Thursday, April 28, 2016

Eroc - 1979 - Eroc 3

Eroc 3

01. Wutpickel (1:41)
02. Tontillon (6:20)
03. Fito Linte (3:30)
04. Wolkenreise (4:27)
05. Solar Plexus (3:13)
06. Euer Lied (3:34)
07. Falke Whips It Out (6:32)
08. About My Town (3:48)
09. Sunny Sunday's Sunset (3:52)
10. He's Around Here (3:25)
11. Crew Blues Session (6:40)

- Axel Harlos / percussion
- Bernhard Uhlemann / bass, flute
- Gerd-Otto Kühn / lead guitar
- Joachim Ehrig (Eroc) / drums, percussion
- Ranier Loskand / vocals
- Stefan Danielak / rhythm guitar, vocals
- Wolfgang Jäger / bass

 Eroc 3 wasn't really a solo album but rather a retrospective of his works starting from 1968 and contained besides two new tracks mainly archived recordings done by him with Grobschnitt or the previous band called Crew Blues Session. Let's go roughly through the tracks presented here.
"Wutpickel" is a short bluesy piece originating from the time between disbandment of Crew Blues Session and formation of Grobschnitt when Joachim Ehrig played in a trio with the same name. "Tontillon" is an improvised instrumental track from the recording sessions for "Rockpommel's Land" and in a similar slightly melancholic vein as this album. "Fito Linte" and "Wolkenreise" are true solo works by Eroc and the latter one especially became quite well-known due to its highly memorable soaring melody. That one had been written as an introduction for Grobschnitt's 1978 live show. "Solar Plexus" is an excerpt of a live recording for "Solar Music" overdubbed with accordeon. "Euer Lied" is another one of Eroc's fun pieces, a rather simple drum solo starting with an invitation of the audience to accomplish it with their own music. "Falke Whips It Out" is a collage of recordings from 1968/69 featuring an improvisation over "Born To Be Wild", some screaming, some parodistic pompous organ solo and a phone talk of Eroc with Grobschnitt roadie Peter Falke railing about some famous Prog bands. "About My Town" is an early live recording by Grobschnitt from 1971 with second drummer Axel Harlos which never saw a release on any of their albums. "Sunny Sunday's Sunset" is a demo version of the recording session for Jumbo album sounding completely different from the final version. The final "He's Around Here" was the first recording of Crew Blues Session which never saw a release, the music is a rather simple beat and only the voice of Stefan Danielak reminds at Grobschnitt. "Crew Blues Session" is an excerpt of an improvisation of the band played during their farewell concert in October 1969. This was actually the very original version of "Solar Music", here still with scatting vocals by bass player Peter Klassen but one can hear already the typical spacey sound.

Recently all of Eroc's solo records got CD reissues finally with the addition of multiple bonus tracks. This one was actually the most interesting sounding one at least for me providing a quite nice and enjoyable historical overview. Nevertheless I don't see any reason why it should be of much interest for others than fans of this particular band.

Eroc - 1976 - Zwei


01. Nebelwelt
02. Ein Unhoflicher Anfang
03. Aktuelles Vorwort
04. Der Traum Vom Wald
05. Lied Von Der Brucke
06. Toni Geht Nach Boelerheide
07. Geleerte Worte
08. Bemep-mope
09. Kleine Freude
10. Prof Erwin Senkellfuss
11. Sonnenfluch
12. Herr Von Schwabulahn
13. Das Irrsinnslied
14. Eine Erkenntnis
15. Ich Bin Ein Lachen
16. Sternwelke
17. Ein höflicher Abgang
16. Unsere Neuen Rosen
17. Geburtstagsständchen
18. Das Irsinnslied
19. Eine Erkenntnis
20. Ich Bin Ein Lachen
21. Sternenwelke
22. Ein Höflicher Abgang
23. Psychodelic Cloud
24. Morley's Orgasm
25. Liebeslied
26. Der Mond Ist Aus Grünem Käse
27. Der Marsch Der Pfifferlinge
28. Sprache Der Pfifferlinge
29. Sprache Der Pfifferlinge 2
30. Sprache Der Pfifferlinge 3

CD reissue of the 1976 release on Brain (tracks 1 to 22) with bonus (tracks 23 to 30). Note: some tracks have been retitled on this release.
- Eroc (Joachim Ehrig) / drums, percussion
- Toni Moff Mollo (Ranier Loskand) / vocals

Anyone under the misguided impression that Germans don't have a sense of humor obviously hasn't been listening very closely. What's that you say? You don't recall the deadpan "Showroom Dummies" of KRAFTWERK? Or HOLGER CZUKAY's iconoclastic radio-wave cut-ups (turning even the late Pope John Paul II into an unwitting pop star)? And what about the Dada-Krautrock de-construction follies of FAUST?
Discriminating Progheads with long memories will at least have heard the name Joachim Ehrig, alias EROC, the multi-talented percussionist and resident madman behind the symphonic cabaret act known as GROBSCHNITT. The band was a popular concert attraction throughout the 1970s, famous for blending classic YES and PINK FLOYD influenced Prog Rock with elaborate vaudeville comedy skits, a tradition their pseudonymous drummer would carry into his own solo career as well.

Especially here, in his sophomore effort (or maybe it's only sophomoric?), in retrospect probably the wackiest thing of its kind since Monty Python's "Matching Tie and Hankerchief" album, which you'll remember had two parallel grooves on one side of the original LP, and good luck trying to guess which one the needle would follow.

Over the course of seventeen total tracks (lasting almost 50 minutes, and rivaling the side-long soundscapes of KLAUS SCHULZE for old-style vinyl generosity) Eroc delivers a vocal performance that can only be called eccentric (to say the least). He whispers, screams, coughs up phlegm, emotes in high dramatic fashion, conducts a bogus interview, interrupts the music with idle chit-chat and commentary, sings background harmonies sounding not unlike a chorus of Sesame Street muppets, fakes an orgasm (or is it constipation?) and, in one memorable highlight, punctuates a formal poetry recital with a window-rattling belch of truly epic proportions (cue the maniacal laughter: always an Eroc trademark).

And did I mention the sound effects? Traffic jams, toilets flushing, tolling bells, sawing wood, orchestral fanfares, machine-gun fire, and even samples of earlier Grobschnitt songs are all part of the overstuffed sonic collage. With all that (and more besides) you'd think there wouldn't be any room left for legitimate music. But Eroc backs up his theatrical conceits with a credible range of high-caliber tunes, playing all the instruments himself: keyboards, guitars, kazoos, accordions, warped Oktoberfest flugelhorns, and (of course) drums. There are even a few evocative, quasi- Krautrock interludes, scattered like life preservers throughout the otherwise relentless, broad-as-a-barn-door laff-riot.

Oddly enough, the best way to appreciate the album is without any understanding of German...although it's hard to miss the quotation from Kraftwerk's "Autobahn", shouted during the song "Der Traum Vom Wald". I suspect a direct translation might be just too idiotic to support repeated listenings, but the language barrier keeps the silliness from becoming too stupid, even when Herr Ehrig is burping his guts inside out.

Eroc - 1975 - Eroc


01. kleine eva (12:02)
02. des tauberers traum (5:22)
03. toni moff mollo (0:48)
04. die musik vom "ölberg" (1:13)
05. norderland (6:26)
06. horrorgoll (6:30)
07. sternchen (3:31)

2005 Brain Records CD re-issue (* unpublished bonus tracks):

01. Begrüßung (1:39) *
02. Kleine Eva (11:53)
03. Des Zauberers Traum (5:22)
04. Toni Moff Mollo (0:46)
05. Die Musik Vom Ölberg (1:26)
06. Chaotic Reaction (3:48) *
07. Norderland (6:30)
08. Horrorgoll (6:36)
09. Sternchen (3:34)
10. Teenage Love '69 (5:20) *
11. Abenfrieden (2:25) *
12. Ostergloingg (2:53) *
13. Andromeda (2:21) *

- Eroc (Joachim Heinz Ehrig) / keyboards, electronics, guitar, drums

Recorded at Eroc's Heimstudio and THG-Aula, Hagen, 1970 - 1974.
Mixed at Windrose-Studio, Hamburg, 1972 and Menga-Tonstudio, Gelsenkirchen, 1973 - 1974.

Eroc (Joachim Heinz Ehrig) started his solo career in 1975 while he was currently the drummer of Grobschnitt. His self titled album can be considered as a cross between Gorbschnitt's typical symphonic amazing music and electronic/ synthscapes dominated by numerous original sound manipulations. Despite that he was originally recognised as a drummer, here Eroc is the man behind the machines, controlling solid essays in synth experimentations and electronic collages. His first album is an absolute must in Kraut/ electronic genre, very abstract, emotional and a mix of different moods. This album is an opponent worthy of Klaus Schulze's first realisations in space/ "kosmische" electronic music. His following album ("Zwei" published by "Brain" in 1976) continues to process by a combination between rock and electronic but focused on short, efficient sketches. Humour and derision are clearly exposed in the lyrics and recitations. "Zwei" is a reminiscence of Grobschnitt's theatrical universe with lot of "gags" but the atmosphere is much more introspective, sometimes delivering deliciously melancholic melodies. After this two first very recommended efforts, Eroc pursues his solo career notably providing a kind of reunion, family album ("Eroc 3") with others Grobschnitt members. In parallel he also started a professional career as musical producer, recently published albums of Das Scheitas (among others).

