one of the most legendary bootlegs of all time. I had been meaning to go after this one with the sonic sweeteners since forever, and yesterday I decided to go for it. A day later, here it comes.
This was recorded at the old Pacific High Recorders in SF, not long after Van's 26th birthday. It's been around for ages in a zillion different iterations. I took the best known version -- the "Flying M" repair, in which all the tape flaws were fixed but little revision to the sound was done -- and set about getting it as tremendous as the performance (hint: it's scorching to the power of towering) would merit. 
I spent Sunday working on it in Sound Forge 9 and after a passel of Graphic EQ, Graphic Dynamics intensification and volume adjustments (a couple of tunes needed a 1.5db boost), I think I made a significant improvement on what was already one of the greatest unissued live recordings of our lifetimes.
Van Morrison
Pacific High Recorders
San Francisco, California
EN FM remaster

01 Tom Donahue intro
02 Into the Mystic
03 I’ve Been Working
04 Friday’s Child
05 Hound Dog
06 Ballerina
07 Tupelo Honey
08 Wild Night
09 Just Like a Woman
10 Moonshine Whiskey

01 Dead Or Alive
02 You’re My Woman
03 These Dreams of You
04 Domino
05 Call Me Up In Dreamland
06 Blue Money
07 Bring It On Home
08 Buona Sera Signorina

Total time: 1:35:16

Van Morrison - vocals, guitar, harmonica
Ronnie Montrose - electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin
Mark Jordan - piano, organ
Bill Church - bass
Bill Atwood - trumpet, trombone
Jack Schroer - soprano, alto, and baritone saxophones, piano
Rick Shlosser - drums, percussion
Ellen Schroer - vocals
Janet Morrison - vocals

FM reels recorded off KSAN-FM, passed down the years and repaired by Flying M, remastered by me
Someday the original pre-FM reels of this will surface and I can die a semi-happy man, but for now, listening back to this as I write these words, I feel like I did all right. Anyway pull it down and get Into the Mystic as we Listen to the Lion at the peak of his formidable powers tear through a magnificent hour-and-a-half of the finest in Celtic Rock and Soul... heck, you even get Ronnie Montrose on guitars! And oh yeah.... an extremely happy 70th to The Man, and may he go at least another 70 doing as he does.--J.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Vibration Socieighty

Clickety clack . . . clickety clack
Bring that man's baby back.
Clickety clack . . . clickety clack
I want my spirit back.

Clickety clack
Bubble music being seen and heard on Saturday night
Blinding the eyes of ones that's supposed to see.
Bubble music, being played and showed, throughout America.

Clickety clack . . . clickety clack
Somebody's mind has got off the goddamn track.
Clickety clack . . . clickety clack
Won't somebody bring the Spirit back?

You didn't know about John Coltrane.
And the beautiful ballad he wrote—wait a minute—
And the beautiful ballad he wrote called "After the Rain".
You didn't know about Lady Day and all the dues that she had to pay.

The Beatles come into the country, they take all the bread,
while the police hittin' black and white folks upside their head.
Tom Jones and Humperdinck got everybody uptight.
They make people that can sing wanna get out and fight.

Clickety clack . . . clickety clack
What is this madness that Nixon has put upon us?
Clickety clack . . . clickety clack
Won't somebody bring the Spirit back?

Who will it be?
Who will it be?
It certainly won't be someone that says that they're free.
Clickety clack . . . clickety clack
Won't somebody bring the Spirit back?
Clickety clack . . . 
clickety clack . . . 
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
"The One Man Twins"
Montreux Jazz Festival
Montreux, Switzerland

01 Improvisation
02 Balm In Gilead
03 Seasons
04 Misty
05 I Want to Talk About You
06 Blue Rol
07 Volunteered Slavery
08 Serenade to a Cuckoo
09 Never Can Say Goodbye

Total time: 50:12

Rahsaan Roland Kirk - tenor saxophone, manzello, stritch, clarinet, flute, percussion, vocals
Ron Burton - piano
Henry Pearson - bass
Robert Shy - drums
Joe Habao Texidor - percussion

