Thursday, December 31, 2015

All Things Must Brass

What a year, eh? Even just this last month has been something else. Why, the subject of my last post didn't even last 72 hours after I wrote it. I'll avoid that awful possibility repeating today, as the subject of the year's final tribute has indeed already been gone from us since 2010.
You know me, I'm a funkateer and I drift especially in the direction of Big Band Funk. Nowhere in the long and storied history of our species has anyone ever masterminded Big Band Funk more effectively than today's honoree, who'd have reached the milestone of 80 today.
You might not know the name Peter Herbolzheimer, but in jazz and Big Band circles his is quite a mighty legacy. His Rhythm Combination & Brass groups -- which featured some of the truly heavyweight players like Art Farmer and Ack van Rooyen passing through the ranks -- have so many badass records you'd need to start dating a Lufthansa pilot to collect them all in one place.
As the leader, conductor and arranger of these groups, Peter Herbolzheimer oversaw arguably the swingingest, funkiest Big Bands of the 1970s and 1980s. If his music doesn't ignite your body into some sort of motion, you are likely deceased and ought to report to the nearest coroner's office immediately for processing. Can I have your stuff?
As incredible as records like Galaxis and Hip Walk -- which featured the vocal talents of the German Goddess of Voice, Inga Rumpf, who is gonna get her own day on this page someday soon -- are, the context in which these groups really shone was in concert.
About a month ago, one of the stellar uploaders on one of the torrent trackers I have been a part of for many years posted a complete concert from the 1970s prime of the RC&B, sourced from the original station master reels of the German radio archives.
There was just one problem: there were two sets and he couldn't get the second one to stop sounding a lot louder and more, well, brassy than the first. That's where I came in.
After a day in the esteemed company of the Sound Forge 9 Graphic Dynamics tool, I'd say I have got the two sets sounding like they were at least recorded in the same galaxy by the same engineers. No, I am just kidding... honestly I did a great job if I do say so, and this is now essentially indistinguishable from a legitimate live record.
Heck, I even created one of my primitive cover art adventures for it... it's New Year's Eve and don't let them tell you I don't go whole hog to the party.
Peter Herbolzheimer
Rhythm Combination & Brass
WDR Studio 1
Köln, Germany
EN pre-FM remaster

01 introduction
02 Hoops
03 band introductions by Peter Herbolzheimer
04 Mr. Clean
05 announcement
06 Sunflower Chant
07 announcement
08 Frog Dance
09 My Kind of Sunshine

01 Blues In My Shoes
02 applause & announcement
03 Nica's Dream
04 applause & announcement
05 That Ol' Bus Smell
06 announcement
07 Waitaminute
08 announcement
09 Con Alma
10 The Ballad of the Sad Young Men
11 announcement
12 Hi-Jack

Total time 1:43:03

Peter Herbolzheimer - conductor, trombone
Art Farmer, Ack van Rooyen, Rick Kiefer, Ron Simmons, Palle Mikkelborg - trumpets
Jiggs Whigham, Ake Persson, Rudi Füsers - trombones
Ferdinand Povel - reeds
Philip Catherine - guitar
Dieter Reith - keyboards
Günter Lenz - bass
Sabu Martinez - congas
Horst Mühlbradt - percussion, electric piano
Kenny Clare - drums

sourced from pre-FM master tapes from the WDR archives & remastered by me
This should now be in a position to funk your New Year's Eve festivities in just the right segment of the pocket... even more so than before I twiddled the knobs here in Audio Tweakage Land. Pull it down, have the best possible party times and the best possible 2016, and remember to honor Peter Herbolzheimer, who was born this day in 1935 and is still swiveling hips into motion the world over even though he's been dead five years!--J.
12.31.1935 - 3.27.2010

