Saturday, November 30, 2013
On November 23, 2013 Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl's expanded edition of the GOASTT played a melodic and multifaceted musical set at Brooklyn's intimate Union Pool. A small but excitable crowd of 150 to 200 people sprinkled with respected musicians, as well as Lennon's Mother Yoko Ono were on hand to bear witness to a musical display brimming with originality and invention. Backed willingly and professionally by Brooklyn group the 'Invisible Familiars', featuring Jared Samuel, Tim Kuhl and Robbie Mangano the band conquered the Union Pool with psychedelic expressions, unique grooves and far out sounds. The group had been obviously road tested by their shows with Tame Impala and the Flaming Lips and were much tighter as a band than the fantastic show I had witnessed at the end of September in Kingston, NY. http://upstatelive.com/2013/10/09/conjuring-the-goastt-ghost-of-a-saber-tooth-tiger-live-at-the-bsp-lounge/ The group has become not only more aggressive in their approach, but more expansive in their instrumental coloring and communication, especially Lennon's anomalous guitar work.
The band appeared promptly on the diminutive crimson lit stage at 10:30 and immediately opened with a few well timed waves of rippling feedback breakers and Mellotron clouds, segueing nicely into an adrenaline infused 'Jardin du Luxembourg'. Following 'Jardin' the band continued without pause, blending seamlessly into a song off of their upcoming record, a nameless funky workout, irresistible, and solidly locked in place by the rhythm section of Muhl and Kuhl. Spectral and transparent harmonies delicately draped over the hard groove like a cozy winter coat, initiating a swirling musical contrast.
The set was similar to others on the tour, but with a shuffled order, the limited length due to the fact that the band is in the process of building their catalog. Two more new songs came in quick succession again spotlighting dreamy vocal blends and glistening metallic grooves. 'Xanadu' was cultivated into a mantra of flashing Super 8 images and a flexing rhythm encouraging even the most rigid of spectator to move in erotic time with the band. The band had their foot pressed firmly on the gas, there was no letdown in tempo or intensity.
The mid section of the set continued in much of the same impressive fashion, with the GOASTT revealing musical mysteries during their slow musical wade through thick seas of psychedelic jelly. Lennon's guitar prowess was on full display during 'Charlotte's Song(?)' a track thematically channeling South Africa through thumping tribal percussion and a majestic guitar exploration by Lennon. Charlotte's vocals sweet and warm, a welcoming whisper amidst the cacophony of instrumentation. 'Midnight Sun', loving referred to as 'Midninght Schlong' from the stage, wore a groove pinned on its chest that brought to mind the Harrison/Clapton classic 'Badge'. Mangano and Lennon collaborated on a shaky phased dual guitar line that shimmered under the fractal light from the gentle evening glow.
A long time highlight of GOASTT performances and a song that the last two times I have seen the band has established itself as a centerpiece, followed with the dramatic 'Last Call'. The band rolls this one up into a tight circular package that swings between drama and hope, prefaced by a watery slide guitar introduction and highlighted by the quintessential GOASTT vocal blend. Everyone in the band looked lost in the music at some points, a genuine feeling of investment eminated from the stage.
The ten song set came to its quick and unfortunate conclusion with another as of yet unreleased song, this one dealing with the topic of Alien conspiracies, that again featured an immense guitar solo by Lennon, dual harmonies and a substantial heavy feedback conclusion. A disappearing into the dark horizon version of Syd Barrett's 'Long Gone' then ended the set, the band became smaller and smaller as they moved away, heading toward the pinched end of a flat earth. Some musical chairs occurred as Samuel moved to bass and Muhl to keyboards for this considerable and weighty reading. Deep, dark and edgy this version was a fitting ending to the show and a proper summation of the talents and abilities of the group. These final songs appeared fully formed and blossomed from cracks in the frigid Brooklyn streets, defeating the concrete, becoming alive with leafy green stalks, supporting multicolored and panoramic musical heads, their aroma rich in musical statements and organic creation.
I find it a pleasure to watch Lennon kick off the shoes of his past and manifest the GOASTT into a tangible performing creation worthy of inspection and respect. With the music able to take its own natural course it feels to me Lennon has found his identity, free from the obvious historical connections that may or may have not stunted his previous artistic growth. The GOASTT will be releasing their new music next year, to the anticipation of this writer and many others. The band is experimenting and finding the alchemy needed to create magic, the pleasure is found in witnessing the journey and reaping the aural results.
GOASTT-Clip From First Show/New Line Up
Saturday, November 16, 2013
The LP opens with 'Fair Play' like a weather worn wooden door slowly opening, its matted moss and tangled vines parting to reveal the crystal waters of Killarney's blue lakes. Intimate instrumentation skips on light brushes and cozy descending guitar lines. The glorious horn that is Morrison's vocal attack, sings a montage of scattered shots from his consciousness. Syncopated vocal images ricochet off of the expertly arranged and courteous band. A magnificent opener and mood maker, 'Fair Play to you Van', one of his finest moments.
