Bob and Ron’s Record Club Radio Archive – Episode 81

Ron in the studio

Ron in the studio

Inspired by a new psychedelic lighting system in the studio, Bob and Ron waste no time getting in the groove. Episode 81 features lot of listener requests, plus special Bob and Ron selections from the depths of their collections, and every one is a joy to hear. As usual, Bob and Ron do what no other radio show can do, pushing the limits of programming to the outer edges of the broadcast spectrum.

ChicagoWhen was the last time you heard Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” on the radio? Never? Me neither. Or how about half of the “Travel Suite” from Chicago III? Good Lord, for a minute I thought it was CSN&Y—and hello Danny Seraphine and your nearly two-minute drum solo. There’s so much good stuff here including tracks from the usual BRRC favorites T. Rex, Al Kooper, Love, King Crimson and many, many more. Click here to listen.

Advertisements

Petrology 202: Mike Watt/Minutemen/fIREHOSE

220px-Mike_watt_march_16_2009Welcome to Petrology 202. We’re going to pick up where the 101 course level ended and take things in a more personal (for me) direction. Today we’ll be dealing with a musical hero I’ve actually met, Mike Watt.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several of my so-called rock n’ roll heroes. You may have read this account of meeting Robert Plant in San Francisco in 2005. While I revere the work he’s done, Plant was never one of my heroes per se. In essence, I never wanted to be him. Noooo. He’s cool as shit and everything but I haven’t an iota of his brand of rock star bravado. I may have had long-ass hair and played a few bare-chested shows, but I drew the line at excess jewelry, turquoise belt buckles, and cowboy boots. The story also mentions brief encounters with Neil Young and Beck, but again, respected but not heroes. Who are my (musical) heroes? Here’s a brief and not-at-all complete list, almost in chronological order of acquisition.

John Bonham, Freddie Mercury, Eddie Van Halen, Robin Zander (and all of Cheap Trick, but Robin especially), John Lennon, Robert Smith, Peter Gabriel, the Sex Pistols, Hüsker Dü, Mike Watt (Minutemen and fIREHOSE), Brian Eno, Stevie Wonder, Chet Atkins…

BonzoThose are the main guys; the musicians who have influenced me the most, whose records are like appendages and made me want to make music. John Bonham was the reason I wanted to play drums, which is and always will be my first musical love. Now, I am well aware of the fact that there was a period of time in my life when Billy Idol and Adam Ant were heroes. Let’s not forget the Jane’s Addictions and Black Sabbaths of my record collection, either. At any rate, of those main heroes, I have met in person exactly three of them including Grant Hart of Hüsker Dü, which was an experience so disappointing I don’t even want to think about it.

On my 30th birthday in 1998, Bob and Ron of Bob and Ron’s Record Club somehow managed to score tickets to see Cheap Trick perform at nightclub called Drink, capacity approximately 350 persons. The main floor was general admission, which meant that I stood five feet from Robin Zander for the duration of the performance. Up until that moment in time, it was the happiest 90 minutes of my entire life. But it got better. Bob and Ron were notorious (or infamous, you could say) for finding ways into venues, particularly backstage. About a year earlier, the Stones played a last-minute show at the Double Door (as a warm-up for their shows at Soldier Field, which opened the Voodoo Lounge tour), where Bob and Ron managed to helped load in the band’s gear and hear the soundcheck. The next night, they snuck into the Soldier Field show through the catering entrance and wound up backstage, though they didn’t meet anyone. They met Keith Richards, Ron says, “because we were stalking them outside their hotel.”

CheapDuring the Cheap Trick show, Bob and Ron found a way to get us backstage and we met Billy Corgan and MLB pitcher David Wells—neither heroes by any stretch of the imagination—but we’d had earlier run-ins with Corgan, who to his credit was generally an approachable guy on the Chicago music scene. If you saw him at the Rainbow Club you could walk by and say, “Hey Billy, what’s up?” and he wouldn’t sneer at or ignore you. I got several “How you doin’s” from him over the years. Ron and I met him in New York in 1992 and begged him to produce our band—this was a year before Siamese Dream came out but the industry buzz was loud. The Pumpkins were about to blow up, and we wanted a spot on Corgan’s coattails. Haha. Anyway… After Cheap Trick’s set, we waited outside the back door and met the entire band as they got in their limo. They signed my ticket stub, we offered them weed.  Bun E. said, “No thanks, we’ve got our own.” We also got to watch Bun E. roll a joint. My life could have ended right there.

