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Monthly Archives: January 2010

By 1967, bossa nova had become quite popular within jazz and traditional pop audiences, yet Frank Sinatra hadn’t attempted any Brazil-influenced material. Sinatra decided to record a full-fledged bossa nova album with the genre’s leading composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Arranged by Claus Ogerman and featuring Jobim on guitar and backing vocals, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim concentrated on Jobim’s originals, adding three American classics — “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” “Change Partners,” and “I Concentrate on You” — that were rearranged to suit bossa nova conventions. The result was a subdued, quiet album that used the Latin rhythms as a foundation, not as a focal point. Supported by a relaxed, sympathetic arrangement of muted brass, simmering percussion, soft strings, and Jobim’s lilting guitar, Sinatra turns in an especially noteworthy performance; he has never sounded so subtle, underplaying every line he delivers and showcasing vocal techniques that he never had displayed before. Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim doesn’t reveal its pleasures immediately; the album is too textured and understated to be fully appreciated within one listen. After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener’s skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the ’60s.

Watertown is Frank Sinatra’s most ambitious concept album, as well as his most difficult record. Not only does it tell a full-fledged story, it is his most explicit attempt at rock-oriented pop. Since the main composer of Watertown is Bob Gaudio, the author of the Four Seasons’ hits “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” that doesn’t come as a surprise. With Jake Holmes, Gaudio created a song cycle concerning a middle-aged, small-town man whose wife had left him with the kids. Constructed as a series of brief lyrical snapshots that read like letters or soliloquies, the culminating effect of the songs is an atmosphere of loneliness, but it is a loneliness without much hope or romance — it is the sound of a broken man. Producer Charles Calello arranged musical backdrops that conveyed the despair of the lyrics. Weaving together prominent electric guitars, keyboards, drum kits, and light strings, Calello uses pop/rock instrumentations and production techniques, but that doesn’t prevent Sinatra from warming to the material. In fact, he turns in a wonderful performance, drawing out every emotion from the lyrics, giving the album’s character depth.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine,

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At the time Back to Mono was released in 1991, Phil Spector’s reputation as one of pop’s great visionaries was intact, but there was no way to hear his genius. It wasn’t just that there were no collections spotlighting his productions, there weren’t collections of artists he produced. It wasn’t until Back to Mono that there was a thorough overview of Spector’s greatest work, and while it’s not without flaws, it still stands as one of the great box sets. Some may complain that there are no selections from his superstar ’70s productions for John Lennon, George Harrison, Leonard Cohen, and the Ramones, but that’s for the best, since their presence would have been incongruous, taking attention away from the music that forms the heart of Spector’s legacy. All of that music is here, not just on the first three discs, all devoted to singles, but also on the fourth disc, his seminal 1963 holiday album, A Christmas Gift for You, which isn’t just the greatest rock Christmas album, but a crystallization of his skills. It could be argued that the song selection overlooks some obscure fan favorites, such as “Do the Screw,” but that’s simply nitpicking, because what’s here are all the great Spector records, which were hardly just great productions, they were great songs as well. As the set plays, it’s hard not to be stunned by the depth of the material and clarity of Spector’s vision for his famed Wall of Sound, whether you’ve heard these songs hundreds of times or not at all — especially because they gain power when grouped together. Many producers have been credited as the true creative force behind many rock records, but usually that’s hyperbole. In Spector’s case, it wasn’t, as this set gloriously proves.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine,

Various Artists-PHIL SPECTOR: BACK TO MONO (1991 compilation)
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Jolly Rogers at KYA San Francisco on August 8th, 1959

Bill Keffery at KYA San Francisco on May 23rd, 1964

K. O. Bailey at KFRC San Francisco on December 21st, 1968

Bwana Johnny at KYA San Francisco on June 24th, 1970

Beau Weaver at KFRC San Francisco on November 14th, 1973

Dr. Don Rose at KFRC San Francisco on August 9th, 1974

In the 1960s there were two major Top 40 players in the San Francisco radio market, KYA 1260 and KFRC 1550. They duked it out from around 1965 until the mid-70s, KFRC eventually emerging victorious. Here is roughly five and a half hours of the two stations spread out over their respective fifteen year primes.

You can download FLACs of the recordings by clicking the links under the players or using the arrow buttons on the right side player menus.

Yes, has been up and down the past day or so. But no worries, whenever I use multiupload I always include a couple of the mirrors it creates under the multiupload link. That’s what the “rs” and “mu” and “zs” stuff is about. So in the event multiupload disappears, the mirror uploads remain.

So I’m gonna continue using multiupload while it’s around, because it makes so many mirrors. Sharebee does this too, but the upload speed with them seems prohibitively slow.

This is another classic recommended by ANOTHER SUCKER ON THE VINE, but it’s too good to leave to just Andy alone! -Ian!