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Motörhead Honcho

Seventy is a big one. Sometimes I feel that 70 is the benchmark, and if you make it through seven decades, you are a survivor who has seen most of it if not all.
Today is that day for someone who, if you asked me 30 years ago if he would make it, I'd have said he'd be lucky to see 47. It might be closer to the truth to say that it might be time for us to start thinking about what kind of world we're going to leave behind for Lemmy.
Ian Kilmister began in music in England in the mid Sixties, as a roadie and equipment man for some American guitar slinger named Hendrix. When Jimi left the building at age 27 in 1970, Lemmy joined UK tripsters Hawkwind on bass, and sang their first and biggest hit, Silver Machine. Their other big song from that time was a little number called Motörhead.
He quit Hawkwind in 1974 and formed another band, with the idea that he wanted to have the fastest rock-n-roll band ever to play. To say that Motörhead -- which is still touring after 40 years on the boards -- has had a monumental influence over music in general (and especially the various strains of Heavy Metal) would be a vast. vast understatement.
Fast forward to 2015 and here he is, still doing it louder, faster and more viciously than guys and gals a third of his age and less. Health issues forced him off the road earlier this year, but good luck keeping Lemmy down... he was back out on tour within weeks. He will likely keep right on playing after he dies.
He is revered as a (perhaps the) Rock icon by tens of millions of people the world over, and it's hard to argue that his station is not deserved. In a way he is the ultimate survivor, and his ascent to septuagenarian status today merely solidifies that.
To mark his 70th birthday I will share what else? but a big old birthday party. When Motörhead turned 10 in 1985, they had a big shindig to celebrate at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, featuring all kinds of guests and special visitors sitting in. This was filmed and released on laserdisc in the early '90s, but somehow has never made it to an official DVD issue in all the years since. Today I bring you a delicious, pristine transfer of that laserdisc on a region-free DVD that came out unofficially (and only in Brazil) about 10 years ago.
The Birthday Party
Hammersmith Odeon
London, UK

01 Iron Fist
02 Stay Clean
03 The Hammer
04 Metropolis
05 Mean Machine
06 On The Road
07 Killed By Death
08 Ace Of Spades
09 Steal Your Face
10 Nothing Up My Sleeve
11 We Are the Road Crew
12 Bite the Bullett
13 The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
14 No Class
15 Overkill
16 Bomber/Drum Solo
17 Motörhead
18 Orgasmatron

Total time: 59:40

Lemmy Kilmister- bass guitar, vocals
Phil Campbell - guitar
Würzel - guitar
Pete Gill - drums
"Fast" Eddie Clarke - guitar
Brian "Robbo" Robertson - guitar
Larry Wallis - guitar
Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor - drums
Lucas Fox - drums
Phil Lynott - bass guitar on Track 17
Wendy O. Williams - vocals on Track 14

all-regions semi-official Brazilian DVD, likely from the 1990 Laserdisc
Yes, this is as wild a show as it looks like from reading the info, so pull it down and get your Yule Log burning like a filterless Camel tonight as we swing into the Holidays. Obviously I wish you and yours the very best tidings, as well as the most thrashingest big day to Mr. Kilmister, who was born on Christmas Eve in 1945 and has been helping demolish the eardrums of Earth ever since!--J.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Mother: Happy Franksgiving!

I blogged this guy last year, but he'd have been 75 today and that's a big one. That's right, it's the second 75th birthday post in three days... the week before Christmas 1940 had the gifts flowing a bit early, didn't it?
I oughtn't need to tell you who Frank Zappa was and is, so I won't. He made exactly 100 albums in 53 years on Earth. If he had just been a guitar player, people would still be saying his name 20+ years in the grave as he is. That he looms over the entirety of the music of our lifetimes makes him a figure for the ages, with very few parallels in modern music and culture.
I was introduced to him, via a tuneup at Joe's Garage, by one of my closest childhood friends, probably the best guitar player in our high school class. That was at age 12, merely 37 years ago... thanks Lloyd. And I haven't stopped since. I am by no means alone, thankfully.
We were discussing the other day about one of his most under-the-radar innovations, which is commonplace today but was unprecedented when he started doing it in the mid 1970s. This technique, called xenocrony -- wherein the constituent elements of one song are transposed over another, completely unrelated track in the studio -- was never even attempted before FZ came along.
Artists of today, from Lady Gaga to Rufus Wainwright, owe him a debt in terms of how they address their body of work as a fully-organic "project-object". And then of course, there's the fact that his music is and will always be at once intensely serious and entirely frivolous and humor-involved. Not many people can be as hilarious as he was and is and do it in 19/16 time, but then not many people even know what that is anymore. This is what happens when you take music out of the schools, folks.
I consider this man as much a teacher and a philosopher of our times as I do a guitar player or a rock star, and that assessment holds water from any perspective. Whether it meant dragging rock music into the zillions of ulterior areas he did or stepping up to explain to the coin-operated clowns in Congress why censorship is a bad thing, Frank is one stop-shopping for cultural provocateurism (yes I just made up that word, FZ having given me permission via Ouija Board!) -- even now, as I said, so long departed from us.
It's not often I do a tribute to someone I've tributed previously, but exceptional Maestros make for exceptions to the rules. So today I will get personal and share my personal Zappa tape that I keep in my phone, for when I am tooling around the Bay Area grooving to Willie the Pimp and Titties & Beer
It contains all manner of unique edits and track transitions I did, in homage to the man who did so much to bring the tape editing tricks and studio twists -- whether they be the introduction of 20th century musique concrete into rock or being among the first, as he was, to use digital recording gear like the Fairlight CMI -- into popular music.
Frank Zappa
2012 Remasters
Phases One & Two

