Thursday, December 31, 2020

The King of the Mountain: Sunset West

We've at last arrived at the climax of this unprecedented year, and at the top of the mountain we find, well, the Mountain.

Sadly, it has to be an In Memoriam, for The King of the Mountain left us just a few days ago, after a massive heart attack at age 75.

People are always asking about the tone of Leslie West, and how he got those magical, instantly-recognizable sounds no one else could.

If I had to solve the riddle, it'd come down to the tiny Les Paul Junior in those big, meaty hands. The small guitar and the big guy.

There are ten million flashier, more technically adept players than he, but none where you can know it's them by a note or a single phrase.

Those notes and phrases seemed to flow effortlessly from him over the course of a 50-year run atop Axemaster Peak.

Of course he was in a bunch of groups, but his signature project would have to be Mountain.

And in terms of signature live performances with them, perhaps the cream of the crop is this, an unissued live record from their run of shows at the Fillmore in NYC at the end of 1970, exactly 50 years ago.

Fillmore East
New York City, New York USA
12.30+31.1970 & 1.1.1971

01 Never In My Life 
02 Don't Look Around
03 Baby I'm Down
04 The Animal Trainer and the Toad
05 Nantucket Sleighride
06 Long Red
07 Blood of the Sun 
08 For Yasgur's Farm
09 Travellin' In the Dark
10 Dreams of Milk and Honey
11 Leslie West guitar solo 
12 Auld Lang Syne
13 Silver Paper
14 Mississippi Queen

Total time: 1:38:56
disc break goes after Track 09

Leslie West - guitar & vocals
Felix Pappalardi - bass & vocals
Steve Knight - organ
Corky Laing - drums

unreleased live album, likely recorded by a mobile truck
remastered in 2013 by Graeme Pattingale and slightly more remastered by EN, December 2020
511 MB FLAC here

This came to me pretty much ready, but I sprinkled a little bit more Fairy Dust on it to get it brightened up for its Golden anniversary celebration.

So that's it, eh? 366 days of unheard-of madness, hopefully supported by lots more unheard madness of the archival variety. I'd have done more, if I'd have had a computer for the months I wasn't around.

Fitting, to close it out with this monster anniversarized set from a truly gargantuan guitar god, gone but never forgotten in the days of Auld Lang Syne. Cheers! Thanks to Leslie West for the music, thanks to you for being here, stay safe and see you soon!--J.

10.22.1945 - 12.22.2020

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Harper's Weekly

Two more to finish the year, and we'll start with this blazing anniversary bombshell.

This guy had a birthday -- or would have, as he's been gone for decades -- a couple of weeks ago, but I had something else cooking for that day so I waited for today to get to him.

If you wanna delve deep into the Bluestopia that he created, the place to go is this very fine documentary film.

His name was Paul Butterfield, and although he didn't live a particularly long life, in his 44 years down here on the ground he sure moved the ball for the Chicago Blues he was raised with in that city's Hyde Park neighborhood.

It's hard to find pictures of him without a harmonica in his face, but that's the price of lasting harp innovation I guess.

I hate to say this, but for white guy Blues he makes Eric Clapton sound like Weird Al Yankovic. There, I said it.

He also has the advantage, in that Butterfield was never seen in front of a stadium full of people, drunkenly embracing fascism and racism on a live mic.

Anyway this firecracker of a performance dates from after he broke up the classic Butterfield Blues Band and formed a then-new band with Amos Garrett and Geoff Muldaur called Better Days.

This has more of a Funk-Rock element to it, but the trademark wailing harp is still way out front and, well, wailing.

Paul Butterfield's Better Days
Record Plant
Sausalito, California USA

01 FM intro
02 New Walkin' Blues
03 Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It
04 Broke My Baby's Heart
05 Done a Lot of Wrong Things
06 He's Got All the Whiskey
07 It All Comes Back
08 Down In the Bottom
09 Too Many Drivers 

Total time: 47:45

Paul Butterfield - vocals & harmonica
Chris Parker - drums
Amos Garrett - guitar
Geoff Muldaur - vocals
Ronnie Barron - keyboards
Billy Rich - bass

EN remaster of an off-air FM reel master from WXRT in Chicago, sourced from the R.J.P. archive
310 MB FLAC/December 2020 archive link

I slightly remastered this one, against the rules for RJP and JEMS stuff I know, but too bad because I made it sound a lot less compressy and pushed toward the midrange IMHO.

I'll be back in 24 hours if those guys haven't killed me before then, to close out the year in Mountainous fashion with a tribute to a fallen axe warrior.

Don't miss out on this show though... it portends Better Days ahead!--J.