 As the drummer, lyricist and co-producer of famed Teutonic prog outfit Grobschnitt, Joachim Ehrig - who is otherwise better known under the self-chosen pseudonym 'Eroc' - has enjoyed a long, colourful and successful career in his native German homeland. Known for their quirky sense of humour, fantastical themes, epic concept albums and highly-skilled musicianship, Grobschnitt were one of the premier German rock acts of the 1970s, especially in the live arena. Although strong domestic sales and deliberately-English lyrics failed to translate into British or American success, throughout Central Europe Grobschnitt's reputation was fearsome and well-earned. The album's 'Grobschnitt', 'Ballermann' and 'Jumbo', as well as a punishing live schedule, had seen the group develop from slightly awkward psychedelic rock origins into a full-blown, Yes-styled, symphonic prog group featuring lush, complex instrumentation, layers of keyboards and synthesizers and suitably striking artwork adorning the gatefold LP vinyl jackets. However, it would be the impressive, space-rock themed double-album 'Ballermann' that would really put Grobschnitt on the(central European) map thanks to the epic, 33-minute long composition 'Solar Music' which took up both sides of the second disc on the original release. With this success behind them, Grobschnitt would temporarily fragment, allowing Eroc to complete work on his long-mooted and eponymously-titled debut solo album. Released in 1975, several months before the group's much-anticipated third album 'Jumbo', 'Eroc 1'(as it has now come to be know thanks to subsequent and similarly-monikered follow-up albums) equally baffled, bemused and excited those who bought it. Obviously influenced by the innovative electronic krautrock groups Cluster, Harmonia, Tangerine Dream and, of course, Kraftwerk, Eroc's genre-defying debut is far-removed from the drummer's Grobschnitt days. Instead of intricate guitar-keyboard interplay and manic comedy 'Eroc' feeds the listener a series of slowly-evolving and carefully-layered electronic compositions that seem to blend the melodic instincts of progressive rock with the experimental nous of Berlin school sonic design. The album has a cool, relaxed and slightly detached vibe, as evidenced on the beautifully-ornate 'Kleine Eva', which crawls slowly and deliberately through twelve minutes of gently-pulsating, small-hour-evincing, electro ambient pop soundscapes in a style not dissimilar from mid-period Klaus Schulze albums such as Picture Music and Mirage. Later tracks, such as the rougher 'Norderland' and the almost celestial 'Sternchen' also tread this electro-psych path, only with an occasional nod-and-wink to Eroc's work with Grobschnitt. Surprisingly, and unlike many other band-members, Eroc has not employed any of his colleagues to help him on the recordings. Instead, the talented drummer has played all the instruments himself, including keyboards, synths and guitars, which may explain the slow pace of much of the material on offer. However, despite this minor critique, Eroc's debut reveals itself to be a truly original - and welcome - stylistic departure. Despite their German heritage, Grobschnitt were never considered a 'krautrock' group. In creating this LP, Eroc has joined the ranks of electronic purveyors who made that dubiously-titled genre so fascinating, and fans of analogue electronica should find much to admire on this refreshing record.

Costin Miereanu - 1975 - Luna cinese

Costin Miereanu 
Luna cinese

01. Lato x opp. y Parte Prima (Seconda) 20:53
02. Lato y opp. x Parte Seconda (Prima) 20:30

Voice [Voce Recitante] – Varin M. Broun
Recorded at Studi Ricordi, Milano

Costin Miereanu was born on February 27, 1943. A graduate of the Bucharest Conservatory, Miereanu entered the international musical world in 1967, when his avant-garde piano concerto Finis coronat opus was awarded the Gaudeamus International Composers Award. One year later, following an invitation to Darmstadt, Miereanu joined the long line of Romanian intellectuals who were disobeying the restrictions on emigration imposed by the Romanian communist regime, and decided to never return to his homeland. Eventually he settled in Paris, a decision of fundamental impact not only on his career, but especially on the freedom of expression as an artist.

During his student years in Bucharest, Miereanu benefited greatly from the guidance of professors such as Stefan Niculescu, Aurel Stroe, Anatol Vieru, Tiberiu Olah, and Myriam Marbé, all part of the elite generation of Romanian post-war composers. This was Miereanu’s opportunity to come in contact with the most recent trends in Western composition, through scores and recordings more or less officially made available to Romanian musicians, since they were diametrically opposed to the communist aesthetic doctrine. Alongside his growing interest in new music, Miereanu also pursued a thorough analysis of ancient music, in particular the works of Flemish school composers. Here he found a technique he would make extensive use of in his mature compositions: the continuous transformation of a musical motive or idea.

In the musical landscape of his native country, Miereanu became a prominent figure already as a student: for several years he published articles in an avant-garde cultural magazine, The Amphitheatre, debating issues on modern music and contemporary composers, simultaneously engaging into preoccupations as a critic. But the first major step as a musicologist was taken once he joined Doru Popovici – Romanian clarinettist and ardent promoter of the contemporary music – in writing a book dedicated to the early stages of Romanian musique savante. Initially published as fragments in important journals, the book had as its main goal the rehabilitation of a historical truth that had been the victim of imprecisions or wrongful interpretations.

Miereanu’s multi-faceted activity, so obviously put in the service of modern music, soon labelled him as a rebel in the eyes of the political authorities. In 1967, he was denied the access to a German scholarship he had received to study with Penderecki in Essen, but the chance was, nevertheless, by his side. Later that year, he travelled to Darmstadt, to work with Stockhausen, Ligeti, and Karkoschka at the Ferienkurse für Neue Musik. He went back to Darmstadt in 1968 and never returned to his homeland.

Miereanu’s talent was noticed not only by Stockhausen, who selected him for the team of the project Musik für ein Haus, but also by Romanian Mica Salabert, president of the Parisian publishing house Salabert. Committed to contemporary music and notably to the generation of Romanian young composers, Mika Salabert immediately offered Miereanu a contract, by which some of his already existent works and all the others he would compose were to be published under this label. Later, between 1981 and 1991, Miereanu assumed the artistic directorship of Salabert.

Miereanu’s interest to pursue multi-disciplinary studies led him to an encounter that changed the entire course of his professional life: in 1970, he was admitted at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, where he met and studied with Greimas and Barthes. In 1978, he defended his doctorate in musical semiotics, under Greimas’s supervision, and in 1979 his State Doctorate for Letters and Social Sciences, under Daniel Charles (Université Paris VIII). In 1981, Miereanu was appointed professor at Université Paris I, where he taught Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Artistic Sciences until 2013, when he was conferred the title of professor emeritus.

 I've always found it baffling that; of all of the Cramps titles reissued and re-reissued over the past few years, this piece, considered by many followers of the “Dark Side-long Aleatoric Electro-Acoustic Collage” aesthetic - see Dub Taylor, Luis De Pablo, Jean Claude Eloy, - to be one of the finest examples of said, was never given its due time in the warm, contemporary sun. Kudos, then, for the Nth time, to Mr. P.C. C.P. for his prescient, timely efforts. Do, aside from “Dark Side-long Aleatoric Electro-Acoustic Collage,” what does it sound like you ask? imagine Xenakis’ bells-and-trinkets epic “Bohor” overlaid with Basil Kirchin’s “Worlds within Worlds” and generations of pan-linguistic self-help / instructional programs - at any given time in the piece there are at least 4-5 separate layers of gated textures, field recordings, dissonant / glassy ensemble playing, and a bed of Synthesized Drone-sound. The voices that dominate the first half in strident, authoritative tones give way in the second half to sparse moaning and sustained ululations, leaving more room for the woozy “Instrumental” textures. An ominous, creepy piece; not for the weak of constitution.

Claudio Rocchi - 1975 - Rocchi

Claudio Rocchi 

01. Zen Session 13:30
02. Zero 4:34
03. Aijdmal 3:32
04. Il Giorno Di Malcom Azul 4:30
05. Chota Sa Balma 4:30
06. Certa Puglia 5:08

Registratro in casa fra il Novembre '74 e l'Ottobre '75.
Recorded at home between November '74 and October '75.

