Friday, January 31, 2014

Samuel Locke Ward On Nirvana

If you're like me, you wonder why on Earth Samuel Locke Ward kicked off 2014 with a complete reinterpretation of Nirvana's final studio record, In Utero. Even more curious was why this decision was made after busting ass to release a new album every month in 2013.

Was it the work of a hyper-accelerated work ethic?

Was it an off-the-cuff goof, meant to be heard as nothing more than a underhanded attack of the entire revisiting of Nirvana's brief cannon, setting to culminate with the 20th anniversary of Cobain's suicide in 2014?

Was it the product of Ward's own Cobain worship?

With interest in these questions, I gave S.L.W. a half-dozen questions and got the following response. The answer provided little in terms of the actual questions posed, but in relation to the question "Why?" it is more than generous.

"I recorded In Utero just for fun late at night over a couple evenings in September. I hadn't planned on releasing the record or even recording it. I just kinda started it and kept going while I should have been working on something else.
I'm too busy acting like I'm not naive.

I hadn't listened to the record for a long time and just kinda did it all from memory from learning those songs as teenager. After it was finished I decided to throw it online for free because, why not?  I am proud of how it turned out because it still is generally considered pretty lame to cover Nirvana songs - And I do assume some people thought it was lame.

But I also got some nice feedback from people who said they enjoyed the record. And I feel like its a fun and interesting record to listen to. I really enjoyed all 5 Nirvana records while growing up. But, like a lot of people, I've been burnt out on them for quite awhile just from over exposure and hadn't heard them in a long time. But they are all really great. This was the first time it really occurred to me how messed up all the lyrics on it are."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Scene Point Blank Release Written Highlights 'All Downhill From Here'

Here's an interesting bit of literary distraction that sounds like it could hold the attention for a while.


In 2003, the AFI messageboard spawned a new webzine called Scene Point Blank. AFI were at the top of the charts, The Blood Brothers and The Locust were making waves in hardcore, and a young folk-punk band called Against Me! released As the Eternal Cowboy.

The times have changed, but Scene Point Blank is stronger than ever, celebrating 10 years with All Downhill From Here, a new book that highlights some of their favorite material and includes insight on the wide-ranging cast of writers behind some of the webzine world's longer reviews. Curated from 4000+ reviews and 200+ interviews, Scene Point Blank has put together some of their most popular items, some of their favorites, and their most memorable pieces into three formats: Kindle, eBook, and print, retailing from $7-15 depending on platform.

Content includes interviews and features with Ian Mackaye, Henry Rollins, Larry Livermore, Evan Dando, Jacob Bannon, and many more. Scene Point Blank isn't limited to punk and hardcore... They're proud of their varied content, ranging from blackened death to drone to hip-hop and even prog. They feel that music shouldn't be limited to genre and, in fact, discussing it in those terms is far too limiting. Their focus is on heavy, independent music, both the well-known and those just getting started.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Visibles - The Visibles

Not only are the vocal stylings of Justin Goldman similar to the fey reach of Marc Bolan, he uses the moniker of his band The Visibles in much the same way Bolan tailored T-Rex to his liking. And Goldman's liking-as it were-result in The Visibles' very unique and captivating debut.

The Visibles is a bouncy psychedelic throwback, better compared to Bolan's pre-"Ride The White Swan" era, with occasional nods to San Fran's Summer of Love vibe.

And like Bolan's pre-"Ride The White Swan" era, The Visibles will instinctively get better the moment they discover "the hook" and unleash "the rock." Until then, they remain a Bay area curio capable of smoking it in a moment's notice when they need to be lighting up for a full el-pee's worth of desirable rock tunes.

They get close with the potential lead-single of "The Cycle" before farting around with audio gimmicks and retro guitar tones. It's an enjoyable listen, but you have to wonder how massive this band could be if they'd shape up and put their devotional backward glances to rest.

Still, my favorite track is the closest one to out and out Bolan worship, but what makes "Clarendon Hills" such a joy is how it welds that lighthearted reprise with a very intricate, modern feel.

So, I dunno. On one hand you want The Visibles to rock the joint while a part of you ends up digging their left-of-center vibe that seems to enjoy carrying that freak flag of yesterday begrudgingly into music's plethora of digital gratification.

On the other is the fact that  even Bolan was continually working on building his sound and making his music appeal to the widest of audiences as possible.

And maybe The Visibles should be thinking in those exact same terms.

Friday, January 24, 2014

John Davis - Spare Parts

It's hard to believe from listening to the massive double record Spare Parts that its creator was once the other half of Folk Implosion. That name, particularly memorable for Lou Barlow, the second half of the unit that prompted a Top 40 hit with "Natural One" would have been a vital element in John Davis' press release, had he been gunning for any kind of potential interest, say a decade and a half ago.

And had he set out to release a record that's remotely memorable and intriguing.

But as it stands, Spare Parts has taken its own sweet time in arriving, and Barlow has either returned to his past in either Dinosaur Jr. or Sebadoh depending on the season, while Davis has pretty much walked a line of obscurity.

From the sounds of Spare Parts Davis seems hellbent on continuing that trend.

With song titles that average 6 minutes in length, it's clear that Davis is operating at his own pace and under his own control. There is nothing within Spare Parts that would closely resemble accessible, which in itself isn't an issue, but when you position your muse in hard to digest, free-form meanderings, it becomes hard to focus on the point of Davis' intentions.

His voice is not distinctive enough to gain the attention of any fan of drawn-out ballads and, more importantly, his lyrical approach certainly isn't compelling enough to hold interest. The arrangements seem to want to mirror the found instruments of a Tom Waits records, while instead they come across as lengthy work tapes of ideas and random prose of lost love, notebook therapy and descriptive observations.

