Thursday, May 26, 2016

MDIII90: Miles Runs the Video Down

All right, as promised it's time for the biggest tribute post ever, to commemorate a tremendous Milestone.
Today would have been the 90th birthday of perhaps the most legendary and innovative of all American musical artists, and one of Earth's truly revered and iconic creative figures.
Hahahaha in that picture he's all, "Moi?" But we here in the Land of Nobody know the true giants whence we hear them, and this guy has been on my playlist since I was a teenager. He continues to be, 25 years gone, arguably the most influential musician ever to live.
There is simply no one else that can claim to have changed the fundamental direction of not just Jazz, but by indirect impact all of Music, from Classical to Pop... and claim to have done it multiple times. Really, all the titans of our time have their places and without each of them things would be markedly different. But this person is maybe the one card, if you had to choose only one, that makes the whole house stand tall.
It's impossible to choose a creative phase of his career as above the others. I mean, he essentially started in the 1940s with Charlie Parker, so you knew he wasn't gonna be one to rest on accomplishments. From the original bebop era to inventing the Cool to the Great Quintet to Electric, no one even comes close to Miles Dewey Davis III for sheer audacity and the vision to carry it through to fruition, no matter what the critical response.
Think of the records, oh my. Sketches of Spain, Miles Smiles, Nefertiti, In a Silent Way. Bitches Brew, Live Evil (my jam), Dark Magus and primal Agharta/Pangaea. The Man with the Horn. Aura. Tutu. You hear them shouting, and they are cheering We Want Miles!
You could make the case that it was all in black & white until Miles Davis turned it color. There has never been, and may never be, a cultural icon with influence over music and even fashion to rival him. Some of his albums -- especially the more out-there electric excursions like On the Corner -- still sound like they were recorded in the future and borne back to our epoch via Time Machine.
He would have been 90 today. Hard to believe he's been gone -- at least from the physical, fleshly plane -- a quarter century now. His putative exit date of 1991 matters nada, though. He'll never die. He can't. Some people are too huge to die, too insistent in the gravity of what they have to say to us. For me, he is the Alpha and Omega of all modern music, dead or alive.
This is a serious anniversary and requires a serious share response, wouldn't you say? I sure did pull out the stops this afternoon, friends. Three separate videos -- two are PAL DVDs and one is the lossless MPEG file they often use to make DVDs -- from three distinct eras of unparalleled artistic innovation, in the company of some of the very finest players that will ever grace a bandstand.
Round One is an absolute gem, representing the initial European debut of Miles' Classic Quintet from the mid-1960s. This one was taped for Italian RAI TV in late 1964 and was issued on an unauthorized DVD from a tape at least two generations off the station master, absolutely unconscionable and borderline treasonous if you ask me. Presented here is a PAL DVD of what looks like a master VHS of the pre-broadcast source, probably the best we'll ever see of this hour of power and as essential as breakfast for your MDIII birthday viewing.
Next up is a delectable MPEG file of a prime hour and ten minutes of raw Electric Miles, taped for German TV at the end of 1971. This too was issued on a bootleg DVD from a crappy black-n-white tape, but for you all today we have a perfectly pristine digital rebroadcast of the full set, in living color. Look out for alto and soprano shredder Gary Bartz funking the roof off clean the Berlin Philharmonie here.
Last but surely not least, we have a blistering set from one of the man's underrated groups, towards the outset of his 1980s comeback from late-'70s drug-fueled hiatus. This one was taped in Poland in 1983 -- yet another unauthorized DVD was issued in 2010 -- and documents Miles' last stylistic shift into his funk-pop-interpretive period. Watch the boards for some wild playing from axemaster John Scofield in this set.
Miles Davis Quintet
Teatro dell'Arte
Milan, Italy

01 Walkin'
02 Autumn Leaves
03 My Funny Valentine
04 All Blues
05 All of You
06 Joshua
07 The Theme

Total time: 1:00:07

Miles Davis III - trumpet
Herbie Hancock - piano
Wayne Shorter - tenor saxophone
Tony Williams - drums
Ron Carter - bass

PAL DVD of a master VHS of what looks like the RAI-TV master reel, fully 2 gens lower than the bootleg DVD that came out in 2007!!
4.15 GB total

Miles Davis Septet
Berlin, Germany

01 Directions
02 Honky Tonk
03 What I Say?
04 Sanctuary
05 It's About That Time
06 Funky Tonk/Sanctuary

Total time: 1:10:35

Miles Davis III - trumpet
Gary Bartz - alto & soprano saxophones, percussion
Keith Jarrett - electric piano & organ
Michael Henderson - bass
Ndugu Leon Chancler - drums
Charles Don Alias - percussion & congas
James Mtume Foreman - percussion & congas

