The clip after the jump may be the most hilariously disturbing thing I have ever seen. A friend slipped this scene quietly onto a video he made for me and it changed my life forever. I have shown this video to everyone who I can force to watch it and the reaction has always been the same - beautiful howling horrors.
Damo Suzuki is the Japanese-born, free-spieling vocalist
from the German Krautrock legends Can, still performing around the world with
his "Network," continually shifting pickup bands of faithful
disciples in each city a performance is scheduled. For his appearance at WFMU’s
Spring ‘02 Record Fair, he tore the roof off the joint when he was joined by Boston's Cul
De Sac, improvising powerful currents of drone, some hints of Can's
"Mother Sky" and generally upflifting the spirits of sweaty shoppers
who huddled around WFMU’s broadcast booth. The capper: Damo walked around the
crowd during the final jam, embracing each and every onlooker in attendance.
Who says not everyone scores at the record fair?
Today marks the 44th anniversary of the devastating Alaska earthquake, the largest ever recorded in North America. On March 27, 1964 the quake, sometimes known as the Good Friday Earthquake, pulverized Prince William Sound and the surrounding areas. The event lasted approximately 4 minutes and had a moment magnitude of 9.2 Mw, which translates to 8.4 on the Richter scale. Life magazine reported that the earthquake unleashed "more than 2,000 times the power of the mightiest nuclear bomb ever detonated."
Though the most heavily damaged Alaska city was probably Anchorage, located about 75 miles north of the earthquake's epicenter, a number of other cities and towns were badly damaged. In addition, the earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that struck the shores of Canada, Washington, Oregon and California. In fact, the tsunami caused deaths as far away as Crescent City, California where 11 people were killed after a 21 foot wave swept into the town's harbor.
Ah, so there I was, in the land where everything has to do with meat or music, in one way or another. I had never ventured to this conference/land o' plenty festivalism before and was glad to see what all the ruckus was about! After checking in, dropping my stuff off at my friend Mer's house, and receiving my SX gear, I went to the first venue of many. I started my "holiday" as it were, at Red 7, to see the mighty EASY ACTION, yea! I caught John, Harold, Tony & Matt in the backyard/second stage of the venue before they went on & captured some of this buttiness... I mean nuttiness...OK, so it was not really a big deal, I thought it was amazing that Mr. Gold, Mr. Red and Mr. Silver all had no pantylines - these guys are pros - no doubt performing at a venue near you soon. EA vocalist John Brannon told me that he was going to be singing some Negative Approach songs later in the week with Fucked Up on the famous Congress Street "Bat" Bridge at 2am. Most of the bats are still away in warmer Mexico, but just the idea of seeing anyone play at 2am on a bridge that's famous for bat migration was pretty great.
We wrap up our Richard Widmark/Sidney Poitier series on a sad note. Richard Widmark passed away this week at the age of 93 (link)
In 1964 Widmark and Poitier came together for the second time (The Bedford Incident was their third and final collaboration) for a historical Vikings vs Moors romp. Poitier is the Moorish King Aly Mansuh obsessed with finding a legendary bell made out of gold. Widmark is Rolf the viking. He happens upon the bell's location, and with a crew of vikings he sets sail to get it. But they run ashore and are taken prisoner by Mansuh.
You certainly get the sense that they may have done this one for the money but that doesn't mean the movie is no good. In the clip below we have all kinds of intrigue. Rolf is brought to the bed chambers of Mansuh's wife Aminah, to talk business of course, while the King talks business with Rolf's little brother Orm's girlfriend Gerda. The rest of the vikings start some monkey business with the royal Harem!
If you want to find out what the Mare of Steel is - you will have to watch the movie (link).
Several months ago, I was struck to see a piece of advertising defacement in WFMU's PATH station celebrating a WFMU radio program - surely a one-shot deal, never to be witnessed again, I figured. But NO! The Scribbler has struck again!
a closer look:
You can witness this ad yourself, it's in the Newark/Hoboken-bound tube of the Exhange Place PATH stop. The particular piece of high living it advertises is still in the process of becoming a major obstruction to our view of Lower Manhattan, so glad to know we've already gained a foothold. You can visit Brother Nachum thisaway. Sadly, he's not giving away those sweet bathrobes.
Along with the brilliant composer, band leader and tres player Arsenio Rodríguez, Israel "Cachao" López must be considered among the most significant and influential innovators in the history of Cuban music. With the recent passing of virtuoso percussionists Carlos "Patato" Valdés and Tata Güines, Cachao's death, on March 22 from kidney failure, is another loss to the ever-dwindling group of artists who, with creative flair and sophistication, transformed older forms of Cuban music into a global powerhouse of sound.
