Thursday, May 26, 2005

Why don't I just go out the window?

Thanks to Mike Doughty, I now have another favorite late '70s second tier new wave pop band from New York.

Thanks to the brilliant R. Kelly, I believe in the power of plop-plop water dripping percussion to propel one song through twenty minutes of radio drama nonsense more than everrrrrrrr. Can't wait for chapter 4! This thing better end better than Lost did...

Thanks to Stay Free, I had a big-ass belly laugh (scroll around for that shit about the fake anti-corporate radio station in Ohio run by... Clear Channel. And the cost/ benefit analysis of setting yourself on fire? Wow.)

Thanks to Adam Forkner, I learned the other day last-minute of some rare diaristic Robert Frank films that showing here in town. Adam loved the shit, going off about how art needs to be loose, and fierce and beautiful (paraphrasing -- I have no ear for dialogue aside from the internal, sorry). And of course he found Frank's work to be that, and I thought about it, and he's right. Weird for me to see the inside of Robert and hiw wife June Leaf's Bleecker/ Bowery apt. building -- I used to hang with those guys a bit in the late '80s/ early '90s -- I was even paid once to be in a movie of his, Last Supper -- as I told anyone who'd listen (and some who wouldn't) last night, I showed up for the rehearsal and had four lines, returned the next day and that was cut to two. Umm, so I'm not much of an actor. Rachel Carns was in that thing too, and Taylor Mead, very recently post-stroke. I last saw Robert in the flesh on the day before 9-11-01 -- was walking about town with the great Lizz Mendez Berry and I said "hey let's see if Robert's home!" We rang the buzzer, Robert leaned out and said "Who is it!," I said my name and he said "Mike McGonigal!? That's a name from the past!" then walked down the three flights to open the door. Then I realized my mistake.

You don't just go dropping in on 76 year old men who've had a triple bypass and are on heavy medication. I felt so bad watching him trudge back up the stairs, and we caught up and stuff and I was glad to see him but I don't even think I realized that Pablo had died; we hadn't been in touch in years and stuff and I'm so stuck in my own world, you know? Then I made a second mistake saying "Hey, you should let me do an interview with you sometime for old time's sake," 'cause he looked at me like I said he should allow me to remove his pancreas with a rusty tuna can lid... Anyway, tonight more recent films were then shown last night, one of them a US premiere, and they were all so great. It really warmed the cockles of my heart, and stuff.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Makes me feel fine

DELMORE BROTHERS "When it's Summertime in a Southern Clime"
KOOL & THE GANG "Summer Madness"
JOHN CALE "Summer Heat"
Yeah, you guessed it -- theme time! I'm sure there are about a gazillion mp3 blogs doing exactly the same thing right now -- more power to them (ummm, and to me, of course). Time to break out the Speedos, the boombox that got all the sand stuck inside it last year, and of course the Noxzema for when you fall asleep accidentally in the sun. Actually, having grown up in South Fla., I have a confession to make: I hate the beach. Or used to, anyway. It's not just 'cause I'm fat, either. I never liked the kind of people who went to the beach all the time when I was in high school, so I never went, and barely enjoyed myself if I did. This of course seems very silly to me now. I lived a mile and a half from a great beach and never went!? Ohh, man. When my ex-gf Melanie came to visit my family in Miami back when most of them were still down there, in 1988, when I was like 20, she couldn't believe how pasty-skinned all my Miami friends were. It was kind of hilarious.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

One thing I know for sure now

THE GRIFTERS "Divine/ She Blows Blasts of Static"
As the course of my minor heartache pulses from brood-y moping to angry moping (and, weirdly, breaking out in fucking hives on my hands!) I find myself more involved in the heavier and louder tunes. This is the B-Side of the great "Soda Pop" single, the fourth release on Shangri-La Records, a 1992 recording that just might be this fabulous Memphis act's single finest work. I love the false beginnings they used on a few of their songs, don't you? It was sort of a hallmark I guess. One day the Grifters will be seen for the total geniuses they were. You must not ignore the strength of their bombast.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ohh, my boat is empty

