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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Very happy with the feel of this mix. I wanted to start off with a winter theme but it’s hard to stick to a theme like that without it being an unlistenable bummer. I’ve been really into psychedelic cowboy and Los Angeles 1960s studio pop lately. Lee Hazlewood, The Monkees, Curt Boettcher. Speaking of that, man you gotta get the new NUGGETS comp.

This mix feels, to me, like traveling. The reality of traveling. The excitement of inertia and its fade into tedium. Sits well with being stuck in the airport, wondering if you have time to get the all important drink before boarding, jetlag. Taxis and Taxiing. Not knowing what’s day or night anywhere anymore. Not knowing the language anyone is speaking.

Click for biggens.

Works in iTunes, just use the .M3U file included. It’s actually a pain in the ass to get tags to work between iTunes and Foobar, iTunes tends to mess tags up or do something proprietary to them. Dunno. But this worked okay.

WE ALL MAKE THE FLOWERS GROW: A Mix from Ian! for Winter 2009/2010

Although revisionist historians will claim that any Shadows of Knight best-of that includes “Gloria” will cover just about everything you’ll ever need on this Chicago punk band (and usually acting as if Van Morrison’s and Them’s original was the actual hit — wrong), true believers have long championed their two original albums for the Dunwich label, especially their debut long-player named after their big hit. Why? Simply because it positively rocks with a raw energy of a band straight out of the teen clubs, playing with a total abandon and an energy level that seems to explode out of the speakers. Equal parts Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Who, and snotty little Chicago-suburb bad boys, the Shadows of Knight could easily put the torch to Chess blues classics, which make up the majority of the songs included here. Their wild takes on “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “Oh Yeah,” and “I Got My Mojo Working” rank right up there with any British Invasion band’s version from the same time period. Original material was never plentiful on either SOK long-player, but worth checking out are “Light Bulb Blues,” the blues ballad “Dark Side,” and the why-me? rocker “It Always Happens That Way.” Completing the package is the inclusion of three bonus tracks, the single-only “Someone Like Me” and an alternate version, and “I Got My Mojo Working,” which is vastly superior to the take on the original album. A not-too-vastly-different alternate mix of “Oh Yeah” completes the bonus tracks, although the original album version is curiously missing from this otherwise excellent package. Nonetheless, a reissue well worth adding to the collection. If you’re only going to own one Shadows of Knight package, you could, and should, start right here.

The original LP version of BACK DOOR MEN, the second by the legendary white Chicago garage punk/blues outfit, was one of the most sought-after artifacts of mid-’60s punk rock. Back Door Men was a loud, feedback-laden, sneering piece of rock & roll defiance, mixing raunchy anthems to teenage lust (“Gospel Zone,” “Bad Little Woman”), covers of Chicago blues classics (Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful,” Jimmy Reed’s “Peepin’ and Hidin'”), raga rock (“The Behemoth”), folk-rock (“Hey Joe,” “Three for Love,” “I’ll Make You Sorry”), and a blues-punk grab off of commercial Top 40 (“Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day”) all on one 12″ platter. What makes the record even more startling is that every one of these tracks, however far afield they go from one another, works. The band strides across the music spectrum with a reach and boldness that most listeners usually only associate with the likes of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, and a grasp that, for a moment here, may have exceeded either of those groups, as they slide from electric guitar into extended Chess-style blues instrumentals (“New York Bullseye”).

-Cub Koda, Bruce Eder,

GLORIA (1966)

I threw in TD’s tracks from RISKY BUSINESS because a) they’re from the same era b) they’re probably their best soundtrack songs, and c) not everyone really wants the Bob Seger and Phil Collins tracks from the soundtrack. -Ian!

The early to mid-’80s were a particularly fertile time for Tangerine Dream: the Froese/Schmoelling/Franke lineup had been together for several years, and they had been quite busy with soundtrack work and had just signed with Zomba Records after a longtime association with Virgin. For this concert (their second appearance behind the Iron Curtain), Tangerine Dream turned in an excellent performance, despite battling technical problems and the extreme cold of the Polish winter. The four long tracks build and unfold slowly, in classic Tangerine Dream style. Poland captures Tangerine Dream at a high point in their career — before the advent of sampling and the departure of Schmoelling (in 1985).

