swagski

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland swagski

June 22, 2019
Hi, not been around a while since my ‘1st press post’ - I’m not entirely convinced regarding the UK blue sleeve print scenario, as outlined here: BLUE TEXT HYPE: http://recordmecca.com/news/jimi-hendrixs-electric-ladyland-final-word-first-pressings-blue-type-hype/

My ‘your’ herewith is response to statements made within linked Blog. The ‘blue text issue’ (I bought on week one of UK release) has hand-altered matrices on both sides of the 2 discs. Indeed, the suffixes to D & B sides are simply ‘1 1’, suggesting an early press. e.g. Side D: 51 61300#8 B//1 1 and Side B: 10 61300#9 A#//1 1 (where # denotes a scratch-out). One would assume that ‘if they had got the pressing-order correct on the white ones’ then the purported ‘later blue one’ would be correct, with no need for alteration? White version D & B Sides on Discogs is: Side D: 61300#8 B//1 1 5 4 and Side B: 61300#9 A//1 1 6 0. Incidentally, the silver-on-black centre label print is also different between the 2 versions regarding text-spacing (In what is a one-pass print process). Compare the label images!

In my humble opinion, not only was the UK blue print pressing corrected - possibly for auto coupling, but the envisaged and printed (white) track order was thus also wrong… so, the printer corrected and overprinted black (aka ‘key’) onto the cyan working (which has text knocked out to white). Hence fragments of a prior white tracklist can be seen slightly higher up under the now blue text. The 2 large photos also align & justify themselves to the track text, much as any self-respecting art director would envisage.

It is therefore odd that ‘the majority of copies’ you refer to have 2 ‘cranked down’ sepia [not orange] images of Mitchell & Redding, photographed by Donald Silverstein? This results in a large black ‘nothingness’ with an odd design relationship to the footer tracklist. It is also odd that if the demand was for larger images, then the integrity of such Artist demands would be ignored in later reprints? I would suggest that, as Hendrix had now reached a stage of ‘autonomy’ in his life - with a future as a solo artist and near-purchase in ’68 of what would become the Electric Lady studio of his own, that the 2 artists were more likely to have been reduced in size? I seem to recall that Redding ‘failed to appear’ for a number of tracks / overdubs and Hendrix did the bass work himself…? Band relationships were certainly strained.

I further suggest the ‘blue copies’ were short-run early print (also testing lamination techniques) and used to fulfil early demand until the white version correction - of which, as you say, there are many, many more. As Hendrix was not in UK upon its release, as you mention, it’s also likely he got a CORRECT copy upon arrival (or in USA) and was blissfully unaware of the print fubar that ‘went public’, as he may only have seen ‘UK proofs’ when in USA… if he ever did, or whoever instigated the corrections. (i.e. Stamp/Track Label? Or even UK manager Mike Jeffery?). Either way, genuine ‘blue text issues’ are IMHO still a rarity.
swagski

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland swagski

June 22, 2019
Hi, not been around a while since my ‘1st press post’ - I’m not entirely convinced regarding the UK blue sleeve print scenario, as outlined here: BLUE TEXT HYPE: http://recordmecca.com/news/jimi-hendrixs-electric-ladyland-final-word-first-pressings-blue-type-hype/

My ‘your’ herewith is response to statements made within linked Blog. The ‘blue text issue’ (I bought on week one of UK release) has hand-altered matrices on both sides of the 2 discs. Indeed, the suffixes to D & B sides are simply ‘1 1’, suggesting an early press. e.g. Side D: 51 61300#8 B//1 1 and Side B: 10 61300#9 A#//1 1 (where # denotes a scratch-out). One would assume that ‘if they had got the pressing-order correct on the white ones’ then the purported ‘later blue one’ would be correct, with no need for alteration? White version D & B Sides on Discogs is: Side D: 61300#8 B//1 1 5 4 and Side B: 61300#9 A//1 1 6 0. Incidentally, the silver-on-black centre label print is also different between the 2 versions regarding text-spacing (In what is a one-pass print process). Compare the label images!

In my humble opinion, not only was the UK blue print pressing corrected - possibly for auto coupling, but the envisaged and printed (white) track order was thus also wrong… so, the printer corrected and overprinted black (aka ‘key’) onto the cyan working (which has text knocked out to white). Hence fragments of a prior white tracklist can be seen slightly higher up under the now blue text. The 2 large photos also align & justify themselves to the track text, much as any self-respecting art director would envisage.