12.17.1942 - 5.4.1987

Monday, December 28, 2020

Missing Persons Report

The week between the big holiday and the New Year is here, and I want my MTV.
OK, maybe not. But I do want my pre-broadcast vinyl, you can always bet on that horse.

Today we have both, kinda. One of the classic early-1980s groups, recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour just as 1982 was about to become 1983.

This band's first record was as good as anything out at the time, and in this set they play the whole platter and more.

Born from the touring band of Frank Zappa at the end of the 1970s, these guys featured super-proficient musicianship in a New Wave context, with the then-spousal team of Dale and Terry Bozzio at the front and the back, respectively.

Terry -- then and now one of the world's most fluid and revered drummers -- turned 70 yesterday, and we celebrated that in earnest. I see no compelling reason to stop celebrating, is there one I'm missing?
I remastered and re-edited this show direct from the ABC Radio LP to flow super-smoothly, and to be a little more balanced between the vocal and the instruments.

I think it sounds more "live" now, as opposed to the somewhat processed, skewed sound on the raw LP. The last song seems to have some issues with the drum mics, which might be why this was only ever partially broadcast.

Missing Persons
Warfield Theater
San Francisco, California USA

01 Mental Hopscotch
02 Noticeable Ones
03 Words
04 Tears
05 Rock & Roll Suspension
06 It Ain't None of Your Business
07 Bad Streets
08 U.S. Drag
09 Windows
10 Here and Now
11 Walking In L.A.
12 I Like Boys
13 Destination Unknown
14 No Way Out

Total time: 54:35

Dale Bozzio - vocals
Warren Cuccurullo - guitar & vocals
Patrick O'Hearn - bass & synthesizer
Chuck Wild - keyboards & vocals
Terry Bozzio - drums. percussion & vocals

KBFH preFM vinyl from ABC Radio Networks, slightly re-edited & remastered by EN, December 2020
362 MB FLAC/December 2020 archive link

I will be back -- weather permitting -- for the last two days of this unbelievable year, with some Bluesier blessings to help usher in 2021, which we hope will be better than what we all just survived... or at least not The Year Of The Plague, anyway, we'll settle for that sort of improvement.
Do get down to this wild MP set though.... it's one of the few healthy ways to play mental hopscotch, if you ask me.--J.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Your Battery Is Fully Charged: Terry Bozzio 70

We'll end the Christmas weekend proper with another milestone trip around the sun for another stalwart of the music of our epoch.

I'm trying to remember when or where I first heard of Terry Bozzio... was it as part of the Prog Rock band U.K.? Or did I hear Zappa Live In New York before that?

I'm gonna go with the latter, because I can distinctly remember Titties N Beer early on in high school. Who could forget such a thing?

So my first introduction to one of the greatest drummers of our lifetimes was in a Devil mask, trying to keep time and steal FZ's girlfriend at the same time.

Progenitor of likely the largest and most fully-furnished drum kit in human history, I'm trying to remember if I've ever seen him play in person more than once, and I'm coming up blank.

Well, if it was just the once I sure picked a good one, that's for sure.

Lucky me, I got to see the group I'm about to highlight when they came through Yoshi's in Oakland ten years ago.

I even got to meet the guitarist -- himself gone now but forever the idol of ten trillion other players -- and deliver him to the dressing room area.

For the next two hours the quartet improvised to a packed house, eliciting several standing ovations. I gave the percussionist my A's hat in gratitude as a souvenir.

And, as far as I know, the whole aggregation was masterminded/instigated by today's birthday boy.

I'm not sure how you even fit this much talent and inspiration on one stage, let alone in one zip code, but these guys toured the world and here is part of the proof.

De Oosterpoort
Groningen, The Netherlands

01 Set I, Part I
02 Set I, Part II
03 Set I, Part III
04 announcement by Terry Bozzio
05 Set II, Part I
06 Set II, Part II
07 Set II, Part III
08 Set II, Part IV
09 Set II, Part V
10 Set II, Part VI

Total time: 1:36:51
disc break goes after Track 04
all tracks are 100% improvised

 Allan Holdsworth - guitar
Terry Bozzio - drums & tuned percussion
Tony Levin - Chapman Stick & bass
Pat Mastelotto - drums & percussion, sampler

digital capture of a Dutch 256/48 digital FM broadcast from 2010
taped, edited and converted to 16/44 CD Audio by Lewojazz;
one dropout repaired, 1st set rejoined & resplit, 2nd set resplit, and entirety of concert boosted +6dB by EN, December 2020
540 MB FLAC/December 2020 archive link

I will be right on back Monday with something to kind of augment this, which I accidentally prepared before I realized today was TB's 70th, so do stay tuned.

And of course we wish Mr. Bozzio the finest possible birthday, and thank him for a lifetime of inexhaustible battery... and for getting this band together!--J.