Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Prince’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: NEGATIVLAND-Helter Stupid (1989).

Helter Stupid was the follow-up to Negativland’s “smash hit” (maybe 10,000 copies sold?  I have no idea) Escape from Noise.

It is a concept album based on a hoax that they perpetrated.  Wikipedia summarizes:

In 1988, the group released a mock press release to suggest that the song “Christianity Is Stupid” was connected to murders by David Brom, and that the group was forced to cancel a planned tour in support of Escape from Noise. However, there were no connections with the murders, and the tour was cancelled only due to shortage of funds and free time. Their next album, Helter Stupid, made use of the event by sampling news reports of the controversy surrounding Negativland.

So they generated their own controversy and then made art from it.  Can you imagine the attention that would get in 2019 compared to the minor coverage they got in 1989?

The first half of the album is composed of the tracks “Prologue” and “Helter Stupid” which form an extended piece lasting over 22 minutes. The concept, and some of the sampled material, came from a San Francisco television news program that was taken in by the media hoax. Other samples used included those from Rev. Estus Pirkle (further samples from the same sermon used in “Christianity Is Stupid”), an interview with Charles Manson, and “Helter Skelter” by The Beatles.

The disc opens with a man reciting lewd(ish) rock lyrics.  Then comes clips of ads for murder movies–murder, mayhem, marauding!

The prologue continues with extended samples of the news reports that talks about them being connected to the murder case.  At the end of the track a phone rings.

Song 2 begins with a call from Rolling Stone asking if there is any backward masking on “Christianity is Stupid.”

The rest of the 18 or so minutes is a mashup of all kinds of samples, spliced and cut up.

we don’t have enough data ; S-I-M-P-L-O-T ; murder and music–this isn’t the first time controversial music has been linked to tragedy.  A lengthy quite from Charles Manson and one from John Lennon

There is section where engineers hear something on a tape when you run it backwards–play it backward and you hear (rather amusing) evil messages.

Then comes the riff of Helter Skelter with The Beatles singing Helter and then “Stupid” sampled over “Skelter.”  The middle of the track goes on to emphasize how stupid the controversy is by continuing to use the “stupid” sample in all places

It’s believed night stalker suspect Richard Ramirez was influenced by AC/DC’s Highway to Stupid album. Ozzy Osborne song “Stupid Solution” became the focal point of an actual stupid case involving a Southern California teenager

And then a clever splice to create: “Christianity is triggering the murders.”

It’s intense and thought provoking and sometimes funny.

Side Two is completely different.  There’s 7 tracks all called “The Perfect Cut” with different parenthetical names after each one.  It’s introduced as Dick Vaughn’s Canned Music Moribund Music of the 70s, brought to you in authentic 70s stereophonic format with music, news reports, contests, and more.  The tracks contain samples from “The Winning Score”, a 1977 presentation by TM Century, producers of radio jingles and imaging.

“The Perfect Cut (Canned Music)” talks about short IDs and promos for radio and loops the phrase “execute a perfect cut.”

“The Perfect Cut (Rooty Poops)” features someone talking about being the greatest radio personality in the world.  He then says he spins the dial and finds nothing good–what a bunch of rooty poops.  There’s lots of samples from 70s funk and the absurdly high note of “Loving You.”  There’s also a bit of Casey Casem.

“The Perfect Cut (Good as Gold)” is all about “staying power and the announcer wondering who will still be around 7 years from now in 1992.  Their list: Bruce Springsteen will not burn out’ Prince (unless he gets a whim and decides to drop out of music) ; Michael Jackson ; Lionel Ritchie ; U2 ; Bryan Adams ; Talking Heads; Eurhythmics.  [That list was about half right].   There are samples of : Fragmentation and standardization.

“The Perfect Cut (Piece of Meat)” mostly features a sample of someone growling “I’d like a piece of meat.”  And the admission that the music industry suffered from denationalization but it became big business.  All of this over disco bass and strings.

“The Perfect Cut (White Rabbit And A Dog Named Gidget)” opens with a high school student saying “I’d like to become a lawyer and go to UCLA.   I hear it’s got nice weather and lots cute guys.  I’d like a white rabbit convertible a dog named Gidget.  The most important thing in my life is to go to heaven when i die.”  There’s more Casey Casem talking about learning to appreciate new music.

“The Perfect Cut (11 Minutes)”  A Top 40 listener’s average listening span is only 11 minutes.  Jingles need to be shorter and more frequent.  A shotgun intro with accents on each of your call letters.   I enjoyed hearing this promo.

