Archive for July, 2009

Bintangs “Genuine Bull”

Genuine Bull

Commonly referred to as the Rolling Stones of the Lowlands, Bintangs are also one of the longest lived Dutch groups (they’ve been at it since the late 50s).  Prior to Genuine Bull, Bintangs had released 3 albums in the late 60s/early 70s and some fine garage rock/nederbeat singles a bit earlier (seek out 65’s “Splendid Sight” and 67’s “Please Do Listen”).   After years of personnel changes, Bintangs had finally stablized a solid lineup in 1974 and released arguably their finest album to date.

Genuine Bull was first issued in 1975.  Produced by Steve Verroca and recorded in Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, the lp is usually considered one of the best by a Dutch band.  Exile On Main Street must’ve been a major inspiration for these guys but I also hear, more distantly, the primitive, tribal sounds of Captain Beefheart and Dr. John etched deep within Genuine Bull‘s grooves (another point of reference: Roy Loney and the Flamin’ Groovies).  The album’s foundation is blues-rock (a medium Bintangs would never stray from) but this fine lp’s tense guitar playing and angst fueled vocals will also appeal to garage-rock and proto punk fans.  The first three tracks of Genuine Bull show off this lean, hard rock attack and the world is a better place for it.    The guitar work on Stone’s inspired gem “Hobo Man” is imaginative, “Insight Inside Out” is a raw garage rock/hard rock shouter, and “Agnes Grey,” one of the LP’s finest numbers, is downright epic.  Other tracks such as “New Orleans, New Orleans” and “Biyou Woman” stand out for their evil hoodoo swamp rock thang.   And while the latter description might sound strange knowing this band hails from the Netherlands,  Bintangs make their odd stew of American roots music work for them in spades.  Also of note is “Do John,” another swampy rhythm & blues number with a killer Bo Diddley beat, greasy harp and stellar guitar solos.   Genuine Bull is loaded with great moments like these; there’s plenty of character to be found here.

Overall, I can’t imagine anyone complaining about this group’s delivery.  Bintangs’ songwriting is very solid; the musicianship while reckless in a Rolling Stones/Faces manner, is still very impressive at heart, showing off lots of skill and talent.   Groups from the Netherlands always had a knack for mutating American blues and rock n roll traditions into something original and bracing.  Had the Rolling Stones released a record like this in 1975 it would have been seen as a blessing.  Genuine Bull is a much better album than It’s Only Rock N Roll or Black And Blue and stays true to rock n roll’s roots whereas the Rolling Stones of the mid 70s were studio slick and formulaic.

Bintangs have never really received their due.  It took almost 25 years for Genuine Bull to be reissued for the first time in 1999 (on cd).   The 2009 deluxe version (double disc) by Corazong is highly recommended as it includes tons of extra tracks and rarities.  So if you’re into pure rock n roll, ballsy, bluesy and decadent, check this great album out.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Hobo Man”

😉 MP3 Album | 2009 | Corazong | download ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1975 | search ebay ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

PODCAST 14 Jangle

rick

Running Time: 36:53 | File Size 50.6 MB
Download: .mp3
To subscribe to this podcast: http://therisingstorm.net/podcast.xml [?]

“JANGLE TOWN”

Choir “I’d Rather you Leave Me”

West Coast Pop Art Exp Band “Transparent Day”

Buffalo Springfield “Burned”

Ides of March “Give your Mind Wings”

Beau Brummels “Doesn’t Matter”

Baroques “There’s Nothing Left to do But Cry”

Leaves “Girl from The East”

Gremlins “Only Thing on My Mind”

Circus Maximus “You Know I got the Rest of my life to go”

Merry Go Round “On Your Way Out”

Dovers “People Ask Me Why”

Wailers “It’s You Alone”

Turtles “Wanderin’ Kind”

Merrell Fankhauser HMS Bounty “Girl (I’m waiting for you)”

Love “Gazing”

