Nocturnal Admissions

Between 1972 and 1977, Bryan Ferry, with and without Roxy Music made 9 of my favorite albums.
In the early-mid ’70′s, Roxy Music was about the coolest band around. They made 5 of them, each one better than the last.
They weren’t childhood friends. They weren’t childhood friends. Bryan found everyone through advertisements in Melody Maker.

In early 1970 he auditioned for King Crimson, as a replacement for Greg Lake. Although Robert Fripp and Pete Sinfield felt his voice was unsuitable, they were impressed enough to help the fledgling Roxy Music get a contract with E.G. Records.

Andy Mackay replied to Ferry’s advertisement, not as a keyboard player but a saxophonist and oboist, though he did have a VCS3 synthesizer. Mackay knew Brian Eno from university days, as both were interested in avant-garde and electronic music. Although Eno was a non-musician, he could operate a synthesizer and owned a Revox reel-to-reel, so Mackay convinced him to join the band as a technical adviser. Before long Eno was an official member.

In June 1971, Paul Thompson responded to an advertisement placed in Melody Maker, “wonder drummer wanted for an avant rock group”.

Originally naming the band Roxy, Ferry changed it when hearing of an American band with the same name. “Roxy Music” was partly an homage to old cinemas and dance halls, and partly a pun on the word rock.

In October 1971 he advertised in Melody Maker seeking the “Perfect Guitarist”. Phil Manzanera was one of about twenty players who auditioned. However, Manzanera did not get the gig; the successful applicant was David O’List, former member of The Nice. The group were impressed enough with Manzanera that he was invited to become Roxy Music’s roadie, an offer which he accepted.

Bands of brothers tolerate conflicts better than a bunch of free agents. Roxy Music was never stable. They didn’t even even have a permanent bassist, but rather a rotating group of temps.

Davy O’List was edged out due to some kind of altercation with Paul Thompson prior to getting their record deal. In the meantime, roadie Phil Manzanera had secretly learned all his parts. Their first BBC sessions feature O’List. It’s interesting to compare and contrast their styles.

Bryan Ferry pursued a solo career concurrent with Roxy Music, using wonder drummer, Paul Thompson, and Roxy’s rotating bass players. Andy Mackay is the only member, besides fired Eno who doesn’t participate. He was replaced by Mel Collins. Chris Spedding largely handles the guitars, although Davy O’ List and Phil Manzanera both make appearances.

Three of the four solo albums are dominated by covers. In fact he was one of the first to tackle material not normally associated with rock n roll.
“In Your Mind” (1977) is all original material.

Then two things happened. In 1977 Jerry Hall left him for Mick Jagger, and “The Great Paul Thompson” quit due to musical differences.

Ferry’s “The Bride Stripped Bare” (1978), and Roxy Music’s “Manifesto (1979) suffer greatly from his absence, and instead feature the slick hired gun sound he’s mostly stuck with ever since.

Paul Thompson’s return did wonders for Roxy Music’s 2001 reunion tour and the reulting 2002 double live album.

In March 2005, it was announced on Phil Manzanera’s official site that the band, including Brian Eno, would record an album of new material. The project would mark the first time Eno worked with Roxy Music since 1973′s “For Your Pleasure”. After a number of denials that he would be involved with any Roxy Music reunion, on 19 May 2006 Eno revealed that he had contributed two songs to the new album as well as playing keyboards on other tracks. He did, however, rule out touring with the band. Had the record been released as a Roxy Music album, it would have been the first album since “Manifesto”* on which original drummer Paul Thompson performed. The album has, however, been released as a Bryan Ferry solo album entitled Olympia.

I’m glad they didn’t call it a Roxy Music album.

This compilation comes from his first four, 1973-77. The Roxy Music titles are covers.

Enjoy!
BBJ

Nocturnal Admissions

Nocturnal Admissions Too

*although Thompson is listed as a member of the band, two other drummers are also credited, and the drums, overall, lack any of Thompson’s signature sound.

