Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stormy Monday Post

Just wanted to direct people to Dan Alford's  recent post over on Hidden Track.

Dan does the Stormy Monday downloads and he does a dam good job with them, but this week he tackled the first years of the Phil Lesh Qunitet and it is worth reading and listening to.  As I mentioned before, the PLQ is my favorite post Jerry music ever created in regards to the original songs/group.  Combing searing southern flavored guitars, excellent vocals and an uptempo energy the group had it all.
He offers two sets for you to download and listen to but there are also a bunch of them at the archive.  One of my favorites was the first time I caught this combination of players live, 10-13-00.  It was a rollicking Friday night and when the group went into Terrapin Station out of SlipKnot! the Beacon exploded.  So you can give that one a listen too...

OK I will be taking a mini vacation, so catch up with you all on the flipside...All the best.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Dead: 7-16-1970 Euphoria Ballroom

Monday Dead this week takes us back to July 16th 1970 and what we have here is anything but a failure to communicate.  A major transitional year for the fellas, 1970 had it all, ups/downs/folk/freakouts but on this glorious day one of the groups most beloved friends came on stage and shined her lovelight all over the place.  
 Nice grab Pigpen...Listen right c'here:

I had a blast yesterday hanging out with a bunch of friends and loved ones (even if my football picks went south, but Chelsea had fine form) and the night ended with us watching the excellent Festival Express.  If you haven't seen this movie, please, do yourself a favor and order it asap you will not be disappointed.  A great documentary about a magical coming together of musicians.  I was amazed when I caught the film on the big screen down in Union Sq. and the main reason for my fascination was not the Dead, nor even my man crush on Rick Danko, but the unbelievable force of nature that Janis Joplin was as a live performer. 

Her scenes in the film jump off the screen with a richness and vitality that is unmatched, she was magnetic. beautiful and simply stunning as an artist.  I love that the Dead wrote "Bird Song" in her honor, but I love even more this "Lovelight" with Pigpen.  Before we get to that though I should mention that the quality of today's show is again top notch grade A+ stuff.  Kudos to Scott Clugston for a pristine transfer allowing us to enjoy this timeless performance 30 years later.  Before we get to the naughtiness we need to mention the quick and fun version of "China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider", it is a crisp version of an old favorite, but the "Candyman" here is skip-able.  Never my favorite tune and a blown version on this night, it was as if the band was waiting for the front woman to take the stage.

Then comes the huge "Lovelight" and the interplay between Janis and Pigpen.  An obvious chemistry blazes through the speakers and I would freak out to be able to see the video of this show as it is a happening man.  The sexy interplay works even if we can't see it and you gotta love Janis ripping on the "Hippie Jack-offs", saying she wants a working man as the sparse band just keeps the minimal beats behind her.  Then after some crowd encouragement the group starts the train up around the 11 minute mark.  Jerry gets wah-wah'ing and Phil fuzzes out a few bass bombs as the revving up to the climax commences.  What a time must have been had, and I can only imagine the quarts of whiskey and tequila that were consumed.
Here's hoping the party is still going on somewhere special, enjoy the show.          

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Funday: Ahh Le Noise

Good news on this Friday Funday, Uncle Neil is coming out with a new album in 2 weeks.  Yippee!

From the first track released it almost sounds as a full on collaboration with producer Daniel Lanois, this is right up his alley, freaky noise parts/loops/sparseness...give it a listen:

I dig what these two crazy Canadians are going for.  Got a soft spot in me old hardened heart for any time Neil gets his feedback/low rumble on.  I do hope there are a bit more up tempo tunes on the album, but it will be an interesting listen no matter what.  Uncle Neil, unlike most "classic" artists, has the ability to release complete bombs that even his die hard fans have a hard time defending...but this one sounds very intriguing, can't wait to give it a spin on the 28th.  Enjoy the Weekend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Album Review - SHINING - Blackjazz

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
**** out of *****

From their free jazz acoustic roots to this cataclysmic exercise in schizophrenic metal free-form it has been quite a journey for Norway's SHINING, but the fruits of their labor, Blackjazz, is a thrashing success.  The band has completely changed from their debut Where The Ragged People Go, to there newest effort Blackjazz, so much so that a name change was probably due a few albums ago.  The group is now a skittering smash of guitars tweaks, thundering bass lines over assault rifle drumming with distorted howls and screams acting as vocals.  You can pretty much classify anything as 'jazz' but purists who favor Louie Armstrong and John Coltrane might want to check out something else.  Now fans of industrial, thrash and death metal should take note as the album is adventurous yet directed and pummeling.

