Sunday, March 28, 2010

Church Music of Earth

This is the mighty Earth at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia (A.D. 2006?). If only Sunday with the Unitarians included more dream-music like this, I'd probably be there as we speak. To its credit, at my local UU church I once heard the organist/pianist play the music of Morris Tepper (whose genius guitar you may recall from late 70s Beefheart). Not bad, but also not really dream-music in the same way as this slow drone. Come to think of it, I saw Charlemagne Palestine play in a church last year. He composes for the church organ, after all. Read about that here, if you like.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hirsute Semiotics

What is the meaning of a man's facial hair? Or the length of the hair on his head? In rock, it can make all the difference. In the 80s, for example, all I had to do was shave almost all my hair off, and punks would yell praise from their cars, while one van full of metal heads in Glendale, California yelled "Punk sucks!" and flipped me the spike-wristbanded bird. (Little did they know that, at that time, I was totally on board with Metallica and, for that matter, metal-ish hardcore Dr. Know and Battalion of Saints). I did feel a little tribal pride at that moment, I admit. But what two bands could have more iconic haircuts than the ever-transmogrifying Black Flag and the Beatles? (OK, Bowie could.)

A timeline that never ceases to give me a smile:

Someone should make such a timeline for these dudes:

NOTE: Now that I think about it, it probably wasn't Metallica but Motörhead that I was digging at the time, circa '83.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Who's Then Given a Gun and Pushed To the Fore"

He's Scottish, but I'm posting stuff here by Dick Gaughan for St. Patrick's Day because his songs "Song for Ireland" and "Erin Go Bragh" off Handful of Earth are so epic and beautiful. The whole album belongs in your record collection immediately. Unfortunately, I couldn't find suitable clips of those off th' youtube. Here's his amazing "Workers' Song" which I was privileged to see him play live once. Still gives me goosebumps to hear him sing: "We're expected to die for the land of our birth/When we've never owned one handful of earth."

NOTE: When I say "his" song, keep in mind it was written by another (Ed Pickford). But Dick really made it his own, as all great folksters can do. He did the same with Leon Rosselson's "The World Turned Upside Down" (which will always beat Billy Bragg's version, IMHO).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"The Song I'm Humbled to Serve"

Ancestral Songs got me into the world of Daniel A.I.U. Higgs, especially the mix of far-out mystical acoustic songs and tape-manipulated noise with Jew's harp and banjo. Atomic Yggdrasil Tarot comes with an awesome book of blow-yr-mind acrostics, too. Working backwards, I've listened to some of his previous band Lungfish and liked it. He puts into rock the often missing element: poetry.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Heavy Metal Video Interlude, Part 3: "We Wear Leather! We Wear Spikes!"

Manowar "Gloves of Metal" (1983)

Must be seen to be believed. Here's a sample of the comments on the YouTube page: "awesome" and "true metal" and "this got me into viking metal." (Damn you, Thor! Now even I am kinda stuck on that guitar riff: da-da-DA, da-da-DA, da-da-DA, new-new-new-NEW-new-NEW.) Favorite video moment(s): the band riding through the land on horseback, the peasant fight by the fire pit, the giddy 80s girls jumping up and down in Manowar's audience, etc., etc.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NoMeansSlow: "Forget Your Life"

By the time I got around to seeing Canuck punks NoMeansNo, they were the headliners at a re-fueled Urinals show sometime in the late 90s, and they were decidedly more grey than their youngster selves who appear on camera in the above video. I was nonetheless blown away by them live. That relentless booming bass and the hyperactive but dead-on drumming make for a compelling sound. I was thus taken aback when I stumbled on this clip of "Forget Your Life" (circa 1981) a couple of years ago, in which neither bass nor drums appear at all. It's slow and doomy. It's forlorn. But the synth freakouts and spare presentation betray an art-rock savvy beneath the hard sonic surface that also characterizes NoMeansNo's later albums. This is from, I believe, a Canadian public access show.