Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Rainbow In Curved Airwaves

Welcome to the weekend and the latest birthday bash, this time concerning one of my favorite musicians of any stripe.
Last month I tributed the 100th b'day of Lou Harrison, one of the first Western musicians to merge cultural material from non-Western sources with the familiar. Today we continue that concept with another hybridizing heavyweight.
Today we're all about someone who's lived almost as long as that century of time, and who is as responsible as anyone for the integration of North Indian sounds and forms into the Western framework.
Since the early 1960s, he has been a stalwart pioneer, and is responsible for a host of innovations including the first repeating tape delay system, upon which all analog and digital delays are based.
His 1970s LPs, including several of my go-to records of all-time (Persian Surgery Dervishes and Descending Moonshine Dervishes), invented a whole style that became a defining aspect of all subsequent electronic music.
He is responsible for one of the most often-performed pieces of 20th Century Classical music (In C), and has collaborated with a diverse array of luminaries from John Cale to the Kronos Quartet and trumpet/world music visionary Don Cherry.
Arguably the inventor of and guiding force behind the style of Minimalism that's been such a cosmic influence on so much of all the music that's come since, he is indisputably one of the most important and emulated musos of the last half century.
Pete Townshend named one his most famous songs after him, and was operating under his influence primarily when he made the repetitively hypnotic synthesizer intros to several Who tunes. It's sort of impossible to quantify the fingerprints Terry Riley has placed upon the music and the culture of our age.
He turns 82 years young today. I was meaning to blog him on his 80th two years ago, but no matter because he's still going as strong as ever, seemingly immune to age now into his Eighties.
To commemorate the occasion, I have broken out a sort of unofficial, five-concert boxset I concocted in 2010, featuring some of the man's most sonorous and mesmerizing radio sessions. Several feature the aforementioned Don Cherry and one, recorded on TR's 50th birthday in San Francisco 32 years ago today, sees some of his most iconic compositions played by the Kronos Quartet.
Terry Riley
Radio Tapes Remastered

Terry Riley/Don Cherry Quintet
Copenhagen, Denmark

01 Untitled I
02 Untitled II
03 Untitled III

Total time: 38:46

Terry Riley - soprano sax on I & III, organ on II, loops
Don Cherry - pocket trumpet, wood drum on II & III
Knud Bjørnøe - flute on I & II, drum on III
Jesper Zeuthen - soprano sax on I, tenor sax & tambourine on II, wooden flute on III
Poul Ehlers - bass on I & II, cello on III

unknown origin FM recording, remastered by EN in 2010

Terry Riley
unknown venue
Köln, Germany

01 A Rainbow In Curved Air

Total time: 1:03:27

Terry Riley - Yamaha YC-45D organ (modified), delay, loops
unknown origin FM recording, presumably from WDR, taken from the 1992 bootleg CD "Sky View"
remastered by EN in 2010

Terry Riley/Don Cherry Quartet
Grosser Sendesaal des Westdeutschen Rundfunks
Köln, Germany

01 Descending Moonshine Dervishes
02 Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector
03 Untitled

Total time: 40:08

Terry Riley - organ, loops
Don Cherry - trumpet, doussn'gouni
Stein Claeson - violin, electric bass
Bengt Berger - percussion

WDR FM recording of unknown origin, remastered by EN in 2010

Kronos Quartet + Terry Riley
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA

01 Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector
02 G Song
03 The Wheel/Mythic Birds Waltz
04 Cadenza On the Night Plain
05 Improvisation in just intonation for piano

Total time: 1:41:36
disc break can follow Track 03

David Harrington - violin
John Sherba - violin
Hank Dutt - viola
Joan Jeanrenaud - cello
Terry Riley - piano on Track 05

master soundboard capture remastered by EN, 2010

Terry Riley
"The Dream"
world premiere
Palazzo delle Esposizioni
Rome, Italy

01 The Dream

Total time: 45:04

Terry Riley - piano

master FM capture, remastered by EN in 2010

all shows zipped together
Outside of Don Cherry's mic trending a bit hot in the (OMG it's so beautiful) 1975 segment, these are all pristine captures that I worked on seven years ago to make the best they could be. The 1985 concert might be a pre-FM, as it's the only one of the set to go all the way up to 20,000 kHz in the spectral analysis, but regardless this is nearly five full hours of Terry Riley doing what he does best, in the company of several other heavyweights.
Anyway I hope this set brightens your weekend reverie, and as it does please give thanks for Terry Riley, born this day in 1935 and mesmerizing our world since 1963! Long may he loop.--J.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Little Deuce Coup d'Etat: Brian Wilson 75

