Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reed and Cale, 1970-71--Scoping out the youth scene.

 "What's this, The Bee Gees? The Band?"
No, it's John Cale from his solo debut.

"What's this, Steely Dan? The Dead?"
No, it's Lou Reed from his solo debut.

At the time of releasing their debut solo albums, neither Lou Reed or John Cale were the cult figures they would become. They, in fact, were largely unknown by the record buying public, and thus, didn't take too many artistic chances on these albums--they were only trying to fit into the current rock music fabric.

Back to two of my favorite themes: Alternate History and Level Playing Fields.
These are the two manipulative (THOUGH FACT-BASED) devices I like to employ not only to keep things interesting (for me at least), but also confuse the reader into seeing my way.
These are the things I use to convince you that Mike Nesmith and Jerry Garcia traveled parallel roads, but just never met up. Or that The Velvet Underground were as much of a jam band as the Grateful Dead were a noise band. Again, I produce all the facts. I'm not saying "Donnie Osmond was a junkie".
I'm not lying to you, or deceiving you. I'm just trying to reprogram the conventional wisdom that was set in stone by "the winners (or Wenners) in the world".

Here are some fuel for what keeps me going: 
--While Jann Wenner is single handedly keeping The Monkees out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (though, really, who gives a fuck about that sham of a museum?), his one time cohort, Ben Fong Torres gave Michael Nesmith's work plenty of positive praise.
--While many a Lester Bangs fan may be able to quote some anti-Dead rant, they know not of his having written the words "In spite of everything, and I can hardly believe it myself, I am a Grateful Dead fan" (his review of Grateful Dead aka Skullfuck aka Skull and Roses. 1971)
--Because SPIN Magazine's Record Guide gives XTC's catalog pretty much a raw deal beginning to end, there is a sizable percentage of young music fans out there that will never give them a chance--or if they do hear them, they'll have a shitty pre-conceived notion. Whereas they'll pretend to love The Fall, even if they secretly can't stand them, and will never admit this until they're laying naked with a lover at 4:30 am after also admitting that they are frightened of H&M dressing rooms.

So....level playing field, alternate reality....imagine that David Bowie quit show business after the limp success of his "heavy hippie" album, The Man Who Sold The World. And that was that. He'd be remembered for some campy singles ("The Laughing Gnome" etc) and two innovative (and totally awesome), psychedelic rock records which were largely unheard outside Europe.

No re-inventing Lou Reed. No record-buying public rediscovering The Velvet Underground. No Glam Rock Revolution. No Stooges after two albums. No Eno, Roxy Music, T Rex (in his post hippie guise), no disaffected youth forming their own bands in the 70's (Joy Division, The Fall, etc) or 80's alternative bands owing everything to the Velvets (Jesus and Mary Chain, Dream Syndicate, Feelies, Yo La Tengo, Galaxie 500).Sure, there were the underground journalists praising White Light White Heat, and FM DJs occasionally giving "Sweet Jane" a spin, but no monster cult was being built.

Huge, right? I really don't want to know a world like that. At all. I don't want Glenn Frey, Jackson Browne and Stephen Stills to be calling the shots in the 70's. That's gross and makes me feel suicidal.

Sure, I like The Grateful Dead, BUT because I like what they bring to the party. I like hummus AND peanut butter. I like IPA AND Stout. I like shaving and not shaving. Point being, I like hearing "I'm Set Free" next to "Wharf Rat" and don't want to live in a world where one doesn't exist or where one isn't allowed to be heard. I want both.

And for the record, I don't really like the Allman Brothers all that much except for "Sweet Melissa" and "Blue Sky" and maybe one or two more. Difference between The Dead and the Allmans--the Dead never posed naked together. And oh yeah--the Dead (or Garcia and Hunter) wrote 50 great songs that are just fine without any jamming or solos. And enjoyed noise-- and I like the juxtaposition of music and noise.