Claudio Rocchi (Milan, January 8 1951, † Rome, 18 June 2013) was the original bass guitarist of Stormy Six, and played on their first album Le idee di oggi per la musica di domani, leaving the band soon after the album release for a solo career that started in 1970 with the first album, Viaggio, mainly acoustic and with good flute playing by PFM's Mauro Pagani.
Always influenced by eastern doctrines (he later became a Hare Krishna), he was also active in anti-war movements and always present at the various Italian pop festivals of the early 70's.
A second album in 1971, Volo magico n.1, is usually considered as his best effort, in much the same style as Alan Sorrenti's Aria with a side-long title track and softer tracks on the other side. The 18 minute long title track starts with a soft introduction and goes on with hypnotic move based on the guitars of Alberto Camerini and Ricky Belloni (from Nuova Idea and later New Trolls).
Next album, La norma del cielo (subtitled Volo Magico n.2) was similar, but weakest in comparison, and after a long journey to India he released Essenza at the end of 1973, with help from Elio D'Anna (Osanna) and Mino De Martino (Giganti) among others.
Il miele dei pianeti, le isole, le api was a six-track album mainly based as usual on Rocchi's acoustic guitar folk-psych compositions, but featured well-known guests such as Walter Maioli (from Aktuala), Trilok Gurtu (that played with the same band at that time) and violinist/multi instrumentalist Lucio Fabbri (from Piazza delle Erbe, then a long time Eugenio Finardi collaborator and from 1978 with PFM, he also released a solo album on Cramps).
Later production had more use of electronics and interest in experimental sounds. In 1980 while in a Hare Krishna community he released Un gusto superiore with Paolo Tofani (Area).
In 2007 Claudio Rocchi directed the film Pedra Mendalza (the name of a popular volcanic hill in Sardinia) and its soundtrack, released on CD in 2008.

Boyd Rice - 1977 - The Black Album

Boyd Rice 
The Black Album

01. Untitled
02. Untitled
03. Untitled
04. Untitled
05. Untitled
06. Untitled
07. Untitled
08. Untitled
09. Untitled

Boyd Rice is a dark shadow hanging tall over (counter) (popular) culture in many forms, be it as noise/industrial (music) originator (pioneering the use of multi axial record center holes and locked grooves), absurdist prankster (attempting to present Betty Ford - first lady at the time - a goat's head in 1975), literary surveyor/interviewee/topic of discussion (The Industrial Culture Handbook, Incredibly Strange Films, Cinema Contra Cinema, Apocalypse Culture, 100 Artists See Satan, Rollerderby, The Manson File, Ben Is Dead, Modern Drunkard...), cult(ural) agent provocateur (his championing of Social Darwinism, Charles Manson's release from prison, a kind of aesthetic extremism,  involvement in both the Church of Satan and the Partridge Family Temple, the Boyd Rice Presents series...), visual artist (photography, painting, graphic media), filmmaker and actor (2004's Pearls Before Swines). As a recording artist, his first efforts making home tapes date from 1975, but would only later be documented and taken further on releases such as the 1977 (later Mute re-released) Boyd Rice LP, the Mode of Infection / Knife Ladder 7" single (later re-released as a 1980 split 7" with Smegma), the 1981 locked/loop groove collection (actually a 7" housed in a 12" sleeve) Pagan Muzak and an ever-growing discography until the recent Terra incognita: Ambient Works, 1975-Present compilation.

His numerous associations with like minded spirits have given way to projects/releases such as the Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing LP with Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget) in 1981 (unreleased until 1984 due to record sleeve related disagreements), the Boyd Rice and Friends project in 1990 (with among others Douglas P., Michael Moynihan, Rose McDowall, Tony Wakeford, Bob Ferbrache, Albin Julius and ex-SPK/Current 93 John Murphy), the Seasons in the Sun LP (as well as the Johnny Remember Me single) with Rose McDowall (as SPELL) in 1993, the I'm Just Like You 10" as The Tards with Adam Parfrey through Sympathy for the Record Industry in 1993, Monopoly Queen a 1994 Sub Pop Records single of the month club release with Combustible Edison and Mary-Ellen Carver, Hatesville! from 1995 by The Boyd Rice Experience with Adam Parfrey, Jim Goad and Shaun Partridge, 1996's Heaven Sent as Scorpion Wind (with Douglas P. and John Murphy), The Way I Feel (2000), a compilation of team ups with among others, Joel Haertling, David Tibet, Chthonic Force, Coil, Tiffany Anders, Winona Righteous, Little Fyodor, Luftwaffe as well as some some previously released sellections. 2002 saw the release of Wolf Pact credited to Boyd Rice and Fiends (with Douglas P. and Albin Julius). 2004's Alarm Agents is the at last full fledged collaboration with Death in June.

Playable at any speed. All selections by Boyd Rice. Recorded Decembre 1975 - January 1976.
Solid black cover. Usually referred to as "The Black Album".

Boyd Rice came from the very bosom of American society – a Southern California trailer park. Nurtured in infancy on the cult TV show Dark Shadows – “the wrongful influence on my life, according to my dad” – he dropped out of school in 10th Grade, in order to avoid the daily pounding from local jocks who were convinced he must be gay. Instead, the youthful Rice studied the art of subterfuge, subjecting his neighbours to a steady barrage of destabilizing pranks including impersonating an official from the Bureau Of Animal Control, and convincing a housewife that her son was harbouring poisonous snakes in her backyard. “To listen to this woman screaming at her kid and shaking him around and him squealing, ‘Mom, I don’t have any snakes,’ made me realise that we’d sucked people into this alternate reality,” he later recalled. “They were playing by our rules.” It was an experience that would stand Rice in good stead for later life. Boyd had no ambitions for a nine to five life, surmising that he would probably grow up to become a thief. But a fascination with pop music would open up another avenue for voracious exploration. Whilst his peers smoked dope to Led Zeppelin, Rice was immersing himself in The Archies and The Shangri-La’s, noting the extraordinarily manipulative powers of bubblegum music. “It had a directness and seemed like the real stuff,” he noted. “It made you feel emotional and I think people find that really threatening, to have some sappy, sugary pop song make them happy or sad. They want to be in control of their emotions. They don’t want to submit to something which is just good fun.” When Boyd analysed what he liked about such music, he found it was the quality of the actual tones of the girl’s voices. “I felt that if somebody could just take these piercing, harsh tones in the girl’s voices and reduce them to a drone, that would be great. After a certain amount of time I realised that nobody was actually going to do that, and if I wanted music like that I would just have to figure out a way to create it myself.” With no musical training whatsoever, Boyd pursued his vision with the acquisition of a number of tape recorders, collecting sounds from the streets which he would mix and match with sampled Easy Listening samples and run them in loops. “I wanted to do something myself and be in total control, and with a tape recorder that was very easy. You have a blank reel of tape one moment and the next something exists that never existed before. That really excited me.” Locally, the responses to his work were somewhat belittling: “In the middle-70's no one was listening to this type of music,” he recalled. “People thought I was insane. They thought that I was this creative, talented guy who was just wasting my time by pouring it into some kind of sociopathic attempt to inflict pain on people.” His first record, which came to be known as Boyd Rice’s ‘Black Album’ was initially restricted to 85 pressings, recorded at the end of 1975. On it, he took the functional aesthetic of Easy Listening to its furthest logical conclusion: “I think I created something that blanks out your brain, leaving a vacuum and allowing new thoughts to form. There is no area of modern life where you have room for undirected thought. Unless you’re sitting on a toilet, there is always some intrusive information. I wanted to crate something that would run all the thought out of people’s heads.” The Black Album was self released in 1977 and re-released on Mute Records ltd. (STUMM 4) in 1981. Playable at any speed. All selections by Boyd Rice. Recorded December 1975 – January 1976. Solid black cover. I recorded it at 33 rpm.

Contextually, or historically if you prefer, this is pretty much as out there, exploratory/provocative speaking anyway, as any of them.

The fragmentary and at times drone like frenzy here simultaneously evokes a Hymnen period Karlheinz Stockhausen, a young and riotous John Cale, and of course, his highness Milan Knížák. Not a small feat at all in my book.

Bomis Prendin - 1979 - Test

Bomis Prendin 

01. Rastamunkies
02. Artemia Salinas
03. October Bargain Days
04. 38 Angry Tigers
05. N.Y. Nightmare
06. Malay Deadfall
07. Umbral Vectors
08. 2%
09. Not At Home
10. Blauegeist
11. Auto-acupuncture

Music By – Bomis Prendin
Performer – Bill Altice, Bomis Prendin, Candeee, Corvus Crorson, Miles Anderson
Recorded November 1978-May 1979 at Threatening Canopy Studio I.
Edition: 1.000

Bomis Prendin.  They broke the mold.  The question is, was it after they made him, or before?  Keyboards, percussion, vocals, scribbling, taping, etc.
Corvus Crorson.  He started it, damn him.  Drink too much coffee, and this could happen to you, too.  Beware.  Noise of all kinds.
Miles Anderson.  An unholy cross between a human being and a Fender Stratocaster.  Lead guitar, vocals, anti-composition.
Hungry "Isaac" Hidden.  Shy and retiring, he's a wee little fellow who plays a funky-ass bass when the situation calls for it and, really, when doesn't it? Vocals as well.
Candeee.  Despite the name, she would probably be a choking hazard.  It would be best to just listen to the atmospherics she brings to the equation.