LPs sale priced at $2.66. 8-track tape $4.44 including this Billboard toppers: The Jackson 5, The Carpenters, Elton John, Neil Young,Cat Stevens, Black Sabbath, James Taylor, Ike & Tina Turner.

There’s also this news headlines for Dec 1978–the average price of gas soars to 76 cents per gallon (!).

Dick Vaughn–From Jan 1, 1970 to Dec 31, 1979, we’ve got your moribund music.

“The Perfect Cut (48 Hours)” is inspired by an ad “You’ve got 48 hours to save a lot of money.”

Someone says it’s so annoying I used to shut the radio right off.  Then there’s silence for 10 seconds followed by, “just when you thought it was safe to turn on your radio.”  And the promise/threat: “Nothing happens until someone buys something.”

The Weatherman shows up to talk about “sewer mouth.”

And then there’s this gem: Take 2 high quality stereo LPs, put them in a full-color jacket, add a beautiful sexy gal on front and candid photos of the KQ jocks inside and you’ve got a bombshell [EXPLOSION].

This is a fun and interesting experiment.  Some tracks do actually bear repeated listening to hear just what they’re trying to do.

Personnel: Richard Lyons (credited as “Dick Vaughn”) ; David Wills (uncredited) ; Don Joyce (uncredited) ; Mark Hosler (uncredited) ; Chris Grigg (uncredited)
Musical Samples The Beatles – “Helter Skelter” ; King Floyd – “Groove Me” ; Carol Douglas – “Doctor’s Orders” ; Minnie Riperton – “Lovin’ You” ; Tavares – “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” & “It Only Takes a Minute” ; Zapp (unidentified) ; Brothers Johnson – “Strawberry Letter 23” ; Brick – “Dazz” ; Natalie Cole – “This Will Be” ; Joe Tex – “I Gotcha” ; Donna Summer – “Love to Love You Baby” ; Bebu Silvetti – “Spring Rain” ; Bill Summers & Summer Heat – “Jam the Box” ; Mungo Jerry – “In the Summertime”

[READ: April 20, 2019] “The Seven Circles”

This story started as one thing and then turned into something else very dramatically.

It begins with Vinod completing his B. Com and being told by his parents that he should get ready for marriage.  They had the girl picked out and since he had no objection to her, they went ahead with the plans.

He found himself at his future in-laws looking at the gifts that his bride-to-be, Sheetal, would bring with her.  He glanced at her during this surveying of the gifts and he was sure he saw her looking back at him with distaste.

He desperately tried to get her to look at him over the next few weeks, but even during the ceremony she would not look him in the eye.   He thought about running away during “the seven circles” of the ceremony, but he went through with it.

That first wedding night was awkward as they slowly got to know each other.  The had a little, but not much, in common.  And he didn’t even consider doing anything physical.  He did manage to get one kiss in before the night was over. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: GARY CLARK JR.-Tiny Desk Concert #841 (April 16, 2019).

WXPN has been playing “Pearl Cadillac” by Gary Clark Jr. and I quite liked it.  I knew of Gary as a blues guitarist.  But I didn’t really listen to too much by him–I don’t love blues music, generally.  But Gary adds a rocking and Prince-like atmosphere to his blues which elevates his music for me.

But “Pink Cadillac” is unlike the other two songs because he sings in a delicate falsetto (like Prince) whereas the other songs he sings quite gruffly.

The first song, “What About Us” surprised me.  First because he sang with such a deep voice (with a wonderful falsetto at the end) but also because I knew that Gary was supposed to be a great guitar player, but it was Eric Zapata who was playing all the slide guitar parts. The whole band builds the song nicely for the chorus.  They keys flesh things out nicely.

The middle has a cool funky part with great washes of keys and a funky bass sound from Johnny Bradley.

When the song ends, he says, “It’s a little bit warmer than I thought it would be.  But I feel sexy in this jacket so I’m gonna sweat thought it.  This is my life, people.”

Gary Clark Jr. had good reason to sweat. The blues-rock singer and guitarist opted to play his first-ever Tiny Desk concert — in front of a huge crowd that warmed the room considerably — while clad in a thick knit cap and heavy jacket.

I had heard that this new album, This Land, was quite political but he left the albums

more politically incendiary material for louder live shows.  Clark’s set leaned toward some of This Land‘s softer sentiments — “When I’m Gone” is about missing his family on the road, while “Pearl Cadillac” exudes gratitude for his mother’s sacrifices —

He dedicates “When I’m Gone” to his son.

