Friday, December 31, 2004

Should old acquaintance blah blah blah

Download: TRAD GRAS OCH STENAR “Light of Your Day” (live, full)

Happy New Year and stuff. Here’s a song that was edited for length in order to cram as much as possible onto the YETI #1 CD –- here ‘tis in its unedited, un-EQ’ed/ un-mastered rawness. It is a previously unreleased and rather intense live number from 1971 by the great Swedish folk-prog-rock-trance act Träd Gräs och Stenar (which translates as Trees, Grass & Stones so you know on which side of the hippie divide they sat), who (nicely, coincidentally) not long after their appearance in YETI had their old LPs all reissued very excellently and then toured and recorded new material to well-deserved acclaim. I still don’t have many of the reissues myself, preferring to listen to the burned CDs of Harvester, Int’l Harvester and TGOS records that their drummer made from the vinyl itself for me. I'm a sentimental sucker. I'm also not rich, and import CDs can just kill you (so if anyone wants to buy me this for late x-mas that would rule; my Soulseek copy is not cutting it and yes I'd prefer the vinyl)!

But New Years -- this day has always seemed so arbitrary to me, and just a poor excuse for people to get fucked up and drive around killing up folks (one of my favorite ever people lost her Mom on this day to a drunk driver and my nuclear family was in a really bad wreck with a high and drunk dude one New Years Day in the early ‘80s). But, as Hallmark-y and clichéd as it is, it’s always hard for me not to use this as a chance to reflect on things, which is never bad anyway, and I kind of can’t wait for ’05.

2004 really sucked, with YETI 3 still somehow not out yet, gnarly health/ financial problems (pretty OK now, don’t worry), I couldn't get it together to date anyone for more than a month at a time or to find anyone cool who didn't live in another country (yessss, I have issues), and of course the election and a series of dreadful events that just seem to be the start of the apocalypse on a general, what do you call it, global, level. But when I step back, I realize hey, I did curate two art shows that were pretty successful (especially this one), I got a few really good solid writing gigs (the success of digital downloads led to a second wave of ecommerce content with music -- i.e., thank God for eMusic), I’m in a city that I love very much right now, I had two cover stories in the Seattle Weekly (thanks Matos – I was particularly glad to say everything I wanted to in the Sun City Girls thing) and many groovy events are about to transpire on the “professional” front. All I need is continued discipline and to just not be afraid of shit so much.

So, I’m sorry for slipping into such maudlin first person – this is not supposed to be another boring personal egoblog, it’s supposed to be about the songs, the music, and with very minimal rockcrit bleating or ridiculously link-heavy 'graphs or sky-is-falling-woe-is-me’ing or gee-look-at-all-my-lists-of-stuff’ing!!! Okay. I'll try to do that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

No more money, find it in the street

Download: CHARLIE PICKETT & THE EGGS "Trash Fever"
Download: CHARLIE PICKETT & THE EGGS "Shake Some Action"

This Saturday, I hope to celebrate ten years' clean and sober. That kind of freaks me out, in a good way. Today I was listening (with very little nostalgia) to dour junkie lament tunes such as "Dead Flowers" and "Slow Death" (and of course Nikki Sudden and the Jacobites.)

Among my favorite loser dope tunes is this "Trash Fever" ditty from the amazing Cowboy Junkie A Go Go EP on Open Records in 1984. Charlie Pickett would have been a total star in the early '80s if he'd not have been in South Florida. They might have easily outgunned the Gun Club in their day. (Shit, did I really just write that sentence? Might as well apply to be the "entertainment critic" for a local newspaper now, as it appears I've already had a lobotomy!)

But whatever, now Charlie's a lawyer and I hear tell he's happy. I never knew him well but he's clearly a super great guy. There was this one Charlie Pickett show I saw with The Eat doing an unoffical reunion show as openers in 1985 or so at Flynn's on Miami Beach -- fuck! Even as a 17 year old who'd never even heard The Eat before, I could tell this was something amazing, and it was one of those shows where the opener's so great and the headliner totally rises to the occasion -- I do not think I ever saw the Eggs so on fire as that night, either. Of course, I was probably on some of that acid I used to get from the singer for Broken Talent, too... Live, CP & the Eggs were very straight ahead but just brilliant, which is why I've also included one of several Flamin' Groovies covers they used to do, from the Live at the Button LP (Open Records, 1982), which I adore so very much.

PS: Amazon's now collected many millions for tsunami disaster relief. They make it very easy to give, too.

Monday, December 27, 2004

...And then again, I like to steal off all alone

Download: SOUL STIRRERS "Nearer To Thee (live)"

Hey. I am at my sister's house, outside SF. Have seen a few friends, hung out with family a lot, and just had a great little x-mas vacation. Hope you are swell and had a groovy one yourself and stuff. The sculptures I made for people (the first I'd made in 15 years) went over really well; I'm encouraged to do more... So, I am posting this tune which is not exactly "rare," but because it's my favorite song of 2004 that was not released in 2004. You dig?

