Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm afraid the shining sun might burn and scorch his beauty

STEELEYE SPAN "The Blacksmith"

Of the two versions that Steeleye Span recorded of this traditional British Isles tune, this sparse and weird take is my favorite by far. It's probably most easily found on that Early Years CD, though the entire original LP it's on, Please to See the King, is a delight throughout. It's very unfunky, but that doesn't mean it's not great.

No, I didn't forget about this place, this blog, and thanks a ton to those who wrote inquiring what the fuck. I just had to leave it be for awhile, as I worked on the new YETI (looking great by the way), and yeah, it pretty much took me as long to finish my book on Loveless as it did for the band to record it. And no, I didn't get nearly as much money as they did for the actual thing!

As you've undoubtedly heard, the EMP Pop Conference was most excellent this year despite the lack of too many academic and/ or international peeps; my presentation on ELO went over far better than I thought it would. "Papers" by Drew Daniel, Peter Doyle, Douglas Wolk and RJ Smith were among the highlights, though I missed half of the conference for various reasons (mostly, last-minute writing my paper)...

Seattle's loss is L.A.'s gain, but I do hope that Eric and Ann can keep the conference going, and if possible at the EMP (assuming it doesn't next get turned into a food court after the "sci fi museum" fails to lift lagging attendance). Xgau is totally right in saying it's the best thing to have happened to music criticism in years (together with this here Internet, I'd add, if I may be a Master of the Obvious--which I may.)

I am thinking of starting a monthly review 'zine along the lines of the lamented Sound Collector Audio Review: newsprint, cheap (like, $2-$3, or free?), mostly music-based but also books and other stuff, long form essay-friendly, with an aim to pay people pretty well though to start out that may not be possible. Kind of YETI meets Bookforum, I guess. Several people I brought it up to last weekend seemed interested, which is encouraging.

At the conference, the writer Elijah Wald, whose Dave Van Ronk book is kind of awesome --and who just MIGHT be able to hook me up with an unreleased Jospeh Spence track for the next YETI CD!!!-- had really good points about the next book I'm writing, a YETI guidebook for what I've always just called "gospel blues," which will also encompass what's traditionally been called "sanctified blues." He cautioned that in the gospel community that term, "blues," is def. frowned upon, and countered with the idea of calling it something like "outsider gospel" and broadening it to include shout trombone bands, sacred steel music and the like. Now, Luther Magby fits in better perhaps with a term aside from "blues," as it's not that bluesy, and yeah I love trombone gospel bands and the sacred steel stuff as well as its roots in Wille Eason and the like. But I personally have issues with the way the term "outsider art" has travelled so far from when the great critic Roger Cardinal first coined it in the late '60s/ early '70s, as an English language approximation for Dubuffet's "art brut." And I spent a lot of time in the late '80s/ early '90s arguing with Randall Morris (in my very brief tenure as US editor for Raw Vision) as to whether a thing such as "outsider music" exists -- this being of course before Irwin Chusid decided that yes indeed, it does.

Sooooo, my point here is: what to call this amazing stuff? Raw, bluesy, gospel; gospel songs recorded by blues musicians; Blind Willie Johnson; Sister Ola Ma Terrel; Rev. Charlie Jackson; Fahey's American Primitive V. 1 comp; Wash Phillipps--what is it, if not gospel blues? Should I not worry about possibly offending the gospel community? Is there an audience for this stuff outside of folks who are not at all offended by the word "blues" anyway, who're more likely to shie away from "gospel" -- are those the people it would be trying to reach??? Would love feedback on this, even/ esp. if you have no fucking clue what you're talking about (it's never stopped me before).


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