Peter & The Wolves
More Invisible Hits! You can go check out my survey of some excellent unreleased Peter Laughner material over on Pitchfork today. If you’re not familiar with the dude (who co-founded Rocket From The Tombs and Pere Ubu), you should definitely take a listen to Take The Guitar Player For A Ride, the out-of-print mid-1990s comp that gathers together some choice cuts. If you already know that stuff, here’s a very cool rarity — a tape of Peter playing live in 1976. The first half is solo acoustic and the second half is with a full band, The Wolves. Tom Herman, Laughner’s Ubu cohort, is on on guitar here, not sure who the other players are. The recording quality leaves a little to be desired (the norm for recordings of Laughner it seems), but it’s a fantastic listen all the same. A healthy mix of covers (VU, Neil Young, Dylan) alongside some great originals (a lovely “Sylvia Plath” and a ferocious “Dear Richard”). There’s also what has to be one of the first Television covers to be performed — a fine and faithful version of “Prove It,” which hadn’t even been released yet. Like I wrote, Laughner was always the hippest guy in the room. 

Peter & The Wolves

More Invisible Hits! You can go check out my survey of some excellent unreleased Peter Laughner material over on Pitchfork today. If you’re not familiar with the dude (who co-founded Rocket From The Tombs and Pere Ubu), you should definitely take a listen to Take The Guitar Player For A Ride, the out-of-print mid-1990s comp that gathers together some choice cuts. If you already know that stuff, here’s a very cool rarity — a tape of Peter playing live in 1976. The first half is solo acoustic and the second half is with a full band, The Wolves. Tom Herman, Laughner’s Ubu cohort, is on on guitar here, not sure who the other players are. The recording quality leaves a little to be desired (the norm for recordings of Laughner it seems), but it’s a fantastic listen all the same. A healthy mix of covers (VU, Neil Young, Dylan) alongside some great originals (a lovely “Sylvia Plath” and a ferocious “Dear Richard”). There’s also what has to be one of the first Television covers to be performed — a fine and faithful version of “Prove It,” which hadn’t even been released yet. Like I wrote, Laughner was always the hippest guy in the room. 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Terminal Island Correctional Facility, San Pedro, California, August 4, 1971
I’m not letting everyone else have all the fun this summer. Here’s a show I checked out recently — the Dead’s own version of Live At Folsom Prison? The band found themselves playing this low-security federal prison in the Port of Los Angeles because their mentor/soundman/LSD guru Owsley “Bear” Stanley was doing time here. A good reminder that the Dead weren’t just singing about illegal activities — many in their close inner circle were living a genuinely outlaw lifestyle. 
Perhaps realizing that their literally captive audience wasn’t going to be thrilled with kozmic explorations a la “Dark Star,” the band keeps things tight and funky during this set; even “Playing In The Band” clocks in at under five minutes. Pigpen gets lots of chances to shine here, with smoking versions of “Hard To Handle,” “Next Time You See Me” and “Mr. Charlie” choogling along nicely.
Maybe the best thing about the recording, however, the fact that the mix favors Phil Lesh quite a bit. You can really hear what an inventive, unique and just plain weird bassist the dude was, all backwards runs, buoyant grooves and divebomb daring. As much of a distinctive instrumental voice as Garcia when you get right down to it. Zone out in the Phil Zone! 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Terminal Island Correctional Facility, San Pedro, California, August 4, 1971

I’m not letting everyone else have all the fun this summer. Here’s a show I checked out recently — the Dead’s own version of Live At Folsom Prison? The band found themselves playing this low-security federal prison in the Port of Los Angeles because their mentor/soundman/LSD guru Owsley “Bear” Stanley was doing time here. A good reminder that the Dead weren’t just singing about illegal activities — many in their close inner circle were living a genuinely outlaw lifestyle. 

Perhaps realizing that their literally captive audience wasn’t going to be thrilled with kozmic explorations a la “Dark Star,” the band keeps things tight and funky during this set; even “Playing In The Band” clocks in at under five minutes. Pigpen gets lots of chances to shine here, with smoking versions of “Hard To Handle,” “Next Time You See Me” and “Mr. Charlie” choogling along nicely.

Maybe the best thing about the recording, however, the fact that the mix favors Phil Lesh quite a bit. You can really hear what an inventive, unique and just plain weird bassist the dude was, all backwards runs, buoyant grooves and divebomb daring. As much of a distinctive instrumental voice as Garcia when you get right down to it. Zone out in the Phil Zone! 