'Linden Arden Stole the Highlights' begins with the gentle duo of piano and guitar weaving the introduction to Morrison's tale of toughness, attitude, and responsibility by the songs protagonist. As the strings begin, Morrison's vocals soar to the summit, where only his voice can reach the note. Stunning. A brief pause and 'Who Was That Masked Man' enters, a decedent of Linden Arden, moving slowly, coming closer, with Van's comforting falsetto taking center stage. His exclamations answered by rain water clear acoustic guitar replies, and wine class piano taps. The tone definition of the stand up bass on this vinyl is likened to a big warm plush fuzzy ball, ticklish, defined.
The shady introduction to 'Streets of Arkow' begins the slow dark march down moist cobblestone streets, hearts on fire. The flute over Van's vocals creates its own melody line that ascends high above Van's narrative. The music is slightly dim, then turns dramatic as strings enter, initiating a call and response conversation including the piano, and flute. The song then peaks, increasing in dynamic attitude, swelling organically, rolling to a gentle stop. A mature song fully realized and excitedly intense.
What I would call the 'centerpiece' of the record comes next, this song being the sun in which all the other songs orbit. 'You Don't Pull No Punches, but You Don't Push The River', is a cinematic ride on a roller coaster of clouds. The song rolls over on top of itself constantly changing, feeling frisky, locked in a loose jazzy groove. The music sensually pulses with every change in Van's vocal approach. The stripped down band undulates relentlessly on this developed jazzy mantra, Van directs the approach vocally, as the strings enter coloring between the lines created by the the woody groove. The Veedon Fleece is name checked in this song, referred to as something Van is constantly looking for. 'Punches' rolls on for over nine minutes, finally cascading into a gentle eddy, slowing to a conclusion and ending side one. One for the books, an absolute all timer, and we are only half way through.
Side two opens with the pastoral imagery and 'Celtic Country' of 'Bulbs'. It must be said if you can pick up any of the live versions of this track from Van's 1974 tour, I promise it will fulfill all of your musical desires. I digress, the studio version of "Bulbs' breaks dirt and blossoms into striding and beautiful version worthy of repeated listening. If you love Van, you know this one well.
The slow turn around of another timeless song residing on Veedon Fleece follows with the moody mid tempo 'Cul de Sac. You will be hard pressed to find another vocal performance that compares to this one. Grunts, growls, horn wails, icy smooth deliveries, and soulful screams, this one has em all. The rhythm section is so in the pocket they sound related. Soul music. The twisted call and response guitar and vocal climax the makes up the extended outro is where its at. Van the man, machine gun scat, barking commands. Dig it.
After the heavy experience that is 'Cul de Sac', 'Comfort You' is a tender come down. Morrsion's plea to be the 'rock', and offering himself up to the lady of the song is set to a transparent waltz. The back porch serenade becomes something bigger as understated strings drizzle sweetness over the acoustic instruments. The song, similar to previous tunes of the LP, builds and drops nicely, breathing organically. The strings ring, the piano is a blue bell, restrained, yet virtuosic.
'Come Her My Love' is a fitting follow up, it feels like one piece with the previous, both songs decorated with delicate wooden instruments. 'Come Here' is a stark acoustic guitar and vocal performance, reminding me of Neil Young's 'Will to Love' in atmosphere. Van sweetly sings of showing his love the way to escape through the wonder of nature, accompanied by crisp finger-picked acoustic backing. This is candle light music here, no doubt about it.
The record concludes with the enchanted unveiling of 'Country Fair'. A song of innocence, a song of remembrance, a song that I will admit moves me deeply when I hear it. The song hangs weightless, a thin clean cotton sheet, windblown, rising and falling on the line. The melody developed by Van is the only sturdy thing amidst the swaying instrumentation made up of swirling and brilliant musical particulates, coming together for moments, then drifting apart. Containing acoustic guitar, flute and bass for form, the lyrics are a pale water painting, expressing worlds of emotions through simple images, and then reveling other views of those worlds through the movement of the music and through every detailed edge of Morrison's voice. These are the times I struggle to adequately describe what I hear, and wish for a deeper sense of expressing what this song is. But such is the greatness of music, and why we love it, and probably why you are reading this article. It's impossible to properly verbalize the magic we hear, but it sure is fun to try.
Van Morrison's Veedon Fleece is only one small segment in a long and varied career brimming with amazing moments. I can tell you it's my favorite Van record...obviously, but what is amazing to me, is that the record often goes unnoticed and upraised in grand scheme of Van's career (even by Van). In previous rants on this page I believe I have discussed that certain type of record, that has to be played in its entirety, and has to be played at the right moment for full enjoyment. This is one of those records. When played the LP takes on a life of its own, containing transportational qualities engrained in its grooves. For those who need it now, I have included some gold in the links below.As always, thanks for reading.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
The show begins with John Peel's stately introduction, as the band slithers into the opening 'Silicone Grown'. Woody enters with the fuzzy and buzzy opening guitar introduction, that is followed by the rest of the group falling into place like a shuffled deck of cards. The tune swings with a boozy swagger, with McLagan the early star, sliding across the back and whites in a rock and roll fervor. Barley taking a breath, Rod exclaims, 'One, and now we'll do two', as the band grinds into a rough and ready Cindy Incidentally'. McLagan and Lane bounce buoyant counter melodies off of Jones bricklayer rhythms, as Stewart and Woody bump body parts hovering around the stage.