Anyway...put yourself in mid 1972. Music is changing, but where's it going?  You're 21. Maybe you should stop caring.  Maybe you love CCR and The Stones.
Maybe you used to like The Doors but Morrison's death confirmed that he was just a scary dude. Maybe you love McCartney's solo albums but can't get into Lennon's (though you don't say this in certain company). Of course you love George's stuff.
Maybe you've learned that James Taylor and Joni Mitchell will get you laid even though you'd rather hear Randy Newman--who will NOT get you laid.
Maybe you've had psychedelic revelations while listening to Marvin Gaye and Traffic back to back for 18 hours and bought a dashiki you've never worn.
Maybe Bob Dylan is totally off your radar after his last couple albums.
Maybe you liked a couple Monkees singles when you were 14 but have no idea that the guitar player has released 5 great solo albums while you weren't looking.
Maybe you have a housemate that listens to Pink Floyd all the time and you just can't understand why--but envy the caliber of female action he seems to get as he cranks up 23 minutes of "Echoes" and that's the last you see of him or his date until the following afternoon.

But here's a safe bet: unless you are a rock journalist or FM DJ, you (or your housemate) most likely do not own either of these albums:

It's 2011. Have you heard these albums?
They are, respectively, the solo debuts of Velvet Underground founding members, John Cale and Lou Reed. John Cale's debut is entitled Vintage Violence and was released in the spring of 1970. Lou Reed's debut is self-titled and was released two years later.

There's a good chance you haven't heard these albums, and also a good chance (let me know when I'm being more condescending than informative) that perhaps you thought Paris 1919 (1973) was Cale's solo debut and Transformer (late 1972) was Reed's. Those albums were when they hit their stride, yes, musically, in style, and found their place in the fabric of the times--i.e. as outsiders from artsy backgrounds who, thanks to Bowie and Lenny Kaye and Lester Bangs, were now being seen as guiding lights--when just a year before, they were looking for such a light.

How funny (he says, slipping into an orange robe) that so often, the guiding light for which we search in life is within us.

Ponder that with me for a second....(Buddhist bell rings). *

* I truly believe this.

Ok. Back to these albums.

These two albums require nothing but a love for rock and roll. Sort of like Nesmith, with his cursed stigma (teen-idol? no way!) Lou and John entered their solo careers kind of like the new guy on the block who was reluctantly handed an invitation to a party, even though there's something a little weird about him, and shows up. It's a bit weird that he brought a weird (for these parts) brand of beer and that he drops literary references instead of TV show references. Oh, and that no one could be sure if he actually took a hit off that joint going around.
But later in the night, he's encouraged to play some songs on the guitar and, well, they rock! In a weird way. Kind of uptight and nerdy, but trying to fit in.Or, hey, wait a second. Maybe he's making fun of us! Maybe we should kick his ass! Do you even LIKE Ten Years After!? Thought not, pansy!

This is the vibe one gets from these albums.  Conventional stuff from unconventional guys. Just getting their foot in the door, proving to the hippie-crazed industry that they too have something to offer and to forget about White Light, White Heat--that was then, this is THE SEVENTIES!

John Cale's Vintage Violence:

What can I say? Most people will like this album. There's nothing weird about it. Some strange lyrics, but whatever. There's no test. So if you don't understand some literary reference, bug fucking deal. It's a rock record. Cale says in his excellent memoir that he was just learning to write pop songs. Prior, he really preferred bringing his rich classical and avant garde knowledge to the pop format, but here he was rocking out with his Welsh accent. 

Best bits:
"Cleo"--amazing pop that sounds like it's from some bizarre 1962 B-movie.
"Big White Cloud" and "Charlemagne" are ripped straight from Bee Gees playbook  ("When the Swallow Flies", "Trafalgar" and "First of May" come to mind). Cale admits as much in his book. No shame at all in that.
"Bring It On Up" is a revelation. Why? Because it sounds like Exile-era Stones, two years before Exile. It even sounds like Jagger singing back up.
"Please" and "Ghost Story" are very pretty midtempo ballads that, to me, reflect the opiate haze that Cale was still in at the time of writing and recording this album.

Not Best Bits:
"Fairweather Friend"--this was the single, and I guess I can see why. But it sounds forced and sort of makes me angry when I hear it. It's kind of annoying.
"Adelaide"--a blues harp opening. Enough said.

