Alex Chilton RIP Big Star

 

Bach's Bottom

William Alexander “Alex” Chilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) was an American songwriter, guitarist, singer and producer best known for his work with the pop-music bands the Box Tops and Big Star.
Chilton’s early commercial sales success in the 1960s as a teen vocalist for the Box Tops was not repeated in later years with Big Star and in his indie music solo career on small labels, but he did draw a loyal following in the indie and alternative music fields.

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

The original artifact

I moved to New York City August 1, 1988. It took awhile to get settled which really means not about to get evicted. When I finally had enough coin to buy a little baggie of weed and make a trip to the record store it was sometime in March, 1989. I know this because I have a cassette dated April 1, 1989, which I must have made within a week or two of buying Big Star’s Third. I’d heard of Alex Chilton, knew he’d been a Box Top, and that he was responsible for music I needed to hear. Mixed with this impression was also tragedy, and or failure, and that while he was still making music it wasn’t as it turned out more Big Star. I’d never run across any of his stuff until I found 3rd which I bought and loved on first listen. It was recorded in sessions produced by Jim Dickinson at Ardent in Memphis during 1974, but never properly sequenced and released until years later.

Of course I was back at the record store looking for more within days, where I purchased my second Alex album, Bach’s Bottom, which was an entirely different experience. I’m dense enough not to have realized until just now that the title was a pun on “Box Tops”.
The title wasn’t the only thing that mystified me. The vinyl record of 3rd didn’t have all the extra songs the cd’s come with, just ten of the best, most solid tunes. No “Downs” for instance.
How did the brilliant songwriter and performer who crafted this masterpiece follow it up with the junk on Bach’s Bottom (1975)?  Exactly the question every Big Star fan wonders.  I went back to the record store and bought High Priest. More lame, barely listenable crap, including a throw away “Volare”.   After that I just zeroed in on the Big Star albums and avoided Alex’s solo work just like most post Velvets Lou Reed.

When I really liked something, I’d make a cassette copy to listen to every day and archive the vinyl.  I’d read somewhere once that a record begins to sound different after about eight plays.  I would have copied 3rd almost immediately. The blank cassette I had available was a C-60, so I filled the end of each side with “highlights” from those other albums.

One song from Bach’s Bottom I couldn’t stop listening to was “Take Me Home (And Make Me Like It)”.  Before posting this I did a little research and found that there are three versions altogether on the 1993 Razor and Tie version of the album.  I think the one I like is #2, but on Amazon, the sample you can hear has so much banter at the top that it cuts off before the song actually kicks in.  The version posted is dubbed from the cassette. It’s the only thing I really remember about Bach’s Bottom, maybe my copy had more than one version, I don’t know.  It took me half a day to find the cassette, which disintegrated while I made the transfer, in fact about 2:30 in you can hear where it was almost eaten.   The spirit captured by the recording is so great, I love Alex’s instructions about the headphones and the helpful advice at the end.  Everyone is obviously lit up like a tree,  the performance’s sub demo quality get’s by on charming exuberance and the song still comes through, even though he’d just previously sung “It’s The Singer Not The Song”, which by the way, isn’t true.
It’s got this great tension between what it is and what it could have been which is the story of Alex Chilton’s career.  That’s why I’m posting this and not one of the Big Star classics which I figure everyone else is doing.

I meant to get this up days ago, but I became suddenly busy with Globular Cluster.

"Global" Cluster had a blast at this show

Take Me Home And Make Me Like It

Here is a very brief video by William Eggleston shot in Memphis about the same time as sessions for 3rd (Sister Lovers) (1974). Captures perfectly the studio ambience of Memphis nightlife found on  “Take Me Home And Make Me Like It”, I think.
Eggleston has contributed the cover photos for both Big Star and Alex solo albums Radio City, ColumbiaLike Flies On Sherbert,  and others probably as well.  I’ll have to check later.