It is therefore odd that ‘the majority of copies’ you refer to have 2 ‘cranked down’ sepia [not orange] images of Mitchell & Redding, photographed by Donald Silverstein? This results in a large black ‘nothingness’ with an odd design relationship to the footer tracklist. It is also odd that if the demand was for larger images, then the integrity of such Artist demands would be ignored in later reprints? I would suggest that, as Hendrix had now reached a stage of ‘autonomy’ in his life - with a future as a solo artist and near-purchase in ’68 of what would become the Electric Lady studio of his own, that the 2 artists were more likely to have been reduced in size? I seem to recall that Redding ‘failed to appear’ for a number of tracks / overdubs and Hendrix did the bass work himself…? Band relationships were certainly strained.

I further suggest the ‘blue copies’ were short-run early print (also testing lamination techniques) and used to fulfil early demand until the white version correction - of which, as you say, there are many, many more. As Hendrix was not in UK upon its release, as you mention, it’s also likely he got a CORRECT copy upon arrival (or in USA) and was blissfully unaware of the print fubar that ‘went public’, as he may only have seen ‘UK proofs’ when in USA… if he ever did, or whoever instigated the corrections. (i.e. Stamp/Track Label? Or even UK manager Mike Jeffery?). Either way, genuine ‘blue text issues’ are IMHO still a rarity.
swagski

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland swagski

June 22, 2019
Hi, not been around a while since my ‘1st press post’ - I’m not entirely convinced regarding the UK blue sleeve print scenario, as outlined here: BLUE TEXT HYPE: http://recordmecca.com/news/jimi-hendrixs-electric-ladyland-final-word-first-pressings-blue-type-hype/

By ‘you’ I refer and answer to the statements made in that Blog Link: The ‘blue text issue’ (I bought on week one of UK release) has hand-altered matrices on both sides of the 2 discs. Indeed, the suffixes to D & B sides are simply ‘1 1’, suggesting an early press. e.g. Side D: 51 61300#8 B//1 1 and Side B: 10 61300#9 A#//1 1 (where # denotes a scratch-out). One would assume that ‘if they had got the pressing-order correct on the white ones’ then the purported ‘later blue one’ would be correct, with no need for alteration? White version D & B Sides on Discogs is: Side D: 61300#8 B//1 1 5 4 and Side B: 61300#9 A//1 1 6 0. Incidentally, the silver-on-black centre label print is also different between the 2 versions regarding text-spacing (In what is a one-pass print process). Compare the label images!

In my humble opinion, not only was the UK blue print pressing corrected - possibly for auto coupling, but the envisaged and printed (white) track order was thus also wrong… so, the printer corrected and overprinted black (aka ‘key’) onto the cyan working (which has text knocked out to white). Hence fragments of a prior white tracklist can be seen slightly higher up under the now blue text. The 2 large photos also align & justify themselves to the track text, much as any self-respecting art director would envisage.

It is therefore odd that ‘the majority of copies’ you refer to have 2 ‘cranked down’ sepia [not orange] images of Mitchell & Redding, photographed by Donald Silverstein? This results in a large black ‘nothingness’ with an odd design relationship to the footer tracklist. It is also odd that if the demand was for larger images, then the integrity of such Artist demands would be ignored in later reprints? I would suggest that, as Hendrix had now reached a stage of ‘autonomy’ in his life - with a future as a solo artist and near-purchase in ’68 of what would become the Electric Lady studio of his own, that the 2 artists were more likely to have been reduced in size? I seem to recall that Redding ‘failed to appear’ for a number of tracks / overdubs and Hendrix did the bass work himself…? Band relationships were certainly strained.

I further suggest the ‘blue copies’ were short-run early print (also testing lamination techniques) and used to fulfil early demand until the white version correction - of which, as you say, there are many, many more. As Hendrix was not in UK upon its release, as you mention, it’s also likely he got a CORRECT copy upon arrival (or in USA) and was blissfully unaware of the print fubar that ‘went public’, as he may only have seen ‘UK proofs’ when in USA… if he ever did, or whoever instigated the corrections. (i.e. Stamp/Track Label? Or even UK manager Mike Jeffery?). Either way, genuine ‘blue text issues’ are IMHO still a rarity
swagski

John Mayall as reviewed by swagski

January 29, 2014
For me, having grown up in the heady early days of the British Blues scene, a Mayall gig poster was always a reliable compass to a great evening. Although I never rated his musical ability that highly, other than his blues-harp virtuosity, his sheer organizational enthusiasm and understanding of blues leadership was impeccable throughout the '60s and early '70s. A period in which he formed his Bluesbreakers line-ups, each of which would help spawn future legends in the history of British blues-rock.

Mayall, like his mentor Alexis Korner, pushed the boundaries of the Chicago blues genre at a time when the technologies of the electric guitar were also becoming equally experimental. The result was a fusion of unique home-grown 'Rhythm n' Blues' with lyrics often firmly rooted in white British urban culture as much as those of re-worked black American material. Like ex-members of his band line-ups would help develop the Blues Rock genre and create the British 'Prog-rock' phenomena, his later works also brought jazz-fusions into the melting pot . His time in L.A. (shared with Frank Zappa at Laurel Canyon in '69) further mined new directions and his later first American release "USA Union" featured FZ-associated electric violinist Sugarcane Harris.