-Sean Westergaard,

Tangerine Dream-POLAND (1984)

Harlan Howard wrote many of Buck Owens’ biggest hits and best songs, including “I’ve Got A Tiger By the Tail,” “Above and Beyond,” “Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got A Heartache),” and “Under the Influence of Love,” so it’s only natural that Buck recorded an entire album of Howard’s material. And it’s also not surprising that it’s a stunner, too. Owens sang Howard better than nearly anybody and Buck Owens Sings Harlan Howard is full of wonderful songs and performances. Only “Foolin’ Around” is regularly featured on Buck’s hit compilations, which means there’s a wealth of lesser-known gems — including “Heartaches By the Number,” “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down,” “Keys in the Mailbox” and “Let’s Agree to Disagree” — that form the core of this record, one of Owens’ most enjoyable LPs of the ’60s.

It took the Sundazed label a while to reissue this one on CD. They did the Buck Owens Capitol catalog back in the 1990s and did a stellar job, but this one they waited on. Perhaps it was best. In 2003 there were far more people interested in country gospel again. But this is no ordinary country gospel album. This isn’t the Carters or the Louvins. This is honky tonk country gospel done Bakersfield style. Owens toned down his Buckaroos approach not a bit to record this. If anything, in listening to the opener, “Pray Every Day,” or “When Jesus Calls All His Children In” or “Bring It to Jesus” or the rollicking “Would You Be Ready,” the slippery guitar and pedal steel-heavy arrangements make this record feel more like a late-night barroom drinking and dancing set than something to be played for church. And that makes perfect sense. Didn’t Jesus come to call sinners and not the righteous? What better way than to have the careening sound of the Buckaroos as a soundtrack for salvation? Dust on Mother’s Bible is one of the great Buckaroos albums and once again displays Owens’ singular place in the pantheon of country music.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Thom Jurek,


George Maciunas started to use the term Fluxus in 1961 for a series of lecture-demonstrations and performance in New York, since then a continuous on-going series of exhibitions, performances, concerts and publications have traversed all the world, and much has been written and theorised, more or less accurately, about this art movement. Therefore I believe that the best introduction to this first anthology of Fluxus music an sound events should be to publish a selection of texts written by some flux-people, each one dealing with his own individual view point.

Around 1962, La Monte formulated the concept of Dream House as a piece that would be played continuously, experienced as a living organism with a life of its own, and exist in time as a tradition to itself. […] Time is so important for experiencing and understanding this piece that the exhibition was specially designed to give visitors the chance to offer themselves for longer stretches of time to the environment, and, perhaps, during the time span to frequently return to their own existence. It follows the principle that musical atmosphere is a function of time. […], and can be essential to experiencing frequencies over longer time periods, in order to adjust one’s nervous system and vibrate with the frequencies of the environment.

La Monte Young / Marian Zazeela with The Theatre Of Eternal Music-DREAM HOUSE 78′ 17″ (1974)

Come on, look at that cover. -Ian!

In the year 2000, the Wire magazine picked this spaced out gem from Native American folksinger and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie as one the “100 Albums That Set the World on Fire.” Released in 1969, and now on CD, as of 2001, it was reissued as an import on 180 gram vinyl with its original glorious artwork and package. Interestingly enough, it’s a record Sainte-Marie doesn’t even list on her discography on her website. It doesn’t matter whether she cares for it or not, of course, because Illuminations is as prophetic a record as the first album by Can or the psychedelic work of John Martin on Solid Air. For starters, all of the sounds with the exception of a lead guitar on one track and a rhythm section employed on three of the last four selections are completely synthesized from the voice and guitar of Sainte-Marie herself. There are tracks whose vocals are completely electronically altered and seem to come from the ether — check out “Mary” and “Better to Find Out for Yourself” as a sample. But the track “Adam,” with its distorted bassline and Sainte-Marie throwing her voice all over the mix in a tale of Adam’s fall and his realization — too late — that he could have lived forever, is a spooky, wondrous tune as full of magic as it is mystery and electronic innovation. The songs here, while clearly written, are open form structures that, despite their brevity (the longest cut here is under four minutes), break down the barriers between folk music, rock, pop, European avant-garde music and Native American styles (this is some of the same territory Tim Buckley explores on Lorca and Starsailor). It’s not a synthesis in any way, but a completely different mode of travel.

