Crimson Jazz Trio

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Happy New Year! I had this idea to put together a year-end-of-decade something, but really the decade we just finished was the worst of the six I’ve been alive in so far. Okay, the ’80’s fucking sucked, too. And it’s not just music we’re talking about. I was going to say something about the good times from 1967-1977, and then I remembered that whole Vietnam war thing.  Then I thought I’d go on about how great all the new technology is. In fact this blog would have been a fanzine I never would’ve bothered to cut and paste together, get printed, and assemble. All the music I don’t buy anymore. I used to spend over $1500 per year on recorded music. A fair amount of what I post came magically from the web. I love my cell phone, and digital camera. And then I’ll be out in public somewhere hearing what is ostensibly music, and there it is: autotune.  So as usual everything’s a decidedly mixed bag.

I also thought about a Vic Chestnutt memorial, but I’ve hardly heard any of his music.  A friend sent me a version of his “Kick My Ass” by Garbage, which is great.   Frankly, the minute I heard about Vic Chestnutt and his tragedy, I was so saddened that I couldn’t bear to seek out his music.  Life is hard enough without a wheelchair.  That he was out fighting the good fight was all I needed to know.  I listened to part of one of his albums once, and hearing him struggle to breathe and sing was enough for me.  I felt like I was suffocating. I hope he’s found peace.

Instead I’ve decided to post a recent discovery, thanks again to sakalli (see blogroll).  The Crimson Jazz Trio was lead by Ian Wallace, King Crimson drummer for one of their least loved periods.  He played on the decent, and kind of low-key Islands,as well as the truly horrible EarthboundRobert Fripp has done much to rehabilitate the reputation of this particular incarnation by releasing other live documents much superior to the aforementioned travesty.

The Crimson Jazz Trio will favorably remind many of The Bad Plus, as they are a jazz piano trio playing an interesting repertoire.  In this case it is the music of King Crimson. They cover a fair amount of the Belew territory, although you would not know it from this post.
I’ve spent a lot of time with this music over the years, so hearing it in a jazz context is really fun.  Maybe I’d enjoy more jazz if I knew the old tunes those bop guys were deconstructing in the 50’s and 60’s.

In researching this post I also found out that Ian Wallace passed onto the great gig in the sky on February 22nd, 2007, a few months after some of these recordings.  Even though he was a top session drummer for over 40 years, he is still best remembered for the year and a half he spent in King Crimson.

Ian Wallace 1946-2007

21st Century Schizoid Man
Pictures Of A City
Cat Food
Ladies Of The Road
Starless
Lament
Red

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

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

David Burned

A really big brain crammed with big ideas.

A really big brain crammed with big ideas.

Below is a personal email I received from my close friend David Byrne:

Hello,

Sorry for the mass mailing. I missed saying hi to some of you at the office Turkeyfest, but hope everyone had a good time. See you all next year.

I have, after many years, finished the Here Lies Love CD project – at least this iteration of it. It will come out in late February on Nonesuch. It’s a collaboration with Fatboy Slim , an upbeat series of songs sung each one by a different singer. The songs are about Imelda Marcos and Estrella Cumpas, the woman who raised her. The package includes 2 CDs (22 songs), a DVD with videos of 6 of those songs, and a 100-page book that explains it all. Singers include Florence Welch (of Florence + The Machine), Sia, Santigold, Nellie McKay, Sharon Jones, St. Vincent, Róisín Murphy and many more (even me on 1 and 1/2)… I am pretty excited about this, but who knows, it might just make people crazy.

We’ll see. There will be more concrete news, with links and music, in early January.

In the meantime, I have decided to rebrand myself, inspired by Philip Morris changing their name to Altria, Blackwater to Xe, and the train I’m riding on right now that calls itself Acela – none of which mean anything, but they are cleverly evocative. When I decide on the magic word, you’ll be the first to know.

-David Byrne
Midtown

P.S. Santa’s elves have stock of Bicycle Diaries, fresh from their polar workshop.