He’d brought his young son on tour with him and had to contend with a traditional parenting dilemma: How do you bring your kid to the office and still get work done?

He says I’m trying to do the dad thing and brig them out here.  I’m tired, people.

“When I’m Gone” sounds like a traditional love song from the fifties with that simple bass line and stabs of guitar.  And it is a love song, only to his son, not a woman.  Clark’s gruff voice works perfectly.  Zapata plays the guitar licks between the first two verses.

He says “Pearl Cadillac” was written for his mother… who I’m gonna ask to babysit for me next time…  damn…”

Jon Deas starts on keys with simple snare and hi-hat from Johnny Radelat.  Gary gets to show off his guitar chops here.  I love the slightly distorted, slightly retro sound of his guitar as he plays all the licks throughout the song.  This song has a total Prince vibe and it works perfectly.

He sings the whole song in his gorgeous falsetto

I remember when I left home in that pearl Cadillac
I was searching for some kinda way to pay you back
For your love, your love, your love

He even handles a guitar solo flub with the ease of a parent who is overworked–a little grunt and then start again.

[READ: April 11, 2019] “The Wish”

One of the reasons I didn’t want to consider reading a lot of Esquire-published short stories is because I assumed they’d all be something like this one.

Full of death and misery and whatnot.  I mean the story starts “Kamon Gilbert woke up on the morning of the last day of his life at 6:19.”

Now, in fairness, this story isn’t about a manly man shot down in a blaze of glory.  Rather, it is a look at racism and violence and how a man’s life can change in an instant (a couple of times).  And as such it is a powerful and affecting story.  It’s still really dark though.

Kamon Gilbert is a black boy in high school school.  He is very smart and very successful.  He does well in his classes and has been selected as the lead in many of the school plays.

But none of the other kids like him: (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: March 23, 2019] Guster

Back in January, Guster postponed their Philadelphia concert because they were going to be on Late Night with Seth Myers.  They rescheduled it for mid-March and decided that it would be a 20th Anniversary celebration of their 1999 album Lost and Gone Forever.  So although the date change sucked at the time, the new show promised to be freakin amazing.

And, as it turned out, this was the best and the worst Guster concert that S. and I have seen together (number 7 for both of us).

Why the worst?  The worst because we arrived later than we intended and wound up further back than we wanted to.  Which is not the end of the world.  But, when you’re in the back in the Fillmore, you are near the bar and all the people talking.  A lot.  Even people who claimed to love the band, even people who commented on how good they sounded (they did), even people who would sing along loudly to parts of songs, all of these people also talked through huge swaths of the show.

One woman shouted to her friends during a quiet part and I had to say something.  It was really dreadful.  I though that during the intermission, people would pile out to get drinks and we could move closer, but nope, it was jam packed.

So aside from the worst crowd I’ve ever experienced, the show was great.  The band was in amazing form, they sounded great–and the venue helped them to sound great.  It was definitely one of the best sounding shows I’ve seen from them. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: KING-“Supernatural” (Field Recordings, September 17, 2014).

This Field Recording [KING Makes A Record Lover’s Paradise Even Better] was created before Prince died.  Hard to believe that was two years ago already!

I mention this because the women of KING (Paris and Amber Strother and Anita Bias) speak of him in the present tense.  Which is strangely comforting.

The women mention Prince because evidently he heard a song from their debut EP and contacted them out of the blue.  His manager sent them a one line email: “Would you be interested in meeting Prince?”  Get outta here!

On a steamy morning upstairs in a record lover’s paradise KING laid down a gorgeous version of “Supernatural,” one of the songs that lit up Twitter three years ago.  While customers quietly thumbed through LPs — then stopped to stare — the singers gently and precisely intertwined their three voices in service of a love song.

Their voices and harmonies are quite lovely.  Although this is not a type of music I enjoy.

[READ: January 19, 2018] “In the United States of Africa”

This is an excerpt from a novel originally written in French and translated by David and Nicole Bell.

The blurb says that the novel opens with “a brief account of the origins of our [African] prosperity and the reasons that have thrown the Caucasians onto the paths of exile.”

This excerpt is not terribly compelling.  There’s a hint of a cool story there but it seems to be overtaken by philosophical musings. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[ATTENDED: October 5, 2017] Tash Sultana

WXPN starting playing Tash Sultana’s “Jungle” gosh… over a year ago.  I liked the song fine, but it was as I learned more about her–that she plays the entire song–every single sound–herself and she does it live using looping pedals that I became really interested in her.