Now, Lou Reed's solo debut. Not many folks know this record.
Short time table:
1970--Mo Tucker leaves the Velvet Underground to have a baby. They get teenager Billy Yule, a Mitch Mitchell-wannabe, and brother of bassist Doug Yule (who was Cale's replacement in 1968). The band get a deal with Atlantic Records, and record Loaded, which is by far, their most accessable album.
Why? More conventional rhythm section and better engineering. Pure and simple. Don't argue. All the VU albums (save White Light White Heat, which is just a beautiful monolith) had pop songs all over them. But Mo Tucker played simple, sparse patterns with no sign of syncopation.
Now, this 16 year old Billy Yule wasn't gonna play like a chick. He was gonna boogie like all his fave rock drummers.
Boom, for the first time in VU history, you got DRUM FILLS! and FUNKY BEATS! and already, Lou was forever a funky rhythm guitar player. And Sterling Morrison was getting more and more noodle-y in his soloing. So, Loaded. Pop album. Very 1970.
Lou left during mixing. Lou also had Doug Yule sing a few songs to make them more pop-friendly.
It did OK, but they weren't a band by the time of release.

1970-71--Lou goes back to mom and dad, and takes a job as a typist at his father's accounting firm. Or so the story goes. He possibly cleaned up a bit, got healthy for a bit, and wondered what was next.

1971--makes some demos (check this out!) at journalists Richard and Lisa Robinson's apartment.

Gets signed to RCA, who feel that the perfect band to back Lou Reed on his solo debut is.....wait for it.....
(like, um, serious W-T-effing-F here, right? Like, am I alone here, people?)
I'll say it again. The band YES. Actually, just Wakeman and Howe.  Because these British art rockers were REALLY in tune with the NYC downtown art/drug/party scene. Oh, and the drummer, Clem Cattini, was easily 10-15 years older than everyone else, and his idea of "hip rock drumming" was to play GODDAMN FILLS THAT GO ON FOR 4 FULL MEASURES, MAKING SURE TO HIT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS TOMS. Well, in 1971, that kind of WAS hip rock drumming....

(for the record, Lou didn't say no. Nor did he say no to having Steve Winwood and Jack Bruce on his 1973 album Berlin).

Thus, what we get on Lou Reed's debut solo album is what this weird British band considered "downtown NYC music", coupled with Lou not being very articulate and probably a bit freaked out. Plus, it's produced by Richard Robinson...WHO WAS NOT A RECORD PRODUCER. HE WAS A ROCK JOURNALIST.

What does it sound like?

Do you like the Velvet Underground? Do you like the songs "I Can't Stand It", "Ocean" and "Lisa Says", as heard on the 1985 release VU? Those are all perfect recordings of a perfect band, right ? Yes, in fact they are. They are perfect. They never saw the light of day in the 60's. Crime.

On Lou Reed's solo debut, they are not perfect. They are filled with funky beats, flamboyant fills, fancy fretwork and Lou shouting a lot. Not great. And I just can't hear them as if I'd never known the VU versions. Because those VU versions just entered my DNA and there they will stay.

What Is Good On Lou Reed's solo debut:

"I Love You"--pretty. sounds like a Moby Grape song or something.
"Love Makes You Feel"--I love this song. It's unlike anything Lou did before or since. Except the rhythm guitar break has a "What Goes On" thing. NOTE: on the acoustic demos, he does do "What Goes On" at the request of the Robinsons, so maybe they had suggested he write a newish song along those lines? This is only a guess...
"Wild Child"--it's a fun song, and has all the Lou Reed hallmarks...but really...The Doors already had a tune called "Wild Child" and it was a cliche already. I would not have said this to Lou, because he hated Jim Morrison with a passion. NOTE: Jerry Garcia hated Jim Morrison with a passion too.
"Ride Into The Sun"--beautiful. It's got this whole bridge bit that sounds maybe like the Yes dudes came up with it, but I don't know.
"Going Down"--also lovely. total drug/depression song. 
"Berlin"--yeah, he recorded this before there was an album called Berlin. Same tune, but, in my opinion, I like this version better, if you ask me, as far as I'm concerned, as one man's opinion.

So there's you go.

You could make one great Album out of these two albums combined. Wanna do that? Ok, let's do it: This will be a nice lead in to perhaps my next entry. We'll see. Enjoy this thing, though. Again, I won't post anything illegally.



Hello, There    2:48    John Cale    Vintage Violence
Ride Into The Sun    3:17    Lou Reed    Lou Reed
Big White Cloud    3:33    John Cale    Vintage Violence
Love Makes You Feel    3:14    Lou Reed    Lou Reed
Ghost Story    3:48    John Cale    Vintage Violence
Lisa Says    5:35    Lou Reed    Lou Reed
Bring It On Up    2:26    John Cale    Vintage Violence
Wild Child    4:42    Lou Reed    Lou Reed
Cleo    2:36    John Cale    Vintage Violence
Going Down    2:58    Lou Reed    Lou Reed
Please    4:20    John Cale    Vintage Violence
Berlin    5:17    Lou Reed    Lou Reed
Charlemagne    5:03    John Cale    Vintage Violence
I Love You    2:21    Lou Reed    Lou Reed

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ok, I guess this drumming bit has been my life.

