Saturday, October 31, 2009

Roky´s Ghosts

If you have ghosts, you have everything... Halloween never interested me all that much, but it´s everywhere these days, so what can a poor boy do? Compile a halloween-themed Roky Erickson six pack for ya I guess...

So here goes. Featuring a zombie, a creature, some demons and ghosts, and last but not least a two-headed dog. "Winds quiet in the night, her body just blows messiah, sickening sweet sight left and right... is all right does not please my appetite..."

Right on Roky, right on.

Roky Erickson & The Aliens - I Walked With A Zombie MP3
Roky Erickson & The Aliens - I Think Of Demons MP3
Roky Erickson - If You Have Ghosts MP3
Roky Erickson - Creature With The Atom Brain MP3
Roky Erickson & The Aliens - Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog) MP3
Roky Erickson & The Aliens - Stand For The Fire Demon MP3

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fela Marathon

My new blogging colleague Fil over at Star Maker Machine took on a Fela Kuti track a few days ago as part of this weeks Ghosts and Zombies Halloween theme. The song in question - the well-known Zombie of course - is a real scorcher. As he writes: "Just about any '70s Fela will do, but if you can only have one of his songs, Zombie is the one to get".

I fully agree, but it got me to thinking about other Fela tracks I cherish. And as the Nigerian legend´s afrobeat is highly addictive, I found myself hosting a total Fela marathon last night. Good fun. And at last, I settled for the following three songs. First up is the ultra-funky Eko Ile from ´73: no wonder they sometimes call Fela the African James Brown. Next comes the jazzy No Agreement (´77), featuring Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter Lester Bowie in fine form. And last but not least there´s the hypnotic Expensive Shit (´75).

The anecdote about the latter is too good not to relate briefly here: Nigerian cops once planted a joint on Fela, who immediately swallowed it to destroy the evidence. He was then kept in jail until he could pass the drugs from his system. Miraculously, nothing turned up when his fecal sample was sent in for analysis, as he got help from his fellow inmates. Looking at the costs of this farce, Kuti coined the phrase expensive shit. True story.

Fela Kuti - Eko Ile MP3
Fela Kuti - No Agreement MP3
Fela Kuti - Expensive Shit MP3

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hats Off

"When Charlie speaks of Lester, you know someone great has gone...
The sweetest swingin´ music man, had a Porkie Pig hat on..."

Here´s three versions of Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, the immortal ´59 tribute to recently deceased tenor great Lester ´Pres´ Young by ´angry man of jazz´ Charles Mingus. The bassist´s original, which became a jazz standard over the years, simply flows and flows.

In ´68 British folk experimentalists Pentangle - featuring the dual guitar wizardry of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn - tackled the song with a totally different, all-acoustic approach. It remained jazz somehow though.

And Joni Mitchell even set Goodbye Pork Pie Hat to words in ´78 when she was collaborating with Mingus in what proved to be the last months of his life. "We came up from the subway, on the music midnight makes, to Charlie's bass and Lester's saxophone, in taxi horns and brakes..." Oh yes.

Charles Mingus - Goodbye Pork Pie Hat MP3
Pentangle - Goodbye Pork Pie Hat MP3
Joni Mitchell - Goodbye Pork Pie Hat MP3

And as a bonus, here´s Lester Young (1909-1959) himself. All dig the Pres.

Lester Young - Love Me Or Leave Me MP3
Lester Young - Red Boy Blues MP3
Lester Young - Gypsy In My Soul MP3

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keep On Truckin´

I gotta admit I was a bit late in discovering the Drive-By Truckers. Guess people just plain forgot to tell me about them or something. And when I finally did wake up to these southern rebel rousers a couple of years back, they crept up on me only slowly. Haven´t got a clue to the why, but it took me a quite while to acknowledge that the Truckers are probably the finest American roots rock band since... well, Uncle Tupelo maybe?

For some reason, their music works especially well while driving. So if you´re going on a road trip today, just load the tracks below - five personal faves, all from different albums - in your iPod and see what happens. Happy trails.

Drive-By Truckers - The Three Great Alabama Icons MP3
Drive-By Truckers - Tornadoes MP3
Drive-By Truckers - Daddy Needs A Drink MP3
Drive-By Truckers - The Night G.G. Allin Came To Town MP3
Drive-By Truckers - Panties In Your Purse MP3

Monday, October 19, 2009

If The Rain Comes...

Winter´s coming... and me no like. After more than five months of sunshine, wearing shorts and flipflops at all times, it´s kinda hard to adjust. Today was the first day I had to put on my trusted leather jacket, while inside the heater had to be turned on again. Last Saturday, it proved still possible to enjoy lunch outside, in shirtsleeves while sporting sunglasses, but now the weather has definitely turned. Living in a mediterranean climate, it would be hard to maintain that it´s colder than a witch´s tit, or even a well digger´s ass out there, but it sure feels that way to me at the moment. Oh well, at least the mozzies are a goner.

Another drop in temperature is expected, and the weatherman says it´s going to pour tomorrow. Which gives me an excellent opportunity to provide you with a musical ten pack about the rain. I´ve left out the most obvious ones, so no Beatles (you´ll get a fun cover version though), Temptations or Ann Peebles this time around. Now where´s that umbrella again...