Serenata de Trios (Dublab Mix, 7/24/14)
Currently breezing to this lovely mix made by an old Mira Costa High School buddy of mine, Erick Cifuentes. Here’s the scoop: 
“Serenata De Trios is a program on KXLU 88.9 FM of Latin serenade music from the 50s and 60s. For this second dublab mix I once again featured many beautiful standards and classic songs but also chose records with interesting versions and recordings. In the mix there’s also a section with songs about the sea and the beach for you to enjoy this summer.”
Beautiful stuff!

Serenata de Trios (Dublab Mix, 7/24/14)

Currently breezing to this lovely mix made by an old Mira Costa High School buddy of mine, Erick Cifuentes. Here’s the scoop: 

Serenata De Trios is a program on KXLU 88.9 FM of Latin serenade music from the 50s and 60s. For this second dublab mix I once again featured many beautiful standards and classic songs but also chose records with interesting versions and recordings. In the mix there’s also a section with songs about the sea and the beach for you to enjoy this summer.”

Beautiful stuff!

The Howling Hex - $2 EP
That’s right, $2. But the price is immaterial. The five tunes here (especially “Fool’s Watch” and “Lord Gloves”) are absolutely killer. I’ve dug the latest incarnation of Neil Hagerty’s Howling Hex project quite a bit over the past few years, but this EP (some of which is also available on a Drag City 10-inch) might just be the best effort yet, with clanging guitar, Hagerty’s deadpan vocals and unstoppable Norteno rhythms taking you on a trip you didn’t even know you wanted to go on. If you haven’t been Hexed yet, the $2 EP is a great (and cheap) place to hop on board. I think the EP will only be available until the end of this month (July) so act now!  

The Howling Hex - $2 EP

That’s right, $2. But the price is immaterial. The five tunes here (especially “Fool’s Watch” and “Lord Gloves”) are absolutely killer. I’ve dug the latest incarnation of Neil Hagerty’s Howling Hex project quite a bit over the past few years, but this EP (some of which is also available on a Drag City 10-inch) might just be the best effort yet, with clanging guitar, Hagerty’s deadpan vocals and unstoppable Norteno rhythms taking you on a trip you didn’t even know you wanted to go on. If you haven’t been Hexed yet, the $2 EP is a great (and cheap) place to hop on board. I think the EP will only be available until the end of this month (July) so act now!  

Root Hog Or Die Radio
So nice I listened to it twice. Definitely check out Nathan Salsburg’s Root Hog Or Die radio show over on Mixcloud. Deep gospel, a capella UK folk, Delta blues, intense banjo workouts. It’s got it all. The highlight of the show for me is the two sides of “singing and playing evangelist” Elder A. Johnson Salsburg plays. Totally raw, totally great. Keep ‘em coming. 

Root Hog Or Die Radio

So nice I listened to it twice. Definitely check out Nathan Salsburg’s Root Hog Or Die radio show over on Mixcloud. Deep gospel, a capella UK folk, Delta blues, intense banjo workouts. It’s got it all. The highlight of the show for me is the two sides of “singing and playing evangelist” Elder A. Johnson Salsburg plays. Totally raw, totally great. Keep ‘em coming. 

forcesatwork
forcesatwork:

Tasty Jams, vol. 1
This CD-R was for sale in a limited edition of two last weekend at our Hi-Dive show. We sold one! Now it is free for your listening pleasure. Covers, jams, originals, rehearsals, live stuff, improvs, etc. The good stuff! All recorded on a state-of-the-art iPhone. 
1. Tomorrow Never Knows (Beatles cover)2. Clean Tramp (rehearsal)3. Flip Flop (rehearsal improv)4. Trains Across The Sea (Silver Jews cover)5. Cosmic Ray (rehearsal improv)6. Twisted Sister Carrie (the hi-dive, july 22, 2014)7. Waiting For The Man (VU cover, the hi-dive, july 22, 2014)8. The Complete Blue (rehearsal improv)

The first Forces At Work bootleg. It’s loose! But that’s the way we like it. 

forcesatwork:

Tasty Jams, vol. 1

This CD-R was for sale in a limited edition of two last weekend at our Hi-Dive show. We sold one! Now it is free for your listening pleasure. Covers, jams, originals, rehearsals, live stuff, improvs, etc. The good stuff! All recorded on a state-of-the-art iPhone. 

1. Tomorrow Never Knows (Beatles cover)
2. Clean Tramp (rehearsal)
3. Flip Flop (rehearsal improv)
4. Trains Across The Sea (Silver Jews cover)
5. Cosmic Ray (rehearsal improv)
6. Twisted Sister Carrie (the hi-dive, july 22, 2014)
7. Waiting For The Man (VU cover, the hi-dive, july 22, 2014)
8. The Complete Blue (rehearsal improv)

The first Forces At Work bootleg. It’s loose! But that’s the way we like it. 

