Don't Punk Out
02. If It Should Happen 4:05
03. Fright 4:23
04. At Reel's End 2:31
05. Bobo Did It 2:31
06. Ghosts 4:16
07. The Clam 0:54
08. St Thomas (Fire Down There) 1:29
09. Phantom To Tower (Parts 1 & 2) 4:22
10. You Were Right In The First Place 2:44
11. 45 1st Ave (Parts 1 & 2) 2:50
12. There's No Place Like Home 2:51
13. Doctor Too-Much 2:45
14. Don't Punk Out (Parts 1 & 2) 3:04
Guitar [6-string, 12-string] – Eugene Chadbourne
Tenor Saxophone – Frank Lowe
Stereo recording, New York City, October 13, 1977
Most pieces are complete as performed, no overdubbing has been used.
Don't Punk Out was first released on LP by Emanem in 1979. The album then consisted of 16 tracks recorded by Frank Lowe (tenor saxophone) and Eugene Chadbourne (electric and acoustic guitar) on October 13, 1977. For the CD reissue, Chadbourne dug up three Lowe pieces he recorded on guitar in 1979, while Lowe went back into the studio in April 2000 to record three fresh solo tracks (one composition and tunes by Oliver Nelson and Don Cherry). Both musicians agreed on aiming at short pieces for this session. Each one brought a handful of compositions, the title track was written in collaboration, and two free improvs were also recorded, along with Albert Ayler's "Ghosts" and a Sonny Rollins favorite "Fire Down There." True to both musicians, most of the music is manic, punchy, with an intensity heighten by the shortness of the takes. Chadbourne's "The Clam" is a complete theme-solos-recap jazz tune in 55 seconds. But surprisingly, this duo could also quiet down, as exemplified by "Fright" and the very nice "You Were Right in the First Place." As usual with Chadbourne, there is a strong feeling of controlled sloppiness, although fans will find him more tidy than usual. Not a stellar recording, Don't Punk Out remains an enjoyable album and a good testimony of what these two could do together. The three bonus Lowe solos put the cherry on top of the sundae.
Excerpts from sleeve notes:
In 1975, I received an unsolicited and unexpected cutting taken from the Calgary Herald. It was a review of the Emanem record by the duo of Anthony Braxton and Derek Bailey written by the paper's staff writer, one Eugene Chadbourne. A correspondence developed, and a second Calgary Herald cutting arrived featuring reviews of solo records by Bailey, Evan Parker and Paul Rutherford. The next thing to arrive was a solo guitar record revealing that Chadbourne was also an excellent musician as well as a superior critic.
Subsequent mail revealed that he was leaving Calgary (where he had been staying to avoid participating in the wanton destruction of Vietnam) and moving to New York City (which was near where I was living at the time). On arrival he teamed up with violinist Polly Bradford and the then unknown John Zorn, and New York City had its first group somewhat influenced by the methods and techniques of the London improvisers.
However, Chadbourne also began working with some of the already established Free Jazz musicians, most notably Frank Lowe and Charles Tyler. By that time, Lowe had become one of the fixtures and leading lights of the New York City Free Jazz scene. After a decade of playing in bands led by Rashied Ali, Don Cherry, Alice Coltrane, Milford Graves, Sunny Murray, Sun Ra and others, he was well on the way to his uniquely individual path, and was leading some remarkable groups both on stage and on record.
In 1977, Emanem was in one of its inactive periods caused by lack of freedom(money). We were investigating some hair-brain tax loss scheme to put out a series of records. All I remember about this was that it involved several long conversations with a lawyer (which we didn't pay for, I hasten to add). Fortunately (with hindsight), nothing came of this, except for one recording session.
When I suggested to Lowe and Chadbourne that they might do a duo for the projected series, they jumped at the idea, and arranged a date when they would both be in the city. (The results didn't come out until two years later, when Emanem managed one of its sporadic gasps of activity.) The session took place in Chadbourne's brother's apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with the musicians playing in one room and me operating my tape recorder in another.
The musicians came to the session fully prepared and rehearsed. They had decided to make the music as different as possible from the Braxton/Bailey record with its similar instrumentation. They thus decided to go for numerous short pieces, most of which used written material. Lowe also wanted to pay a tribute to the two saxophonists who had most influenced him by performing Ghosts by Albert Ayler, and Fire Down There - the traditional tune from St Thomas (in the Virgin Islands) that Sonny Rollins often used.
This session produced just enough material for an LP. To take the project up to CD length, Chadbourne dug up a 1979 solo tape, while Lowe opted to record some new solos. In a recent email, Chadbourne said the following about his additions (which Lowe titled Inner Extremities Suite for this CD release):
"The history of this tape is that it was made at a drummer friend of mine's loft on the way back from a rehearsal with Frank Lowe. During this rehearsal, the bridge of my guitar snapped and so when we were recording at my friend's I got the guitar to play by shoving a paintbrush under the strings. I was experimenting with using this as a kind of 'whammy bar', but it ends up sounding more like a wah wah pedal. Really weird, but it is an acoustic and not electric effect. I played some new tunes Lowe had just showed me. I never got through the final tune because the guitar went so way out of intonation.
Of course at the time I never thought about releasing these tapes, this was purely horsing around... BUT listening to this now years after the fact, I actually think they would be nice in combination with DON'T PUNK OUT... so much of my stuff from this period is kind of manic but this is pretty relaxed sounding, most likely because of the circumstances."
For the original LP release of DON'T PUNK OUT, I decided to choose the most inappropriate picture I could find. I appear to have succeeded, since neither of the musicians wanted it used again. So the CD cover is very different from the LP, except that I have left a trace of the offending illustration in order to try to appease any original cover freaks.