Meat Puppets - Look At The Rain MP3
Keith Hudson - In The Rain MP3
Beatle Hans & The Paisley Perverts - Rain MP3
The Velvet Underground - Hey Mr. Rain MP3
The Pogues - Rain Street MP3
Lonnie Johnson - Pouring Down Rain MP3
Townes Van Zandt - None But The Rain MP3
Prince Far I - Rain A Fall MP3
The Rising Storm - The Rain Falls Down MP3
Blacktop - I Think It´s Going To Rain MP3

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Faits Divers

No that´s not a new supergroup, it´s just French for odds and ends. Would make a good band name though... but anyway. Here´s a collection of assorted sounds that kept me busy over the last few weeks. Featuring amongst others the return of a former Joy Division and New Order stalwart, the post Pop Group postpunk-funk of Rip Rig & Panic, and some more happy Len.

First up is Bernard Sumner´s new band, named after a pretty good movie starring Harvel Keitel. Got this one in the mail and didn´t expect a lot of it to be honest, but Sink Or Swim proved to be a pleasant surprise. Hit!

Bad Lieutenant - Sink Or Swim MP3

Rip Rig & Panic rose from the ashes of The Pop Group, and featured wonderwoman Neneh Cherry on vocals. An impressive avant-garde funk ensemble, they had a way with wonderful song titles, and are now sadly forgotten. Their highly original ´81 debut God didn´t even get a cd release yet. And that´s just plain ridiculous.

Rip Rig & Panic - Those Eskimo Women Speak Frankly MP3
Rip Rig & Panic - Constant Drudgery Is Harmful To Soul, Spirit & Health MP3

Another postpunk gem I just can´t stop playing is I, Bloodbrother Be (£4,000 Love Letter) by the Shockheaded Peters. A dark and jazzy gay anthem that even caused a bit of a scandal back in the early eighties, my sweeties...

Shockheaded Peters - I, Bloodbrother Be (£4,000 Love Letter) MP3

Some dear friends of mine surprised me with a cd called La Cantina by Mexican/American singer Lila Downs recently, and I quite like her postmodern take on traditional Mexican fare. And hey, is that the mighty Flaco Jimenez on accordeon here? Yup. What´s more, he even wrote the song.

Lila Downs - Tu Recuerdo Y Yo MP3

Have also been on a total Bowie trip over the last few months. Used to be a huge fan, but can´t say I´ve given the Thin White Duke much thought over the last couple of decennia, probably because he never released an even half-decent album since Scary Monsters came out in ´80. His classic stuff still stands though, as I was glad to find out. Here he covers Jaques Brel. And he does that very well.

David Bowie - My Death MP3

As a Mountain Goats fan from stage one, I usually prefer their early lofi stuff to the more polished recent output. But the newly released The Life Of The World To Come has me converted. I repent, Mr. Darnielle, I repent. A masterpiece.

Mountain Goats - Matthew 25:21 MP3

Let´s end this mixed bag with the song I liked most from Leonard Cohen´s recent Barcelona concert. "I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get? Hank Williams hasn´t answered yet... But I hear him coughing all night long, a hundred floors above me in the tower of song..."

Leonard Cohen - Tower Of Song MP3

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pure Mountain Air

You can slowly feel the autumn coming on now in these parts and I almost immediately caught a cold like you wouldn´t believe. This afternoon´s garlic soup helped somewhat, but I could really do with some pure mountain air right now to clear the head.

As that´s not possible alas, let´s settle for some timeless tunes from the mythical mountains of Kentucky. These field recordings were made in ´59 by neo-folkie John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers, and feature a bunch of old folks sittin´ on the porch in some backwood holler, pickin´ and fiddlin´ the time away, often performing traditionals some long-forgotten forefathers took with them on the boat over from the British Isles way back when.

If you´re into Harry Smith´s Anthology Of American Folk Music, you won´t be disappointed with the pureness of these tracks. Pay special attention to the amazing Mr. & Mrs. Sams: they do the greatest version of the oft-played Wagoner´s Lad I´ve ever heard.

Mr. & Mrs. Sams - The Wagoner´s Lad MP3
Roscoe Holcomb - Hills Of Mexico MP3
Bill Cornett - Pretty Polly MP3
Granville Bowlin - Wild Bill Jones MP3
James Crase - Fox Chase MP3

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Puzzled As The Oyster

"Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you hare when I was fox?
Now my foolish boat is leaning,
Broken lovelorn on your rocks..."

Tim Buckley´s immortal Song To The Siren is a classic you´re probably all familiar with. But have you ever heard the early solo take he performed in 1968 on the Monkees tv show? Do yourselves a favour, it´s a twelve-string diamond. Note that the lyrics differ slightly: "I am puzzled as the oyster" later became "I'm as puzzled as the new born child", allegedly because singer Judy Henske, married to Buckley´s producer Jerry Yester, laughed out loud at the original line. I see her point...

As a bonus, there´s the lush studio version released two years later on the Starsailor album. Anyone know why this masterpiece has been out of print for ages btw? And last but not least check out the remarkably tasteful eighties cover by goth forerunners This Mortal Coil, which even managed to spawn a Buckley revival of sorts.

Tim Buckley - Song To The Siren (solo) MP3
Tim Buckley - Song To The Siren MP3
This Mortal Coil - Song To The Siren MP3