Bomis Prendin - The early years   We got together sometime in 1978, refugees from the liberal and other arts, five post-adolescent DC-area transplants from Richmond and Pittsburgh. Within a few weeks, we were free-styling noisily in a living room cluttered with guitars and amps, a wheezing antique organ, rewired plastic musical toys, a half-dozen analog effects. We wrote songs on occasion, but more often just started making sounds, then made other sounds, ping-ponging between two cheap cassette decks.   With inexplicable hubris, we took our lowly Radio Shack Gold cassette master to a real recording studio to see if they could remove some of the hiss, so loud at times it was almost like having a rattlesnake in the band. After a few hours of brilliant work by our engineer, Malcolm “Pep” Peplow, we walked out with TEST on a reel of 1/4-inch tape the size of a pizza.   Throughout the rest of the process of designing and manufacturing the 1,000 or so copies we made, we all worked together, a half-baked assembly line, gluing and folding and stamping and bagging and putting little stickers on. We sent out copies, got lots of interesting reviews (including mail from Jandek, Fred Frith, Matt Howarth, Gary Panter, Irwin Chusid, Vale of Search & Destroy, Tim Sommer at Trouser Press, and Trev Faull at OUTLET, among others) and we even played a few shows. It was so much fun, we did it all over again a year later with Phantom Limb.   25 years later, after discovering that original copies of TEST and Phantom Limb were much in demand at ten times their 1980s price of $2.50, we sent our original 1/4-inch masters to Tom Kikta at DDAI in Pittsburgh for baking and digital transfer. Listening to the result was a revelation, as it will be for anyone who’s only heard the somewhat lo-fi flexidisc version. It’s as close to being in that cluttered living room as you, or we, can get.    These two flexi's were the basis for Bomis Prendin's inclusion on Steven Stapleton's now-legendary “Nurse With Wound” list.   - Miles Anderson

OUTLET Magazine, 1980/No. 21 - Trev Faull (Ilford, Essex, UK)

"........I picked up the interesting looking 10" sleeve from the racks and handed it up to the assistant behind the counter. The assistant took a glance at it and I enquired what it was like? I obtained a negative response in fact as I found it was a flexi album and L3 at that the assistant said it was probably not worth the money anyhow and they only had the one. Such salesmanship always staggers me and there was something about the tone of voice in which it was employed that made me doubly resolved to buy the thing. I'm relieved to say I was very glad I did. The album is a thick type of flexi with surprisingly good recording quality too. RASTAMUNKIES opens the first side with a jolly pop style song all jaunting guitars giving no idea as to what was to come. ARTEMIA SALINAS led the way, solemn blending of guitars and voices rushing into one vibrating wind that led into OCTOBER BARGAIN DAYS. The voices here seem to be mingled with that of an announcer and it's pretty difficult to find out what the hell's going on! 38 ANGRY TIGERS begins the electronics which (with?) blips and farts and all manner of jungle noises. A guitar hangs frosted notes upon the beasts of the jungle and in turn they bey and call to the music. N.Y. NIGHTMARE continues the atmospherics. A voice reciting words over the top of electronic doodlings. At times it sounds as if a whole flock of birds are taking over the recording studios. After 3 or 4 plays it gets very captivating! MALAY DEADFALL closes on a short note full of more electronic intricases. A definite Residents feel to this. Turn over for the strange sound of UMBRAL VECTORS where the industrial side of things takes over. Gone are the conventional sounds. All that's left are like distorted phantoms creating uneasy vignettes of sound patterns. Chaotic at times but interesting to observe. After the machines are set on overload it is followed by "2%". With the benefit of low grade guitar mix, special effects and a drawling voice a song breaks forth about 2% of everything. The voice is strangely mutated into a whispered echo that keeps the original voice company all through. NOT AT HOME begins with the electronic jungle sounds and all manner of contortions and textures are drained forth. What does a black hole sound like? Maybe like this, I dunno but the way it buzzes and bleeps is quite extraordinary....uneasy listening! BLAUGEIST arrives from the region of the twilight zone and poses the question....Why hav'nt Ralph Records signed em to a long term contract yet, or perhaps they are already defunct? This is a brief grating sound and makes way for the final song "AUTO-ACUPUNCTURE". Oriental electronics with tinkling piano and just about everything else are contained here. The vocals are the best on the LP. It has that distictive drone of sound with all manner of instruments vyung for control. Almost dub at times it ends on a whine of motorised sound that poses the question....did the machines really take over?? Seek and enjoy."

If I say it's a series of shortish wonky numbers (mainly instrumental, but some with equally wonky vocals), it'll sound like I mean it resembles the Residents. It doesn't (well, not that much): it's noisier and dirtier than that, and much less contrived, more like the first DAF or Der Plan records (Neue Amerikanische Welle?). This is a good thing. Ideal for mixtapes. Sprinkle them amongst Chuck Berry, Hank Williams and the Shangri-Las and spread some happiness.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Glenn Phillips - 1975 - Lost At Sea

Glenn Phillips
Lost At Sea

01. I've Got A Bullet With Your Name On It 2:06
02. I Feel Better Already 3:50
03. Guruvir 2:33
04. A Storm 0:57
05. Dogs 5:37
06. Lenore 3:40
07. You Know I Do (Lenore Part II) 2:47
08. The Flu 2:57
09. Jimmy Klein 2:22
10. Hubbler 2:08
11. My Favorite Song 1:25

Acoustic Guitar – Bill Rea
Bass [Fender Bass] – Mike Holbrook
Cello – John Carr Harriman
Drums – Jerry Fields (tracks: B5), Jimmy (Mad Dog) Presmanes
Electric Guitar – Glenn Phillips
Piano, Vibraphone [Vibes], Marimba – Sant Ram Singh

Recorded at home in Jan. + Feb. 1975 (Hubbler taped live at the 12th Gate, July 15, 1972).
All songs copyright Glenn Phillips, Snow Star Publishing.

Born in 1950, American guitarist Glenn Phillips became known for his work with the Hampton Grease Band, of which he was an original member from late-60's to early-70's.After the band's dissolution in 1973 he started a solo career and in 1975 he recorded his debut and most proggy album ''Lost at sea'' at his homestudio, an album he launched on his own Snow Star Records.The line-up of his backing group included former Hampton Grease Band members Jerry Fields and Mike Holbrook on percussion and drums respectively, Bill Rea on acoustic guitar, John Carr Harrtman on cello, Sant Ram Singh on piano, marimba and vibraphone and Jimmy Presmanes on drums.

Phillips' debut was primarly a Prog/Jazz Fusion album with some early-70's psychedelic touches, pretty guitar-oriented and containing some SANTANA overtones.A very short album, under 30 minutes long, this one is based on Singh's and Phillips' interactions on guitars, vibraphone and electric piano, revealing a jazzy taste here and there with some interesting melodies and solos thrown in for good measure.Phillips had been described as a unique, talented composer and guitarist at the time and the album is quite a proof.His love for atmospheric and well-crafted instrumental music and his flawless plays are a real achievement, there seems to be though a tendency towards experimental, jazzy deliveries in some tracks, which soon fade for the sake of guitar and piano solos.''Lost at sea'' kind of reminds me of New Zealanders LIVING FORCE only recorded document, this one sounds like a less aggressive and dense version of that work.Cello and acoustic guitar in a few tracks come as accurate and challenging additions, the priority though is Phillips' guitar hooks and moves, while his intense riffs, although sporadic, are quite charming as well.

Phillips continued to make solo albums and most of the members here accompanied him in his updated version of Glenn Phillips Band.His music remained heavily guitar-oriented and these works might be good additions for all guitar newcomers.

Smooth Jazz Fusion with progressive overtones.A mix of SANTANA, LIVING FORCE, WEATHER REPORT and DIXIE DREGS vibes with emphasis on electric guitar and the jazzy piano.Recommended.

Col. Bruce Hampton - 1978 - One Ruined Life (Of A Bronze Tourist)

Col. Bruce Hampton
One Ruined Life (Of A Bronze Tourist)

01. Charles Patrick's Millionaires Learn To Swing 1:15
02. Sunshine Makes Eye Contact 3:12
03. Leaning Near A Town, She Stood The Storm 1:50
04. Frolic With Closet Lizards 3:09
05. The Imposition According To Vasco Da Gamma 4:14
06. Cocoa Beach 3:22
07. In The Park With You 2:18
08. Rise To Failure And 300 3:08
09. Col. Crawford Boyd Speaks On The Essentials Of Tragic Waste Due To The Spiritual Rebirth Of Ty Cobb, Recorded Live 1946 Stork Club, Memphis 4:55

Bonus Tracks
10. Working On A Building 3:33
11. Ghost Alcohol Sandwich 2:43
12. Talking Shoe 11:33

Bass – Jules Davenport
Choir – Lithonia Choir
Flute – Face (16)
Guitar – Col. Crawford Boyd
Piano – Jasper Brake
Violin – Richard A. Robinson
Voice, Clarinet, Saxophone – Ben "Pops" Thorton
Voice, Drums, Performer [Chazoid] – Mr. Coles

Recorded at Last Stand Music, Hapeville, GA.
Remastered by Alex Lowe at Southern Living At It's Finest, Atlanta, GA and Bob Pantages at Hideaway Mastering, Ramona, CA.
Originally recorded on Pine Tree Records, 1978.

In a musical career that has spanned nearly five decades, Bruce Hampton has gone from enigmatic cult figure to outright legendary elder statesman.

