Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Go Ask Alice

OK, I am really in a rush so this will be short and sweet. I will try to do one more post in June while I'm on the East Coast, but I can't guarantee it... so this for now will be it from me for the month.
There's really no way to follow up a sincere and serious post other than with a frivolous and fun one, so here goes: 39 years ago this concert was recorded and I'm bringing it to you today. Welcome to my nightmare, I guess.
Yes, it's the other St. Vincent, Alice Cooper! This is a pre-FM reel of a complete and wild show from the LA Forum in 1975, featuring a snarling, probably obliterated Mr. Furnier screeching his songs in a voice that can only be described as making sandpaper seem like silk.
I'm not sure who the guitar players are on this but they are in full shock-rock screamer mode... and the crowd, which is miked up pretty loud throughout, just eats up every lick as well as every creepy gesture and shredded utterance from Vince.
Alice Cooper
Los Angeles Forum
Inglewood, CA

01 Welcome to My Nightmare
02 Years Ago
03 No More Mr. Nice Guy
04 Years Ago
05 Billion Dollar Babies
06 Years Ago
07 I'm Eighteen
08 Years Ago
09 Some Folks
10 Cold Ethyl
11 Only Women Bleed
12 Devil's Food
13 The Black Widow
14 Steven
15 Nightmare Reprise
16 Escape
17 School's Out (W/Escape Reprise)
18 Department of Youth

Total time: 1:13:17

silver boot CD sourced from pre-FM reels
So enjoy this insane music and I will return at the start of July -- barring the ability to pull off a post I have planned for 6/24 -- with more sonic fodder for your audio larder. Ciao for now!--J.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Scott Freed

Hello and welcome to Monday's post, featuring a titan of vocalists who left us last week at age 88, but whose spirit lingers on like a wispy trail of cigarette smoke in a late-night jazz haunt.
A singer who could utter one syllable and you'd know it was him, Jimmy Scott had quite a life. A genetic condition meant he never hit puberty until his mid thirties, so he was possessed of a gender-bending voice that seemed to carry with it prominent aspects of both male and female sensibilities and timbre in an effortless and highly amorous-sounding combination. That his stock in trade was romantic jazz standards and sultry balladeer expressions of love didn't hurt.
He started with Lionel Hampton in the 1940s and then moved on to Charlie Parker's band, eventually coming under the tutelage of Ray Charles in the early 1960s and scoring several hits, as well as creating what is now considered a standard setting jazz vocal album, the legendary Falling In Love Is Wonderful.
He got twisted around by some bad contracts and management deals and fell out of favor with the record-buying public at the start of the Seventies, working a bunch of non-musical jobs until his friend Doc Pomus died in 1991 and Jimmy sang at his funeral, rekindling a dormant career. Lou Reed was also at the ceremony and immediately took him into the studio to record vocals on the powerful 1992 record Magic and Loss. Also at the Pomus wake was Sire Records boss Seymour Stein, who immediately signed Scott and recorded the 1992 album All the Way with him as leader. He then appeared in David Lynch's acclaimed TV series Twin Peaks, and by the mid-1990s he was a touring and recording musician again, as if the 20 year break had never happened.
Let us commemorate the amazing life of this extraordinary man with a delicious FM broadcast from 2001, where he shares the stage with another seminal vocal legend, the soulful songstress Fontella Bass. The number that closes this set -- a duet on the gospel standard "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" -- is as mind-blowingly perfect and devastating as this sort of thing gets, so consider yourselves warned.
Jimmy Scott and The Jazz Expressions w/Fontella Bass
Umbria Jazz
Teatro Pavone
Perugia, Italy

01 DJ intro
02 All of Me
03 When Did You Leave Heaven
04 Introduction of Fontella Bass
05 What a Difference a Day Makes
06 Suffering with the Blues
07 It Had to Be You
08 Unchained Melody
09 I Cried for You (Now It's Your Turn to Cry Over Me)
10 Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

Total time: 58:18

Jimmy Scott - vocals
Justin Robinson - alto & tenor saxophones
Michael Keene - piano
Hilliard Greene - bass
Dwayne Broadnax - drums
Fontella Bass - vocals