Whilst Alexis Korner is most certainly a founding father of British Blues, Mayall is one of the key figures and catalysts in the nurturing of its renowned offspring and a cornerstone in British blues legend.
swagski

Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band / Zappa* - Commemorative Set 1972 - 1975 [With Bonus] swagski

January 23, 2013
In response to "I think it should be noted that these Box-Sets also include an Official reproduced 'Knebworth Festival 1975 Programme, Flyer & Ticket" - 2 repro programmes are included, as per images of this '25' set, along with a T-shirt. However, no repro flyer or ticket, which may be available with the remaining set. Also, not to be confused with the Beefheart set from Bannister's 'Rock Memorabilia'
swagski

Captain Beefheart - Electricity as reviewed by swagski

July 6, 2012
A none too shoddy double CD of early Beefheart material, remastered in 2008. "Electricity", its title taken from the eponymous theremin-soaked 5th track, is nicely presented in a wide-spine 6-page carded case with a 12-page booklet. The band history notes by Harry Shapiro give a brief and refreshingly un-hyped overview, along with a few images.

The two CDs provide a sharper audio menu of past vinyl material with 19 tracks, eight of which are from "Safe As Milk". The remainder are culled from the "Strictly Personal"/"Mirror Man" albums and the "It Comes To You In A Plain Brown Wrapper" sessions. Whilst this compilation joins the possibly needless stew of oft disjointed material issued since the band's demise, it does reflect some care and attention to detail. Personally, I would recommend an anthology like "The Dust Blows Forward" or the rarified atmosphere of a "Grow Fins" collection - but, if one is on a budget, then hopefully the modernity of the "Electricity" packaging will attract newcomers to the world of Beefheart and lead them to eventually acquire the real thing.
swagski

Various - The Golden Age Of British Dance Bands as reviewed by swagski

June 19, 2012
A monster collection of dance band recordings on 8 LPs, stretching from around 1925 to 1939. Lovingly remastered from 78s and archived material, sourced from EMI vaults and collectors.

Each LP, with sequentially-numbered sleeves, covers a particular era in the emergence of this music. There's a reasonably exhaustive 6-page guide inside the heavyweight card box, giving a who's-who on the performers. A whole wealth of bands, who provided some classic hits over the BBC airwaves during the War, along with putting on the style in hotels & dance halls in the UK and abroad during the Dance Band Years.

I've seen some of the contents of this set, possibly from broken boxes, sold separately - which is a shame. Whilst it may not be a 'milestone' to avid collectors, this set offers a great and very complete entry to those wishing to know more about the origins of the dance band craze. It certainly shed some light on the Era for me, so I'll orchestrate it five stars...
swagski

Parliament - Flash Light as reviewed by swagski

July 10, 2011
As of 2011 this may be over 34 years-old, but "Flash Light" is still a classic chunk of P-Funky bling.

'Parliament', George Clinton's sister-act to 'Funkadelic', really got in the groove with keyboardist Bernie Worrell and bassist Bootsy Collins on board, their instruments the driving force behind layered vocal harmonies. A sound that was a big influence on later groups, like Deee-Lite's hit "Groove Is In The Heart", with Bootsy on bass.

This is hot n' dirty pimped-up 70's overboard glam and P-Funk at its coolest. Give it a spin.
swagski

Ostbahn-Kurti & Die Chefpartie - Bertl Braun swagski

June 22, 2011
edited over 8 years ago
An entertaining plundering of Frank Zappa's "Bobby Brown", somehow heightened to further parody and amusement via Kurti's translation. It doesn't matter if you understand Viennese any better than you comprehend how the Hadron Collider works, just so long as you're familiar with the original text version.

The antics of this renamed 'Herbert Brown' are probably even more enjoyable if you down 4 litres of Schwechater Lagerbier and slip into a dirndl or lederhosen, depending upon your preference. Whilst translating, lieder hosen would be better still. The track also appears on the band's album "A Blede Gschicht... ...Oba Uns Is Wuascht!".

A thoroughly enjoyable 'cover', with 3 mix-versions, delivered in a style akin to a Bavarian Viv Stanshall. Recommended for those of an FZ disposition.
swagski

Dr. John, The Night Tripper* - Gris-Gris as reviewed by swagski

June 17, 2011
Maybe you had to be there, at the tail-end of the sixties, to appreciate the effect this had in the UK on those who were tuned-in and dropped-out. From the moment the needle drops into "Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya", you can smell the joss-sticks. The body slips into a Robert Crumb-like 'Mr. Natural' pose, as the good Doctor takes over with his hoo-doo magic and aural potions "that'll cure all ya's ills..."