The Grandest Time

here’s another:

Be Nice

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

Tangoed Up In Blue

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Luis Albert Spinetta likes a crowd

Luis Albert Spinetta likes a crowd

Here’s another artist from left field catching me completely off guard. I was working on a 3 cd set of obscure prog rock, and I needed one more album or artist to make it complete. I checked out  Sakalli, a veritable gold mine of high quality music, specializing in 60’s and 70’s rock (with an emphasis on prog), looking for something I’d previously missed, when I stumbled upon Almendra. I’m not sure why I’d passed them up before, perhaps because they were from Argentina, and their albums were from 1969 and ’70, which is a little early for prime prog rock.

Spinetta Y sus amigos Almendra

Spinetta Y sus amigos Almendra

I downloaded Almendra II, listened to half of “Toma El Tren Hacia El Sur”, thought it had promise and burned a cd to play in the car (one of my favorite listening rooms). Later that day I returned to Sakalli, and similarly, Pescado Rabioso caught my eye.

70% of what I download without first hearing isn’t worth the effort, time, or hard drive space, but this was something else again.

The first song from Artaud also sounded worthy of a burn. I listened to the whole thing while assembling my annual Christmas cd’s. It wasn’t until I went back to reread Almendra, or check out another Pescado Rabioso album that I realized the same artist was responsible for all this music.

I ordered a ham, not a glam, sandwich

I ordered a ham, not a glam, sandwich

He is Luis Alberto Spinetta, and the founder, singer, songwriter, and guitarist in Almendra, Pescado Rabioso, and Invisible, all considered legendary in the history of Argentine rock.
Last week I downloaded eight albums, two are doubles. This covers The years from 1969-1976. He is still active.
It was really difficult picking out seven representative tunes, as the albums are all worth listening to in their entirety.
There are many songs over 6 minutes long which are really little suites.
The sound is uncluttered with the musicians playing the majority of the music live in the studio together.
It’s some of the most original and exciting rock music from anywhere I’ve ever heard.

Not square, but the record was round.

Not square, but the record was round.

His album Artaud, essentially a solo album released as Pescado Rabioso, was initially package in an oversized cover, awkwardly shaped, which would not fit comfortably into a standard record rack.

wiki

Anything but

Anything but

Luis Alberto Spinetta is an Argentine musician, one of the most influential of South America, and together with Charly García and Fito Páez is considered the father of Argentine rock. He was born January 23, 1950, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the residential neighbourhood of Belgrano. As a kid he listened to all kinds of music: folklore and tango, and a little bit later, rock. As with almost every other rocker of his generation, The Beatles would change his life. In 1967, in the midst of a repressive political climate, he formed a band called Almendra with school mates.
It was 1969 and his band, Almendra, recorded their first album. The band started recording and playing intensely and it became successful almost overnight. Almendra composed its own songs and the lyrics were in Spanish (something radically new). The subtlety and beauty of their sound would be one of the milestones (maybe the first) of Argentine rock. After two albums that enjoyed radio diffusion and deserved fame, the band split. Spinetta composed and recorded a new solo album, but an inadequate environment (he would later say that the mood of Argentine rock and rockers of those times were too “heavy” and negative for him) and the vast changes that success effected on his life made him leave the country.
After a lengthy stay in Europe, he returned to Argentina and formed a new band: Pescado Rabioso. It was destined to be as mythical as Almendra. With a far more powerful sound and expressing the tension in the streets of an increasingly violent Argentina, Pescado recorded its first album in 1972. It was both a continuation of the creative stream of Spinetta and a drastic change in the style of his music and lyrics. The band recorded a second album; although a third one carried its name, Pescado was by then dissolved; Artaud, recorded in 1973 and mostly a solo album by Spinetta, was a major breakthrough. Partly based on the writings of Antonin Artaud, Spinetta exorcised many of the demons of his past in this album. This process would open the door to a new era in his music.
In 1974 he formed a new band, Invisible. With his new band he recorded three albums; Invisible, Durazno Sangrando (together with Artaud, hailed as his best album ever), and El Jardín De Los Presentes. With Invisible, he left the powerful and rough sound of Pescado; the new tunes were more harmonic, soft and mellow, yet his work remained essential and revolutionary. Following this line, he embarked on a solo project, A 18´ del Sol, after dissolving Invisible in 1976–77. By then, ten years later after starting his career, his style had become a delicate amalgam of old and new; the old pop and (proto) heavy rock had merged with various elements of jazz and bossa nova. That unique flavour would become his style during the next half decade.
After recording and editing a failed album in the United States in 1979 (the only album that Spinetta lamented ever doing), with lyrics in English and destined to the US market, Spinetta returns to Argentina and starts a prolific era: he would record two albums with a short-lived Almendra Revival (one with original songs and the other live), and embark on a new project: Spinetta Jade.