Rod is obviously excitable on this evening and feeling fine, but there is no doubting the power and range of his golden throat. Jimi Hendrix's 'Angel' comes next and is a faithful reading and fitting tribute. Allowing the crowd time for contemplation and a cooling down, the 'sing a long' Angel appears in silver and gold outlined in clouds and is elegant version.
The following two songs find the band hitting their stride and the concert reaching its first boiling point. To my ears the sound quality improves at this point almost sounding as if the recording moves to a slight stereo. 'Memphis, Tennessee' rolls like a flat tire on a Cadillac, with a rotund groove that increases in tempo allowing Woody to disperse a plethora of Chuck Berry riffs, answered in kind by McLagan who replies with well timed rainwater glissando's. Lane's pulsing bass moves enough air to act as another lead instrument, which reaches virtuosic qualities when the band follows 'Memphis' with a florescent version of 'True Blue', a song originally featured on Stewart's Never a Dull Moment LP.
The opening chunk of Wood's introductory guitar riff garners applause from the studio audience, as the band flies a colorful rendition of the Stewart classic. The mid section breakdown of the song accelerates and shifts tempos, featuring the group speeding along asking, 'Don't you think I'd better get myself back home?' The collaborative lyrics are sung over racing and well timed statements by Wood, and McLagan. A welcome and well played version. At this point in the band's career their set included a varied selection of covers, Stewart 'solo' tracks like 'True Blue', and Faces songs. By this point he band assimilates all of these songs into their own, making classification pointless.
An always consistently played version of Sam Cooke's 'I'd Rather Go Blind' follows and its always a difficult task to find a bad performance of this track, which Stewart always invests himself in so fully. Wood answers Stewart's pleading vocals with his own clear tear drop assertions that pirouette under Rod's vocal lines. The Faces inject a dramatic anticipation into the song that never fails to elicit goosebumps. Through Mac's tender organ underpinnings reminiscent of the Band's Garth Hudson, and Wood's own vocal workout through his guitar's strings, 'I'd Rather Go Blind's' dynamic creep is a keeper, its emotional content becoming even more honest with the flowing booze.
After the compassionate version of 'Blind' the band returns to the vehemence of the earlier tracks with a 'song of much renown', 'You're My Girl' (I Don't Want To Discuss It). This track kicks off a four song run of intensity and rock fervor. 'You're My Girl' is a jumpy multifaceted shred that tells the songs subject exactly like it is. Stewart will except no excuses from his lady friend, and has the Faces there to back him up. Woody ferociously attacks his instrument answering Stewart's pleads by flashing sharp teeth and clenched fists. Jones and Lane are lock and key holding the songs subject in a tight embrace, working together to expose the melodic statements of Stewart, McLagan, and Wood. The song hits a well timed musical orgasm, and concludes as intensely as it started.
An interesting vocal exchange between Stewart and an audience member precedes the raucous and easy 'Twistin the Night Away' that follows. Rod invites the audience member to 'come up here' if the spectator does indeed 'want a job'. 'Twistin' teeters precariously on Woody's edgy slide licks and Jones pots and pans drumming. Characteristic of the Faces this track feels as if it could fall apart at any moment but contains a kinetic energy that emanates through the bands principals.
A husky and chunky 'It's All Over Now' keeps the loose bar band attitude going. At this point in the show is becoming slightly unshackled musically but somehow more intense. The beast has escaped, is looking for the nearest pub, and is stumbling through everything and anything in its path. "All Over Now' bangs recklessly through its changes and segues quickly into a similarly characteristic 'Miss Judy's Farm'. Lane's funky bass is the centerpiece on which the loopy groove balances, as the band plans their attack on the sinister Miss Judy using slicing and distorted riffs. Quintessential Faces.
An always welcome opportunity for Ronnie Lane to take some vocal duties comes next with the Faces cover of Paul McCartney's 'Maybe I'm Amazed'. The introductory vocals are met with various on stage chuckles and snorts for some unseen reason. This is a bombastic version featuring Kenney Jones snare shots, and Lane with an original take on the melody line with his 'lead' bass playing. Wood stretches out his ropy solo over the syncopated lead in to the final round of chorus vocals, eventually falling into the originally unique conclusion the band tacked onto the track.
The dual lead riff between bass and guitar signals the introduction to 'Three Button Hand Me Down' the concluding track on the Faces 1970 debut LP. What begins slightly out of tune and out of sync, becomes a raucous back door slam, hanging from one hinge, chipped paint, rusted hardware and all. Stewart replies at the songs conclusion, "That was really horrible', which is hard to find the truth in, because of the joy felt in listening to the performance!