FM broadcast digital capture
So there you have it, a celebration of an incredible life well-lived and really some mighty fine Monday music to get you through to this evening's relaxation in proper style. I will be back again tomorrow with one last post for June before I go on my little vacation, so stay tuned :)--J.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Father's Placement: Day of the Dregs

Happy Father's Day! I am about to go to NYC for two weeks, but let's start the first of three consecutive posts to precede my departure. This one is a near-anniversary special designed to boost your celebration of all things paternal to new intensities, with what else but a show from the legendary My Father's Place in the village of Old Roslyn on Long Island, not far from where I will land on Wednesday morning.
A landmark concert venue in my growing-up years, MFP hosted any and everybody back in the halcyon days of yore. From 1971 to 1987, there was no better spot to see a show if small-club atmosphere with big-name bands was your pleasure. It is estimated that it hosted 6,000+ shows by 3,000+ bands in its 16-year run.
This is one of those 6,000 performances and it is a burner of burners, with insane Southern-tinged fusioneers The Dixie Dregs. Featuring the inimitable Steve Morse on flying fretting fingers and the powerhouse drummer Rod Morgenstein (who went to my high school), this set brings you The Dregs blazing through tunes from their then-current LPs What If and the live Night of the Living Dregs. It was recorded off the air onto a Teac reel-to-reel deck back when it was broadcast over equally-as-legendary Long Island radio station WLIR-FM, also a HUGE part of my youth.
My Father's Place
Old Roslyn, NY

01 Odyssey
02 Patchwork
03 Night of the Living Dregs
04 Night Meets Light
05 Punk Sandwich
06 The Bash
07 Cruise Control
08 crowd
09 Take It Off the Top
10 Disco Dregs
11 crowd
12 Gina Lola Breakdown

Total time: 1:12:05

Steve Morse - guitars
Allan Sloan - violin
Mark Parrish - keyboards
Andy West - bass
Rod Morgenstein - drums

off-air WLIR-FM master reel
I hope you all have a great Father's Day and it is suitably embellished by this Southern-fried fusion excursion with the Dregs of Dixie, recorded at My Father's Place 35 years ago this week... I'll be back tomorrow with a commemoration of a recently-passed titan of jazz, but for now please do enjoy this ripping DD MFP set posted in honor of all the Dads out there :)--J.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Punk Lunchtime (In the Warm California Sun)

Here comes an instant anniversary special for your Sunday, commemorating 35 years since this classic bootleg was recorded, a block or so from where I ate dinner Friday night!
It's a real burner, this one... it makes the official live Ramones record from this time (It's Alive!) pale by comparison, as incendiary as that album is. It was apparently recorded for KSAN-FM in San Francisco for an installment in their "Free Lunch Concert" series, for some reason not by the station themselves but by a Santa Cruz TV crew. Why this is or what really happened is a mystery, but this show was broadcast on the radio just a few days after it was performed.
And ohhhh myyyyyy, what a performance. Joey in particular is in a swell mood and is just on fire in this set. This isn't the streamlined, poppier sounding Ramones that came later... this is balls-deep punk rock squalling right here, with Joey giving it all in a breakneck rumble through 27 jackhammer songs. There's a reason why this is considered one of if not the very best Ramones boots of all time.
This one comes from around the time of the Ramones' turn as movie stars in the classic 1979 film Rock 'n' Roll High School, and features a stomping version of the title track from that. I listen to this and try to imagine this music being unleashed unannounced on the unsuspecting San Francisco downtown lunchtime crowd, and I just laugh to myself. They just don't surprise people during their workday like they did in the 1970s, and the world is a less exciting place for it IMO.
The Ramones
Civic Center Plaza
San Francisco, CA

01 Rockaway Beach
02 Teenage Lobotomy
03 Blitzkrieg Bop
04 I Don't Want You
05 Go Mental
06 Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
07 Rock 'n' Roll High School
08 I Wanna Be Sedated
09 I Just Want Something to Do
10 I'm Against It
11 Sheena Is a Punk Rocker
12 Havana Affair
13 Commando
14 I Want You Around
15 I'm Affected
16 Surfin' Bird
17 Cretin Hop
18 Listen to My Heart
19 California Sun
20 I Don't Wanna Walk Around with You
21 Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World
22 Pinhead
23 Do You Wanna Dance
24 Suzy Is a Headbanger
25 Let's Dance
26 Judy Is a Punk
27 We're a Happy Family