More recently

More recently

Ana No Duerme
Toma El Tren Hacia El Sur
Algo Flota En La Laguna
Viajero Naciendo
Las Habladurias Del Mundo
En Una Lejana Playa Del Animus
Nino Condenado

The Liquor Giants

 
 
 
 
 
 

Ward Dotson on stage with the Gun Club

Ward Dotson on stage with the Gun Club

I used to buy nearly all my cd’s at NYCD on the upper west side during my lunchbreak from the Museum of Unnatural Labor Practices. They had two or three milk crates filled with cutouts and promos. At the time New York City was the greatest place for promo copies as there were so many industry jobs around. A solid third of my collection is stamped For Promotional Use Only-Not For Sale. Anyway the cd’s in the milk crates were $2 each or 10 for $15, so I always found 10 I was willing to take a chance on. Later on they were 15 for $10.

A lot of them are now in the basement. Sometimes something will make it back upstairs to the collection, but probably more often the cd’s and artwork are thrown away and the jewel case recycled.
Occasionally I’d stumble onto something grand like Red Red Meat, or in this case, the Liquor Giants.

I knew who Ward Dotson was, as I had been a fixture in the LA punk scene, and used to hang out at the Go-Go’s house as my girlfiend (typo I’m letting stand) Thumbelina (not her real name but my post breakup nickname for her referring to the shape of her head) sublet Belinda’s room while the Go-Go’s were in England getting famous. I pierced my ear one night with a safety pin in their kitchen. We were both going to do it, but at the last second Thumbelina chickened out. I think it was watching me sterilize the safety pin on a gas burner to the point of glowing red that did it.
Ward was a member of the Gun Club whose first gig I attended at the Hong Kong Cafe. I knew them through Kid Congo, an acquaintance (and Gun Club member) also hanging out at the Go-Go’s house at the time. Later Thumbelina dumped me for New York Doll Jerry Nolan who was then slumming in Levi and The Rockats. After Jerry she latched onto Mr Gun Club Jeffrey Lee Pierce.

I’ve still never heard the Pontiac brothers, in fact, when I left California a few years later I didn’t bring any interest in new music with me.
I dropped out of the scene because I got tired of being with people trying to be “cool”, and or “tough”. Everyone was a poser in my estimation, so I tuned out and instead plundered the past, listening to old Jump Blues, Doo Wop, and Country.

Anyway I found The Liquor Giants Here amongst the cut-outs and bought it with nine other cd’s. Every week I’d buy ten and then spend a couple days listening to them, weeding out the bullshit. For every good one there were six awful ones, but finding treasures like Here made it worth the effort.
I was hooked the second it leapt out of the speakers. At the time I lived at 225 East 2nd Street, so the title “67 East 2nd Street” had special resonance. Eventually I even found a “Q” cd in the cut-out bin and bought it because of the name check (it’s really bad, by the way).

Sadly NYCD closed it’s doors the same day I ended my 13 year marriage, December something 2005, a day I knew signaled the end of an era in more ways than one.