Sonic Bloom

When Sir John rang me up he was in bad shape. Obviously drunk.

“I’m fucked, mate,” was all he could say at first, then, “I can’t finish me bloody album for fuck’s sake!” He always sounds Irish when he’s drinking.
“It’s the Irish talking”, he’ll say, pointing at the word on the bottle above “Whiskey”

He was working on a solo album after giving most of his adult musical life to the band. They’d all quit and now the bass player hates him, apparently.
After the second blown deadline, his label insisted on an outside producer, and he’d rejected everyone they’d suggested.

I got the next flight to London and by tea time the next day I was in beautiful downtown Swindon, dodging hipsters. I had a schwarma at Mamoun’s, a Tiger brew or two at the Splash and Spasm, and thusly fortified, hired a car and rode out to his country estate. I never count on being fed out there. The cook is still mad at me for making a rude joke concerning “bangers and mash”.

I felt a fair amount of trepidation as we turned off the A419, halfway to Cirencester, onto the long drive into the property, and rode past the empty zoo cages, now somewhat overgrown, and signalling disrepair. A family of hedgehogs it’s sole captives.
The maid indicated he was out by the pool, where I found him shut in the cabana. With much cajoling he appeared, dressed in a rumpled terry cloth robe, a V-neck T-shirt, lightly dusted with bisquit crumbs, pink sunglasses, and matching plastic flipflops. He looked terrible. Worse for wear than the topiary animals out by the zoo.

“I need you to be my producer, mate,” he said, sheepishly.

With that, he handed me a thumb drive with over 160 songs on it.

“I’ll see what I can do,” I said.

“I’m sure you’ll make it right as rain,” he said managing a smile, as I wondered about the metaphor. How could rain be “Right”?

“I get to play GOD, er Todd,” I thought, and pondered that troubled history. A masterpiece and a thirty year grudge.

We locked ourselves in the former garden shed, now studio, lit a phatty, and got to work.
I was dumbstruck by the overall quality of the material.
Although there were plenty of throwaway tunes, and self-indulgent experiments, it was obvious there was a great album in there (A double as it turned out).
The first thing I did was get rid of everything that hearing once was enough.
I avoided the overly familiar material made famous by the band.

“WWTD” (What Would Todd Do?), I wondered. He’d roll up the sleeves and do some heavy lifting, while not being too concerned about stepping on any toes. Who has time for that? In other words, beat the thing into shape.

I rolled up my sleeves and dove in. Once the basic tracks were selected, I got fairly intrusive (Sir John’s words, paraphrased without expletives), giving about half the songs tighter intros. Many were too long. “Little Lighthouse” was marred by almost a minute of noise it didn’t need at the end. I gave it a proper one. Through brutality, I made room for more music.

“My Land Is Burning” required no such attention. A perfectly rendered closer if I ever heard one.

Sir John Johns is a great songwriter, fine vocalist, and nifty guitarist. I like his version of “Shake You Donkey Up” about 100 times more than what ended up on that, to my ears, unlistenable album, by the band. I hate the drum programming, but somehow his use of canned drums here doesn’t bother me.
Perhaps because Sir John otherwise sounds so fresh. Nothing like first takes without band politics as a backdrop.
After spending so much time with this material, the band’s versions can sound somewhat overworked.

I’m not sure how he feels about “our” record, as he hasn’t returned my calls. I will someday get even for the “gift” he left in my suitcase.
The uniformed guys with guns weren’t amused.

I think it’s a terrific personal statement, and after this experience,
probably the only solo album we’ll ever get out of him.

Put it on again, indeed!

Sonic Bloom

Sonic Bloom Too

Enjoy!
-BBJ

Prognosis

I was busy with another project (building a guitar) and didn’t have any ideas until last night when I went through the library and started pulling tunes. Even then, it doesn’t always work, and I admit I’ve spent days tinkering with the sequence. Not this time.