The tune comes from the expanded CD version of the mindfuckinglyintense Great 1955 Shrine Concert, which was recorded on July 22, 1955, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles with their "First Annual Mid-Summer Festival of Gospel Music" and you can purchase it here or pay to download here. To quote myself from the eMusic review because I'm lazy from eating too much amazing food for two days straight, this time capsule from the tail-end of gospel's "golden age" showcases the phenomenal diversity and house-rocking power of the era with five of classic gospel's best-known artists (Pilgrim Travelers, Caravans, Brother Joe May, Soul Stirrers and the Original Gospel Harmonettes), plus the more obscure singers Ethel Davenport and Annette May.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

X Mas Mess

Download: Mike's Christmas Mix CD for 2004

Made this mix by mashing together (as opposed to mashing up -- sheesh what do you think this is, 2002?) sixty tracks, everything edited pretty tightly, segueing into another which is why this is one looooong-ass file rahter than sixty separate ones. Take the time to download; I think you'll like! It's 79:56 and should just barely squeeze onto an 80 minute disc.

The easily print-out-able cover, with snazzy "rock graphics," plus title and artist information for each bit, is here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

It's not very far away

Download: ERNEST FRANKLIN "I'm Going To Have A Merry Christmas"

The unwritten rule of gospel soul Christmas tunes is that they begin with the sound of holiday bells. Which reminds me -- I totally cleared a room of hipsters last week by mixing Christmas bells with Steve Miller's "The Joker." It was embarassing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

To let all violence cease

Download: VIOLINAIRES "Remember What Day This Is"

As I understand it, after influencing the sound and substance of soul music so deeply in the '50s and '60s, much gospel was then itself influenced by soul in the late '60s and early '70s. The "gospel soul" era is still maligned by purists, but I love a lot of it. This track might lyrically fall under the fundamentalist anti-Santa type P.O.V. that cats like Garrison Keillor like to reminisce about every year, but it does so just slightly. Most importantly, it's a nifty little song that makes some not-so-hidden pleas for peace that were as valid in the Vietnam era as, unfortunately, they are today.

Best song title ever?

Download: ERNEST ROBSON "17 noises in the testicles of an old giant"

This is borrowed from the best way to waste time on the internet since God created pornography (scratch that it was the Victorians who created porn -- but God bless 'em for it!), UBUWEB. This thing is from 1980 and it's from some sort of groovy fluxus series of 7"s on Polypoetry Records.

Bring a kiss up to my lips

Download: MY BLOODY VALENTINE "Sugar (flexi-disk)"

A moment of silence for the flexi, please -- no one makes 'em anymore! I always sort of hated them and this is why I released 7" singles with my own 'zine, but I have lots of cool stuff only available on this very impermanent medium. This is strangely one of very few items that survived my hardcore junkie period -- my landlord saved it for me even though I owed him a ton of $ at the time (felt so good to pay him back, though it took a few years!).

This fine little ditty appears on a French promo only CD, as well as this flexi which was given away with Catalogue magazine ca. 1989. I think I bought it while working at See Hear, when it came out. I ADORE the strange percolating percussion going on underneath this song. More about it appears in my not-yet-finished-but-it-will-be-sooon book on MBV's Loveless.

Deep in Georgia mud

Download: GRIFTERS "Corolla Hoist (7" version)"

Here's the 7" version of a rad little tune by one of the top five rock and roll bands of the 1990s. (Sorry, sound quality sort of sucks.) Wait, who were the other four, you ask? Sheesh, well for tonight at least they were Red Red Meat, Kicking Giant, Versus & Guided By Voices. But tomorrowTortoise, Stereolab, Spoon and RR Jerk might leap into that list. It's arbitrary. And dumb. List-making is among my more ridiculous habits. I should really see a hypnotist to stop this filthy habit! PS: though Loveless came out in 1990, My Bloody Valentine are NOT a '90s band, sorry. PPS: Am I one of like five people who cares about the Grifters anymore, or what? Maybe less than five?

Voices In Profusion

Download: FAINE JADE "Introspection"

I chanced upon a French Lp reissue of this '60s semi-obscurity in the early '80s; it's since been one of my favorite folk-psych records -- a tad dunderheaded but that's also part of its appeal knowmsayin'? This is pretty right on, FYI -- Ant Trip Ceremony rocks, by the way...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Was it January?

Download: SWAN SILVERTONES "When Was the Baby Born?"