The recording and concert conclude with a obstreperous reading of 'I'm Losing You' that quakes and shakes like the bad shopping cart at the market. Prior to the song beginning Stewart mentions that this will be the last song of the evening because the 'pubs are closing and we want to get there'. The band screams through an insistent reading of one of their most well known performances. The few mistakes during the track actually add to its uniqueness and its edgy reading. The 'Ohh, ohh' vocal breakdown is littered with giggles, and emphatic expressions. The tempo bobs and weaves, dragging weight, and then breaks free running with wind blown hair. Jones cavernous drum solo precedes the following musical detonation that peaks with jangling keys, thumping bass, and ravaged guitar and then ends as quickly as it started.
John Peel follows the end of the performance with the statement, 'The Faces, still the best rock and roll band in the world for those of us who really care', a fitting declaration for those who have enjoyed this recording or any of the Faces concerts when they really hit it. It's somewhat strange to listen to this recording and realize that it was left collecting dust for thirty years because the BBC felt the band was not 'sober' enough to warrant its broadcast. Only because of an error are we even able to enjoy it now, or it would still sit unheard. Only those familiar with the history of the BBC's carelessness with tapes and recordings will realize how lucky we are that these tapes even still exist!
In less than six months from this concert Lane would be gone, and the Faces would never be the same. Woody would start his affair with the Stones, Stewart with his ego, and Mac and Jones would be temporary left behind. Throw this recording on in your own 'rock room' and see if you agree with Peel's assertion on who at this time was the best rock and roll band in the world. I know how I feel.
True Blue 2-8-1973
I'd Rather Go Blind-2-8-1973
I'm Losing You 2-8-1973
Friday, October 25, 2013
The album begins outside, the evening conversation of nightfall creatures, bird chirps and insect bleats set the scene. Yoko narrates through clouds, and the inky blue veil drawn over her vocals. The music changes, a dance beat appears then explodes into full on Yoko vocal blasts. The music becomes dramatic with Nels Cline's recognizable guitar strikes lifting the song to a new level. The song becomes a massive theatrical opening to the record, including multiple elements of the bands arsenal, finishing with scathing found guitar sound that segues perfectly into 'Cheshire Cat Cry'.
Spotlighting the trio of Ono, Lennon and Lenny Kravitz (playing clavinet and drums) this funky street savvy jam slinks along dropping a down beat reminiscent of David Bowie's 'Fame'. Yoko seductively preaches, smiling slyly, similar to the songs subject. The content hasn't changed for Ono, 'Stop the violence', stop all wars' is the message, a mantra over the fat bass being played by her son.
The third track on the album is the sticky 'Tabetai', the song teeters on percussive rhythms, alternating sounds and cosmic effects. The tasty lyrical content is reflected by the mischievous instrumentation and Ono's pleading vocalizations.
'Bad Dancer' follows, and begins as a true 'dance' track with fuzzy hypnotizing bass and jumpy programmed beats. The track becomes gradually twisted by the musical additions of Adam Horovitz and Mike D (Beastie Boys) who remixed the track to feature aural hallucinations. Already in the first four tracks the diversity and talent of the collected musicians is fully on display and appropriately mind blowing.
One my personal favorite tracks on the record is the autobiographical 'Little Boy Blue you're daddy's gone', featuring electronic specialists the 'Tune-Yards'. This song contains no guitars, and is an aqua colored drift through soft Fender Rhodes accents and tender bass pulses. Yoko carries the melody vocally, while a fusion of synths, shakers and samples create a comforting layer of sound to which Yoko adds here longing vocalizations. The songs dissipates into a swirled and weightless interlude with Ono emotively lamenting. Another uniquely developed and produced track that only the mind Yoko Ono could have developed. More of a mood than a movement.
'There's No Goodbye Between Us' contains all of the hallmarks of a Ono ballad, similar in scope to past glories such as 'Hard Times Are Over' and 'I Want My Love To Rest Tonight'. A song about acceptance, regret, and hopefulness for the future, Ono interprets this song beautifully and tenderly, as it contains more ace production techniques covering the song in a spacy mist.
'7th Floor' comes rolling in on pulsating percussion and a funky guitar/keyboard combo groove. Direct and aggressive vocals from Yoko seductively speak over the unjulating sea of electric swells and guitar breakers. The strata of the song exposes the essence of Ono's talent and musicianship. Reminiscent in content to past Ono work 'Yang Yang', and containing as delicious of a groove, this track is a peak moment on the album. Kudos to Nels Cline, Sean Lennon, and Jared Samuel for intense contributions, and sympathetic instrumental support.
'N.Y. Noodle Town' begins as atmospheric folk number sung endearingly by Ono, and by its conclusion morphs into a silvery sound scape of guitars. A paean to her adopted hometown, the song rises skyscraper high, and basks in the warm sun. Cline's lap steel is very much a centerpiece, elegantly outlining the text of the song.
'Take Me To The Land of Hell', the title track, is the most straightforward song instrumentally, but also the most naked lyrically. Containing piano, cello, and hummingbird guitar the song chronicles Ono's journey up the 'blood river', to meet her lover 'soul to soul'. Dramatic in its construction, the slightly grim innards of the song increases its gripping power.