 A few weeks ago  I had been making mental lists of all the awesome, creative things I was going to do with my free time this summer after I get laid off, and then it all turned on me-- free time presented itself as frightening and intimidating and too fast-moving; and my plans, seemingly delusional. I was hearing murmurs about my 20th high school reunion, and thinking about meeting people at my upcoming wedding,  and felt at a loss to think of one worthwhile (to the average stranger) thing I've done with my life.
Oh, crap on a cross--not a good mindset.

Then Steely Dan's "Black Cow" came on the iPod. Yay short attention span!
And I couldn't wait for when the drummer goes to the ride cymbal during the solo. Holy stromboli do I love that ride cymbal. In fact, when I was in the market for a ride a couple years back, that was what I wanted.
For some reason I had it in my head that Bernard Purdie played on that track. WRONG. It's Paul Humphrey.
You know that guy? I wasn't so sure myself, until I checked his credentials.... He played with Frank Zappa, Marvin Gaye, Jerry Garcia and Lawrence Welk.
Like you do.
Such subtlety on that track. Actually, Steely Dan's AJA album features, I think, a different drummer on every track, and thus is a must have for all drummers (even if Becker and Fagan wrote out the parts)
Humans aren't machines (and drummers are neither one or the other), so drum notation will not result in carbon copy performances from drummer to drummer.
Or maybe it's supposed to, and I'm just super neurotically defensive about my weaknesses because drumming is what I like the most and I wish I was better at it. Anyway, back to sunnier thoughts. 

So this was a crack of daylight. That's right! I like drumming. And people (some people) like my drumming.
AND, I was going to be spending a couple days recording drums for one of the best bands in the land, School For The Dead, of which I've had the privilege of being a member for nine years.

As much as I would have liked to trade places with someone like Paul Humphrey, or Ronnie Tutt or Hal Blaine, when I sat and listed all the recordings I've been on, it's time well spent. I've kept busy. I just forget to take the time to feel proud about stuff. It's always "on to the next thing". And it will hopefully keep going and going. Maybe the law of averages will kick in and something I've played on will be serenading JC Penny shoppers 20 years from now. Yes, that's all I want. We all want immortality. My one saving grace is that I know that sound waves will survive longer than physical structures.

In lieu of having made a real resume of dayjobs, as unemployed people should do, I made this: a drumming resume. Wanky, I know, but, like I says, it's been a good chunk o' me life.
And I owe so, so much to so many talented people. Too many to mention. Life is strange. One thing leads to another.

Note: the years may be a bit off. I'll correct them once I really need to. 

