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Archive for the ‘Small Books’ Category

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…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-LivePhish 12.01.95 Hersheypark Arnea, Hershey, PA (2006).

Speaking of 12.01.95 (see yesterday’s post), this show is the proper release from the soundchecks for the 11.14.95 disc set.

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 out 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, but I will quote him below.

The set opens with a fast rollicking version of “Buried Alive” (only 3 minutes long) which segues neatly into an intense “Down with Disease.” The seven minute song ends with Fish playing just high hats for a bit before seguing into “Theme form the Bottom” which is from Billy Breathes out the following year.

When that song ends they play into a fun fast version of “Poor Heart” which segues into “Wolfman’s Brother.”  The staccato ending sequences nicely into a 7 minute “Chalk Dust Torture.”

Then comes the wonderful surprise of “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent.”  As the song segues into “Fly Famous Mockingbird,” Trey takes some time to chat.  He tells the audience a brief history of the planet.  In the time of the ancient Greeks, philosophy, science and religion were all one thing.  Science and religion split off.  The Eastern style stated that everything is one.  Western style focused on matter vs spirit and gave rise to modern concepts of religion.  It seems like he’s getting very serious.  Then he talks about how eastern religious led to cows which led to milk which led to milk chocolate.  Chocolate.   The Mystical Land of Chocolate.  Then he says there is only one place where science religion and philosophy are one thing—Gamehendge.   And then he talks about the Rhombus which can be found in King of Prussia.  Find Wilson Dr.  (Although presumably this gives the truth behind the rhombus).  There’s parts near the end where the song fades in and out in a very cool way.

Then they play a fairly dark version of “Stash” and a rocking version of “Cavern” to end the set.  It’s interesting that “Chalk Dust,” “Stash” and “Cavern” were also on the 11.14.95 set).

Stash followed with a formidable jam that stretched out instrumentally, locking into a dissonant theme that ignited the highest improvisation of the set. The whole band linked up beautifully for this jam, evoking a Dave’s Energy Guide-ish vibe and at points recalling the expectation-smashing heights of the Orlando Stash weeks before. After Stash returned to terra firma, Cavern closed the set, leaving “15 minutes” of recovery and preparation before the even sweeter second set that defined this show.

Set two opens with a chess move from an 11-year-old boy (who is now in his thirties (!!!).  They begin the music with an a capella (doo-wop) version of “Halley s Comet.”  It ends with a cool segue into “Mike’s Song,” a 20 minute jam with a really long piano solo from Page ans a nice end that rumbles into “Weekapaug Groove.”  [Read Shapiro’s eloquent discussion about this transition].  There’s a quiet solo in the middle of the song with a brief clap-along.  But it pulls out of that to get noisy and chaotic by the end.  Things mellow out with “Mango Song” but the crowd erupts for a short (5 minute) fast version of “Wilson.”

Things get a little silly with Fish singing “Suspicious Minds.”  (I just found a video for this—Fish comes out weaving an Elvis Cape and a big glasses.  It ends with a fast “Hold Your Head Up” keyboard romp (with Trey on drums).

When things settle down Fish starts playing the high hats for “David Bowie,” but before the song begins, Trey sings “Catapult.”  And then before the song can begin again, in the trippy intro Trey starts moaning “Chocolate.”  There’s a brief Simpsons riff and a Do’h and then they launch into the song proper (about 2:30 into the song).  There is a long middle with lot so solos and then a fast, tidy ending.

The encore is a romping 7 minute “Suzy Greenberg.” It’s another great show.

Even if it is a bit shorter than the previous one–that personalized chocolate section and the Colonel Forbin’s is pretty great.

[READ: November 25, 2016] Eating Fish Alone/Country Cooking from Central France

I really enjoy Lydia Davis’ stories.  I always find them a little weird since most of the time they feel more like little diary entries rather than stories.  Each narrator seems to be pretty clearly her, and each story seems like a gripe she has about something that happened.

And yet, it is like the best diary entry you’ve ever read.   Most of her stories are a couple of paragraphs long.  I find I don’t really like the longer ones as much, which is kind of ironic given that the short ones seem so short.