Happy happy merry merry.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Runnin' from side to side

Download: RICHARD BROTHERS "Drunk Drivers Comin'"

This is from the Southpaw/ Tapper CD Country Blues Obscurities of a few years back, all rare, raw tracks from the '40s and '50s. This cautionary tale is not really "country blues," and neither is most of the material on the disc, but it's all good, strange small label stuff. The same folks also put out a swell comp. called City Jump Vs. Country Jump. Buy either of 'em immediately.

Listen to the end; they collect $$ for opening act Brother JT -- how rad is that?

Download: COMETS ON FIRE "Track 5 from the Bong Voyage LP"

This will take a few minutes to download as it's 16 1/2 minutes (the last two minutes are the needle and the runout groove getting to know each other -- I was packing OK?) long. It's the last track from one of two sanctioned "bootleg" COF albums from 2004 (the other being Live on WFMU). I chose this tune for the way it segues from Chasny's nimble fingerpicking to the squiggly noise squall to that heavy distorted rock and roll freakout jam that's like nothing else save High Rise on laudanum--but listen to it yourself! That's sort of the point. Quite a year this has been for Comets on Fire, what with Blue Cathedral being one of the best albums of 2004; maybe next year they'll get so big Modest Mouse will be opening for them at arenas around the world!

PS: Apparently they are not stoners, and the LP's title is a joke. Thanks to the band for letting me post this!

PPS: Did I ever tell you how much I despise Modest Mouse? I know this blog is not about hateration, and fratboys need to have concerts to go to just like anyone else, so I'll shut up now.

PPPS: Tonight I watched the movie ELF and I fucking CRIED during it, like cried as in I was moved to tears cried. I am a total and complete sap and I have the very worst taste in movies. Okay.

Friday, December 17, 2004

So much food left over, so much

Download: THE CHILLS "Christmas Chimes (Peel session)"

Like so much that Martin Phillipps did with the Chills, this song has such a timeless (don't say 'heavenly') pop hit quality, that it's inconceivable the Chills were never international stars twenty times bigger than, say, Tears For Fears. But, that's what happened, so maybe not entirely inconceivable. This is one of my favorite x-mas songs, and reminds me how much I miss Peelie as well.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

They're called the Andrews Sisters

Download: NEIL YOUNG "Wonderin'"

From the Carnegie Hall vinyl bootleg (can you tell I LOVE vinyl bootlegs?), a solo live recording from December 5, 1970. If it wasn't for boots and live tapes you might never know this song (not officially recorded until he did it with that strange one-off rockabilly band the Shocking Pinks in 1983) was at least 13 years old then, or that it started out as such a pretty, slight ditty straight off Sugar Mountain.

How to keep away

Download: VETIVER "Belles"

Seeing as YETI is taking forever and then forever again to see the light of day, I'm now officially psyched about this instant publishing thing. Like, I just AIMed my pal Andy of Vetiver and said 'send me a track sometime,' then he instantly sends an insanely gorgeous .mp3 to my gmail account, a full-band live on the air tune that I've already played a dozen times myself. And here it is just minutes after that! I am now officially living in the 1990s!! The future's, so bright, I'll have to wear shades.

Andy writes: This is from June 19 of this year, when we stopped by WMBR in Cambridge. Kevin Barker from Currituck County is playing second guitar. Thanks to the staff of WMBR for being great people and doing a great job of recording us! This might have been the first time Kevin had played this song w/ us.

PS: If anyone anywhere ever uses the word 'blogosphere' again, I am going to hunt them down and saw their nipples off. Thank you.

So weary, so weary

Download: MISSISSIPPI WANDERING TRAVELERS "I'm Gonna Move in the Room With The Lord"

About time I posted another moaning a capella number from the great Music from the South series, on Folkways ca. 1956. Lance from Dust to Digital wrote agreeing that that series totally needs to make it to CD, so hopefully DTD can do it one day -- they'd definitely do it RIGHT. I'm still blown away by how clean the 78s on Goodbye Babylon sound.

Like the rabbits running?

Download: DEAN WAREHAM & KRAMER "Final Day"

I'll get back to posting gospel songs soon, I promise.

Here we have a rough (Kramer's very likely never heard the Young Marble Giants) take on "Final Day." I love it, but perhaps that's just nostalgia. See, the other day I found a board cassette from an ill-fated Thursday night CBGB's show I put together around the rubric of my old 'zine Chemical Imbalance. Paleface, Elliott Sharp and Uncle Wiggly all played that night as well. It was fabulous, except that hardly anyone was there. Underground celebrities Julia Caffritz and Robert Frank were among the 9 paying folks. I paid $100 for this tape; it's good to see something come from it 15/ 16/ however many years later; I've never even played it for anyone I do not think.