  1. 1989--Matt and Brian--Quasimodo (home 4-track, North Andover, MA)
  2. 1990--Matt and Brian--Mail Me a Mutiny (home 4-track)
  3. 1990--The Mean Wyoming--Corn (Dan Isaacs, Andover, MA)
  4. 1991--The Mean Wyoming--Mail Me a Mutiny (was never sure why Matt and I were ok with recycling that title) (Dan Isaacs, Andover, MA)
  5. 1991--That Cat-- Debut E.P. (Dan Isaacs, Andover, MA)
  6. 1992--That Cat--full length 1992 collection (home 4-track)
  7. 1993--That Cat--Final E.P.(home 4-track)
  8. 1993--Sweetspot--5 song EP (Rob Christiansen, Wash DC)
  9. 1994--Sourpuss--Rocket Day EP (vinyl only)--(Chris Flood, Northampton, MA)
  10. 1996--The Figments Won't Hurt You--(Thom Monahan, Dave Shuman, Hartford, CT)
  11. 1999--The Figments--Broken Time--(Dave Shuman, Thom Monahan, Hartford, CT, Northampton, MA)
  12. 1998--The Aloha Steamtrain--Girl Planet--(Lord Russ, Northampton, MA/Jim Fogerty, Westfield, MA)
  13. 1999--Humbert--Insomniacs' Almanac (unreleased but some tracks released subsequently on Ari Vais and Anthony Westcott releases)--Paul Olivera, NYC)
  14. 2000--The Aloha Steamtrain--Now You Know--(Mark Alan Miller/Thom Monahan--Hadley, MA)
  15. 2000--The Figments--All The Gone Days--(Frank Padellaro, Hadley, MA)
  16. 2000--Lo Fine--Nine (on 3 tracks)--(Thom Monahan, Northampton, MA)
  17. 2000--The Greenbergs--Pretty Little Numbers (unreleased)--(Frank Padellaro, Hadley, MA)
  18. 2001--The Gay Potatoes--(unfinished, unreleased)--(Frank Padellaro, Hadley, MA)
  19. 2002--The Aloha Steamtrain--The Aloha Steamtrain--(Frank Padellaro, Hadley, MA, Lord Russ, Northampton, MA)
  20. 2003--School For The Dead--Chain E.P.--(Henning Ohlenbusch, Northampton, MA)
  21. 2003--Sitting Next to Brian--A Cartoon, A Joke (Henning Ohlenbusch, Northampton, MA)
  22. 2003--Mark Schwaber--Two Years and Thirty Minutes (one track) (Karl Ourand, Westfield, MA)
  23. 2004--Lo Fine--Not For Us Two--(Mark Alan Miller, Hadley, MA)
  24. 2004--Thane Thomsen--Rehab, MA (Mark Alan Miller, Hadley, MA)
  25. 2004--School For The Dead--The New You--(Henning Ohlenbusch, Northampton, MA)
  26. 2005--The Figments--Blood On The Clouds (Dave Shuman, Somefarmhouse, CT)
  27. 2005--Scott Hall--Humor Me--(Frank Padellaro, Greenfield, MA)
  28. 2005--Slugbearers Band (Mark Mulcahy, Dave Dreiwitz, Chris Harford, Ken Maiuri, Brian Marchese) (unreleased)--(Adam Lasus, Brooklyn, NY)
  29. 2006--Sitting Next to Brian--Polite--(Henning Ohlenbusch, Northampton, MA)
  30. 2006--Mike Flood--The Future Is After You (unreleased)-(Norm DeMoura, Williamsburg, MA)
  31. 2007--The Fawns --A Nice Place to Be (Henning Ohlenbusch, Northampton, MA)
  32. 2007--Lo Fine--Migraine Errata (play on 4 songs)--(various places)
  33. 2008--Haunt--The Deep North--(Jose Ayerve, Woodstock, NY)
  34. 2008--The Figments--Twelve Belles--(Mark Alan Miller, Easthampton, MA)
  35. 2008--Matt Silberstein--B instead of V
  36. 2009--Sitting Next to Brian--The Wrong Tree EP (Henning Ohlenbusch,, Northampton, MA)
  37. 2010--Goldwater--I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.(Mark Alan Miller, Easthampton, MA)
  38. 2010--Paul Roche--Crayons (Danny Bernini, Northampton, MA)
  39. 2010--Peter Hanks--(Danny Bernini, Northampton, MA)
  40. 2011--Henning Ohlenbusch--Henning Goes To The Movies (drums on "Amelie")   or
  41. 2011 Sitting Next to Brian and Beth--5 Songs. 
  42. 2011 Peter Hanks---(Danny Bernini, Northampton, MA)
  43. 2011 (TBA) School For The Dead--(Frank Padellaro) ???? 
  44. 2011-2012 (TBA) Lo Fine--(play on 2 songs, or something of that nature...)
Plus some performances, random sessions and/or stand-in gigs with folks like Mark Mulcahy, Eric Olsson, The Lay Jains, Don Lennon, Zeke Fiddler, Bruce Mandaro, Winterpills, The Claudia Malibu, The Novels, Steve Sanderson, and more....(like an impromptu set with Robyn Hitchcock a few years ago)...

On the horizon...well, I won't say what's on the horizon, because often times, in music, the expected doesn't happen, and the unexpected tells you be somewhere in 10 minutes. Or you shoulda been there last week.  

Here's some visual crap I did during a similar "what have I done with my life" crisis last year....seems to happen in late summer. I think it's mold allergies. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rekindling an Old Flame--The Fall

 I originally posted this four years ago on The Living Rockumentary, but felt it was worth a trotting-out...I've since bought This Awesome Book and This Mostly Awesome Collection, which satiated me for a while. But late summer/early, uh, fall, usually brings about a little Fall resurgence on my part, as ignorant as I may be of anything they've done in the last 8 or so years.