"Style It Takes" - John Cale, Brussels, Belgium, 1992

I spent the morning listening to John Cale’s Fragments of a Rainy Season, a solo acoustic live album released in 1992. It is truly great — probably the best, all-in-one argument you can make for Cale as a genius songwriter. And it also contains the only version of Leonard Cohen’s now-ubiquitous “Hallelujah” that you need in your life. Inarguable! There’s a video companion to Fragments (that I think has only been on VHS?). Here’s Cale’s tender reading of “Style It Takes” from it, a perfect tribute from Songs For Drella. “I’ll put the Empire State Building on your wall …” 

Guided By Voices - The Middle East, Boston, Massachusetts, November 3, 1994
1. A Salty Salute 2. Pimple Zoo 3. Matter Eater Lad 4. Deathtrot And Warlock Riding A Rooster 5. Superwhore 6. Exit Flagger 7. Game Of Pricks 8. Hot Freaks 9. My Son Cool 10. Blimps Go 90 11. Gold Star For Robot Boy 12. The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory 13. Shocker In Gloomtown 14. Striped White Jets 15. Yours To Keep/Echos Myron 16. Watch Me Jumpstart 17. My Valuable Hunting Knife 18. Tractor Rape Chain 19. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront 20. Break Even 21. Motor Away 22. Closer You Are 23. Non-Absorbing 24. My Impression Now 25. Always Crush Me 26. Lethargy 27. Pantherz 28. I Am A Scientist
Encore: 29. Weed King 30. Smothered In Hugs 31. Buzzards And Dreadful Crows

Guided By Voices - The Middle East, Boston, Massachusetts, November 3, 1994

1. A Salty Salute 2. Pimple Zoo 3. Matter Eater Lad 4. Deathtrot And Warlock Riding A Rooster 5. Superwhore 6. Exit Flagger 7. Game Of Pricks 8. Hot Freaks 9. My Son Cool 10. Blimps Go 90 11. Gold Star For Robot Boy 12. The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory 13. Shocker In Gloomtown 14. Striped White Jets 15. Yours To Keep/Echos Myron 16. Watch Me Jumpstart 17. My Valuable Hunting Knife 18. Tractor Rape Chain 19. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront 20. Break Even 21. Motor Away 22. Closer You Are 23. Non-Absorbing 24. My Impression Now 25. Always Crush Me 26. Lethargy 27. Pantherz 28. I Am A Scientist

Encore: 29. Weed King 30. Smothered In Hugs 31. Buzzards And Dreadful Crows

Marisa Anderson - Tiny Desk Concert
Can’t get enough of Marisa Anderson’s solo guitar genius. Dig this recent Tiny Desk concert!
Lars sez: Marisa Anderson knows where American guitar music has been and where it is now, and probably possesses an inkling of where it can go. She’s studied the history and musical nuance of blues, country and folk music through and through, and ingests it all in a style that’s as raw as it true. But mostly, Anderson just wants to kick up some dirt — which isn’t easy here, given that the NPR Music offices are relatively clean. (Mind the towering stacks of CDs, though. They could topple over at any time.)

Marisa Anderson - Tiny Desk Concert

Can’t get enough of Marisa Anderson’s solo guitar genius. Dig this recent Tiny Desk concert!

Lars sez: Marisa Anderson knows where American guitar music has been and where it is now, and probably possesses an inkling of where it can go. She’s studied the history and musical nuance of blues, country and folk music through and through, and ingests it all in a style that’s as raw as it true. But mostly, Anderson just wants to kick up some dirt — which isn’t easy here, given that the NPR Music offices are relatively clean. (Mind the towering stacks of CDs, though. They could topple over at any time.)

"Blues In The Afternoon" - The Donkeys

Hey, you guys! Tomorrow night, July 21, my band Forces At Work is playing at the Hi-Dive in Denver, Colorado. What a treat. We’re opening for The Donkeys, who are totally great. Spent the morning listening to their new one, Ride The Black Wave, and it is a gorgeous piece of work. Creamy harmonies, excellent guitar tones, a wide range of styles, a distinctly SoCal vibe…what more do you need? This tune above is a favorite — just under two minutes of dreamy pop perfection. If you’re anywhere near The Mile High City, come on out! 

