Monday, March 23, 2015

Congratulations Ted Cruz!!!!


Looking forward to hearing your presidential plans for the Teletubbies. Will they sit on the pulpit with you? Will in your lap of eternal Jesus sunshine? What if they are illegal immigrants? Will your lord save them? Will that be enough? What would Jerry do?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Space Was The Place.


I've been waiting for this since the existence of YouTube. Somebody has posted clips of E.T. Monitor, hosted by Bob Barry, Christian UFO investigator extraordinaire. He broadcast from Red Lion, PA in the 80s and 90s. I don't know if there were even a 100 of us watching. One time, for the holiday show, he set forth his proof of the existence of UFOs using images on Christmas cards. Pranksters would call in pretending to be aliens. He was nice to them anyway. Sometimes his sweet wife would help him on camera. He and his wife loved Jesus. Bob was born at the wrong time. Just like you and me.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Still On The Line


And I need you more than want you
And I want you for all time.

That infinity loop of yearning is the fulcrum on which Jimmy Webb's perfect pop song, Wichita Lineman, rests. The song's been covered by many, but Glen Campbell remains its master. Over the years he's performed it thousands of times. The way Campbell has been able to keep the tune fresh is as much a testament to his playing and arranging abilities as it is to the way Webb places the poles of the song just far enough apart to keep its lines open.


This was my introduction to "Wichita Lineman." Here it is, straight up, cutting through the artifice of the set, the lip syncing, and the polyester that makes up that turtleneck.



Decades later, on Jools Holland with a cracking band. Check the guitar solo that gets funked up and dirtied down. Also, a little after the 2 minute mark we get the reminder that this dude can shred. And the voice. The voice remains. The way he lifts the melody on the "And I need you more than want you." keeps the song fresh for everybody involved. I don't care what you do. You will never be this good at it.



Even with an orchestra and ham-fisted keyboards behind him, Glen cuts through it all with his diamond voice and a crystalline guitar line. In fact, his guitar solo is as subtle and fluid as Richard Thompson at his best.



Keith Urban & Glen Campbell in Las Vegas. Two amazing players hitting the frets. Campbell steals it though with his string-bending take on the classic solo. Again, think Richard Thompson. Sick!



Roots on the line. Reggae legend Dennis Brown brings an entirely new world of ways to voice this song. Phrasings eternal. And props to (probably) Mikey Chung for showing how much the Campbell's template guitar solo lends itself to interpretation and experimentation.



Jimmy Webb, singing his own masterpiece with the gentle accompaniment of a lap steel guitar and Paul Shaffer's accordian.



Freedy Johnston, man. It's part of his thing, and we are blessed by it.



There's a long history of REM bootlegs with Wichita Lineman on the set list. Here, Michael Stipe and Patti Smith give it a go. Somehow, through the messiness, the song makes it through all the while taking on a new poignancy because of the relationship between the two singers.



Cassandra Wilson. That is all. Cassandra Wilson.



OK. The song is not COMPLETELY invincible. Here, Glen teams up with Stone Temple Pilots. There is not a song on earth that Stone Temple Pilots can't make boring.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Record Store Day.


You might not have known it, but this past Monday was Record Store Day. At least in my life it was. I walked into the Downtown Music Gallery that afternoon looking for something a little off the beaten Robert Wyatt path. Which means way, way off the fire trail in the middle of a forest a couple 100 miles from the nearest thing that resembles a path. The ever-helpful walking encyclopedia and co-owner Bruce directed me to Michael Mantler's The Hapless Child And Other Inscrutable Stories featuring the text of Edward Gorey. At first it didn't seem quite my cup of tea, but then I looked at the list of players and saw the inventive Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal. This was a good start. I decided to give it a chance. I don't need to tell you how that worked out, but I will.