In 1996, Oakland’s Pimp Of The Year, no, Pimp Of The Century, Dru Down comes out with a sick album full of bay area fire and funk. With producers like Lev Berlak, DJ Fuze, DJ Daryl, Soopafly (credited by his name Priest Brooks), Battlecat, and a few others, you get a neat mix of Mobb Music and laidback G-Funk (Bay and L.A. inspired), and a plain out good time. Dru Down spits heat throughout and has great guests here too. “Playa Fo Real” is the joint. Battlecat really did up the beat, bouncy G-Funk and a slick whiny synth, one of his most original beats ever, and he is a phat beatsmith. DD gets his mack on nice and smooth. He calls out Too $hort on the mobbed out “Mista Busta” over a syrupy beat. This song contributed to the Luniz, C&H, Dru Down vs. Too Short beef that would prove violent thru ’96 into ’97.

A slappin good time is found on “Heads & Shoulders” with DD gettin it horny, crunk, and disorderly over a “Smurphie’s Dance” sample. The smooth but raunchy sex joint “Freaks Come Out” has a phat, smoked out laidback G-Funk beat with LV (from South Central Cartel/Coolio fame) dropping a hot and smooth hook. Then, we have the bay mobb music joints “500 Mobsters,” and the bangin’ “The Mobb.” This joint is long but tight. The beat is nice and slick with neat keyboard melodies. “Suspect One” is another with more of a laidback beat but harsher rhymes to offset that atmosphere. The title track is cool with a neat coming of age story, but a predictable sample “Can You Feel It.” Another classic is “Underestimated” where Soopafly adds a Long Beach G-Funk bouncy beat and a slick verse about how heads underestimated the 2 rappers. Overall, this album should be in anyone’s collection. A phat album that should never be slept on. This album is smoother than Explicit Game from 2 years earlier and fun and humorous.

-G-Funk 4ever “Honda Civic”,

Dru Down-CAN YOU FEEL ME (1996)
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As can be gleaned from the cover of her one and only record, Linda Perhacs was a stunning, beautiful love child. Anyone who spent the $200-400 necessary to obtain copies of the original vinyl could attest that the music she made was comparably stunning and beautiful, infused with all the trappings of being a late-sixties love child (in the best possible way).

Ace of Discs reissued her album after unsuccessful attempts to track her down, mastering from a poorly pressed vinyl copy. For whatever reason, the first issue on CD was completely unlistenable on headphones, although delightful in the open air. Since that first go-round, Perhacs has come out of her obscure Pacific Northwest woods with quarter-inch reels of the sessions, and now that Ace of Discs comes round again with a vindicating, expanded reissue, the tray card photo reveals: she’s still a babe.

Anyway you eye it, this is a magical, sublimely singular piece of gentle folk-psych that belongs with those lone album classics by folks like Skip Spence or Vashti Bunyan (or the countless other souls that only released one record before disappearing into history’s communal farms or funny-farm madness, like Elyse). It is a sound so personal and intimate that I can only hear it in the privacy of my own room. Although it’s been near-impossible to gain biographical information about her, the experience of hearing her music reveals so much about her soul and mindset at the time that I really don’t think I could share it with anyone else.

As mentioned above, she’s a love child in every sense, a young woman blossoming into her sensual world. Of the elements, every song culls its images from her forest environment, permeating down into her own physical core. “Chimacum Rain” is not only the forest’s silence and that sound of rain washing over her, but the palpable sexual presence of her lover, too. In almost every evocation of a tactile natural image, there is a mysterious man who physically embodies these characteristics, a tension courses through her body as she sings about these near-deities. And as she reaches the bridge with lines such as “I’m spacing out/ I’m seeing silences between leaves…I’m seeing silences that are his,” her voice begins to echo within itself, and her sung notes assuage open the aural synesthesia of the words. The diaphanous taste of lysergic acid creeps to the fore, and what was once a moderately played acoustic song about the forest expands into a hallucinatory clearing as her multi-tracked held tones meld with the infinite. As her voice dilates, so does the background, now all electrically-processed source sounds like xylophones and wind chimes, and all is enveloped by a low, distorted drone that would one day sound like Phill Niblock, created by– as the liner notes so baldly state it– “amplified shower hose for horn effects.”

It’s nothing compared to the album’s peak, “Parallelograms”. Perhaps you fantasize that Joni Mitchell teaches painting and pottery at your high school, or that Chan Marshall mumbles about the Apocalypse poets during English class, but Perhacs teaching geometry is tantrically hot for teacher. To just read the lyrics of “Quadrehederal/ Tetrahedral/ mono-cyclo-cyber-cilia” is to miss how she and producer Leonard Rosenman assuredly layer her heavenly-sung rounds in concentric circles over a cycling guitar-picked figure, a cumulative effect that reveals a dimension scarcely achieved anywhere else in the world of music. Closer to the Mysterious Voices of Bulgaria or Tim Buckley’s cellular self-choir “Starsailor” than Melanie or Linda Ronstadt, Perhacs drops us into drifting clouds of reverberating bells, echoing flute, and ghostly effluence, her throat outside of time. That a dental assistant in Northern California could more effectively convey the psychedelic experience through the use of the technology of experimental effects, be it early Pink Floyd, Fifty-Foot Hose, or Buffy Saint-Marie’s electroacoustic Illuminations, is, in every clichéd use of the word, mind-blowing.