His first claim to infamy came in the late 60's as member of the Hampton Grease Band, a Southern Rock take on the psychedelic, weird, and progressive sounds of the day, whose sole album Music to Eat holds the dubious honor of being the second worst selling record in the history of the Capricorn/Columbia label (second only to a Yoga instructional record). Despite a cult following and many high profile opening slots with the likes of Frank Zappa, The Allman Brothers and even Jimi Hendrix, the album fell through the cracks due to poor promotion and was yanked from the store shelves after a six week run (thankfully, it's been reissued).

Throughout the 70's and 80's the Colonel continued to perform and record with a variety of mostly regional acts in the Tidewater and Southern states, as well as writing for a number of music magazines, acting as a self-described "good will ambassador for Southern Rock". The best of these recordings were later re-issued in a compilation entitled Strange Voices: A History 1977-1987.

Col. Hampton's greatest claim to fame came about in the mid 90's working with the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Thanks to the burgoening jamband scene being spearheaded by band such as Phish, and the greater exposure recieved by performing on Blues Traveler's H.O.R.D.E. (Horizons Of Rock Developing Everywhere) festval tour, this latest of the Colonel's projects was vaulted into national (if still overall cultish) prominence. Unfortunately, due to health problems the Colonel was forced to leave the Aquarium Rescue Unit to their own devices and take a forced hiatus from perfoming. The Rescue Unit soon dissoved with its members forming solo projects and finding jobs with the likes of Phil Lesh & Friends, The Allman Brothers Band, Leftover Salmon, and Jonas Hellborg.

While he did take a short break from performing, the Colonel did anything but take it easy after leaving the Aquarium Rescue Unit. Hampton was instrumental in organizing a third stage for subsequent H.O.R.D.E. tours, and found time to appear in films such as Sling Blade and Phish bassist Mike Gordon's Outside well forming and touring with bands such as Fiji Mariners and The Codetalkers. The Colonel continues to perform with those bands today as well as making sporatic reunion appearances with ARU.

Hampton Grease Band - 1971 - Music To Eat

Hampton Grease Band
Music To Eat

01. Halifax (19:39)
02. Maria (5:30)
03. Six (19:29)
04. Evans (12:28)
 a. Egyptian Beaver
 b. Evans
05. Lawton (7:48)
06. Hey Old Lady / Bert's Song (3:19)
07. Hendon (20:13)
 a. Spray Paint
 b. Major Bones
 c. Sewell Park
 d. Improvisation

Bruce Hampton - vocals, trumpet
Harold Kelling - guitar, vocals
Glenn Philips - guitar, saxophone
Jerry Fields - drums, vocals
Mike Holbrook - bass

A double album released in 1971 and purported to be the second-worst selling album in the history of Columbia records, "Music To Eat" stands alone in the rock canon, and understandably has become something of a cult favorite. The CD reissue from a couple years back includes some great liner notes compiled from interviews with band members and record company folk from back in the day (theirs is a tale of missed opportunities and spectacular misunderstandings -- perhaps part of their sales problem was due to the fact that their sole album was promoted as a "comedy record!")

The suckrock sound starts with the jazzy guitar freakouts, play-it-like-you-were-being-edited transitions, and self-consciously dada hijinks of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, and of course also encompasses the chinese blues licks and martian field hollers of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band -- but they add a dose of Allman Bros. southern-fried jamology (they were from Atlanta, GA after all) and keep the guitar tones clean and shimmering like the Byrds. Continuing the reference game by looking into the future, what you wind up with is chiming guitar swirls that nearly top those on Televison's "Marquee Moon" LP and some avante-tribal strum-and-drang textures not heard again until the heyday of Sonic Youth, Swans, Band of Susans, et. al. (and these boys don't even use distortion, the guitarists achieve the blurring overtones-n-drones effect just by playing REALLY fast!)

Glen Philips and Harold Kelling are amazing guitar players, and the rhythm section and drummer Jerry Fields in particular are tight as hell -- the only thing that might give one pause is the "hey am I weird or what?" ranting of Bruce Hampton. He sings well enough, like a Beefheart or Roky Erikson (in fact he quit the band in '73 to audition for Zappa -- but lost out to the "Zomby Woof" guy) but it's hard to take his lyrics seriously, I mean it makes Zappa's "oblique trivia lyrics" seem profound. Not "funny ha ha" but more like "funny peculiar." I get the distinct impression part of the reason these guys were such a flop is simply that they were antisocial nerds who didn't play well with other children (or record industry types.) So while the temptation is there to view the Hampton Grease Band as a possible answer to the trivia question "what is the silliest hippy-shit record ever released on a major record label?" in truth it's actually damn near a masterpiece that almost exists outside of history. They certainly didn't fit in to their own time very well, and they weren't ahead of their time either coz no one else has ever played "suckrock" before or since.

The seven songs on the album basically break down into 4 epic pieces (10+ minutes in length) and 3 shorter pieces (under 10 minutes.) "Maria" is a faux-Mexican folk ballad played mostly on acoustic guitars that tells the tale of a 15 year old boy losing his virginity -- vulgar, yet the youthful exuberance of the performance makes it more cute than offensive. "Lawton" is an improvised duet by guitarist Philips and drummer Fields, very unstructured and avante and almost dazzling in that the players never seem to resort to repeating anything or playing canned licks. Finally "Hey Old Lady / Bert's Song" at a marketable 3:19 in length smells like a record company request -- though in typical suckrock style the boys have delivered a song about an old lady and a garbage collector with a demented shriek for a chorus: "WHO'S GONNA LIVE AND DIE? / YER GONNA BE HIGH!!!" Needless to say the radio did not pick this one up.

Epic number one and the leadoff track of the album is "Halifax", the standout song on the LP, and a real unsung gem of the "side long song" genre. Though some sections amount to jazz-inspired blowing sessions, the piece is throroughly composed and played with phenomenal tightness. Indeed, it reminds me of the kind of music Charles Mingus was writing & recording in the late 1950's -- even when cutting loose this band is still telepathically in synch. And normally when a hea-vy band does a 20 minute song about an exotic land with an "X" in its name (like "Syrinx" or "Xanadu") the location is fictional -- the "joke" here is that there actually is a Halifax (Canada), but it is rendered fantastic and unreal by a stream of inspired nonsense lyrical images: sounding like Jon Belushi doing Joe Cocker, Hampton begins with historical notes from the Encyclopaedia Brittanica: "Colonol Edward Cornwalis / brought strength to the English position / he established a civil government . . . " -- then the music shifts and he starts riffing like a travel bureau salesman: "We would like for you to come to Halifax! / Come and breathe some of our air!" A new riff and one of the other singers in the band helpfully interjects: "Six thousand six / hundred and thirty eight / miles of graded road / the local utilities / are owned and operated / by the federal government!" The mood of the piece is upbeat and subtly comedic, full of dynamic changes and whizzing cartoon melodies, a real larf and a harf.

The next epic "Six" demonstrates why HGB is more than just a goof: for all their over-the-top deliberate wackiness, they really do have chops and taste. They know how to put it all together, lyrics married to music to create a context that is more than the sum of it's parts. Where "Halifax" was bouyant and romping, providing the perfect context for it's demented-grin lyrics, here we have "Six" which sounds anxious and even paranoid, coinciding perfectly with its lyrical concerns: mysterious coincidences involving the number 6, and a raving lunatic narrative about aliens from the planet Pajodis coming to earth, performing "nutritional experiments" and "REEMING OUR NASAL PASSAGES!!!" (the delivery on the last line being the most obvious Beefheartism on the LP.)

"Evans" is a relatively concise statement at 12 minutes, and is the most rawkin' tune in the HGB oevre. The lyric is another meaningless in-joke, this time about a friend of the band: "Look at Jim Evans! Look at his hands!" The instrumental passages are fierce and menacing -- this could almost be heavy metal if the guitars weren't so crisp and clean (not a drop of distortion!)

The final track on the album "Hendon" clocks in at just over 20 minutes making it the longest track on an album of longitude -- and according to the liner notes, it was all recorded in one take! Beginning with some lyrics cribbed from the warning label on a can of spray paint ("keep away from flame, AHHHHHH!!!!"), moving on to an anatomy quiz, then a lecture about Sewell Park (where HGB played free concerts in Atlanta), followed by some Magic Band riffing where Hampton repeatedly intones: "I thought I saw a Leo / he made me vomit / driving in his comet" -- then the final "improvisation" section (so-titled): a pastoral passage twice as beautiful and trippy as anything the Dead ever did, almost Ravelesque in parts, building up to a glorious squall of white heat from the buzzing axes of Philips and Kelling.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Lewis Connection - 1979 - The Lewis Connection

The Lewis Connection 
The Lewis Connection

01. Get Up
02. Higher
03. Feel Good To Ya
04. Got To Be Something Here
05. Dynamic Duo
06. Mr. G

Alto Saxophone [Alto Sax] – Richard Hicks (tracks: 2, 5)
Backing Vocals [Background Vocals] – André Lewis (tracks: 1, 3, ), Pierre Lewis (3) (tracks: 1, 3, ), Randy Barber (tracks: 4)
Backing Vocals [Background Vocals], Guitar – Prince (tracks: 4)
Bass – André Lewis (tracks: 2, 3, 5, 6), Sonny Thompson (2) (tracks: 4)
Congas, Percussion – Paul McGee (2) (tracks: 6)
Drums – Chucky Adams (tracks: 6), Joe Lewis (8) (tracks: 4), Richard Lowe (5) (tracks: 1, 2, 3, 5)
Flute – Pierre Lewis (3) (tracks: 4)
Guitar – André Lewis (tracks: 1, 3, 5, 6)
Handclaps – André Lewis (tracks: 1), Barbara Bolar (tracks: 1), Richard Lowe (5) (tracks: 1)
Keyboards – Pierre Lewis (3)
Lead Vocals – Sonny Thompson (2) (tracks: 3)
Producer [Produced By], Arranged By – André Lewis
Producer [Produced By], Arranged By, Keyboards – Pierre Lewis (3)
Tenor Saxophone [Tenor Sax] – Aaron Weatherspoon (tracks: 2, 5), Bill Perry (6)
Trumpet – David Wright (21) (tracks: 2, 5), Jeffery Tresvant (tracks: 4)

Prince's contributions to Got To Be Something Here were recorded in late 1976 or early 1977 at Sound 80 while Prince also worked on his own tracks.

