Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why do you read other blogs?

Because I'm on them.

Matt at You Ain't No Picasso asked me to make a mix for his 12 Days of Mixmas series. I was happy to oblige. YANP is a great blog that tracks the current musical taste of one Matt Jordan. He's got other Mixmas entries this year from our pals Fishboy and lots of others.

This is the second year in a row I've been allowed to make a Mixmas for YANP. You can read my '06 entry here, though the mp3 links are dead.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Arnie Lawrence & the Children of All Ages-- Inside an Hour Glass

I promise we'll get to some pop music soon, guys. But this record's just too unique to pass by.

Jazz saxophonist Arnie Lawrence's resumé includes his years as a soloist in the Tonight Show Band and stints with Chico Hamilton, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, and Louie Bellson. A more complete bio can be found here. The sounds on Inside an Hour Glass will not make you feel like you're returning from a commercial break to find Bill Bixby and Mary Lou Renton sitting on a couch. This is improvisation that could only come from NYC in the wake of In a Silent Way, all weird atmospheres occasionally giving way to flecks of funk and souljazz. The Children of All Ages on this session were Dick Hyman, Richard Davis, and Ed Shaughnessy. But some participants were presumably playing hooky from daycare.

My knowledge of jazz is pathetic, so you will want to look elsewhere for an aficionado's perspective. My interest in this record comes from the two actual children, Ricky Lawrence and Dickie D. Davis, ages eight and four respectively at the time. The credits include the words 'total improvisation.' For children, improvisation that can be easy and innovative to adult ears, but it also often means repetitive and potentially annoying. Especially once Ricky picks up the recorder. Honestly, Dick Hyman's organ playing doesn't fare much better in a couple of places. But the point of this essentially unedited session -- aside from that one big edit when you have to flip the record-- is to get as free as children. If you're along for the ride a little annoyance can pass after a moment.

This is forward thinking stuff for sure. Lawrence's sax is electronically processed. The rhythm sometimes slips out from under the group. The kids' contributions range from conversation to drum solos. For some Inside an Hour Glass will sound like lazy masturbation, the dead-end that many feared was coming for jazz after Miles went electric. To these ears it's a battle between free will and chance. If nothing else, it's an interesting idea worth documenting, and those seem to be at a premium.

The files are recorded from a vinyl source charitably described as 'fair'. And the pressing itself ain't too sterling, either.

Have I sold you yet?

See Carson Arnold's wonderful two part piece about Inside An Hour Glass on his website H(ear).

You can stream both tracks below, but unless you've got a supersmooth connection I'd advise downloading them.

Side one: "Inside an Hour Glass" (33:20)

Side two: "Ricky, I Wanna Talk to You" (21:20)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NRBQ "Get That Gasoline Blues" b/w "Mona"

It came as a shock to me today to realize I've been a fan of NRBQ for over 15 years and didn't even know about their fourth album, Workshop. It must be as rare as a three dollar bill. In all my years of scouring the 'N' section at used record stores I've yet to ever see a copy. Sundazed reissued the album on vinyl in 2007, but it's never been available on cd. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
Original guitarist Steve Ferguson and singer Frank Galder left shortly after recording their third album, Scraps. Workshop was Al Anderson's 'Q debut. Al proved to be the kick in the pants the band needed to set them on the path to becoming one of the greatest and most versatile bands in history, thanks to his triple-threat skills of singing, songwriting, and fiery, innovative guitar playing. He would stay until 1994 when he left for a career as a Nashville songwriter. He occasionally releases solo albums and appears live with NRBQ at their anniversary shows in Northampton, MA.
The two tracks I'm presenting today can be found on Workshop, but these files are ripped from the Kama Sutra "Get That Gasoline Blues" b/w "Mona" single. The A side is a novelty rave-up written by Terry Adams and C.Craig (?) that continues to be relevant apart from Terry Adams' aside, "Ninety-five cents a gallon!" Joey Spampinato's "Mona" is a gorgeous miniature love song. He would refine this style with later songs like "Beverly" and countless others, but the lilting acoustic arrangement and sneaky chord changes make this a lost gem.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

RHAG aka Roy Henry Alexander Gover

There is precious little information available about RHAG on the web. I can't find any pages dedicated to him anywhere. His invisibility is curious, as his art seems tailor-made for the blog age. RHAG is a seventy- (now eighty-?) year old drag queen and multi-media artist who rambles in character over FM radio instrumentals.

I came to find out about RHAG via a session musician visiting my studio. As she played us the bizzare contents of her cassette she filled in the backstory: a friend-of-a-friend-etc who is a pizza delivery guy stole it from a pile of cassettes at some guy's house. When he realized what he had on his hands he was compelled to share. The story is probably a complete fabrication, but I like to imagine your average klepto pizza dude jammin' to this for the first time.

His sole official release LGO (Life Goes On) circumnavigates the copyright problem by using music specially composed by Fab Modine. It's a decent record, but I would love for someone to archive the cassettes online. In hopes of inspiring someone more well-connected, I present to you RHAG's version of "California Dreaming."

I will eventually post the entire cassette when I run it down.

Remember Lennon

Friday, December 7, 2007

Karlheinz Stockhausen R.I.P.

It was announced today that Karlheinz Stockhausen died on December 5th at the age of 79. Between 1950 and 2007 he composed over 100 smaller works and several large-scale works, including the longest opera cycle on record. He continued to compose, give concerts, release records and teach composition courses until the very end. He was the epitome of a lifer. His influence was not limited to 20th century classical, but spread through pop and jazz.
Pitchfork posted a more informative article: http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/page/news/47527-karlheinz-stockhausen-rip
You can find out more about the man from www.stockhausen.org

The last available Bonzo Dog Band related blog name available?

Other potential names for this blog were:
My Pink Half of the Drainpipe (taken)
We Are Normal And We Want Our Freedom (brilliant, but too long)
Mr. Slaters' Parrot (sorry)
Keynsham (just missed it by this much)

I intend to provide you people with a selection of rare aural oddities varying in nature from noisy to catchy. I hope to post music from various high school bands (my own and others) from time to time, as well. Were you in a band between the ages of 0-19 that made music described as 'rarefied'? (i.e. You didn't play Led Zeppelin covers exclusively.) Drop me a line.