The Dawn of Punk-Blues

Few periods in pop music have a more distinctive and immediately identifiable sound as the ’80s. And after hearing most of the garbage that choked up the airwaves (and still on those nostalgic 80s shows/stations) it seems that’s about the only thing it had going for it. But well buried in the gut wrenching cesspool of cheesy synthesizers, lifeless drum machines and teased hair an ugly breed of bottom feeders worked in futility to claw their way out of the muck. Among them was one particularly grotesque strain – an ungodly rocknroll hybrid that can be best described as Punk-Blues. Don’t ask if it’s even a real genre (for what it’s worth, All Music is now using it), but there was a rash of like-minded roots-bashing bands in the 80s that would aptly fit that tag. Of course the origins can be traced way back to Howlin Wolf’s earth shattering electrified blues onto the cranked-up snarl of the Pretty Things, CCR and Capt. Beefheart—and so on…

Some essential albums:

Gun Club Fire of Love (1981)

Fire of Love

The first album to successfully wed the harrowing delta howl of Son House with the intensity of punk rock. Basically they did to the blues what Cramps did to rockabilly. Brimming with reckless slide guitar and twisted southern gothic lyrics that’ll have the PC crowd pulling out their hair, this is an original and utterly astounding blast of pure energy.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Gun Club – For the Love of Ivy

:) Vinyl | 1981 | Ruby | ebay ]

Gun Club Miami (1982)

Miami
Extremely dark with a more pronounced country feel than its predecessor, no other rocknroll album has captured the unsettling eeriness of pre-war blues/country. Complaints abound regarding the mix, but it never bothered me in the least. Ranging from haunting, desert-road-weary C/W of “Mother of Earth” to unforgettably fierce covers of “John Hardy” and Jody Reynold’s “Fire of Love.” One of the greatest albums ever. Really.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Gun Club – Mother Of Earth

:) Vinyl | 1982 | Animal | ebay ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

Also recommended: Death Party EP, the Las Vegas Story

Poison 13 s/t (1984)

Poison 13
Led by guitarist Tim Kerr (Big Boys, Jack O Fire etc), Austin’s Poison 13 were like a snottier version of the Gun Club with equally slicing slide guitar wreckage and buzzsaw power chording. “Biggest Mistake” may be the quintessential punk-blues cut. Their reworking of Willie Dixon’s The Seventh son is nothing less than genius. Not a weak cut.

This album, along with their fine 1985 EP First you Live and early demos, was released on the Subpop collection Wine is Red, Poison is Blue.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Poison 13 – My Biggest Mistake”

:) Vinyl | 1984 | Wrestler | ebay ]

Alex Chilton Like Flies on Sherbert (1979)

Like Flies On Sherbert

Chilton strung out on smack slobbering over a stack of Chess and Sun 45s. It may be an acquired taste, but this charming disaster of a roots-rock album is loaded with amazing tracks like “Hey, Little Child” and “My Rival.” This album’s endured a far longer residence on my turntable than any Big Star release.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Alex Chilton – My Rival

:) Vinyl | 1979 | Aura | ebay ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

Also recommended: Tav Falco and the Panther Burns Behind the Magnolia Curtain (Chilton on guitar) and Blow Your Top EP

The Scientists Heading for a Trauma (1985)

Heading for a Trauma
Off-kilter, noisy swamp-rock from this crew of Aussie minimalists. Funhouse era Stooges violates CCR while Suicide pukes in their faces. Something like that. Frontman Kim Salmon groans and shrieks over barrages of hypnotizing fuzz guitar. “Murderess in a Purple Dress” is a force to be reckoned with. Also includes a nice rendition of Beefheart’s “Clear Spot.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Scientists – Swampland

The Scientists The Human Juke Box (1987)

The Human Jukebox
Human Jukebox shows the Scientists willfully wiping away any last trace of commercial potential they might have had by unleashing this severely damaged six song album. Making their earlier recordings almost seem polished, this masterwork of trash shifts from the grinding, cheap-piano-driven “Brain Dead” to the delightfully droning blues crawl of “Shine.”