Featuring Sean Lennon on china doll piano and spotlighting an accompanying string trio, 'Watching the Dawn' sits perfectly in contrast to the previous 'Take Me to the Land of Hell'. The song is an airy Ono directive to, 'Remember we were offsprings of lovers and dreamers, Remember we are descendants of thinkers and builders'. The first blush of day breathes in the gentle accompaniment as Ono adds an obvious but not always heeded reminder that 'We are here together'.
'Leaving Tim' changes things up completely with a 1920's saloon swing, reminding me of 'I'm Your Angel' off of 1980's 'Double Fantasy'. Lightening the mood slightly, the track has an audio verite sound and contains infectious good time foot tapping. Yoko sounds like she having a good time too.
Again playing 'Yin/Yang with the track listing, the next and final song 'Shine, Shine' opens with Ono howling like a hammer, her vibrato moans working in conjunction with incendiary instrumentation tastefully remixed by record producer extraordinaire Cornelius. The circular porcupine bass line underpinning the song is massive, providing structure the crisp disco guitar riffs. Ono's performance vocally colors between the lines, adding cinematic contrasts to the pulsating groove. The song taffy pulls in multiple directions at once causing aural disorientation, instruments bounce in and out of the mix, creating a windy vortex of white noise that appears in an almost tangible form, then becomes transparent, dissolving into the swirling sound.
Ono's 'Take Me to the Land of Hell' is a divergent array of styles, musical guests, and instrumentation tied together by Ono's songwriting, vocals, and production. The LP is a testament to her continued devotion to peace and artistic expression. Similary to Ono's earlier recorded efforts with Sean's famous father, Sean Ono Lennon has now taken a lead role as a musical arranger and partner with his mother on her Plastic Ono Band projects. Reaching her 80th birthday, Ono is still relevant artist, collaborating most recently with 'The Flaming Lips' for a live version of "Cheshire Cat' on the David Letterman show. Regardless of any preconceived prejudices about her voice, or her involvement in the breakup of any famous rock bands people may have, Ono's importance in forward movement of art cannot be denied. Whether it be musical or conceptual, Ono's ideas initiate thought and cause reaction. Join the Plastic Ono Band on an excursion through the 'Land of Hell', marvel at the images and sounds revealed to you.
Cheshire Cat Cry-David Letterman
Moonbeams-'Take Me To the Land of Hell'
Sunday, October 6, 2013
The concert begins with the MC's introduction along with the radio broadcasters introduction. The first track is the Morse code opening of Syd Barrett's 'Astronomy Domine'. The first song of the groups debut LP sneaks out with dramatic vocals and percussive statements. The instruments tumble and fall like ancient stones, dropping into an abyss of descending chromatic runs dressed in enigmatic organ swells, and cymbal washes. The song tumbles over itself weightlessly, often referred to as 'space rock', the band was not enamored with that term, but it is quite apt in some cases. The song balances on its quirky changes, moving through the falsetto howls of the chorus, and eventually peaking in a heavy reinstatement of the theme.
The next track on the recording is an interview with Roger Waters where he states his beliefs regarding the staging of a pop festival in Rome, and the misgivings of doing so. He is also asked about the 'progressive' or 'experimental' aspect of 'pop' music and where the Floyd fits in to this movement. Interesting listen.
The following track is the strange and abstruse 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' penned by Roger Waters. The song which would remain in Water's set lists in different arrangements for years, here is played early and close to its original ideal. Opening on hollow tribal tom tom rolls that on the studio version were played with Tympani mallets, the song slinks along without bass and containing only terror inducing keyboards and Waters sinister whispers, 'Witness the man who raves at the wall, making the shapes of his questions to heaven'. Gilmour's muted cotton covered riffs move in and out of the track like a snake in the grass, sliding up against Wright's keyboard statements. The clandestine mantra starts to gain momentum, rotating, gathering cosmic ice. Gilmore joins with an over driven tone, playing droning licks similar to Indian raga riffs. The song then again falls dynamically into just keys and woody drums, only to rise from the psychedelic ashes to a well placed peak. The conclusion of the song hangs draped like a veil over the unseen portrait of a spectral woman. Waters bass appears toward the end at around eight minutes to help usher in the ending smoothly.
The bootleg recording finishes with 'Interstellar Overdrive', a song thematically related to the earlier ''Astronomy Domine'. The song begins on the chirp of Waters psychotropic guitar birds that squeak and squeal in conjunction with Wright's carnival keys. The song becomes a group of celestial horses jumping stars, eventually becoming a weightless improvisation floating through dark recesses. The song becomes minimalist, similar to 1970 Grateful Dead 'Dark Stars' then hits a Waters bass groove. Gilmour is throwing out strange schizophrenic statements, that quickly disappear after four minutes leaving Waters and Wright to gaze at each other through darkness. Formlessness becomes form, Mason comes thrashing in with weighty drums and the band coalesces into a thick reinstatement of the theme in a big way. A highlight of the recording. Brief applause can be discerned at the conclusion before the tape cuts off.