Opening with a wail comes "The Madness And The Damage Done" blowing out minds and woofers, increasing expectations with its frantic serial killer style; by the time the tracks violin filled reprise returns in the middle of the album you need to sit down and catch your breath. This is a primal earphone experience that rewards with a deep listen, for example when "Exit Sun" blasts to the forefront you can hear the multi-instrument layering with well timed pianos in the breaks and while fierce clanging is on the top, the group sports crafty sonic interplay below.  Tracks run on and on (most waaay too long), such as the dueling/dying clashing between saxophone/guitar/keys/sludge bass and drums that makes "Helter Skelter" feel like the end of days as distortion creeps in and swallows the track whole.

Their epic, in length and structure "Blackjazz Deathtrance" begins as if they are electrifying an ancient kingdom of non-believers, before a satanic sounding chant delivers the track and the masses to hell via twisted keys and bashing skins.  "Omen" builds and builds on feedback taking a vibe of minimalism and reverb until it's exploding crescendo, the track slightly resembles Sun O))) which is a refreshing take after all of the jumbled cacophony proceeding it.    

Obviously SHINING are prog-rock fans (on speed and probably rat poison from the sound of things) and they invite Grutle Kjellson from Enslaved to join them on their screeching cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man", but this album will be much better received by fans of early Ministry then early Genesis as it's spastic flourishes and driving rhythms are more akin to industrial prowess then prog excess.  If those are where your territorial pissings splash then fire up Blackjazz.  
Got this album earlier in the year and was blown away...I have always loved Ministry and had recently gone back to listen to a couple of  their more recent albums (Rio Grande Blood really kicks major ass, thanks Glen) and remembered Blackjazz.  If you are into this sort of thing, you really need to check this one out, a ferocious sonic assault, some video below (Not too Jazzy, Huh?):

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Dead 7-3-1969 Reed's Ranch, Colorado Springs

A quick and hot country/folk studded first set takes place for us on this Monday, way back on July 3rd 1969.  Listen via that link, or even better, stream it right here:

 The group lets there folkie and frontiersmen come to the forefront on this night in Colorado.  What needs to be addressed first is the amazing quality of this recording...it is an A++ thanks to Charlie Miller, Rob Eaton and company.  It sounds perfect, there is no two ways around it.  While this isn't a complete show, the quality of playing and sound won't disappoint anyone who wants to take this trip with me.

The other neat-o thing about today's show is the rarity of the songs played during this first set.  Starting off we get Cowboy Bobby going to town on Claude "Curly" Putman Jr's country tune "Green, Green, Grass of Home." It seems like every classic country star covered this at one time in their careers, I am going to post the best dressed man in Country musics version, Porter Wagoner:

Both are dynamite versions and the Dead only played this tune a handful of times in 1969 and early 70.  Bobby is loaded up and hunting a pesky huge bear in the classic "Ole Slew Foot" written by Manney Hausey.  Here is Johnny Horton ripping a killer version out from back in the day to compare the Dead's version too...

That is another rare one from the fellas having only been played a couple of times in 1969.  The next country/folk number to get an airing is the bit more familiar "Sittin' On Top Of The World" a classic penned by the Mississippi Sheiks.   Here is the original to check out:

The first three songs almost act like a history lesson from the group.  Then comes the cosmic freak out folk of the fan and band favorite "Morning Dew".  This version is raging all over the place with huge crescendos a quick tempo and what could be sheets of metal getting played about midway through, this is a fun sonic journey.

What shows up next is an amazing Jerry Ballad worth every second it is played,  "High Time" aches with pain making Jerry sound older then his years on the vocals, and the group supports him well, Lesh in particular plops in with some creative bass lines.    A quick and cut off "Me and My Uncle" keeps the cowboy vein a flowin' for Bobby and has some nice keys from Pigpen.  Then comes the highlight of this short first set, the wandering long version of "He Was A Friend OF Mine".  Turns out this tune is actually a combo of a traditional ballad and a piece of Mark Spoelstra's song titled "Just a Hand To Hold", there is a pretty good round up on the tune here.     Also some more discussion here on it.  Whatever it's origin the Dead make it their own on this night with a spacious jam section that finds Garcia soaring.

This version seems to be the longest the Dead ever recorded of this song and the guitar intro is pretty magical all around.  The band strolls and takes a leisurely walk in the summer night with this one watching the sunset and contemplating life as Jerry plays on and Phil starts the musical conversation that Bobby picks up as well.  This is a unique track and one worth checking out if you never heard the Grateful Dead play it.     

Hope you enjoy this set as much as I did, thanks again to the production team as this sounds pristine and will obviously get many return visits.  Vaya Con Dios Amigos.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Funday - Elvis Covering Dylan

Happy Friday Funday! 