"Gris-Gris" is a delicious gumbo of ritualistic melodies, pidgen-Cajun vocals, incantations, Zydeco instrumentation and eerie percussion. What, in later years, Rebennack (aka Dr. John) would term his "Funknology". If you haven't heard Dr. John, then "Gris Gris" is a good place to start, before leaping into the more up-tempo and funky "In The Right Place".

The seven tracks on "Gris-Gris" are all gems. The last, "I Walk On Guilded Splinters" (oft credited as 'Gilded') has been covered by a number of musicians, such as Marsha Hunt, Humble Pie, The Allman Brothers and Paul Weller. If you're looking for 1960's psychedelic magic and you're gonna stick a pin in an album to select, this one is pure voodoo...
swagski

Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention* - One Size Fits All as reviewed by swagski

April 13, 2011
edited over 8 years ago
An album that marks the last formation of the MOI, with nicely upholstered touches. "Inca Roads" takes a journey through a number of themes FZ had prepared in the ground of other works. A mini aural movie starter, followed by a bluesy parody on "Can't Afford No Shoes". "Sofa No 1" is beautifully plump, flowing into the blues-oriented admonishment of "Po-Jama People" to end side one.

The flipside opens with "Florentine Pogen", with witty observations on rich daughters and inevitable Perellis linkage. "Evelyn" modifies a few piano concepts buried in "Lumpy Gravy" and leading onward to "Civilization P3". Don Van Vliet does his thing on "San Ber'dino" in the guise of Bloodshot Rollin' Red. As FZ comments "Harmonica, when present" (They'd gotten on so well too, back in San Bernardino). Brock's vocals add weight to the angst of "Andy", along with Johnny Guitar Watson's 'flambe vocals'. Then we have the root to those Germanic themes... the Divan, Divan... of the cover image; aka "Sofa No 2". Ich bin der Chrome Dinette... Und du bist mein Sofa. (Check out the 'Lost Sofa Suite', when Volman was a maroon sofa...). This band is tight, particularly Ruth Underwood's percussion.

An added bonus is the vinyl sleeve's Star Map by Schenkel, full of 'conceptual continuity' references to the world of Zappa. From "Hotratz" to the amusingly obscure "Zircon (The Nose Star)". A gatefold sleeve that gives the kind of tactile enjoyment a miniaturized CD insert or pictorially-absent sound-file can never provide. On the later Old Masters edition (& CD) the map also plots the Zappa household - with Knarf, Pumpkin, Unit, Diva, Dweezil, Ahmet & the pets joining the heavenly star cluster. Maybe it's a coincidence the acronym of "One Size Fits All", OSFA, is an anagram of SOFA? All best examined whilst listening to the content of this FZ classic.
swagski

The Mothers Of Invention* - Uncle Meat as reviewed by swagski

March 21, 2011
This Transatlantic issue was the first appearance of "Uncle Meat" in the UK, keeping FZ's followers happy while Pye became struck through and Reprise eventually sealed a UK deal with CBS. It's likely the resultant low budget was the reason this didn't have the booklet found in US issues.

Zappa, ever-lured by new hardware and technicians who knew their chops, put this album together at John Townley's Apostolic Studios in NYC - reverently named after their prized 12-track prototype Scully, hooked to Lou Lindauer's circuitry. Ground-breaking technologies of the time and taken for granted these days.

The music, album title and sleeve art by Schenkel are an inter-connected parody of events in the life and times of the band. Sandy Hurvitz (Essra Mohawk) had worked with the band at The Garrick, where she was endearingly referred to as 'uncle meat'. It was she who had introduced FZ to Schenkel, who subsequently employed objet trouvé from his lair in a dental practice for the photo-montage of monstrous 'pop-star' lips and scientific experiment on the human brain. A vision echoed on "The Ark" sleeve and a 'conceptual continuity' to the androgynous groupies, Uncle Meat, sidekick Bimbo and the dynamic 'dynamo-hum' birth of Ruben & The Jets.

After the Uncle Meat intro Pamela Zarubica, as Suzy Creamcheese on "The Voice Of Cheese", informs us of her status in 'teenage America' and Europe. (She also intros on the "Louie Louie" vignette from the Albert Hall, London, with Preston on the pipe-organ). After 'Suzy's' initial intro comes "400 Days Of The Year" (a line from Bob Guy's B-side "Letter From Jeepers" produced by FZ) - which exists only as a title on early label copies, later becoming "Nine Types Of Industrial Pollution". We then head off into what is, essentially, a series of prank-Zappa instrumentals. These are littered with what FZ describes as, "...private jokes that nobody except members of the band ever laugh at... all very serious and loaded with secret underground candy-rock psychedelic profundities".

