Praise the Lord! Hat tip to Aquarium Drunkard for unearthing this 12-hour (!) mix of kozmik, celestial grooves over on Archive.org.
John Martyn rivets the attention in performance. You’d be wrong in assuming that just because he’s one-man-with-a-guitar he doesn’t make every crevice of the stage swing. Single-handedly, Martyn creates thunder-rolls and lightning flashes of sound. With wah-wah, full box and echoplex, he lashes the audience into Sensurround submission by a gut-passioned “I’d Rather Be The Devil,” sweet-talking them to surrender with new love songs like “Sweet Mary Morning.” The vocals on “Solid Air” stagger textures in an infinite kaleidoscope of shapes. The pain is actual. - Vivien Goldman, 1977
A bit different from what I usually post, but these are a treat, with Welles and co. presenting the classics in audio form. A lost art, for sure.
Galaxie 500 - The Middle East, Cambridge, MA, March 19, 1988
Almost a decade ago, I wrote a pretty long feature/interview on Galaxie 500, which was timed around the release of their big live DVD release. Here’s what I had to say about this performance:
Take a look. It’s 1988, and Galaxie 500 are onstage at the then-fledgling Middle East club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Guitarist Dean Wareham looks pale and uncomfortable. Drummer Damon Krukowski nervously fiddles with his drum kit. Bassist Naomi Yang tries hard to project the impeccably cool stage presence she’ll later perfect, but mostly comes across as bored. Krukowski counts off the beat and the band fumbles through “Oblivious,” a tune that will appear on their debut album, Today. All three look relieved when they reach the end of the song. But even in these early days, there is something unique, something special about this band. Wareham’s Velvety guitar tone, Yang’s melodic bass lines, and Krukowski’s imaginative drumming all make up a bewitching, cohesive sound. As “warts and all” as the Middle East footage may be, it’s a priceless artifact.
Mike McGonigal (who actually directed me to this clip on the YouTube) has a sure-to-be-definitive oral/visual history of the band coming out soon. Should be great. And it’s a good excuse to go back to those classic G-500 records.
Late breaking: The excellent Stupefaction blog just put up a very-cool custom-made Dean Wareham mix of vintage soundtrack grooves.
Late-period classic quartet gig via Infinite Fool. Late-period means that it’s dominated (even more than usual) by these two dudes. This photo is mindbending — can you imagine being this close to Elvin Jones and John Coltrane in ‘65? It would be like being in a wind tunnel. Whoosh!
“Rockit” - Herbie Hancock and the Rockit Band, The Grammys, 1983
Let’s celebrate national treasure Herbie Hancock’s birthday today by all watching this magical clip, which is some sort of nightmare/dream vision that could only have happened on this night, at this moment, in 1983. John Denver can’t believe his eyes.
Essential listening — Gelb and host Jim Blackwood comb through the Giant Sand archives for a bunch of choice rarities from over the years. There are also some splendid, off-the-cuff Howe performances in the studio. Really, though, everything is off-the-cuff for Gelb, isn’t it?
Very early Muses via the Free Music Archive, recorded live on the Noise From Neville show.
The Ostrich guitar is a type of trivial tuning that assigns exactly one pitch class (D, or A#, F and B) to all guitar-strings. Among alternative tunings for the guitar, the trivial tuning is a regular and repetitive tuning. It assigns exactly one note to all strings, e.g. C-C-C-C-C-C. The trivial tuning is a regular tuning based on the unison musical interval, which has zero semitones. It is its own left-handed tuning. The term “ostrich guitar” was coined by The Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed after the pre–Velvet Underground song “The Ostrich” by Lou Reed and The Primitives, on which this tuning was first used.
Gordon Wallace is the pseudonym of Robert Scott, the excellent New Zealander from The Clean and The Bats. You know, the best bands. This lo-fi-but-lovely tape was recorded back in the mid-80s and features a handful of tunes that would turn up on Bats releases, along with a bunch of unique numbers. It’s awesome, and you can either order it for a low, low price or download for free. But since this label is so nice, you should throw them a couple of bucks either way! DO IT.