I grew up with Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, and the rest.
None of them are featured here.
This is music I’m less familiar with than usual.
Most of it is from years of trolling blog sites for things I’d only read about in the past.

For example, Mogul Thrash is the band John Wetton left to join Family, before leaving them for King Crimson. I never expected to find it, but thanks to the internet, I have FLAC files.

I hope you like mellotron.

I tended towards shorter songs when possible. My favorite Genesis song, for instance, “Supper’s Ready” is a whole album side and clocks in over 20 minutes. Add “Close To The Edge”, and “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic Pt 1″, and there’s an entirely epic cd length mix.

The Italians really “got” Prog and some of the best bands were from there. “Impressioni Di Settembre”, an old favorite, was somewhat blandly re-recorded by PFM in english as “The World Became The World”, the title track to their second american release, but I’ve always preferred the original Italian version.

Also here is Il Volo, another of the best, represented by “Il Canto Della Preistoria (Molecule)”, which also transcends it’s lack of english with some truly extraordinary guitar sounds.

Amon Düül II is from Germany, and technically krautrock.

Aphrodite’s Child is from Greece, and features Vangelis, long before “Chariots Of Fire”.

Brian Davison was the drummer in the Nice. This 1970 solo album is nothing like his former band.

Tempest was a power trio freaturing Ollie Halsall, sadly best known for playing “Paul” on The Rutles recordings. He briefly joined this band, wrote all the songs, and sang lead on the album they recorded and left, to play with Kevin Ayers.

Bram Stoker is a band who left behind an album with nary a trace of other info. This is one of those that collectors go nuts for. Same goes for Pete Fine’s.

I only downloaded Aubrey Small a few days ago, and barely know “Smoker Will Blow”. This description caught my eye:
“The recording experience at Trident became intoxicating and at times even became somewhat surreal. For one number “Smoker Will Blow”(producer)John Anthony had the idea of putting orchestration on the track as it was too simple. Within a matter of days arranger Richard Hewson appeared together with a huge assembly of the finest jazz and orchestral musicians available. Here was another highly respected musician who had a list of high profile credits to his name including the Beatles, Bee Gees, Diana Ross, Art Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp, Chris Rea among others – another who’s who! The band watched from the control room with amazement as an extraordinary and complex soundscape unfolded on their song”.

Kaleidoscope was an English band whose roots were in ’60′s psychedelia, and released some really exceptional music, but for some reason ended up with less than nothing. This song is the closer to an album they finished in 1971, but didn’t see release until 1992.

Prognosis

Prognosis Too

Enjoy!
-BBJ

I liked the new neck so much I regretted not doing a better job painting it, so I repainted with 20 coats of lacquer, and upgraded the pickguard. Now it’s finally finished. 1987 Fender Japan 50′s reissue body with Fender licensed USA made late ’60′s style neck. Tuners, and except for the ’90′s Les Paul humbucker, original hardware.

(Before) Before And After

The cover art is a silk screen print I made in 1978.

I vaguely knew Eno as the guy Eddie Jobson replaced in Roxy Music. At the time I was only familiar their third and Eno-less album, “Stranded” (1973).
I picked “Here Come The Warm Jets”, Eno’s first, because it looked slightly glam, and the title Zappa/Beefheart/Alice Cooper loony. The song titles were just as nuts.
Then I saw that Robert Fripp and John Wetton, two of my favorite musicians from my favorite band, King Crimson were involved.
Buying it was a no-brainer.
It’s Proto-punk Glam rock is nothing like the ambient works he’s largely known for today.
“Baby’s On Fire” features a Robert Fripp solo over 3 minutes long, which stands as some of his most fiery work.
From “Here Come The Warm Jets” to “Burning Airlines Give You So Much More”,
“Taking Tiger Mountain(By Strategy)”, from 1974 is much less ramshackle, but fortunately just as quirky.
When “Another Green World” came out in 1975, things were changing. About half of it is instrumental, pointing the way to his groundbreaking ambient work, “Music For Airports”(1978).
Unlike his previous albums, which were recorded in a very short time, “Before and After Science” (1977) was two years in the making. I never got into that one. I thought it was a little slick and bland.
My original plan for this mix was to be career spanning. I began by listening to Disc 3 of the irritatingly packaged and annotated Eno Vocal Box.
It consists of “R.A.F.” b-side of “King’s Lead Hat”, cuts from “My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts” an impressive yet ultimately dull album, 90′s collaborations with John Cale, “Nerve Net”, and the withdrawn “My Squelchy Life”.
While it wasn’t entirely without charm, it bored me to death. So much so that I nearly gave up.
Fortunately I decided instead to start from the beginning.
There is something in his first 3 albums, that has been missing for decades.
It was before he knew what he was doing. Before success, acclaim, and high profile productions for other artists.
I’m a fan, and he’s been a huge influence on my work as a musician, and a painter. While I like and respect his recent work, these early attempts at rock stardom continue to scratch my itch for art damaged excellence.

