Saturday, February 27, 2010

D. Boon: 100 Flowers Fan

100 Flowers doing "Presence of Mind" at the Anti-Club (1983):

This clip is of a great song off of the 100 Flowers' one lp, re-released on the must-have CD 100 Years of Pulchritude around 1990, and soon to be re-re-released on Warning Label Records. Almost immediately after John Talley-Jones starts the groovy bass line, D. Boon starts pogoing around in front of the stage. What a guy! Sigh.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Music for a Meditative Mood

I saw Ali Akbar Khan in concert once. These clips are filmed well to give you a good angle on Khan's sarod, an instrument about as much used in Indian classical music as the sitar. A space-age sound from an old instrument. Thou art that!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Music for a Meditative Mood

Pakistani music maestros perform on Pakistani TV. I would like to know the year on this, probably mid-seventies. Why can't Good Morning America have these kinds of musical guests?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And I Thought I Loved Gong

Perhaps you've seen the story the story of Sherman Hemsley and Daevid Allen (of Gong) posted elsewhere, on another blog. I first came across it when a friend e-mailed the story to me with a heading that read something like: "This is the weirdest rock anecdote I've ever read."

But if you have not read about the prog rock enthusiasm of Sherman Hemsley, famously known as the actor who played George Jefferson on the popular 70s T.V. show The Jeffersons, then I urge you...Nay! I beg you to read the tantalizing story linked below.

Myers, Mitch. "George Jefferson: World's Biggest Gong Fan?" Magnet. 5 March 2009.

Going back to my friend's e-mail, I was actually not astounded at all about Hemsley's love of prog rock. Back in the late 80s, I worked at Rene's Records on Melrose Ave. in L.A. One lazy afternoon, I was behind the counter when Mr. Hemsley came bounding up the steps into the shop, barefoot, wearing jeans and a t-shirt. One of the store's owners handed him a small stack of records. Hemsley paid him, they exchanged pleasantries, and then Hemsley dashed out the door and into his car, which I could see was parked in the red with its hazard lights flashing. Then he drove off.

The owner turned to me and asked with a smile, "Do you know who that was?" I did. He then explained that Hemsley came in from time to time and asked the owner to set aside anything by Yes, Marillion, and other prog bands. I never would have guessed.

But even with that knowledge, I was unprepared to learn about the fanaticism Hemsley had for Gong. For the record, I think it be would good idea today to have flying teapots all up and down the Sunset Strip. (Again, I beg you, read the story linked above.) Daevid Allen thought that was looney.

Anyway, I'd give my eye teeth to find a recording of "Festival of Dreams," the project Hemsley, a pianist, did with Jon Anderson of Yes. Oh, yes!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Steve Reich: Appreciations

This afternoon, I listened to The Desert Music (1984) by Steve Reich while falling asleep to take a nap on a work-free Presidents' Day. I hadn't heard it in over ten years but found it for a few bucks recently at one of the last (and best) used record stores in the Southland (Record Surplus on Pico).

One of the great triumphs of ECM Records — besides putting out some of Keith Jarrett's masterpieces of the 1970s and so much of Arvo Pärt's brilliant repertoire — was to have in its catalogue Reich's groundbreaking Music for 18 Musicians from 1978. Other notable Reich releases on ECM were his Octet/Music for a Large Ensemble/Violin Phase in 1980 and his setting of several Psalms in the 1982 recording of Tehillim, which was also one of the first — if not the first — of Reich's pieces coming out of his own immersion into Judaism. These three discs are probably my favorites, as they receive the most heavy rotation around the house, in the car, and in my head. Not too surprisingly, Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo has a similar penchant for the mesmerizing music of Reich. (Y'know, I always did like that Lee Ranaldo guy.)

The Desert Music, done for Elektra/Nonesuch, falls in the same aesthetic style as these other late 70s/early 80s works. It is relentlessly contrapuntal and pulsing. That's the Reich I love best, even more than his early tape-phase experiments like It's Gonna Rain and even more than some of his later works (with the exception of Daniel Variations in 2006, a haunting piece of music dedicated to the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl).

This is meditative but very active music, still stirring 26 years after it was composed (so much for my "nap"). I used to be more of a Philip Glass enthusiast in what I (and some others) perceived as a "rivalry" between these two New York minimalists. I remember even getting into something of an argument with someone over that non-issue. I think I even made the dubious claim that Glass's music was somehow more "emotional." (Funny enough, I first learned of Steve Reich in the liner notes of the Phil Glas/Ravi Shankar album Passages.) Now I don't take sides in such a pointless debate; I love 'em both. But I will say that it has been a while since I've spun Phil Glass on the turntable/CD player/iPod. Steve Reich has found his way to these places quite frequently and quite recently. For the uninitiated, The Desert Music is about as good a place to start as Music for 18 Musicians. Other great places to start:
  • Four Organs (1970)
  • Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ (1973)
  • Sextet/Six Marimbas (1986)
  • Different Trains (w/ Kronos Quartet) (1988)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heavy Metal Video Interlude, Part 2: "I Am The Master of The Enchanted Tune"

Candlemass "Bewitched" (1987)

Let me guide you through: The first minute and a half of this video is kind of Sergio Leone-esque for a rock video. So far, so good. At 1:30 lead singer Messiah Marcolin clambers out of the coffin, and the video really takes off. For the next few minutes, there are shots of him dancing and lip syncing that linger just a few seconds too long for comfort, but it is mesmerizing. And there are shots of live performances in which Marcolin does this wild stomping dance that I can only describe as a cross between MC5's Rob Tyner and one of the monsters from War of the Gargantuas (my favorite of all the Toho Company monster movies). But nothing quite prepares you for the moment at 5:50 when you are treated to something reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, but in a charmingly low-budget Swedish metal kind of way. Favorite video moment(s): All of the above.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Orange Crush in the Morning

Another re-post. Riposte? Enjoy post:

Eureka! Here's Slovenly playing "Orange Crush" off After the Original Style at the Anti-Club in 1987. A rare gem.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Heavy Metal Video Interlude, Part 1: "Grandmaaaaaaaa!"

King Diamond's "Welcome Home" (1988)

Is that the voice of King Diamond, or is that just my tinnitus acting up again? Go to the YouTube page for the full lyrics and then ask yourself the obligatory "What the...?" Favorite video moment: the ol' K.D. hamming-it-up in the picture frame on the staircase as the bow-tied boy runs to his "Grandmaaaaaaa!"

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cotton Candy: The Gold Standard of Rock 'n' Roll Narrative Movies

If ever a narrative film about a band inspired me to play rock 'n' roll, it wasn't Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (no way!) or Magical Mystery Tour (as good as that is). It was Cotton Candy (dir. Ron Howard, 1978). This is the story of a struggling high school band that existed as a kind of chump-rock salute to REO Speedwagon and The Carpenters. Actor Charles Martin Smith actually sang these songs, I think. Did he write them, too? Was there ever a soundtrack lp released? Get Teen Beat Records on the line pronto! The song "Starship" rules (if that's the song's name).

The most memorable performance in this flick, however, wasn't Smith or even the too-cool-for-school send-up of "I Shot the Sheriff" done by our heroes' rival band, Rapid Fire. It was Clint Howard as the manic band-manager Corky, with his bow-tie and touring-cap a-floppin'. I owe it all to one Papa Jon for turning me on to this masterpiece of a rock 'n' roll saga back in the murky yesteryears. Alas, I believe only part of this movie is available on the "you tube," and no one has had the taste to release it on DVD for the hungry masses. Enjoy what you can: