Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Green Manalishi

All right! My vitreous flare decided to plummet to the bottom of my left eye yesterday after a month in the dead center of it, so I can kinda see! And what's this I see? A birthday tribute to a guitar legend in our own time?
Most people think of Fleetwood Mac as an MOR pop-rock outfit responsible for one of the biggest hit albums of the last 50 years. I'm not one of them. For me, the real FM is the original FM; founded, named and led by one of the most blazing blues players of our lifetimes.
If you ask me, you can have your Eric Claptons and your Stevie Ray Vaughans. Those cats are two of the primary Caucasian practitioners of the blues, certainly, but for me they don't even get into the same league as Peter Green. BB King is alleged to have once said that Peter Green blew them all off the stage, and I am not inclined to disagree. The King of the Blues was clear that PG "had the sweetest tone, and was the only one ever to give me the cold sweats."
Afflicted with schizophrenia issue and mental illness, he quit music for most of the 1970s after leaving the Mac to deal with his personal demons. He came back with a vengeance with a new band, the Splinter Group, in 1979 and has shown no signs of stopping since. For someone who could have been a casualty of the 1960s drug era, he has flourished later in life to the point where those days are far behind and almost forgotten.
Author of several standard songs -- he wrote Black Magic Woman for Santana to gobble up and make his own, and The Green Manalishi (about the money side of the music industry) that Judas Priest so famously absorbed -- as well as a guitarist of utmost taste and tone, he was and is perhaps the greatest exponent of the Sixties British Blues boom, along with the aforementioned Eric Clapton.
Peter Green is 69 today, so to honor his insubstitutable contributions to music over the last 50 years, I am gonna share this cool DVD, bootlegged from a 1994 long-outta-print laserdisc and never officially issued since, of most of the available TV footage of Fleetwood Mac when PG was out front of them from 1967-1970. Someday this will come back in print with the super-deluxe, history-making edition it deserves, but until then here you go.
Fleetwood Mac
The Early Years

01 Black Magic Woman
CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London.

02 My Heart Beat Like a Hammer
03 Shake Your Moneymaker
CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London.

04 I'm Worried
05 Like It This Way
06 The World Keep On Turning
April Television AB, Njårdhallen, Oslo.

07 Stop Messin' Round
CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London.

08 Albatross
CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London.

09 Need Your Love So Bad
CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London.

10 Man of the World
1969, "Beat Club" TV, Bremen, Germany.
11 Like Crying
12 Linda
BBC "Monster Music Mash" show, aired October 7, 1969.
13 Oh Well
unknown Euro TV
14 Rattlesnake Shake
“Playboy After Dark,” CBS Television City, Los Angeles, CA

15 The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)
single version w/video collage

Total time: 54:37

PAL DVD from out-of-print semi-official Snapper Records DVD from the 1990s
This guy is an absolute monster player and songwriter for longer than a lot of us have been alive, so I hope you enjoy this video treat and remember to pay the man tribute on his big day today. I'll be back soon (now that there isn't this big black object in the center of my vision field, driving me to blubbering, blind madness), but until I am let's celebrate Peter Green, born this day in 1946 and still singing and playing the blues like no other human!--J.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Big Boys Don't Cry: 49 Out of 10