Take "Blood Feud," which lollygags for five fucking minutes before unleashing three full minutes of pointless noises that serve no purpose other than to alienate listeners and completely erase the mood of backwoods imagery that came before it.

Occasionally, there's a bit of droning violin, acoustic guitar and even a few bits of pretty backing vocals from Mynabirds' Laura Burrhen, but all of this is positioned next to Davis' clear ambivalence towards providing listeners with any reason to continue tolerating such nonsense as the computer blips and beeps that suddenly show up on "Shine Upon Me Like The Moon." If I were to venture a guess, I'd say the noises appearance are to signify that the moon is in space, and weird beeps and blips always represent space in Davis' mind.

For the rest of us, they're mainly just annoying.

If you've got time for such nonsense, then be my guest. For me, an hour-long project that seems designed on presenting Davis as some kind of misunderstood multi-instrumentalist only becomes prey to the idiosyncratic moments that appear for no discernible reason.

Spare Parts is nothing more than a hodgepodge of elements that seem purposely curated only for the sole purpose of hiding John Davis in obscurity for another 15 years.

Mission accomplished.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Circuit Des Yeux - Overdue

Think Cat Power's Dear Sir mixed with Smog's Julius Ceasar againsts the chamber pop of Nico's Chelsea Girls.

This may be an overly pretentious way of explaining it, but it might be necessary, as Overdue has a much more boring explanation of its origins.

However it came to be, the resulting mood that was created with this album is one in which you can't begin to take your ears away from.

It's also way better than Dear Sir, or Julius Ceasar I suppose, but I've got too many memories invested in that record to throw it under the bus now.

Like Chan Marshall's Cat Power, the Circuit Des Yeux moniker is that of Haley Fohr, a young woman who came across an 8-track Otari reel-to-reel deck and rented out an apartment in Chicago's Little Village and set out to record this remarkable document.

Overdue is Fohr's 4th record under the Circuit Des Yeux name, and it immediate will send listeners scrambling for her other titles to see how this creative force navigated the waters to get to this point. Because "this point" is a menagerie of beautiful and occasionally terrifying moments, primarily built on acoustic arrangements and minimalist accompaniments.

What's offsetting is Fohr's pattern of supplementing her harrowing explorations with bent lane changes that would make Yoko smile. And when she isn't translating some looking glass nightmare, she's bellowing a majestic tale in overdramatic alto.

"My Name Is Rune," begins with haunting intent, until Fohr introduces a polite harmony to transform the track into a compelling dirge.

"Nova 88" is an amazing combination of Circuit Des Yeux's obvious influences, while doing nothing to prepare the listener for the damaged nightmare of "Acarina," Overdue's most stunning offering.

"I Am" completely destroys the mood of the rest of the album with its pointless abrasiveness. With its distorted vocals and harsh rhythms, it's a lazy addition to an album that finds its strength in the subtle corners highlighted in Overdue's remaining seven tracks.

Everything is forgiven by the time album closer "Lithonia" appears, a fully orchestrated chamber outing that evokes that old aforementioned Nico record. This, combined with the rest of the album's intent of providing listeners a full spectrum of Fohr's muse leave Overdue in a very unique light, one where there is a healthy respect for any artist who feels the need to channel their challenging art into an document that was carefully crafted.

Because Overdue would be a chore to absorb in a lo-fi setting, and Fohr's tactics of using her newly acquired Otari as a lifeline between her dark muse and us is part of what makes Circuit Des Yeux's latest exactly what its title suggests: long overdue.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

One Hundred Percent - All Teeth And Nails

A trio of noisemakers from San Francisco, One Hundred Percent's debut All Teeth And Nails is a straight-ahead amp crusher, providing little in terms of dynamics but plenty on trying to trigger the San Andreas Fault with their amplification.

All Teeth And Nails provides a fairly consistent glimpse into the band's felt-melting prowess, with hints of SST Records research and shoegaze acknowledgement. With nine attempts at clobbering you over the head with their sonic earthquakes, the debut also points out some very fundamental flaws before the power source to the amps was even turned on.

Primarily, lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Habeggar is about as unexciting of a vocalist that I've heard in some time, to the point where his limited vocals end up removing any lasting memory of the band's prowess. The Lee Renaldo monotone would be somewhat admirable if there was something of substance behind it. And when there isn't, it all becomes this timid bark, making even lines like "think I might take a chance and shoot a load off" sound like an afterthought tugjob. Even the double-tracked chorus merely become stuck in their own lack of excitement, demoting One Hundred Percent's lyrical themes, however lazy, to flaccid and forgettable.

Drummer Jay Fruy provides little more than a predictable backbeat, with fills that are so unimaginative that Mo Tucker sounds like Neil Peart by comparison. This is hardly the kind of tepid delivery a band should be gunning for, particularly when the entire premise of the band is the promise of their aural capabilities.

While any novice can figure out how to turn the amp volume knob up to 10, All Teeth And Nails proves that, without a formidable action plan beyond "turning it up" there's very little reason to pay attention beyond the pointless din.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Harder They Come Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Here's some information on one of music's most important movies of all time.


Like the ultimate antihero Ivanhoe Martin, Perry Henzell's cult classic film The Harder They Come is now everywhere - available to fans worldwide online via iTunes US, iTunes Canada and VHX. The film's original producers, International Films Management (IFM) and its partner Syndctd Entertainment, today digitally released a restored, remastered HD version of the iconic, uniquely Jamaican film starring Jimmy Cliff.

For the first time, The Harder They Come has also been made available direct to fans to download and stream from the movie's official website. "Perry strongly believed in the power of Art to bridge cultural boundaries," said IFM Chair Justine Henzell, "so having his film available to the world in this manner is a dream come true."