Since their songs appeared on different albums, often overlapping, Sympathy for Record Industry’s CD collections are a perfect source for their best tracks.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Scientists – Human Jukebox

😀 CD Reissues | Sympathy for the Record Industry | search amazon ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

Alan Vega S/T (1980) / Collision Drive (1981)

Alan Vega Collision Drive

Speaking of Suicide (Vega actually described his former band as “New York City Blues”), the headband-clad madman released two great solo albums with (gulp) drum machines. No need to fear, in Vega’s able hands it works brilliantly. It’s more on the rockabilly side (I’ve heard it described as electro-billy), but tracks like “Bye Bye Bayou” show him sloshing around in the same swampland the Scientists inhabited (Scient. even covered Vega’s “Raver”). Raw guitars (albeit rather mechanical – in a good way) managed to sneak on board, but Vega keeps a foot firmly grounded in the bleak territory Suicide roamed.

Some more similar-minded bands: the Birthday Party and Nick Cave’s early work – Pussy Galore – Blood on the Saddle –  the Gibson Bros – Tav Falco and the Panther Burns – Honeymoon Killers – the Fall – Charlie Pickett — and of course the Cramps.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Alan Vega – Bye Bye Bayou

:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

The 90s was also redeemed by a largely unnoticed (that is until the White Stripes came around) resurgence of the style, with great bands like the Gories, the Oblivians, The Chrome cranks and the Cheater Slicks giving the stale US punk scene a much overdue kick in the ass. Stay tuned for part 2.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Symphonion Dream”

Symphonion Dream

Symphonion Dream was the last album recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band before Jim Ibbotson left and the band began to move away from its traditional jug band/bluegrass roots. The big question is why in 1975, when the rest of the First Division of country-rock practitioners – the Eagles, Poco, Souther-Hillman-Furay et al – had been travelling for some time in the direction of simplified, stadium-friendly AOR, the NGDB went the other way and produced what I think is the best, and surely the quirkiest, psychedelic country album ever. The tunes are the band’s usual mix of originals and highly personalised covers; however this time the tunes are wrapped up in a sonic kaleidoscope of sound effects, seaside amusement park soundtracks, studio backchat, disconcerting segues, fade-in/fade-out interludes and odd instrumentation. So many familiar tunes, so many unfamiliar and occasionally unsettling treatments.

The album is bookended front-and-back by the eerie screech of an Aeolian harp, with a lonely tolling bell as prologue, finally fading out to the silvery chiming of the Symphonion – a large Victorian musical automaton sounding like an orchestra of musical boxes. The original songs feature some truly offbeat ideas, with John McEuen picking Flamenco on solo banjo – perhaps influenced by Bernie Leadon’s banjo opus Journey Of The Sorcerer on the Eagles’ One Of These Nights – and hammering the same banjo to produce steel band-like tones on the calypsoish Joshua Come Home. The more conventional tracks move smoothly from Hey Good Lookin’, played Bob Wills-style with Linda Ronstadt duetting Ibbotson on vocal, via a roistering Texas honky-tonk rendering of JD Souther’s The Moon Just Turned Blue, to the straight-ahead country-rock, all Telecasters blazing, of Bayou Jubilee. However, perhaps more memorable are the swampy, drone-laden treatment of that hoary old standard, The Battle Of New Orleans, replete with coda of marching drums and bagpipes, and the thumping bluegrass version of the Everlys’ maudlin (All I Have To Do Is) Dream, which revisits the Dirts’ version of Mike Nesmith’s Some Of Shelley’s Blues. Musicianship and harmonies throughout are as accomplished as we’ve come to expect from these guys, with McEuen’s fiery five-string banjo usually well to the fore, and production by Bill McEuen (any relation?) is faultless.

Exactly what the Dirts were trying to achieve with this album escapes me – perhaps a belated country-rock Sergeant Pepper? There is no conceptual theme as such, though the first four tracks on what was the second side seem to purposefully convey an atmosphere of the southern California coastline. Whatever: I enjoy eclectic albums that display a multiplicity of styles within, or even across, genres. This one never escapes being country-rock, but boy, does it stretch the boundaries.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“The Battle of New Orleans”

😀 CD Reissue |2003 | Capitol | buy ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1975 | United Artists | ebay ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

uReview: Neil Young “Trans”

Trans

I was a late bloomer to Neil Young’s music and still no expert. But I’m curious about this synthesized 1982 departure called Trans. What’s the score on this one?