Eat That Question

01 The Voice of Cheese
02 I'm the Slime
03 Directly from My Heart to You
04 Peaches En Regalia
05 Transylvania Boogie
06 My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama
07 Willie the Pimp
08 Eat That Question
09 Who Needs the Peace Corps?
10 Absolutely Free (intro)
11 The Little House I Used to Live In (excerpt)
12 Oh No/Son of Orange County
13 More Trouble Every Day
14 Little Umbrellas
15 Holiday In Berlin (single edit)
17 Dog Breath
18 The Dog Breath Variations
19 The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque (edit)
20 Cosmik Debris

Total time: 1:19:30

The Night of the Iron Sausage

01 Joe's Garage
02 The Torture Never Stops
03 Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy
04 Wind Up Workin' In a Gas Station
05 Titties & Beer
06 Dancin' Fool
07 Regyptian Strut
08 San Ber'dino
09 Bobby Brown
10 Broken Hearts Are for Assholes
11 Valley Girl
12 Catholic Girls
13 Jewish Princess
14 Watermelon In Easter Hay
15 You Are What You Is
16 Lemme Take You to the Beach

Total time: 1:18:41

2 CD set compiled from the most recent FZ remaster series in 2012, including several edits made by me that are not on anything else
If you are unfamiliar with the life and work of this most extraordinary and essential musician, this would be a very fine place to dip a toe into The Purple Lagoon of the Zappaverse. Anyway, pull it down, enjoy and of course do pay your respects to Frank Zappa, born this day in 1940 and in no danger of going away anytime soon.  A most happy Franksgiving and a most auspicious Zappadan to you and yours!--J.
12.21.1940 - 12.4.1993

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Topical Solution

It's the weekend before the big holiday, and that means it's time for a tribute to one of my personal heroes in life.
He didn't live awfully long, nor did he leave us in the greatest shape. The real artists sometimes don't. This isn't the most hospitable species when it comes to demands for justice.
He called what he did "topical" songwriting, and given how the events and people he sang about are fifty years gone, his music has dated extraordinarily well. He is one of the few artists -- perhaps the only one -- whom has their songs not just constantly covered, but updated to fit the narratives of the moment. He didn't just create songs about politics, he created a new way to put such sentiments across. Or perhaps he just resurrected an ancient mode of communication for the 20th century and beyond: like the Town Crier modernized with a Martin guitar.
He lived in wild times and his music did not disappoint. It spared no syllable and quickly garnered the attention of the American authorities, who targeted him constantly and were in the end partially responsible for his decline into insanity and sad, premature demise. Where Bob Dylan spoke in tongues of metaphor and submerged meaning, Phil Ochs went for the more direct line of expression. In your face, unapologetic and wondering precisely why you endorse outright fascism.
The FBI and the powers that be were less than amused. They harassed Phil constantly, and often dogged his concerts with spies and provocateurs. One time, they even went so far as to plug into the mixing desk at one of them and bootleg him. And what a tape they made!
So it's Phil's 75th birthday and I think we'd all agree he should have lived past the age of 35, so to celebrate the milestone I took all week restoring this exceptional-yet-very-rough tape our pal J. Edgar Asshole (who did as much as anyone to make sure Phil would die) made of our hero playing in Montreal almost 50 years ago, three days before I was born. It was extremely noisy and had levels all over the place, so I went track by track and cleaned it up using Sound Forge 9's Graphic EQ, Graphic Dynamics and Clipped Peak Restoration tools, removing a ton of diginoise bursts in the process.
Despite how tempting it may have been, no noise reduction was used. I also made new fingerprints, added titles and tags and changed the basic cover art to distinguish this remaster from the original boot CD... if anyone wants to make a cover for this that does not look like it was constructed by a six-year-old child, please feel free to do so cuz I am sort of inept at that part of this stuff. Seriously, how many shows do you have that were taped by the FBI?
Phil Ochs
Salle Claude Champagne
University of Montreal
Montreal, Canada
EN soundboard remaster

01 Cross My Heart
02 Song of My Returning
03 The Bells
04 Flower Lady
05 Miranda
06 Joe Hill
07 I'm Gonna Say It Now
08 Pleasures of the Harbor
09 I Ain't Marching Anymore
10 Outside a Small Circle of Friends
11 I've Had Her
12 tuning & announcements
13 There But for Fortune
14 tuning & announcements
15 Cops of the World
16 Crucifixion
17 Is There Anybody Here
18 Changes
19 The Party
20 tuning & announcements
21 Doesn't Lenny Live Here Anymore?
22 Power and the Glory