NTSC DVD of an out-of-print 1996 Rhino Records laserdisc
2.18 GB total/August 2015 archive link
 Y'know, Music is a beautiful thing.
When I'm reincarnated, I'm gonna come back as a musical note!
That way can't nobody capture me.
They can use the hell out of me
but ain't nothin' too much they can do to me.
They can mess me up. They can play the wrong note.
They can play a C, but they can't really destroy a C.
All it is, is a tone.
So I'm gonna come back as a note!
bright moments
8.7.1935 - 12.5.1977

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Midweek Megalomania

Welcome to Wednesday and a classic 40-year anniversary special to blow up your box.
Every so often I like to put a definitive member of the "100 greatest bootlegs ever" list up here, and today is the right day for that. 
This was recorded 40 years ago tonight, at the famous Asbury Park Convention Center where a million brilliant live records were taped, such as King Crimson's USA live album from 1974.
It documents a tour I have featured here before: the Sabotage excursion, aka the 1975 Black Sabbath rampage across America. Whereas before it was just a couple of tunes from Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, today we have a complete hour-and-a-half-plus set from the Heavy Metal progenitors.
Why this was taped no one knows. It wasn't recorded for radio broadcast, but spectral analysis shows it to be from the mixing desk, possibly even a multitrack recording. Perhaps it was captured for a live record that never happened? We'll never know but it don't matter cuz it's a beast any way you slice it.
Remastered by audio boffin of legend "thir13en" for maximum metal motivation, this one oughta get your Hump Day humpin' real good, I'd say. Watch out for the completely sick version of Megalomania that closes out the first half of this epic concert.
Black Sabbath
Convention Hall
Asbury Park, New Jersey
'thir13en' remaster

01 Supertzar/Killing Yourself to Live   
02 Hole In the Sky   
03 Snowblind   
04 Symptom of the Universe   
05 War Pigs   
06 tuning
07 Megalomania   
08 Sabbra Cadabra/Jams
09 Supernaut 
10 Iron Man 
11 Orchid/Rock and Roll Doctor/Don't Start (Too Late)   
12 Black Sabbath   
13 Spiral Architect   
14 Embryo/Children of the Grave   
15 Paranoid   

Total time: 1:40:11
disc break can go after track 07

Tony Iommi - guitar
Geezer Butler - bass
Ozzy Osbourne - vocals
Bill Ward - drums
Gerald "Jezz" Woodroffe - keyboards
soundboard recording, remastered by thir13en
This is probably the thing I most put on when I wanna hear these guys... it's quite definitive, really. As thir13en says in his notes, as heavy as their records are there is no indication of the power of Sabbath in their studio LPs that approaches them live, especially the original four. This show may be 40 years old, but I'm sure you'll agree that it hasn't lost a step!--J.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Jerome Movies