Two songs are technically by Phil Manzanera. “Miss Shapiro” is from “Diamond Head” (1975). Eno co-writes and sings. “Third Uncle” is from “801 Live” (1976). He is the vocalist and writer. Backing musicians are the usual suspects.

Enjoy!
-BBJ

(Before) Before And After

Or

Before Too

A fun fact I ran across:

Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy (Chinese: 智取威虎山; pinyin: zhì qǔ wēihǔ shān) is a Chinese film from 1970, during the height of the Cultural Revolution. The film was directed by Xie Tieli and was based on a contemporary Beijing opera, one of the eight model plays allowed during the Cultural Revolution. The story is based on the novel Lin hai xue yuan (林海雪原) and tells the story of an incident in 1946, during the Chinese Civil War.
Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy has been identified as one of the most watched films of all time. Official Chinese government statistics claimed a total audience of 7.3 billion through the end of 1974. The large audience can be attributed to the fact that few films were produced during the Cultural Revolution, and almost all earlier films were banned; nevertheless, the average village held ten film showings per year, and failure to attend could have been seen as a sign of political deviation. Hence, Chinese citizens would have been expected to see the film multiple times during the Cultural Revolution era.

Glam Slam

With the sad passings of David Bowie, and Dale “Buffin” Griffin, it seemed only right to put together a tribute to “The Golden Age Of Rock n Roll”.

Right away I was reminded all that glitters isn’t necessarily “Glam”. In fact there isn’t that much of it as the whole era collapsed the minute it became a category. But the influence continues. Many elements that seemed new are now standard features.

Glam checklist: Theatrical make-up and stage persona. Image conscious with a fondness for fifties styles and POP Art mashups. Saxophones, female back-up singers, Flashy lead guitar stylist as foil to singer. Muscular rhythm section. Elements of prog.

Even though there is no Glam without Bowie, he doesn’t appear. Instead Bauhaus represents with their faithful, lively rendition of “Ziggy Stardust” (1982, number fifteen on the UK singles chart), illustrating how glam morphed into goth. Just because the dinosaurs are gone doesn’t mean we’re not surrounded by birds. If you know what I mean.

In the valley of The New York Dolls, you mean. Generation X’s “Valley Of The Dolls” is straight up glam. It’s only missing chick singers and saxophones. From their sophomore effort. When they were still a band.

“Rock Star” is from “Velvet Tinmine” a collection of obscure UK singles from the era (1973-5), and is by Bearded Lady. I found a page in wikipedia and there is really nothing to know.

“Needles In The Camel’s Eye”, worked so well for Todd Haynes during the opening of “Velvet Goldmine”. It’s the most successful part of the movie.

A lot of art rock got lumped in with glam, and Kevin Ayers wore the make-up. “Interview” is kind of a bookend to David Essex’s “Rock On”.

Queen knocks it out of the park with “Now I’m Here”. Epic on every level. Sheer Heart Attack indeed.

Enjoy!