The tunes come from Here(“67 East 2nd Street”), Liquor Giants(“Here”, “Fake Love”), Every Other Day At A Time (“I Know I’m Wrong”, “Fire Brigade”), and Up With People(“Whore”).

As smooth as Crown Royal

As smooth as Crown Royal

(by Mark Deming AMG)
Ward Dotson once said that he left the band the Gun Club because he got tired of playing for people in black leather who never smiled (emphasis added-ED) and he responded by forming the considerably lighter hearted hard rock outfit the Pontiac Brothers. Given this logic, it probably made sense that after the Pontiac Brothers called it a day in 1989, Dotson found himself moving away from the good-natured crunch of the Pontiacs and started indulging his fondness for ’60s-style pop and the result was a witty and tuneful new project called the Liquor Giants. The group released their first album in 1992, You’re Always Welcome (which was released in some overseas markets as America’s #1 Recording Artists), but from the start it was obvious that this was a “group” in only the broadest sense. Dotson, who handled guitar and lead vocals and wrote the lion’s share of the material, was the only musician who played on every cut of the album, with a round-robin crew of various L.A. cronies pitching in on bass, drum, and keys (among them former Pontiacs drummer Dave Valdez on bass; drummers Dan Earhart and Bill McGarvey, and keyboard man Dan McGough dominated the supporting cast). The material played down the hard rock stomp of Dotson’s work with the Pontiac Brothers in favor of hooky but enjoyably unpolished pop/rock tunes that made no secret of their roots in the sounds of ’60s AM radio. You’re Always Welcome was released by short-lived indie label Lucky Records, and the second Liquor Giants full-length, Here, was released in 1994 by ESD; this time around, Dotson was joined by guitarist Steve Dima and bassist Joel Katz, with Bill McGarvey returning as drummer. While this might have suggested Dotson was settling on a stable lineup for the band, that assumption was tossed out the window in 1996 with the group’s first album for Matador, simply called Liquor Giants, in which Dotson played everything except for drums (another former Pontiac Brother, Matt Simon, was this album’s timekeeper), a few keyboard parts, and female backing vocals. The album found Dotson refining and broadening his pop influences, dipping his toes back into hard rock while still embracing the tunefulness of British Invasion pop and melding snarky humor with a heartfelt but realistic romanticism. Dotson once again was most of the “band” for 1998’s Every Other Day at a Time; coming clean with his influences, Dotson tacked on a few obscure ’60s and ’70s pop covers as unlisted bonus tracks, which subsequently appeared on a separate all-covers album released the same year, Something Special for the Kids. Unfortunately, Every Other Day at a Time proved to be The Liquor Giants’ last album for Matador, and their next album, Up With People, was recorded for an Australian label, Elastic Records, owing to Dotson’s significant cult following down under.

67 East 2nd Street
Here
I Know I’m Wrong
Fire Brigade (Move cover)
Whore
Fake Love

LiquorGiantsPlayAlongVinyl

Neil Young Wonderin’ about Chrome Dreams

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Did You Hear Something?

Did You Hear Something?

Neil and me go way back.  Harvest was the first non Beatles album I ever bought.   He has managed to stay an artist and avoid becoming a self parody and a hack, like Lou Reed.

Here are a handful of odd gems.  “Wonderin'”  is the only great song by Neil and The Shocking Pinks from Everybody’s Rockin’, although it dates from much earlier.  Chrome Dreams is the title of an unreleased Neil Young album.  It would have come after Zuma,  but instead he recorded and released American Stars And Bars in 1977.  Of course it can be found and downloaded without too much trouble.  “Homegrown” was remade for Ragged Glory.  “Too Far Gone” features Frank Sampedro on mandolin.
Inlay Back - Chrome Dreams
The rest of the tunes come from a bootleg called Hard To Find.
“Don’t Spook The Horse” was included on The Mansion On The Hill Ep, “Pushed It Over The End” is live and might be the version left off Decade, and “Last Trip To Tulsa” is also live and might be from 1974.  Or 1969.
War Song
“War Song” was a 1972 single by Neil and Graham Nash, and written in support of George McGovern’s bid to overthrow Nixon.
It has been out of print until recently. It is now available on Neil’s massive, and expensive new Archives set.