MPEG file of a WDR rebroadcast of the complete set
3.33 GB total

Miles Davis Septet
Warsaw, Poland

01 announcement
02 Speak
03 Star People
04 What It Is
05 It Gets Better
06 Hopscotch
07 That's Right
08 Code MD
09 Star On Cicely
10 Jean Pierre
11 Unknown S
12 Speak
13 Speak (reprise)

Total time: 1:51:03

Miles Davis III - trumpet, keyboards
Bill Evans - soprano & tenor saxophones, flute
John Scofield- guitar
Robert Irving III - keyboards
Darryl Jones - bass
Al Foster - drums
Mino Cinelu - percussion

unofficial Gambit records PAL DVD, released 2010
3.92 GB total

all DVDs are in the same folder/May 2016 archive link
That's a wee bit o'video, eh? It took a whole day to get it all in the cloud, but I'm glad to do it in honor of this most seminal and formative musician and Ultimate Maestro of Everything. Pull whichever ones you fancy down and remember who invented all this shit, OK? There's a reason why he's one of the household names of all music and you'll surely find ample evidence in these three concerts. Enjoy and HBD MDIII, forever plus one day <3--J.
5.26.1926 - 9.28.1991

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Zim Bob Way: Dylan 75

OK, it's time for Tuesday and the second of three milestone birthday extravaganzas... this is the 2nd 75th birthday bash in a row, so get your party hats on.
Today's honoree has graced this page before, but because it's his 75th and all I thought I'd give him a second helping. His contribution to the continuum of popular music and culture are, after all, a wee bit significant.
Very few artists command the hyperbole that states that there was music -- and, really, songwriting itself -- before them and there was something totally different afterwards. I can think of a handful. Louis Armstrong. Cole Porter. George Gershwin. Miles (come back in two days) Davis. Then there is this guy.
Ol' Bullseye Bob Dylan is 75 today, can you believe that? Before he started, songs were largely about how much you loved your sweetheart, expressed in the most direct and literal terms possible. No one thought that songs could rival, say, literature. Or express complexities theretofore reserved for the long form novel. Almost no one, anyway.
It has been said that Lou Reed saw what Dylan started to do and took it to the "Here, hold this syringe, will you?" extreme. But for Lou to do that, Dylan had to get the ball rolling on the expansion of the permissible content of the popular song to include more than "Oh, baby I love you, why did you leave me?" And that was even before he plugged in and really started to fuck things up.
You all know the story, so there isn't much for me to add. Songs existed as tossoff indulgences to saccharine melody and largely insipid lyrical odes to adolescent love. Then this crazy Jewish dude from the hinterlands of Minnesota showed up and made everyone piss themselves by diversifying the material and dragging the art form into adulthood.
Everyone under the age of 30 then grabbed a guitar and started warbling about Justice and race relations and other non-adolescent-love-oriented subjects. Soon, there were so many they all needed amplifiers to be heard. Do the math.
He hated it and tried to get out from under the "voice of a generation" label, largely to no avail until he broke his neck in a motorcycle crash and really had to disappear. When he returned, he disguised his voice as that of a country crooner so the kids would at last reject him and leave him be. They didn't. 
He kept going through all sorts of changes and seminal records of confessional expression that established him further as the Songwriter of the Millennium. He converted to Christianity, and sang about that for a while. He likely could have written about the phone book and had the whole planet hanging on every word. Almost 60 years after he began to play music in high school, he is still one of the world's biggest concert draws and his records keep the pressing plants busy.
When he eventually passes, the whole world will stop in tribute, but let's not wait for that, OK? 75 is a huge milestone a lot of folks don't see, so let's fire up some treats, shall we? Being the very first artist to be bootlegged as such -- The Great White Wonder, the first boot LP, appeared in 1969 with the first inklings of what became the treasure trove known as The Basement Tapes -- you can imagine that there's a lot of unissued stuff to choose from.
I settled on two gems: one is a complete concert from the time leading up to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan broke him globally, recorded by Columbia but never issued officially until part of it came out on vinyl in Europe in 2013. The other is a full show, professionally filmed but also never released, of his Gospel tour from 1980, with hi-fi sound stripped in for extra measures.
Bob Dylan

Town Hall
New York City, New York

01 Ramblin' Down Thru the World
02 Bob Dylan's Dream
03 Talkin' New York
04 Ballad of Hollis Brown
05 Walls of Red Wing
06 All Over You
07 Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues
09 Hero Blues
10 Blowin' In the Wind
11 John Brown
12 Tomorrow Is a Long Time
13 A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall

01 Dusty Old Fairgrounds
02 Who Killed Davey Moore?
03 Seven Curses
04 Highway 51
05 Pretty Peggy-O
06 Bob Dylan's New Orleans Rag
07 Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
08 Hiding Too Long
09 With God On Our Side
10 Masters of War
11 Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie

Total time: 2:01:32

Bob Dylan - vocals & guitar, harmonica

Rattlesnake label CDs of a master soundboard recording, intended for release by Columbia in 1963 but shelved; part of this concert was issued in Europe in 2013 on the "50th Anniversary Collection 1963" vinyl-only box, but this is the whole thing

Massey Hall
Toronto, Canada

01 Can I Ride
02 (You've Got to) Hold On
03 It's Gonna Rain Again
04 Show Me the Way
05 Look Up and Live By Faith
06 Gotta Serve Somebody
07 I Believe In You
08 When He Returns
09 Ain't Gonna Go to Hell
10 Cover Down/Break Through
11 Man Gave Names to All the Animals
12 Precious Angel
13 Slow Train
14 Stranger In the City (Healing)
15 Walk Around Heaven All Day

01 Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
02 Solid Rock
03 Saving Grace
04 Saved
05 What Can I Do for You?
06 In the Garden
07 Are You Ready?
08 Pressing On

Total time: 2:07:00

Bob Dylan - vocals, guitar & piano
Fred Tackett - guitar
Spooner Oldham - keyboards
Tim Drummond - bass
Terry Young - keyboards
Jim Keltner - drums
Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mary Elizabeth Bridges,
Regina Havis & Mona Lisa Young - vocals

unissued NTSC DVDs from the original liberated master tapes, with substituted hi-fi sound
5.13 GB total

both the CDs and the DVDs are in the same folder/May 2016 archive link
There you have it... a nice pair of shows for those that knows. I'll return on Thursday with more reverent ramblings concerning more gargantuan and innovative cultural icons, but for now please grab onto one or both of these performances and try to remember that before he showed up, the radio and the record store were pretty much a wasteland of puerile, infantile horseshit. If that's not reason enough to acknowledge Bob Dylan -- born today in 1941 and celebrating his Diamond anniversary on Earth -- then I don't know what is!--J.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