Prior to that, the highlight of my rock n’ roll fandom was meeting Mike Watt and having a regular conversation with him—not the typical I’m your biggest fan type-shit. The meeting took place at the Double Door while Watt was touring for Contemplating the Engine Room, so this was 1996-97. Also present were Ron of Bob and Ron’s Record Club and Bill Dolan. A lot of the conversation revolved around Watt’s health situation (which was deteriorating; he wound up hospitalized with an infection of his perineum)  but at some point, Watt and Ron talked about Finnegan’s Wake, which is notable for one reason; the other day, Ron told me that he ran into Watt 13 years later and he [Watt] remembered the conversation! My takeaway from the whole thing was that Watt was the coolest human being on the planet and I felt lucky to be in his presence for 30 minutes.

WattMike Watt is best known for co-founding the rock bands Minutemen, dos, and fIREHOSE.  As of 2003, he is also the bassist for the reunited Stooges and a member of the art rock/jazz/punk/improv group Banyan as well as many other post-Minutemen projects. He also maintains a healthy web presence, with Mike Watt’s Hoot Page and Watt Radio. His tour journals are also worth reading.

CMJ New Music calls Watt a “seminal post-punk bass player.” In November 2008, Watt received the Bass Player Magazine lifetime achievement award, presented by Flea. In addition to being one of the best bass players I’ve ever heard, Mike Watt represents the quintessence of punk rock. He is an original and there has never been and there will never be another like him. When I’m browsing my record collection, even if I have no intention of listening to Minutemen’s Double Nickles on the Dime at the moment, I never fail to pick up the record and hold it in my hands, giving it at least due respect. Every Watt-related record in my collection gets the same treatment, hell, it’s almost sacrilegious to say but I like fIREHOSE as much if not a little more than Minutemen.

As for Minutemen, other than owning their records, there is no better source of information than this 2005 documentary, We Jam Econo. Watch it.

Firehose 2fIREHOSE, on the other hand, is one of my favorite bands that almost nobody other than my high school buddies ever heard or still listens to. They didn’t have any hits. They made a few videos but hardly if ever(?) appeared on MTV. When they disbanded in 1994, nobody except the skateboarders noticed. This is a travesty that continues to bother me but you know, there’s no accounting for taste.

This is what you need to know about fIREHOSE. From the Allmusic Guide:

In 1985, after D Boon’s tragic death at age 27 signaled the end of the Minutemen, bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley threw in their lot with then-22-year-old former Ohio State University student, guitar player, and Minutemen fanatic Ed Crawford to form fIREHOSE. Taking their group name from a line in Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” fIREHOSE continued in the Minutemen tradition of breathtaking musicianship combined with caustic lyrical fusillades inspired by the writing of the Beat Generation and the erect-middle-finger indignation of the Blank Generation. However, with Crawford’s decidedly folkie bent insinuating itself into the mix, fIREHOSE’s songs began to expand into more traditional verse-chorus-verse songwriting symmetry. And although fIREHOSE never equaled the Minutemen’s output in terms of sheer audacity and emotional depth, Crawford, Watt, and Hurley recorded rock that was muscular, dense, and daring, along with being tremendously heartfelt. They never patronized audiences or comported themselves as “rock stars”; they were instead the quintessential post-punk “peoples’ band.” Although they achieved wider notoriety than did the Minutemen (eventually recording for a major label), fIREHOSE called it quits in early 1994 after a desultory, dispirited final LP (Mr. Machinery Operator). Still, nearly all of their recorded work stands as some of the best late-’80s/early-’90s indie rock.

This is the list of descriptors for fIREHOSE courtesy of Allmusic:

Bright, Driving, Lively, Athletic, Brash, Earthy, Gritty, Gutsy, Ramshackle, Rousing, Rowdy, Turbulent, Urgent, Nervous/Jittery, Rambunctious, Bittersweet, Fiery, Tense/Anxious

Here are some of my favorite fIREHOSE songs.