VHX ( powers the direct-to-fan platform which allows anyone in the world with a web connection to purchase and stream a DRM-free digital download, along with the option to bundle official The Harder They Come merchandise like t-shirts, jerseys and posters. "We are thrilled to partner this iconic film with the two most important digital film distribution platforms of the moment," commented IFM Counsel and producing partner Andrew Herz.

IFM and Syndctd Entertainment distributed the restored film into theatres last September for a one-night only special theatrical event. As part of the 360-degree approach to re-launching the classic film, an official merchandise line has also been created with a fresh spin on vintage artwork from the movie. "Consumers are looking for something special in the box when they purchase a DVD or Blu-ray. We want to translate that experience with an HD quality digital download straight to any fan's computer, laptop or tablet, along with official clothing as depicted in the film, at a discounted price, and VHX has provided that solution." say Syndctd Entertainment co-founders Philip Camino and Jonathan Chaupin.

For more than 40 years, critics and audiences from all walks of life have sung the praises of Perry Henzell's gritty, groundbreaking masterpiece that brought reggae music to the international stage, helped make Jimmy Cliff a worldwide star, and demonstrated that music and art can change the world. This homegrown Jamaican film, co-written with award-winning playwright, Trevor Rhone, has gone on to become one of the best regarded independent features of all time. The 1973 U.S. launch of The Harder They Come led to four decades of smoke filled late night-screenings around the world. When Bob Marley and the Wailers first toured America later that year, they appeared in many of the same theaters that were screening The Harder They Come.

The San Francisco Chronicle called The Harder They Come original soundtrack album "one of reggae's cornerstones" - along with the Marley catalog. Rolling Stone ranks The Harder They Come the third greatest soundtrack of all time (behind only behind Prince's Purple Rain and The Beatles' Help!). Written and performed by Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, the Melodians, Scotty, The Slickers and Toots and The Maytals, the twelve tracks span a wide range of Jamaican music styles popular at the time the film was shot in the early 1970s. It is little known that the soundtrack consists entirely of songs (1) written and/or performed brilliantly by Jimmy Cliff - or (2) hand-selected for the film by Perry Henzell from his personal record collection.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Freestyle-The Art Of Rhyme Coming To DVD

This looks badass beyond belief.

There's a line from the clip below where a man says "You really can't freestyle if you don't know anything." It's completely true, because in order for any razor sharp line to cut, it has to have some element of truth to it And in order to slay with a freestyle line, you are working to intimidate that, no matter what the response, you are going to pull from your vast array of knowledge to come back harder and with more references than what your apponent can even comprehend.

It's an advanced state of warfare, the kind of battle that humans ultimately should be wagering against each other, rather than guns and bombs.

In that kind of army, Mos Def would be a fucking general.

The press:

The world of improvisational rap, is explosively explored in this award wining and critically acclaimed authentic look into the life, music, and history of 1990's underground hip hop culture.

Packed with rare and archival footage of some of the most amazing MC's ever to bless the mic, Freestyle - The Art of Rhyme features the story of MC Supernatural and his quest to become a champion, battling many in his way including his arch nemesis Craig G of the famed Marley Marl Juice Crew.

Made by the creators of the Academy Award nominated film "Murderball" this documentary takes us on a journey through the previously unexamined dimensions of hip hop as a spiritual and community based art form. Combining the best of independent art house cinema within the hip hop mix tape format, it features legendary battles from New York to LA, including The Lyricist Lounge, Project Blowed, and The Wake Up Show!

The artists featured; from Mos Def to Notorious BIG provide insight into one of the least seen faces present in the music: improvisation and creativity. Structured with insights from the Last Poet's esteemed Abioudun Oyweole and jazz & rap historians, Freestyle - The Art of Rhyme connects the dots from the pain and love of yesterday's poets to today's hip-hop innovators. Revealing the art forms stunningly emotional outlet; whether sharing energy in a street corner cipher for block cred or a stadium's commercial rap performance full of 1,000s of fans. Like the Griots of Africa or the wail of Coltrane's saxophone, today's hip-hop MCs all have a similar purpose: to share their experience with others hungry for truth, community and healing.

"If you're looking for tons of rare footage of early freestyles and a new angle into hip-hop history, The Art of Rhyme is not to be missed." - Okay Player
"Reveals how the skill of improvisation helped shape my favorite time period in Rap music history, when wordplay turned into art & science." - DJ Cut Chemist

WINNER HBO Best Documentary @ Urban-World Film Festival
WINNER Best Documentary & Kodak Maverick Award: Woodstock Film Fest
WINNER Best Documentary & Audience Award @ Pan-African Film Festival
WINNER Documentary Jury Prize @ Florida Film Festival
WINNER Best Cinematography @ Karachi Film Festival
WINNER Best Soundtrack @ Los Angeles Film Festival

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Scorpions Release New Video For 'Holiday'

Stats are kind of low for Glam-Racket this month.

A meaningless post about the Scorpions should cure that!

And yes, the press release confirms the Scorpions "Farewell Tour" will continue until Klaus Meine passes away.
Photo credit: Torsten Hilse

Scorpions fans worldwide can click here to check out the exclusive worldwide premiere of the brand new live performance video for "Holiday."  The never-before-seen (or heard) video is taken from the beautifully orchestrated stripped-down concerts that became the Scorpions' forthcoming CD/DVD and Blu-Ray release, MTV Unplugged, but does not appear on any configuration of the releases.

 Due out in North America on January 21st, material from MTV Unplugged is taken from the Scorpions' first-ever "MTV Unplugged" show and features new acoustic versions of best-loved classic hits, as well as five brand new songs. MTV Unplugged will be available in North America as a deluxe CD + DVD package and as a Blu-Ray; click here to preorder.