This is a deliciously meaty double-woppa, packed with veg, sauce and cheese. Enjoy.
swagski

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band* - Trout Mask Replica swagski

March 12, 2011
"...but by all accounts, the music and arrangements were carefully scripted and notated by the Captain, which makes the results even more remarkable."

I can't agree with that part of your cut n' paste review from Allmusic.
John French, especially, and the members of the band were the glue which held Don's often impractical concepts together - along with Laurie Stone's typing!
Utterings, such as "Play it like a strawberry, man", need some kind of interpretation...
But I agree with the remaining spirit of the article & your comment.
swagski

Frank Zappa - Hot Rats swagski

February 28, 2011
Regarding my last sentence; That little caveat, from sam2095 regarding the works 'revisited' on CDs, holds true & one which I intended as 'taken as read'. My review was simply a summary of the thrust of the works therein, from their inception.
Perhaps a further review of those subsequent aspects on respective CD would help?
swagski

Lenny Bruce - The Berkeley Concert as reviewed by swagski

January 17, 2011
Executive producer Zappa had good foresight when he brought this recording to public attention in 1969. There are also similarities in the acerbic wit of Bruce and that of Zappa, who's Mothers opened for him at the Fillmore West in 1966.

This recording was captured by John Judnich who, apart from sharing a house with Bruce, was a key figure in the development of sound systems in venues like the Whiskey a Go-Go and the Shrine - in addition to engineering for the likes of the MOI, bluesman Mayall and a host of UK bands such as Black Sabbath and ELO.

Bruce's uncompromising act regularly found him facing obscenity charges. Some of his hearings effected with such an obvious bias to his performances that he would then add fuel to the fire, recycling the transcripts as part of his next act. This led to him being pilloried further - to a situation where it became impossible for him to work and culminated in bankruptcy. All this, despite supportive petitions from the likes of Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman & Norman Mailer. Bruce died of a morphine overdose in August 1966.

This unexpurgated concert album is a fitting tribute to his groundbreaking observational and revolutionary humor. Perhaps its existence helped to finally bring about a public pardon for Bruce, some 37 years after his death, from governor of New York George Pataki. Governor Patiki based his apology upon "...an upholding of The Fifth Amendment". As Bruce once commented, "They call it the Hall of Justice, but the only justice is in the halls".
swagski

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band* - Pachuco Cadaver as reviewed by swagski

January 15, 2011
edited over 8 years ago
If there is a holy grail among collectors of things Vliet, then this single must rate as one of the rarified trinkets with which to adorn the altar at the sacred triptych of Beefheart, The Magic Band & Zappa.

What mischief was afoot in FZ's mind when he produced this into the backwaters of the French music scene, especially after Parisienne town-planners had forced both him and a whole clutch of top artists to perform an astounding 5-day festival in an unsociably bleak field in neighboring Belgium? Did these two tracks, taken from the then freshly-released and now iconic "Trout Mask Replica", grab the attention of the French 'Nimby' masses? Not really. Like the album - and like 'Marmite' - you either love it or hate it.

At the 5-day 'BYG Actuel Festival', which Zappa attended as MC along with The Magic Band during the Euro support tour of the album, he did his best in untranslated English to call upon the huddled masses of many tongues to take Beefheart on board. "Listen, be quiet and pay attention to this man's music. Because, if you don't, you might miss something important - and we wouldn't want that to happen to you - because you need all the friends you can get..."

Whilst this last day festival event (on Tuesday 28th October 1969) also featured the likes of Soft Machine, East Of Eden, Fat Mattress & Zoo, it's doubtful the departing crowd would have later rushed to the stores for this single - despite the fact it's housed in a picture sleeve that employs one of the rare shots of the band onstage at the event. (Beefheart/Vliet at the microphone & Harkleroad/Zoot Horn Rollo on guitar). Copies of this single do surface from time to time and can be acquired if you mortgage your house for funds. If you just want to hear the tracks, then the album CD or vinyl is a lot simpler to get - and a life-changing experience if you haven't heard it.

"Pachuco Cadaver" appears on the B-side of disc 1 & "Wild Life" appears on the B-side of disc 2 of the double vinyl, only the latter being performed at the Festival - as the 3rd number in the band's set-list. (FZ guested on guitar in the last number of the 6 works). Perhaps no fault of FZ, it should be remembered that drummer & score arranger John French (replaced by 'Fake Drumbo' at the time of the release & festival) remains uncredited. Ironic that making music is sometimes like wild life...
swagski

Capt. Beefheart* / Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band / The Soots - Avalon '66 as reviewed by swagski

January 15, 2011
On the label of this scarce boot there's a crow on Don's boot. The cryptic sketch on this translucent blue vinyl 7" 'pirate' EP shows him languishing beneath a Joshua tree, a common sight in the the Antelope Valley of his teenage exile. He's playing a mouth harp - but he wears that Quaker hat too, complete with shuttlecock, thus transposing the timeframe to Woodland Hills and Trout Mask Replica... whoever the artist, the clues suggest this is most likely a post-Crow, 1982 onward issue. Certainly post-Trout, but there is no date.