My tirade:

I received this because like an idiot I didn’t resist the latest Eno/Byrne. As a reward I got this email.

This thing pisses me off every time I read it!
Have you ever read anything smarmier? More cloying?
Since I’ve hated The Talking Heads, and in particular David Byrne, since 1977, this is a gift that keeps on giving.
First off it’s written to sound like a friend wrote it, sorry if I didn’t say “Hi” to you at the Fucking Turkey Fuckfest.
Yeah I was smoking a joint in the store room with Ras, the other black guy there, and making “Gay” jokes behind your back, so I missed saying “Hi” to you at the Fucking Fuck Turkey Fest!
David Byrne is not my friend. If I’d known him in school, I’m sure I would have picked on him. Knocked his cap off his head when I saw him in the hall. He could have me to thank for his “Swirly”.
I can’t wait to ruin my hearing with his collaboration with hasbeen/neverwas wanker FatBoy Slim. Two cd’s, each with a generous 11 songs apiece, plus a hundred page book that explains it all! And it’s about Imelda Marcos and the woman who raised her. What an utterly fresh topic!
And a DVD with six of those fabulous hits in video form.

I can’t help thinking I’ve already seen and heard all this before, and it bored me to death the first time! This smells even staler.
David Byrne does ironic take on Evita!
“I am pretty excited about this, but who knows, it might just make people crazy.”
I’m feeling a little crazy right now! Heck, I’d like to break the cd’s into little shards, and reduce the rest to unrecognizable pulp!
Send the paper elements off with the recycling so I can buy post consumer recycled toilet paper and wipe my ass with it!

And just in case we forgot that David is an artistic visionary, he drops the rebranding thing. Inject a little social commentary, namecheck Phillip Morris, and Blackwater.
I’ve got one for him. Why not Murano? It’s like one of those words, except that it’s a car named for a place that has no cars. Isn’t that sort of perfect?

And “The Bicycle Diaries”?!!!! Puhleeeze! Geek rides folding bike and thinks we want to know what he’s thinking.

I wouldn’t piss on it if it was on fire!

Here is part of a review written by an admitted fan on Amazon:

“I found myself abandoning the book about half-way through which is something I almost never do. The writing itself is not bad, but I just don’t think he has enough to say to make this work as a book. I remain a David Byrne fan and I’ll look out for his next effort, but I wouldn’t recommend buying the book.”

Of course it’s signed, David Byrne, Midtown. Midtown says it all.

And my “friend”s email return address:

David Byrne do-not-reply@topspinmedia.com

I didn’t post any music for obvious reasons.
This is a first.

Christmas Bullshit

 
 
 
 
 
 

The true spirit of Christmas?

The true spirit of Christmas?

I used to hate Christmas for all the usual reasons. Not believing in God, or that Jesus was anything but a radical rabbi for starters, crass commercialization, gathering with family, people I have nothing in common with except ancestors. The list goes on and it’s boring as hell.
A couple years ago I fell in love and acquired a daughter, which makes it impossible to hate Christmas without being an asshole. As long as she has a good Christmas, I have one, too.
She’s ten this year and has figured out that there is no Santa Claus.
Maintaining belief in the face of all the evidence took it’s toll. Last year we left out a plate of cookies and she realized the note Santa left was in Mommy’s handwriting.
One way I’ve learned to embrace the season is to make mix cd’s of Christmas music and send them out to family and friends as Christmas Cards.

Here are a few of my favorite songs.

First is Joseph Spence. This version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” is my favorite Christmas music.

Joseph Spence

Joseph Spence

Joseph Spence (born August, 1910 in Andros, Bahamas – died March 18, 1984 in Nassau, Bahamas) was a Bahamian guitarist and singer. He is well known for his vocalizations and humming while performing on guitar. Several modern folk, blues and jazz musicians, including Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Woody Mann, Olu Dara, and John Renbourn were influenced by and have recorded variations of his arrangements of gospel and Bahamian songs.
He has been called the folk guitarist’s Thelonious Monk.

