Archive for the ‘ Art ’ Category

Bobb Trimble “Iron Curtain Innocence”

Iron Curtain Innocence

There is nobody quite like Bobb Trimble in the world of rock n roll. Trimble released two great underappreciated records in the early 80s (private press – real lo-fi). His vision is very deep, personal, and absolutely original with a strong outsider, late night feel. His music was totally out of sync with the times but Bobb waved the psych flag high and proud and managed to find an audience among 60s record collectors.

The sound of Iron Curtain Innocence is unique, but somehow timeless, and it defies much of the genre categorization I have often found simple. The songcraft takes a few spins to rest comfortably in your head (music that wants to belong deep in your psyche), but when they take hold they root in deep.

Bobb seems to craft his albums around one song; in this case it’s “One Mile From Heaven.” This track recently got to me in a way like my all time favorite, “God Only Knows.” It’s not the spiritual references, I don’t think, though both tracks indeed have ethereal qualities. It’s just one of those records that makes you want to cry for no reason at all, when it hits you in the right spot, at the right time.

On Bobb’s 1982 Harvest of Dreams it’s “Premonitions.” Both songs appear twice at the beginning and end of side 1, with separate, but similar versions. The effect of this technique is quite grabbing, and it gets you diving back into Bobb’s world whenever you get the chance.

Some consider Harvest of Dreams the greatest psych album after 1975. It’s full of beautiful dreamy tunes like “Take Me Home Vienna” and the killer opener “Premonitions – The Fantasy.” “Selling Me Short” is superb, and it’s exciting to hear Trimble explode in anger nearing the song’s chaotic fuzzy ending.

Before these records saw release on Secretly Canadian, they had been bootlegged by Radioactive Records, also known as Fallout Records (please do not buy Fallout or Radioactive!). But thanks to the work of good people like Kris Thompson and Douglas McGowan both of Bobb’s albums are finally legitimately available in CD and vinyl reissues. Excellent stuff and highly recommended.

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“One Mile From Heaven (Short Version)”

Aside: Is it just me, or are there Wizard of Oz references sprinkled throughout this record?

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Os Mutantes “Mutantes”

Mutantes

Any Mutantes record is a mind-blower and this one makes an unforgettable introduction. The music and voice of Os Mutantes transcends any language barrier such that even the most literary of music fans can still fall deep for these dazzling sounds. David Byrne, who reissued an anthology of the Mutants on his Luaka Bop label, seems to back this sentiment up in the fantastic liner notes to Stop Making Sense: “Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily.” One phrase echoes in my head when I listen to Os Mutantes: ‘better than the Beatles.’

Though greatly inspired by them, Os Mutantes expanded the music further than The Beatles were capable, and still maintained the disparate elements of pop song and art form. Laced with the sexiest assortment of fuzz tones and electronic effects, the production is startling and the compositions are eclectic, addictive, and lovely.

Os Mutantes’ history is as complex and interesting as their music; they are one of the best known bands of the Tropicália movement and aimed straight at the frightening political climate of Brazil 1968. With no small thanks to Byrne’s efforts, serious interest in their music led the band to reform and they are performing and releasing new records today.

No serious rock collection overlooks the Mutants. At the same time, the joy in their music should appeal universally and to all tastes.

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“Nao Va Se Perder Por Ai”

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Aorta “Aorta”

Aorta

Aorta was a highly talented rock band from Rockford, IL that released two albums throughout 1969 and 1970. The band was originally known as the Exceptions, a popular soul rock group that played around the Chicago area and released a handful of singles. It’s interesting to note that the Exceptions had at one time included future members of H.P. Lovecraft (another great Chicago psych band), the New Colony Six, Chicago, The Buckinghams, and Illinois Speed Press. The Exceptions eventually morphed into Aorta when band members felt a more progressive direction was needed.

In 1969 Columbia released this startling record which was a mix of psychedelia, soul, jazz, folk, and rock. The album was housed in a beautiful, graphic sleeve that has always overshadowed the great music from within. Musically speaking, Aorta’s sound comes close to Boston band Listening or even the more psychedelic aspects of early Blood, Sweat and Tears during its Al Kooper phase. There seems to be some kind of concept that reoccurs under the Mein Vein theme. Aorta is solid throughout though, featuring strong musicianship, inventive studio wizardry, superb songs with a healthy dose of fuzz guitar and wonderful string and horn arrangements.

Some songs like Heart Attack and Ode To Missy Mxyzosptlk have lots of organ and are very early stabs at what would later be coined progressive rock. Ode to Missy has some intense guitar solos and a great studio psych out ending that will put your stereo speakers on overdrive. A personal favorite is the more restrained Sprinkle Road to Cork Street, which is a dramatic folk-rock track with horns and a beautiful medieval-like intro. Trippier tracks like the spooky Catalyptic with its ethereal, acid church organ work extremely well too and make it clear that these guys could play any style of music well. What’s In My Mind’s Eye is a great lost piece of psychedelic pop that has really cool disembodied vocals and a prominent horn arrangement.