You never listen to me anyway

Download: FEELIES "Crazy Rhythms"

Fabulous New Jersey goodness ca. 1980. Isn't this song featured prominently in After Hours? Or is that Smithereens? One of those kooky, Candide-in-lower-Manhattan flicks. This song, the title track to their debut LP, is a jump around the room in your pajamas number. It is posted here as it's come to my attention the CD for this puppy goes for $45-plus these days and the vinyl even more. Who's gonna reissue it? Dude, isn't Bar None still a label and isn't it still owned by Glenn Mercer? That's not as strange as the Screamers never having released a 7" even though one of the dudes co-owned Dangerhouse, but it's still kinda strange to me. Ach, what do I know from record labels???

As a highly manipulative 17 year-old, I convinced my parents to pay for a college trip to Boston in 1985, though unbeknownst to them the purpose of the trip was not to look at colleges. See, Chuck Warner had told me the Feelies were making a pretty rare appearance, having gotten back together a year or so prior, and so I snuck in. Throwing Muses opened; I bought their cassette tape and got a crush on all of the girls in that band at once. The Feelies played this here song for what seemed like half an hour that night. The pace sped up so fast toward the end I felt like I did the one time I got those "poppers" at the head shop. Dizzzzy.

'Cause I'm sittin' on top...


This is from a 7" produced by Luther Dickinson in 1995 and released by the coolest kids in Memphis about ten years ago on Sugar Ditch. It was the first time the then eighty-something fife & drum artist had had his own record out; he'd appeared on a few collections before, that's it. Damn, this sounds good.

They got it down

Download: BOBBY CHARLES "Street People"

Recorded in 1971, this is a delightful, laidback sort-of swamp-soul song that's lyrically what you could call a proto-crustie anthem. I just am in love with the production and playing on this song and the entire album it's from, Bobby Charles (Bearsville). If it sounds like THE BAND, those guys are all over the album (Dr. John too) and their same producer dude John Simon produced it. There is a Japanese CD reissue but I've never seen the thing; I found mine on slsk and am always in search of the vinyl. If anyone has recordings of the 'lost' Bobby Charles album from the '70s recorded even more fully with the Band peeps -- lay it on me now!!!!

Dark was the night...

Download: BLIND WILLE JOHNSON "Dark Was The Night Cold Was The Ground"

Mentioning Jack Rose in the Robbie Basho post reminded me of his adept cover of this song, wherein Johnson mimicks the sound of a preacher and congregation using slide guitar and voice, no words. It is a really tough tune to write about, simply because it's so perfect. Born around 1902 in Marlin, Texas, supposedly Johnson went blind as a child after his mother threw lye in his face. Johnson just might be the greatest blues singer, ever; no less an authority than Alan Love In Vain Greenberg agrees. And while some folks like to posit Texas as the birthplace for sanctified blues/ modern gospel, that honor has to rest with Dorsey since the dude crafted so much of the canon and tutored Mahalia. Dig?

Last year, when that big Scorsese-produced PBS special of films about the blues was on the telly, I was psyched to hear that Wim Wenders made one about this gospel blues singer. This is of course before I realized that this entire series was an utter, stinking turd. Wenders has always used music so excellently in his films, so I was really psyched to see what he'd do with Johnson, who I really know very little about. There was this scene where Willie goes from playing more typical juke joint tunes to singing spirituals and, in Wenders’ film, the audience gasps and freaks out. I contend this is utter bullshit, that the audience would not have reacted that way, and the attitudes reflected in that scene are mere unfounded projections. I have this vague idea that the gospel blues, obviously a new form in the ‘30s, was its own genre, rather than the "missing link" between the two forms that it's so often made out to be, and I'd say that it continued to be fairly vital at least on into the '60s (see Fred McDowell's Amazing Grace or the brilliant, brutal Rev. Louis Overstreet With His Sons And The Congregation Of St. Luke's Powerhouse Church Of God In Christ recording) if not today.

In fact, I need to write this out clearly and submit it to the EMP for their Pop Music conference thingie. OK.

One of our very favorite hippies, ever!

Download: ROBBIE BASHO "Babs"

Live six string acoustic recording by the great guitarist, off of Falconer's Arm Vol. 1 (Takoma, 1967). Pretty straight-forward, almost decorative tune, kind of a rag but there's a drifting formless piece in the center as well. Of course, even Basho's longest, most out-there works ("Blue Lotus"!) have a very composed feeling to them. The only people alive I can think of/ know of who do this type of playing justice are Ben Chasny, Jack Rose from Pelt, and of course Steffen Basho-Junghans. Richard Bishop can play like this when he wants to, also...

Basho was allegedly "killed by his chiropractor" in 1986. I've always found this a bit far-fetched, but hey, Keith Relf really did electrocute himself while playing guitar and Mama Cass really did die from choking on a sandwich, right? This song has never been reissued; hope you like. More unreleased Basho to come, so sit tight.