Late night internet searches can (duh) take you to weird places. You never know what you may stumble upon and how you may react to it. I had one such chance encounter recently, and it confirmed why once I gave my heart to this person/persons.

The site was You Tube, the name I entered was The Fall. Yes, that band (person, really) that's one of a kind, really and truly. A genre unto themselves. One step in to the influence and you're already 3/4 of the way to obvious and unforgivable copycatdom.

The Fall. Born in Manchester, England in 1977, the brainchild of truly working class, truly original, literate speed freak/booze hound genius Mark E. Smith, possessor of little to no instrumental skills, then or now. 30 years later they still exist, M.E.S. being the only constant. No fewer than 40 people can say they were in The Fall, be it for 15 years or 15 minutes. Also, their 30-something albums have been on 20 something different labels. That's a lot of estimated figures there. That's a lot of lazy research on my part.

No hits (perhaps in New Zealand?), no arena shows, just a loyal following that ebbs and flows. Never heard them? Take early Pavement mixed with some early Pulp and maybe you might get somewhat close. They can't be replicated. I once heard a band at the Baystate in Northampton trying to pass off their own music as original, but it was such an unabashed, by-the-numbers rip-off, that I couldn't help but yell "Hip Priest!" during a between-song lull. Yes, I was that ass. But I just couldn't abide.

You can't really hum a bar of most of The Fall's songs, and often cannot decipher what Mark E. Smith is on about. After 200 listens to "Cruiser's Creek" (one of their only "hits", from 1985), I recently read it's about an office party in which a bomb goes off. I never knew and I kind of didn't care. Even when read, it's full of not even booksmart references, but in many cases, his own slang (no big wonder the oft-self-referential Mark E Smith wrote a song called "Slang King").

What influences M.E.S.? Well, they've covered stuff by classic country, soul, psychedelic pop and reggae artists. So it's all over the map. German hippie-art band Can was one precursor, though only up to a point.

My first encounter with them: my friend Todd, soon to be singer of That Cat, and then Sourpuss, was sitting in Dunkin' Donuts in North Andover, with a large coffee and a pack of Marlboros listening to headphones. He was the coolest person I knew at that moment. I asked what he was listening to and he said The Fall.
He rewound his walkman to a song he thought was a good starting point.
"C.R.E.E.P." came on--their first "poppy" single, produced by John Leckie (XTC, Stone Roses, P.I.L., Radiohead...). Simple, cute synth riff....then this guy talk/singing with a thick accent....
I dug it, but didn't really get it.

Months later, Todd and I were meeting for coffee and cigs on an almost nightly basis. One night he showed me a Fall video tape he just got.
It started to make sense. This Mark E. Smith guy was weird. Skinny, sarcastic, semi-unintelligible....the band was like a cult. Almost like a Grateful Dead for the post-punk. You were either on the bus or off the bus. You were drawn in or repelled.
I wanted to get on the bus after seeing this video:

NOTE: I was going out on a limb with the Grateful Dead comparison--the fact that neither band sounded inbred, spoke their own language, for better or worse-- but then was sent a link to this great video and saw I wasn't crazy or making imagined mental leaps:

And much like the Dead, when someone tried to get me into them via the slick Terrapin Station album, with its uber Cali-coked-out 1977 production, I didn't get it. It wasn't until I heard 1968's feedback-laden Anthem of the Sun that I understood.

And as such, the slick mid-late 80's Fall wasn't doing it for me. Then I was loaned The Fall's dark, trippy 1983 album Perverted By Language and I got it. I got where Pavement got some things, where Sonic Youth got some things..

I decided I liked best the early to mid period. 1979-84. Trashy production.  Pre sequencers 'n synth. More guitar/bass driven. And two drummers! And (after a while) M.E.S.' cute American (ex)wife Brix on guitar.

I got a job that summer delivering Boston Globes--250 of them--every friggin night/morning from 3-7 am. That summer I finally understood. Sudafed kept me going (for energy and not sneezing to death due to all the fresh newsprint) and Mark E. Smith was singing/talking about being "Totally Wired" and I was hooked. it was a surreal summer---Bowie's "Berlin Trilogy" being the other main soundtrack, as well as XTC's The Dub Experiements (and really, who listens to THAT except wired paper boys? at 3:45am?). The Fall album I bonded with during that job was 1986's Bend Sinister. Tell me the first track isn't the sound of driving at 3am on too little sleep

No wonder I returned to school on the verge of mental collapse that fall semester. I've rediscovered the most indescribable of bands.