Aorta may seem grandiose and even downright indulgent at times but make no mistake this really is a great lost record. Vinyl originals are easy to come by and sell relatively cheap on Ebay as Aorta was a very popular local band. Both albums have even been reissued on CD a few years back and more recently as a digital download. Conclusion: definitely pick this great album up if you’re looking for some far out, wild psychedelia with a hint of early progressive rock.

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“What’s In My Minds Eye”

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Roy Wood “Boulders”

Boulders

Roy Wood is one of the architects of ELO and The Move, and possessed some of the most eclectic tastes and interesting ideas of any pop artist in his time. Boulders, his self-produced 1969 (though released 1973) solo-outing combines the hard rock of The Move with Roy Wood’s classical tastes, satisfying pop composition skills, and studio wizzardry.

A fantastic listen from start to finish. “Songs of Praise” might throw off casual ears with layers of harmonized vocals, but throughout the record the dubbed vocals are played almost as masterfully, though more humorously to be sure, as our old friend Nilsson. There’s the brilliantly produced “Wake Up,” with double-tracked acoustic guitars in stereo, flutes, cello, best of all: percussion from a puddle of water! Elsewhere we hear sped up and slowed down vocals, plentiful horns and woodwinds. Delicate sleigh bells and shakers, tiny mistakes, xylophone accents; there are a million precious details. It sounds as if Wood had picked out toys and instruments from the studio like it were a candy store. Additionally, it gives the feel of a fellow finally getting the control over the studio he’s always needed, and just having a blast with it. It is comforting in a strange way to know the record was designed entirely by Roy, making each ornament of sound stand out a bit more.

Despite Roy’s legacy of music in other projects The Move, ELO and Wizzard, I consider Boulders to be his finest work. Roy writes to us on the sleeve of the recent reissue and asks that we not distribute this album illegally online. Boulders is a brilliant listen and is truly worth your money.

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“Wake Up”

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Flower Travellin’ Band “Satori”

This was Japan’s premier hard rock group. They recorded several albums during the late 60’s and early 70’s though Satori and Made In Japan are their very best works. Satori is one of hard rock’s great lost records that finds common ground with Monster Movie era Can, the Stooges’ Funhouse, MC5’s High Time, Blue Cheer’s Insideoutside and Guru Guru’s self-titled 1973 lp. It’s an album that weds bludgeoning guitar riffs with philosophies from the Eastern world. Some have even gone as far to say that had Buddha formed a hard rock group, it would most likely resemble the music played by the Flower Travellin’ Band.

Funny notes aside, the band also has one foot firmly planted into the space rock era, meaning Satori will also appeal to listeners smitten by the sounds of Ash Ra Temple, Popol Vuh, Faust, Amon Duul and Embryo. Joe Yamanaka, the lead vocalist comes across as an underground Robert Plant, and by the time Satori Part 2 kicks in, your head will be blown off clean. This track has some of the deadliest eastern guitar riffs known to man and it’s held down by a heavy blues back beat. Yamanaka shouts, “There is no up or down” throughout this beautiful display of chaos. It’s really that good, and unlike anything I have heard before or since. Map begins softly but kicks in with some intense guitar playing and the kind of youthful vigor that’s only associated with teenagers.

Satori is the kind of record that unites punks, prog enthusiasts, metalheads and psych/garage fans. Its guitar playing is laced with eastern drones and Yamanaka’s strangulated vocals transcend the era, making Satori truly original and essential for any serious rock fan.

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“Satori Part 2”

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The C.A. Quintet “Trip Thru Hell”

Trip Thru Hell

The C.A. Quintet’s Trip Thru Hell is one of the most unique LPs from the 60s. It was a small indie pressing of under 500 from the Candy Floss label, making it a very rare 1968/1969 release. Originals will set you back a pretty penny (possibly over $1,000) but are worth it considering the CD version does not faithfully recreate the back side of the LP.

Prior to this LP, the Minneapolis-based C.A. Quintet had released a few respectable, though restrained, garage rock singles. Then something tweaked in the mind of Ken Erwin, the mastermind behind the Quintet, and the band’s frat rock would become infused with a dark, weird edge.  The Trip came housed in a classic, striking jacket and was a truly original acid concept album chronicling the hells of earth. It’s an album that takes you into another world, another mind, and there are some deep, lysergic excursions to behold.  The title track is a 9-minute instrumental with a prominent bass groove, angelic and eerie background vocals, shimmering organ, a suprisingly effective phased drum solo, and demented guitar distortions. The track may not sound as demonic as its title implies, but  it was unlike anything recorded before or since, and certainly worth the trip.  “Cold Spider” has Ken Erwin screaming his lungs out over some nice whacked out raga leads and Hendrix-style feedback. They bust out the brass for “Colorado,” “Sleepy Hollow Lane,” “Smooth As Silk,” “Trip Thru Hell (Part 2)” and “Underground Music,” which are dark oddities and compelling highlights.

