Monday, November 27, 2017

Diamond Jim: Hendrix 75

It's November 27th again, and you know what that means.
He was born 75 years ago in Seattle. He only lived to be 27. He surely crammed the waking hours of his last four years with 75 years worth of living.
He lived as a virtual prisoner of his evil, likely-British-Intelligence-connected manager, who was killed in a mysterious plane crash soon after under suspicious circumstances.
He died of sleep deprivation; the drugs were only a symptom of what the suits were putting him through. 
At Woodstock -- where he provided the acknowledged highlight of the festival and the 1960s' most iconic moment as he tore up the National Anthem of his country -- he had been awake for more than three days before going onstage.
I mean, how many people unintentionally OD on sleep medication, anyway? He was so destroyed by the time of his demise, it was as if he had taken the saying "I'll sleep when I'm dead" to literal proportions.
But he didn't die. Or rather, only his body did.
Instead, he has become, in a very real and powerful way, the essence of the idea taught by Jesus Christ 2000+ years ago and argued/warred over ever since: Eternal Life.
If you ask me, the religionists and Amygdalan fearmongers have got it all wrong. There's no Heavenly paradise awaiting us when we depart: the aspect of us that can never die forms in what we leave our fellows and future humans in terms of substantive and enlightening works and deeds.
No one you could name made that idea real in the manner that today's big birthday boy did. No one in human history that we know about achieved it in as short and fleeting a time in the physical realm.
With so much of the entire racial history of his native land wrapped up in his DNA, he managed to ascend to supreme cultural icon status and transcend previously implacable barriers during his all-too-brief time alive. He is in no danger of losing that status. He never will be.
He is considered the single greatest instrumentalist in the history of Rock music, whose influence and shadow will be cast over all music in any genre like a looming psychedelic cloud of the impossible, forever.
There simply is no one else you could name that, 47 years gone, still holds such a tremendous sway over his artistic field. None. All subsequent guitar players, and all subsequent musicians really, owe him a debt that can't even be estimated, no less repaid.
There is not much else to say. Today would have been the 75th birthday of James Marshall Hendrix, as iconic a figure in the history of human culture as has ever existed, exists, or will exist. Period.
Jimi Hendrix Experience
Swedish broadcasts, 1967-69

Stockholm, Sweden

01 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
02 Fire
03 The Wind Cries Mary
04 Foxy Lady
05 Hey Joe
06 I Don't Live Today
07 Burning of the Midnight Lamp
08 Purple Haze
09 JHE interview 9.5.1967

Total time: 35:08

Jimi Hendrix - guitar & vocals
Noel Redding - bass & vocals
Mitch Mitchell - drums

pre-FM reel of the original broadcast, sourced from a bootleg box of JHE Scandinavian shows.

Stockholm, Sweden
late show

01 I Don't Live Today
02 Spanish Castle Magic
03 Hey Joe
04 Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)
05 Sunshine of Your Love
06 Red House
07 Fire
08 Purple Haze
09 The Star Spangled Banner

Total time: 1:09:20

Jimi Hendrix - guitar & vocals
Noel Redding - bass & vocals
Mitch Mitchell - drums

pre-FM or soundboard reels, sourced from the boot CD "On the Killing Floor" on the legendary Swingin' Pig label

both shows zipped together
I chose these two Swedish meatballs because they circulate a bit less than the more common classics like Royal Albert Hall 1969 and whatnot, and because they fucking burn with the fire of a thousand suns. Anyway, you know what to click, I'll say nothing else but Happy Birthday Jimi, and thank you for your sacrifice.--J.
11.27.1942 - 9.18.1970

Sunday, November 19, 2017

To Be Young, Gifted and Back In Black

The second of three consecutive November weekend memorials is here, and it's one you might not expect from me. That's OK, I live to escape the sheltered, mundane prison of expectation.
But only a day ago, the founder member and principal architect of the most beloved group ever to come out of Australia passed away after a years-long battle with dementia. He was 64 and he was not named Gibb.
No, this one concerns some other brothers from down under. Our honoree's oldest brother -- not the one with the knickers who is the most recognizable one -- essentially invented the entire concept of Australian Rock with one group and one song.
This 1960s group was called The Easybeats and the tune -- it's since become a standard -- was the workweek anthem Friday On My Mind, most famously covered by David Bowie on his Pin-Ups record, among other versions by other artists.
This caused the head Easybeat to become something of an impresario in Oz, shepherding many acts and bands under the George Young auspices. One of these was formed in 1973 by his two younger brothers, and it had a very controversial name.
It's unclear if when they named it as they did, whether or not they understood the connotation in American slang -- the term denotes bisexuality in the US -- but it worked in garnering them the attention every group just starting out needs.
It helped that their original singer was a snarling, hard-drinking madman that looked the part of Danger. Through the 1970s Bon Scott fronted the band and they experienced a steady incline in sales and profile in the Hard Rock world over the course of several LPs. During their early climb, our hero was the principal architect of their sound and strategy.
Unfortunately, just as they were breaking through to international superstardom, their singer died of lifestyle related complications, leaving them in the lurch just as they were about to seize the throne.
Luckily, as is often the case in crises such as this, they pinched the singer of another up and coming Aussie band -- Bon Scott himself had recommended the group, Geordie, to them before his exit to Rock Valhalla -- and picked up right where they left off, ascending even greater heights in the 1980s. In 1983 they had to kick our man of the hour out of the band for excessive drinking, but he returned years later to complete the 40-year cycle of their dominance of the music industry.
He had to retire again, several years ago when the dementia got him and he could no longer remember what song he was playing onstage. But the band he masterminded and guided through its ascent remains one of the most revered and beloved in any genre the world over.
And so we dedicate this post to Malcolm Young, who perhaps more than any other person is responsible for the band we know as AC/DC. He left us yesterday, but the group he helped create will never die.
To honor his passing, I have boosted two classic AC/DC bootlegs into the cloud, with one dating from the Bon Scott era and one from the Brian Johnson one. The first is sourced from actual Westwood One broadcast discs and the other is from as fine an off-air FM capture as you're likely to hear from this period.
broadcasts, 1976-81