So this is a collection of a few of her stories.

“The Mice” is a page and a half about how the mice in their house never go into their kitchen.  Their kitchen is sloppy and full of food–why wouldn’t the mice go there?

“Meat, My Husband” starts with the narrator saying that her husband really loves meat.  His favorite chidhood food was corned beef.  But she, being a healthy person (and perhaps a bit obsessive) hardly makes meat (or uses butter).  But her husband really enjoys a dessert–which he helps to make.

“Happiest Moment” is only one paragraph and is an interesting twist on happiness.

“Kafka Cooks Dinner” is much longer than the others and it gets a little repetitive.  It is told from the point of view of a man looking to make a meal for his dear Milena.  He puzzles over several different options.  He wonders if he should serve the same to her as he did to Felice.

“Eating Fish Alone” is a story all about the neurotic narrator trying to figure out when and what fish she can eat. She says she pretty much only eats it alone because of the smell  But she also a has a list of which fish she can eat–some is safe and others are not.  She often asks the waiters about the fish, even though they don’t know much about the food.  The end sees her eating a marlin steak.

Continuing with the food theme of this book, the other half of the book (flip it) is fully called Country Cooking from Central France Roast Boned Rolled Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb (Farce Double)

This is one of those stories that I never understand why they are written.  Lengthy and very detailed all creating something that is possibly funny, but I’m not sure if it is–making a story out of something that is just a goofy recipe.

It is a 24 page recipe for Farce Double–the specialty of La Tour Lambert.  It is an elaborate (beyond all reason) recipe that might make no sense to a foreigner.

You must marinade the giant lamb parts–in Paris they might use a bidet, you can use a bathtub.  After extensive details you get sentences like: at some previous moment, you will have made the stuffing for the quenelles.

There are clay pots and giant pits and marinating for days and all of that.

The only thing that interrupts the recipe is the song that is sung during a break in the roasting.  This song is about a blacksmith’s son who goes in search of his lost mother.  He finds several women who take care of him, making him believe that each is his mother until she “does for him what mother a never did for her son.”

The feast of farce double is a moment for friendships to be renewed, for enemies to forgive one another, for lovers to embrace.

Serves thirteen.

Uh huh.

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-LivePhish 11.14.95 University of Central Florida Arena, Orlando FL (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 out out two or so a year.

Regardless, this show is pretty fantastic.

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.

Hoist had come out the previous year but Billy Breathes not for another ten months or so.

The show has a lot of whispered vocals from Trey (especially at the beginnings of songs—they’re audible, sure, but just seem quieter than usual).  The show starts off with a blast of “Chalk Dust Torture” and an extended 10 minute “Foam.”   The whispered vocals are especially noticeable on “Billy Breathes” but once the song really begins there are some great harmonies.

Then for the fifteen minute “Divided Sky,” which sounds amazing, there’s quite a long pause before the main riff starts—teasing the audience a bit.  Trey basically stands there, stock still for almost a minute and a half.

It’s always a treat to hear “Esther” which has a good jam going and so does “Free” (which is technically a new song), although it seems to go a little dark. Then there’s another quiet verse to start “Julius” before it really takes off. All three of those songs were about 9 minutes each.

That all settles down to a quiet almost unplugged bluegrass version of “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome” [the notes mentioned above indicate: I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome featured a brave mandolin solo by Fish as well as some especially inflected vocals by temporary upright bassist Page].  The set with a great version of “Cavern.”

At the end of the song he talks about the audience chess move that anyone can get involved in.   And then in the beginning of set two, they mention the audience move.