Other songs deal with girly things like brawny mountain men, dolphins, moonbeams and cattails, the pastel colors of dawn, and the recently-unearthed “If You Were My Man” reveals that she could’ve gone pop with a Karen Carpenter wispiness. Listening to her home demos and studio notes to Roseman though show that she was cognizant of the sound and vibration she wanted. The tape collage lobbed from “Hey Who Really Cares?” is competent– if in hindsight, passé– all disembodied, television voices and a telltale heart beat leading into its pastoral prettiness. Her most folky tunes stand up to the times too, but it’s the fact that Linda Perhacs’ entire cosmos (and whatever those times entailed) could inexplicably fit inside the confines of Parallelograms that remains the true testament to her beauty.

-Andy Beta,

Linda Perhacs-PARALLELOGRAMS (1970)
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These are fucking astounding, this stuff was going on a couple years before kosmische was more than a twinkle in the krautrock scene’s eye. It predates Tangerine Dream’s and Manuel Gottsching’s amazing synth work, even! -Ian!

This reissue of the earliest work by Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co. includes all of their first album, plus almost 20 minutes of previously unreleased material. The group wore their minimalist influences quite well, resulting in tracks which take the cycling repetitions of work by Steve Reich into new territory altogether, as on the 12-minute “Music.” Most of the music here is a bit beyond minimalism; in fact, it’s much closer to exploratory proto-space music or new age on the highlights “Ceres Motion” and “Cloudscape for Peggy,” the latter of which was composed around the time acts like Tangerine Dream and Cluster were just getting started.

A reissue of Mother Mallard’s second LP on their independent Earthquack Records, this CD presents music from the latter stages of their work as a group, after they had been playing and rehearsing together for five or six years and shortly before David Borden began devoting his full attention to his monumental 12-part Continuing Story of Counterpoint series. During these sessions, the group was a trio (as they generally had been from the beginning), with Borden and colleague Steve Drews as the constants and Judy Borsher replacing Linda Fisher, who had been the third member on earlier recordings. Instrumentation varied somewhat within the group, but since members were actively collaborating with inventor Robert Moog throughout most of the group’s life, various sizes and styles of Moog synthesizers were always the primary instruments, supplemented by an electric piano, which was usually played by Borsher (or Fisher before her). Borden had first envisioned Mother Mallard as a performance group who would disseminate and interpret the musical gospel of Glass, Reich, Riley, and other proponents of the new minimalism, and also feature original compositions by himself and his colleague, Steve Drews. Gradually, the original compositions took over, at least as indicated in the group’s recorded work. However, the influence of the big-name minimalists is relatively strong here, and the seven pieces on this CD all exhibit elements of the rhythmic-pattern minimalism of Glass and Reich, with touches, also, of Riley’s softer, drone-based mysticism. Consequently, although Mother Mallard is capable of the occasional funky ostinato riff, and notes are discreetly bent here and there, one will hear none of the variable pitch weirdness and timbral extremes which characterized prog rock’s early appropriation of Moogs, and which Borden and company dabbled with a bit themselves during the early ’70s. On this CD, Drews receives composer credits on five pieces to Borden’s two, although one of Borden’s two pieces is the lengthy and ambitious “C-A-G-E Part II,” which clocks in at over 20 minutes. Somewhat surprisingly, there’s really not much to chose between Drews and Borden as composers, and although Borden went on to achieve the greater reputation, a piece such as Drews’ “Oleo Strut” could be easily mistaken for one of Borden’s early “Counterpoint” pieces. Drews’ “Waterwheel” is also very appealing, with patterns of different lengths moving in and out of phase with each other, producing some interesting auditory disorientation. Borden’s feature piece is conceptually based, derived from the four musical notes which make up composer John Cage’s last name. The musicians play their parts for prearranged lengths of time, coming together only at the end of the piece. In spite of its logical premises, “C-A-G-E Part II” is a serene, meditative, and even hypnotic musical experience, at times suggesting both Riley’s “In C” and his “Rainbow in Curved Air.” Borden’s sophisticated knowledge of Baroque counterpoint is also evident in this piece, and he would use such elements to an even greater advantage a few years later in the Continuing Story of Counterpoint series.

-John Bush, Bill Tilland,

1970-1973 (1973)
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I think this shows that Hipinion probably has the greatest actual pool of talented and creative people out of any forum or message board on the internet. Here they are covering 25 of the best jams of the 1980s like “Would I Lie To You” by the Eurythmics, “Girls Just Wanna have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper, Prince’s “When 2 R In Love” and an admittedly out of place early GBV song. Styles range from minimalist glitchy house anthem to lo-fi four track with Radioshack condenser mic.

Actually maybe that GBV cover isn’t so out of place after all.

If you have to wonder if this even interests you, then it isn’t for you.

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