CAETANO VELOSO "Nao Identifica"
CAETANO VELOSO "You Don't Know Me"
These are all songs you've likely heard many dozens of times already. I post them because all I can listen to is Caetano today (and I avoid posting the "Little More Blue" song because it's somehow too obvious.) When you're bummed/ crestfallen/ depressed, there are some singers that you go back to and they just speak right directly to you in a way that seems almost impossible at any other time, I mean when you're not sad. And it feels so totally dramatical and all but... it's like they help to fill a void in your chest while also reminding you so intensely that the void is there. Knowmsayin? My heart is not exactly broken today, but it's definitely in a state of -- well, I'm just letting myself realize that I'm way bummed. It's just so fricking hard to be, like, fully compatible with someone. It is for me, anyway!

This thing I'm trying out of deference to only obliquely refer to (but which is probably not hard to figure out) happened Friday night in San Francisco, just before going to see Jolie Holland play a show at the Great American Music Hall, with the holy-fuck-how-can-this-dude-be-unsigned!! Sean Hayes opening up. Jolie'd been very ill that week and her voice was not all it usually is, but she was able to really pull it off anyway, which is more the mark of a great performer --how you deal with unforseen weirdness and bullshit-- than how you are at your best. Right? Jolie's full band was fucking amazing too. I got some CD-Rs by band members that I'll post from if it's cool with those peeps.

Back in Portland the next night, the brilliant Ben Chasny aka Six Organs of Admittance had a minor freakout onstage after having to follow Rick Bishop at the height of his considerable powers on the solo guitar (dude was at the end of a month-long tour). And while things felt a bit out of control and chaotic onstage, Chasny not only got into his groove by the end of the set but he was really able to channel the frustrations of being (maybe a bit too) drunk and feeling (I'm guessing) a tad unworthy (he spoke onstage of the problems of "following your own personal guitar gods" onstage and then at one point lept dramatically into the air, saying "what's happening?!") into some delirious loops of feedback, voice, and skronky guitar playing that Adam Forkner (who opened the shebang with a pretty, exquisite blues-drone White Rainbow set) wisely categorized as "very Ginn-like."

So, yeah, it was a mess but it was also one of the best shows I've seen Ben give -- that guy really is one of our finest guitarrorists. It's sweet that the zeitgesit has briefly aligned with the sorts of cosmic sound he's capable of. I remember seeing John Fahey in 1984, at a teensy folk club in Ft. Lauderdale I think it was, and there were only like 23 people in the club, almost all old hippies. It's just really rad to see this kind of music get appreciated, though of course a few years from now it'll likely be back to the 23 old hippies again. And you know, there are worse things! Same goes for how I'm feeling today... Speaking of which, I have to write a chapter for the Loveless book, then finish some Amazon reviews, so no more fucking moping today!!! OK.

Monday, May 09, 2005

He wants to eat me up

PETE TOWNSHEND "Don't Look Away (demo)"
This was posted on the download section of PT's own site a few years ago. I love his demos; they show how totally the guy had every little aspect of the Who's songs figured out aforehand, yet it's not as simple as the band showing up to play the parts, exactly. A few of the songs even sound better in demo form... Clearly, this is not one of them, that "ripping" Chet Atkins solo aside. The vocals are so cringe-worthy on the chorus, aaaaggggghhh! But that's partly why I love this strange little version of this sort of throwaway tune from A Quick One. I guess when you really love something, you love it totally, you know? At least, I do. Well -- ideally, I do. The obvious faults aren't so bothersome, anyway, know'msaying? The Who was the first band I really got 100% join-the-fan-club/ buy-ever-bootleg obsessed with and, okay, fell in love with, back in the 7th grade. I still feel that up until Tommy they did not do a single wrong thing. That's when I broke up with the Who, when I realized in 9th grade how bullshit Tommy was...