Wonderin’
War Song
Last Trip To Tulsa
Homegrown
Too Far Gone
Pushed It Over The End
Don’t Spook The Horse

Neil ripping on a "flying V"

Neil ripping on a "flying V"

Gillian Welch “Pass You By”

 
I really don’t know a thing about her. This song swings like a motherf*&%er. It comes from a Geffen Records promo cd compilation I bought as a cut-out, and is pretty much the only song worth listening to. It’s also the only music I’ve ever heard of hers and I like it very much. I’d be willing to cross the street to hear more.
gillian welch
wiki
Gillian Howard Welch (born October 2, 1967 in New York City) is a singer-songwriter whose musical style combines elements of bluegrass, neotraditional country, Americana, old-time string band music, and folk into a rustic style that she dubs “American Primitive”. Her recordings feature the harmonies and unconventional guitar work of her musical partner, David Rawlings. Welch pronounces her first name with a hard G /ɡ/ rather than /dʒ/.
Welch was born in Manhattan and was adopted when she was three days old. She moved to Los Angeles at the age of four. On her eighth birthday she wished for and got a guitar and lessons, and learned soon to play the guitar. Studying at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Welch discovered bluegrass music through the “mountain soul” stylings of The Stanley Brothers. After a short stint playing bass in a local camp band called Söfa, Welch moved to Boston and studied at the Berklee College of Music.

Pass You By is on this here album from 1996

Pass You By is on this here album from 1996

Pass You By

Okkervil River-The Stand Ins

 
 
 
 

Indie Band Hits Home Run

Indie Band Hits Home Run

So far this blog has mostly dug up older music you might have missed. There is, as always, a lot of great new music out there. Okkervil River’s The Stand Ins is an album worth hearing from last year, and is a classic example of an indie record achieving greatness. Most of the time the difference between “indie” and “classic” boils down to production values. They sound indie because they sound cheap, and they were. When a band transcends their station and creates work that can stand up there with the big boys, it’s really an accomplishment worth applauding. Most of the time it’s that one album when the planets were aligned, everything came together, and the results surprised everybody. These are the records that never leave my playlist.
I think the Stand Ins will turn out to be one of those. Based on the fact that it survived whatever hype and still sounds good in 2009, I think it will still sound good in 2018.
Because I’m old, it reminds me most of Lola era Kinks, if I were younger, I’d mention the Smiths, and a lot younger, Arcade Fire, but I really don’t like referencing other artists as a comparison because so often it’s not helpful, or fair to the artists.
Using a broad pallette of instruments, Okkervil River have a bright, folk rocky, sound all their own. Will Sheff’s songwriting is first rate. A world class act that will be hard to follow.

Minus the yard gnome, on tour in Wisconsin

Minus the yard gnome, on tour in Wisconsin


wiki

Okkervil River is an indie rock band from Austin, Texas. Formed in 1998, the band takes its name from a short story by Russian author Tatyana Tolstaya. They self-released their first album, Stars Too Small to Use, which led them to the South by Southwest music festival. After recording their first album in a garage, they signed with Jagjaguwar. Okkervil River continued by releasing four more albums, including critically lauded concept album Black Sheep Boy.

After a period of touring for Black Sheep Boy, Okkervil River followed up with The Stage Names. The album sold 10,000 in its opening week in the United States. The group released a free covers album, Golden Opportunities Mixtape from their live performances.