Fresh from the 75th birthday tribute of Paul McCartney, let's do an equivalent one for his main 1960s competition from across the pond.
For way back when, Beatle Paul and his mates did some of the best of what they did, as unprecedented as it was, as mere response to what today's honoree was up to thousands of miles away in coastal California.
One of my first memories as a child -- I was born in 1966 -- is of being in the car with my parents and Good Vibrations coming on the radio. I think the sound of the theremin at the end messed up my mind and set me on the path of iniquity upon which I remain to this day.
Everyone knows about the soundshaping effect his Beach Boys had upon our world, so there isn't any need to go into that, is there? Their paradigm shattering LPs like Pet Sounds and SMiLE -- a record so powerful, it didn't even have to be released to become one of the greatest ever made -- are prime inflection points in the maturation process of global popular music.
The architect of a few quantum leaps in production and songwriting, today's birthday Beach Boy has had many challenges which are well documented. That he came through them intact and has lived to be an apparently happy and still very functional senior citizen -- he's just finishing an epic round of tour dates for the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds -- can't help but inspire.
So today Brian Wilson turns the milestone 75 as surely one of the world's most revered and imitated songwriters, with a decades-long body of work, and among that output several songs and albums that completely altered -- and continue to alter -- the musical landscape of the planet.
Again, for me it goes all the way back to childhood, and the earcandy this guy supplied to my little mind at a young and tender age. I mean, up until my phone died a few days ago, my ringtone was the opening track from SMiLE, a then-unprecedented multitracked vocal fantasia called Our Prayer.
Never released in its time due to its creator suffering a nervous breakdown from the tribulations of making the record, today when you hear it you get the impression of something very beautiful and invaluable being born. His ambition to create a "teenage symphony to God" may have driven him a bit mad, but the album actually more than lives up to that billing even now, 50 years later.
The legend has it that when Brian himself brought The Beatles an acetate of SMiLE, they were so staggered by the contents that they immediately attempted to raise their groundbreaking game in response, eventually producing the Sgt. Pepper's opus upon which so much of their reputation rests. This, after Pet Sounds sent them scurrying into Abbey Road Studios to make the still-astonishing Revolver.
Highly appropriate then for McCartney and Wilson to have been born exactly two days apart, that's for certain anyway. I felt I couldn't blog one without the other, so here we are. They are almost like the two sides of the same melodic coin, on opposite sides of the ocean.
This is a hard one in terms of what archival, unissued gem to share in BW's honor -- most of the best of it has been officially issued many times over -- but I think I have just the thing. Almost 25 years ago in Japan, a CD appeared chronicling a whole boatload of the 1960s singles Brian produced for other artists, some of whom only made one 45RPM platter in their entire careers.
This proved quite the collector's item, with 33 tracks to which the man contributes not just mixing desk prowess but extensive vocal assistance as well. He also wrote the majority of the songs. If you find yourself cruising down the Sunset Strip on a Friday night in a 1961 sky blue Chrysler convertible, this is probably the 73 minutes of music you'll want to have playing on repeat.
Brian Wilson
Still I Dream of You
Rare Works of Brian Wilson

45s from the 1960s

01 Kenny & the Cadets - Barbie
02 Kenny & the Cadets - What is a Young Girl Made Of
03 Rachel & the Revolvers - The Revo-Lution
04 Rachel & the Revolvers - Number One
05 Bob & Sheri - The Surfer Moon
06 Bob & Sheri - Humpty Dumpty
07 Timers - No Go Showboat
08 Sharon Marie - Run-Around Lover
09 The Survivors - Pamela Jean
10 The Castells - I Do
11 Paul Peterson - She Rides with Me
12 Nodeans - Beach Girl
13 The Honeys - He's a Doll
14 Gary Usher - Sacramento
15 Gary Usher - That's Just the Way I Feel
16 Sharon Marie - Thinkin' 'Bout You Baby
17 Sharon Marie - The Story of My Life
18 Hale & the Hushabyes - Yes Sir, That's My Baby
19 Basil Swift & the Seegrams - The Farmer's Daughter
20 Annette Funicello - The Monkey's Uncle
21 Glen Campbell - Guess I'm Dumb
22 The Blossoms - Things Are Changing
23 Bob & Bobby - Twelve-O-Four
24 Bob & Bobby - Baby, What You Want Me to Do
25 Laughing Gravy - Vegetables
26 Ron Wilson - I'll Keep on Loving You
27 Ron Wilson - As Tears Go By
28 Dino, Desi & Billy - Lady Love
29 Kenny & the Cadets - Barbie (Take 2)
30 Dante & His Friends - Miss America
31 Joey & the Continentals - She Rides with Me
32 The Beach Boys - Surfin' Safari (ARIOLA Version)
33 Various Artists - Karen