FYI: The mp3s being made available on this site are 99% of the time from very rare and/or out of print sources. If something is more easily available, as is the case with the Comets on Fire track from the "Bong" LP that I'm about to upload, I'll write and get permission from the copyright holder first. Any artists at all unhappy with my posting a song just leave a comment; it'll imediately be taken down.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

"Sweet Sister Ray"

Download: VELVET UNDERGROUND "Sweet Sister Ray"

In 1968, the Velvet Underground briefly played a lovely drone-y buildup to "Sister Ray" that's known as "Sweet Sister Ray." I initially heard of it as this totally different, crazier version of "Sister Ray"! So when I bought a double LP bootleg of it at Venus or Midnight or somewhere and got home, I was truthfully disappointed to just hear this long druggy feedback thing covering one of the LPs, with two definitely hot, but not too dissimilar, live versions of "Sister Ray" on the second LP.

Later, I put "Sweet Sister Ray" on and heard it for the awesome link between Cale's work with the Dream Syndicate and the Velvets that it is. Of late, I've been DJ'ing out with the LP plus an a capella album of prison songs mixed on top of it. I know that sounds unbearably pretentious, but it sounds excellent together like that, I swear.

The entire boot is reviewed on a Velvets site as follows: The other indispensable VU boot of recent years, this captures the band doing the long-rumored 40 minute hypnotic "Sweet Sister Ray" intro to "Sister Ray". It follows that with a great loud/soft "Ray" from Philadelphia in 1970, and bums the house down with the guitar amp "Sister Ray" from the Tea party 15 Jan. 1969. Sadly, the vinyl is all gone, but this tape carries all the punch. Sound : VG- to VG. It seems this has been included on several CD boots in the last few years, so I'm sure you can find it on Soulseek or the other usual places if you look.

The bit I've posted here is a pretty long file -- it's the entire second side of the first LP; it's about 16 minutes of "SSR" plus a few minutes of "Sister Ray," from the Cleveland La Cave gig on April 30 1968. I was not at the show, as I was three days old at the time -- plus I think it was a few more months until our family moved to Cleveland. My memory of that time period is less than clear.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Bent inside, you're twisted & unkind

Download: RAINY DAY "I'll Be Your Mirror"

WARNING: A tale of trying to make sense of boomer music in the early '80s follows (yawwwwn)

As a tweener, I was a super huge fan of '60s rock, across the board -- from the crappiest bands to the best. I'd been a fan since buying The White Album in fifth grade. I had so little of a sense of "taste" at the time; I thought you were just supposed to like all the '60s bands together, the way they were played on shows like "Psychedelic Sunday" on WSHE at the time. I don't think the term "classic rock" was in wide usage yet, but it was definitely already a dominant format in 1981.

I did dig some kinds of songs more than others; I realized I loved tunes that scared the crap out of me after maybe the hundredth time listening to "Helter Skelter" really loud. Every time Sabbath came on the radio, I'd scramble to tape record them, and the same was true for Iron Maiden though I never became like that huge a metalhead or anything. At the end of sixth grade, thanks to a strong recommendation in the 1978 book Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia, the only title about rock music at my local library, I got a dozen cassettes for a penny in the mail from the Record & Tape Club. One of those was The Velvet Underground & Nico, an album that just scared the shit out of me then.

I was 13 years old and instead of chasing girls at the mall, which if I were to be a kid over again is totally all I'd be doing, there I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my suburban Miami roomlet (as there were 4 kids and 3 bedrooms I occupied a very un-private room right at the teenaged time when I was first experimenting with lots of drugs and abusing myself every chance I got -- I apologize profusely to all memebrs of my family because I know at some point you were just trying to use the shortcut from the hallway to the kitchen and you saw me doing something godawfulorother but really, I shoulda been given a more private room!!!).

Anyway where was I? Ohh yeah, there I was sitting on the floor, forcing myself to listen to the song "Heroin" over and over again really loud on headphones because it was so incredibly nihilistic and decadent (I know, duh) yet so weirdly beautiful. This song felt like a message beamed from another universe, that maybe I wasn't supposed to have intercepted, this crazy sort-of-adult world. I felt just exhilerated by this song, and eventually the whole album, that I'd read about in this book from the library but no one else at my fancy private school listened to this music, and as far as I knew I was one of like twelve people who even knew about it.

Later I realized this is exactly the response I was supposed to have to this album, aside from the fact that, being tone deaf and inept, I did not start a band -- though I did occasionally read dreadful 'psychedelic' poetry on top of crude tape manipulations I'd made at shows and poetry readings! Krikey.

I probably should mention that I've thought a lot about my own particular attraction/ repulsion to this song and the fact that I'd tried dope by the time I was 18 and was a junkie in my early to mid 20s and think the two are basically unrelated OK. I do know that it's from album covers that I got interested in visual art, and again I was just interested in all of it from the dreadful scarrrry Uriah Heep mosters to Warhol's banana cover and I think that today a lot of my cultural obsessions steer me back towards wanting to have that same general interest, a lack of expertise -- there are so many damn experts in the world, blogging and writing and writing about blogging, and the weird thing is I usually learn so little form experts as they seem so often far more interested in ego advancements or arguing terminology rather than just trying to turn people on to cool shit or trying to learn about it themselves.