12345678910 (54 votes, average: 6.89 out of 10)
Loading...

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“We R In Control”

😀 CD Reissue | 1999 | Polydor | buy ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1982 | Geffen | ebay ]

The Flames “The Flame”

The Flame

One of Carl Wilson’s inspired contributions to the Beach Boys, lead singer Blondie Chaplin and percussionist Ricky Fataar form the core of this unrecognized group. The album was recorded for the Beach Boys’ own Brother Records in 1970.

Before this record they were The Flames and fairly popular in South Africa. They even released six records before being spotted by Al Jardine and Carl Wilson in a UK nightclub. The band moved to California, changed their name to The Flame (avoiding confusion with James Brown’s Famous Flames), and recorded this solid but long neglected record. After this record, Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin would join with the Beach Boys for Carl & The Passions “So Tough” and Holland, Fataar going on to become one of the Rutles (the awesome mock Beatles act). Chaplin would later perform with the Band, the Byrds, and the Stones.

“See The Light” kicks it off high — this track even had enough to scrape the national charts. “Make it Easy Baby” and “Hey Lord” propel the album’s sensitive hard-rock mood with relentless multi-tracked guitar riffing. “Lady” reveals a Harry Nilsson influence and “Don’t Worry Bill” dives heavily into Abbey Road territory. But on tracks like “Get Your Mind Made Up” and “Highs and Lows” you can hear similarities to artists as diverse as Frank Zappa and Ernie Graham.

Unbelievably, the Flame recorded a follow-up record that has never been released. Both records are in desperate need of a reissue. The currently available “Fallout” CD is a blatant act of piracy and should be avoided at all costs. Why the Flame recorded such pure-hearted kick ass classic rock that hasn’t been reissued and never gets an ounce of airplay evades me.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Highs and Lows”

:) Original Vinyl | 1970 | Brother | search ebay ]

Harvey Mandel “Cristo Redentor”

Cristo Redentor

This gently psychedelic album is another of my vinyl bargain bin discoveries from the early ‘70s, which I picked up only because I knew Harvey Mandel had played with my favourites Canned Heat and John Mayall. Best known as a sideman – he later auditioned for the Rolling Stones on Mick Taylor’s departure – this was Harvey’s first solo work, dating from 1968, and an impossibly young-looking Mandel is pictured on the back artwork, a diminutive figure dwarfed by his big Gibson 355. The grooves within demonstrate not only his virtuosity on guitar, but also why his tenure with Heat and Mayall was so brief and why the Stones declined to hire him. Mayall described his technique as “Harvey’s wall of sound”, which aptly encompasses his early mastery of controlled feedback through his customised Bogan amplifier, and his later featuring of two-handed tapping, well before EVH got hold of that particular trick.

This album is completely instrumental, a rarity in pop-psych terms; the only voice to be heard is that of a wordless soprano singer on the title track. However, the stylistic diversity of the tunes and the variety of the backing tracks means that it is by no means repetitive. It was mostly recorded in LA and Nashville, using the top rhythm section sessioneers of both camps: Art Stavro and Eddie Hoh from the Wrecking Crew, stalwarts of the early Monkees sessions, and Bob Moore and Kenny Buttrey, soon to anchor Dylan’s Nashville Skykine. The LA tracks also feature tight string and brass arrangements, while the Nashville ones benefit from Pete Drake’s sympathetic pedal steel accompaniment.

The album as a whole is the best late-night-listening record I know of, beautifully laid-back funky arrangements fronted by a bewildering array of restrained guitar tricks from Mandel, dazzling but never flashy or tasteless. The titles give the idea: “Lights Out”, “Nashville 1AM”, “Before Six”. “Cristo Redentor” is Portuguese for Christ The Redeemer, and this title track is the exception to the rule of funk, being a solemn, operatic piece.