Detroit Junior, center

Detroit Junior, center

Next up is Detroit Junior’s terrific “Christmas In Jail”.

Emery “Detroit Junior” Williams, Jr. (October 26, 1931 – August 9, 2005) was a blues pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. He is know for songs such as “So Unhappy”, “Call My Job”, “If I Hadn’t Been High”, “Ella” and “Money Tree”. His songs have been covered by Koko Taylor, Albert King and countless other blues artist.
Detroit recorded his first single, “Money Tree” with the Bea & Baby label in 1960. His first full album, “Chicago Urban Blues”, was released in the early 1970s on the Blues on Blues label. He also has recordings on Alligator, Blue Suit, The Sirens Records, and Delmark.
Detroit Junior began his career in Detroit, Michigan, backing touring musicians such as Eddie Boyd, John Lee Hooker, and Amos Milburn. Eddie Boyd brought him to Chicago in 1956, where he spent the next 12 years. In the early 1970s, Detroit toured and recorded with Howlin’ Wolf. After the death of Howlin’ Wolf in 1976, Detroit returned to Chicago where he lived and performed until his death in 2005.

Roy Wood (right) and friend

Roy Wood (right) and friend

Roy Wood’s Wizzard is next with their 1973 hit “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day”. Besides Wizzard, Roy founded The Move, and Electric Light Orchestra. More about Roy another time.

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens “That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!” is the only thing I’ve ever heard by him. Singer songwriter’s tend to scare me. I’m terrified of boredom. However, as this song is sublime, I’d be willing to explore more of his music.

Next up is “Christmas Time In The Motor City”, by Detroit Funsters Was (Not Was). (See earlier post)

“Merry Christmas” by NRBQ is a lovely tribute to Brian Wilson.

NRBQ is an American rock band founded in 1967. They are known for their live performances, containing a high degree of spontaneity and levity, and blending rock, pop and jazz styles of the 1950s and ’60s. Their best known line-up is the 1974–1994 quartet of pianist Terry Adams, bassist Joey Spampinato, guitarist Al Anderson, and drummer Tom Ardolino.

NRBQ

NRBQ

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
Christmas In Jail
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!
Christmas Time In The Motor City
Merry Christmas

The Great Unknown Ollie Halsall

 
 
 
 
 
 

“Ollie may not have been the best guitarist in the world, but he was certainly among the top two.”

John Halsey, 1997 (Drummer for Patto)

Ollie Halsall 1974

Ollie Halsall 1974

“Allan [Holdsworth] was very meticulous, very clear. He had a vision about what he was trying to do. Ollie was a lunatic, a chameleon, again: in any circumstance he’d find a way to make it work. Interesting guy! I liked Ollie a lot.

“I never heard him in PATTO, no. He just came recommended to me, and when we played we hit it off, I thought he was great. When we were a trio, we did some fantastic gigs – Mark Clarke, Ollie and me.

Jon Hiseman 2004, Drummer, founder of Tempest

I had been planning a Patto post for some time when a few days ago I stumbled upon Tempest, another top-flight band that managed to stay off my radar an unusually long time. This is especially surprising given my fondness for Patto and my long familiarity with Ollie’s work in Kevin Ayers band. The little I’d read didn’t prepare me for Living In Fear, The second album by Tempest, released in 1974.
He was a replacement for Allan Holdsworth, and the album generated even less interest than the first one so it seemed like an insignificant side project. As it turns out Ollie was the principal songwriter and singer, as well as keyboardist, playing synthesizer for the first and last time. Usually everyone focuses on his playing, but his gifts as a singer and songwriter are considerable, Living In Fear sounds a lot like a less jazzy Patto album, with Ollie’s voice and phrasing quite reminiscent of Mike Patto’s.
It is also forward looking as the cover of The Beatles “Paperback Writer” is revved up in a way prototypical of punk rock almost four years later.