Let's inAUGurate the new month with a birthday tribute to someone everyone knows and misses, born this day in 1942 and gone 20 years already.
Has it really been two whole decades? I remember that morning well... in San Francisco it was a huge deal. People were wandering around in a haze... OK, in even more of a haze than usual. I think I heard more than a few off-key renditions of Ripple emanating from doorways that day.
So here we are 20 years after the fact, with last month's (allegedly final, but not so fast) "Fare Thee Well" festivities in Chicago supposedly closing out, after fifty years, what today's honoree began.
When I was a kid I admit I did not understand. To me, the whole thing sounded like the drummers were so far behind the beat, they were in fact still playing a show from last Tuesday in Milwaukee. This poor fellow had to sustain a solo, night after night, with ideas and momentum, all while having to constantly play over that slop. Later in life I started to get it, and to stop blaming him for their shortcomings.
It wasn't until I got older and heard all the improvisational jams with Howard Wales (my personal favorite record of the GD universe is Hooteroll?) and Merl Saunders that I came to comprehend exactly how underrated a player this guy was. Then I got into Spring 1977 -- I think the drummers got some coke and it showed in what they played... and how fast! -- and I began to change from an overt detractor into something of an enthusiast.
I remember the day it really changed for me. I was in a friend's car driving around Berkeley -- with some appropriate herbal refreshment in the vehicle -- and he had on the Sirius/XM Grateful Dead channel, on which archivist David Gans was spinning an unissued set from The Palladium in New York City that had been recorded on May 3, 1977. When they got to Terrapin Station, I about fell out of the car. This is the Dead? This is as funky as white people get! Who knew?!?!
Listening to that, and the utterly astonishing stream-of-consciousness 16th-note shit he was playing on that show, I recall thinking how wrong I had been. I think my friend, an ardent Deadhead for his whole life, was exceedingly pleased that he was the one who had broken through that day. It wasn't long until I had stocked up on nearly every performance from April-June 1977.
So here we are, on the day the guy would've been 73 years old. I have a lot of friends who really miss this man, and I know they aren't alone. Shucks, I even miss him, even though I didn't really appreciate anything he ever did in music until after he had died. People can say what they want... myself included, you know? They didn't invent -- and sustain, for a long time -- something that transformed the cultural landscape of this world. Jerry Garcia did.
It's in honor of these achievements that we are gathered here today, and I am bringing the goods to the table. The GD and JG universe are difficult because there are so many recordings to choose from, and unissued ones are being unearthed and dusted off for release every day. I was determined to share something appropriately unusual for the occasion. Here goes, and forgive me in advance.
There's this really famous French TV show that used to air in the early 1970s... it was kind of the French version of The Old Grey Whistle Test, but a lot less glitzy and a lot more shoddily produced. It was called "POP2" and it aired weekly back in the day. It's kind of a running joke in trading circles because the sound on the show was always awful, and the songs -- filmed in live concerts -- were almost never shown in their entirety. 
There'd always be these cutaways, mid-song, to ridiculous interviews with the musicians sitting around a big feast table stacked with wine and gastronomical treats, but you could never understand what they were saying because the translation voiceovers were constructed so even the deaf could hear them.
There are two of these "POP2" programs that focus on the 1971 Grateful Dead performance at the infamous Chateau d'Hérouville -- aka the "Honky Chateau" -- where so many 1970s hit records were made. Elton John even named an album for it. What apparently happened was that the band went there in June of 1971 to play a one-off festival gig, but it got rained out so they ended up just doing a concert for the locals at the house. This was shot by ORTF-TV and edited down into about 40 minutes for air.
The jumpy, interrupted and wholly unaudiophilic nature of "POP2" has always been a source of consternation for us music fans, so some of us apparently took matters into our own hands a few years back with a VHS master tape of the original broadcasts from 1971, using a pristine soundboard dub captured by the legendary Dead taper Charlie Miller to flesh out the songs into a little concert movie of this show. Using the original film, video effects, recycled and altered footage and a whole lot of creativity, they managed to turn this into a show where, at the very least, you get to experience the complete songs in a quality that doesn't sound like 10,000 nails on 20,000 blackboards. I think it's fantastic, what they did... pull it down and see if you agree.
 Grateful Dead
Chateau d'Hérouville

Hérouville, France

01 Morning Dew (partial, B&W)
02 Hard To Handle (color)
03 China Cat Sunflower (B&W)
04 I Know You Rider (B&W)
05 Deal (color)
06 Black Peter (partial, color)
07 Sugar Magnolia (color)
08 Sing Me Back Home (B&W)
09 "POP2" interviews

Total time: 57:45

Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
Phil Lesh - bass, vocals
Bob Weir - guitar, vocals
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, percussion, vocals
Bill Kreutzmann - drums

PAL DVD of a film by Brokedown House, made using master VHS footage from two 1971 ORTF-TV "POP2" programs and master soundboard reels of the original concert
3.28 GB total/August 2015 archive link
This is a pretty odd piece but it really does the trick... the folks that did it put a ton of love and attention into the project and it must have taken weeks (months?) to get it all together and synched up. The original sound of the broadcasts was so legendarily awful, I suppose it had to be done -- and as we know there are no fans of any music or band more enthusiastic and, yes, dedicated in terms of obsessive archivism. So grab it and fire it up as we celebrate the life and lasting legacy of the guitar Maestro so loved everyone just calls him by his first name -- and of course, Happy Birthday Jerry!--J.
8.1.1942 - 8.9.1995