You Can Call Me Albion: Martin Carthy At 75

It's the weekend and a huge milestone birthday for one of my all-time favorites, accompanied by all sorts of special treats.
But first, some backstory: When I was 15 years old, I went to my mom's parents' 50th wedding anniversary party at a big catering hall. We sat at the same table as my cousins on my mom's side, whom I had never met up to that point.
Now, some time before this, an older cellist friend of mine and I had become obsessed with a radio program that aired on WBAI-FM in NYC on Saturday mornings just such as the one on which I am typing this. This show was hosted by a guy called Ed Haber and was called The Piper In the Meadow Straying, and featured all manner of folk musics, especially that of the Celtic variety.
The theme song was called Sails of Silver, by a group which Ed Haber featured heavily and which sounded to my friend and I like "Steel Eyes Band" when he said the name. This was way back well before the internet would have solved the puzzle in ten seconds flat, and he and I walked around for months trying to figure out what the name of this band was.
So, yeah, the anniversary party. Turns out my cousins knew. I related the mystery with which we were suffering and immediately they sort of lit up with that ohhhhhhhhh look. You mean Steeleye Span. We'll be in touch, they told me. Watch the mailbox.
Two weeks later, a cassette arrived in the post. It was of the second and third Steeleye Span records, dubbed from vintage vinyl like in the good ol' days. The gates had been opened, the mystery solved. My cello buddy and I positively wore that tape out to the oxide particles. Little did we know my cousins had picked two of the Steeleye Span records that had featured the man who turned out to be the Gate Keeper Supreme of traditional Celtic music itself. Steeleye Span was just a taste; we had discovered the Feast Master of Ceremonies, and supper was ready.
There aren't words to describe what this music means to me and what its greatest living curator and Maestro mean to me. When I finally got to meet him and see him play years later in Berkeley, California, I didn't know he had even more gifts with which to regale me. When we chatted between sets and I asked him if he'd lead off the second with one of the most complex, intense and alternately-tuned tunes in the Collection. I never expected he'd withdraw a second guitar from its case, tune it to the required tuning, and exclaim, "I'll do it!!!!" like Gene Wilder to Zero Mostel sitting on the Metropolitan Opera fountain in The Producers.
So Martin Carthy got back up onstage at the Freight and Salvage and whipped out the baddest version of Famous Flower of Serving Men I ever would hope to hear, even taking time to dedicate it to me. All 10 minutes of it, every verse. To say that when you go see live music you don't expect that sort of attention goes without saying, but to get such treatment from your heroes is something I know I will never, ever forget.
Today, as you may have guessed, is the 75th anniversary on Earth of Martin Carthy, probably the greatest living repository of traditional Celtic music still breathing. As you can see, I have loved him and what he does since I was a teenager. I'm by no means alone, as he is as responsible as any human being for the resurgence and modernization of this music in the last 50 years.
The innovations people like Martin (and his astonishing partner David Swarbrick, one of the Mount Rushmore of fiddlers), Davy Graham, Bert Jansch and Annie Briggs made to traditional music -- marrying instrumental melodies to lyrics found in the Cecil Sharp library, where most of the songs in the centuries before the 1960s were either sung a capella or played on stringed instruments, but never both at once -- turned a tradition that was, with the advent of radio in the middle of the 20th century, in danger of being lost into a revitalized art form revered by millions upon millions of people.
It sure paved the way for the music to be made into a pop juggernaut by the bands like Fairport Convention and its sister group Steeleye Span -- named by Martin after a character in the folk song Horkstow Grange -- who took the building blocks laid down in the Sixties and took the tradition electric, aligning it with the Rock music of the time and in a way ensuring Celtic music would last forever plus one day. Decades later, it's stronger and more popular than ever before.
Did I mention he taught Paul Simon -- who came to the UK in 1964 to investigate the burgeoning resurgence in British folk then being instigated by folks like Martin Carthy -- the traditional story song Cambric Shirt, sometimes referred to by its more renowned title of Scarborough Fair? Martin's arrangement was copped by the visitor, setting yet another brick in the edifice of music we all take for granted, but which did not really exist in the form in which we recognize it before the Martin Carthys of the world took it viral.
It's not often we get to tribute a prime architect like Martin, so I have got all sorts of goodies to mark this auspicious occasion for you all. One is a lovely hour-and-a-half DVD of a recent performance of Martin solo and in full flight, and the other is a compilation of some of his best performances I keep in my phone for my own personal Renaissance Fair that is almost always playing in my head at most hours.
Martin Carthy
Wren & Now

Company Policy
1965 - 1988

01 Steeleye Span - Sweep, Chimney Sweep
02 Steeleye Span - Cold, Haily, Windy Night
03 Martin Carthy - I Was a Young Man
04 The Albion Country Band - Hanged I Shall Be
05 Martin Carthy - Seven Yellow Gypsies
06 Martin Carthy - King Henry
07 Steeleye Span - Boys of Bedlam
08 Martin Carthy - Bold Poachers
09 Martin Carthy - Company Policy
10 Martin Carthy - Scarborough Fair
11 Brass Monkey - The Maid and the Palmer
12 Steeleye Span - False Knight On the Road
13 Martin Carthy - Famous Flower of Serving Men
14 Steeleye Span - Marrowbones
15 Martin Carthy & David Swarbrick - Arthur McBride
16 Martin Carthy - Palaces of Gold
17 Steeleye Span - Rave On

Total time: 1:18:49

classic collaborations and solo tracks featuring Martin Carthy, compiled and remastered by me

Martin Carthy
7th Annual SOL Party
Hawkhurst, Kent, UK

01 intro
02 Green Broom
03 Jim Jones
04 The Royal Oak
05 A Foggy, Foggy Dew
06 Sir Patrick Spens
07 Six Jovial Welshmen
08 The Downfall of Paris
09 Young Morgan
10 Georgie
11 Oor Hamlet
12 Swaggering Boney
13 The Trees They Do Grow High
14 Morris Tune
15 Willie's Lady
16 The Devil and the Feathery Wife
17 "The Third Man" Theme

Total time: 1:34:55

Martin Carthy - guitar & vocals

PAL DVD of stationary single camera footage with soundboard audio
3.85 GB total

both the CD and the DVD are in the same folder/May 2016 archive link
That's a bit, but you only turn 75 once, so there you are... I created separate links so you can get both items or one or the other. Whatever you decide, remember that all the Celtic music you take for granted, from Scarborough Fair to Riverdance, exists as you know it today in large part because this gentleman came into our world on this day in 1941, eventually to shape it into the form with which we are familiar. That's reel talk, and I'm not jigging! Happy Birthday Martin, and many more <3--J.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Spud of Light