Teens funkin' for Minnesota. Short but sweet LP of pretty tight jams with some interesting (though of course dated) keyboard sounds throughout. Oh, should I mention that this record features some guy named Prince (on just one song)? To be fair, apparently it was reported that Prince said he did not play on it. But he is credited on the back cover. The fact that the record also credits Sonny Thompson on bass, who would go on to play bass for the Purple One cements it for me.

Besides that, you can tell this group had a lot of fun making the record. Their happy go lucky vibe transfers over easily to the listener. In fact, I think this album is considerably better than many of the supposed holy grails of late 70s rare funk. The Lewis Connection never went anywhere as a band, of course, but they can be proud of their brief recorded moment in time.
Who were the Lewis Connection, and seriously, why didn’t they check the spelling before printing the jacket?  This was a super sweet 1979 funk group featuring future NPG bassist Sonny Thompson (Sonny T on the Prince records) and their album features, on only one track, Prince himself.  People pay up to $1000 for this record* because its believed to be Prince’s first appearance on wax.
And its good, and the rest of the album is solid spacey and soulful 70s funk.

For years, collectors have lusted after the album, and in its rare appearances it sells for top dollar. The main reason for the interest has been the contribution of young Prince Rogers Nelson, then a 21-year-old sideman recruited by the Lewis Brothers for a single track recorded at Sound 80. His future sideman, Sonny Thompson, wrote the song and sang lead.

"Me and Sonny and Prince, we'd play at Sonny's house. We'd be switching instruments around; Prince could play all the instruments well," recalls Lewis from his St. Paul home. The three grew up together.

The track was originally recorded by an earlier Lewis brothers project, the Family — not to be confused with Prince's own mid-'80s Family — but never issued. Lewis explains: "When we recorded that song at Sound 80 it was expensive, $120 an hour. And we agreed that whoever hustled the money up first would have the right to the master."

"Got to Be Something Here" is primordial Prince, his first track on wax and a seminal moment in Minneapolis music history, but it's Sonny T's show. "He's incredible," Lewis says of the future NPG bassist. "I don't think he's even from this world. He was born with perfect pitch, and he sees music in colors. I don't even understand what he was doing." Lewis knew enough to raise some cash and stash the master tape away.

A couple of years later, the Lewis brothers had finished cobbling together an album. Working at several studios around the city with engineer David Rivkin, they found they needed an additional track to fill out the second side. The other five tracks featured Andre's funky bass, Pierre's keyboards infused with soul-jazz fusion, and a changing cast of sidemen, notably drummer Richard Lowe.

The band pressed a thousand copies of the album. "We used it to open doors we couldn't get into before," Lewis explains. Soon the Lewis Connection was playing better nightclub gigs, and opening for national acts. The band played in Florida for a while, where Lewis remembers "Got to Be Something Here" drew a little airplay.

When he was given the opportunity to play with James Brown's band, backing Precious Wilson overseas, Andre Lewis left. Pierre Lewis and singer Barbara Bolar starting playing with a Filipino guitar player, but when he left for Japan, taking Bolar with him, Pierre was stranded. "I was a single father, I couldn't leave the city." Only a year and a half after they released their album, the Lewis Connection was no more.

Circumstances conspired to take the album itself away from Lewis, too. "What happened was that while I was living out of the state, my sister cleaned up and threw away the master, and about four or five hundred copies of the album," Lewis explains. "There were boxes that hadn't even been opened."

Lewis laments the money he could have made off the albums, even before the record became a rare collector's item. "We would sell a few at shows; I would get them into record stores."

Prince's presence increased interest in the album in spite of its scarcity. Counterfeits appeared. "I can't blame somebody for trying to make some money, I guess, but I wish they wouldn't do that," says Lewis.

The Lewis brothers had moved from studio to studio chasing lower rates, and the album was hastily mixed and mastered. Ad hoc as it is, the album captures the intensity and potential of the Minneapolis scene in the late '70s. Jokes persist that the band couldn't afford two N's and that's why their name was misspelled on the cover. The back cover has a hastily taken shot of the band by Chris Moon on top of his studio.

The Lewis Brothers' funky tracks are as fresh today as ever, and the Numero reissue faithfully recreates the album while brightening some of the muddiness of the original master, bringing it closer to what the Lewis brothers intended in 1979.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Alan Watts - 1962 - This Is It

Alan Watts 
This Is It 

01. Love You
02. Onion Chant
03. Gagaku-Ku
04. Fingernail Poem
05. Umdagumsubudu
06. Metamatic Ritual
07. The End

Alan Watts - incantations
Roger Somers - drums and chanting
Leah Ananda - conga drum
Joel Andrews - falsetto and evocations
Henry Jacobs - piano and French horn
William Loughborough - bass marimba and lujon

"Alan Watts and friends in a spontaneous musical happening."
Recorded in Sausalito, California.
Tracks 1 to 5 are monaural.
Tracks 6 & 7 are stereophonic.

Alan Watts was an intellectual and a popular interpreter of Eastern philosophies who came to prominence during the 1960s. The author of such works as The Way of Zen and Nature, Man and Woman, and The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Watts recorded with Warner Bros. in 1967. The album is an introduction to Hindu thoughts and tradition, backed by drone rock performed on traditional Indian instruments. Watts was born in England in 1915 and published his first essay at 16 or the Journal of the Buddhist Lodge of London. He came to the United States in 1938 and became the Episcopal chaplain at Northwestern University during World War II. Watts went on to become dean of the American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco and made the public television series Eastern Wisdom and Modern Life. The sage cultivated an audience of millions through more than two dozen books along with lectures, recordings, and countless radio and TV appearances. Watts saw the problem of modern man as his alienation from his fellow man, and tried to mend it as a consultant for psychiatric institutions and hospitals and even the United States Air Force. He spent the mid-'60s traveling through Asia with his students. He died in California in 1973.

Psychedelic music began with the tiniest possible bang: a minuscule pressing of a self-produced LP by Zen Buddhist scholar Alan Watts. In one cosmic flash of inspiration and group improvisation, the next two decades of musical innovation was pre-supposed: psychedelic rock, spiritual jazz, and even new age. As this micro pressing barely made it out of the ashram, it was Watts' writings that actually spread his ideas, usually through osmosis: he was profoundly influential on the beat poets and the subsequent counter-culture. He became the forebear of the 1960s counterculture's spirituality, much as William Burroughs was the forebear of its hedonism.

Released in 1962, This Is It is an imaginative cacophony of percussion, non-verbal chanting, and free-flowing expression, punctuated occasionally by leisurely passes at a terrestrial piano, marimba, or french horn. It is at once experimental, intellectual, and experiential. Three years before Ken Kesey's inaugural Acid Test, This Is It constitutes the first transmission for a tuned-in counterculture of hippies, beats, and psychedelic revolutionaries of all stripes.

Contrary to what one might read, psychedelia didn't begin in 1966, and it wasn't invented by the Beatles or Timothy Leary. Psychedelic research and psychedelic culture had already existed for decades, unknown to most except an esoteric jet-set of researchers, artists and philosophers travelling along the London - Boston/N Y - California axis. The atmosphere could be described as academic-bohemian, incarnated in a few super-educated anglosaxons such as Gerald Heard and Aldous Huxley. These men had the intellectual resources to incorporate the mescaline and LSD experience into their already vast knowledge of Western and Eastern thought, and rather than jolting them out of their tracks it gave them concrete evidence and renewed energy. It was almost like the effect the 1st cup of coffee has for the average office worker.