I'm not doling out any hateration here, I swear. But I always get turned on to more music from my musician friends rather than my music writer friends. The music writer friends and I tend primarily to discuss the relative worth of the same records we all got sent for free or downloaded for free if we've fallen off of some lists, whereas the musician pals, and I include DJs in with musicians, they tend to be listening more deeply, more historically -- their listening is less based on trends, publicists, and release dates. Ack, but I guess that's totally obvious and what does it have to do with anything?!

Yes. Back to the reminisce. A neighbor kindly lent me his copy of the 1983 release Not So Quiet on the Western Front, and I flipped out on that, especially the song about putting your head in the oven! (OK maybe I was sort of a maladjusted kid) Within a month, this whole other world had opened up and I soon saw Black Flag in their crucial Dez-and-Greg-both-playing-lead-guitar-at-the-same-time lineup. It was tough for me to reconcile the '60s obsession with my burgeoning love for punk rock, which seemed rather ideologically and musically opposed to my hippie tendencies/ interests. I earnestly read unreadable books like Be Here Now at the same time I was devouring very readable but very boring scene reports from other culturally isolated places in Maximum Rock 'N' Roll ("Man, our scene sucks!" they all semed to say in unison.)

For a year or two, I had almost no one to guide me, no one to explain where this '60s stuff fell into like a continuum, a cultural history, and to see that I could in fact dig '60s stuff as well as contemporary alt-type stuff. Then I made a slew of older music geek pals by hanging out at record stores. Finally, Bill Ashton at the record shop Yesterday & Today turned me on to all the bands in L.A. who had a semi-punk/ New Wave-ish take on the '60s.

I felt for the first time like I really understood and even was part of a contemporary genre or "scene" of music when local bands like The Chant and the Psycho Daisies started to do the same thing. Somehow, despite having the lamest fake ID in the history of crime, I started to go to shows and never got hassled. "The scene" was small enough I guess, and I looked big for my age and was always with people in their 20s and 30s, which strikes as rather odd now that I am 36 -- I don't have any 16 year old friends! Later, thanks to Bill and the N.M.E., I glommed onto all the early Creation singles, too. So, the '60s was a prism I viewed so much contemporary stuff through. I remembr being most psyched about the Jesus & Mary Chain because they had a B-Side that covered "Vegetable Man," and the same goes with Yo La Tengo, whose first single had a crazy take on "House Is Not A Motel" on the flipside.

About the song: OK, It's not that great. It has to be the easiest V.U. song to cover too, easier than "Pale Blue Eyes" even, which R.E.M. covered around this time. And yeah, the whole mope-ass Rainy Day album, released in 1984, is/ was a bit of a disappointment, but for me it was great as avalidation of the '60s revival, done by my favorite cats (I ADORED the Dream Syndicate and Rain Parade and had such a crush on the Bangs/ Bangles girls): Susanna Hoffs, Steven Roback, Matt Piucci, Kendra Smith, Dennis Duck, Will Glenn, Vicki Peterson, Karl Precoda, Michael Quercio, David Roback -- not to mention engineered by the late and great ETHAN JAMES -- so I still listen to it with rosey colored um, headphones. This album is long out of print, to the best of my knowledge.

Posting this song is a prelude to a sweet Velvet Underground rarity I'll get up here soon as well as one of Ethan James' excellent recordings of medieval Christmas music.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

God told Nicodemus

Download: STARLIGHT GOSPEL SINGERS "I Got A Right to the Tree of Life"

This song is taken from the 1955 Smithsonian LP Music From the South: Young Songsters. The Starlights were from Franklin County, Virginia. Dude, the entire Music From the South series really needs to be reissued on CD.

One Two Rip Off My Skiiiiin

Download: NERVOUS GENDER "People Like You"

This here little CODA anthem is taken from the 1981 Subterranean LP Music From Hell. I was at Kim's a few years ago with Brian Turner and he thrust a sealed copy of this album in my hands, saying "get this!" With most folks, I'd have politely declined, but we're talking Brian Turner here, so I obliged. (I think he also told me to get the first Wolf Eyes LP that day, the silkscreened cover one. )

Nervous Gender is the band everyone who's listened to The Screamers too much and wants something similar eventually discovers. They also hail from L.A., and while they're not as mind-bendingly rad as Tomata du Plenty and co., they're pretty fricking rad. The members on here are Gerardo Velazquez, Edward Stapleton, Phranc and Michael Ochoa. Paul Roessler of the Screamers (and DC3) was in the group for about a year.