During the 1930s, while Rodríguez was reworking folklyric ditties from the countryside into smoldering nightclub fare, Cachao, collaborating with his older brother Orestes, began deconstructing the stately but stiff danzón, injecting elements of the rootsier son songform, while adding syncopation as well as open spaces for extended vamping. The result of these dual innovations by Rodríguez and the López brothers became known at first as nuevo ritmo. By the early 1950s, dives and dance floors throughout Havana, New York, Mexico City, San Juan, and beyond, were crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with frenzied fans—loyal subjects in the kingdom of Mambo.
• Written by Orestes, arranged by Cachao, this danzón from Antonio Arcaño y Sus Maravillas (1944) was one of the first compositions of the nuevo ritmo. (A violin player then with Arcaño's group, Enrique Jorrín, is credited by some as being the first to slow down the mambo to a more danceable pace. His invention? The cha-cha-chá.)
Just in case you dozed off and you missed it, Rex and Debbie recently threw down the gauntlet and posted a series of scathing country 45's that were notable for their extremely rancorous rantings about hippies. OK, they did not actually throw down a gauntlet, but I figured as long as they were spreading good old-fashioned hippie hatred, it would be ungracious of me if I neglected to help out the cause.
In any case, the post was an eye-opening reminder not only of how fast things were changing in American society in the late 1960's, but also of the fact that it's difficult, if not impossible, to imagine two groups more radically opposed to each other than socially conservative small town southerners and the dope smoking flower children of the Now Generation.
It's probably worth noting that quite a few country artists cut hippie-themed 45's that took an approach that was more bemused than confrontational. Maybe I'll do a follow-up post with some of those. Today's effort, though, is all about condescension and contempt.
Harvey Milk are without a doubt one band I am obsessed with, and the funny thing is that most people I meet who are fans of them are also obsessed with them; it seems that there are few casual listeners to their music. Born in Athens, GA in the early 1990's, they issued a slew of records that should have been recognized much more than they were; their non-peggability probably hurt their public/press profile, not to mention the neo-Barrett psychedelia that was emerging from their hometown overshadowing them somewhat in the scheme of collegiate radio. But what amazing records, and thanks to people like Chunklet, Relapse, tUMULT and others, the microscope once again has turned to them in the last few years and they've come back into action fully. I finally saw them for the first time a few years ago at Tonic opening for Khanate, and it remains one of my favorite live show memories. They sucked the oxygen out of the air for minutes at a time; extended passages of silence give way to crushing, Melvinsy swaths of pure majestic overload; singer/guitarist Creston issued forth gutteral vocals like he was fronting Lynard Skynard slowed down to 16 RPM. Muzzy chords would just loom ominously over the room for what seemed like an eternity and then they'd crack open into propulsive Thin Lizzy mode and change bizarre time signatures on a dime and sounded just fantastic. When asked if they could get on WFMU's SXSW bill for March, I couldn't have been more thrilled. We had a close call getting HM on my show a few years back but some crossed signals confused their show-up time with their club soundcheck; my engineer had by then gone home and I was devastated. But now, having the band show up and kick off the proceedings at Spiro's first on the bill (sorry about the club's drink ticketkeeper being AWOL, Stephen!) was a total freakin' dream come true. With Joe Preston (Melvins/Thrones) on 2nd guitar! What a way to start an evening. (Pic: BT)
If you've listened to WFMU for any large chunk of time, chances are you've run into the recorded work of Carla Bozulich. Her 2006 album "Evangelista" ended up on a coupleofpeoples' Top 10 lists of 2006. She also played live on Brian's show that year, and her new album "Hello Voyager," recorded with her band Evangelista, is making its rounds on the 'FMU programming grid right now.
Now available to you, the patient blog-reading and listening public, is Evangelista's entire performance at the WFMU South By Southwest showcase on March 14th at Spiro's in Austin. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, the band is used to playing in darkness, which made the pink-lit outdoor stage at Spiro's a bit of a change of pace for the band.
All of Carla's music is powerful and haunting, and that's especially true in her live performance. But a heavy dose of twisted humor shines through when she plays live that isn't totally apparent in her albums. She's constantly sporting a devilly grin and cracking half-jokes in between fits of all other kinds of emotion. It's a dark and strange ride - listen for all sorts of weird and fantastically played instrumentation: cymbals attached to a rubber strap and dropped, toy telephones being crooned into, cellos being beaten in submission, and the actual stage structure being used as a percussive element by the bandleader herself. Also, the Low cover, if you haven't heard it yet, is unmissable.
Gary Higgins and Psychedelic Horseshit also rocked the inside stage at Spiros.
Trent, Liz, Andy and I caught the Psych Horseshit the following day at one of the non sanctioned free shows (as in free to bring your own beer) but they were missing their bass player - apparently there was so much rocking - he got arrested. Hope they made it back to Ohio
Neurology researcher and professor David Sulzer might be better known around these parts as David Soldier of such projects as the Soldier String Quartet, The Kropotkins and the Thai Elephant Orchestra. But with his PhD hat on, he spoke last night at the CUNY Graduate Center on "Brainwaves: Neuroscience and the Groove."