Apparently only 400 people attended this performance, probably the reason for Waters negative comments during the interview portion of the recording. Regardless, this capture is a adequate sounding representation of Pink Floyd during a time of reinvention and musical questioning. While extremely short, it is a very enjoyable listen with more than a few highlights. While my discovery was because I was virtually thumbing through a hard drive directory of music to enjoy, and this one stuck out as needing a good solid listen. If it sits silent in your collection I would recommend doing the same. There is also available, limited filmed footage of Floyd's performance which some I have included below. This is a good reference to enjoy in conjunction with the audio. There is apparently more hidden in the depths of someones vault, but only time will tell.
Pink Floyd-Interstellar Overdrive 5-5-1968 (Video)
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The album opens with the heavy Delta swamp stomp of 'Roadhouse' hitting hard and fast. Stills mojo is tangible as he growls with an attitude, soulful but slightly menacing. The thumping groove is dressed in Goldberg's bluesy dressings. The first solo by KWS is highly charged and fly's off of the handle immediately with a few elastic bends. Stills takes the second and states some sweet twists on the theme in his recognizable tone, using needle sharp statements. A smoking introductory view of the collaboration, with the first track a showcasing all of the bands strengths.
The next song sounds chrome covered and is driven by Kenny Wayne Shepherd at unsafe speeds. The cover version of 'That's A Pretty Good Love' once performed by Big Maybelle in 1958, is a tribal version that rolls off of the back of Layton's jangling rhythm. Smooth and swinging, Kenny Wayne Shepherd's guitar roller coasters rotund notes that scurry across the shifting groove. Under it all Goldberg's left hand pounds away relentlessly, while his right glides across the black and whites.
The third track is another band original that slows the tempo a bit and is called 'Don't Want Lies'. Counted off by Stills the song drifts between emotional poles and has all the hallmarks of a Stills melody. The song also contains some falsetto Stills vocalizing on the chorus for a nice touch. A strong track with a sneaky solo courtesy of Kenny Wayne, the second solo a phased response by Stills. An additional moment of note is a solitary Stills vocal that hits the right spot.
A surprising and heat seeking version The Stooges 'Seek and Destroy' comes next and brings the temperature to nuclear levels with impassioned vocals and incendiary soloing. The band digs their heels into this one hard. Thus far the album is a diverse and well placed selection of covers and originals played joyously.
My personal favorite track on the collection comes next and starts off a pair of ace choices. First, the foreboding title track, 'Can't Get Enough' is a dynamically constructed mid tempo blues that bears the fruit of this bands line up. At two minutes in Stills lets out a startling and powerful scream that ushers in the chorus, absolutely great. Kenny Wayne takes off inspired with a rocket fueled solo attack that gains intensity, then suddenly descends to a clean tone butterfly flutter. Possibly the solo of the record, then back to a detonating restatement of the theme. Buzzing in his cloak of distortion Stills takes the second solo with a measured and sinful series of statements, following them with another shredding vocal scream. Heavy blues.
What better way to follow up a smouldering original blues then with one penned by a master? The band steps into a smokey saloon version of Muddy Waters 'Honey Bee'. Goldberg opens the song with a rolling acoustic piano opening, and later with a wind through the trees Hammond organ solo excursion. 'Honey Bee' extends past seven minutes and gives the band ample opportunities for flybys. KWS peaks with an orgasmic announcement containing tightly coiled virtuous runs. Stills later answers with a metallic clean tone that shimmers brightly, illuminating Goldberg's glissando replies. Kenny Wayne takes another feisty run at it before the song concludes the two track blues clinic.
Another variety of cover song follows with with a daring version of Neil Young's 'Keep On Rockin In the Free World', an accurate statement in the context of this record. This version does warrant inclusion on this record, regardless of the tunes somewhat overplayed nature. The Rides match the enthusiasm and aggressiveness of previous versions comprised of an all together different pedigree. Stills again impresses with dominant vocals, and channels his brother in arms Neil, playing twisted vibrato filled hulks of smoking metal that become guitar solos.
The last cover was Muddy, this next is Elmore James's 'Talk to Me'. Kenny, Goldberg, and Stills in that order buff this one til it shines, glistening with remembrances of their roots, and priceless quotes from their respective and impressive careers. Call and response vocals mixed with ass shaking grooves inject the song with a juke joint attitude. A highlight performance.
Following a series of three well played covers, 'Only Teardrops Fall' walks in with heavy steps and dirty boots. A well written introspective song laced with silvery guitars. A song about life trials and a persons eventual reappearance on the other side after facing these battles. A prime moment is when Stills and Shepherd meet for a musical embrace, with two guitars quoting the melody line together. An enjoyable original worthy of repeated listens, and a soothing prelude to the finale.
The final track on the LP reaches back to Stephen Stills 1971 LP, Stephen Stills II where it was performed in an acoustic guise. A favorite live performance piece for Stills, the still relevant 'Word Game' is given a harsh electric workout over forty years later. Retaining its original melody, a deadly serious Stills rants over honky tonk piano and profane guitars. A potent conclusion to a weighty and professional collection of songs.