The self-color blue paper wrap, overprinted black, is an archivist's nightmare of 'out-of-time' image conflicts and portions of a teen-mag press cutting sporting its own journalistic errors. Add to this a label that declares the band to be "The Soots" and the only firm grip we have left on the reality of what is on this release is "Avalon '66" on the sleeve front and "Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band" on the reverse. "The Soots" were, of course, a completely disconnected thread in the weft of Beefheart mystique - relating to earlier Zappa & Vliet trains of thought and FZ recordings at 'Studio Z' such as "Cheryl's Canon" & "Metal Man Has Won His Wings".

The four tracks on this "Blue Desert Recordings" issue are indeed from a live radio KSAN broadcast of the band, emanating from the famed Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco during 1966. All this, back in the days when Snouffer bagged himself a Fender in 'The Battle Of The Bands' and was much the group's driving force. This 7" has the kind of Delta Blues re-workings and Vliet's thunderous post-Wolf howlings that helped the likes of John Peel & Matt Groening become life-long fans and flag-bearers.

This has four live-recorded covers: A1) "Tupelo, Mississippi" (John Lee Hooker), A2) "Somebody In My Home" (Chester Burnett), B1) "Old Folks Boogie" (Slim Green) and B2) "Evil" (Chester Burnett). The band line-up is probably Vliet (vc), Snouffer (gtr), Handley (b), Moon (gtr), Blakely (dr). These recordings are available elsewhere by the band, along with other numbers from the gig. However, this release is rather eccentric and clearly blue, as are the band's followers since the loss of Alexis Snouffer and now Don Van Vliet...
swagski

Captain Beefheart + His Magic Band* - It Comes To You In A Plain Brown Wrapper as reviewed by swagski

January 15, 2011
Cal Schenkel's handiwork on the outer brown wrapper helps to get the aural taste-buds salivating as one cautiously slides the lush gatefold from its grasp - a nice touch too, with every one of this 'Limited Edition' 2008 release's wrappers held closed by hand-applied brown tape.

The 4-page gatefold opens out with a great full-length shot of Vliet, oriented 90 degrees to spill over the front & back cover. A similar shot appears on the inside spread, along with a self-portrait sketch by John French to accompany his copious liner notes, although not quite as emotively talented as a Vliet scribble. Here, again, life gets exciting as 'Drumbo' finally encapsulates life in the fast lane with The Captain in a fairly concise summary of events, at least as he recalls them. However, in some confusion French credits the renowned T.T.G. engineer Ami Hadani as one 'Amy Andante' - but such is the fun of errata within the apocrypha that surrounds the Beefheart legend.

The two heavyweight 180 gram vinyls bear simple yellow Sundazed labels, inked in a hand-made style of track-listing that adds to the effect that these recordings have been trawled out and assembled from a dusty vault that time forgot. French's notes and the given tracks speak for themselves, providing a wealth of work which bridges many gaps in the uncertainties that followed the band's departure from A&M. (Previously as 11 tracks on the "I May Be Hungry But I Sure Ain't Weird" CD, plus two that had never officially found the light of day). Boots of all sorts have been around, but this is honest and lovingly assembled material. The two extra tracks that elevate this vinyl against the earlier CD are "Korn Ring Finger" and "Moody Liz (Take 16)". The track "Dirty Blue Gene" is actually a 'working title' and a precursor to "Ice Rose" on "Shiny Beast" - the track title proper culminating on "Doc At The Radar Station". One should also keep an ear cocked to "Witch Doctor Life" on Beefheart's final official release, which may arguably include "Dirty Blue Gene" lyrical sources from the generous-hearted Bermann of SAM times.

Whilst French innocently declares and confirms the original concept of the 'brown wrapper' title was based on the concept of a common advertising strapline of the time (in the delivery of body-building programmes or pornography to small-ad readers), I still believe there was good motive in the Krasnow packaging of the truncated release. As a 'Beef-Head' back when I purchased "Strictly Personal", I immediately connected with the 'acid secret' of the five clever stamps on its package.