The band has garnered positive critical reception. Especially noted are each song’s lyrics, intricate instrumentation, and thematic albums. In addition, they were recently featured on the talk show Late Night with Conan O’Brien and have performed with high profile bands such as The Decemberists, The New Pornographers, and Lou Reed.

Okkervil River released their most recent album The Stand Ins on September 9th, 2008. They are promoting the release with a series of cover songs from the album on YouTube by people they’ve met as a band.

Okkervil River’s founding members became friends in high school in Meriden, New Hampshire, and after parting ways for college moved to Austin, Texas to live together and start a band. The band consisted of singer-songwriter Will Sheff, Zach Thomas on bass and mandolin, and Seth Warren on drums. Their first gig was at Steamboat in Austin on January 11, 1999.

On April 17, 2006, Okkervil River signed with Virgin/EMI in Europe. The label re-released Black Sheep Boy and its follow-up Black Sheep Boy Appendix as a double disc on April 28, 2006. Jagjaguwar eventually followed suit, releasing the Definitive Edition with extra songs and videos.

The Stage Names, their fourth full-length studio album (produced again by Beattie), was released on August 7, 2007. The disc features the solidified line-up that toured extensively on Black Sheep Boy and the Black Sheep Boy Appendix, with Cassidy replacing Draper who joined Shearwater. The album was met with critical acclaim and debuted at number 62 on the Billboard 200 with 10,000 copies sold.

Okkervil River released their fifth album The Stand Ins on September 9th 2008. The album was conceived as a sequel to The Stage Names. The album charted at #42 with 11,000 copies sold, according to the Billboard 200.[8] On December 12, 2007, the band freely released a nine-song mixtape entitled Golden Opportunities Mixtape via their website.[9] These recordings, along with the upcoming appendix, are the first to feature contributions from new touring keyboardist, Justin Sherburn, who joined the band in November 2007.

At a show in Wellington, New Zealand on 5 March 2008 it was announced that guitarist Brian Cassidy would be stepping down from the band as a full-time touring member. Shortly after this on 12 March 2008, it was subsequently announced that Cassidy’s temporary replacement would be Charles Bissell of The Wrens for their spring and summer tours. [10] In the autumn of 2008 Lauren Gurgiolo, singer and songwriter of the Austin, Texas band The Dialtones, joined as a permanent member, playing electric guitar, mandolin and banjo.

On April 21, 2009, the “Pop Lie” single was released backed with the B-Sides “Millionaire” and “Pop Lie (One Man Band Version)”

Singer Songwriter
Blue Tulip
Pop Lie
Calling And Not Calling My Ex

Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town/Monster ’69

 
 

I’ve always loved this song. “Ruby” breaks my heart every time. It’s amazing how topical popular music could be. What top ten hit today deals with shattered soldiers returning from an unpopular war in such a frankly disturbing manner?

This downer song was a hit, and still relevant.

This downer song was a hit, and still relevant.

The First Edition (later known as Kenny Rogers and the First Edition) was a country music/rock band stalwart members being Kenny Rogers (vocals & bass guitar), Mickey Jones (drums & percussion) and Terry Williams (guitar & vocals). The band formed in 1967, with noted folk musician Mike Settle (guitar and vocals) and the operatically trained Thelma Camacho completing the lineup.

The First Edition signed with Reprise Records in the summer of 1967 and first hit big in early 1968 with the pop-psychedelic single “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” (US #5). After several hits and misses the group (now billed as “Kenny Rogers and the First Edition”) once again hit the top ten in the summer of 1969 with the topical Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (US #6, UK#2).

For the next six years, the First Edition bounced between country, pop and mild psychedelia, enjoying worldwide success.

These guys were scary.

These guys were scary.

Steppenwolf’s “Monster_Suicide_America” is 40 years old, but sounds like it was written today.
Except the reality expressed in the song is worse now, making it more like prophecy come true.
Music was an important part of the culture. What has been lost saddens me. Fortunately, the industry as we know it, is dying
a not-so-slow death, so maybe something good will come of the demise.
Meanwhile enjoy the topical tunes. This stuff used to get played on the radio.