MTV Unplugged is being released in 50 countries, a testament to the German band's iconic status worldwide. Recorded and filmed on September 11th and September 12th of last year, the Scorpions' MTV Unplugged was culled from two dynamic acoustic sets at the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens, Greece. The spectacular open-air theatre, situated 300 meters above the city, was an impressive backdrop for the first-ever open-air show in the history of "MTV Unplugged" (the theatre also shares a birth year with the Scorpions themselves, having been built in 1965, the same year the Scorpions formed).

In other news, the Scorpions are still in the midst of their epic Farewell World Tour; the tour has been going on for more than three years now. To the delight of their fans there is no end in sight, as to date the band has only played 23 out of the 38 countries planned on the itinerary.

The Scorpions is Klaus Meine (vocals/guitar), Rudolf Schenker (guitars/vocals), Matthias Jabs (guitars), Pawel Maciwoda (bass) and James Kottak (drums); additional musical support on MTV Unplugged includes contributions from Swedish musicians and producers Mikael Nord Andersson (guitars, mandolin, lap steel, vocals) and Martin Hansen (guitars, harmonica, vocals). The duo is also responsible for the arrangements on MTV Unplugged.

 The Scorpions is one of the most successful international hard rock bands of all time, selling upwards of 75 million records worldwide and playing more than 5,000 concerts in 80+ countries globally. Formed in Germany in 1965, the band has come to be known for their colossal radio and MTV hits "Rock You Like A Hurricane," "No One Like You" and "Wind Of Change," as well as their status as international rock ambassadors. VH1 ranked the Scorpions as the #46 Artist on the "Greatest Artists Of Hard Rock" special, while "Rock You Like A Hurricane" came in at #18 on VH1's "Greatest Hard Rock Songs". The band recently received a star on the Hollywood Rock Walk in Los Angeles. To date, the Scorpions have released 18 studio albums and 5 live records.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Season Of That Metal Show Premiers With Another Guy You've Never Heard Of

Get ready for another exciting season of That Metal Show!

Yes, VH1 Classic's last remaining piece of original programming limps along with a new season. And what better way to kick off the show's 13th season (are we keeping track of this count?) than by featuring a dude from a band that you've probably never heard of, because they suck balls.

But seriously, Five Finger Death Punch is pretty big in my hometown-but they ain't nothin' compared to the country stars like Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan (two dudes that I've never heard a lick of either) because those dudes manage to sell out 10,000 seat arenas in this state, even when they hit one after another while the bros in FFDP can only half-fill the 7,500 seater here in town.

In other words, Five Finger Death Punch and their ilk ain't exactly making America return to a heavy metal parking lot.

Ultimately, my continued issues with the show has always been the co-hosts Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson, who bog down the proceedings with their pointless banter and consistently stale "bits." The continual ribbing they provide host and UFO freak Eddie Trunk resembles the same mean spirited dudes that used to feed on metalheads for not fitting in, rather than anything closely resembling the spirit of the heavy metal populous, regardless of what t-shirts they're wearing.

Another tired trend that these two mouthbreathers (and Trunk is complicit in this too) continue to spout is to knock off any consideration of having new metal bands appear on the show. I've lost track of how many times I've heard "It's called VH1 Classic, so go somewhere else to hear about new metal bands!" from the mouths of these guys, getting defensive over the notion that someone wanted to see Mastodon or any other artist that is forging the genre beyond the cookie-cutter metal acts that That Metal Show clearly caters to.

I mean Five Finger Death Punch? How is a band named after a finishing move from Kill Bill accepted as VH1 Classic material? So shit or get off the pot motherfuckers! If you're going to hold firm to your self-righteous bullshit of only featuring "classic" metal and hard rock acts, then lose Five Finger Death Punch, Stone Sour (and any band featuring Corey Taylor, for that matter), Avenged Sevenfold and replace those fuckers with the ratings bonanza that is the dude from Helix, Carmine Appice on his days with Buddy Holly and the Crickets and Blue Oyster Cult talking about where to find the best Comfort Inns with a free breakfast buffet.

So the guy from Five Finger Death Punch is gonna be on, and he's got a solo record coming out, and yada yada yada.

(New York, NY) - Heavy metal and hard rock fans worldwide can tune in to the inaugural episode of season 13 of VH1 Classics' That Metal Show this Saturday, January 18th at 11:00PM, EST/8:00PM, PST to catch Five Finger Death Punch axeman Jason Hook as the featured guitarist.

"I made this one in the computer room of my condo. Hope you like it."
Hook will appear throughout the entire episode, bringing his signature showmanship and blistering riffs to the show that caters to all things hard rock and heavy metal. As lead guitarist for the wildly successful Five Finger Death Punch, Jason Hook is currently touring the globe in support of the band's latest series of releases, The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell, Volumes 1 and 2. Released late last year, both albums debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart, respectively.

In between the band's extensive touring schedule, Jason Hook is writing and recording his second solo album, which is set for release this Spring. As a member of the multi-platinum hard rock/metal outfit Five Finger Death Punch, Jason Hook has established himself as a highly respected guitarist, garnering coverage in all hard rock, metal and player publications.

Although he may be best known for his role in Five Finger Death Punch, Hook is also an exceptionally skilled studio and touring musician who has played with the likes of such diverse artists as Alice Cooper, Vince Neil and more. Jason Hook's forthcoming second solo release, is highly-anticipated by both fans and critics and will offer a more diverse look at his talents. Jason's first solo record, Safety Dunce, won an L.A. Music Award for "Best Instrumental Record."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Delaney and Bonnie and Friends - On Tour With Eric Clapton

One of the saddest things about the recent passing of Delaney Bramlett last month was how overlooked it was. It’s not just that Delaney’s stock plummeted shortly after his early ’70s heyday with wife Bonnie Bramlett, it’s also because one of the duo’s most notable releases—one that features the greatest line-up of blue-eyed soul musicians ever assembled mixing it up with one of the best guitarists ever—has been quietly forgotten by all but the most devoted of fans.