I was totally blown away when I saw her Tiny Desk Concert and realized that she was an amazing guitarist and so much more.

I decided then that it would be very cool to see her live.  So when I ordered my ticket for her show back in June, I had no idea that anyone else had ever heard of her.  Much less that she would sell out the venue within a week.  Realize at this point she has only released one official EP (and has released dozens of YouTube videos–which is where her fanbase is).

Tash came out and started playing guitar.  She played two songs that she built step by step.  First playing some chords that she looped and then adding some solos which may or may not get looped in.  Then a riff or drums or various other percussive sounds (including beatboxing) and within a couple of minutes she had a complete backing track (usually very danceable) to sing over. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-LivePhish 10.21.95 Pershing Auditorium, Lincoln, NE (2007).

In addition to formal live releases and a series of 20 full show LivePhish releases (which were packaged in some horrible goo and have subsequently been ruined), Phish has also released some shows a but more formally as LivePhish archival “releases.”  I don’t know if there is any specific reason for the release of any of them, but they seem to put out two or so a year.

There’s a pretty thorough review and essay (with photos) by Kevin Shapiro about the show here.  And it provides a lot more context and Phish lore than I can and I’ve quoted some below.

This is another great set from 1995.

It starts with a ripping, quick “Tweezer Reprise,” a great way to begin a set (and the first time they had done so).  It’s followed by a rocking “Chalk Dust Torture” and great version of “Geulah Papyrus.”  Then comes a fantastic 14 minute version of “Reba.”  It’s the first jam of the night and they really explore the song (it doesn’t have the whistle ending).  It moves into “Wilson” which is (as usual) a lot of fun too.  After the “blap boom ” section Trey has some wild noisy effects on his guitar.

That settles down into a jaunty “Cars Trucks Buses” and the typically weird “Kung” which is a 4 minutes and features a drum solo that leads to a great, long version of “The Lizards” (10 minutes).  There’s a piano solo which leads to a pretty “Strange Design.”  Unexpectedly for me, next up is “Acoustic Army,” a four-person acoustic guitar song (see it here).  You can hear Trey shout Let’s do “Good Times” and they launch into great rocking version of the Led Zeppelin song (with a few nods to “Jessica” and “Reeling in the Years.”  I love that you can hear them decide what to play next right on the fly.   “Good Times” sounds perfect including the solo.  They end the set as they began with a reprise of “Tweezer Reprise.”

Set 2 opens with an audience chess move and then seems to start with “David Bowie” but instead its “2001” which segues into “DB.”  Its “only” 17 minutes but there’s lots of parts including a dark part and a fast part with echoed guitars.  There’s a mellow “Lifeboy” that winds up with a really long solo.  “Sparkle” sounds great with some awesome harmonies in the “laughing laughing fall apart” section.

Then comes the 25 minute “YEM.”  It starts with trippy washes of guitars.  There’s a lengthy bass solo with a lot of high notes—somewhat unusual for Mike–and then a long funky keyboard solo that segues back into a funky bass section with some trippy sounds and even a drum solo. The last five minutes is a voice jam that ends with snoring.  It somehow morphs into Fish singing “Purple Rain” (rather poorly) with a (rather great) vacuum solo.

I love this description of these events:

YEM synesthesiastically blends music theory, reggae, funk and trampolines into a psychedelic prog-rock rite of passage that primes the college Being for exactly that for which the composition is aptly named.  Blown away, the lively audience clapped along with a polyrhythmic vocal jam that became a pitch-increasing rotation of sound effects and lights (strobe alert #2) before sinking into a dynamic breathing-snoring exercise.  As the snoring subsided, You Enjoy Myself drifted away on cymbal rolls that allowed Trey to slide behind the drum kit while Fish grabbed his vacuum for Purple Rain.  Upon arriving center-stage, Fish crowned himself with a glow ring that he wore the rest of the show.  It’s a shame the video of this song can’t be released at this time because Fish, looking like a short Jesus or a white Hendrix with his head-ring and running slow motion in place as he guided you to the Purple Rain with an Electrolux solo was a sight to behold.  The crowd was spellbound,

When they return to “Harry Hood” they resume some notes of “Beat it.”  It proves to be a pretty mellow guitar jam, although during the “Thank you Mr. Minor”, section, there’s some nice full-band improvisation.