Lewis Reed - Copyright Demo, May 1965
Something interesting popped up on Lou Reed’s Facebook page this week: 
We thought it’d be cool to share a photograph of one of the more “mythical” artifacts of Lou and the VU. 
Lou mentioned this in an interview a while back (Q Magazine in 1996, I think), that he’d recently unearthed a demo he had mailed to himself in 1965, the reason for which is known as “the poor man’s copyright.” 
In classic Lou style, he had this to say about the discovery: “I’m not going to listen to it. I don’t want to hear these things any more.” 
Well, here’s what it looks like. And no, we haven’t opened it.
So! What do you think is on it? Judging from the May postmark, my bet is that it’s this demo reel Lou recorded that month (with John Cale in tow) at Pickwick’s studios in Queens. Info via the VU Web page: 
May 11, 1965John Cale - Lou Reed - Jerry Vance or Jimmie Sims 
Buzz Buzz Buzz (one complete take + a couple of attempts breaking down) Why Don’t You Smile Now Heroin (take 1) Heroin (take 2) Untitled Piano Piece 1 Untitled Piano Piece 1
Here’s what VU scholar Richie Unterberger has to say about the demo:
Never circulated even on bootleg, but heard by this author, these were done for Pickwick Records. Of by far the most note are the first two known recordings of “Heroin,” as two takes done right each other. Though with more of a Dylanesque talking folk-blues feel than the version the Velvet Underground would record for their first album about a year later (and with yet more of a folk-blues feel than the sparse July 1965 demo on the Peel Slowly and See box set), the lyrics are even at this early stage virtually identical, the arrangement even including the same accelerating tempos. Of lesser but certainly considerable interest, the tape also includes a Reed version of “Why Don’t You Smile Now,” a song he and John Cale were credited (along with other Pickwick staff songwriters) with writing that was covered on mid-1960s singles by the All Night Workers and the Downliners Sect. Also on the tape is a relatively trivial Reed tune titled “Buzz Buzz Buzz” that bears slight similarities to Chuck Berry’s “Memphis,” and an untitled John Cale solo piano instrumental that sounds much like the piano part he plays on “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”
You can actually hear one of those “Heroin” takes — it was played at Lou’s memorial service last year. But I don’t think anything else has surfaced. And hey, I could be totally wrong and this box could contain something else entirely. Maybe the mythical “Never Get Emotionally Involved with a Man, Woman, Beast or Child”? 
Let’s open the box! 

Lewis Reed - Copyright Demo, May 1965

Something interesting popped up on Lou Reed’s Facebook page this week: 

We thought it’d be cool to share a photograph of one of the more “mythical” artifacts of Lou and the VU.

Lou mentioned this in an interview a while back (Q Magazine in 1996, I think), that he’d recently unearthed a demo he had mailed to himself in 1965, the reason for which is known as “the poor man’s copyright.”

In classic Lou style, he had this to say about the discovery: “I’m not going to listen to it. I don’t want to hear these things any more.”

Well, here’s what it looks like. And no, we haven’t opened it.

So! What do you think is on it? Judging from the May postmark, my bet is that it’s this demo reel Lou recorded that month (with John Cale in tow) at Pickwick’s studios in Queens. Info via the VU Web page

May 11, 1965
John Cale - Lou Reed - Jerry Vance or Jimmie Sims

Buzz Buzz Buzz (one complete take + a couple of attempts breaking down)
Why Don’t You Smile Now
Heroin (take 1)
Heroin (take 2)
Untitled Piano Piece 1 
Untitled Piano Piece 1

Here’s what VU scholar Richie Unterberger has to say about the demo:

Never circulated even on bootleg, but heard by this author, these were done for Pickwick Records. Of by far the most note are the first two known recordings of “Heroin,” as two takes done right each other. Though with more of a Dylanesque talking folk-blues feel than the version the Velvet Underground would record for their first album about a year later (and with yet more of a folk-blues feel than the sparse July 1965 demo on the Peel Slowly and See box set), the lyrics are even at this early stage virtually identical, the arrangement even including the same accelerating tempos. Of lesser but certainly considerable interest, the tape also includes a Reed version of “Why Don’t You Smile Now,” a song he and John Cale were credited (along with other Pickwick staff songwriters) with writing that was covered on mid-1960s singles by the All Night Workers and the Downliners Sect. Also on the tape is a relatively trivial Reed tune titled “Buzz Buzz Buzz” that bears slight similarities to Chuck Berry’s “Memphis,” and an untitled John Cale solo piano instrumental that sounds much like the piano part he plays on “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”

You can actually hear one of those “Heroin” takes — it was played at Lou’s memorial service last year. But I don’t think anything else has surfaced. And hey, I could be totally wrong and this box could contain something else entirely. Maybe the mythical “Never Get Emotionally Involved with a Man, Woman, Beast or Child”? 