The uninitiated only need to hear Delaney & Bonnie‘s On Tour with Eric Clapton to discover how unfortunate this slight is. The eight-song release captured the band at what may be the highpoint of its career, complete with a once-in-a-lifetime sit-in by none other than “God” himself laying out some wonderfully exciting fretwork.

At its core, On Tour is a document of the kind of music that Delaney & Bonnie had been perfecting for years: Memphis blue-eyed soul with a tinge of gospel harmonics. Where Delaney provided the grit of the blues, Bonnie provided the sweet harmonies and some believable gospel flourishes. Raised in East St. Louis, Bonnie held her own against many blues luminaries as Albert King and Little Milton before finding love—in a bowling alley of all places—with the guitarist from the house band on the Shindig television show.

The two created a pair of albums before being tapped as the opening band on Blind Faith‘s first and only US tour. While traveling the American highways, a young Eric Clapton began seeking solace in the duo’s tour bus, shying away from the adulation that surrounded him with both Blind Faith and Cream. While the supergroups that Clapton was participating with at the time presented a challenge of egos, Delaney & Bonnie provided him with time from the spotlight to reflect on what really mattered: the music.

Befriending Eric Clapton is a great story in itself, but the real story is how great Delaney & Bonnie’s band were even before Clapton sat in with them. The Croydon, England show recorded for this album features Dave Mason, Carl Radle, and Bobby Whitlock on keyboards. Rita Coolidge helps compliment Bonnie’s amazing vocal workouts while legendary brass mates Bobby Keys and Jim Price add some punch to the mix.

Essentially, this is the same band used for the Derek & the Dominoes sessions and it’s quite clear that Clapton uses similar vocal range for his own solo career as Delaney Bramlett. The band lets up once, allowing Bonnie to sing Bessie Griffin‘s “That’s What My Man Is For.” She seductively informs the lighting man to bathe her in red lights “…’cause this is a red light song” before laying down a solo workout that demonstrates why she was the only white woman that can claim to have been an Ikette during Ike and Tina‘s sixteen-year career. The time on the road must have indeed made “friends” out of Clapton and the rest of the performers.

Not only did he nick them for his own Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, their services also were provided to George Harrison during the Concert For Bangladesh, and even Leon Russell partook in their generosity by enlisting them for Joe Cocker‘s Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour.

All of this work put Delaney & Bonnie on the back burner, and with it, any chance of capturing the momentum that should have come from working with such high-profile companions. Instead, the pair watched their good fortunes collapse and, eventually, their own marriage too.

On Tour is a stunningly abrupt live release that’s prime for rediscovery and a proper reissue. It remains the best example of Delaney & Bonnie’s authentic blend of Delta soul and the last example of how great Clapton could be when he worked as a sideman among musicians of equal caliber and inspiration. As Delaney himself sings on the track “Poor Elijah,” “Ain’t nobody here but good people.”

 He’s being modest; On Tour is a document of some great people doing what they love.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

D.R.I. - Dealing With It

Dealing With It is the greatest concept album about teen angst ever recorded. There are some obvious holes to this theory: the band name (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles), cover art, and simpleton themes running throughout the album don’t exactly point to an archetypical concept record. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty certain that none of the members of D.R.I. have ever gone on record to state that Dealing With It is a concept album at all, let alone try to explain a story line.

n many ways, D.R.I.‘s second long-player

Allow me.

Dealing With It is the story of four teenage boys coming of age in the ’80s, dealing with issues of social alienation and feelings of worthlessness. They notice the crass consumerism of those more fortunate than them and begin to notice the hypocrisy of Ronald Reagan‘s voodoo economics. While they’re not able to completely understand or eloquently address the ills of society, they’re able to determine what’s right and wrong, and they struggle with why those who are presumably more intelligent can’t see the same things.

They all share of love of things hardcore and punk, a combination that had not been fully examined in the early ’80s. The four start a band inspired by this love of music, and because they understand that time is precious, most of their material barely reaches the one-minute mark. The songs within Dealing With It represent the manner in which they survived their teenage years, an audio document on how they dealt with the forces against them, turning an outlet forged of frustration into a sustainable band.

Vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy started Dirty Rotten Imbeciles a few years prior, along with Kurt’s brother Eric on drums and Dennis Johnson on bass. The four would practice at the Brecht’s house, usually finding their practices interrupted by Kurt and Eric’s father. He would berate the boys, calling them a bunch of “dirty rotten imbeciles” and kick Spike and Dennis out of the house until the next evening when they’d start over again.

For most of us, that repeated intolerance would surely be enough to dissuade. To the members of D.R.I., they turned it into a band name, a song (“Madman”), and an album cover. As a reminder—and a motivational tool for those facing similar criticisms—they included an audio sample of Brecht’s father pulling the plug on a rehearsal during a fairly cantankerous mood at the beginning of “Madman.” You hear the father bang on the door, advising them “Look…The party’s over!” before reminding his sons, “You have to go to school and these others (referring to Spike and Dennis) are dropouts.” Spike takes offense to this implication, challenging the father with the fact “We all work.” The dad squares up Spike with the strut of a homeowner: “I don’t need you…When I come home, I want to relax!”

Ironically, so did D.R.I. The two just took different paths in how to get there.

By the time that Dealing With It was recorded, the band had moved out of their parent’s house and found common refugees in San Francisco. Eric Brecht eventually left the fold and Dennis Johnson headed back home, but Kurt and Spike forged ahead and turned the remnants of their teenage angst into the best album of their career.

But what makes it such a landmark album is the maturity that is prevalent in their musicianship. No longer being content with the fastest band in the world, Spike Cassidy begins to demonstrate a unique knack of balancing between punk and metal riffs. With this album, he identifies himself as a thrash pioneer, a perfect compliment to Kurt’s limited vocal range. It is his talents that ultimately save D.R.I. from becoming just another footnote in the annals of punk. Unfortunately, it is also those same talents that began to consider the possibility of a wider audience, and D.R.I. started to examine those possibilities with subsequent albums that took on a more metal direction.