Expatriate Englishman Alan Watts was already famous in California as an eloquent lecturer and freewheeling thinker when he joined this aristocratic gang of quiet revolutionaries, many of which he knew from Oxbridge/Ivy League circles. Still, he wasn't quite like them; he was from a younger generation (born 1915) and in touch with the beat generation and its representatives. He wasn't a "rock'n'roller" but did belong to a post-WWII mindset, while many of his colleagues came out of an earlier T S Eliot/Bloomsbury Group world, with its remnants of classicism and snobbery. When Watts decided to carry the acid torch for a few years this marked an important event for psychedelia, as he was able to bridge vastly different worlds; Oxford and North Beach, London and San Francisco. Allen Ginsberg did a similar effort, coming from the beat camp, and their combined efforts paved way for the merger of psychedelia and pop-culture in the mid-1960s. Medifast coupons
Alan Watts' key psychedelic work is the slim volume "The Joyous Cosmology" (see details here), published in 1962. Essentially an extension and variation on Aldous Huxley's "Doors Of Perception" it is a tremendous reading experience, more concrete and direct than Huxley's famous work. Both are building blocks in the psychedelic canon.

Much less known is the LP Alan Watts recorded and released the same year. Titled "This Is IT" the album is in fact missing from all Watts bibliographies I've seen, and it ranks as one of his rarest works. The record's importance and uniqueness is only now beginning to see recognition, and its earliest advocates were esoteric record collectors rather than Watts admirers or psychedelic archivists. Its rarity is somewhat puzzling as Watts had recorded and released two albums in the same series and on the same label (MEA) in 1958-59, and these aren't half as obscure.

The record is not easy to describe, and much in line with its theme it remains an aural experience impossible to analyse in a structured way. A key word to suggest its nature might be tribal. Referred to on the back cover as a "spontaneous musical happening", its relationship with the LSD testimonies in "The Joyous Cosmology" is made clear by explicit mention and extensive quotes from this book, such as:

A passage in "The Joyous Cosmology" that is not quoted in the LP notes but seems highly relevant is (p 92):

One central conclusion Watts derived from his LSD experiences as presented in the book is the idea of life as goal-less play, which is to be understood in a wider, zen-like context. Within this framework lies the potential for insights, work and creativity. The recording of a semi-improvised music and rapping session can then take on a number of meanings; from good clean fun to a soundtrack for a deep hallucinogenic journey. While there is no direct evidence that "This Is IT" was facilitated with the aid of psychedelics, it was created at a time when Watts' interest in such was at a peak. The real proof may be in the grooves, and most people who hear it are likely to infer that it's the outcome of an actual LSD session. It certainly sounds like it.

The LP begins with "an explosive dialogue" wherein Watts and associate Roger Somers rap and ramble over a crude piano and percussion backdrop; an extraordinary intensity rapidly builds and culminates in voices screaming and chanting "loveyouloveyouloveyou", abrutply cut off with a state of the art (for 1962) psychedelic echo effect. It's too tribal to be avantgarde art, too crude to be free jazz, too freaky to be rock'n'roll - it just is "IT", and that's all you can say about IT.

We are then greeted by Watts' delightful voice introducing the "Onion Chant". The confident mid-Atlantic lecturer tone that was such a hit with Bay Area radio listeners briefly recaps a theme from the acid visions of "The Joyous Cosmology", namely that the spiritual student finds himself in an infinite regress of self-realization, where he steps out of his phony egos over and over, like peeling the skin of an onion, until he reaches a point wherein there is almost nothing "genuine" left -- and the subsequent realization isn't moksha, but rather the insight that one is a fake. "He is artifice and insincerity, through and through and through...". This rather harsh message of liberation gives way to an extraordinary uptempo chant with conga drums supporting Watts' seemingly ad libbed trip into an aboriginal tribesman past. You can pick up the word "LSD" early in the chant, but this may be coincidental.

Watts was, among many other things, a great admirer of Japanese culture and tradition, which is echoed in the brief third track of instrumental music. This is followed by an obviously improvised "floating soliloquy" wherein Watts rambles like a true freak about whatever comes through his mind, sounding more like a Shakespeare stage actor zonked on acid than his eloquent lecturer self. "I am so strange in this... queer dark old stewpot..." is just the beginning of the trip, which leads way to some heavy metaphysical poetry about the human body and a rendezvous of friends "high in the sky like the moon". These "Fingernail pairings", supported by feeble avant-jazz snips, is as psychedelic as anything you're ever likely to hear.

Side 1 closes with "Umdagumsubudu", a "controlled accident" with frantic drumming and incomprehensible chanting back and forth, exploring in full the African/Caribbean tribal voodoo feel present throughout the album. It's spooky like an old Nonesuch field recording, except that this is a bunch of white beatnik heads aboard a Sausalito house-boat in 1962, rather than some age-old initiation rite. Uncontrolled laughter and an outburst of Watts coughing puts the listener right inside their freak scene.

Another strand in the colorful ball of "This Is IT" is the influence from religious music of the ecstatic, devotional type. Some of the rants have a tongue-speaking quality, while there is a clear presence of liturgical wailing at the beginning of side 2. This is the "Metamatic Ritual", a 14-minute "contemplative ritual mounting slowly to ecstasy". The whole gang joins in with various percussion instruments and chanting voices half-buried in the soundscape, the total impression being very effective and enchanting. Although improvised, it seems obvious that there was a clear group-mind at play here, much like you can find on tribal acidrock albums such as Beat Of The Earth, Yahowha 13 or Furekaaben; some call-response passages also recall the Merry Pranksters recordings from 1965-66. "Metamatic Ritual" is also the track which best displays the quality of the musicians, with some excellent drum/conga interplay.

"The End" naturally takes us back to the beginning, as it is partly the same track that opened the LP. There is some atmospheric, low-key wailing from Watts and Roger Somers, before the craziness creeps back in, with eerie piano excursions, percussion and incomprehensible ramblings in invented languages; an excellent use of stereo is demonstrated with the chanting voices taking up one channel each (side 1 is mono).

"This Is IT" is an extraordinary album on every level; it must be taken into account in any serious chronicle of psychedelia. Even in 2003 the album appears highly advanced and challenging, its intensity certain to surprise those expecting some bongo-beating beatniks mumbling about nirvana. Timelessness, courage and a sense of absolute freedom makes it a truly essential experience. The fact that it was created by one of the portal figures of the mid-century's spiritual revolution is just one aspect of its importance and appeal.


Alan Watts released several records during the 1958-1969 timeframe, although none of them can be compared to "This Is IT". The two other albums in the MEA label series are as follows: 

"Haiku" (MEA 1001)
This was the first Alan Watts recording produced by Musical Engineering Association in Sausalito CA. One side contains an introduction to Haiku and Zen in a talk by Alan Watts. The other side, backed by exotic music, Watts and Sumire Jacobs alternately read (in English and Japanese) Haiku poems. They are grouped according to the four seasons. 

"Zen & Senryu" (MEA 1002)
Side 1 of this LP is titled "Zen Poems" with an introduction by Alan Watts followed by the recitation of some Zen poems. Side 2 is the recitation of several Senryu poems described as satirical poems in the Haiku form. Watts reads the poems in English after Sumire Hasagawa Jacobs reads them in Japanese all backed by exotic music by Vincent Delgado.

Tapes and literature by Alan Watts are not difficult to find, both used and in-print. There are also a couple of official websites, none of which contain any references to the "This Is IT" album. 

It should also be pointed out that Watts' book "This Is It - Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience" (1960) has no immediate relationship with the LP of the same name, and that "The Joyous Cosmology" (1962) is the Watts book most closely related to the LP and his psychedelic research. 

Watts passed away in 1973 but remains one of the most celebrated spiritual thinkers of the turbulent post-war era.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Les McCann - 1971 - Invitation To Openness

Les McCann 
Invitation To Openness

01. The Lovers
02. Beaux J. Poo Boo
03. Poo Pye McGoochie (And His Friends)

Bass – Jimmy Rowser
Drums [African Drums], Percussion – William "Buck" Clarke
Drums, Percussion – Al Mouzon, Bernard Purdie, Donald Dean
Electric Bass – Bill Salter
Electric Guitar – Cornell Dupree
Electric Piano – Jodie Christian
Guitar, Electric Guitar – David Spinozza
Harp – Corky Hale
Percussion – Ralph McDonald
Piano, Electric Piano, Synthesizer [Moog Synthesizer] – Les McCann
Tenor Saxophone, Oboe, Flute [Flute, Pneumatic Flute], Percussion [Plum Blossom], Temple Bells – Yusef Lateef

Les McCann reached the peak of his career at the 1969 Montreux Jazz Festival, recording "Compared to What" and "Cold Duck Time" for Atlantic (Swiss Movement) with Eddie Harris and Benny Bailey. Although he has done some worthwhile work since then, much of it has been anticlimactic.
McCann first gained some fame in 1956 when he won a talent contest in the Navy as a singer that resulted in an appearance on television on The Ed Sullivan Show. After being discharged, he formed a trio in Los Angeles. McCann turned down an invitation to join the Cannonball Adderley Quintet so he could work on his own music. He signed a contract with Pacific Jazz and in 1960 gained some fame with his albums Les McCann Plays the Truth and The Shout. His soulful, funk style on piano was influential and McCann's singing was largely secondary until the mid-'60s. He recorded many albums for Pacific Jazz during 1960-1964, mostly with his trio but also featuring Ben Webster, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Blue Mitchell, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Pass, the Jazz Crusaders, and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra.