Apart from Drumbo himself, a whole clutch of knowledgeable Beefheartians busied themselves in helping create this delightful banquet of tunes. If you're a new zig zag wanderer needing to know the path from the delta of "Safe As Milk" to the swampy outer reaches of "Strictly Personal" & "Mirror Man", or why the latter became the 'out of synch' 5th album release, then here's a good place to start. Order one now, I guarantee the postie will bring it to you in a plain brown wrapper... but don't bother to lick the barcode.
swagski

Zappa* / London Symphony Orchestra* Conducted By Kent Nagano - London Symphony Orchestra - Zappa Vol. II as reviewed by swagski

December 21, 2010
FZ was amusingly critical in his search for 'musical perfection' on this release, as commented in his liner notes.

"Rock journalists (especially the British ones) who have complained about the 'coldness', the 'attempts at perfection' and 'missing human elements' in "Jazz From Hell" should find "L.S.O. Volume II" a real treat. It is infested with wrong notes and out-of-tune passages. I postponed its release for several years, hoping that a digital technologist somewhere might develop a piece of machinery powerful enough to conceal the evils lurking on the master tapes. Since 1983 there have been a few advances, but nothing sophisticated enough to remove the 'human elements' like the out of tune trumpet on "Strictly Genteel", or the lack of rhythmic coordination elsewhere".

During a recording break the Orchestra visited the public house across the road from the studio, FZ was then confronted by a rather inebriated brass section for the final take of the last track. He rounds off his liner notes for "Strictly Genteel"; "I have done as much as possible to enhance this fine British 'craftsmanship' (at least 50 edits in 6:53), but, to no avail... the 'human element' remains intact".

The piece was, of course, originally written for the "200 Motels" finale. Side one's "Bogus Pomp" is a parody of movie music pieces and mannerisms, developed from the MOI's October 1968 concert (Mystery Disc, Old Masters, Box II), along with themes in "200 Motels" and "Orchestral Favorites". "Bob In Dacron" opens Side two, ideally overviewed with "Sad Jane" from "L.S.O. Vol I", and is a further parody of an 'urban scoundrel' seeking gratification in a singles bar with girls and drink - presented in two parts as "Bob's Clothes" & "Bob Gets Drunk".

An interesting introduction, for the uninitiated, into the off-kilter world of FZ's slant on classical ballet, pomp and circumstance - as recorded in 1983 at Twickenham Film Studios, London.
swagski

Frank Zappa - You Are What You Is swagski

December 17, 2010
edited over 8 years ago
For me, "You Are What You Is" is the embodiment of all that was FZ at the time of its release in September 1981.

It's accessible to those unfamiliar with his work. It's mind-bogglingly layered, both lyrically and musically, with complex overdubs - embedded with a wealth of conceptual continuity references for the hardcore follower. In this album FZ achieves the pinnacle of satirical parody, venting his unique observational spleen upon our wonderfully dysfunctional world, whilst maintaining a two-disc collection of foot-tapping tunes that weave their themes into later works. The CD issues have some truncation, with "Dumb All Over" noticeably edited.

At this point in time, this work is still high in my top-10 'Desert Island' discs collection. Suicide, evangelism, obesity, ugliness, teenage flatulence, erectile fun, clubbing, masculinity, military conflict, drug addiction... no politically-correct stone is left unturned in this excellent work, that comes with a 4-page lyric sheet in case you miss a clue or two. Almost thirty years on, I'm still gobsmacked by the title track. I think, for this review, it is fittingly 'appropriot' (now, where did I get that word?) that I pin this track to the wall as an epitaph some 17 years after this musical genius phazed out of our crazy civilization... in his own words "You Are What You Is, An' That's All It 'Tis..."
swagski

The Bootsale Band - Bootology swagski

June 30, 2010
edited over 8 years ago
Imagine, if you will, five young anarchic guys returning from a bootsale with some old album bargains by Ian Dury, Primus, The Feelgoods and Frank Zappa. Thus heavily influenced, along with a few Essex cellar ales from their pub-gig circuits and musical skills well above bargain basement, we have a reasonably entertaining recording.

Their faux-Zappa arrangement of "Bobby Brown" holds up, in context, whilst the remaining 7 tracks follow a similar path of parody and indulgent Bootology of 'in-jokes'. I think their self-penned "Second Hand He-Man Figures" is the little gem among the mental bric-a-brac on offer in this wobbly rockabilly display of antique fayre.
swagski

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland swagski

June 28, 2010
jadedtom

"What is missing on this effort is concise rock and roll writing, with recognizable hooks."

Well, he was intentionally extending beyond the '3-minute single' attitude of the time. He was exploring the inner world of his own capabilities and observations, experimenting with indulgence, simply because he could. If he'd had the technology we now take for granted then things might have been a little different. This album undeniably inspired many. The fact that Zappa included Hendrix, along with The Beatles parody on the cover of "We're Only In It For The Money" should not be wrongly construed - even by the kind of folks at a gig who go to the toilet while a drummer does his solo.
swagski

The Monkees - Head as reviewed by swagski

June 21, 2010
Soundtrack, with bonus material, from The Monkees' film "Head". A pastiche movie of parody and music, brimming with psychedelia and in-jokes of the late 60s and perhaps a precursor of National Lampoon humor and the likes of "Airplane!".