A detailed, illustrated history of the band with lots of archival reviews and stuff is right here. And there's more about the group over here.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Ohh, when I put on my robe -- oh yes, oh yes

Download: CLARENCE CLAY & WILLIAM SCOTT "Wait Till I Put On My Robe"

This is for Mark, who emailed to say that the Magby song had him "grinning and tapping [his] toes like 10 min after listening to it." I predict this will have a similar effect. Pete Welding recorded these street singers in 1961 for Testament Records. Mine is obviously from the vinyl but you should totally get the CD. I could totally have every record on Testament (and THEN I'd be happy.) Wait, Amazon has used copies for less than $3.00. Hooray.

Anyway, these guys were blind street performers and I love this record. I listen to it just by flipping it over again and again. I don't know of any other accordion-based gospel music, though the music seems to adapt itself to the instrument perfectly (esp. their version of "In That Great Gettin' Up Morning.") This here song was pretty popular in the '20s and '30s I think -- certainly I've heard jubilee quartets as well as string bands do it.

I'd say more about them but my LP with its fancy liner notes is already packed in a box in the garage, sorry. Moving in December is the dumbest thing ever.

Some day there'll be dancing...

Download: GEORGE PERKINS AND THE SILVER STARS "Crying in the Streets Pt. 2"

George Perkins & The Silver Stars recorded only one single, "Crying in the Streets Pt. 1"/ "Crying in the Streets Pt. 2," on Silver Fox Records, 1970. You can find it pretty cheap if you look. My copy is pretty scratched-up; sorry. I first heard it ten years ago on the 1992 CD companion to Peter Guralnick's essential book Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom. It is among the most amazing gospell-y soul songs I've ever heard, and if I were to pretend to be an expert I'd say I consider it the great lost civil rights anthem.

Of course, the true soundtrack to the civil rights struggle was gospel, from the role of certain spirituals in the 19th century as code for slave breaks ("Wade In The Water") on up to Mahalia onstage with Dr. King, urging him towards the extemporaneous "I Have A Dream" speech when she shouted "Tell them about the dream Martin!" Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come," one of the only songs he sang as fully as he did when he was with the Soul Stirrers, is to me, 100% a gospel song even though the word "God" is never uttered. It doesn't need to be. Call it a secular gospel tune.

Into this fake category I just made up I'd like to add the Perkins single; the A-Side mentions "marching" then "praying," and the B-Side mentions "dancing," but really this song is a fabulous, mournful gospel dirge. Not to get all Fake-Prof. on you (calling the Cult of Greil) but I think of this song as a wake for the devastation of the movement itself, thanks largely to targeted assassinations, and while the B-Side attempts to uplift, I'm not sure it does (that's not meant as criticism).

Perkins(?)' falsetto is straight from the church; is it just me or does he sound a bit like Claude Jeter? "Pt. 1" is far better than "Pt. 2," if I had to grade them, but I've uploaded "Pt. 2" as I have minimal server space but mostly 'cause it's "Pt. 1" that is included on three commercial CD comp.s -- most recently it leads off the 1998 Trikont collection Down & Out: The Sad Soul of the Black South -- but never "Pt. 2." As far as I know, the B-Side has never been reissued.

Someone, tell me something, anything about George Perkins and/ or the Silver Stars. Please! Thanks in advance.

Ain't got no home to steal away to

Download: HORACE SPROTT "Interview/ Steal Away Home to Jesus"

He was born on Feb. 2, 1890 and did time on a prison farm in Montgomery, AL.

I don't know anything else about him yet, but this album of interviews plus field holler/ work song type a capella stuff is riveting. Horace Sprott (talk about a name from 115 years ago!) apparently plays harp really well on the two other volumes of the series that feature him (3 &4).

This track was taken from the 1954 field recording Music From The South, Vol. 2 (1955 release), made by Frederic Ramsey Jr. It has never been reissued but Folkways will burn it onto a CD for you if you go here and don't forget to say "please" and "thank you."

Blessed are ...

Download: LUTHER MAGBY "Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit"

This song's been anthologized quite a bit (sonically the best version is on Dust To Digital's sublime Goodbye Babylon box), but I'm sure I have friends who've never heard it, so here 'tis. This will appeal to fans of Wash Phillips, Rev. Utah Smith, Louis Overstreet, et al. The title refers to a bit of scripture from Matthew, verse 3: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Eugene Chadbourne writes in AMG that "in 2002, (Magby) was still maintaining a busy performing schedule, including gospel shows at a variety of state fairs," and I want to hop a Greyhound to see him tomorrow, if I can only figure where this is... I only know of two sides of a 78 recorded in the '20s, and would like to hear just a tad more, especially if he still accompanies himself on the harmonium!

I love how the instrumental coda sounds like somebody tap-dancing along to a carousel pump organ. That part always cheers me right up.