There’s a very extended “Maze” (13 minutes) in which Trey is on fire, and then a fun “Gumbo” that in no way prepares you for what’s to come: the wild frenetic soling in a hugely extended version of “Stash.”  The song segues into other songs (“Manteca” and “Dog Faced Boy”) and back into “Stash” for a total of 40 minutes of jamming.  There’s some crazy feedback and noise in Trey’s solos.  There’s also a percussion slow down with just one note of piano and percussion keeping the song going. The liner notes break it up into three distinct songs: the first part is 15 minutes, then a break into the jazzy instrumental “Manteca” and then back into Stash for a total of 14 minutes and then Trey breaks into a quiet a capella version of “Dog Faced Boy” which segues into the ending solo of Stash which is feedbacky and crazy.  A total of almost 10 minutes.  The notes say:

The improvisational skill and grace demonstrated in this “Stash” set the standard for years to come.  Staccato guitar and clavinet accents began to lead into some incredible jamming with massive, swirling tension as the band weaved in and out of Stash’s theme in a loose, psychedelic approach. Deep rhythmic tribal incantation followed with Trey eventually switching to percussion and grooving into something akin to the ending of “Fee.” This jam continued, melting perfectly into a supercharged version of “Manteca,” played for the first time in a year and sandwiched between segments of Stash

There’s a brief respite with a beautiful, mellow “Strange Design.”  And then the band ramps up again with a 21 minute “You Enjoy Myself.”

Like parts of the show-stopping “Stash” and other versions from this year commonly ranked among the best ever, this “YEM” is amazing, intense and engaging, exploratory and rocking especially when teamed with Chris Kuroda’s phoenix-shaped lighting rig. A brief nod to Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song” punctuates the jam and the energy in the room and intensity of playing throughout kept the set flying as high as Trey and Mike’s mini-trampoline performance.

There’s also a (fairly mellow) vocal jam at the end, bringing the show proper to a close.

The encore is two songs, “The Wedge” which sounds a little different from the record and a fast and frenetic “Rocky Top.”  It is truly a great show.

The disc is a three CD set and includes two bonus Filler tracks.  There’s a goofy, fun version of “Poor Heart” (from a soundcheck on 11/14/95 and a really silly “Dog Log” (with someone speaking the refrain “to the john” over and over).  That one comes from a show on 12/01/95, which is pretty far away from this show, but is a fun addition.

[READ: November 24, 2016] Fall Out

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 Women for Afghan Women.

This book is divided into four sections.  They could be short stories or they could be parts of a full story.  The pieces do fit together

Conduction
From 1951 to 1962, nuclear bombs were detonated in the Nevada Test site.  Buildings were destroyed, sand was turned to glass.  This story then jumps to Troy, New York in 1953.  Three students were tossing a ball around after a rainfall.  They went into a college building and tested a Geiger counter which showed ratings off the charts on the ball that had been in the puddle.

Night of the Avengers
On a given night, several people saw what looked like an ice cream cone made of light in the sky.   And then a local boy encountered the alien.  This section is actually a film made by director Zweig.  We learn about Zweig’s childhood working on the sets of Metropolis, and his difficulties in getting this low budget film made.  It’s an interesting plot–people blame the aliens for things that are going wrong, but the aliens are not responsible.  So they simply leave rather than taking the abuse.  There is also Dr. Exline, who is making a bio weapon.  He is the one responsible for all the troubles they’ve been having–won’t anyone listen? (more…)

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kelly-linkSOUNDTRACK: THE DUDE OF LIFE & PHISH-Crimes of the Mind (1994).

Crimes of the Mind is the debut album from The Dude of Life, Steve Pollak, a childhood friend of Trey Anastasio and a lyrical contributor to many of Phish’s early songs. Phish is the backing band for the entire album.

The album was recorded in 1991 but wasn’t released until 1994. The Dude of Life performed several of these songs in a live setting with Phish on a number of occasions.

Of all of the “Phish” albums, this is the one I listen to the least.

The main riff of “Chalkdust Torture” was used in the song “Self” on this album.

Dude

“Dahlia” is a kind of sloppy rock song—it certainly has a Phish feel to it, but as soon as the vocals come in, you know it’s going to be different.  Lyrically, however, it sounds a lot like crazy early Phish—a song about a girl who is a little nuts and a really catchy melody.  The song has a weird climax with the sucking Cherry Charms Blow Pops line.

“Family Picture” opens with a watery bass, it has a kind of silly Phish-iness to it—you wouldn’t be surprised if Phish played it but again, although Dude’s voice makes it much sillier.  Once again there’s a fun chorus and a rather silly guitar solo.  “Self” is a wonderfully selfish song (“I don’t care about anyone but myself”).  I also like that he rhymes “bluer” with “sewer.”  Once the song starts rocking, it features the main riff as “Chalkdust Torture” and then it really takes off.