The thing is, the band’s weaknesses began to really show the moment they began pursuing those “crossover” ideas. Dealing With It is a perfect balance of the two genres, as any shortcomings are diminished with the reactionary nature of punk’s tradition.

Consider such lines as “I won’t fight your stupid war!” (“Stupid, Stupid War”) or “I’ve lost all usefulness / I want to die!” (“Nursing Home Blues”) or “Every day I get more pissed / Slit my wrists! Slit My Wrists!” (“Slit My Wrists”) and imagine how they’d fare in complex arrangements or with times exceeding a minute or more. You’d be looking at an album with so much creative contradiction that any power behind it would be lost in the guitar solos, tempo changes, and repetitive lyrics.

Thankfully, the band left us with one album to document their transition and it should be recognized as one of the blueprints of such bands as Slayer, Anthrax and other bands that went on to bigger acclaim. More importantly, it’s a wonderfully enjoyable album filled with riffs, speed, humor, and inspiration on how to properly deal with the negative forces that slight one’s environment. Dealing With It serves as a healthy self-help program for any teenager looking for a way to channel the aggression of their young angst.

This review originally appeared in Glorious Noise.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Fall - Slates

A Christmas gift that eventually became a permanent member of my car stereo after the player decided to power off every time I attempted to eject the disc.

After a few attempts, I let it be. And for an entire week Slates became a perfect fixture for my commute to and from work. In the mornings - if I got on the road early enough to miss the heavy traffic on the interstate - the mini-l.p. would fill in the entire drive. From driveway to parking lot, start to finish.

I suppose you could do worse rather than having The Fall’s six-song e.p. Slates stuck in your deck forever. Indeed, when I did finally manage to get it out of the player, I thought about putting it back in after a few minutes just to hear “Leave The Capitol” one more time before putting it away.

Originally released as a 10” e.p. in 1981, Slates finds the band not only contemplating change, but nearly defining it. It was the final record needed to complete their contract with Rough Trade, but unlike most bands who view the final contractual obligation as a make it or break it scenario, Mark E. Smith seems to view it as a way to burn as many bridges as possible on the way out. 

The band is still working within their post-punk abrasiveness, so don't expect too much in terms of accessibility. But Slates also hints at the band’s ability to work within the elements of pop, particularly with “Fit And Working Again.” With its acoustic guitar and quick pace, "Fit" is about the closest track here that would resemble anything remotely familiar - a familiarity would be featured more prominently in future offerings. If the rumors that Slates was the first Fall record to get future first wife Brix's attention, then "Fit" would seem to be the most logical track to grab her ear, at least judging by her own work within the group starting a few years later.

But it’s the left-of-center material that really shines, from the with the mouthbreather study of "Middle Mass," the anthemic closer “Leave The Capitol," the Beefheart worship of “Prole Art Threat” and the infectious title track, “Slates, Slags, Eset” that rolls on for a hearty six-and-a-half minutes when I could easily injest six-and-a-half more.

The brevity is undoubtedly part of the appeal of Slates, but the reality is that the spontaneous combustion of how this record was conceived wouldn't mean a thing if the songs themselves didn't burn a hole in your memory.

And these songs catch a fire immediately. The mundane existence of my morning/evening commute was not exacerbated by the fact that I literally could not remove Slates from my car stereo. In fact, it was therapeutic.

In the garage din of The Fall's inadequate musical abilities, Mark E. Smith presents some of the best lines he's ever written, a strong elixir of working class dread, Beat poet musings and an ample diet of coffee and speed.

M.E.S. was there with every turn of my odometer, reminding me of the routine I have nestled into every weekday morning ("The boy is like a tape loop") or explaining to me why I felt a great sense of release each time I headed home for the night ("He learned a word today/The word is misanthropy").

The reissue provides some extras that most Fall fans probably have in other configurations (the Peel sessions were a bit of redundancy for me), but I have to confess that I didn't mind it at all since the e.p. timed up perfectly with my drive and since the six original songs are downright vital, I didn't dwell too much past the original tracks.

Beyond the high quality of these half-dozen titles, Slates also served as the first strong indication that the sum of the The Fall's parts essentially begin and end with Mark E. Smith alone. It was the first record to ever dispel the notion that the band would ever have a true "classic" line-up and the first one to suggest that they really didn't need one.

Don't let the bonus material be the deciding factor - this shit would be a bargain if it was only the original six tracks and came presented in a scuffed up CD-R housed in an old Krokus jewel box. Slates may be one of the greatest e.p.'s ever released, a challenging and confident effort that holds up well, even when it's the only option available in your stereo.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Lowest Pair - 36 Cents

Hailing from two separate locations (Kendl Winter hails from Olympia, WA while Palmer T. Lee calls the Upper Midwest of Minnesota home), these two banjo pickin' performers joined forces for a debut album where the duo's love of the instrument is the primary focus.

The pair recently finished up a tour that took them to such familiar places like Decorah, Iowa and Winona, Minnesota - locales which mean nothing to the vast majority of you, but for an Iowa Boy like me, it appears that the two are concentrating on artist-friendly communities where the arts are preserved, respected, and still supported.

Hell, you can still hit a few polkas around the Decorah area and see some great examples of the tradition seemingly escaping the modern world's digital grasp, and that's a good thing, in my mind.

As are The Lowest Pair, a duo so committed to their Midwestern take on old time Hillbilly music that they kick off their debut with none other than "Oh Suzanna," a tactic that admittedly had me fighting a cynical urge to dismiss the release as too authentic.