It's the second anniversary of this page, as well as my 49th birthday, so for all you Octoberists I bring you something appropriate for month #10.
About 15 years ago I went to Brooklyn in NYC to work for the summer and I befriended this character who was opening a juice bar at this big intersection in Williamsburgh. He and I created a few blended drinks together and he asked me to supply him with some music for the place. 
One day he brought me a stack of CDs of the English rock band 10cc which he had borrowed, and sat me down with a day's worth of food and beverages at the back table to make a compilation out of them. I had to that point heard very little of their music besides the hits like I'm Not In Love, which for me was a revelatory demonstration of the recording studio as an instrument when it came billowing out of the car radio like a breathy dream at the age of 9.
After a day of listening to the albums I whittled them down into a mix I called The Worst Band In the World (after one of their best songs), and we rocked it in Alex's spot all summer, in addition to a bunch of other stuff we mashed up from his music collection. Recently I have been in a big 10cc phase again, so a couple of days ago I set about reconstructing this compilation from the SHM-CDs of these albums from Japan, which use a mastering technology that didn't even exist 15 years ago.
I changed it around a bit, but here it comes for your auditory stimulation. In addition to being made from the best-sounding reissues of these exquisite records, this tape really reveals exactly how brilliant a caliber of songwriters and artists these guys were and are. Halfway between progsters Gentle Giant and arch-ironists Sparks, with a side of Supertramp thrown in, over time these guys have become one of my favorites in the pantheon. 
And let's face it, I'm Not In Love is truly one of the greatest recordings of any kind in the 100+ year history of the art form. You can make music as good as that song, but it can't be surpassed and my feeling about that hasn't changed in the intervening 40 years since it first caressed my pre-teen ears. Why, it's so shimmering and seminal that there's a short documentary on YouTube in which the members of the band detail how they did it, and it's quite the tale of the tape loop indeed. Be quiet, big boys don't cry.
Anyway this band is a throwback to when you could have four songwriters in one group and not have to call the cops, and obviously Godley & Creme went on to shape tons of the subsequent 40 years of sound on Earth since they departed from 10cc in 1976, so I will follow the Yogi's edict that you're supposed to give gifts on your birthday and pop it on up here for y'all!
The Worst Band In the World

01 The Worst Band In the World
02 The Second Sitting for the Last Supper
03 Oh Effendi
04 Honeymoon with B Troop
05 Art for Art's Sake
06 Nothing Can Move
07 The Wall Street Shuffle
08 Ships Don't Disappear In the Night (Do They)
09 I'm Mandy Fly Me
10 Marriage Bureau Rendezvous
11 Good Morning Judge
12 Une Nuit a Paris pt II
13 The Things We Do For Love
14 Waterfall
15 I'm Not In Love
16 The Dean and I
17 Life Is a Minestrone
18 Bee In My Bonnet
19 Dreadlock Holiday
20 Rubber Bullets

Total time: 1:18:49

Graham Gouldman – bass, vocals
Eric Stewart – guitar, keyboards, vocals
Lol Creme – guitar, keyboards, vocals
Kevin Godley – drums, vocals
Stuart Tosh – drums, vocals
Tony O'Malley – keyboards, vocals
Paul Burgess – drums
Rick Fenn – guitar, vocals

compilation constructed from 2008 & 2014 Japanese SHM-CDs
My eye is getting better slowly, so expect more than a paltry three posts from me in November... heck, I might even do a Halloween post before then. But for now do enjoy these 80 minutes of 10cc... the tenth month never sounded so good :D--J.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Tenor of the Times

Greetings friends! I am still mostly shelved with the eye ailment, but I am not gonna miss the 75th birthday of one of my favorite musicians of all time... even if I have to squint through it to get to it.
Pharoah Sanders has been at the thing for a lonnnnng time. From his earliest recordings with Sun Ra to now, there just hasn't been a more passionate and powerful purveyor of the tenor saxophone than he. Sonny Rollins is perhaps the only other player in his league that remains with us from the long-gone days of post-bop, Afro-spiritual Jazz.
There's a reason why Coltrane was called The Father, Pharoah was The Son, and Albert Ayler was The Holy Ghost. The path through the music we love as Jazz geeks runs right through this man's talents, and cannot in any way be avoided if you're trying to dig the timeline of the development of the music in these last 50 years plus.
Possessed of a screaming, explosive tone that can slip seamlessly into the most lyrical lines and soothing sound you ever heard, when I think of how many reeds he has simultaneously caressed, shattered and split in five decades of doing it I find myself just grateful above all that I was smart (OK, lucky) enough to have been born during the time he is around, and that my puny lifetime overlaps with a giant such as he.
I actually met him once. I used to work for many years at a non-profit that at the time (this was in 1996) had its offices in San Francisco, and one night after work we all repaired to the corner of 5th and Mission to a bar located in the ground floor of the old Pickwick Hotel. After a trip to the back alley for some, uh, herbal refreshment, we passed back through the lobby and who should be checking in to the hotel, surrounded by about 15 horn cases, but the man himself. 
High, shy and wondering why, my friend (a musician of great skill himself) and I (a musician of not-great skill) went back to the foyer and greeted him reverently. He told us that he was in town to score and accompany, live from the orchestra pit, a performance of the SF Ballet. We stood there, jelly-legged, shaking his hand and professing our adoration of his music. 
He must have wondered who these stoned palefaces were and what we were on about, but it's a moment I will never forget... like being in the presence of a deity or higher being. I have met and feel comfortable and am even friends with many, many people you might consider celebrities, but I've never once met one that had the radiance and spiritual aura that I felt from Pharoah Sanders... not before and certainly not since.
He turns 75 today, a huge milestone birthday for anyone, so to honor this titanic tenor I have dug out this incredible PALplus mpeg file, captured from satellite TV in pristine fashion, of this utter steamroller of a performance by (seminal, needs his own blog post here) guitar maestro James "Blood" Ulmer's tremendous Music Revelation Ensemble from back in 2003. This has Pharoah as the guest soloist and you can bet he does not at all hold back from blowing the roof off the place.
The Music Revelation Ensemble featuring Pharoah Sanders
34th Internationale Jazzwoche
Burghausen, Germany