Ease into the weekend with this mega-superstar covering another mega-artist:

Big Thanks to Billy for bringing this cover to my attention as I had never heard it before and it is dyn-o-mite!

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Glide Review - The Torches Self-Titled EP

Hey there, got a new review up on Glide.

Read it right C'here!!

It is of The Torches new Self-Titled EP. 

You can grab the mp3's here or the vinyl 7 inch here if you are interested in the group.

It is some fun stuff, and I am assuming they would be pretty solid on the live front so I am keeping an eye out for them when they come through NYC.

Here are some live videos of the group to get a taste of the proceedings:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Grateful Dead 9-3-1967 Rio Nido, CA

Hope everyone had a relaxing Labor Day weekend and to ease back into this short work week we are going to travel far back to the Labor Day weekend of 1967 which closed the highly adventurous Summer of Love and cemented The Grateful Dead as "A Happening, Man"!

Lets kick September Dead style off right as that show in Rio Nido, CA turned out to become a pretty righteous one in the Dead's history, listen to 9-3-1967 or stream it below, this is not a show to be missed:

I know this show is coming a day late in our Monday series, but you will certainly forgive the holiday tardiness when you are 10 minutes into the simply epic "Midnight Hour" that opens this.  At that point we are about as far from the Steve Cropper/Wilson Pickett tune as you can go and still call the it a cover, but I am getting slightly ahead of myself,  9-3-1967 really is a high point from the Dead's early days and they knew it. When the band re-mastered and released their Self titled first album they added the "Viola Lee Blues" from this night as a bonus track...there was magic in the air at the Dance Hall in Rio Nido, California.     

Like most relics from days gone by their is a bit of wear and tear on the recording, but considering the year and technology the damage is negligible, in fact as the show progresses the sound ebbs and flows but the playing would be worth listening to had the show been broadcast through a muffler of a Ford Fairlane.
 (Ok Maybe not that kind of muffler...snapperhead!)

The version of "In The Midnight Hour" that opens this recording was probably from later in the show, or possibly even the next night, but when Phil Lesh complied his Fallout From The Phil Zone he handpicked this exact version to be on the disk and he is pretty sure it comes from this night, so the good people at the Archive have it for us check out...and it is a WHOPPER.  Clocking in at over a half hour and not boring once throughout it is a stunning work from the band; longevity doesn't always equal succes with the group but on those special nights when you wished the group would just let it all hang out and never stop...well you get that right from the jump here.
 After Pigpen (who is top-notch all show) gets the jam a-goin' with his slapdash blues vocals the group begins the adventure experimenting with the musical conversations to each other.  Phil in particular is vibrant with his bass lines weaving in and out of Garcia while he keeps the dancing psychedelic groove bumpin'.  Bobby's strums are flared out and around the 13 minute mark things are completely out there and flying.  In what would become a successful them this night, the structure of the cover tune would be wrapped up quickly and then the great wide sonic open would lay before them allowing the quintet to dabble like painters.  When they get back around to the vocals Pig has some fun trying to get the crowd up and jivin', he even gets on young Bobby Weir telling him to take a break from his guitar and dance with a fancy lady.  I haven't thought too much about my favorite version of the fellas covering this song, but I am guessing I will be hard pressed to unearth a better one then this.

Next comes "Dancing In the Streets", another soul cover from the cosmic cowboys and we follow the same pattern, all though this cover was a little newer to them and the original song part gets a bit of a butchering (with some wobbly sound to boot) but once they toss of the shackles of structure the night opens up with Jerry and Bobby playing in multiple directions while the groove is locked with Pig Phil and Billy holding down the rhythm (Mickey wouldn't join the fellas until later in the month).  What starts off a bit shaky works really well in the spacey realm that the Dead were so comfortable in.           

After some extended playing we dig in for soulful blues with a compact and powerful workout of the classic "It Hurts Me Too" from Tampa Red.  Pigpen is again in his element taking the mic and making us feel with his words and harmonica playing that was missed after he passed, but it is Jerry's cutting lines that hit home and set the tone with their weeping power.  This is a cover the Dead always did justice too no matter when in their career they chose to play it, but it sounds a bit different then the original, which has a more buoyant and uplifting musical shuffle.