I'll be in SF for the rest of the week: visiting a girl I'm sweet on, hanging with family, making at least one work-related visit, and krikey I sure do hope that Colm from MBV lets me talk to him a bit while I'm there for the book! There's a small stack of rare and cheap gospel 45s I left behind at a very large record shop 4 months ago -- they'll still be there, surely? Wish me luck finding 'em (a few were on Nashboro, sheesh!)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Saw you in the bathroom

REMA REMA "Rema Rema"
Walked into the great Ozone3 shop tonight to see if Bruce might perhaps have any record mailers but apparently I’m not the only one who wants them, so he said “nope!” I turn and look on the wall and there is a record I’ve been looking for for like a dozen years, ever since I got rid of it: REMA REMA! One of the greatest and dumbest records ever made. Hooray. AMG calls it "an energizing slab of lunkheaded artsiness"! I can’t believe a store with at least two DJ type dudes working at it actually sold this thing – that they didn’t pick it up first I mean. This song “Rema Rema” is soooooo good isn’t it? It’s like the high-on-cleaning-fluid version of “Hey Bo Diddley!”

The band Rema Rema had one four song 12" called Wheel in the Roses as their only release, which happened to be the first 12" on 4AD. Half the songs on it are really really good. Band members included Marco Pironi (who later went on to join Adam and the Ants), Mick Allen (ex-Models) and Mark Cox (both later of Mass and The Wolfgang Press). [Not saying they were a SUPERGROUP, just saying…] I first heard this song on that ultra-rare and awesome F.E. 7” where Big Black covered “Rema Rema.” OK I'll post that version here too: here you go. Never thought you'd see me post a tune by my arch nemesis did you? Time heals all wounds or something. Besides, Big Black's take sounds pretty bloated and pompous and at least a bit queer-baiting (of the high school variety -- the "Jimmy's on Byron's back" bit). Maybe it's harsh to call that queer baiting? Anyway, it's almost quaint.

Dude selling this 12” on eBay says this: the highly influential Burundi drum sound pre-dated that of Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow. The song 'Fond Affections' was covered by This Mortal Coil on the LP It'll End In Tears. OK. Time for bed now.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Now I don't have no doubts

“Jesus Is A Rock” is a 1953 recording taken from the Best of King Gospel collection on Ace records, released a year or so ago. It’s a FUCKING AMAZING compilation of rare quartet group sides from the late 40s and early ‘50s and it’s got like, the 4 Internes, the Spirit of Memphis Quartet, the Nightingales and the Swan Silvertones from back when they went by the name Swan’s Silvertone Singers, which as I understand it was a more explicit connection to the Knoxville Tennessee bakery that sponsored the radio show they used to sing on when they got their start. The liners for this collection are fabulous, and written by former ‘60s garage band member, Surrealist poet, small press editor, rhythm and blues DJ and gospel music authority Opal Louis Nations, -- yes that is his real name. I think that he and Bruce Conner must be the two raddest men alive.

I need to find more music by this group if any exists; this sort of stomping tune that elevates from dirgey lament to wailing anthem is something I can never get enough of! This song is just totally perfect.

As I type this I am listening to Gang of Four live on KEXP. They sound pretty good, basically like the old but competent cover band that any punk rock reunion act (sole exceptions being Mission of Burma and Suicide, who never really broke up anyway) inevitably becomes, and it reminds me of a perfect scene from last night. Hah. My friend Kevin Cole (KEXP station manager/ DJ) sounds so excited -- never heard him sound so much like a fanboy! That alone is awesome. I wish Kevin would play that Ex song about the Gang of Four now that they're done instead of this Franz Ferdinand song that sounds like a Volkswagen/ iPod commercial, but I understand them playing it after the Gang of 4 took a dig at them...

Anyway, so the thing is that I was out for dinner with my pal Chaya last night and we dropped by Magic Gardens for twenty minutes to see how they were coping with Wednesday nights' (small) fire, and, you know, also, to see some naked women strip to awesome music. My friend "Nico" was dancing to Go4 tribute band the Rapture and I mentioned that Gang of Four was just then playing a mile or so away, and she said she'd never heard them.