Total time: 2:02:02
disc break goes after track 10

Phil Ochs - guitar & vocals

soundboard recording thought to have been made by the FBI, remastered by EN
645 MB FLAC/December 2015 archive link
Anyway, after all these modifications it sure isn't perfect, but I feel I made a tremendous improvement worthy of the impact of the performance. It certainly provides a phenomenal snapshot of the man at the peak of his populist protest powers in front of a highly sympathetic audience, all whilst the spooks commandeer the mixing desk -- to my ears this sounds like it was taped on a Nagra device -- to get a dub of the show to bring back to their bosses at Clown Central. At several points Phil actually refers to them being afoot, which I'm sure caused several in the audience to mutter to themselves about how self-important and paranoid Phil was. Hopefully Phil is beside the right hand of The Creator as I type this now, peeing enthusiastically all over Hoover's ugly fascist face... last I checked, ain't nobody covering Edgar's tunes these days -- the Obamas and the Camerons and the Putins try, but we know those guys have no swing --  or remastering his concerts on his birthday. And remember to remember Phil Ochs, who was born 75 years ago today and crammed a whole lot of serious shit-stirring into his very few years on Earth... if we had 100 True Believers like him around today, the pigs would crap their knickers, drop their tape recorders and run away.--J.
12.19.1940 - 4.9.1976

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Voice Will Be Voice: Centenarian of the Board

Let's swing into Saturday by chiming in among the very many and deserved tributes you'll happen upon today, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Frank Sinatra.
There really isn't much I could say. Possibly the greatest phraser of vocal melody in species history. Multi-talented in the realms of music, film, all facets of what it means to be an entertainer. One of the biggest stars the world will ever see. Maybe the most revered male celebrity ever to live, in any discipline.
For me, it boils down to the song. The song is one of the things we do right, when we know what we're doing... our species doesn't have much to recommend it, but music is at the top of that all-too-short list. Someone like Ol' Blue Eyes here exists at the toppermost echelon of our toppermost idiom of expression as humans. You don't get much more successful at life than that.
It's in the elegance and relaxed-yet-perfectly-pinpoint phrasing, if you ask me. No one can do it like him, or ever could or maybe ever will. The way he tosses the words out around the beat so effortlessly, like it comes as naturally as breathing. He can seem like he is rushing to the end of the line and somehow throw out the beginning of the next before the line begins, and make it so integral to the meaning of what he is doing that the most famous vocalist in human history may as well be singing to you and you alone. Well, him, you and a tumbler full of the finest single malt scotch, anyway.
That kind of intimacy can't be manufactured, it must be felt and felt with the sort of sincerity the man could deliver like the mail... reliable, on time and full of news good, bad and indifferent. If music is the soundtrack of the film of our lives, we need people who can deliver that Oscar-winning score so the experience can be all it can be. I probably don't have to tell you that this is one of those guys... perhaps the guy.
There isn't a whole lot of material of his that remains unissued, being one of the most popular recording artists of all time as he is. A number of things circulate, and one of my personal favorites is Frank's series of concerts in Brazil in 1980 and 1981, a couple of which were taped for radio and TV and never released. Today I will share a tremendous performance from Sao Paolo in 1981, that circulates from an off-air FM recording that suffered, until now, from diginoise issues due to a faulty transfer somewhere along the line.
I took some time and repaired these bursts of irritating noise, dialing them back to a healthy "no longer there" for the most part, so this is now in the kind of spiffy condition a 100th birthday celebration would merit. I also titled and tagged the files, because you can't show up to the big shindig and there's untitled/untagged files hanging around, am I right? This should now be in shape to embellish your afternoon in the most exquisite fashion, my friends.
Frank Sinatra
Maksoud Plaza Hotel
Sao Paolo, Brazil

01 Fly Me to the Moon
02 The Best Is Yet to Come
03 When Joanna Loved Me
04 Come Rain Or Come Shine
05 I've Got You Under My Skin
06 Strangers In the Night
07 The Lady Is a Tramp
08 Medley: The Gal That Got Away/It Never Entered My Mind
09 Frank's monologue
10 I Get a Kick Out of You
11 Band introductions   
12 These Foolish Things
13 My Kind of Town
14 Chorinho (Tony Mottola solo)
15 As Time Goes By
16 I've Got the World On a String
17 Sweet and Lovely (feat. Charles Turner)
18 New York, New York
19 Pennies from Heaven
20 My Way