"Westwood One Superstars In Concert Series"
London, UK

01 radio intro
02 Soul Stripper
03 High Voltage
04 Live Wire
05 It's a Long Way to the Top
06 Let There Be Rock
07 Problem Child
08 Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be
09 Whole Lotta Rosie
10 Shot Down In Flames
11 Sin City
12 The Jack
13 Highway to Hell
14 Girls Got Rhythm
15 If You Want Blood (You've Got It)
16 radio outro

Tracks 02-05: Paris Theatre, 7.26.1976
Tracks 06-09: Golders Green Hippodrome, 10.27.1977
Tracks 10-15: Hammersmith Odeon, 11.2.1979

Total time: 1:14:02

Bon Scott – vocals
Angus Young – guitar
Malcolm Young – guitar & vocals
Cliff Williams – bass & vocals
Phil Rudd – drums

direct transfer from a WW1 pre-FM compilation CD made for broadcast

Koseinenkin Hall
Tokyo, Japan

01 Hells Bells
02 Shot Down In Flames
03 Sin City
04 Back In Black
05 Bad Boy Boogie
06 The Jack
07 Highway to Hell
08 High Voltage
09 Whole Lotta Rosie
10 Rocker

Total time: 58:50

Angus Young – guitar
Malcolm Young – guitar & vocals
Cliff Williams – bass & vocals
Phil Rudd – drums
Brian Johnson - vocals

sounds like a master off-air reel of the broadcasted portion of the concert
both CDs are in the same folder/November 2017 archive link
I shall return next weekend with another tribute to another recently interred musicker, but for the purposes of this day I would aver that for those about to rock, we salute you... and we definitely salute Malcolm Young -- more than anyone else the creator of AC/DC -- with a glorious chord of primal power.--J.
1.6.1953 - 11.18.2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Orchestration Identification

Let's continue the weekend the correct way, making the proper arrangements to honor a legendary and criminally undersung figure of the music of our lifetimes.
Last Tuesday, we lost someone whose name many do not know, yet whose fingerprints and aesthetic marks are literally all over songs that anyone reading this would be able to sing along to from memory.
Let me break it down to you: before today's honoree came along, the idea of strings and horns -- of orchestration itself -- applied to Pop and Rock music was a sad joke. 
No one had ever found a place for these sorts of hyperarranged charts in modern pop music before that didn't just immediately flip the "sappy, musical-momentum-slaying nonsense" switch on whatever track it was attempted upon.
Enter our hero, who began altering the molecular structure of music as the Sixties became the Seventies, initially to be found constructing vast, tensile and lush stringscapes on the early (and beloved) records of one Elton John.
The songs they elevated to permanent cultural reverential status together are always being played, somewheres in the world, on the radio. And they will be, long after everyone you know, have known and will ever know is decades deceased.
After he became the in-demand arranger in Rock -- let's just say those EJ records like Tumbleweed Connection, Honky Chateau and Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player were fairly popular platters --  he lent his singular talents to seminal sides by (omg he needs his own day on here) Shawn Phillips, Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon and The Rolling Stones, among countless other luminaries.
That's him working a tune out for the debut record of fantastic Italian songwriter Angelo Branduardi in 1974. He also worked on the debut LP of Judie Tzuke, the also-unsung British singer who was arguably Sade before Sade was Sade.
Did I mention he scored David Bowie's first smash hit -- a little ditty we call Space Oddity -- even before he initiated his association with Elton John? There are few people you could say had a permanent, DNA-altering effect on the music of our epoch, and Paul Buckmaster is a first-ballot entrant on that list.
It's so stark, what strings and orchestration were in the Sixties and what they became in the Seventies, thanks to PB. Always ready to employ melodic and harmonic gambits to embellish a track straight through the upper ionosphere, his arrangements are singularly identifiable, with equal parts emotion, clarity and bite. When I sing along to an EJ track like Levon, I sing along with the strings, not the words. Sorry, Bernie Taupin, no offense intended.
To properly commemorate the occasion of his passing this past week at 71, I have two items to help represent this extraordinary Maestro. One is a full hour segment from an Elton John performance at the beginning of 1972, in which PB conducts the full, 80-piece Royal Philharmonic alongside 10 EJ classics.
The other little tidbit I've got in the cloud today is a lovely 78+ minute mixtape, highlighting 15 of PB's most thrilling and indelible arrangements of the 1970s, compiled by yours truly from his work with artists known (Leonard Cohen, The Grateful Dead) and less known (Claire Hamill, Michael Chapman). Some will be recognizable hits, some more obscure album tracks, but all bear the signature sound of Paul Buckmaster.
Paul Buckmaster
live and in the studio