Monster is an album by the band Steppenwolf, released in 1969 (see 1969 in music) and was their first LP with new lead guitarist, Larry Byrom instead of Michael Monarch. The album was Steppenwolf’s most political one, making references to important issues at the time, such as the Vietnam War.

The title refers to the contemporary politics and state of the U.S., as in the lyrics to the title song:

“The cities have turned into jungles,
and corruption is stranglin’ the land.
The police force is watching the people,
and the people just can’t understand.
We don’t know how to mind our own business,
’cause the whole world’s got to be just like us.
Now we are fighting a war over there.
No matter who’s the winner, we can’t pay the cost.
‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose,
it’s got our heads into the noose.
And it just sits there… watching.”

The album was the first Steppenwolf album not to feature a US top ten hit, and can thus be seen as the beginning of their slow fall from fame. Even though this album, “Live”, “Steppenwolf 7” and “For Ladies Only” are today seen as making up the latter half of their ultimate prime, their days of “Born to Be Wild”-like fame were over. Still two singles from the album cracked the top 40, and Steppenwolf would continue landing albums in the US top 20 for a while yet, a factor that became more and more important during this time.

As seen above, the title track is a call for pacifism and a more ethical society. The tone, which can be seen as very provocative towards the political decisions of the US at the time, continues with “Draft Resister”, which glorifies draft resisters as heroes.

Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town
Kenny Rogers And The First Edition
Monster-America-Suicide
Steppenwolf

Red Red Meat /Califone

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

One long delirious swamp suite

One long delirious swamp suite

Every once in a while an “indie” record gets released that so nears greatness, and comes so far to kiss it, that it endears itself to me in a profound manner. Probably the best example is Little Feat’s Sailin’ Shoes, a record never far from the turntable since shoplifting it as a teenager in 1972. I’ve owned three vinyl copies and have the cd. (Vinyl #3 is another escapee of the infamous Malibu fire). In many ways, it pushes a lot of the same buttons for me as Bunny Gets Paid, Red Red Meat’s 1995 Sub Pop release, and another one of my favorite albums. They are both off-kilter country, folk, and blues rock mash-ups filled with great songs. Great listens from beginning to end that deserved bigger audiences than they got.

“Sulfur” is the amazing opener from an otherwise pretty weak last album, There’s a Star Above the Manger Tonight.
“Rosewood, Wax, Voltz+Glitter” is from Bunny Get’s Paid. I like that they used breaking glass instead of cymbals.
“Oxtail”, and “There’s Always Tomorrow” can also be found there. “Snowball” is from Red Red Meat, while “Stained And Lit” is off Jimmywine Majestic.
Tim Rutili, Red Red Meat’s leader, singer, and principle songwriter, began Califone as a solo album, which ended up with most if not everybody from Red Red Meat getting involved. Califone has fewer electric guitars, but otherwise is just an extension of where Red Red Meat was headed, anyway. Rough Diamonds are strewn across their entire discography.
“No Expectations” is Califone from somewhere unknown.

Early Red Red Meat.

Early Red Red Meat.

Red Red Meat was a ’90s Chicago-area blues-influenced alternative rock band. After their break-up, frontman Tim Rutili went on to form Califone, for which many of Red Red Meat’s former members, including producer Brian Deck, often record and perform. Tim Hurley went on to form Sin Ropas.

In 1984, Tim Rutili moved from the suburb of Addison, IL into the city to go to film school where he met bassist Glynis Johnson. Together with Ben Massarella their first band, Friends of Betty attracted a reasonable following. The 1988 studio pop album Blind Faith II included drummer John Rowan was not much of a success.