“Crimes of the Mind” is a simple song with a catchy chorus.  “She’s Bitchin’ Again” has a very cool guitar riff and motif, and while the lyrics are funny, the addition of the woman bitchin’ at him is a bit much (especially since her voice is quite unpleasant and isn’t quite singing).  “TV Show” is the first thing that’s close to a ballad.  It starts slowly but after the sound of keyboards building and ramping up, the song kicks into high gear with the chorus of “life is a TV show that should have been canceled long ago.”  “Trials and Tribulations” is a funny/weird romantic song about the Swiss Miss, Captain Crunch and Mr Clean, with a cute melody for the guitar riff.

“Lucy in the Subway” is of course a kind of follow up/piss take on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”  It sounds nothing like The Beatles’ song, being a simple, rather than psychedelic song, but that befits the tone about a girl down on her luck–she is “with daffodils” if you were wondering about the D).   “Ordinary Day” is the kind of simple song—singing about nothing happening—that makes you wonder how people write them.  “Revolution’s Over” is as close to punk as this line up will get—fast drums, fast tinny guitar and a quick riff.  The middle has some funky weird jam stuff

“King of Nothing” is a slow, almost ponderous song (except that Dude’s voice is more goofy than deep).

Since Pollak contributed much to Phish’s early silliness it’s not surprising that these songs are rather silly too.  But the band plays really well and holds it all together.

[READ: November 14, 2016] Stone Animals

Back in 2014, I ordered all 16 books from Madras Press. believing that I’d been told about a cool gem of a publisher.  And I had been. Unfortunately, after publishing the 16 books they seem to have gone out of business or so. They still have a web presence where you can buy remaining copies of books.  But what a great business idea this is/was

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.  The format of our books provides readers with the opportunity to experience stories on their own, with no advertisements or miscellaneous stuff surrounding them.

The format is a 5″ x 5″ square books that easily fit into a pocket.

Proceeds from Link’s book go to The Fistula Foundation.

Many of the books from Madras Press have been unusual–some of them downright surreal.  And this book, which finished up series 3, is no exception.

I started to read this when I was on a camping trip–I was tired and exhausted from a long day, and I genuinely thought I was having lack of concentration issues because this story didn’t really seem logical.  When I read it again in the light of day, it still didn’t exactly seem logical, but I was able to follow it a little better.

The story follows a family–husband and wife and two kids.  They are moving from New York City to the suburbs.  The house that they are purchasing has two giant stone rabbits on the front porch.  The children’s don’t want to leave the city exactly but the adults are pleased with the house. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-The White Tape (1986) (1998).

Phish (also known as The White Tape) is a self-produced album released by the American rock band Phish on cassette in 1986. Often cited as the first Phish “album”, The White Tape was originally a collection of original material that the band used as a demo/sample tape for venues, and was sometimes labelled “Phish”

This release is largely kind of goofy, although there are lots of kernels of songs and indeed songs that are still played today.  As Wikipedia puts it: “The album also contains avant-garde experimental pieces, instrumental passages, electronic noises and studio trickery.

“Alumni Blues” sounds kind of slapdash (at least the lyrics) and demo-y (almost a generic blues) but overall very much like a full song.  There’s some great bass lines and solid guitar.  It’s got some crazy nonsensical percussion and crickets at the end of the song.  “And So to Bed” is a very pretty guitar instrumental with lots of pretty ringing chords (it could be a Led Zeppelin song but clearly isn’t).

“You Enjoy Myself” is a one minute a capella version of the melody of YEM, it’s beautiful and weird at the same time with lots of pitch shifting on the voices.

“AC/DC Bag” is a weird, early song (that doesn’t make much sense outside of the “Gamehendge” story).  This version is very slow and kind of loungey (especially the way Trey sings the chorus).  but al of the main parts are there just like they still are today.  The rather surprising “Fuck Your Face” is a wild guitar solo (reminiscent of something Zappa might do) in 17/4 time signature.  It was done entirely by Mike Gordon (who sounds like he’s 12 years old). It ends with this declaration: “Hi, I’m Bill I was the one who the did the cover art for the Stones’ Sucking in the 70s LP.”