Glam Slam

A Saucerful Of Tears

Five guys, one bike.

Pink Floyd’s sophomore effort could very well be the worst of all time. Syd Barrett, their guiding light, and principal songwriter, became the goose that laid the golden eggs, and infamously flamed out, leaving them at the apex and in the middle of recording. I don’t think it was just acid, or insanity. I think forming a band was fun, but it suddenly becoming a vocation, and pop stardom stopped being so. He really wanted to be a painter, and he was a pretty good one from what I’ve seen.

Anyway the rest of the band found themselves in quite the pickle with an album begun and no songs. The title track can only be described as a composition, as it’s not a song or even music,really, except for the last section by Richard Wright, which I’ve used as a long intro to “See Saw”. My band, The Smoove Sailors write more interesting “jams” every week than the title tune.

I’ve been thinking about fixing A Saucerful Of Secrets for a long time. It was the unlistenable half of A Nice Pair, and just as bad as Ummagumma (The best part of which is the picture of all the gear on the back). A Saucerful of Tears is almost long enough to be a double album. Like if the White album lost “Revolution 9″ and “Goodnight”, which I would never miss.

It’s the most democratic Floyd album as it features at least four songwriters and five singers.

I’ve compiled all the Syd Barrett songs recorded after their debut, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, including the still unreleased “Vegetable Man”, and “Scream Thy Last Scream”, plus a couple singles with David Gilmour from the same period, but not on the album.

“Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” is not my favorite, but is the only one involving all five members. “A Jolly Bunch of Pop Tunes” Syd might say.

I think it plays rather well, and because it’s all from the same period, could have been released this way. Enjoy!

Rehearsing for “The Wall”

 

A Saucerful Of Tears

Some Bright Stars For Queens College

 

The culprit

Two weeks before I built it, I said for the benefit of everyone else in the room as they unpacked their effects pedalboards, that I’d never use one. I thought of myself as some sort of guitar purist. I was into my guitar, it’s pickups, and a cord plugged straight into a tube amp. At the same time I was playing bass in another band and in order to have more colors in my pallette, I’d started to bring the analog delay and tremelo pedals, and of course all the wall warts, patch cords, and irritating set-up that go with them.  It flew in the face of my of my plan to keep things as simple as possible.  Also we moved from one rehearsal room into another and in the process, I found, in a milk crate full of unloved pedals, a Electro Harmonix Micro Synthesizer.

That night I was playing synthetic beats and thought it would be interesting to hear them squashed through it (true).  It was these and other convergences that inspired me to build my pedal board which I no longer know how I lived without.  I run everything through it.  It’s great, it fits in a hard shell case.  I pull it out, plug it in, and I’m ready to go, tuner on and everything.  The hard shell case had been in my basement storing a discarded cassette machine, next to an old suitcase filled with tapes I’d often thought of getting rid of as I had no plans of going back to them, except occasionally to archive something I couldn’t find anywhere else.  A few of my posts feature these digitized recordings.

So the cassette machine, naked, went back down to the basement and my painting studio, where I have a pretty awesome stereo.  I had been listening to NPR or my mp3 player.  I got the bright idea of hooking up the tape machine.  I opened the suitcase which held almost 300 tapes, some dating back to the late ’70′s, and others as recent as 2001.

It turned out to be a great idea, the cassettes sound good , and a reminder that the mp3′s we all listen to are not better, necessarily, just convenient.  In fact an mp3 ripped from an audio cd is a rough equivalent to a song a taped off an lp.  I became reacquainted with my mixtapes from the mid to late ’80′s.  The most exciting discoveries being found in the space at the end where the 45 minute side was longer than the vinyl album and the dead space filled with the random odd thing.  I have about 3,000 cd’s representing most of the music I need to have at my fingertips.  I’d long ago foolishly discarded almost all my lp’s, and most of it has been replaced digitally, but there were a few long lost gems I began to realize I might find in the cassettes.  The lp’s have been gone for decades but here were copies pickled back in the day, all the wondrous surface noise which had sent me over to cd’s in the first place now a charming reminder of  how music used to sound.