Let’s open the box! 

Jim O’Rourke - Fever Shindaita, Tokyo, Japan, June 6, 2014 [Part 1, Part 2]
Every six months or so, I end up going on a “What Is Jim O’Rourke Up To Now?” quest. He’s still in Japan. He’s putting out some very cool music, both old and new, on Bandcamp. He’s still got that green sweater. And last month, he played this show! It is fantastic! Seriously. The set begins with Jim kicking up a beautiful, mighty drone. He’s then joined by a full band (drums, bass, keyboard, violin) and things get kinda Krautrockin’. To cap it all off, they segue into a wonderful rendition of “There’s Hell In Hello, But More In Goodbye,” from O’Rourke’s masterpiece, Bad Timing. O’Yeah! 

Jim O’Rourke - Fever Shindaita, Tokyo, Japan, June 6, 2014 [Part 1, Part 2]

Every six months or so, I end up going on a “What Is Jim O’Rourke Up To Now?” quest. He’s still in Japan. He’s putting out some very cool music, both old and new, on Bandcamp. He’s still got that green sweater. And last month, he played this show! It is fantastic! Seriously. The set begins with Jim kicking up a beautiful, mighty drone. He’s then joined by a full band (drums, bass, keyboard, violin) and things get kinda Krautrockin’. To cap it all off, they segue into a wonderful rendition of “There’s Hell In Hello, But More In Goodbye,” from O’Rourke’s masterpiece, Bad Timing. O’Yeah! 

Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden & Paul Motian - Jazz Fest, Székesfehérvár, Hungary, June 3, 1972
I’ve been binging on Charlie Haden a bit for the last week. The guy had such a wide ranging career! So many records I’ve yet to hear. This FM broadcast from his time with Keith Jarrett and Paul Motian is a joy to listen to. The musicians sound like they’re having a blast. Big O also has an equally good recording from a night in Paris on the same tour.
I strongly suggest you head over to Ethan Iverson’s Do The Math blog for a host of Haden-related material, including some very touching tributes from the bassist’s fellow musicians.  
I especially like this bit from an interview a few years back: 
[W]hen I arrived in L.A. in 1956, I went to hear the Miles Davis quintet. Man! You could sit in front of these guys and feel the power. The feeling of spontaneity from each musician allied with the technical part: the harmony, the voicings, the cymbals, the bass… together, it could have generated electricity. I know if I had gotten to sit in front of Bird, Bud Powell, and Fats Navarro, it would have been the same power. 
So, I was watching Paul Chambers to see if he had tears in eyes. It looked like he did. He looked so great playing, man. Then, when the set was over, he came right over to my table. “Man, you are looking at me the whole time!” 
I told my name, and that I was a bass player, and that I loved his playing, and that in every picture I had seen of him and on stage tonight it looked like there were tears in his eyes. 
He looked at me for a moment, and said, “I do. I cry.” 
I said, “Man! That is so great!”

Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden & Paul Motian - Jazz Fest, Székesfehérvár, Hungary, June 3, 1972

I’ve been binging on Charlie Haden a bit for the last week. The guy had such a wide ranging career! So many records I’ve yet to hear. This FM broadcast from his time with Keith Jarrett and Paul Motian is a joy to listen to. The musicians sound like they’re having a blast. Big O also has an equally good recording from a night in Paris on the same tour.

I strongly suggest you head over to Ethan Iverson’s Do The Math blog for a host of Haden-related material, including some very touching tributes from the bassist’s fellow musicians.  

I especially like this bit from an interview a few years back: 

[W]hen I arrived in L.A. in 1956, I went to hear the Miles Davis quintet. Man! You could sit in front of these guys and feel the power. The feeling of spontaneity from each musician allied with the technical part: the harmony, the voicings, the cymbals, the bass… together, it could have generated electricity. I know if I had gotten to sit in front of Bird, Bud Powell, and Fats Navarro, it would have been the same power.

So, I was watching Paul Chambers to see if he had tears in eyes. It looked like he did. He looked so great playing, man. Then, when the set was over, he came right over to my table. “Man, you are looking at me the whole time!”

I told my name, and that I was a bass player, and that I loved his playing, and that in every picture I had seen of him and on stage tonight it looked like there were tears in his eyes.

He looked at me for a moment, and said, “I do. I cry.”

I said, “Man! That is so great!”