Because the Midwest - hell, probably any rural setting has it - a very healthy army of hometown amateurs who can be called upon to recreate their old Nordic music or C & W standards for the benefit of their churches or other community event. It's the kind of music that sets the scene, but does little to warrant further attention due to the fact that the efforts are clearly resulting from amateur hands.

Not The Lowest Pair. Winter and Lee have enough chops to consider them in a very professional setting and things start to pick up after you head to Alabama with a banjo on your knee.

Their voices fit together well, with an feeling of a long time collaboration while the music spells a very real sense of spontaneity. Winter projects a bit of Emmylou which fits nicely against Lee's earthy delivery. Arrangements are limited to the pair's fingerpicking, occasionally supplemented against an atmospheric guitar swells and fiddles.

The 36 Cents is blessed with an excellent second-half featuring more detailed character studies and topics of sorrow. When Winter declares how she'll be "easily replaced" on "Movin' On," she spends the rest of the verses making sure her memory hangs around her former lover for some time.

And the same can be said for 36 Cents, a record that could easily be seen as another rural route relic, but like any lucky find you may obtain in an antique store, it grows exponentially in value the longer you spend with it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Samuel Locke Ward - In Utero

We've just passed the weird 20th anniversary of the release of In Utero, weird in the sense that a.) has it really been two decades? and b.) am I really 20 years older?

I don't know how I feel about either one, but I know for certain that I'm not going to enjoy the bundles of articles written about the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's suicide, filled with tons of remberance stories, just in time for Nirvana's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Here we are now, entertain us!

What will be lost in all of this is the same thing that was lost when In Utero was originally released: it's a remarkable record, the album we wanted Cobain to make and the record he needed to make. The suicide messed all of that analysis up in the end, and it will again when we start jerking off to the picture of Kurt's rotting corpse lying stiff on the hardwood floor of his home this coming April.

I have no idea why Samuel Locke Ward decided to release a track-by-track cover of Nirvana's third record. It runs the risk of being viewed as a joke because the songs are complete re-workings of that album, left in a fashion that is easily dismissed while being eerily appropriate.

Keep in mind, the release of this cover comes after SLW released a fucking album a month in 2013, making this the 13th full-length that the Iowa City native has made in as many months, further adding to the notion that all of this may very well be a rush job of inside humor, an ironic statement on the celebrity of our dead rocker.

Personally, I don't believe it. The songs are noticeable only because of the track listing and the jokes are only prevalent if you're coming into the record in the same manner that mouth-breathers did when In Utero was released.

An example of this was when a former girlfriend told me a story of a guy she began dating after we broke up. She told me that he was trying to impress her somewhat advanced music background by telling her that he had just purchased the new Nirvana album, pronoucing it "In-Ute-Tair-Oh."

They didn't have many more dates after that conversation.

To be honest, I haven't heard In Utero in many years. I really don't need to as it's been committed to memory, just like Led Zeppelin IV or Born In The U.S.A. I did toy with obtaining the vinyl version of Steve Albini's 2013 mix of the record before laughing at the idea that Steve Albini even agreed to such a thing.

If anything, Samuel Locke Ward's version has made me want to hear it again, which I suppose is praise.

Another bit of praise: I wanted to hear S.L.W.'s version again too. Out of pleasure, not obligation for this review of it.

The vocals are treated in many cases, turned into goofy Chipmunks range here, distorted megaphone tactics there. There is no percussion and several songs are nothing more than guitar-vocal offerings. It sounds like it was recorded on the cheap, in a bedroom with little sonic opportunities, which is one way of saying that it was recorded using a fucking computer.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, because by changing the entire delivery method of this record, SLW has unwhittingly changed the entire intent of In Utero. If you'll recall, Nirvana's controversary with this record came in the manner in which it sounded. It was rough around the edges, defiantly un-commercial and intentionally alienating. It was made to ween off the more fairweather fans and assure the rest of us that the band understood: There were a lot of meatheads tagging along for the ride that weren't welcome.

So maybe SLW's take is intended to alienate people like me, folks who unfortunately heard In Utero in much more personal terms, thereby making Cobain's suicide in April more devistating. This reinterpretation-whatever the intention behind it-forces listeners to consider In Utero for all that it essentially is: a collection of songs no longer tied to a specific group or generation.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dead Kennedys In God We Trust Demos Now Available On Picture Disc

As I get older, the less I listen to Dead Kennedys. It's hard to admit, but the band has turned into such a relic for me-forever regulated to the era of Ronald Reagan. They were a vital element to my own musical development, for sure, but to suggest that the band carries the same weight now as they did 30 years ago, is ridiculous.

Their songs, and even their Winston Smith artwork, served a purpose back then. They educated us. When you heard "Holiday In Cambodia" for the first time, you thought Jello Biafra was singing "Cold! Hot! Cold! Hot!" until you read the lyrics and realized he was saying "Pol Pot." Then you went and researched who Pol Pot was, and you got the idea that these guys were more than just a punk rock band with a provocative name.

There was no internet then, so you had to dig for information. You also had to dig to verify Biafra's account of everything, and it wasn't until years later that you started to get the idea that his lefty barks were the product of a very hippie upbringing, something that he frequently white-washed during interviews.

With that being said, the Dead Kennedy's legacy was also tainted by the inability of this band who fought for years to get a corner of a national soapbox to get along with each other. There's nothing wrong with big ideals, but to chastise public officials for not listening or caring about others with apposing viewpoints becomes somewhat muted when it's learned that you can't even hash out your own internal band issues.

I won't get into the Jello vs. the rest of the band debate, but I will say that the entire event and the band's subsequent attempt to parlay their controversial re-issues with the kid from The Courtship of Eddie's Father into a money-grab "reunion" tour only deadens what little bark the band had left going into the new century.