This is poetry as musical tapestry and music as mythopoetic sonic landscape; the weirdness on this disc is over-exaggerated in comparison to its poetic beauty. It’s gothic in temperament, for that time anyway, but it speaks to issues and affairs of the heart that are only now beginning to be addressed with any sort of constancy — check out the opener “God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot” or the syncopated blues wail in “Suffer the Children” or the arpeggiated synthesized lyrics of “The Vampire.” When the guitars begin their wail and drone on “The Angel,” the whole record lifts off into such a heavenly space that Hans Joachim Rodelius must have heard it back in the day, because he uses those chords, in the same order and dynamic sense, so often in his own music. Some may be put off by Sainte-Marie’s dramatic delivery, but that’s their loss; this music comes from the heart — and even space has a heart, you know. One listen to the depth of love expressed on “The Angel” should level even the crustiest cynic in his chair. Combine this with the shriek, moan, and pure-lust wail of “With You, Honey” and “He’s a Keeper of the Fire” — you can hear where Tim Buckley conceived (read: stole) the entirety of Greetings From LA from, and Diamanda Galas figured out how to move across octaves so quickly. The disc closes with the gothic folk classic “Poppies,” the most tripped out, operatic, druggily beautiful medieval ballad ever psychedelically sung. That an album like Illuminations can continue to offer pleasure 32 years after it was recorded is no surprise given its quality; that it can continue to mystify, move, and baffle listeners is what makes it a treasure that is still ahead of its time.

-Thom Jurek,

Buffy Sainte-Marie-ILLUMINATIONS (1969)

Back in the day, 20 years ago now, I found an osteopath in Euclid, Ohio, who would prescribe for any pretty girl who walked through the door 30 clean American football-shaped amphetamine tablets each month for a nominal fee. It wasn’t long before I had my wife, my sister, my niece and the lady who lived across the road going regularly. On the street, you could get $10 for three tablets and I was making money hand over fist.

Such was largely how the financing for the two Cleveland Confidential records came together. That, and a few common robberies. Nowadays I write for money and play the horses. Currently, I reside in Niagara Falls, New York and am on assignment writing a press release for Overground Records, an English label that is releasing the 21 tracks that made up the Cleveland Confidential LP and EP.

There are a lot of familiar names on this disc. Robert Longo, the film director and artist, appears here as the lead singer on Menthol Wars’ “Even Lower Manhattan.” David Thomas of Pere Ubu sings backup on the Pagans’ “Boy Can I Dance Good,” and Jimmy Jones of the same outfit plays guitar on the Easter Monkeys classic “Cheap Heroin.” Anton Fier of the Lounge Lizards provides percussion the Styrenes’ “Jaguar Ride” and the legendary Dave E. croons on the Jazz Destroyers’ “Love Meant to Die.”

The Cleveland Confidential records bridged the gap between the well-known 70s scene — dominated by the Dead Boys, Devo, Pere Ubu and the Pagans — and that of the late 80s, which would result in the Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.

Of course it’s the lesser known acts that appeal to me now. The Dark, who were 12 and 13 years old at the time they made their recording of “I Can Wait.” Robert Griffin, the guitar player, went on to form the band Prisonshake and become the head of Scat Records. Or the Impalers, whose singer later changed her sex and became notorious. For my money, the AK-47s’ “Accident” is the most underrated punk track of the 70s and Red Decade’s “Scars of Lust” represents everything Glen Branca was trying to do but couldn’t manage.