Total time: 56:35

Joey Ramone – vocals
Johnny Ramone – guitar
Dee Dee Ramone – bass, vocals
Marky Ramone – drums

boot CD sourced from an off-air master cassette of a KSAN-FM "Free Lunch" concert recorded by a TV crew from Santa Cruz and broadcast by KSAN several days later
I can't stress enough how shredding this set is... these guys aren't considered the greatest punk band ever for no reason at all. So get up for the down strokes (Johnny was good at the down strokes.... so good he never bothered to upstroke!) and enjoy this hour of power to make you say, in the immortal words of New Jersey's greatest kids' TV host Uncle Floyd Vivino, "Oooh la la, Ramones!!!!"--J.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Green Is the Colour

OK, I totally spaced this and I have to go visit my friend in the hospital; he just got moved to a physical therapy rehabilitation program in San Francisco. I hear it's a really nice hospital, unless you feel "really nice hospital" is the most obvious human oxymoron of all time.
But I gotta do this first, to honor one of the most (bad visual pun and accompanying idiotic jazz cliché in 3...2...1... ok you have been warned, last chance now!) smokin' guitar players ever to live. He would have been 79 today had the lovely people who took over Blue Note Records from Francis Wolff and Alfred Lion not decided the thing to do was to pay him in heroin. You know the famous quote about the music industry, where Dr. Hunter S. Thompson says it's a money trench and all that superlatively pernicious stuff? Well, he was right... there is also a downside.
But never mind all the negativity, it's Friday for goddess' sakes. The point today is to dwell on the talent and influence of Grant Green, not the amoral perfidy of the record business, which is already well and deservedly documented in approximately 12 billion books and online screeds. I mean, these albums I am posting -- out of print as they are -- aren't even legitimately reissued if what I have been told by former Blue Note artists (one friend in particular who shall because of ongoing litigation remain nameless, but who got ripped off badly by them) is so. A lot if not most Japanese CD reissues are a real gray area in terms of all that, apparently.
It doesn't matter, let them come take me away; this is music worth the handcuffs. I rarely post official material but people like GG merit attention and to be remembered and revered way more than these record companies promote, at the very least. The idea that these have never been properly reissued is a travesty of epic proportions but don't let it stop you from understanding that it doesn't matter what Blue Note does or doesn't do because this is titanic music to stand the test of time and all they'll ever be is just paper-pushers and bean counters, and not even effective ones at that. 
Nope, no one will know who the current CEO of whatever major label was in 1000 years from now, but guitar players are gonna transcribe the half dozen or so playout choruses at the end of We've Only Just Begun on Visions and wonder if they'll ever be able to come up with something that can accurately be included in the conversation for Most Gorgeously Constructed and Played Guitar Solo Ever.
So yeah, Grant Green is one of my personal top ten guitar players ever, can you tell? And these two records are among my favorites of his... maybe that's the reason for all my insufferable whining about the lack of a proper reissue for them. But it doesn't even matter what I think. Just pull 'em down and you be the judge, you know?
If there's music that funks harder than this stuff -- thanks Idris Muhammad (himself one of the greatest living drummers, period) for supplying beats so delicious you almost need a knife and fork -- and features playing this lyrical and skillful, I haven't heard it and I have more music here than I and an army of retro hipsters from Hell would know what to do with.
Grant Green
Blue Note records, 1971


01 Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
02 Maybe Tomorrow
 03 Mozart Symphony #40 In G Minor, K550, 1st Movement
04 Love On a Two Way Street
05 Cantaloupe Woman
06 We've Only Just Begun
07 Never Can Say Goodbye
08 Blues for Abraham

Shades of Green

01 I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door I'll Get It Myself)/Cold Sweat
02 Sunrise, Sunset
03 Never My Love
04 Got to Be There
05 California Green
06 If You Really Love Me
07 Cast Your Fate to the Wind
08 In the Middle

Total time: 1:10:54

 out-of-print Japanese reissue CDs
These albums are so goddamned tasty. Really they are two of the classic all-time jazz-funk records and it's shameful that they are so hard to find and can be so expensive to acquire. And they are but two tiny little footnotes in the storied career of arguably one of the best and certainly one of the most tasteful and melodically gifted players ever born, whose life had only just begun on June 6, 1935. He may have passed in 1979, but these records will still be shaking hips and heads in the year 3079. I'd suspect the Blue Note balance sheet bigwigs who don't respect this music enough to properly give it its due -- and the ones decades ago who treated GG with such disrespect when he was still alive and among us and could have received real help with his addiction issues -- won't have much mention being made of their names by then.--J.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Clash Flies Down On Broadway