Total time: 1:10:01

Frank Sinatra - vocals
Tony Mottola - guitar
Charles Turner - trumpet
Robert Alexander - trombone
Harry Klee - saxophone & flute
Gene Cherico - bass
Irv Cottler - drums
Vincent Falcone, Jr. - piano
and featuring The Joe Mallon New York Orchestra conducted by Vincent Falcone, Jr.

off-air master reel FM recording, diginoise issues repaired by EN
So there you have it.... hopefully now that I cleaned it up a bit it'll swing your Saturday superlatively and fly you to the moon in just the correct trajectory. Obviously there will be a ton of tributes today, so I hope you can integrate this little offering into the celebrations. This is one of the timeless guys, so enjoy this most timeless hour and ten minutes in tribute to the one of the greatest vocalists that will ever be born, who joined us 100 years ago this very day.--J.
12.12.1915 - 5.14.1998

Friday, December 11, 2015

Earth, Wind & Fighter

We keep losing the giants, so I keep assembling tributes to their greatness.
This week it was one of the true visionaries, I'm afraid. On Tuesday evening we lost Santee Dakota poet, activist and musician John Trudell to cancer. It was the last battle of a legendary fighter.
Originally I wasn't going to be able to do a post on JT because I didn't have anything to post. But that changed when I found myself in Amoeba Music in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, and I found an out-of-print box set containing his first 6 albums.
I hadn't heard these records since we used to play them on the radio back in the 1980s and early '90s, so I spent all day Thursday listening to them again and remembering back a quarter century to when last I did. Several times I was moved to tears, a feeling which only intensified when I refamiliarized myself with his story.
Ask yourself: what would you do? If you were an activist fighting for justice and found yourself the target of retribution from the powers that be, what would you do? You'll probably never have to find out. John Trudell did, and to say he rose to the occasion would be to understate things gravely.
It was called a Fire of Unknown Origin at the time, but there's never been much of a doubt that the FBI had more than a passing involvement in the conflagration that killed John's wife, her mother and his three children in 1979. To say that he turned the very bitterest lemons of that awful event into the sweetest lemonade of his subsequent career in Spoken Word would be to further understate the story even more obliviously.
He probably never imagined he would end up in music when he rose to prominence in 1969 and 1970 as the spokesman of Native American activists at the advent of the American Indian Movement, in their takeover of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. After a decade of organizing, on February 12, 1979 he lost it all at the hands of that suspicious blaze at Duck Valley, Nevada.
It must have driven the oppressor truly batty when JT picked up the pieces of his charred existence and began to forge a career which brought his message and his activism to even more people: that of poet provocateur. He made his first LP in 1983 and Bob Dylan allegedly once called his first one with Jesse Ed Davis, aka Grafitti Man from 1986, the best record of the 1980s.
Like I said, the day after JT died I found myself in Amoeba Music in San Francisco and managed to acquire an out-of-print box set containing his first six albums. So although I didn't have any archival material of his and originally thought I wouldn't be able to tribute him on here, finding that set -- whose contents I hadn't heard in a quarter century, at least -- enabled me to put together a single-disc mix with which you can dip your toe into the output of this most extraordinary artist and chronicler of our collective condition: that of human beings, struggling at being human.
John Trudell
Material Delirium
selected questions from "The Collection"

01 The Ones Who Know Me
02 One Journey
03 Listening (Honor Song)
04 Fables and Other Realities (EN extended edit)
05 Restless Situations
06 At Some Point (Umatilla Song)
07 Fire In the Village
08 I Went So Willingly (49)
09 Grafitti Man
10 Laughing
11 One Side of the Face (1855 War Dance)
12 Lavender's Blues
13 Isn't My Life (Elk Song)
14 Rich Man's War
15 Last Rush In Babylon (EN extended edit)
16 Beauty In a Fade (49 Wait for Me)
17 Questions
18 Born 18 (All Tribes)
19 Never Never Blues
20 Good Thoughts
21 Song of the Trees (Warm Springs Honoring)
22 Shaman (Make a Chant)

Total time: 1:19:31

single-disc sampler from out-of-print "The Collection 1983-1992" box set, compiled and featuring two unique extended edits by me
I did two really neat edits to extend two of the tracks... see if you can spot the handiwork. Additionally I've included an mp3 of a marvelous Pacifica radio portrait of John that aired in 2009, which can also be found right here. So get to work pulling this down as we celebrate the unquantifiable legacy of John Trudell: a giant of a man who left us the other day at 69... and I'll be back tomorrow with yet another post in tribute to yet another irreplaceable colossus.--J.
2.15.1946 - 12.8.2015