There are a lot of different kinds of songs on this record and the nice thing is that, if you don’t like one, you can go to the next and the chances are it will be completely different.

It’s been a long time since I made these records. I think they still hold up.

-Mike Hudson


October Country’s self-titled album — long out-of-print — is today revered and highly prized by collectors who have managed to find a copy. It certainly deserves to be reissued on CD. Other soft rock and sunshine pop/soft rock obscurities — including those by the Millennium, Sagittarius, and Eternity’s Children, to name just a few — are just now becoming available again on CD, so why not October Country? This 1968 album is one of the better examples of songwriter/producer/musician Michael Lloyd’s overall influence and impact on the West Coast-based genre.

Lloyd — who was certainly influenced by important albums like the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and various psych-pop sounds of the Brit-pop invasion, even harmony vocal groups like the Bee Gees — always seemed to find interesting ways to incorporate various sophisticated instrumentation (organ, horns, harpsichord, and string arrangements) into his productions. During this particular group’s first recording sessions, Lloyd began transforming this We Five-ish folk-rock group into a formidable group (he also played the various instruments himself — because the group wasn’t that proficient on their own). There are numerous highlights here, including the title track (later recorded by the Smoke, the U.S. band who was another Lloyd “Sidewalk” production), “Cowboys and Indians,” and “My Girlfriend Is a Witch.”

-Bryan Thomas,

October Country-OCTOBER COUNTRY (1968)

Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber obviously loved American folk music as much as any of the kids who had their head turned around by Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music in the 1950s, but unlike the many musicians who paid tribute to America’s musical past by trying to re-create it as closely as possible, as The Holy Modal Rounders Stampfel and Weber opted to drag the music into the present, shrieking and giggling all the way. Even by the standards of The Holy Modal Rounders’ first two albums, 1967’s Indian War Whoop is a thoroughly bizarre listening experience; loosely structured around the between-song adventures of two seedy vagabonds named Jimmy and Crash, side one veers back and forth between neo-psychedelic fiddle-and-guitar freakouts and free-form (and often radically altered) interpretations of traditional folk tunes such as “Soldier’s Joy” and “Sweet Apple Cider,” while side two is devoted to like minded originals (including a couple songs from their friend Michael Hurley, who would later join the group). Most certainly a product of its time, Indian War Whoop sounds rather dated today, but its buoyant good humor and chemically-altered enthusiasm remains effective, even when the Rounders’ reckless pursuit of inner space sounds like it was more fun to create than to observe on record.

In the mid- to late ’60s you couldn’t get much further underground in the ever-expanding world of rock music than the Fugs — unless of course you were one of the Holy Modal Rounders, i.e. folk musicians Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber. The Rounders started out in the same early-’60s New York folk and jug scene as Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, and had crossed paths numerous times. Stampfel and Weber will be eternally remembered for “Bird Song,” which was prominently featured in both the movie Easy Rider and its soundtrack. It’s also the opening cut on The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders, an album way beyond anything else considered to be “far out” at the time. Released in 1968 on Elektra, the 13 tracks are highlighted by such otherworldly compositions as “Werewolf,” “My Mind Capsized,” “The STP Song,” and “Half a Mind.” Unabashed in its own eccentricity, this set is similar to their 1967 ESP release Indian War Whoop in that it combines acoustic traditional American folk, blues, and hillbilly music regurgitated by crazed folkie acidheads experimenting with electric instruments. Following the disc’s release, Stampfel said this album reflected producer Frazier Mohawk’s musical taste more so than the band’s. The Modal duo are assisted, in this case, by playwright Sam Shepard on tambourine, Richard Tyler on piano, and John Wesley Annis on bass and drums. As good luck would have it, the Water label unleashed this CD on the public for the first time in 2002 with two previously unreleased bonus tracks. Absolutely essential.

-Mark Deming, Al Campbell,