We resume the story of The Only Band that Mattered 33 years ago today, when our heroes were ensconced on Times Square in New York City in the midst of a nearly-month-long residence at the old Bonds International Casino dancehall. They had to play the whole month because the greedy promoters oversold the initial run of a week's worth of shows so ridiculously there were riots in the streets. And not the kind of disturbance caused by the jockeying of teenage girls to get within undergarment-tossing range of the band, either.
Hence the title of this bootleg right here: Chaos In New York. You hear Joe refer to it during the set, about here we are for another fucking night at Bonds. This June 4th set was recorded from the mixing desk but also may exist as a WNEW-FM broadcast... or the radio set might be the June 10th set, no one is really entirely certain. It doesn't matter, it's the fucking Clash dead center at the peak of their not-insignificant powers, before the drummer's smack addiction flushed them down the toilet and the thing began to splinter apart just as it was poised to take over the world.
It's almost impossible, if you weren't there, to conceive that music was once like this... that people viewed the rock musicians as the avatars of the culture to the extent that a band playing a club and selling too many tickets to too few performances could cause riots and the cops to be called out to restore order, but that's how it happened. When you listen to what our lads are up to on the stage, it's not all that difficult to comprehend why.
The Clash
"Chaos In New York"
Bonds International Casino
New York City, NY

01 London Calling
02 Safe European Home
03 The Leader
04 Train In Vain
05 (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
06 This Is Radio Clash
07 Corner Soul
08 The Guns of Brixton
09 The Call Up
10 Bankrobber
11 Complete Control
12 Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice)
13 Ivan Meets G.I. Joe
14 Charlie Don't Surf

01 The Magnificent Seven
02 Broadway
03 Somebody Got Murdered
04 Police and Thieves
05 Clampdown
06 One More Time
07 Brand New Cadillac
08 The Street Parade
09 Janie Jones
10 Washington Bullets/Armagideon Time

Total time: 1:37:56

Mick Jones - guitar, vocals
Joe Strummer - guitar, vocals
Topper Headon - drums
Paul Simonon - bass

 master soundboard recording
The artwork for the boot CD from which this is derived seems mistaken, in that Charlie Don't Surf is the first track on the second disc and not the closing track of CD1. I left it as is, but don't let that deter you from accessing and enjoying this trip in the time machine back to a very different 42nd Street than that which exists today. Maybe someday we will live to see another era where human expression in art and music will command as much passionate attention as these guys did in theirs. Or maybe that was the point of the corporate takeover of it all that was nearing its completion at around this time in 1981... that such a degree of attention and substance would never be seen in popular culture again. Complete control, indeed. --J.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Beautiful Brother of Mine

I know we've all got problems
that's why I'm here to say
keep peace with me
and I with you
let me love in my own way
I am blind
and I just cannot understand
what do we mean for Justice?
Are there really levels to The Man?
Old man, you know you must
regain all your children's trust
and I didn't have to be here
you didn't have to look for me
when I was just a nuthin' child
why couldn't they just let me be?
Bite your lip and take a trip
though there may be wet road ahead
and you cannot slip 
 Just move on up 
for peace you'll find
Into the steeple of beautiful people 
where there's only one kind
I know we have great respect
for the Sister and Mother
it's even better yet
But there's the joker in the street
lovin' one brother and killin' the other
when the time comes and we are truly free
there'll be no brothers left, you see
and mighty mighty
spade and whitey
your Black and White Power
is gonna be a crumblin' tower
and we who stand divided
so goddamn undecided
give this a thought
in stupidness we've all been caught
Curtis Mayfield 
Beautiful Brother of Mine
Curtis In the Seventies

01 Mighty Mighty (Spade and Whitey)
02 (Don't Worry) If There's Hell Below We're All Gonna Go
03 Right On for the Darkness
04 Beautiful Brother of Mine
05 No Thing On Me (Cocaine Song)
06 Hard Times
07 Ain't No Love Lost
08 Check Out Your Mind
09 Freddie's Dead
10 We Got to Have Peace
11 Give Me Your Love (Love Song)
12 Underground
13 Eddie You Should Know Better
14 Pusherman
15 Kung Fu

