SOUNDTRACK: PUBLIC ENEMY-Live at All Tomorrow’s Parties, Convention Hall, October 2, 2011 (2011).
NPR was cool enough to record and provide as a download most of the shows at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Asbury Park, NJ. (Portishead wouldn’t allow their show to be recorded, sadly). But Public Enemy was a welcome surprise!
This tour is in celebration of the anniversary of Fear of a Black Planet. And they play most of Fear and a lot of other things too (with almost nothing from their 2000 era CDs.
I can remember back in the early days of rap that it was hard to imagine what a rap show would be like live since they didn’t play instruments and much of the music was sampled. Well, PE has musicians on stage and they have DJ Lord filling in for Terminator X behind the turntables (big shoes to fill, but done largely well–especially his fun “solo” in which he samples The White Stripes and Nirvana–although he should have mixed in Portishead, no?). And mostly they have the personalities of Chuck D and Flavor Flav.
I suspect that this show would be a bit more fun to watch than it is to listen to–Flavor Flav’s antics don’t always translate well without his visuals. Like when he asks the audience if that can all say “Ho” (which he eventually holds for 33 seconds!), it seems like a delay tactic in audio, but is probably fun to witness.
What’s especially cool about the show is that PE play so many songs, including small snippets of songs as segues to other ones (like the seventy second version of “Anti-Nigger Machine” that intros “Burn Hollywood Burn” which is practically hardcore) or the minute and a half of “He Got Game” that follows “Night of the Living Baseheads.” I like that they even threw in some skits from the record like “Meet the G That Killed Me” and “Incident at 66.6FM.”
But of course the real joy is the full length songs, “Brothers Gonna Work It Out,” “911 is a Joke,” and of course “Bring the Noise” and “Fight the Power.”
Some of the improv sections don’t work all that well, the guitar solo in “Power to the People” leaves something to be desired (Khari Wynn maybe a legend, but he;s no Vernon Reid), although the ”Jungle Boogie” riff is cool. But the improv with guest drummer Denis Davis was pretty bad ass. Flavor Flav hopped on the drums and was quite good for “Timebomb.” We also got to meet Flav’s daughter Jasmine. And Professor Griff was there too.
It’s also interesting that they keep saying they have no time left in the set (Portishead is next) but they play for at least 30 minutes after this. Including a wonderful “By the Time I Get to Arizona and the set ending “Fight the Power.”
Chuck D has still got it and Flav is just as crazy and fun as ever (even if his screams and yos seems out of tune from time to time). Of course, Flav has to get the last word in by raging on for six and a half minutes at the end (and about six-minutes in the beginning as well where he gave himself props about his reality show.
It’s a really good set–a little distorted from time to time, but really solid. Here’s a link to the downloadable show.
[READ: October 2, 2012] Hocus Pocus
This book may have put me over the edge in terms of Vonnegut exhaustion. I bought this book some time in 1992, but I never read it. It’s been in my house for twenty years and it was about time I read it.
But as I’ve been noticing, each Vonnegut book has been getting darker and more misanthropic. And this one is no exception. The construction of the book follows Vonnegut’s cut and paste style but it feels even more shuffled and indirect than usual (more on that later). In many of Vonnegut’s books, the “climax” occurs somewhere in the middle and he fills in the details later. For this one, the climax came around h.and I wouldn’t have felt like I missed anything.
In this book, the main character, Eugene Debs Hartke is a Vietnam vet (usually his protagonists are military men, and Vonnegut has criticized Vietnam a lot, but this is the first time he’s had a Vietnam vet as protagonist). He married his wife and had a wonderful family until he learned that his mother in law had a disease that made her crazy–but it only kicked in later in life, after he married her daughter. And that his wife has the same disease–so by the middle of the story both of the women in his life are crazy “hags.” And, like in his other stories, his children hate him. (more…)
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