During the talk, he referred to "musicogenic seizures" brought on by particular pieces, or sorts of music, and referenced the case of a woman whose seizures were induced by the band Alabama. The case was written up in the journal Epilepsia in 2006. Excerpts follow, and thanks to Russell Scholl for bringing this to our attention.
A few months ago I started doing an unassuming segment on my radio show called "Hey Cecil!" dedicated to playing a longer track by one of the world's most enigmatic musicians, Cecil Taylor. If there's any artist that encapsulates my love for music, it's Cecil. His music can be utterly confounding, difficult to process, dense and frustrating. (I can only imagine the focus, endurance and creative energy it must take to perform an hour-plus piano solo.) But on the other hand Cecil's music can be charming, funny, stunningly beautiful, funky, mosaic-like, and therapeutic, encouraging your brain to disengage while the tones rinse you out, or challenging your synapses to process the motion as the clusters of notes tumble forth. It's music that reveals itself over time, if you let it, like a film that divulges details and plot points on a second or tenth viewing.
Here's a video of Cecil's band in November of 1966 playing on French TV. It looks like it was recorded video cam style off the TV so the audio isn't great, but really, you won't care. This is the same month that the Student Studies album was recorded Two records on Blue Note from 1966, Unit Structures and Conquistador are all-out classics, and serve to delineate Cecil's raison d'etre for the next half decade or so. Student Studies, though, may be my favorite of the 1966 trifecta. It's the most downright psychedelic Cecil ever got with whooshing drone-y cymbal washes, the high pitched arco bass of Alan Silva and Jimmy Lyons's weird repetitive one-note sax theme. It's really cooking by the time Cecil plays the innards of the piano with mallets. This is head music. The band is: Cecil Taylor, piano; Jimmy Lyons, alto; Alan Silva, bass; Andrew Cyrille, drums. (Thanks to Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches for posting this one first.) Two tracks from Student Studies aired two weeks ago here.
Almost exactly 30 years ago, on March 22, 1978, long before TiVo — heck, even predating the VCR — i held my cassette recorder up to the single speaker on my television set to capture in perpetuity (at least aurally) the Rutles mockumentary All You Need Is Cash. For a teenage fan of both the Beatles and Monty Python/Saturday Night Live such as myself, this was some sort of convergence of the gods, who until then had never put aside their petty differences to create a paradise on Earth.
The fact that there were numerous Beatles connections between the Rutles and their object of parody was soon made evident — George Harrison makes a wry cameo in the film; former Fabs publicist Derek Taylor worked the soundtrack album. Most important is that Python cohort Neil Innes, who portrayed the John Lennonesque Ron Nasty and wrote all the splendid spoofs of every style in Beatledom, was a key member of the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band. Not only did this 1960s Dada-jazz-rock-psych-pop combo appear in the Beatles' weirdie Magical Mystery Tour film, Paul McCartney, calling himself Apollo C. Vermouth, produced the Bonzos' "I'm the Urban Spaceman," an Innes composition.
Suffice to say that Innes' skills at Beatle mimickry both in song and in voice showed up long before he was pressed into service as the chief Rutle. On the final Bonzo Dog Band LP, 1972's Let's Make Up and Be Friendly, the song "Fresh Wound" shows his gift for parroting the Lennon style before going slightly overlong. "Give Booze a Chance," another Lennon-referencing Bonzos track, was in this instance written and sung by the group's other main creative force, the appropriately perpetually soused Vivian Stanshall, and is found in this BBC Radio session take.
A post-Bonzos Innes collaborated with a post-Python Eric Idle on the BBC Television series Rutland Weekend Television, where the Rutles proper made their debut in a sketch that was also shown on a Saturday Night Live episode, shaking their mocktops to an early version of "I Must Be in Love." (Interestingly, Innes also performs "Cheese and Onions" on SNL a year before All You Need Is Cash's creation.) An abbreviated version of the Rutles' "Good Times Roll," then named "The Children of Rock and Roll," also has its origin in an RWT sketch.
This past couple of weeks, the Rutles have been going meta, with Beatles tribute band the Fab Four portraying Nasty, Dirk, Stig and Barry in an official 30th anniversary celebration in Los Angeles and New York. But the concept of Rutlemania-mania predates this dubious milestone. In 1990, Shimmy-Disc issued a tribute album titled Rutles Highway Revisited, and, currently plying their trade in Austin, Texas, is Ouch! — yes, a Rutles tribute band. Below find some Rutles-related curiosities and rarities, and be thankful you don't have to hold up your cassette player to this computer in order to possess them for posterity.