This is an ‘official’ video of “Sometimes.” Actually, I don’t know where it came from but it’s AWESOME.

“Losers, Boozers, and Heroes” might be my all-time favorite fIREHOSE song.

Three cuts and a documentary isn’t even scratching the surface. At the end of the day, when I think about the musicians who have contributed so much to my education and experience, no one has given as much and asked for so little in return as Mike Watt. Forever in his debt, I gotta say, “Much respect.”

Audio Resuscitation 2

Whitey/Golden Tones practice space playlist circa 1997-98

The bottom half of the Whitey/Golden Tones master list tacked to the wall of their practice space circa 1997-98

If rock bands have a “death and taxes” equivalent, it could be “cover songs and substance abuse.” There are certainly loads of bands who have never recorded a cover song, but literally every single rock musician has at some point in their lives, learned how to play by copying their heroes, and in many cases, adopting their habits. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. Enough said.

For serious rockbanders, there is the ubiquitous practice and/or rehearsal space. You spend a lot of time in that shitty little room and it gets boring on occasion. That’s when someone starts noodling around on the main riff to Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” and the next thing you know, you’re halfway through the song.

A little known fact about BSM recording artist Golden Tones, is that they spent six months prior to writing their magnum opus, The Portable Thruster and Hyperspace Companion Kit, by learning, practicing and perfecting more than two dozen cover songs. Many practices were recorded on a cassette boom box, so versions of those songs exist; whether they are listenable remains to be seen. The band covered Genesis, King Crimson, The Clash, Adam and the Ants, The Glove, Yes, The Kinks, Simon and Garfunkel, Small Faces, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, and many more.

Three BSM artists, Christian Adams, Aztec Hearts, and Henry Miller Sextet recorded at least one cover song. In the case of Adams, he recorded an entire albums’ worth of four-track versions of his favorite songs, entitled, That’s Me In the Shower. The following are three selected tracks from the record, featuring covers of Adam Ant, The Cure, and Van Halen, respectively.

Note: Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. All of the following audio recordings were made strictly for the artists’ amusement and personal entertainment, and never intentionally distributed or sold.

______________________________________________________

Aztec Hearts has recorded two cover songs to date: Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” and Little Richard’s “Send Me Some Lovin'”. Both tracks feature Susie Smith on lead and backing vocals and stand as a severe warning to the kids: Don’t do drugs. This is what happens.

______________________________________________________

In 2002, Henry Miller Sextet recorded a version of Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger”, which turned out to be the only cover they would record. Check the Iron Maiden guitar harmonies on the hooks!

Meanwhile, many HMS live performances began (or ended) with a cover song. Over the years, the band tackled:

  • Bad Company (“Feel Like Makin’ Love”)
  • KC and the Sunshine Band (“Please Don’t Go”)
  • Cheap Trick (“Downed” and “I Want You (to Want Me)”)
  • Off Broadway (“Stay in Time”)
  • Rod Stewart (“Every Picture Tells a Story”)
  • Joe Jackson (“It’s Different For Girls”)
  • The Cure (“The Exploding Boy”)

And so, one day in the future we’ll dig up those Golden Tones’ tapes and see what’s there. It should be good fun.

Petrology 101: Stevie Wonder

Music of My Mind (1972)

Music of My Mind (1972)

We’ve reached the end of the 101 course level and over the years it’s become a habit to wrap things up with a couple of inter-related personal anecdotes which speak to the material, in this case, Stevie Wonder’s groundbreaking album, Music of My Mind (1972).

At this point, you should probably stop and ask yourself, “What do I know about Stevie Wonder?” For instance, if you did not know that up until he turned 21 in 1971, he didn’t have artistic control of his music, you should probably go ahead and read this:

[From Wikipedia] (Throughout 1971), Wonder independently recorded two albums, which he used as a bargaining tool while negotiating with Motown. Although Wonder had been producing his own recordings, Motown still retained control over the content. Tensions increased as Wonder approached his twenty-first birthday; his contract had a clause which allowed Wonder to void it upon becoming a legal adult. When [Motown President Berry Gordy] approached Wonder about renegotiating his contract, Wonder refused. Eventually the label agreed to his demands for full creative control and the rights to his own songs. The 120-page contract was a precedent at Motown and gave Wonder a much higher royalty rate. Wonder returned to Motown in March 1972 with Music of My Mind. Unlike most previous albums on Motown, which usually consisted of a collection of singles, B-sides and covers, Music of My Mind was a full-length artistic statement with songs flowing together thematically.
Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

OK, great. Sometime in the winter of 1976-77, Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life wound up in my parents’ record collection. At this point, my family had a membership in the Columbia Record Club, and I think Songs happened to be whatever record they sent you each month, and somebody forgot to send it back. This is a theory based only on circumstantial evidence.

The Columbia Record and Tape Club’s terms of membership stipulated that X times per year, the company informed each customer of the “Selection of the Month” album. The customer had to respond within 10 days whether or not he or she wanted to buy the record, which was offered at a discount, provided that the response was received by Columbia House “within the specified time.” Failure to respond resulted in the record being shipped at full list price. So that’s what I’m thinking happened with the Stevie record. It’s either that or my mom heard “Isn’t She Lovely” on the radio and actually ordered the record, which is entirely possible, but not at all in character. She was more of a Barbara Streisand-slash-Neil Diamond type of gal. The old man was into Willie Nelson and Hoyt Axton, so at least we can rule him out of the equation.

Continue reading

Petrology 101: The Glove + Adam and the Ants

Blue Sunshine 1The second to last session of the 101 course level is a double-whammy special, dealing with two of the more obscure recordings in the field of fundamental petrology, Blue Sunshine by The Glove and Dirk Wears White Sox by Adam and the Ants. Let’s begin with the former.

Everybody knows Robert Smith as the main dude from The Cure. In terms of household name recognition, he’s on par with Quentin Tarantino and Jackson Pollack. There are two main things about Robert Smith that not too many people know—other than diehard Cure fans. There are probably thousands of things but we are only concerned with two. The first thing that most people don’t know (or realize) is that he’s actually a solid guitar player beyond all those incessant single-note solos you hear on the singles (e.g. “Boys Don’t Cry”). The Cure was never really thought of as a classic “guitar band” anyway, especially in the latter years with the addition of a permanent keyboard player. And Smith himself has frequently downplayed his abilities.

I’ve never really bothered to apply myself totally. I’m not technically a good player but at least I don’t sound like anyone else. For me the idea of being a musician has nothing to do with technical ability, but I suppose you have to have a certain amount to be able to put ideas into music. I think it’s important to get past the stage of being comfortable with an instrument. You need the capacity to learn—most people tend to stay at the same level, which is boring to listen to. I don’t think I’ve ever sat on my own with a guitar just playing for enjoyment. I’d do that with the piano, which is so much more exciting for me as I’ve only just mastered the basics.

– Interview by Ro Newton, The Hit, September 1985

However, if you deconstruct the production of The Cure’s earlier work, particularly the first five albums, you’ll hear some amazing guitar work. Though he has always maintained that he is not a very good player, Smith’s prowess is evidenced by his tenure in Siouxsie and the Banshees, appearing on the 1983 live album, Nocturne, and the studio effort, Hyaena (1983). Both records contain some fantastic guitar work.

The Glove came about as a matter of coincidence. [From Wikipedia] “In October 1982, guitarist John McGeoch left Siouxsie and the Banshees due to illness, shortly before the start of an important European tour. Smith was asked to fill in and officially became a member of S&tB in November 1982. He had previously played live with the band in 1979 on their Join Hands tour when he replaced guitarist John McKay who walked out at the start of the tour. The Cure were the support band for the whole tour with Smith therefore playing two sets per night. Two months later, in January 1983, Siouxsie and drummer Budgie left England to record an album on their own as The Creatures. Meanwhile, Severin and Smith both started to work on a project called The Glove.”

Steve and I decided to make a record as some kind of art experiment. Although we had a great time making it, it was completely debilitating and aged me about ten years. I think it was due to us bringing out the worst in each other—the most excessive ideas. We spent 12 weeks in the studio but actually recorded for about five days. The rest of the time was spent having an endless party to which we invited a succession of people. It was like a station – once they got really out of it, they’d be moved on and the next batch brought in. In between all this we’d record a piece of piano or drum.

The band’s name refers to the enormous flying glove in The Beatles’ 1968 animated movie Yellow Submarine, and the album’s title refers to the 1960s schlock-horror film Blue Sunshine, in which people who took the fictional “Blue Sunshine” variety of LSD became psychotic murderers ten years later. Since Smith was contractually prohibited from singing with another band, former dancer Jeanette Landray (then-girlfriend of Severin’s bandmate Budgie) was recruited as the lead singer. Smith sings on two of the songs, “Mr. Alphabet Says” and “Perfect Murder,” and the results are astounding. Blue Sunshine sounds like a mash-up of The Human League covering Yellow Submarine in its entirety.

Now, almost nobody knows anything about this Steven Severin character unless you’re into Siouxsie and the Banshees, and even fewer have even heard of Jeanette Landray, who was something of a low-rent Toyah Wilcox knock-off. However, neither Severin nor Smith have been shy about discussing the debauchery that went on during the recording sessions. This leads us to the second thing about Smith that not many people know: that he is and/or was a heavy user of drugs and alcohol, and in the case of Blue Sunshine, booze, cocaine, and LSD.

On LSD:

After that period with Steve, I was physically incapable of cleaning my teeth. The whole thing was unreal—a dream—and not something I’m likely to repeat in a hurry. The last time I did acid was at Christmas. The first time I tried it was with Severin a few years ago and I was fucking devastated for a week! I think they were God pills! It was clear light-blue square gelatine tablets from America. Anyway, it was snowing and all the world was white. I suffered quite a lot.

The Glove 1On drugs in general:

But, no. I don’t take lot of drugs, although The Top was pretty drug-orientated, but only ‘cos it was fun. The thing is, I never change at all after taking LSD, no matter how many times I take it. It hasn’t changed or altered my perception of the world at all, which is what it does to some people. In that sense, I’ve always had a very distorted view of reality, my sense of values has always been the same. When I tripped for the first time, I realized that it was just like I was anyway. I stopped taking it in the end because I just fell sick and got a headache. It’s like drinking.

On drinking:

You get drunk for different reasons. You can get socially drunk or you can get drunk on your own and get very morbid and tedious. I don’t think it’s to numb the pain of living. The worst thing is when you want to do something and you can’t—that leads to bad drinking. Rut people like Dylan Thomas just drank for the pleasure of drinking. Drinking’s recreational, I think. I used to get drunk on my own a lot but I don’t anymore. To use Dylan Thomas as an example, who ended up killing himself through drink; he did it just because it’s good fun. I’m not sure if it’s the same in the latter stages of addiction. I imagine he drank for three reasons. One. because it’s good fun; two, because you become almost mythical, it’s like you become a legendary drinker which is an idea you can become addicted to; and the third reason is probably because in the latter singes of addiction, you don’t have much choice at all! I’m almost an alcoholic now. I haven’t had one night this year when I haven’t been drunk—a sad admission, I suppose.”

http://imaginaryboys.altervista.org/english/cure/articles/criticalguide.htm

Dirk OriginalI’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that anyone born after 1990 has no idea who Adam and the Ants were. Nor would the youngsters know that Adam Ant, now 58, is in the middle of a career revival of sorts and has a new album, Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter, coming out January 21, 2013—and I for one am looking forward to hearing it. I’m not however looking forward to seeing Senor Ant parade himself in front of a million adoring fans looking like a bloated version of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.

For the oldsters in the audience, most of you will remember Adam Ant, the solo artist, for the guilty-pleasure pop hit of 1983, “Goody Two Shoes.” Maybe, maybe a few of you actually owned one of the two original Adam and the Ants albums on CBS Records, Kings of the Wild Frontier (1980) and Prince Charming (1981). There are maybe five or six people I’ve ever met in my life who knew there was a third Adam and the Ants album called Dirk Wears White Sox, and only two people who ever loved it as much I as do. Actually, it was their first (and only) album on Do-It Records (1979), and bears very little artistic resemblance to the Burundi beat-slash-gay pirate schtick of the band’s CBS years. This is because Dirk Wears White Sox is one of those rare, strange birds that are rarely seen, and for ornithologists, the most sought-after, breath-taking creature. In terms of petrology, it’s like finding a Mason jar full of Astatine while walking along the beach.