The crowd erupted as Trey called Suzy Greenberg.  Fish continued the Harry Hood humor into his usual Greenberg commentary, making Trey and Mike laugh as they tore into the last song of the set.

The set ends with “Suzy Greenberg,” more “Beat It” riffs and a Led Zeppelin nod.  “As Suzy drew to a close, Trey threw out one last stanza of Tweezer Reprise as a parting nod to the shared magic of the moment.”

The encore is a rocking version of “Highway to Hell.”

Due to licensing, we can’t present the Highway to Hell video at this time, but like Purple Rain it warrants mention.  There is a combined glow from watching Fish wearing his head-ring, Mike mysteriously sitting down in a chair during the second verse and Trey in Husker red, pumping his fist and singing like a kid in a candy store.  As Highway to Hell drew to a close, the room exploded with lights flashing (strobe alert #5), heads banging and fists pumping in a classic display of arena rock power.

The bonus filler is a 20 minute soundcheck “Dog Log Soundcheck.”  It contains teases of You Enjoy Myself (“Wash Uffitze”) and The Landlady.  The dog log part doesn’t start until way near the end of the song but the beginning is really cool with lots of trippy synths.  As usual, the soundchecks don’t compare to the real show, but as a bonus feature, it’s a nice add.  This one is particularly good.

[READ: November 24, 2016] The Murder of Monty Woolley

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors. For this particular book, proceeds to benefit initiatives to cure and control Cystic Fibrosis like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

This is very short release, unlike all of the other Madras Press books.

The title page shows a screen shot for Colossal Studios Presents Monty Woolley, Doris Merrick in Alfred Hitchcock’s [fake] Death Wears a Beard. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: THE REPLACEMENTS-Let It Be (1984).

letitbeI had posted about this record back in 2009.  This is what I write nearly ten years ago, and I’m pretty okay with it.

This is the final album the Replacements made before they moved to the majors.  This disc represents the culmination of their pre-major label sound and is one of my favorite “college albums” of the era.

The disc retains a lot of their sloppy/punk sound of the time, but the songwriting moves forward a little further.  Westerberg wrote some timeless anthems for this disc (“I Will Dare,” “Unsatisfied”).   But, they also sprinkle the disc with silly tracks…not filler exactly…more like balance.  This keeps the disc from being too ponderous.

“I Will Dare” opens the disc. It is bouncy and poppy with an irresistible chorus.   But the bulk of the album is faster and more rocking.  Unlike on their their first two discs, however, the songs run a little bit longer, and they don’t attempt the hardcore feel quite as much.

In fact, there are a few songs that are quite clearly ballads.  “Androgynous” is a piano ballad (!) that could have easily been written by Tom Waits.  “Unsatisfied” is another ballad, although this one has more instrumentation.  Nevertheless, the feeling of yearning is palpable in Westerberg’s voice.  Finally, “Answering Machine” is another flanged-guitar filled song about romance in the age of modern technology (circa 1984).

These relatively light (musically, not emotionally) songs are balanced out quite nicely by the pair of punk/nonsense songs: “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out” and “Gary’s Got a Boner.”  They add some (more) levity to the disc.  As well as some rocking guitars.

But perhaps the most surprising song is the cover of Kiss’ “Black Diamond.”  It is surprisingly faithful to the original, (at a time when Kiss was not even ironically cool) and it rocks just as hard.

This album showcases the diverse aspects of The Replacements perfectly.  While some people say their next album Tim is their masterpiece, I am more inclined to go with Let It Be.  And, for some reason, I really like the cover.

[READ: July 1, 2016] Let It Be

I have often thought I should read this series.  Of course, the last time I thought about it, there were 50-some books in the series and that seemed like way too many.  Well as of June 2017, there are 120 books in the series, which is an insane series to jump into.

But at work, four of the books came across my desk and if that’s not an invitation to read something, I don’t now what is.  So I’ve decided to read these four and we’ll see if that leads to more.

This was an interesting book to start with because it really set the tone for the series, by which I mean, as far as I can tell, anything goes.

Colin Meloy (this was written when The Decemberists were just starting to get a buzz around them.  In fact he references his girlfriend who is now his wife) makes this a very personal account about his childhood and his exposure to this album (and others) from his uncle.  So this book is a lot more about (young) Colin and his friend than the ‘Mats, but it’s obvious that the ‘Mats made Meloy who he is.   There’s very little in the way of production information or “research” (until the end).  Rather, it’s just a good story–from a future storyteller. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »