Archive | November 2013

Together, the Parts Make a Giant: The Advent of GG

Let’s all prog our knee-high argyle socks right off to this mixtape I did a long time ago, featuring the only band ever to make François Rabelais into a rock star. Who else could have you singing along to the epic mythologies of Gargantua? Who else would dare announce these words on an album sleeve as a band manifesto, even in 1970? 

“Acquiring the taste is the second phase of sensory pleasure. If you’ve gorged yourself on our first album, then relish the finer flavours (we hope) of this, our second offering. It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought – that it should be unique, adventurous, and fascinating. It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge to achieve this. From the outset we have abandoned all preconceived thoughts on blatant commercialism. Instead we hope to give you something far more substantial and fulfilling. All you need to do is sit back, and acquire the taste.”
You hear that? Don’t push us or we’ll start setting R.D. Laing books to contrapuntal four-part harmony and bringing several varieties of cello onstage with us. As for me, I always liked the GG period when Phil Shulman was there; I think the horns make for a warmer vibe when it comes to these guys. I admire their later albums, I just think they sound so cold and technical without the jazzier, freer element the reeds and such brought. Anyway, this CD contains two totally unique edits by me, one of which may be the most difficult and time-consuming one I’ve ever attempted. Where did that drum solo in the middle of “Nothing At All” go, anyways?
Gentle Giant
together, the parts make a Giant
the Vertigo Years, vol.1
01 Plain Truth
02 Giant
03 Funny Ways
04 The Advent of Panurge
05 Working All Day
 06 Nothing At All (EN single edit)
07 Alucard (EN instrumental edit)
08 Pantagruel’s Nativity
09 Knots
10 Wreck
11 Mister Class And Quality
12 Three Friends
13 The Moon Is Down
14 Isn’t It Quiet and Cold
15 Black Cat
16 River
Total time: 1:18:37
Gentle Giant, 1970-72:
Phil Shulman: vocals, clarinet, saxophones, trumpet
Derek Shulman: vocals, saxophone, recorder
Ray Shulman: bass, violin, trumpet, recorder, vocals
Kerry Minnear: keyboards, vibraphone, cello, recorder, vocals
Gary Green: guitars, recorder, vocals
Martin Smith: drums (1970-71)
Malcolm Mortimore: drums (1971-72)
John Weathers: drums, percussion, vibraphone, vocals (1972)
Little known fun fact: Derek Shulman became an A&R representative for various labels after Gentle Giant ended in 1980, and went on to sign bands such as Tears for Fears, Bon Jovi, Pantera and Dream Theater to their very first major deals.
enjoy and don’t hurt yourselves progging! –J.

Before Nastiness and Uncertainty: TMO in the USA, 1972-73

What do you say sitting here listening to these concerts? These guys weren’t, at the time of these recordings, considered by many to be the Greatest Band In the World for no reason. They didn’t just “fuse” jazz and rock or whatever the generality is thought to be; they made a molecular integration of the most vital aspects of both and Music in general and Fusion in particular were never the same after their advent. TMO pioneered an almost religious/devotional/ecstatic territory of aural assault, something essential of which still survives and that bands and artists still strive to capture today. To say that this music burns with the white hot intensity of ten million suns would be like intimating that ol’ Joshy Bones here is a man given to occasionally passionate hyperbole. And that’s no exaggeration, my friends  :-&
In another in a series of 43 gajillion instances where the oxymoronic “music industry” — and let’s face it, it’s effectively concerned with neither music or ethical industry, only profit with minimal effort or attention to the Great Art it is in large part mindlessly butchering — has in one way or another dropped the ball on its bloated, clay feet in however many decades of rampant abuse of artists and musicians, the first of these shows (and likely other TMO concerts of the era) were recorded by Columbia themselves. Using a 16-track mobile studio truck and everything. This, to accumulate material for a proposed official live album… but for a whole 18 months nothing ever became of the idea until they issued “Between Nothingness and Eternity” (recorded in NYC’s Central Park in August 1973) and by then, the original version of Mahavishnu was weeks from splitting up in not-the-friendliest (i.e., a pretty darn acrimonious) manner.

classic Jan Hammer (2nd from left) Stinkeye of Doom, circa late 1973. John McLaughlin (in the middle, but Jan’s pissed because J-Mac is likewise in the center) is the recipient.
The story goes that Columbia was seriously considering issuing the Cleveland concert (which became, as sourced from a comparatively crappy DAT with swishy issues in the high end, known as the bootleg CD “Wild Strings”) in the 1990s, but were only offering the five band members scale wages (a whopping $250 each!!!!!) for the rights to issue it. Needless to say, the insult outweighed the injury until you start to consider just how balls-out b-l-a-z-i-n-g the music in this entire little Maha “Bootleg Box” really is, and how we’d all sell our internal organs for officially mastered and issued permutations of any of it. But sadly that ended that for the official release of the Cleveland set forever. I doubt there will ever be an official live TMO box set comprising recordings made during this period by Columbia, but at least we can hear what’s here, even if it’s just a tantalizing tidbit or two that have leaked out over the years.
an ad from 1973
None of this really and truly matters, because this set as a whole is definitely not that far below official-issue quality, considering at least one of these gigs was professionally recorded and it and several others may at one time and in some configuration have been under consideration for proper release anyway. The Northern California portion was stunningly and quite professionally recorded by a large local radio station, so it is indistinguishable from an official release in most of the significant ways. The third segment, not noticeably much below the sonic standard of the first two, is made up of pre-FM & soundboard-feed mixes, chosen by me, from various northeast US shows in January-July of 1973. The Cleveland segment of the set — which had erroneously circulated for years as being from Case Western University in Ohio in the Spring of 1972, until it was discovered the Orchestra never played there until 1973 and the wheres and whens were cleared up — is mine and the legendary Professor Goody’s 2008 remaster of what sounds like a first generation DAT of the mix Gregg Bendian made in 1998 for Columbia of the concert, which leaked out with clipping issues in the kick drum that I managed to scrub away with Sound Forge 7 back a few years ago. In addition, somehow the original transfer to the DAT had been slightly slow and the good Prof. G (a true chiropractor of sound) put it back into exact alignment, as he is deservedly renowned for doing.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra
Vital Transformation: live in the USA, 1972-73

Music Hall
Cleveland, OH
EN/goody remaster

 01 introduction
02 Meeting of the Spirits
03 You Know You Know
04 The Dance of Maya
05 The Noonward Race

mobile feed recording
Total time: 1:00:17

Berkeley Community Theater
Berkeley, CA
tom phillips remaster, v.2

01 Birds of Fire
02 Miles Beyond 
03 You Know, You Know
04 Dream
01 One Word
02 The Dance of Maya
03 Sanctuary
04 A Lotus on Irish Streams
05 Vital Transformation

master pre-FM KPFA reels
Total time: 2:05:42

NY+NE 1973
various locations
New York & New England, USA
early 1973

01 Hope/Celestial Terrestrial Commuters (Century Theater, Buffalo NY 1.27.73)
02 Dawn (Century Theater, Buffalo NY 1.27.73)
03 Trilogy (Yale University, New Haven CT 1.19.73)
04 Awakening (Orpheum Theater, Boston MA 3.11.73)
05 Steppings Tones>Sister Andrea (Music Inn, Lenox MA 7.21.73)

SBD+broadcast mixes
Total time: 1:16:32

(whole thing is in FLAC format)

The Mahavishnu Orchestra:
 John McLaughlin – guitar
Jan Hammer – keyboards
Jerry Goodman – violin
Rick Laird – bass
Billy Cobham – drums
Did I fail to mention that the Berkeley show presented here, so meticulously and fantastically remastered from the original KPFA-FM radio pre-broadcast reels (digital transfers of them anyhow) by my old friend Tom Phillips, happened 41 years ago last week and not even three miles from where I type this? In an even more appropriate symmetry, TMO played the same venue exactly 40 years ago today, on November 16, 1973, but sadly no recording is thought to exist of that event, and certainly not one to rival the high-quality sonics of the previous year’s show presented here. So here we are with one (slightly belated but still consummately Orchestrated) anniversary to be celebrated, and another that marks an even four decades of passing time nearly to the moment. Either way, I trust you’ll enjoy this fire-forged and famously formative foray into the feistiest Fusion and will join me in a fabulous feast for your ears 🙂

What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are? Zappa/Mothers, Fillmore East, 11/13-14/1970

Fans of the “Flo & Eddie” version of the Mothers will enjoy this anniversary special, with most of it recorded 43 years ago today. It’s one of those Fillmore East soundboard feed master reels recorded from the area underneath the stage… there’s a bunch of them and this is part of that extended family. Grace Slick from the Jefferson Airplane is actually goaded onstage to participate in the debauchery at the start of the second set.

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Fillmore East
New York, NY
13 November 1970

Late Show

01. Kip Cohen Intro>Have Gun Will Travel
02. Call Any Vegetable
03. Sanzini Brothers
04. Does This Kind of Life Look Interesting to You?
05. Pound For a Brown
06. Sleeping in a Jar (instrumental)
07. El Porko the Magnificent
08. Sharleena
09. The Air
10. Dog Breath
11. Mother People
12. You Didn’t Try to Call Me
13. King Kong

Total time: 45:33

14 November 1970
Early Show

 01. Jam to get Grace Slick onstage

02. Sanzini Brothers
03. Little House I Used To Live In
04. Penis Dimension
05. Mudshark
06. Holiday In Berlin (including Inca Roads and Easy Meat themes)
07. Cruising For Burgers
08. Sanzini Brothers’ Pyramid Trick
09. What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening?
10. What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are?
11. Bwana Dik
12. Latex Solar Beef
13. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy
14. Do You Like My New Car?
15. Happy Together
16. Wino Man (Dr. John Routine)
17. Concentration Moon
18. Sanzini Brothers’ School Of Broadcast
19. Jeff Simmons’ Bass Solo
20. Concentration Moon
21. Mom And Dad
22. Encore Jam

Total time: 1:12:32
SBD master reels

 The Mothers:
FZ—guitar, vocals 
Howard Kaylan—vocals 
Mark Volman—vocals 
George Duke—keyboards, trombone 
Ian Underwood—keyboards, alto sax 
Jeff Simmons—bass, vocals 
Aynsley Dunbar—drums

Enjoy some Mothers’ Day fun in November, I insist. And a Happy Birthday to this FZ/MOI ode to the glory days of vaudeville… in an alternate dimension where vaudeville had WAY more references to genitalia and hotel rooms, and what happens when they meet.
— Josh

One World: John Martyn, Inside Out

may you never lay your head down

without a hand to hold
All of us — if we’re human beings and not superficial ciphers just passing through this plane in avoidance of anything lasting or real — have music that is special to us. This is the stuff that speaks directly behind the mask to help substantiate who we’ve been, who we are, and who we’ll be. Everyone’s is different and provides windows into specific emotional states that run the gamut of expression for each of us inside ourselves as we look out from within at the world we inhabit externally. There are times in our lives — times of great intensity, good and bad — in which we call upon the inner jukebox with which humans come factory-ready to turn up these sounds and let them wash over and through us once again, if only to mediate unfamiliar and often terrifying experience with a template we know we can count on to smooth our edges and that gives us a friendly, warming context in which to put an often cold, confusing and distant world. Whether it’s the most mind-squashing 119-decibel heavy metal or the most lilting and passionate Chopin Étude doesn’t matter… that we feel as we do when it plays does.
Everybody, I’d imagine — or most people anyway, the Koch Brothers notwithstanding — has this mechanism in them and yours truly here is no exception whatsoever. Even though I only found this man late in his life (he passed, sadly, in 2009), the places his music takes me and the riveting, totally honest expressions found therein have sustained me in some dark, dark moments indeed. Of all the songwriters I have ever heard (hint: I’ve heard a few), this is the guy that does it for me time and again, for whatever reason. It sounds foolish and juvenile but without his songs I don’t know that I’d have made it this far… he has meant and will always mean that much to me… perhaps more as I get older and the truths on display in his words only gain more resonance.

bless the weather that brought you to me
curse the storm that takes you away
So when Island issued the inevitable exhaustive career-spanning tremendo-box last month (John Martyn “The Island Years” — 17 CDs, a DVD and a big book… surprised they didn’t include a lock of the guy’s hair), claiming to be his complete output for Chris Blackwell’s infamous label, my eyeballs essentially exploded. Of course, the thing isn’t the complete Island works — these things almost never are and if they wanted such a thing, they should have looked harder! — but it’s a damn fine representation of exactly who this most extraordinary man was. As I always like to do, I delved into the archives and pulled out a disc’s worth of stuff the compilers of the set left off… just to make things a bit more complete. In true sun-in-Scorpio fashion, I also added a disc’s worth of highlights of the box set… I hope the ongoing Mercury Retrograde didn’t make me forget anything essential, but when you’re smushed on painkillers after extensive oral surgery and still way less than 100%, it’ll all just have to do.

John Martyn
Ways to Cry
FLAC format

CD1: Would You Believe Me?
highlights from “The Island Years” box, 1967-77

01 Go Out And Get It
02 Don’t Want To Know
03 Parcels
04 Root Love
05 Solid Air
06 Fly On Home
07 Anna
08 Ain’t No Saint
09 Dreams By The Sea
10 Back Down The River
11 Over The Hill
12 John The Baptist
13 Dancing (Alternate take #2)
14 Ways To Cry
15 Woodstock
16 Go Down Easy
17 Stormbringer!
18 Give Us A Ring
19 London Conversation
20 Smiling Stranger (UK album mix)
21 Singin’ In The Rain
22 The Man In The Station
23 Would You Believe Me?

Total time: 1:18:42

CD2: Certain Surprise
(live & outtakes, 1971-78)

01 Certain Surprise (live Regents Park, summer 1978)
02 Couldn’t Love You More (live Regents Park, summer 1978)
03 One World (live Regents Park, summer 1978)
04 Dealer (live Regents Park, summer 1978)
05 Small Hours (live Regents Park, summer 1978)
06 One Day Without You (live Germany 1978)
07 Big Muff (live Germany 1978)
08 Black Man At Your Shoulder (original mix 1977)
 09 Ellie Rhee (original take 1975)
10 You Can Discover (BBC 1975)
11 Spencer The Rover (BBC 1975)
12 Head And Heart (1971 band version – EN edit)
13 Bless The Weather (BBC 1971)
14 I’d Rather Be The Devil (live version 1975)
15 In The Evening (Solid Air outtake 1973)
16 Eibhli Ghail Chiuin Ni Chearbhail (BBC 1973)
17 May You Never (single version 1972)

Total time: 1:19:22

there’s one more circle I’m dying to try
there’s a place in my head that’s asking “Why?”
there’s a piece of my heart that’s trying to blind me
there’s a baby in that woman that’s waiting to cry
but it’s all right
we’re catching the next train home
I hope this post causes you to make a full investigation into the music of Sir John, and you’ll take what I have supplied here as a taster for the man’s broader output over a 40+ year career of legendary musicking. I hope it moves you like it’s moved me, too. At any rate, light one up, put Johnny Too Bad here on the box and see what you think… or to put it more saliently, sense what you feel. 

Enjoy 🙂  -Josh

Easy Cuz Yer Beautiful: Minnie Riperton (11.8.1947-7.12.1979)

Since I am doped up on painkillers from extensive dental work, I will keep this short and as coherent as possible. Today would have been the 66th birthday of the magnificent vocalist Minnie Riperton, born Nov. 8, 1947. In honor of this occasion and for anyone that has never heard her do her multiple-octave thing, here is a pretty good introduction I made a while back, encompassing her albums with the legendary psychedelic soul ensemble Rotary Connection as well as tracks from her first solo LP, released in 1971 while she was still in the band:
If I Sing My Song
Minnie Riperton & Rotary Connection

01 Amen
02 Expecting
03 I Am the Black Gold of the Sun
 04 Tales of Brave Ulysses
05 Les Fleur
06 Respect
07 Turn Me On
08 May Our Amens Be True
09 The Burning of the Midnight Lamp
10 Amuse
11 Lady Jane
12 Last Call for Peace
13 Love Has Fallen On Me
14 Living Alone
15 Vine of Happiness
16 I Took a Ride (Caravan)
17 If I Sing My Song
18 Life Could
19 We’re Going Wrong
20 Want You to Know

Total time: 1:18:57
FLAC format
So if anyone thinks “Lovin’ You” is the extent of what this wonderful lady accomplished in the musical realm — and yes, she is also the mother of SNL comedian Maya Rudolph! — have another guess, starting with the CD I posted above. Although Minnie is gone many, many years (she died in 1979), while she was here she made sounds in which people will be reveling thousands of years from this moment.
 Happy Birthday, Minnie Riperton!!!!

Happy Halloween! from The Prince of Darkness

I was talking today to my buddy JT in Texas… a more sage soul there ne’er was. We touched on subjects ranging from consciousness recalibration (from 4th to 5th density) to Arthur Garfunkel informing my stunned parents in a record room of a department store in 1973 that their son clearly loves music, so that must mean they are great parents (he was right, they were!). 

Anyway I told him (JT, not Artie!) today’s post was gonna be dedicated to him, so here it is. It’s coming up on the 1st of November here, so I have pulled out this facemelter of a DVD containing a Miles Davis electric set, recorded for WDR-TV in (then West) Germany exactly 40 years ago on 11/1/1973. This is a recent digital rebroadcast from German TV, so the picture & sound quality are extra clean and pristine, just like it oughta be. Just be aware that although the tag at the beginning says 1972, this is indeed from 1973:

 Miles Davis Septet
Berliner Jazztage
Berlin, W. Germany
 1 November 1973 
digital rebroadcast, WDR-TV
PAL format DVD
Miles Davis   trumpet, electronics, organ
Dave Liebman   saxophones & flute
Pete Cosey  guitar, percussion
Reggie Lucas  guitar
Michael Henderson  bass
Al Foster  drums
James ‘Mtume’ Foreman   percussion

01 Turnaroundphrase [Moja/Nne]
02 Tune in 5
03 Ife
04 Unknown in G 

05 Tune in 5 (reprise)

total time: 46:22

You can burn this to a playable region-free DVD, or you can watch it on your computer device of choice via the stellar VLC Media Player, available as freeware on an Internet near you. Just don’t get spooked by the primal, corrosive funk on display as Miles steers his ensemble through some vintage “electric period” shenanigans… watch out especially for guitar legend Pete Cosey tearing holes through the studio ceiling with what he’s churning out.  Enjoy and Happy Halloween 😀           –Joshy Boo