The scene of the crime

I became obsessed with one recording in particular.  Out of all the music I’d ever heard, there was one astonishing bit of recorded music I’d never been able to replace on cd.  I knew it would turn up somewhere, unless it was something I’d taped over, which unfortunately  happened pretty often.  At least a quarter of them had been sacrificed for car tapes from cd’s I still have.  The lp in question was David Bedford’s Nurse’s Song With Elephants from 1972.

David Bedford had been involved with the british art rock scene in the late ’60′s and ’70′s as a string arranger for the likes of Roy Harper, and Kevin Ayers.  He orchestrated and conducted Mike Oldfield’s The Orchestral Tubular Bells album (1975).

(wiki)

The first album to consist entirely of David Bedford compositions was Nurses Song With Elephants, recorded at the Marquee Studios, and released in 1972 on John Peel’s Dandelion label. On this album, Bedford mixed classical ensemble with poems and voices. “Some Bright Stars for Queen’s College” uses twenty-seven plastic pipe twirlers, John Peel himself being among the pipe twirler players. There are five tracks on the album: “It’s Easier Than It Looks”, “Nurses Song With Elephants”, “Some Bright Stars for Queen’s College”, “Trona” (1967), and “Sad and Lonely Faces”.  Bass guitar on the title song is played by Mike Oldfield and the final track features a poem by Kenneth Patchen that is sung by Kevin Ayers.

The Album

After about a month of searching, I’d already found Sad And Lonely Faces, so I knew I was on the trail and success was possible.  I found a cassette simply labelled “ex Albums ll”, which I sussed was made of choice cuts just before selling the records to buy my first cd’s back in 1991.   I’m a painter and all this time I’m listening, I’m painting pictures, sometimes not paying real close attention, but this time I was standing there, waiting to see what came next.  About 3/4 of the way through, and after Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s amazing Space Guitar, and Magic Sam’s 21 Days in Jail, there it was, I’d found my holy grail.

I’m not sure why I picked this out of everything to obsess over, except that it’s one of the most oddly compelling pieces I’ve ever heard.  There is a lot of air moving from acoustic sources, always a powerful experience.  All those girls voices make my hair stand on end in a good way.  Anyway I was very happy to hear it again, and wanted to share it this holiday season.  Enjoy!!!!!

Some Bright Stars For Queens College

Frankly Brilliant

 

I painted this seven feet high

I didn’t “get” Frank Zappa for a long time. My friend Slow Uncle, did, and tried to interest me. I eventually bought We’re Only In It For The Money, largely for the hilarious send up of Sgt Pepper’s album cover, but I didn’t think the songs were very good. I mentioned a couple posts back being exposed to “The Mudshark” from Live at Fillmore East, June 1971, and my parents disapproval, but I wasn’t really ready for it. I liked the toilet humor and everything, but I hated jazz and the music was over my head.

Still cracks me up

When I moved into my dorm room at San Diego State in the fall of 1976, we were encouraged to paint our rooms or if we felt like it, murals outside our rooms. Sounds crazy, but this was the ’70′s. Even though I wasn’t a fan of his music I always admired his irreverence, that’s why I painted his likeness from We’re Only In It For The Money next to the door outside my room. I don’t have a picture of it, but to the right is what I copied, including Frank’s wondering, “Is This Phase One Of Lumpy Gravy?”

I was no longer living in the dorm in the Spring of 1978 when he played the amphitheatre on campus where I witnessed a phenomenal performance. After the last song the audience stood and began clapping and yelling for what seemed to be 30 minutes or more.
Eventually Frank came onstage and said, “You people are crazy. We can hear you all the way in the dressing room”, at which the band came back out and proceeded to play another hour and a half.  Interesting detail:  There was a guy in Frank’s band I never heard of  that played guitar and did a dead-on Dylan impersonation.  His name was Adrian Belew.   A month or three later I went to see David Bowie at the San Diego Sports Arena and there he was again! I thought he was great until he started singing on King Crimson records.