“Divided Sky” is an 1 minute introduction to the song played on acoustic guitar (presumably 12 strings) and xylophone.

  “Slave to the Traffic Light” is an unusual version of the song—it’s less fluid than later versions.  The opening is done on that acoustic guitar again and it’s not instantly recognizable as “Slave.”  But the voices are kind of silly.  Not that the song is serious, but it makes it even less so.

“Aftermath” starts with some crazy noises. It sounds like pure studio trickery until it resolves into a very pretty guitar instrumental.   “Ingest,” meanwhile, is the song of weird effects a weird synth with sampled laughter—pure nonsense (and not credited to anyone).

“NO2″ is more nonsense—credited to Mike–this time keyboard effects making it sound like a dentist’s office.  It’s about 5 minutes of noise—hard to listen to more than once.  However, it ends with 2 minutes of beautiful almost Spanish style acoustic guitar.  It segues into “Fluff’s Travels” which doesn’t really seem to have much to do with the “Fluff’s Travels” that appears on Junta.  This one is 90 seconds of slightly disorienting playing and odd-sounding operatic vocals.

I didn’t realize “Dog Gone Dog” which has since become known as “Dog Log” was quite so old.  It sounds like a live version here–bot too different from later version except for the synth sounds.  “He Ent to the Bog” is an even weirder Mike Gordon piece than the other weird song, with sampled words, crazy noises and then a series of really bad jokes about hamburgers told by an unspecified woman (including a joke that name checks Farah Fawcett-Majors).  And it’s nearly 4 minutes long.

“Run Like an Antelope” is an interesting version—with a jaunty bouncy folkie introduction (much bouncier than the recorded version).  There’s some wild soloing in the middle of the 7 minutes.  The spoken word nonsense is done very quickly.  There’s also cheers from some other album tacked on.

Mike’s last contribution is the bizarre (clearly Mike is the weird one in the band) “Minkin” a jazzy peace that is mostly a spoken word “infomercial” piece about painter Marjorie Minkin (who is Mike’s mother).  It’s much funnier knowing that she is actually Mike’s mom.

“Letter to Jimmy Page” is an electric guitar workout, but it’s only a minute and could be longer.

Only “Alumni Blues”, “AC/DC Bag”, “Slave To The Traffic Light” and “Dog Gone Dog” (a.k.a. “Dog Log”) have the four band members together.  And Trey wrote everything except the few Gordon pieces.

[READ: November 22, 2016] The Man Who Danced with Dolls

Back in 2014, I ordered all 16 books from Madras Press. believing that I’d been told about a cool gem of a publisher.  And I had been. Unfortunately, after publishing the 16 books they seem to have gone out of business or so. They still have a web presence where you can buy remaining copies of books.  But what a great business idea this is/was

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.  The format of our books provides readers with the opportunity to experience stories on their own, with no advertisements or miscellaneous stuff surrounding them.

For this particular book, proceeds to benefit the New Hanover Humane Society.

The story opens with a man reflecting back on visiting his grandparents.  He is a translator and has become one most likely because his grandfather insisted that he learn German.  Since the boy’s father was more interested in learning French, his grandfather insisted on German.  So he learned fascinating words like

  • gurtmuffel: someone who doesn’t wear their seatbelt and
  • fensterln: for someone to go through a window to make love to their sweetheart while her family doesn’t know anything.

His grandfather developed brain cancer and the first thing that went was his ability to recall these unusual words. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Buenaventura (2013).

Buenaventura was a bonus CD with Ventura featuring ten tracks handpicked from Phish’s March 21, 1993 Ventura Theatre show.

So, the same venue just four years earlier. The mix has a lot of bass—its not bass heavy but you can really hear all that Mike is doing.  There’s also a lot of echo on the voice.

“Maze” sounds great with a long keyboard solo followed by a long guitar solo.  “Sparkle” has some pretty piano and ends with some really fast guitar riffing.