01 Law
02 High Yellow
03 Sweet
04 Little Red Rooster
05 My Prayer
06 Eviction
07 Evidence

Total time: 1:44:17

Pharoah Sanders - tenor saxophone
James "Blood" Ulmer - guitar, vocals
Calvin Jones - bass
Cornel Rochester - drums

PALplus mpeg file digitally captured from an ARD Alpha satellite broadcast
This is definitely a stomper of a set, with the MRE and Pharoah blazing their way through an hour and three quarters of mesmerizing music in a variety of styles. Ulmer even sings a few of his blues-on-acid-from-Alderaan tunes, and they go from straight-ahead Jazz to free-blowing volcanicized eruptions to the off-kilter free-funk this group is famous for among those who know them. And all with today's birthday guy embroidering his unique contributions, that only he could make, on top of the soup. Anyway I am gonna get off before I go blind here, but please do pull this tasty little sucker down and have a look-n-listen, all the while making sure to show love and respect for Pharoah Sanders, a most irreplaceable and towering musical force born this day in 1940.--J.

Friday, October 09, 2015


Hey there and welcome to a Fab Friday! I am dropping by off the disabled list whilst my eye heals to pay tribute to the forever-tremendous John Lennon, who'd have been 75 today.
There will be a flood of tributes far more eloquent than I could hope to be, so I'll spare the hyperbole. Surely John would be deeply disturbed at what this world has become since some lunatic got hold of a gun -- they're easier to get in America than BBQ Pringles potato chips, you know -- and took him from us at the age of just 40 in 1980. What he'd say about the conditions of today can only be speculated upon, but I'm sure it would have spared no syllable.
Instead of going on and on deconstructing the obvious, I'm going to go right for the share. How this has never been reissued on DVD escapes basic logic, as ahead of its time as it was and is. I mean, who makes a video LP of their new record... in 1971? Just the "chess" sequence in this film -- with Yoko Ono quietly whispering "don't go away" (or is it "Don't Count the Waves"?) over and over and things getting more and more surreal and symbolic every moment -- is worth the entire, 34-year history of MTV.
So here we have it, digitally translated from a vintage 1986 laserdisc and bestowed with 16/48 LPCM stereo sound. This looks and sounds phenomenal and features almost all the tunes from his chart-topping, world-changing 1971 Imagine opus, all set to crazy home movie super-8 footage -- some conceptual, some less obviously so -- and featuring guest stars from Miles Davis to Fred Astaire.
John Lennon
a made-for-TV video album

01 Imagine
02 Crippled Inside
03 Jealous Guy
04 Don't Count the Waves
 05 It's So Hard
06 Mrs. Lennon
07 I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier Mama (I Don't Want to Die)
08 Power to the People
09 Gimme Some Truth
10 Oh My Love
11 How Do You Sleep?
12 How?
13 Oh Yoko!

Total time: 55:55

PAL DVD, with 16/48 LPCM sound, from the 1986 laserdisc
I'll be back as soon as my eye is better, but until then enjoy this little film, somehow unissued in 30 years. And I know you won't forget its author anytime soon, among the most beloved artists in human history as he is, and born as he was this day in 1940.--J.
10.9.1940 - 12.8.1980