A couple months ago, Q, drummer in Foglizard, where I am a member of the rhythm section, said he planned to spend the summer listening to Frank, and did I own anything he could borrow?  I had Fillmore East June 1971, and Ahead Of Their Time.  I did some research and managed to acquire 17 FZ releases for personal review.
I tend to prefer the work of the original Mothers of Invention. Maybe because they were a band he joined and took over. After he fired them in 1969, he hired ever more amazing musicians, but with a diminishing amount of soul.

In around 1991, I bought a cd copy of Cruisin With Ruben And The Jets, an album I remembered as being a fun parody/tribute to old R&B and Doo Wop. There was something terribly wrong with it, which turned out to be that Frank had rerecorded the original drum and bass parts for reasons only understood by him. I got rid of it right away. Turns out He also ruined We’re Only In It For The Money in a similar fashion. Fan’s outcry against this was so strong he eventually restored We’re Only In It For The Money, but not before referring to them as “fetishists”. He never got around to Ruben before his death, so I found an original vinyl rip of the lp. It’s a mystery why he thought those bass and drum tracks needed replacement. It’s kind of like Paul McCartney replacing John Lennon with Mark Knopfler.
If you buy the Zappa Family Trust’s Lumpy Money, you’ll be treated to the horrible remix of WOIIFTM as a “Bone us” disc.

"A last ditch effort by the Mothers to get their crummy music on the radio"

I encourage you to read the whole Zappa/Mothers story on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Zappa

If you don’t have the time or inclination here is an interesting tidbit:

During his childhood Zappa was often sick, suffering from asthma, earaches and sinus problems. A doctor treated the latter by inserting a pellet of radium into each of Zappa’s nostrils; little was known at the time about the potential dangers of being subjected to even small amounts of therapeutic radiation. Nasal imagery and references appear both in his music and lyrics, as well as in the collage album covers created by his long-time visual collaborator, Cal Schenkel.

Long Out Of Print

Anyway I’ve compiled a fun disc worth of music by the original Mothers. There are some songs from Mothermania, a long out of print “best of” compiled by Frank in 1968, containing substantially different mixes from the original albums. Also are some cuts from Cruisin With Ruben And The Jets, which is kind of the spiritual center of my comp which I call Motherama. All these tracks come from rips of the original vinyl releases. The rest are from Freak Out, Absolutely Free, Uncle Meat, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, and Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

I also included a passage from Playground Psychotics (1992) which has Jeff Simmons quitting the group a few days before shooting 200 Motels. He was replaced by Ringo Starr’s chauffer at the last minute. This is followed by two tunes from Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up, an out of print 1970 album by Jeff Simmons produced by Frank under the pseudonym of Lamar Bruister. “Lucille” and “Wonderful Wino” are about the only songs in Frank’s catalog that credit a co-writer. Frank plays guitar and Ian Underwood is featured. Both tunes turn up later in Frank’s discography in less interesting versions.

For your immediate listening pleasure I’ve included a rare “live” version of “Plastic People”. I read that before real music was written for it they played it over “Louie, Louie”. This must be that.

I think this stuff has aged really well.  Frank’s social commentary was/is right on the money.

I am now a fan.

Plastic People

Link in Comments.

Number Fifty

As usual it’s been too long since I posted anything of substance. I look at some of my favorite sites, and there’s something new posted every day and I have to think that they must not do anything else except blog. Either that or I’m very slow. Probably a bit of both.  Even this began as a zip file I just wanted to throw up, and now I’m into more than an hour spent writing practically nothing.
As stated previously the blog began as a series of mix cd’s made in response to the demise of my evil i-Pod. I called them now that’s what I call bullshit as a comment on the popular series of Top 40 compilations called Now That’s What I Call Music.  It was a way of processing the ton of music coming my way through friends, downloads, and occasional purchases while I was driving two hours down to South Jersey on surfari.
Many songs posted were originally featured on the cd’s.