KingsThere is a complicated and totally unnecessary back-story to how Adam and the Ants came together, and none of it is crucial to appreciating the recording. The album was made with an early lineup of Adam and the Ants, which disbanded after the album was released. Guitarist Matthew Ashman and drummer David Barbarossa went on to form Bow Wow Wow with then-Ants bassist Leigh Gorman (who had only played one gig with the Ants and was not involved in any studio recordings). Original bassist Andy Warren had departed shortly after recording the album to join former Ants guitarist Lester Square in The Monochrome Set. Many of the songs, notably “Cleopatra” and “Never Trust a Man (With Egg on his Face)”, remained a part of Adam Ant’s live repertoire throughout his career. The “Dirk” of the title refers to classic British film icon Dirk Bogarde.

Matthew Ashman may be one of the most under-rated guitar players ever; in fact, I can’t really think of anyone better deserving of the title, at least in terms of late 70s – early 80s post-punk and pop music. Dirk Wears White Sox deserves a listen if for no other reason than Ashman’s guitar work. He joined Adam and the Ants in June 1978 and stayed for a year and a half; during which time the Ants toured the U.K. twice, visited Belgium, Germany and Italy, and released the singles “Young Parisians” and “Zerox”, plus the album.

Bow Wow WowBow Wow Wow broke up after three albums in 1983 and while Annabelle Lwin went solo, the other members formed Chiefs of Relief. Gorman and Barbarossa left (the latter replaced by former Sex Pistol Paul Cook), and the new lineup released an eponymous album on Sire Records in 1988 before breaking up. After several years away from the music industry, Ashman joined Agent Provocateur in the early 1990s, dying in 1995 shortly before the band released their album. On the fifteenth anniversary of Ashman’s death, Adam Ant topped the bill at a tribute concert for Ashman in November 2010 at the Scala in London, in a show also featuring Bow Wow Wow, Chiefs Of Relief and Agent Provocateur.

As with 99% of these bands and records, I prefer to let them and their music speak for the bulk of the descriptive imagination. However, here’s the Allmusic review of Dirk Wears White Sox.

The album finds a young Adam Ant exploring the sometimes-awkward fusion of punk, glam, and minimalist post-punk with bizarre images and disturbing tales of alienation, sex, and brutality. And while the somewhat pretentious, overly arty lyrics and inexperienced playing are a drawback, the album offers a fascinating look at the Ants’ formative years, capturing a raw energy that would be sacrificed for more polish on subsequent releases. [At the height of Antmania, Adam acquired the rights to the album, remixing it, dropping a few tracks, and adding a couple of early tracks for reissue in 1983 with a different cover for Epic. In 1995, Sony Music U.K. released a hybrid version for CD, restoring the cover art, original mixes, and the previously dropped tracks but retaining the additions and running order of the reissue. Epic chose to keep the remixed version for CD release in the U.S.]

– Chris Woodstra

In closing, the advent of unlimited free listening (and viewing) on YouTube has made it somewhat of a dodgy prospect to recommend that one should drop everything and buy these two records immediately. However, in light of the fact that both records have been remastered and re-issued with a buttload of bonus tracks and whatnot, it wouldn’t be a bad bit of advice. Fans of The Cure, Adam Ant, and post-punk music in general would be doing themselves a great disservice by not giving Blue Sunshine and Dirk Wears White Sox at the very least, a cursory listen, if for nothing other than to see and hear what old Professor Bancredi is rattling on about.

Petrology 101: King Crimson

This may be the most difficult yet rewarding lesson of the 101 course level. No matter how familiar we are with a subject, we must always be ready for surprises – the mind, like a door, must be kept slightly ajar. Oh to be young and idealistic! Your intrepid professor does not believe in surprises.

Therefore, raise your hand if I’m not making myself perfectly sparklingly clear – this will be on the final exam. It goes without saying, you must be able to identify album covers; videos are mandatory and must be watched in their entirety; if you get sleepy, put your head down on the desk; no snoring; release dates are obligatory; pay attention to notable personnel; and don’t skimp on pertinent production details.