Brainchild of Jack Nicholson & Bob Rafelson, the film (and this soundtrack album assembled by Nicholson) were not well-received by critics or fans, but later became a 'cult-classic' for hardcore followers - especially for the cameo roles among its plot-free and convoluted story. Victor Mature features as 'Big Victor', a parody of himself. Frank Zappa leads a cow through the set. A young Teri Garr appears, as does 'Sally Silicone', aka Carol Doda, the first topless dancer at The Condor on L.A.'s Sunset Strip. Like Matt Groening's work, much of The Monkees' material had acidic social comment hidden below its commercial superficiality and this 'Head' material pushed the bar a little too far for its audience of the time. The film's solarization effects, Warhol-like framing & editing techniques and innuendos to 'head' and 'blow-jobs' may have added to the poor reception of the work.

For those interested in Jack Nicholson roles, or Zappa's early activities (that may well have inspired his own movie-making projects), the "Head" film on DVD is worth grabbing [June 2000]. For those with the patience to listen, the "Head" album has tracks penned by the likes of Goffin & King, Harry Nilsson and, of course, those merry American ersatz-Beatle japesters The Monkees...
swagski

Jack Hay - Trouble Tracer as reviewed by swagski

May 27, 2010
If Jeremy Clarkson got wind I had this he'd doubtless be round my house quicker than a Bugatti Veyron. Rumor has it The Stig had it played to him in his cot as a baby. I actually discovered it after I found the trouble n' strife using it as a coaster on one of our caravan outings to the A3.

If you're a discordant ambient sounds geek, then this is a must for your playlist. Check it out, before the electric-car ecologists get to turn all copies into analogue clock faces in a fit of recycling. This is one smokin' release they won't be burnin' down, that's for sure.
swagski

The Magic Band - Live In Concert & Crow's Milk Documentary as reviewed by swagski

April 21, 2010
I put my hands up - I didn't attend any of the band's shows in the UK, simply because I didn't want to be disappointed. After 20 years some memories are best left unadulterated. So, it was with some trepidation and the courage of a few jars of amber nectar, that I finally succumbed to buying and viewing this six months after release.

Damn. Had I missed out. With the aid of ATP's Barry Hogan and Helen Cottage, along with physical and visual impetus from Elaine Shepherd and cameraman Tim Sutton, I think John French & Co have managed to deliver a memorable package without any beefs from me. In fact, like Matt Groening, I had more than a tear in my eye by the end and I think I scared the dog with my applause. I did have to step back a notch at the sight of French's rather naff raincoat, but these guys are from another culture and, as I reminded the dog, "Toto, we ain't in Kansas anymore..."

Lucas dexterously does all that his work on the "Ice Cream For Crow" album promised for his future as a lauded guitar virtuoso. Boston still manages to find spellbinding bass chords whilst roving about the stage, although more like a hungry bear than a 'freaked hippy' this time around. Walley does a fine job too, a lot more than 'filling in the space between' and reminding me it's time the original Bat Chain Puller material left the vault for an official airing. Then, of course, there's French - a catalyst and glue who has remained at the core of keeping the Magic Band legend alive. Only once does the set deviate from Don Van Vliet orientation, with French's "Gone Bops Over Mount Kilimanjaro" - a solo piece that blends perfectly with the entire performance.

French steps out from behind his kit after "Veteran's Day Poppy", handing the rest of the set over to the drumming of Robert Arthur Williams, to don his hat and coat and tackle the formidable task of vocals. Sorry, I mentioned the word 'don' back there, but French - perhaps closer than most to the inner workings of Don's head - manages to 'wear' the intent and force of the lyrics extremely well, given that he is emulating one of the greatest modern blues vocalists of the 20th century. Indeed, this whole set proves they were good back then and even more accomplished now.

The "Crow's Milk" bonus is also a delight, with rehearsals and glimpses of the band at work and narration by the inimitable John Peel. Then there's photo-shoots and the 'warm-up' gig, as one watches a group of renowned American avant-garde musicians arrive in Camber Sands, a UK location that's probably as obscure for music advancement as Antelope Valley was in the '60s. The guy with the zip attached to his head in the main show doesn't seem to be present, but there's a surprisingly receptive young audience and a lengthy set-break caused by a fire alarm and evacuation of the venue. It's so '60s it's almost like déjà vu all over again. By the end of this DVD it's clear that, although at pensionable age, the Magic Band are still magic and all praise to French for pulling this wonderful white rabbit out of his own unique hat...