McCann switched to Limelight during 1965-1967 and then signed with Atlantic in 1968. After the success of Swiss Movement, McCann emphasized his singing at the expense of his playing and he began to utilize electric keyboards, notably on 1972's Layers. His recordings became less interesting to traditional jazz fans from that point on, and after his Atlantic contract ran out in 1976, McCann appeared on records much less often. However, he stayed popular and a 1994 reunion tour with Eddie Harris was quite successful. A mid-'90s stroke put him out of action for a time and weakened his keyboard playing (his band began carrying an additional keyboardist) but Les McCann returned to a more active schedule during 1996 and was still a powerful singer. His comeback was solidified by 2002's Pump It Up, a guest-heavy celebration of funk and jazz released on ESC Records.

“The Lovers” is both central to the free-form spirit of 1972’s Invitation to Openness, and to understanding Les McCann’s little-heard ability to blend deep soul and outside concepts. Completely improvised, the track works as an extended, 26-minute argument for something McCann didn’t do nearly enough: Use his typically overlooked second career at the electric piano to race toward jazz’s frontiers.

Les McCann had risen to fame, of course, in an acoustic jazz trio setting, playing R&B-drenched music as it had been played forever. His early apex happened with the 1969 smash Swiss Movement (featuring Eddie Harris, and the ageless “Compared to What”), followed with the sequel Second Movement. By the turn of the ’70s, however, Les McCann had become enamored with the day’s emerging mainstream soul sounds, principally that of the electric piano.

McCann then assembled a 13-member group to improvise for producer Joel Dorn around a few loose themes, very much in the style of Miles Davis’ contemporaneous recordings, and with a similarly talented all-star cast. The lineup of five percussionists on Invitation to Openness included Ralph McDonald and Bernard Purdie. Guitarist Cornell Dupree could be found tangling with multi-talented David Spinozza — just as the latter was rising to fame for his work with Paul McCartney on Ram. Yusef Lateef, Alphonse Mouzon and regular McCann contributors Jimmy Rowser and Donald Dean were also on hand.

There was nothing more to it, really. No charts, no complex instructions beyond a wink or a nod. They gathered inside Atlantic’s studios at 60th and Broadway, and began to build a masterpiece around Les McCann’s main voice. With no rules, everything was on the table. “The Lovers” even includes shimmering harp work by Corky Hale, adding another exotic element to this indescribably unique triumph.

“The Lovers” initially took up all of Side 1 on Invitation to Openness, which has been newly reissued by Omnivore with the addition of a live take on Les McCann’s signature “Compared to What.” He rounded out the original release with two other cuts, “Breaux J. Poo Boo” (an electrified update of a track from McCann’s earlier Limelight) and “Poo Pye McGoochie” (featuring these funky, funky asides from Lateef, who sets his flute down for a turn on tenor). But Invitation to Openness had already made its mark.

“The Lovers” is the sound of someone loosing himself from the bonds of expectation, and certainly from the oft-staid strictures of soul jazz — which too often settles for groove instead of searching for meaning. Les McCann managed, for a fizzy half hour or so, to combine these two disparate impulses. It was music that moved both your hips and heart.

Invitation to Openness is proof of the massive influence that Miles Davis' album In a Silent Way had on the development of electric Jazz.

In a similar vein as Donald Byrd's Electric Byrd, and as Julian Priester's Love, Love, Invitation to Openness feeds on the modal basis laid down by the tight grooves of the band, the clock-like ticking of the drums, and the psychedelic effects of the electric instruments, upon which individual members of the band stretch out soloing. On Poo Pye McGoochie (and his friends), Alphonse Mouzon finds a slot for a drum solo. Throughout, a lot of the fascination is caused by the double cast - two guitarists, two bass players, two drummers, plus percussion.

The Lovers fills all of the record's Side One. A meditative, intro with a slightly psychedelic effect enhanced by Corky Hale's harp leads to a modal riff, which is sustained throughout the 26 minute long piece. Before you know it, the riff turns funky, and Yusef Lateef introduces an anthem-like Arabian influenced theme on the oboe - by which time you might already be dancing to this One-Thousand-and-One-Nights trip. Fabulous!

Beaux J. Poo Boo starts with a churchy riff. Later on in the tune, the band turns the beat into something similar to Cocinando on Ray Barretto's Que viva la música. The drummers keep that pulse-like beat throughout - think of Tony Williams' trend setting drums on In a Silent Way.

The lineup includes, among others, David Spinozza,Yusef Lateef, Cornell Dupree, Alphonse Mouzon, Bernard Purdie, Ralph MacDonald, Buck Clarke, William Clarke, Jimmy Rowser, and Bill Salter. Les himself proves to be one of the leading e-pianists of the Electric Jazz period here, and among those, he's the one who's most rooted in the Blues.

Invitation to Openness is one of the great and important albums from the Electric Jazz fusion period and as far as I'm concerned, Les McCann's coup de maître.

Julian Priester - 1974 - Love, Love

Julian Priester 
Love, Love

01. Prologue / Love, Love
02. Images
03. Eternal Worlds / Epilogue

- Julian Priester / trombones, baritone horn, post horn, whistle flute, cowbell, small percussion, ARP 2600 synthesizer, Proto-type ARP string synthesizer
- Pat Gleeson / ARP 2600 synthesizer, ARP Odyssey synthesizer, Moog III, Oberheim digital sequencer
- Hadley Caliman / flute, saxophones, bass clarinet
- Bayete Umbra Zindinko / fender rhodes, piano, clavinet D-6
- Nyimbo Henry Franklin / fender bass, acoustic bass on all but "Love, Love"
- Ndugu Leon Chancler / drums on all but "Love, Love"
- Mguanda David Johnson / flute, soprano saxophone on all but "Love, Love"
- Kamau Eric Gravatt / drums, congas on "Love, Love"
- Ron McClure / fender bass on "Love, Love"
- Bill Connors / electric guitar on "Love, Love"

Composer: Julian Priester (Pepo Mtoto)
Recorded June 28 and September 12, 1973 at Different Fur Music, San Francisco.

Born in Chicago on June 29 1935, Julian Priester spent his teenage years performing in Chicago's vibrant RnB scene with artists such as Muddy Waters, Dinah Washington and Bo Diddley. In the mid-50s he joined Sun Ra's groundbreaking avant-garde big band. In 1958 Julian split for New York where he joined Max Roach while Roach was involved in recordings such as Freedom Now Suite, an album that combines jazz improvisation with concert hall composition.

In 1960 Priester made his first recordings as a band leader and then joined the Blue Note label as an in-demand session trombonist. While with Blue Note he recorded with Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Sam Rivers, John Coltrane and others. In the early 70s Julian joined Herbie Hancock's legendary Sextet which combined spacey avant jazz with electronics and psychedic studio production. Splitting from Hancock in 73, Priester continued this style of progressive jazz fusion with two recordings of his own on the ECM label.

In the 80s and 90s Priester worked with Sun Ra's band again, as well as Dave Holland, Charlie Haden and others. In the late 90s he began to record under his own name again, and continues to do so to this day.

If you like Herbie Hancock's album Sextant, then you will most likely enjoy this as well. Julian Priester was a member of Hancock's Mwandishi line-up as well as having his own history in Jazz. Like the Mwandishi albums the music here is spacey, electric jazz. This type of music is sometimes referred to as "kosmigroove." Love, Love is slightly more traditional jazz than the Mwandishi albums. Priester's main instrument is trombone but here he also plays percussion and synthesizers. The only other Mwandishi member to appear here is Dr. Patrick Gleeson, who not only supplies the Moog and ARP synths he used on Crossings and Sextant, but a Oberheim digital sequencer which must have been straight off the assembly line.
I listened to the vinyl version of this album which has three tracks; the CD version has the last two songs as one track. To me, it seems like the middle song "Images" should be seperate from the last song. The title track features then Return To Forever guitarist Bill Connors, which is a great addition since there was no guitar on the Mwandishi albums. "Prologue / Love, Love" is similar to "Hornets" on Sextant. It starts with some orchestral jazz. The majority of this track is built around the funky odd-metered bassline. The drumming is great, repetative in a Can fashion. Basically a bunch of solos on modified wind instruments over a groove...but what an awesome groove it is.

Spacey effects on synths and whatnot come and go. Almost halfway you start hearing Mellotron strings which disappear and reappear throughout the remainder of the piece. Percussion becomes more noticeable over halfway. Towards the end the bass starts leaving more pauses and some fuzz gets applied to it. The music slowly dies out and ends. Compared to the last track, "Images" is more trad jazzy. Starts off with some free-form avant- jazz. Later more orchestral jazz. Then gets more spacey. Slowly the piece gets more dissonant. After 6 minutes the bass lays down a groove for the wind players to do avant solos over. The drums, meanwhile, are a little more varied. Lots of cacophony at the end.

"Eternal Words / Epilogue" ends the album on a very jazzy note. Certainly the least avant or rock sounding track. This begins with something wah-wahed and very jazzy piano and hi-hat. The beginning almost reminds me of pre-MDK Magma. Ends with more orchestral jazz. The first song is the best and the closest to the "kosmigroove" style. Unfortunately, Julian never made any more albums like this. I assume he is only on this site because of this album. But it's a great album. No Sextant, but close.