Friday, December 10, 2004

There is a precious fountain

Download: SWAN SILVERTONES "Near The Cross Pt. 2"

Taken from a Vee Jay 7" (VJ 879) from 1959, where this tune is the B-side to the Swan Silvertones' re-recording of "Trouble In My Way." For years now, I have been obsessed with this golden age quartet. Singer/ leader Claude Jeter is just so rad! (You know, I just now sounded like a 13-year old girl, and somehow I'm OK with that, in this instance.)

I want to know more about where this was recorded and how but of course there's no info. on the single. The way he does that high pitched humming thing at the end, similarly to when he starts to sing "Mary" in "Mary Don't You Weep" -- it's exquisite. I lik ehow this song ends just as it sounds like it's gonna explode in an ecstatic frenzy. That control, that's what's so rad about this song. I want to say it reminds of the Bad Brains in this respect, but I'm finding it hard to formulate this clearly or interestingly, so I'll shut up now. Hope you dig.

The way she talks when she's spoken to

Download: THE WHO "Under My Thumb"

In 1967, the Who recorded "Under My Thumb" and "Last Time" with Shel Talmy. I have these on the classic 2LP boot on Trademark of Quality, Who's Zoo (one of my favorite Who albums, actually, along with another TMOQ bootleg recorded live at Fillmore East in '68). The covers were originally released on a sought-after French-only single, pictured here.

The songs sound as if they were recorded quickly, and are kinda wimpy -- they don't try to upstage the original versions at all or tear into 'em in order to own them [the way, for instance, Fleurs des Lys' take on "Instant Party (Circles)" was total kill-your-idols intensity and even better than the original--which is, you know, near impossible.]

But that makes sense when you consider the context, as, according to a Stones fansite, these songs were recorded "as a show of support when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were being held in England on drug charges. After police raided Richards' home in Sussex, he and Jagger were charged with drug possession when they found some marijuana and amphetamines. Jagger and Richards were found guilty and each spent a night in jail before they were released on bail. The raid was done mostly for publicity and backfired on British lawmakers when it became clear the police staged a massive raid to uncover a small amount of drugs. Charges against Richards were dropped and Jagger's sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge."

Keith sounds like he's barely awake, and Pete's initial backing vocals are pretty lame, but that cool descending thing he does on the chorus is kinda cool, plus the one-handed guitar solo is so crude, I like it a lot. There you have it. File under classicke rocke rarity.

"Where the Soul of Man Never Dies"

Download: ANGLIN BROTHERS: Where the Soul of Man Never Dies"

To keep everything new, the first song I'll post is a song I heard today for the first time, from an archival Library of Congress LP of religious songs, released in 1976. It was bought at my favorite record shop, Mississippi Records, a shop so good I'm cautious to mention it to anyone who doesn't know about it but they'll never sell online so I guess it's "safe." Best store I've been in since Tompkins Square Books & Records (RIP). Anyway, the proprietor, Eric (who is about to become infamous for selling "the most expensive record ever") told me there are about a dozen Anglin Bros. songs out there but no one single collection of them.

I got home, listened to the song many times, then googled, allmusicked, and gemmed; while I can find nary a compilation with them on it let alone a single artist collection, AMG states that in fact there IS an Anglin Bros. LP, even though they do not list it: "In 1979, Michigan's Old Homestead label produced a compilation containing all the Anglin Brothers' commercially released songs; the album reveals a songbag heavy with humorous and sentimental pieces in venerable molds," so I shall be looking for this intently.

Recording in the late '30s, the Anglins were an early country brother duo sort of a la the Delmores (who were mentors), Stanleys, Louvins and Monroe Bros. To judge by this one song (according to AMG an all time favorite of Hank Sr.'s) they might have been as good as those others, too. I love the Dilaudid drip pacing! So hard to tell from just one song, of course -- and while the harmony is close, it's not the rapidly-entwining-RNA-strand perfection of, say, the Louvins.

There's a brief bio. of the Anglins here. They are not even mentioned in James Goff's Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel, nor could I find them listed in Bluegrass Breakdown or any other books sort of on the subject I have laying about.

Just what I needed--another record collecting obsession! Krikey.


The purpose of this MP3 blog is to preach/ promote/ proselytize about music I love -- generally stuff I feel should be better known, and I intend to focus on both gospel and drone-based musics, but it could be pretty much anything showing up on here.

My name's Michael McGonigal; I have edited the magazines Chemical Imbalance and Yeti, and I sometimes write for other people. Currently I live in Portland. I just bought a bicycle right at the start of the rainy season.

I've really enjoyed the crazy swell of MP3 blogs in the past year and have found a lot of great music on those things. I briefly had MP3s on my personal blog, but I've never been so great at updating stuff like that unless it was part of my work, and I had to. (For years, updating web pages was part of my job but it's been long enough since then that I think I can have fun with this stuff.)