“Divided Sky” opens with mostly with piano and bass (a high solo from Mike).  There’s some great solos where you can really hear mike playing along.  “Split Open and Melt” is great–a long ending solo where Trey goes nuts until it all just “falls apart,” ending with just drums and then some very sharp three note progressions.

Then you hear him say “Let’s do ‘Lawn Boy'” which he dedicates to the guy who taught him how to surf yesterday.  They follow it with “Tweezer” which is notable for there being a chorus of them singing “Tweezaaaah.”  After the Ebeneezer section there is noisy chaos and a noisy solo till it all sort of crawls to a halt.  Then they launch into a really fast “Llama” with lots of really fast keys from Page.  “My Sweet One” is also really fast and then segues into a “Big Ball Jam” which is mostly a wild drum solo with other instruments peppering it.  The disc ends with a romping “Cavern.”

After all of these full shows, it’s a little weird to not have excerpts, but it’s a nice sampling of a show from 1993 and it’s a great collection to boot.

The full show consisted of:

SET 1: Maze, Sparkle, The Sloth, Divided Sky, Esther > All Things Reconsidered, Split Open and Melt , Poor Heart, Punch You In the Eye, Lawn Boy > Possum

SET 2: Loving Cup, My Friend, My Friend, Rift > Tweezer > Ya Mar, Llama, You Enjoy Myself, My Sweet One > Big Ball Jam, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Harry Hood , Cavern

ENCORE: Sleeping Monkey, Sweet Adeline, Tweezer Reprise

 [READ: November 21, 2016] The Human Soul as a Rube Goldberg Device

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 the Arkansas Literary Festival.

This book is a grown up choose your own adventure.  And who doesn’t love a choose your own adventure story?

The one thing that was a mite disappointing is that all of the stories end up in the same place, but I guess that is the point after all.

Your choices are things like: would you say that you’re not wasting your life? [page 33]  Would you say that you are? [page 109]
If you decide to stop for a while at the coffeehouse, go on to page 45 If you head for the McDonald’s across the street, turn to page 113.

If you decide to do a little grocery shopping, turn to page 93; if you decide to clean the bathroom mirror, turn to page 121

And the most realistic one for me: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Ventura (2013).

Not content to have just one concert on a release, Ventura contains two complete concerts from July 30, 1997, and July 20, 1998, at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura, California.

It’s an opportunity to compare the band at the same location one year later–these two shows exist in the vacuum between the release of Billy Breathes (1996) and The Story of the Ghost (1998), so there’s a few “new” songs in 1997, but it also doesn’t mean that they are playing the same sets–not by any means.  In fact, between the two shows they repeat only two songs: Water in the Sky (new) and Prince Caspian (from Billy)

1997 sees the band in good form.  After two solid openers with “NICO” and “Wolfman,” they play a wild “Chalk Dust” which has some crazy dissonant soloing in it.  “Water in the Sky” is a slow countryish version with piano and twangy guitar.  There’s a great “Stash” with appropriate audience clapping (I really want to see that live) and then a typically fun “Weigh.”  This is followed by lovely versions of “Piper” and “Cars Trucks Buses,” and the set ends with a slow funky version of “Character Zero.”

Set two opens with a groovy “Pinch You in the Eye” (9 minutes) and a great jamming version of “Free” (almost 12 minutes) with a funky solo.  “Free” is one of my favorite songs by them and I always think of it as “new” because it is rather poppy.  But it’s from way back in 1996 so it’s surely not new. After about four and a half minutes of trippy sounds and echoes. they start “David Bowie” (which includes The Simpsons riff and a Doh!).  The solo is long with a lengthy piano section and a mellow jazzy middle before it turns a little funky and then to a groovy jam to the end.  It runs for just over 21 minutes and the end of the song starts the chords for Talking Heads’ “Cities,” which the band segues into perfectly and then segues back into “Bowie” fop another 6 minutes.  There’s a scorching end of the song with a lot of noise before the end.  Those last scorching solos each have a break where the band sounds like they are collapsing before resuming perfectly.  It is a spectacular 32 minutes of music.  (Their live releases have me believing that they “Cities” a lot more than statistically they do).