An awful lot of wind-up for a bad punch line, but any friend of mine will tell you I have no sense of humor.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

This world is not my home

I'm finishing up a piece on Sam Cooke now. The gist is that his work with the Soul Stirrers is much "better" than the solo career, and while this argument is simplistic and has been overstated with time, I realize that I've just listened to this one song over and over again about thirty times and I can't say I've ever done that with any of Cooke's more cotton candyass baby I really would like to smooch with you down at the boardwalk type tunes. With time, this opinion is changing, though. Like most opinions I used to hold so vehemently, I find myself just jettisoning them slowly towards a place of digging everything. Well, almost everything.

I was thinking about this a lot this last weekend. It stemmed with seeing Damon & Naomi play a really groovy set on Friday night, Jackie O opening up a levitational and heavy set in honor of a friend of theirs who died unexpectedly, very lovely/ intense. [Damon to me: Do they always sound like Gong? (and not meant as an insult!)] Anyway, great as always to see those two -- I really like them as people; though we've never been too close, but I just admire them for doing things so intently and smartly and so well, like from the get-go. Exact Change kicks ass, and I can't wait to read the "new" Pessoa book!

My point though is that they had Michio from Ghost playing with them and everythime he played it was so brilliant it was like "Ohh right, there's a monster in the room and he isn't sleeping!"but they also had this dude playing David Sanborn Kenny G style late '70s soprano sssssmoove style, and it was really quite a disconnect. I hated it and really liked it at the same time. And I was thinking that you should always do at least one thing that you would have not been into at all ten years ago, that was somehow completely against all the beliefs you held sacred at the time. That's what the gospel obsession is like for me, and I bet D&N's new sound would feel the same way to them. I am probably entirely wrong, of course.

I have a CD somewhere with like 4 different takes of "My Guide," I should grab that out later. I know I've posted at least one other Soul Stirrers tune here before and there are other amazing gospel acts I've yet to post at all, but the Stirrers were my own personal gospel "gateway drug," the band who turned me on to this music, so I feel like it's OK to err in overexposing them a tad. I partly like this song because Cooke avoids his "ahhh-woooahh-uhh-uhh-woah-wooah" trill on it, but mostly just 'cause it rules.

Note to self: you really should make your blog either a lot more intellectual or more about your small and intense group of friends who lead fabulously exciting lives and stuff. Otherwise, why even step inside the blogosphere? Have I mentioned before that "blogosphere" is one of the neologisms I hate the very most? It's true. That opinion will likely never change. I do not hate the word as much as I despise emoticons, however. Is there a band called Emoticon, yet? Death to sideways smiley faces!!!!

Monday, May 02, 2005

"You're lost in the mall"

PRAM "I'm A War"
NEKO CASE "Dreaming Man"
LA DUSSELDORF "La Dusseldorf"
ISHMAEL REED "Flight to Canada"
RICHARD THOMPSON "From Galway to Graceland"
MOUSE AND THE TRAPS "Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice"
JIMI HENDRIX "1983 (A Mermaid I Should Turn to Be)"
Woah! How CLASSICKE ROCKE am I today?! I'm experimenting with this "you send it" business as a means of posting MP3s (for "free"). What do you think? Is it a real pain in the ass or what? Are these files recorded too "hot," or is that just my computer speakers acting up this morning? And finally, do you think these Carhartts make my ass look too big?

The files should all have been encoded with the source material this time, i.e. names of the albums and stuff right there on the file itself. So, you can just google that and find out how to get the original source material for yourself, right? Or ask me right here, too. Whatever. I like when people post comments... I may take 6 months to reply but that doesn't mean I don't love you.

PS: Mad props to whoever can discern a narrative within this mix tape/ these twelve tunes, arranged according to title length.

PPS: I know the Carissa's/ Iron & Wine collaboration really sort of... sucks... but to this day every time I listen to it, I have hope that it will sound good!

PPPS: One definition of "insanity" is to repeat the same act over and over again and expect a different result!