Afternoon, spuds! Let's fire up the Wednesday birthday tribute, this time thankfully to someone who's still around, relatively young, and not planning on passing away anytime this week.
There's a central truth at play here, and that's that we're all DEVO. I'd like to personally thank today's honoree for helping bring that fact to the mass consciousness of our planet.
You couldn't hope to be on the campus of Kent State University on May 4, 1970 and escape this overarching reality, that our species has peaked and is now steamrolling through a de-evolution towards extinction or who knows what.
Today's honoree was there, and what he witnessed that day would fuel the drive towards the formation of one of history's greatest bands, itself an idea perhaps among the most subversively heretical in the popular culture of the last 50 years.
When I was 14, they were almost all I knew. Then I grew up (sort of) and became, for a significant time, a fundraiser for non-profit environmental groups and on several occasions today's honoree's membership was up for renewal. Those are conversations I am not in danger of forgetting about anytime soon.
When he picked up the first time I identified myself and immediately informed Mark Mothersbaugh that had it not been for his music, I would possibly have not made it through high school alive.
He chuckled and replied that it was comments like those that had enabled him to have survived, and I quote, "a quarter century of unlubricated ass fucking from the music industry". This was in 1996-97, so by now he's almost through his second quarter century, damn.
Looking back on DEVO, it's almost impossible to believe they did it. That they got the Warner's douchebags to help them indoctrinate Earth in their radical, ridiculous (and perfectly accurate) cosmology, to the point where they became, for a time, the biggest band on the planet.
And what they accomplished will never, ever die... it's ingrained into the culture like sand on a beach and it's forever. Obviously Mark went on to a storied career in scoring movies and TV, and you've never watched a morning of cartoons with your kids without hearing him. But it's DEVO for which he stands among the visionaries, today and hence.
Of course he had help... his buddy Jerry Casale was just feet from one of the National Guard's victims as she fell dead in front of his eyes, and experienced a similar transformation that Ohio day. The other guys in DEVO made it what it was and it could not have been that without them. But today's is Mark's 66th birthday and he has brought as much insight and as much truth and humor to music as anyone you can name, so today is his day.
Maybe I shouldn't do this but what the hey, I worked as hard on it as any compilation I have done, even the Marvin Gaye one with all the self-made remixes. This is all the DEVO Warner Brothers B-sides & non-album tracks (and a few favorite HARDCORE selections for bulk) cooked together in a 1CD stew, featuring a bunch of edits and reconstructions made by me and several vinyl-sourced tracks that have never, and may never, be reissued in digital form. Many tracks are linked with footage from THE TRUTH ABOUT DE-EVOLUTION, the 1975 short film that first brought DEVO to the world.
Mecha Mania
odds and spuds

01 We're All Devo
02 Mechanical Man
03 Nu-tra Speaks (New Traditionalist Man)
04 Find Out
05 Soo Bawls
06 Be Stiff
07 Midget
08 Rod Rooter Talks In Tonnage
09 Faster and Faster
10 General Boy Visits Apocalypse Now
11 Time Bomb
12 It Takes a Worried Man (Booji Boy ostrich mix)
13 Theme from 'Doctor Detroit' (single mix)
14 Snowball (single remix)
15 Mecha-Mania Boy
16 General Boy Speaks on Behalf of Devo, Inc.
17 Social Fools
18 Luv-Luv
19 One Dumb Thing
20 Love Is Stronger Than Dirt
21 Make Me Dance
22 The Truth About De-evolution... If the Spud Fits, Wear It
23 Modern Life
24 Part of You
25 Growing Pains
26 I Saw Jesus (EN edit)
27 Auto Modown
28 Rod's Lunchtime Lament
29 Penetration In the Centerfold
30 Secret Agent Man (TAD version)
31 Turnaround
32 General Boy Advises... Duty Now for the Future
33 The Words Get Stuck In My Throat

Total time: 1:19:52

Mark Mothersbaugh - guitar, synthesizers, vocals
Gerald V. Casale - bass, synthesizers, vocals
Bob Mothersbaugh - guitars, vocals
Bob Casale - guitars, vocals
Alan Myers - drums

and featuring Robert Mothersbaugh as General Boy

all of the DEVO non-album tracks from the Warner's period, some suitably mutated for this collection by me, plus!
There you have it! I hope this doesn't get me into trouble, but a special occasion demands a special share... I have this tape in my phone and it always supplies the appropriate soundtrack for watching obese rednecks with the IQs of toaster ovens beat their pasty, obese children in the supermarket. All I can say is thank Providence for Mark Mothersbaugh, born this day in 1950 and one big reason you all can read this post without assistance from a Ouija Board! Long may he mutate!--J.