Listening to this record may be an overwhelming experience for some, so in one sense it’s definitely an acquired taste. It’s pure psychedelia with a strong vision, and does not fit the ‘incredibly strange music’ tag at all. The C.A. Quintet were an engmatic band that was full of life but by the end of the 60s they faded into obscurity.  A 2LP vinyl reissue is available from Sundazed.

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“Underground Music”

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Lou Reed “Berlin”

Berlin

This album came out after the smashing Transformer. Berlin doesn’t rock and thrash in a perfectly sensible way like T-former, but it is understated and melodically enchanting, and you can grow with it in an unholy, or perhaps sacred way.

It plays like a miniature opera, with eerie sound montage and smoky piano interludes. Don’t expect the stabby guitar glam punk of this album’s predecessor; Berlin is sleepy and sad, beautifully orchestrated and a moody concept album. A few upbeat numbers will keep you coming back for more. It’s hard to remember exactly why you like this album when you replay it for the third time, but you’ll find yourself saying.. “oh yeah, oh yeah this one too!”

How Do You Think It Feels is a great laid back driver, with some Kicks style Lou vox going on. Caroline Says I is a pretty raucous, loosely based version of VU song Stephanie Says, which receives its full tribute in Caroline Says II. Men of Good Fortune is another Reedy classic receiving the Berlinesque operatic treatment. All together it’s one weird record, but a perfect Lou Reed experience, it’s really what he should have been up to all along. Transformer for the pizza party, Berlin for the doped up after-hours party.

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mp3: Sad Song

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The Beach Boys “Love You”

Love You

This is my 2nd favorite Beach Boys record. But damn if I didn’t have to work for it. When you are a Beach Boys nut, everything you read about this record makes you want to conquer it, but it simply isn’t possible your first time through.

On around your 5th time you start to get the hang of the songs. Clearly you are already digging I’ll Bet He’s Nice, easily the stand-out track with its chirpy, whirring, bubbly synth attacks, and maybe even laughing along with Johnny Carson, which the Boys actually got to perform on the late night show! When you hear it the 6th and 7th times, you’ll be by yourself and it’ll be during a nap, but it is at this point that The Night Was So Young and Airplane stuck in your head. Even the album opener should start to resonate with that Love You warmth around now.

10 plus listens and you’ll be tired of Pet Sounds. Even Let’s Put Our Hearts Together is starting to sound good and you simply love Dennis’ I Wanna Pick You Up and Brian’s soaring Love Is A Woman. It takes getting used to, but Brian’s ragged voice and the orchestra of synthesizers on this album weave a sonic and melodic tapestry as retro, textured and beautiful as its quilted album cover.

You can ignore 15 Big Ones (the album packaged along with Love You as a twofer), in fact I would recommend searching for Love You on vinyl so you don’t have to deal with it. Actually, there is one magic take on Big Ones: Had To Phone Ya.

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“Let Us Go On This Way”

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Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band “Trout Mask Replica”

Trout Mask Replica

The Captain’s 10 Commandments for Guitarists

1. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS
That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere.
2. YOUR GUITAR IS NOT REALLY A GUITAR
Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you’re good, you’ll land a big one.
3. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSH
Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn’t shake, eat another piece of bread.
4. WALK WITH THE DEVIL
Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.
5. IF YOU’RE GUILTY OF THINKING, YOU’RE OUT
If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.
6. NEVER POINT YOUR GUITAR AT ANYONE
Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.
7. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHURCH KEY
You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That’s your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song “I Need A Hundred Dollars” is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he’s doing it.
8. DON’T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENT
You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.
9. KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACE
When you’re not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don’t play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.
10. YOU GOTTA HAVE A HOOD FOR YOUR ENGINE
Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow.

(Via Music Thing)

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“Veterans Day Poppy”

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Scott Walker “Scott 4”

Scott 4

Scott Walker sure has an interesting career going. Starting as a teen pop idol in the early sixties, moving to session work on electric bass with Jack Nitzsche, Scott later formed the fabulous Walker Brothers (neither of which were Walkers, or brothers for that matter), broke away to a solo career that is the focus of this review, and in recent years has been recording acclaimed experimental music, his The Drift making Pitchfok Media’s top 10 albums of 2006.

Scott Walker’s albums from 1967 to 1969, Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3, and Scott 4 are all great and consistently satisfying records. Walker is kind of a psychedelic crooner, a deep tenored and dramatic singer backed with a full orchestra and groovy rock combo. His tunes almost sound kitschy, but should you choose to pay attention, you’ll find the words and images that no ordinary voice-man would dream to play with. It’s clear why David Bowie was so inspired by Scott; reading along with the lyric sheet is a mind wrenching exercise.

But I have to recommend treating this album as a series of poems. It’s obvious that the lyrics came before, and are tantamount to, the melodies and accompaniment. But that’s not to say that you won’t be singing along to Get Behind Me or any other great melodies on this record. On all of Scott’s earlier solo albums, Jacques Brel is a prominent songwriter, but on 4, Scott takes complete control.

There’s a new box set out but I think it would be cooler if you bought each separately and chronologically. Let us know when you get to 4.

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“The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated To The Neo Stalinist Regime)”

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