I'd been in the shop a couple months ago right after Bruce and one of his employees, Chuck, had brought in some CDRs of a band they'd just discovered (To be geekily accurate, Chuck discovered them and turned Bruce onto them.), Wei Zhongle. They remind me of Henry Cow, This Heat, General Strike with a dash of Gang of Four and featuring vocals that sound vaguely Chinese even though the lyrics are in English. Mad, mad stuff. ANYWAY (This is me reflecting the overarching idea that one of the best things about shopping in a record store are the tangents.), when I'd bought the Wei Zhongle's they had mentioned a clarinet quartet CDR by one of band's members, John McCowen. I didn't buy it then, but it stuck in my head. I also remembered that it had a low price. I asked if they still had any of them left. That was about the time that Chuck walked into the store with some packages. He overheard what I was asking about and said, "His new one is in this box." Yeah. I took that one too. But it wasn't over. When they opened one of the other boxes, they found that it had the new one from the King Crimson offshoot, Stick Men. Bruce knows my light (HaHa. In the context of Manny Lunch, trust me. It's LIGHT.) obsession with the Crims. Yeah. Put that in the bag too. I'm done. OK. I'm not done. On the way into town, I happened to have been listening to a great disc that DMG had put out on their own label a few years ago by South African drummer Selwyn Lissack. I had to, again, compliment Bruce on what a fabulous release that was. He said, "You know, have you ever heard that disc by Ric Colebeck? At this point my wallet screamed, "Make it stop!" But my reply was, "No. Who's that?" Turns out he's a British trumpeter who had released a scorcher of an album with Lissack hitting the skins. They, of course, had it in stock. Sigh. OK. That really WAS it. I went home and listened to a pile of great, unexpected music.

What allowed me to take all those leaps though was the trust that I have in Bruce. I've been shopping at DMG for 17 years, and Bruce and his co-owner Manny have never led me astray. Not once. Over that time, they've developed a sense of my tastes, AND how far I'm willing to stretch those tastes. With their help, my boundaries—already pretty expansive—could now be used in science books as proof of the accelerating universe. There's no algorithm that could do the same. Even if there was, I can't think of anything more boring than being told what I might enjoy by a machine. I'm pretty sure that that machine didn't meet the artist at a Jazz festival and talk to them about a favorite recording or what they're working on now. I'm also sure that a machine wasn't going to be able to buy a stack of CDRs from a band they had just been knocked out by for the first time, and put them on the shelves the next day. I learned from Mr. Rogers a long time ago that robots don't have feelings. They have no sense of smell either. Because you need a good sense of smell to follow the trail of an expanding universe of paths, to see where they end or better yet, to see where they just keep going. It's the very essence of improvisation.

The official Record Store Day is something designed to get people off of their asses and away from their screens, and INTO the record stores that haven't been killed by fucking Amazon, fucking Walmart, fucking iTunes, and fucking Spotify. That's great, and I'm going to be indulging in some of the special events later this afternoon. My girlfriend and I are going to catch guitarist Steve Gunn play at an in-store at Academy Records in Greenpoint. Then we'll pop over to Rough Trade to hear Simon Raymonde spin some jams at Rough Trade in Williamsburg. Yes, I said Simon Raymonde. And all this will probably be after we meet at Heaven Street in Bushwick. The Ascetic House crew were in town, and I want to check to see if they dropped off any of their tapes. And just to say Hi to JR and Sean.

Tomorrow I'm heading back to Downtown Music Gallery. Because, in fact, it worked out like it so often does there. The Mantler record was great, and there were a couple more albums by the same crew sitting in those bins. Yeah. I'll have missed Record Store Day at DMG, but that's not the point. Record stores—the best ones, at least—are wild streams with ever changing currents. You can dip your hand in at any point and be refreshed.

If you don't understand this love letter to accident, intuition, conversation, community and trust; then I have some bad news. It's not the record store that's dying. It's you.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

This Face Is Free.

Email to Bivs. (Practically a blog post)

Total Destruction 7"
Did we ever talk about DJ Scud? A guy I became friendly with at Kim's introduced me to him (the person and his jams, actually). The first time I heard him play, he came on after one more boring-ass trip-hop set by DJ Spooky who put in a set that even a guest shot by Arto Lindsay couldn't help and proceeded to just blow out the space with a full-on Noise assault for about 10 minutes before blasting into the distorto Drum 'n' Bass & Dancehall crush-up that he was so adept at. That first 10 minutes was like an acid palate cleanser, getting rid of the stale taste of the last course. The Hill Foundation had done the sound so it was an extra hard blow when the beats kicked in. It was, like, 3 in the morning in DUMBO, before DUMBO became the Jane's Carousel. I got home by 5, but I couldn't get to sleep until after 7. (This is practically a blog post.)

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Ai Weiwei's The Divine Comedy. Taking the "Never" out of "Never Sorry"


(original image via Wikipedia)

Torture and terror should never make anybody laugh. But that's what Ai Weiwei made me do with his new truly horrible The Divine Comedy. I wrote about the crapfest for Hyperallergic.

In an earlier piece, I put a hatin' on the first single and video released from the album, "Dumbass."