Oliie, John Hiseman, And Mark Clarke

Oliie, John Hiseman, And Mark Clarke

“When I joined Tempest, I was surprised by the amount of Heavy Metal material that they were doing”, he rationalised to Melody Maker in July. “I was very surprised, because I thought they were going to be into something very different from that, because I was writing the material.
“I wanted them to do more songs, but I don’t think they really wanted to be drawn in that direction. I was always more Interested in singling and songs and writing than Instrumental things, but Jon Hiseman always wanted an instrumental-based band.”
-Ollie Halsall

“Given that late-period Tempest was essentially Halsall – chief singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, synth-player – plus a rhythm section. Ollie’s comments on the band’s musical direction might well be considered a trifle disingenuous. Be that as It may, his departure sounded the death-knell for Tempest.”

-David Wells-May 2005-from The Ollie Halsall Archives

Peter John ‘Ollie’ Halsall (14 March 1949 – 29 May 1992) was a left-handed guitarist and is best known for his role in The Rutles, the bands Patto, Timebox and Boxer, and for his contribution to the music of Kevin Ayers. He is also notable as one of the few players of the vibraphone in rock music. He was known as Ollie because of his distinctive way of pronouncing his surname with a dropped ‘h’. The Ollie Halsall Archive was established in 1985, with the aim of documenting and promoting the work of a unique musician.

Halsall came to London in 1967 to play vibraphone with the pop rock outfit Timebox (which included bassist Clive Griffiths and keyboardist ‘Professor’ Chris Holmes. Halsall took up guitar, they enlisted Mike Patto on vocals and drummer ‘Admiral’ John Halsey.

It has been suggested that the electric guitar parts played in Donovan’s psychedelic 1968 single “The Hurdy Gurdy Man” were played by Halsall.

In 1970, following the departure of Holmes, Timebox evolved into the band Patto. They played a unique blend of progressive Jazz rock featuring Halsall’s guitar work, which developed legendary status.

In 1973, Halsall left to join Jon Hiseman’s Tempest. After less than a year, he quit and did numerous sessions including a track for Kevin Ayers which this led to a permanent position in Ayers’ band The Soporifics.

In 1975, Patto staged a brief reunion comprising just three benefit gigs. The reuniting of Halsall and Patto sparked the formation of Boxer during 1975. Boxer never reached its true potential, as Mike Patto died in 1979 during the mid term of their contractual obligations to the Virgin record label and are best remembered for their debut album Below The Belt and its controversial sleeve design.

Probably the best known recording of Halsall is his work on the album The Rutles (1978), on which he plays many of the instruments and provides backing and lead vocals, most notably on the tracks “Doubleback Alley”, “With a Girl Like You” and “Get Up and Go”. Eric Idle was cast in his place in the accompanying film and Halsall only featured as a very minor cameo role as Leppo, the fifth Rutle who became lost in Hamburg.

During 1976 Halsall had rejoined Ayers with whom he stayed for the next sixteen years. In 1989, he replaced ill Enrique Sierra of Radio Futura, a Spanish rock band.

A finished solo album remains unreleased – produced by Robert Fripp.

Halsall died from a heroin overdose in 1992.

Whilst working with Radio Futura, Ollie volunteered to chaperone one of the band who had become hooked on heroin. Although a drinker, Ollie had emerged relatively unscathed from his rock career. so it came as a complete shock when he died of an overdose in 1992, having spent all his considerable earnings on heroin.

He had been hooked on it by the very musician he was trying to protect, who had insisted that, whilst a more expensive pastime, there was no danger if you smoked instead of injecting.

On the night of 29 May 1992, in the flat he shared at 13 Calle de la Amargura (‘Bitterness Street’), Madrid, desperation drove Ollie to try the cheaper way. He misjudged the quantity and was found dead the next morning.

The Musicians’ Union paid the expenses and his girlfriend, singer Claudia Pujol, brought his ashes back to be scattered on the beach at Cala Deià.

Sittin’ Back Easy
(Patto)
Living In Fear
Paperback Writer
Yeah Yeah Yeah
Waiting For A Miracle
Dance To My Tune

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