"But Brian, I thought you like melody and hooks and.."

I do, but there's something, no offense to lots of people I know, but I will never get the appeal of Dire Straits. Much like you may never understand The Fall. But maybe you will.

Try these on for size:

So, yeah--he's a bit of a drunk and a tyrant, but his interviews are much less embarassing than say Andy partridge's (if you want to go the "eccentric limey" route)

see these surreal television interviews
--he's quite hillarious.

Oh, yeah..seen them twice--once in '93, once in '95, both times at Axis in Boston. Or Avalon. It was loud!! And Brix was there at the '95 one which blew all of our minds.

Oh, and read this and this--they're excerpt from a new autobiography.
They explain a lot.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Jerry. A list and a LOT of noise.....

 I was gonna make a podcast commemorating what would have been Garcia's 69th bday and stuff, but wasn't really feeling it.
Suffice to say, Jerry Garcia was no lazy hippie. His life is very well chronicled through all the music he played and played and played.
His monthly planner (if he kept one) could have included: 3 bluegrass gigs, 10 Grateful Dead shows, 6 club dates with one side project or another, a week of songwriting with Robert Hunter, and rehearsals and recording with all of the above. Phew.

In lieu of a podcast, I made a movie (below) AND.... here's a chronological list of 50 great songs he wrote over his career with the Grateful Dead. Besides "Cream Puff War", which he wrote words and music to, the rest are all music by Garcia, words by Robert Hunter.

Cream Puff War    3:18    Grateful Dead
Dark Star (single)    2:45    Grateful Dead
Dupree's Diamond Blues    3:34    Grateful Dead
Mountains Of The Moon    4:05    Grateful Dead
China Cat Sunflower    3:42    Grateful Dead
Uncle John's Band    4:45    Grateful Dead
High Time    5:15    Grateful Dead
Dire Wolf    3:15    Grateful Dead
Black Peter    5:44    Grateful Dead
Casey Jones    4:39    Grateful Dead
Candyman    6:14    Grateful Dead
Friend Of The Devil    3:25    Grateful Dead
Ripple    4:10    Grateful Dead
Brokedown Palace    4:09    Grateful Dead
Attics Of My Life    5:14    Grateful Dead
Bertha    5:44    The Grateful Dead
Wharf Rat    8:33    The Grateful Dead
Deal    3:14    Jerry Garcia
Bird Song    4:26    Jerry Garcia
He's Gone    6:57    Grateful Dead
Loser    4:10    Jerry Garcia
Sugaree    5:55    Jerry Garcia
Brown Eyed Women    4:39    Grateful Dead
Ramble On Rose    6:01    Grateful Dead
Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodeloo 5:45 Grateful Dead
Row Jimmy    7:16    Grateful Dead
Eyes Of The World    5:20    Grateful Dead
Stella Blue    6:26    Grateful Dead
Scarlet Begonias    4:20    Grateful Dead
China Doll    4:11    Grateful Dead
Ship Of Fools    5:39    Grateful Dead
Help On the Way/Slipknot!    7:21    Grateful Dead
Crazy Fingers    6:42    Grateful Dead
Blues For Allah    12:44    Grateful Dead
They Love Each Other    4:38    Jerry Garcia
It Must Have Been The Roses    5:30    Jerry Garcia
Mission In The Rain    5:04    Jerry Garcia
Terrapin Station Part I    16:30    Grateful Dead
Rubin And Cherise    5:18    Jerry Garcia
Cats Under The Stars    5:31    Jerry Garcia
Shakedown Street    4:59    Grateful Dead
If I Had The World To Give    5:00    Grateful Dead
Alabama Getaway    3:37    The Grateful Dead
Althea    6:52    The Grateful Dead
Midnight Getaway    7:55    Jerry Garcia
Touch Of Grey    5:51    Grateful Dead
Foolish Heart    5:12    Grateful Dead
Standing On The Moon    5:23    Grateful Dead
Days Between    11:03    Grateful Dead
So Many Roads    7:25    Grateful Dead

 And here's a video I made--A Grateful Dead Noise Collage. Most non-fans associate the Dead with long, noodly jams (mmm...noodles and jam...), however, for their first decade or so, they sure delighted in spending at least a few minutes each show making an awful racket that would impress your average Sonic Youth fan. Have you the stomach to take all 11 minutes?