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
Wreck On The Highway
I Saw The Light
I Don’t Wanna Play House
Very early, very nice Emmylou via Infinite Fool, with covers of Bob Dylan, David Bromberg, Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt, among others. Even though her well-known cover of “Pancho & Lefty” was still a few years away, pretty cool that Emmylou was an early Townes adopter.
Got a request to re-up this stellar Sahm broadcast, which originally appeared over on Infinite Fool, so here it is for the rest of y’all. There’s some argument to be made that Sahm was at the exact confluence of about a dozen vital American musical genres. I don’t have time to make the argument at the moment, but … think about it, man.
There’s a great, short bit about Sahm in the recent, recommended Paul Nelson bio/anthology, in which Nelson is warned: “The thing you must remember about Doug is that he will not, under any circumstances, leave his hotel room without first rolling at least thirty king-sized mega-joints filled with the most potent Texas marijuana you could ever imagine. Whatever you do, do not smoke one. Doug is used to them. They do not faze him. The ritual of rolling will take at least one hour … Doug is liable to light one of these joints up anytime, anyplace, anywhere.”
”[“Carribean Wind” was] a strange dream in the hot sun.There was a bunch of women working a tobacco field on a high rolling hill. A lot of them were smoking pipes. I was thinking about living with somebody for all the wrong reasons.” - Bob Dylan
Paul Williams’ recent passing got me thinking about Dylan’s “gospel” period, and this song in particular, a performance which the writer apparently requested of Bob himself. Williams would go on to rhapsodize at length about “Caribbean Wind,” and that’s pretty much what got me into these still-controversial years for Dylan. The song is a wild, visionary thing, with some of the man’s best lyrics — with this, “Every Grain of Sand,” “Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar,” and “Angelina,” you have a convincing argument that Dylan circa 1980 was operating near the peak of his powers. Seriously!
This early version of “Caribbean Wind” contains very different words, including my fave section:
Shadows moved closer as we touched on the floor,
Prodigal son sitting next to the door,
Preaching resistance, waiting for the night to arrive,
He was well connected, but her heart was a snare,
She had left him to die in there.
But I knew he could get out while he still was alive.
Dylan famously left “Caribbean Wind” off of Shot of Love. A studio outtake showed up a few years later on Biograph, but this is probably the best version. Dylan’s explanation of why he discarded the song is great, too:
“That one I couldn’t quite grasp what it was about after I finished it. Sometimes, you’ll write something to be very inspired, and you won’t quite finish it for one reason or another. Then you’ll go back and try and pick it up, and the inspiration is just gone. Either you get it all, and you can leave a few little pieces to fill in, or you’re trying always to finish it off. Then it’s a struggle. The inspiration’s gone and you can’t remember why you started it in the first place. Frustration sets in. I think there’s four different sets of lyrics to this, maybe I got it right, I don’t know. I had to leave it. I just dropped it. Sometimes that happens.”
“Long Way Down” - Michael Penn
My wife and I just started watching Girls, that HBO show. I know, we’re totally a year or so behind the times. Or even more behind the times than that, since I was excited by Michael Penn’s involvement with the music for the series. That’s right, Sean’s brother, Mr. Aimee Mann, the “No Myth” dude! “No Myth” was one of my favorite songs when I was about 12. But this one, from his under-appreciated sophomore album is one of my favorite songs, full-stop! Check it out.
“I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” - The Byrds, Hullabaloo, May 11, 1965
I wrote a bit about Gene Clark’s revelatory Here Tonight: The White Light Demos, just released on Omnivore Recordings, for Aquarium Drunkard. Short version is that it is fantastic. There’s a worrying dearth of primo Clark clips on YouTube, but this one is always worth your time — no matter how many times I’ve heard this song, it always feels like a blast of fresh air. Clark owns this performance, even with the go-go dancers doing their best to upstage him. Groovy.