It's refreshing to know that in this day and age of sterilized music, rock fans can still find records that are 'all killer, no filler' in the blues/rock genre. While holding only ten songs, 'Can't Get Enough' is a conducive record that contains a concentrated energy. While 'supergroup' collaborations are often overblown and sometime disappointing, in this case the result exceeded its principals. The Rides perform no frills, dirt road, fast car rock and roll. The enjoyment felt by the musicians is tangible on the recording which in turn increases listener enjoyment. Jangling piano, in the pocket drums, screaming guitars are the ingredients that make up this tasty rock and roll stew. Dig in.
Can't Get Enough-The Rides
Sunday, September 15, 2013
There are blues on the ceiling of the 'rock room' this morning emanating from a heavy live performance by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band shuffling like a sexy street walker from my stereo speakers. Hailing from the Fillmore West on September 30th 1966, this concert finds the band in the midst of their most revolutionary period, shortly after the release their influential LP 'East-West. The Butterfield Blues Band not was only leading the way with their introduction of 'Indian' influence and expanded improvisational movements to rock music, but they were also a mature blues band featuring a 'mixed' line up of race, almost unheard of for the time. The San Fransisco bands often looked to the "BBB" for inspiration and the groups importance cannot be understated, and is reflected in the improvisational attitude of bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Moby Grape to name a few, who looked to guitar god in the making Mike Bloomfield for direction. The expansion and development of cracking open songs and letting the contents fall where they may can be traced to the Butterfield Blues Band and their ballroom performances.
Obviously Butter is the axis in which the band revolves, his virtuosic blues harp playing some of the best the rock world has ever experienced, rooted in the abilities of Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Walter Horton, and Little Walter. This performance at the Fillmore West finds the group in their peak and ecstatic to be flaunting their plumage. The Butterfield Blues Band was a group that straddled the musical fence, touching toes into the sweet grass of psychedelia and improvisational journeys as well as keeping their other foot rooted in the earthy attitude of the blues. This concert features the six piece line up for the group with members Paul Butterfield (Harp Vocals), Mike Bloomfield (Guitar), Elvin Bishop (Guitar), Mark Naftalin (Keys), Jerome Arnold (Bass), and Billy Davenport (Drums). The recording I am listening to has an unknown lineage, but has wonderful presence, with all instruments and vocals coming through clearly and with consistent levels. It seems to be an audience recording, but sounds like in could be a straight line recording with light mileage. Regardless, it sounds nice, and feels good.
The concert opens earnestly on the fuzzy bounce of Bishop's guitar, presenting a 'Droppin Out' that had not yet been unreleased on LP. 'Droppin Out' has that rotund Butterfield band 'sound', but contains a fluttering melody that is helplessly 1960's. Bloomfield immediately comes out swinging with a stringy chorused solo that contrasts the spiked backing by Bishop and the rhythm section. The song concludes amongst a wash of feedback and squealing microphones quickly. A quick and fitting opener.
The band immediately jumps into 'Mother In Law Blues' a Junior Parker cover, and the band starts to slip into something more comfortable. Butter takes his first harp blast of the night and the temperature begins to rise, as the band percolates under his breathy accents. A series of twisting gusts carrying Butter's musical muse wrap around the song like a snake squeezing life from its prey. The second solo is Bishop, whose over-driven Gibson 335 takes a slightly different route than Butter cutting down dusty back roads to reach his chosen destination.
Following 'Mother In Law Blues' Butterfield introduces a song from the bands debut LP, 'Drifting', as 'My love is drifting'. Bloomfield now starts to take over the performance with a clinic of chorused, wormy lines that slither, booze soaked and quaking with the anguish of the lyrical content and Bloomfield's own personal demons. The breath leaving Butter's lungs is as emotive vocally as it is through his harp. The first solo by Bloomfield is a melting ice cube, sliding across a table leaving a trail of icy cool remnants behind. Davenport's drums skip like a happy child leaving school for the day, his jazz sensibilities lending a sturdy swing to a normally rigid blues beat. The band coalesces into one of the finest examples of the Chicago blues played flawlessly by a group of young white boys.
Next up comes a 'Born In Chicago' that brings the concert to a new level, and discovers the band locked in tight. Written by 'BBB' songwriter and comrade Nick Gravenities, the song features the chemical makeup of the Chicago blues, injected with a modern day sensibility. The start/stop groove comes out fighting against itself in a tug of war. Orchestrated, the three soloists Butter, Bloomfield, and Bishop mesh their musical gears into a conglomerate of blues riffs. The song then hits double time during Butter's crunchy harp soling, gaining momentum, eventually falling back into the oscillating body of the song. Butter and Bloomfield then initiate a tight embrace, winding themselves around each other for the second solo break. As the song races toward its conclusion Bishop takes a clean tone picking break that dissipates the tension, eventually joining with Butter for another musical meeting that brings the song to a gentle conclusion. Yes!