And perhaps you can draw the same conclusions to that as you could with releasing the demo sessions for the In God We Trust e.p. into a 11" picture disc. Like the days of old, you discover that the source material really isn't the actual demo tapes, but from a video feed of those demo tapes because someone fucked up the actual audio tapes.

And what's the deal with an 11" piece of vinyl? With 7" 10" and 12" platters being the norm for over 50 years, how would an 11" record even play on my linear tracking turntable. Short answer: it wouldn't, so I'm personally saving my $30 (!!) for this questionable release, but hey, this may be right up your alley.

Besides, like the old song goes, "We've got a bigger problem now."


Finally, the legendary first version of the Dead Kennedys In God We Trust, Inc. sees the light of day!

Recorded in 1981, the original tapes were defective, but a video feed of the session did survive. This is the first time these recordings have been committed to vinyl! The DKs at their most frantic and hardcore! 11" Picture disc includes DVD!

Track Listing:

Hyperactive Child
Nazi Punks Fuck Off
Kepone Factory
Dog Bite
Religious Vomit
We've Got a Bigger Problem Now
Moral Majority

Friday, January 3, 2014

On The Death Of Phil Everly

I had a chance to finish I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon and learned several things about the artist. One of them was the fact that Zevon served as the keyboard player for none other than the Everly Brothers as their musical director. His involvement with them continued on after their infamous Knotts Berry Farm Farm gig where Phil Everly smashed his guitar and walked off stage, thereby ending the most important vocal duos of rock and roll history.

Zevon later worked with both Phil and Don as arrangers for both of their solo careers, tip-toing around the brother’s mutual disdain for each other while trying to get a handle on his own fledgling solo music.

This was later in the brothers’ career, of course, and the fact that their last concert together happened in a friggin’ amusement park only speaks to the injustice of how America treats its national treasures the moment they’re no longer shiny and new.

The Everly Brothers would later get an opportunity to have a second act, this time with a mess of popular (then) current artists who acknowledged the brothers’ greatness with their own talents, content with merely sharing the stage with the pair that inspired them.

Paul Mc Cartney was one of those artists that contributed.

That should be a clear indication of how important the Everly Brothers were to rock music.

What wasn’t clear was how important the Everly Brothers were to my own upbringing. I noticed how woefully inept my own Everly Brothers collection was; it consisted of merely four songs-obvious inclusions-and it failed to reflect the proximity of the Everlys to my own early years.

For starters, I remember how one of my grandparents had a portable record player-you could fold the thing into a plastic case-which I dutifully used whenever I visited. The only trouble was that my grandparents had an unbelievably limited record collection. It was mainly a few 78’s that they had kept from the 40’s, music that was inherently foreign to me, having been raised on rock and roll from the earliest moments.

There was a leftover 45 from my Dad’s era, an original pressing of “Wake Up Little Suzie” on the Cadence label. It was an awful record. Literally. The acoustic introductions were overcome with que-burn and the center hole was broken in several places, making the 45 adapter worthless. I was forced to place the record directly on the platter of the turntable and eyeballed its appropriate placement to the spindle.

For about three years, I lived in a small town in Southwest Iowa called Shenandoah. The radio station was started by seed dealer Earl May (his garden center stores still dot the Midwest) who built a small media empire, complete with a radio auditorium where national acts would come to town and perform. One of those performers were none other than the Everly Family. They maintained their own show on the radio station (KMA-AM, “Keep Millions Advised”) and began their professional career in that small Iowa town.
Phil and Don stayed in Shenandoah until their early high school years, when they move to Knoxville, Tennessee, got the attention of Chet Atkins and the rest is history.

Because of my own history with Shenandoah, I was brought up on Everly’s lore. The Everlys and Johnny Carson (who grew up in nearby Corning) were continually name-checked, giving the otherwise sparsely populated area a much needed ego boost.

Don't want your kisses, that's for sure.
The Everlys were so highly regarded that a “Welcome Back” reunion was featured in their honor in the 1986. That’s my ex-wife as a teenager standing outside of the tour bus that they rode into town during the Independence Day celebrations. She used to work for KMA radio too, as did her grandmother, who scored a Marconi Award for her contributions to the radio industry. She told me that the brothers were rude and, supposedly mean to their mother who accompanied them for the trip, but I have no personal account of this.

Rumors aside, it’s pretty clear that their original success was vital to the development of rock and roll music. 

There’s also a very real possibility that without the Everlys, The Beatles probably wouldn’t have existed. If anything, there is no doubt that The Fab Fours “Please Please Me” would not have been such a hit, as it lifts the sibling’s diatonic thirds harmony featured so prominently on “Cathy’s Clown.”
Except Paul and John had to practice at it.

With the Everly Brothers, it all came naturally.

Phil took the high notes while Don steered the lead with his baritone. You can’t help but remember that the Everly Brothers were apart for more years of their professional career than they were together. They hated each other only to the point where they couldn’t acknowledge their unconditional love for each other. They resented the fact that they depended on each other, but understood that their roles as elder statesmen of rock and roll afforded them the opportunity to ignore reunion requests. Paul Simon recalls how, after the effort he undertook in getting the brothers back together for a last hurrah, he was shocked to learn how Don and Phil hadn’t spoken to each other for nearly three years prior to arriving at rehearsals.

He also noted that, even after their lack of communication, the brothers effortless fell into their vocal roles, seemingly by instinct and as beautiful as ever. Sure the high notes weren’t so high and their baby faces had grown into a more grandfatherly appearance, but the glimmer of their magic history was still present.

They were the Louvin’ Brothers rock and roll cousins, a genetic marvel that declared that rock and roll music wasn’t all about rhythm and rebellion. You could get lost in their scales, studying something that was completely instinctual to them. And while my children probably have no idea about their impact, they most certainly enjoy a world that sound much more beautiful because of their presence.