They slow things down with a relatively mellow version of “Bouncing around the Room” (as mellow as that song can be anyhow) and then the bluegrass version of “Uncle Pen.”  The end of the second set comes with a mellow jam to start “Prince Caspian.”  Even the jam is mellow for about 9 minutes, but the set ends with a raucous version of Jimi Hendrix’ “Fire.”

The encore is a rollicking run through “My Soul” with a very fast “mymymymymymmysoul oh my soul.”  It’s a great show with lots of perfect peaks and valleys.

There’s a bonus track–a 9 minute soundcheck jam.  There’s some casual singing of some “dah dah dahs” and some high pitched “ooohs.”  A keyboard solo follows and it ends with a noisy section and a scream of delight.

In 1998, the band opened the show with a 21 minute “Bathtub Gin.”  It’s not that often that their opening song is a big ass jam.  (I’m sure someone has stats to back that up).   There’s a lot of piano riffage in the middle too.  After this, the band plays mostly short songs for a while: a mellow version of “Dirt.” Then a  fast and fun “Poor Heart” (in which Trey introduces Mike as the author–which he is).  Then a jazzy “Lawn Boy.”  There’s a romping “My Sweet One” which segues into a rocking “Birds of a Feather.”  By the time the get to “Theme from the Bottom,” which sounds great, they’re ready to stretch out.  It’s about 9 minutes long with a nice long solo.

They repeat “Water in the Sky” from last year.  It’s pretty although a minute shorter than 1997.  There’s a 4 minute jam before “The Moma Dance” starts proper (that will be on Ghost).  The set ends with a 14 minute “Split Open and Melt.”

Set 2 opens with a really long (14 minute) version of The Who’s “Drowned” and a dark moody jam although the reggae chords of “Makisupa Policeman” start long before “Drowned” ends.  And as the reggae jam starts, Trey sings “woke up this morning… SKUNKED” to much cheering.  The song ends with a trippy synth section that segues into “Maze.”  Page continues The Who theme with a solo version of “Sea and Sand.”  It’s interesting that in 1997 their second to last song was “Prince Caspian” (about 9 minutes). A year later their second to last song is also “Caspian,” this time 12 minutes with a rocking solo.  It segues into a stellar set-ending fifteen minute “Harry Hood.”

The encore is a crazy “Sexual Healing” sung by fish.  It’s goofy and it goes on way too long (nearly 8 minutes), but they follow it with a 12 minute jam of “Haley’s Comet.”  I love the harmonies.  The song ends with some rumbling noises as the guys leave the stage.

The bonus soundcheck is a reggae riff with them reciting the lyrics “I’m your Venus, I’m your fire.”  It’s a decent enough jam for a soundcheck although I’m most impressed with how Trey ends with a wrap-up riff instead of just stopping the song.

The bonus soundcheck songs aren’t that great to have–more like special feature on a DVD.  But the main sets are fantastic.  And you get 35 different songs between the two shows.

[READ: November 22, 2016] Tales Told in Oz

I read the 16 Madras Press Books some time ago and posted about half of them.  So here’s the other half coming up.  So what is Madras Press?

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, “The author of the bestselling Wicked Years series returns to Oz with a compendium of folktales.  Proceeds to benefit Friends of West Hartford Library.”

I’m probably the only person who would read this book not knowing who Gregory Maguire was.   Well, I’ll amend that.  I knew who he was and I loved Wicked when I read it.  But I forgot who he was (his name  did sound familiar, though).

As I said, I loved Wicked but didn’t read anything else in the series.  I was only vaguely aware that there was a series–evidently there are 4 books and this book is considered 0.5.

All of this is introduction is to set up why I didn’t really enjoy this book that much.  Not realizing that it was part of Maguire re-imagining Oz, I thought it was weird and arbitrary that it was “set” in Oz.  Why not just make up your own world to tell these stories about.

Now realizing what was at stake, I appreciate it more, but since I’m not invested in his series (or really in Oz itself–I’ve never read more than the first book of that series either), these were just amusing tales. (more…)

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