In the Court of the Crimson King is King Crimson’s debut studio album (1969). The album reached number five on the British charts, and went gold in the United States. The album is generally regarded to be a defining and seminal moment in the progressive rock genre; avoiding blues-based cliches while embracing jazz and classical symphonic influences, In the Court… is universally considered a “classic” and must-have record of any collection. The album is also the only studio recording which features the original King Crimson line-up of Robert Fripp (guitar); Ian McDonald (flute, clarinet, saxophone, vibes, keyboards, mellotron); Greg Lake (bass, vocals); Michael Giles (drums, percussion); Peter Sinfield (lyrics, illumination).

Soon after the recording sessions were completed, it was discovered that a stereo tape recorder used to mix the album had recording heads that were misaligned. A loss of high-frequencies and undesired distortion affected some parts of the album. Kanye West sampled “21st Century Schizoid Man” in 2010 for his song, “Power.” In Lexington, Kentucky there is a street called Crimson King Court.

Initial reception of In the Court of the Crimson Kingran the gauntlet. Noted critic and curmudgeon Robert Christgau called it “ersatz shit.” Allmusic called it “a darker and edgier brand of post-psychedelic rock” as well as “definitive” and “daring” in its current review.

Track listing

Side one

  1. 21st Century Schizoid Man” (including “Mirrors”) – 7:21
  2. “I Talk to the Wind” – 6:05
  3. Epitaph” (including “March for No Reason” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow”) – 8:47

Side two

  1. “Moonchild” (including “The Dream” and “The Illusion”) – 12:13
  2. The Court of the Crimson King” (including “The Return of the Fire Witch” and “The Dance of the Puppets”) – 9:25

NBC’s Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinsen covered “In the Court of the Crimson King” on his 1970 album, Doc Severinsen’s Closet. It’s fucking awesome!!!!!!

__________

In the Wake of Poseidon is the second studio album (1970). By the time this album was released, the band had already undergone their first line-up change, however they still maintained much of the style of their first album. In other words, it’s pretty much In the Court of the Crimson King II.

Continue reading

Noel Bancredi’s Kudos and Brickbats: Special John Lennon Birthday Edition

“What I’d really like to hear right now is Skylarking-era XTC covering Deep Purple’s Machine Head in its entirety, or vice versa. You got anything like that?”

Kudos

To John Lennon, who would have been 72 today. There’s not much else to say about him. He’s gone. And in a couple of months on the eighth of December, we will remember him once again and listen to Plastic Ono Band one more brilliantly heartbreaking time.

Brickbats

Sir Paul McCartney has no shame. Never has, never will. He’ll never recover from “Ebony and Ivory” and “Say Say Say” but why why why does Sir Paul continue to disappoint even his most ardent supporters by doddering around like my dear old granddad during those years he was desperately clinging to his youth and trying to remain vital and relevant?

The Dream Team. From L to R: Usher, Ronald Isley, Sir Paul, Jon Bon Jovi.

Look, chap. We get it. Unparalleled musical genius and all that. You were the brains of the Beatles. You wrote “Yesterday,” which is the shittiest Beatle song of all, but for Chrissakes, man, the novelty has run its course. Are you not yet rich enough to satisfy your greed? Why can’t you just bugger off and paint watercolors in and of the Scottish countryside? Do it for us, all the people who saved up their allowances to buy The Beatles 1967-70, or flipped two-weeks worth of burgers to buy a nosebleed seat at McNichols Arena for the Wings Over America tour—and a t-shirt and the stupid program.

Kudos

To every old school rock band that (a) HASN’T reunited for a 401K tour, (b) allowed a bunch of non-original members to carry on using your name even though the founding members are dead, or (c) HASN’T released an album since 1990.

Continue reading

Petrology 101: Bad Brains

This week’s study of all things rock will require a brief historical review, since Bad Brains appeared (at first) on the Washington D.C. hardcore punk scene in 1977, long before many of you were born.

Consisting of H.R. (vocals), Dr. Know (guitar), Daryl Jenifer (bass), and Earl Hudson (drums), Bad Brains quickly gained attention and notoriety for being an African American punk band, and dishing out what many people believed to be the hardest, fastest, meanest brand of hardcore they’d ever heard.

Rock for Light (1983). Arguably their finest effort.

Meanwhile, the group branched out into reggae, jazz, and heavy metal. Following 1983’s Rock for Light (produced by Ric Ocasek), the band broke up only to reunite in 1986. They released two more records, I Against I and Quicksand, and split again. The original line-up has reformed and split several times since 1995, with their last recorded effort being 2007’s Build a Nation.

Good news for fans of Bad Brains – they’re back. In March 2011, it was reported that Bad Brains had begun work on new material for their follow-up to Build a Nation. The new album, (tentatively titled) Into the Future will be released on November 20, 2012.

The following photo has been floating around the Internet for several months to several years (depending upon who you ask), and appears to show H.R. and Brooke Shields sitting together on a couch, with Shields leaning over and lighting a bowl. On September 28, Gawker published the photo and waited for the inevitable. A spokesperson for Shields quickly denied that it’s her. But Bad Brains’ management issued a statement claiming that the photo indeed shows H.R. and Shields getting high together in 1983.

You can form your own opinion on its authenticity but if it really is Brooke Shields, she just got about 10,000 times cooler. Meanwhile, here’s a one-minute trailer for Bad Brains: Band in D.C..

Class dismissed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Petrology 101: Red Fang

Welcome to Petrology 101, the study of all things rock with Professor Noel Bancredi. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Noel Bancredi is a pseudonym for Christian Adams. Don’t ask.]

Today’s session features a band hailing from Portland, OR, which goes by the name of Red Fang. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Or seen one of their genius videos on YouTube?

According to Wikipedia, Red Fang is classified as “stoner rock” and while they definitely have some Kyuss and Sleep influence, the tag is misleading. Professor Bancredi is of the impression that these cats have a bit more on the ball than the average bongloader. There are two indisputable truths about Red Fang. (1) They rock really fucking hard and (2) they have a great sense of humor.

What you need to know about Red Fang for the final exam can be found on their website. However, while we’re here, let’s watch a couple of their videos. Take notes if you wish.

Special thanks to Craig Stevenson at Club 141 for turning BSM on to this band.

Noel Bancredi’s Kudos and Brickbats

Noel Bancredi here, and I’m quite chuffed to present my inaugural contribution to Black Sunshine Media and the debut of my on-going feature, Noel Bancredi’s Kudos and Brickbats, which as the title may suggest, might as well be called Noel Bancredi’s A Pat on the Back or a Punch in the Balls – were it not flat-out rejected by the Grand Sultanate and my good chum, Geoffrey Rommel Jr.

Alas, poor Yorick! Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Kudos

Forty years old and still high as a kite.

To Black Sabbath on the 40th anniversary of the release of what is arguably their finest moment on vinyl, the incomparable Volume 4, and on a recursive loop here at BSM HQ.

Among Sabbath devotees, the album is often referred to as Snowblind (the actual original title) or The Cocaine Album, due to its obvious inferences. As bassist Geezer Butler told Guitar World in 2001: “Yeah, the cocaine had set in. We went out to L.A. and got into a totally different lifestyle. Half the budget went on the coke and the other half went to seeing how long we could stay in the studio… We rented a house in Bel-Air and the debauchery up there was just unbelievable.” In the same interview, drummer Bill Ward said: “Volume 4 is a great album, but listening to it now, I can see it as a turning point for me, where the alcohol and drugs stopped being fun.” In June 2000, Q Magazine placed Vol. 4 at number 60 in its list of The 100 Greatest British Albums Everand described the album as “the sound of drug-taking, beer-guzzling hooligans from Britain’s oft-pilloried cultural armpit let loose in L.A.”

Track list

  1. Wheels of Confusion/The Straightener
  2. Tomorrow’s Dream
  3. Changes
  4. FX (instrumental)
  5. Supernaut
  6. Snowblind
  7. Cornucopia
  8. Laguna Sunrise
  9. St. Vitus Dance
  10. Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes

Needless to say, no record collection is complete without Volume 4.

More Kudos and Brickbats