Total time: 1:13:41

1993 Japanese unauthorized CD of 1960s BW productions, many written and vocally enhanced by him
This CD goes for 75 bucks and up online, and in addition to the rarity it really is an enjoyable set of the caliber of Sixties orchestral pop for which Brian Wilson is best known and most beloved. There's fascinating reworks of '60s standards (As Tears Go By), majestic odes to self-motivation (Things Are Changing), and even a rare European single version of Surfin' Safari by BW's main band of the time. It also closes with an ultra-scarce TV theme written and sung by Brian and friends.
This seemed as appropriate a way as any to celebrate his big day, and like I said would make great cruising tunes on the Santa Monica Freeway, so pull it down and you'll see what all the fuss has been about. And as you do, remember to never forget Brian Wilson, born this Solstice day in 1942 -- how perfect is it that he was born with the season with which his music is so closely associated? --  and still featuring prominently in the Endless Summer of our sonic dreams.--J.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Tripper: Macca 75

I'm gonna put this up before I go crazy, as my phone has just passed away (it seems for good) and they might shut off the internet in a few hours, leaving me cast adrift with no connection to the outside world possible. Wait, he says that last part like it's a bad thing.
But before I vanish into the digital abyss, I'd be remiss if I didn't do this: commemorate one of the all-timers, born this day in 1942 and turning the milestone 75 today.
It would be stupid for me to try to explain what his life's work has meant to the continuum of music in our world since he showed up at the start of the Sixties, as part of what is widely considered the most important group of the last 60 years.
If you don't know the significance.... well, honestly no one currently alive and over the age of 18 doesn't know who he is, so that point is probably moot. Suffice to say there is popular music prior to him, and popular music after him, and those two places are a good few galaxies apart.
I know I say that about just about everyone I write about on here, but this time I mean it. No, really. Is there a more influential, more melodically formative, more central figure to the music of our lifetimes than Paul McCartney? The only other comparable figure that comes to mind is James Brown. I'll be right here when you think of someone else.
There isn't a whole lot else to say, is there? My phone (may it rest in eternal peace) has (OK, had) this mondo killer compilation in it of his golden Seventies period, solo and in full flight with Wings, which thankfully I have archived elsewhere.
In fact, if you can stand to keep reading this sad excuse for a tribute to the bottom of the page, a little bird might tell you where to get all 2 1/2 hours of it. I have to keep you interested in my drivel somehow, so forgive me for forcing you to stick with this post until its merciful end.
Now, back to Macca and his maximal role in the firmament of stellar sounds and their authors. To pay proper homage to the man I have placed into the cloud the complete final concert of Wings, recorded and mixed for a live record that never came out, due to the band breaking up and Paul beginning the Eighties in jail in Japan for a pot bust.
This was taped in the Glasgow Apollo in Scotland at the very end of the 1970s, and a single culled from the never-issued live LP of it was Paul's first big hit of the 1980s, Coming Up. It was recorded with a mobile truck and shelved, only to be bootlegged extensively until the masters were released on an unauthorized double CD on the (in)famous Vigatone label.
Paul McCartney & Wings
Glasgow, UK

01 Got to Get You Into My Life
02 Getting Closer
03 Every Night
04 Again and Again and Again
05 I've Had Enough
06 No Words
07 Cook of the House
08 Old Siam, Sir
09 Maybe I'm Amazed
10 The Fool On the Hill
11 Let It Be
12 Hot As Sun
13 Spin It On
14 Twenty Flight Rock
15 Go Now
16 Arrow Through Me
17 Wonderful Christmastime
18 Coming Up
19 Goodnight Tonight
20 Yesterday
21 Mull of Kintyre
22 Band On the Run