I made the first one for Memorial Day weekend in 2006. Here is number 50.

A swell compilation of highlights from the blog so far. It will fill a blank cd nicely, or remain files you can do with what you please.

You can find the link in the comments.

Mine looks like this

Music To Traverse The Ceiling By

 
 

Different than the original, yet the same, too

Different than the original, yet the same, too

I had to post something to get that bad taste out of my mouth, and rehabilitate Brian Eno’s legacy instead of dwelling on an unfortunate, if lucrative, association.

I love this version of “1/1″ by Bang On A Can.
I think Eno’s original has benefited by being played by live musicians.
The fact that they were able to score Music For Airports is remarkable.
I usually play this version these days because I like the way the instruments and the room sound.

I admit the first time I heard Music For Airports I was underwhelmed. It was new, and sounded like Fripp And Eno without the electric guitar, which I needed as an anchor. I think because of the piano I gravitated to “1/1″ soonest. In the three decades since it has found a comfortable spot in my psyche. Airport ambience would benefit greatly by it’s presence.

A few years ago I picked up the version by The Bang On A Can All-Stars.

Here’s a brief excerpt from their 1998 liner notes:

“What Eno didn’t imagine was that his piece would be realized with live musicians. In his analog studio, methodically stringing out bits of tape and looping them over themselves, he hadn’t anticipated that a new generation of musicians would take his music out of the studio and perform it on live instruments in a public forum. Over at Bang On A Can we have always searched for the redefinition of music, exploring the boundaries outside what is expected……..All of the music on this disc has been created by living people in real time. Each of the four movements was recorded in a whole take on analog tape.”

Bang On A Can All-Stars: Maya Beiser, Robert Black, Lisa Moore, Steven Schick, Mark Stewart, and Evan Ziporyn

Back of original album

Back of original album

These are the liner notes from the initial American release of Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports / Ambient 1″, PVC 7908 (AMB 001)

AMBIENT MUSIC

The concept of music designed specifically as a background feature in the environment was pioneered by Muzak Inc. in the fifties, and has since come to be known generically by the term Muzak. The connotations that this term carries are those particularly associated with the kind of material that Muzak Inc. produces – familiar tunes arranged and orchestrated in a lightweight and derivative manner. Understandably, this has led most discerning listeners (and most composers) to dismiss entirely the concept of environmental music as an idea worthy of attention.

Over the past three years, I have become interested in the use of music as ambience, and have come to believe that it is possible to produce material that can be used thus without being in any way compromised. To create a distinction between my own experiments in this area and the products of the various purveyors of canned music, I have begun using the term Ambient Music.

An ambience is defined as an atmosphere, or a surrounding influence: a tint. My intention is to produce original pieces ostensibly (but not exclusively) for particular times and situations with a view to building up a small but versatile catalogue of environmental music suited to a wide variety of moods and atmospheres.

Whereas the extant canned music companies proceed from the basis of regularizing environments by blanketing their acoustic and atmospheric idiosyncracies, Ambient Music is intended to enhance these. Whereas conventional background music is produced by stripping away all sense of doubt and uncertainty (and thus all genuine interest) from the music, Ambient Music retains these qualities. And whereas their intention is to `brighten’ the environment by adding stimulus to it (thus supposedly alleviating the tedium of routine tasks and levelling out the natural ups and downs of the body rhythms) Ambient Music is intended to induce calm and a space to think.

Ambient Music must be able to accomodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.
BRIAN ENO

September 1978

I spent a great deal of time staring at the diagrams on the back cover. This was a tremendous influence on my understanding of music. At the time I had no idea composers like John Cage routinely drew pictures instead of scoring music.

For fun I include Fripp and Eno’s “Evening Star”, their most concise and fiery collaboration, from their 1975 album Evening Star.

1/1
Evening Star