01 Little Child Runnin' Wild
02 Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here
03 If I Were Only a Child Again
04 We the People Who Are Darker than Blue
05 Stare and Stare
06 Power to the People
07 Mr. Welfare Man
08 Future Shock
09 Move On Up
10 Do It All Night
11 Sparkle
12 Get Down
13 Stone Junkie
14 Superfly

beautiful brother of mine
whatever may be your birth sign?
 we are not of the same seed
but surely we're both the same breed
June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999

Monday, June 02, 2014

Hair and Gone: Song of the Gulls

Wow, has it been a whole week? I have been a busy guy I guess, drowning in work and other stuff. But I'm back the next three days, starting with this anniversary post about one of the more underrated bands of the much-maligned Eighties.
It's easy to miss these guys, obviously. I remember when the singer styled his hair that way, and how it completely distracted people from the fact they had tunes. Really good ones. Their first record is one of the best, if not the very best, 1980s concept records... bet you never even understood that it's a song cycle -- with not one bad cut -- about a victim of alien abduction. Easy to miss the content with hair like that... I wonder if Mike Score had it to do over again, would he go for that hairstyle? What does the idea that a band can be ruined by its own hair say about our species in the first place?
It wasn't his fault... he was, after all, a professional hair stylist before starting this band. And let's face it, the whole early 1980s was an exercise in image overwhelming substance at every turn and in every corner of human society. The advent of MTV in 1981 only accelerated the transition from music that had to stand the test on its own to music that could get a boost -- often undeserved -- from its image and its video presence. We have not, as a culture, recovered lo these 30+ years hence, I'm afraid.
Yes, a shallow form of telecommunication -- often in lieu of actual worthwhile songs -- kinda took over. But like I said, don't chuck out the baby with the bathwater... some of the music of that time does stand up to scrutiny when you strip away the candy-coated imagery factor and get hip to the music and the music alone. A Flock of Seagulls -- as easy as it can be to dismiss them -- is one of those groups.
Nope, don't mock the Flock... as facile as it may be, it's a mistake. Behind the hair you had many, many quality songs and melodies, and an absolute mother of a guitar player. You could argue that The Edge from U2 ripped his whole sound off of this cat Paul Reynolds with the weird sunglasses. If you ask me, it was he that made them what they were... lending an otherworldly, spacey-toned simplicity that was essential to what they did and how they did it. To listen to Paul Reynolds is to understand what keeping it simple and direct and tasteful can do, no matter what the context.
And then there's the songs, and the fact that their first two records were basically perfect. All killer, no filler as far as the tunes were concerned. Of course, once the first single hit and they became overnight superstars, most of what followed was lost on the audience. But think about it. Isn't even that song a timeless classic in its own way? You still hear it on the radio and in commercials today. They might have ran so far away, but no one could get away and they still can't. 
So here we are with this concert, from beautiful NBC "The Source" vinyl transcription discs sent out to the radio stations in 1983. I have trimmed it down to eliminate the Budweiser and US Army propaganda, as well as the announcer's ideations upon those products in the intro and outro to the set. What's left is mostly just the music, which is a time machine back to a very different, but no less entertaining, time.
A Flock Of Seagulls
The Palace
Louisville, KY

01 intro
02 Space Age Love Song
03 D.N.A.
04 Electrics
05 Messages
06 The Traveler
07 Telecommunication
08 Nightmares
09 The Fall
10 Transfer Affection
11 Over The Border
12 What Am I Supposed To Do?
13 Man Made
14 You Can Run
15 Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)
16 I Ran
17 (It's Not Me) Talking
18 outro

Total time: 1:13:25

Mike Score - lead vocals, keyboards
Ali Score - drums
Frank Maudsley - bass, vocals
Paul Reynolds - guitars, vocals

original pre-FM transcription LPs
OK, I will return tomorrow with something completely different and awesome, but for now take a chance on this one and don't be so quick to pass it by. These cats wrote material that essentially blows away 99% of the pop music of today and this 31st anniversary special only confirms the rumors to that effect. It might even make your hair stand on end once or twice ;D--J.