Total time: 1:36:25

Paul McCartney - vocals, bass, guitars, piano
Linda McCartney - keyboards, vocals
Denny Laine - vocals, bass, guitars
Laurence Juber - guitars
Steve Holly - drums
Tony Dorsey - trombone
Howie Casey - saxophones
Thaddeus Richard - saxophones
Steve Howard - trumpet

master tape of a mobile multitrack recording of an unreleased live LP, sourced from the 1998 unauthorized Vigatone CD "Last Flight"
disc break goes after Track 11
I love this show because he has the nerve to play almost the whole, then-current Back to the Egg album in the hour-and-a-half-plus set, and also because there's no silly medleys to cover the Beatles tunes... he rocks the whole songs. It also contains the best version I've ever heard of my personal favorite solo cut of his, Every Night.
In fact, I dig that take of that song so much, the remixed ideation of it from this concert --- released as a bonus track on the 2011 reissue of his first solo record, the cleverly-titled and still brilliant McCartney -- appears on that mysterious 2CD mega Macca mix I keep bragging about, hoping to get you to keep reading. Well, it is titled Backwards Traveller, and it too is in the cloud and can be accessed right here.
OK, that about does it... if I'm never heard from again, at least you have this massive Macca stash to remember me by. And also to remember to send of a bow of appreciation to Mr. McCartney on his very big day today, an appropriate one for one of the indisputable fathers of modern songwriting and music. Ram on, birthday Paul! I know you're gonna have a good time.--J.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Total Bass Is

I promised I'd begin to catch up with some of the recent passings via the birthdays of the departed, death posts being about as much fun as having your collection of vintage vinyl stolen.
Everyone dies, but that doesn't make it any easier when you wake up to find out one of the central figures in the music with which you grew up has left the Earth for good. Last January 31st is a case in that point.
That was the day bass deity John Wetton -- also born this day in 1949 -- passed away from complications from colon cancer. I wait for the birthdays to focus on the living part, and JW lived music.
A part of probably more heavyweight bands than any other Rock musician you could name, he was an important part of Mogul Thrash, Family, and what many feel is the toppermost incarnation of King Crimson. He started huge bands too, like U.K. and the zillion-selling Asia.
And played or toured with a bunch of other beloved groups such as Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Renaissance and Wishbone Ash. His résumé reads like a who's who of the cream of British Rock of the last 50 or so years.
He's also inarguably one of the true titans of the bass guitar, and a pioneer in terms of the gargantuan, often terrifying tone he featured. If you don't know who he is, just listen to the song One More Red Nightmare in headphones and after you can feel your feet again, we'll talk.
That tone; I can't help but associate what John Wetton means to me with that tone. It's not shocking that the line of big time bands that were desirous of his services extended out the door and down the block. To be a bass player and to be recognizable by one note is no easy feat, but JW's monster, face-obliterating tone puts him in that rarified league.
He was also a great singer and a pretty damn good songwriter, beyond his obvious instrumental prowess. Songs like Mogul Thrash's Sleeping In the Kitchen, or Heat of the Moment and Only Time Will Tell from that multi-platinum debut Asia LP testify to this. He wrote pretty much that whole album, and when the follow-up failed to equal its (landslide) sales, the spoiled, fat suits at the record company fired him!
Anyway, let's not dwell on the record industry... life is hard enough. To celebrate what would have been his 68th birthday today, I am posting this tremendous concert of U.K., which I remastered from a master FM reel capture in February soon after he left us.
Watch out for the also-recently-tributed-in-memoriam, arguably extraterrestrial guitar Maestro Allan Holdsworth, and of course the rhythm section of JW and Bill Bruford, fresh from their destruction of so many minds in that King Crimson lineup I mentioned.
El Mocambo
Toronto, Canada
EN FM reel remaster

01 radio intro/Alaska/Time to Kill
02 Sahara of Snow
03 Carrying No Cross
04 The Only Thing She Needs
05 Thirty Years
06 In the Dead of Night/By the Light of Day/Presto Vivace/In the Dead of Night reprise
07 radio outro

Total time: 63:28

Allan Holdsworth - guitar
Eddie Jobson - keyboards and violin
John Wetton - bass and vocals
Bill Bruford - drums and percussion

CHOM-FM off-air master reel, remastered by EN
This is the only FM tape of U.K. not, for some reason, included in the mammoth boxset of that band released in Europe last year. I think I got it to where everything is more balanced... this might be one of those 1970s FM broadcasts where there's no pre-FM because it went out live over, in this case, the legendary and mighty CHOM-FM in Canada.
Straining the mud on these is always a task, as many are recorded with just a few stage mics and a couple in the back of the club. No matter, though, for I took what was there and tried to make it the best and blood-poundingest it could be. .. at least you can hear what Holdsworth played, at any rate.
All this in honor of John, one of the most beastly bass players ever to strap it on, who left us last winter after a 50-year career, in a million top drawer bands and on his own, that can only be described as world-altering. Enjoy and HBD/RIP, JW.--J.
6.12.1949 - 1.31.2017