Both great versions and another killer cover (notice a trend today?) scoots it's way into your ears, the traditional "Cold Rain and Snow" .  I love the amped up fire of 1960's versions of this classic as it's energy is tight and the playing always seems crisp in front of Pig's high pitched organ runs and Phil's dropping bass notes; this version is a winner.  Another Pigpen fronted cover came up next with the walking blues of "Good Morning Little School Girl" focusing on Phil's dynamite playing the slight rhythm strums of Bobby and the squirrely Garcia riff runs that transform into feedback blasts with ease.  This is a cool daddy-o version with the band completely in sync with one another and when Jerry teases us via those ripping blasts he is hinting at a monster that is about to arise next...unfortunately when "Schoolgirl" seems to be peaking we get our audio nuts cut when the tape ends...ouch, blue ears.
It is unfortunate considering the quality of the playing being expressed on this night, but the end of "Schoolgirl" and "Viola Lee Blues" which is mega-highlight has it's beginning and end snipped, but we can't focus on what we don't have we can only showcase what is here and it is glorious....

As the tape fades back in we hear the boys ending a verse and Jerry is instantly off and riffing with support from a game Weir and Pigpen.  Phil seems to be out on his own wavelength with Billy just slapping the shit out of the snare to march the tune up hill.  "Viola Lee" was the song the Dead really started it's jamming ways on, it would take the Noah Lewis original and bring it to places I doubt the jug band musician could have even imagined.  It sounds like Phil and Jerry really get into things around the 7 minute mark with the band digging in and furiously exploring different avenues as Kreutzmann keeps it fast and pulsing.  Jerry and Billy both flash fire in a guitar snare duet around the 9 minute mark and the whole group is off again with the night as their sonic oyster; willing to go anywhere and they do.

Things get climatic at the 15 minute mark as the band builds to the inevitable crescendo and explode...back into the structure of the jug band original at 16:20. Then the groove starts up again with everyone building while Jerry runs full steam ahead until once again we hit the vocals to close things out, and while the tape is cut slightly it can't take away from the other worldly playing that just took place. 
 For a band that was closer to simple blues and folk then anything else at the start of the year to have this cataclysmic explosion of experimentation is amazing and it would serve notice to everyone else that they were the premier psychedelic band on the scene...well for the next 25+ years.     

"Big Bossman" acts as set breather with a simple shuffle letting the boys and crowd ease down from the tripped out highs they just heard.  Then a sleepy "Alligator" rears up and slinks onto the stage....it takes the group only a few minutes to rev the energy in the dance hall back up and get the night flying again.  3:41 in the funky strumming of Bobby works wonderfully with the lead high pitched notes of Jerry moaning along while Phil and Billy take no prisoners on the low end.  Bobby keeps at it, turned up loud in the forefront laying an R&B foundation that the others can vibe around...in the speakers it sounds really crisp serving as a reminder that Weir was vital for the band even when he wasn't singing.
7 minutes in the band is peaking yet again on this amazing evening, hitting out in all different directions but maintaining it's center.  The complete package is being expressed as the band can solo on their own while remaining a consistent force blowing minds with their power and electricity, everyone in their own space yet flowing communally...uber-impressive.  At 10 minutes in you can't help but smile as they are locked and loaded, hunting for bear. You can tell they don't want the magic to stop, and luckily for us we have these amazing shows so it never will... what a tune, what a night, what a show!!!

As legend has it Robert Hunter who had been friends with Garcia for years, and had written the lyrics to "China Cat Sunflower/The Eleven/Alligator" and others already, was in attendance this night in Rio Nido (one of the supposedly 25 people who were).  Legend continues that this impressive night of music moved him like never before with the group.  It is said that after this night he decided that his future was tied to the boys and he would devote the next 30+ years to being a member of the band who just never took the stage with them, even going so far as to write the first verse of "Dark Star" that weekend.

Whatever the case may be, it is hard to deny the power of this show, perhaps the true highlight of 60's Grateful Dead musical prowess and fittingly it occurred on the final weekend of the Summer of Love...A Labor Day of Love?  Nah, I won't get that cheesy, just enjoy the Show.       

(Edit: after I wrote this up this weekend, I found a fantastic review today of the same show from the wonderful website Dead Listening, you can give that a read as well...I should have saved myself some time and just posted that one, even more thoughts on a historic night.)   

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Free Album Download - Big Gigantic - A Place Behind The Moon

Thanks to a heads up from Scott and the boys over at Hidden Track, I download a new "Livetronica" album from the duo Big Gigantic called A Place Behind The Moon and you can too...

 you can also pay to download some bonus track the fellas created with the STS9 crew

I will be honest, usually this stuff isn't my cup of orange juice but this release is smooth, engaging and inventive.  The horn really helps things along producing a space aged jazz world that a guitar wouldn't be capable of.  Maybe it is just the mood I am currently in but as the disk plays now the sax-keys-drums mix combined with the computer produced soundscape-thingie-ma-bobs produce a pretty A-Ok vibe on this Thursday.  Some highlights after first listen were "Limelight" and "High and Rising", give it a peep if you dig this sorta stuff, or want to try something new.

Here are a couple vids of them in the live setting:

Aces Lounge