With new recruit Glenn Girard they renamed the band Red Red Meat. The bands name possibly came from Ben’s Truck washing business which cleaned meat carrying trucks on their way out of Chicago. Regarding the band name, Tim Rutili said in an interview: “i think we just thought it sounded good.” Red Red Meat released their first single disc including “Hot Nikkety Trunk Monkey” and “Snowball” in 1991. They were recorded with Brad Wood at Idful Studios in Chicago. Engineer Brian Deck who recorded the drums for the session was asked to become a full time member behind the kit, after the departure of Ben Massarella, who left for a job as a studio session drummer.

It was during the recordings at Idful Studios with Brad Wood that Sub Pop director Jonathan Poneman decided to sign the band making them the first Chicago band on the label. During the summer of 1992, Red Red Meat toured with fellow Sub Pop Chicago group The Smashing Pumpkins. Glynis Johnson left the band after ending a romance between her and Rutili after the tour. She later founded the short lived The Gore Gore Girls. Johnson would later contract A.I.D.S. and pass away due to complications that fall. The Smashing Pumpkins wrote a song “Glynis” as a tribute, which was released on “No Alternative” compilation. Sub Pop released Red Red Meat’s second album in early 1994, Jimmywine Majestic. It was a step away from the grunge and general label characteristics of Sub Pop but was generally well received. Massarella returned, instead of replacing Brian Deck on drums, began employing his “batterie” techniques. In 1995 Red Red Meat returned with “Bunny Gets Paid”, which, according to Sub Pop, “is easily one of the high points of the entire Sub Pop catalog.” In 1997 Red Red Meat released their final album, “There’s a Star Above the Manger Tonight”. (3 good songs-Ed)

Red Red Meat has since ended their contract with Sub Pop. They appeared in Scott Petersen’s film Out of the Loop, which documents the Chicago indie rock scene. RRM’s own Perishable label released Loftus in 1999. a collaboration with New York trio, Rex. Red Red Meat has since dispanded and each member has moved on to other projects. Tim Rutili along with several other Red Red Meat alumni founded Califone, a project which all Red Red Meat members have participated in at one point or another. Brian Deck currently is a American Music Producer based out of Engine Studios in Chicago, IL.

Later

Later

Sulfur
Rosewood, Wax, Voltz+Glitter
Oxtail
Snowball
Stained And Lit
No Expectations
There’s Always Tomorrow

The Geraldine Fibbers

 
 
 
 

GeraldineFibbers-Lost
I found Lost Somewhere Between The Earth And My Home, released in 1995, in the cut-out bin. Somehow pigeonholed as Alt-Country, this album defies categorization. While Jessy Greene plays violin and cello, nowhere in the credits does it say “fiddle”. It’s really more like the Velvet Underground than anything from Nashville. I believe everything Carla Bozulich says even though my favorite lyric is:

(from “Dragon Lady”)
Everything I say is a stupid lie
I won’t tell the truth even when I die
I’ll pick myself to pieces ’til the end of time
Then I’ll glue them back together in a stupid rhyme

The music is a tasteful balance between noise and music, played with feeling.
I’ve never been able to get into their next, Butch, released in 1997, which I found in the same milk crate as the first, but a year later. I just checked again, and while Carla wrote a decent batch of songs, there have been personnel changes and it just isn’t the same.

The Geraldine Fibbers

The Geraldine Fibbers

The Geraldine Fibbers were an alt-country band founded in 1994 by Carla Bozulich. Initially, band members included Bozulich, Daniel Keenan, Jessy Greene, William Tutton and Kevin Fitzgerald. While Bozulich had previously been known for noisy industrial music (Ethyl Meatplow), The Geraldine Fibbers fused American roots music and blues-influenced punk.

In early 1996, Keenan and Greene departed, to be replaced by Nels Cline, the band shifting to a more guitar-rock sound.

The band later featured Julie Fowells, Jessica Moss, and Leyna Marika P. on violin.

Dragon Lady
A Song About Walls
Blast off Baby
Get Thee Gone