“Before Six” features some of Harvey’s most mind-boggling sustain work, the sound looping wildly between the stereo speakers, plus a mouth-watering cameo on Hammond by longtime LA collaborator Barry Goldberg and tasty brass stabs throughout. “You Can’t Tell Me” is funkier than your average Nashville session, with Harvey wringing out the best Memphis scale licks I’ve ever heard, intertwining with Pete Drake’s slippery steel chords.

The CD reissue, on the estimable Raven label from Australia, dates from 2003 and includes bonus tracks from Harvey’s Canned Heat days and from his own short-lived instrumental band, Pure Food & Drug Act. None of these quite live up to the quality of the solo album tracks, though Heat’s “Let’s Work Together” – the nearest Harvey ever got to being a pop star – has a certain boozy charm.

On this CD release the two sides of the original vinyl have been reversed, probably to make the best-known track, “Wade In The Water”, the leadoff track. The original running order works better, so if you get hold of this CD, play tracks 6-10 followed by tracks 1-5 for the most satisfying programme.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“You Can’t Tell Me”

😀 CD Reissue | 2003 | Raven | buy ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1968 | Phillips | search ]

Mickey Newbury “Heaven Help The Child”

Heaven Help the Child

In 1969 Mickey Newbury’s Looks Like Rain began a string of incredible albums that lasted well into the 1970s. Heaven Help The Child, released in 1973, was one of his very best records. It was also the last of his classic Cinderella Sound Studio Recordings (a garage studio). Produced by Dennis Linde, Russ Miller and Marlin Greene, Heaven Help The Child featured a whole cast of contemporary Nashville musicians: Wayne Moss (guitar) Chet Atkins (guitar), Vassar Clements (violin), David Briggs (keyboards), Buddy Spicher (drums) to name but a few. Many of these talented musicians had performed on Newbury’s prior albums’ Looks Like Rain and Frisco Mabel Joy. Once again Mickey Newbury was up to the task, releasing another hard-to-categorize classic.

“Heaven Help The Child,” the title track, is a soaring American masterpiece that was beautifully produced and featured poignant lyrics about Park Avenue, New York in 1912, 1920’s Paris, and of course freight trains. The lyrics, as always have lots of depth and the overall feel of the song becomes captivating when Newbury sings in his ghostly voice, “We’re all building walls instead of bridges.” “Heaven Help The Child” ended with an air of uncertainty but it goes without saying that this was one of Newbury’s finest creations. Another highlight, “Why You Been Gone So Long,” swings with a confident country-rock swagger and features excellent dobro guitar and Newbury’s smokey vocals which simmer throughout the song.

Four of the songs from Heaven Help The Child had been released on earlier LPs.  Here, “Sunshine,” “Sweet Memories,” “Good Morning Dear,” and “San Francisco Mabel Joy” all enjoy definitive reworkings.  Great songs from Newbury’s prior discs had become even better renditions for Heaven Help The Child.  From my perspective, “Sweet Memories” and “Sunshine” stand out for their dark tone.  Here, Newbury shares his pain with the listener and by the end each song you begin to feel it – the vocal performances on all these tracks are flawless.    You will never hear any country music like this, it’s experimental but more importantly, the honesty and personal nature of Newbury’s songwriting talents shine through.  It’s what makes him such a special, enduring artist.  By all means, if you find this album on vinyl, cd or mp3 pick it up, it’s absolutely brilliant.

Mickey Newbury’s music isn’t glamorous or pretentious, he never tried to be someone else nor did he follow any sort of fad (just like country-folk contemporary Townes Van Zandt). Newbury’s appeal was in the song, he brought you back to a familiar place and time. His music, while very complex, is easy to relate to; he was just a regular guy with extraordinary vocals and a unique songwriting talent. As mentioned in a previous post, the Mickey Newbury Collection (Mountain Retreat box set) has been out of print for quite some time. You can purchase a digital download of this album and many other Mickey Newbury classics at the official Mickey Newbury website.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Why You Been Gone So Long”

😉 MP3 Album | mickeynewbury.com ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1973 | Elektra | search ebay ]