Elton John
Paul Buckmaster
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Royal Festival Hall
London, UK

01 Your Song
02 Take Me to the Pilot
03 The Greatest Discovery
04 Sixty Years On
05 The King Must Die
06 Indian Sunset
07 Border Song
08 Madman Across the Water
09 Burn Down the Mission
10 Goodbye

Total time: 49:56

Elton John - piano & vocals
Nigel Olsson - drums & percussion
Dee Murray - bass
Davey Johnstone - guitar
Alan Parker - guitar
Madeline Bell, Lesley Duncan and Caroline Attard - vocals
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Paul Buckmaster - conductor

orchestral portion of the concert, sourced from the boot CD "Concertstück" on the Super Sonic label; 
sounds like a master VHS or HiFi Beta tape of an unissued TV broadcast or a master FM capture
gaps and jumps between songs smoothed/repaired by EN, November 2017

Paul Buckmaster
Moonlight Mile
arrangements, 1969-82

01 Elton John - Levon
02 Claire Hamill - The Man Who Cannot See Tomorrow's Sunshine
03 Michael Chapman - Wrecked Again
04 Shawn Phillips - Us We Are
05 Judie Tzuke - Bring the Rain
06 David Bowie - Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud
07 Harry Nilsson - Without You
08 Leonard Cohen - Avalanche
09 Angelo Branduardi - Il Tempo Che Verrà
10 William Lyall - Maniac
11 UFO - Profession of Violence
12 Carly Simon - Embrace Me, You Child
13 Grateful Dead - Terrapin, part 1
14 Marc Almond - Big Louise
15 Rolling Stones - Moonlight Mile

Total time: 1:18:27

single CD of some of the Maestro's most iconic arrangements, compiled by EN

both CDs are in one folder/November 2017 archive link
Of course it's 101% impossible to boil the astonishing and prolific career of someone like this down to a single representative CD, but those 15 cuts -- taken with the wild Elton John concert I included today -- are a great introduction to PB's seminal scores, anyway. So pull 'em on down and orchestrate your Sunday to an entirely different plane, courtesy of Paul Buckmaster; he, who left us a few days ago... but not before completely and subtly altering the soundscape of our world forever plus one day.--J.
6.13.1946 - 11.7.2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Voltaire Waves: CVTV

Greetings, O people of the weekend's beginning! I may have the spine of a 98 year old man, but that won't stop me from delivering a quick slice of anniversary mayhem for you.
This half hour of extraterrestrial transmission was taped for Spanish television 34 years ago on this day in 1983, and features an iconic and deeply iconoclastic ensemble at the very pinnacle of their powers.
This is a part of a seminal TV show from the early to mid 1980s called "La Edad de Oro," or "The Golden Age". A particularly awesome fan captured almost all of the show's episodes -- it ran from 1983-85 -- on a HiFi Betamax recorder and rendered a whole bunch of them into utterly stunning DVDs. 
These are not just indistinguishable from an official release, they look better than many official issues. And the artwork dude made, which paraphrases The X-Files, is also beyond topnotch.
This installment is one of the most killer of all of them and features the much-revered Cabaret Voltaire, a band wholly uncategorizable except to say that once you see or hear them, you're not likely to forget them.
This performance dates from when they were transitioning into a more danceable, accessible mode... but it's still way the fk out there. Look out for synth whiz Richard H. Kirk, playing several instruments at once and looking mighty cool whilst doing it.
Cabaret Voltaire
"La Edad de Oro"
TVE Studios
Madrid, Spain

01 In the Shadows
02 Animation
03 Just Fascination
04 Over and Over
05 The Dream Ticket
06 Product Patrol
plus bonus interview

Total time: 37:17

Stephen Mallinder – bass & vocals
Richard H. Kirk – guitars, keyboards, synthesizers & sequencers
Alan Fish - drums & percussion

PAL DVD of a HiFi Beta capture of the original broadcast
I'm gonna go work on a tribute to an unsung hero who just left us the other day, but why don't you start your weekend reverie off the right way, with a dose of No Wave goodness from one of the genre's most beloved practitioners? Your Dada commands you... now listen to your parents!--J.