After the exciting 'Born In Chicago' the band enjoys an iced whiskey and smoke by putting the next track under a blue streetlight with a soulful take on 'Willow Tree'. The fidelity of the recording exposes every detail of this deep jam. 'Willow Tree' spotlights a guitar duel between Bloomfield and Bishop that reveals the unique abilities of each man, and their collaborative strengths. Butterfield sings the shit out of this one with a natural vibrato and deadly serious attitude. Bloomfield answers each verse with his own lyrical melodies increasing the tension. Solo one is Butter, carrying with him a drawn out see-saw harp escapade, seamlessly connected to a dual guitar conversation between Bloomfield and Bishop that is inspiring. The series containing 'Born In Chicago' and 'Willow Tree' is a definite highlight thus far of this performance.
Butterfield hero and idol 'Little Walter' gets a name drop and representation with the cover of 'My Babe' that comes next. Teetering on the snare shuffle of Davenport and Lay, Butter displays his ample ability with a plethora of Little Walter quotes, acting as the primary soloist. At three and a half minutes all the primary soloists stick their thumbs out to hitch a ride, squeezing into the back seat with tasteful additions, carefully leaving room for the other riders. A picture perfect representation of a blues translation, left with the 'BBB's" own distinctive thumbprint on the glass.
A unique surprise comes next with a cover of 'Kansas City' featuring Bloomfield taking over the lead vocal duties. The band rolls like a soft tire on a highway truck, smooth, with some bumps for good measure. Bishop answers Bloomfield's first slippery solo with a careful and measured discussion containing crisp bends and repeated lines that wind up quickly before they fly away like the string on a runaway kite. This one just chugs on down the line, all killer, no filler. Priceless.
The concert recording and I believe the entire performance concludes with an extended reading of Cannonball Adderly's 'Work Song'. Lingering bast 13 minutes, this version of 'Work Song' is a prime example of the exploration into the dark recesses of song expansion that the Butterfield Blues Band were undergoing. Brought into the repertoire because of Bloomfield's investigation into the world of jazz and his interest into extended improvisation used by Coltrane and Miles Davis, this track in addition to 'East/West' were the vehicles the group used to display their musical abilities and induce musical conversations. Using Adderly's recognizable melody as the launching point the band splits the song open and reveals the juicy goodness inside. After stating the theme on harp, Bloomfield lifts off with a echoed and tightly twisted rope of a solo, Lay's bass peaks it head up intermittently after Bloomfield finishes a phrase, and finally Butter too pops in as Bloomfield starts to reveal the core of the track at a bit after three minutes. Taught and sustained notes, worked up to, and away from wrap around the swirling groove. Atonal sideways guitar licks lash across the shifting rhythm with Bloomfield expressing wobbly almost human sounding guitar screams from his amplification. Reaching the first summit, Butterfield steps up for his solo spot and takes an experimental stab at matching Bloomfield. A few well timed squeals punctuate the moaning train whistle blasts initiated by Butter. The song palpably breaths, rising and falling with Butter's blowing. As Butterfield concludes, a brief moment of pulsating rhythm by Lay and Davenport keep the heartbeat active and allow Naftalin to spread some haunted organ flourishes underneath the bubbling tincture. Bell like chimes ring out from Bloomfield's guitar, all rhythmically enticing, pushing and pulling against the beat, creating new variations on the theme. Approaching eight and a half minutes Bishop steps up to make another guitar statement. Whereas Bloomfield's statements bubble and spill like spring water over a smooth stone, Bishop's licks are more angular and aggressive, feeling like walking barefoot over hot rocks. Quick stinging and sliding movements up the neck punctuate Bishop's clinic. Butterfield, Bishop, Bloomfield, and Naftalin leisurely make their way to the middle to throw ideas at one another and see what sticks. Ideas and riffs start to be bantered about as the band his a delicious thumping swing groove. This momentary convergence explodes into a aggressive blast of guitar and harp fireworks that brings the song full circle landing eventually into a final statement of the theme. Screams of delight can be heard emanating from the stage during the building climax. Falling smoothly into the ending, Butterfield signals the end of the performance. Bill Graham is heard after the band finishes introducing the group with the recording cutting off before he can complete the line up.
The September 30, 1966 Butterfield Blues Band concert at Fillmore West is a glimpse into a prime era of their development as a band as well as an expression of their unique mixture of jazz, Chicago blues, Indian, and psychedelic sensibility. Containing some of the most respected musicians in rock and blues history, the Butterfield Blues Band live in concert was an on stage hall of fame. Revolutionary respected, and influential, the original line up was short lived, but did alter the way other groups played and approached the blues and live improvisation. Their debut LP as well as 'East/West' were the records spinning on the turntables of not only fans but of fellow peers and musical artists. Early in their career the group was one of the few 'white' blues groups to gain the respect of the musicians that they were covering, proven by the fact the the original rhythm section hailed for Howlin Wolf's band! The Butterfield Blues Band, one of rocks finest, most professional and talented bands. Search this one out in addition to the groups first two LP's, and prepare for a unique and powerful portrayal of a multitude of musical classifications and all of their beginnings.
Butterfield Blues Band-'Dropping Out'-Fillmore West 66
Butterfield Blues Band-'Our Love Is Drifting'-Fillmore 1966