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Monday, October 24, 2005

The Police's "Synchronicity" LP on A&M SP 3735. There's a lot to say about this album but I'm going to have to be brief. First of all, I find it interesting there is no bar code anywhere on the LP cover.. How did they get away with that? Secondly, and this was shocking to me: the LP does not include track 11: Murder by Numbers... apparently that song was only included as a bonus on the cassette and primarily designed to be a B-side... I always saw that song as integral to the album but apparently the Police's real intent was to have the album contain only four songs on side 2 (yeah, six songs on side 1 and four on side 2) and conclude with "tea in the sahara"....

The album itself is a strong one....the Police went out with a bang... Sting's pompousness since the break up of the Police, poseurization, and rodstewardization of his career have led many to now dismiss the Police entirely... but in 1983 when this album came out the police where the world's top rock band and they had the chops and songs to back that up......

The Police was the first good band I was passionate about and this album was a large part of the reason why... their breakup was a huge the years immediately following the breakup the concensus was Sting had done well as a solo artist but I think in retrospect his career as a solo star has been a big dissapointment..

"Synchronicity" was an album that combined brilliantly executed rock music with brains.... the brain's were not so much Sting's as they were noted psychologist Carl Jung's .... Sting took Jung's synchronicity and based the album on the concept.... the move was a smart one...interestingly he supposedly wrote the album in a house in the caribbean that had belonged to ian fleming on the same old desk that fleming had written 007 stories.. on the album the songs synchronicity and synchronicity II are standout tracks and i prefer them to the three bigger hits: Every breath you take, king of pain and wrapped around your finger.... Andy Summer's "mother" provides some levity..("murder by numbers" in a sense is necessary on this album too as it counterbalances sting's serious/preachy/poseur/whathaveyou tendencies with some dark humour).

andy summers and stewart copeland -his lefthanded drumming technique always gave the police a distinct sound- provided some great soundscapes although sting was no slouch on the bass.... basically the police could really cook but they were also just a bit cleverer than the rest.."men among boys" comes to mind... andy summer was in his mid 30s by the time he joined the police, stewart copeland the song of a high ranking US CIA officer based in the middle east and sting a former schoolteacher... sting superstar would become increasingly annoying but perhaps copeland/summers succeded in keeping sting's ego in check for those five years the police ruled the world.....

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

what to do what to do.. i've written about my recent resurgence of insterest in blue note records... well i managed to get my hands on jimmy smith's "i'm moving on" recorded january 31, 1963 but in the vaults until its release in 1966...whats interesting about this album you ask? its the only session featuring both jimmy smith and grant green ever recorded... you got to admit that sounds pretty yummy.. apparently the session is not the greatest work which is why it was initially not released.... still... whats the problem? the record i bought which by all accounts appears to be the first pressing (division of liberty records label) is sealed! should i open it? the cover features jimmy next to a jaguar wheel .. same photo-op as the one that resulted in the crazy cover of woman next to jaguar ("crazy baby" lp)... could be....

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Grant Green is Beautiful!

been on a blue note kick again lately... particularly into grant green.. this isn't the first time i've been into grant green!..he's one of my main men.. but i did recently pick up a few things from his second period at blue note...

grant green recorded a ton of stuff on blue note from about 1961 to 1966... then i think he went to jail for a bit and had some drug problems and dropped out... its sorta unclear for what but i think it was some drug any case its not even really discussed in sharon green's pretty paltry bio (my copy of this is in argentina right now but i remember it not being really addressed).. anyways the sum is this... grant green recorded on stanley turrentine's rough 'n tumble lp on july 1, 1966... he did not record again on blue note until his comeback session playing on reuben wilson's love bug on march 21, 1969... his last session as leader on blue note was on march 31, 1965's "i want to hold your hand"...his return session was "carryin on" october 3, 1969.. you do the math! thats like a three to four year period of little activity for grant green on a label for which earlier he had been recording on almost every session (grant green WAS blue note's regular house guitarist)...its well known that alfred lion, blue note owner, particularly dug green's chops and had him record often... lion sells label in 67 and almost drops out..this all coincides with period of little if any grant green activity....

by the time green comes back to record in 1969 the entire music scene had changed..heck the entire country.. think about the stuff going on in the United States in 1967 and 1968 (vietnam, mlk shot, rfk shot, civil rights, etc) ....jazz was on the way out in relation to funk r&b (think james brown, motown) as a popular art form in the black community and the new jazz scene on blue note in particular consisted of some soul jazz and some schmaltzy covers of bacharach tunes... and in particular with respect to jazz guitar: two guitarists had emerged and broken out big time.. .

wes montgomery who attained a level of sucess grant green could only have dreamed about and yet at the same time must have felt should have been his.. his body of work in the early 1960s is to my ears more impressive than wes montgomery's.. i mean by a mile and a half!... and wes' recordings for verve and a&m in the mid 60s are pretty adult contemporary stuff...of course destroyed by that great destroyer of talent creed taylor- and his producer sebesky- whose habit of adding overbearing strings to great jazz music is one of the great crimes in jazz recordings..they even manage to get their hands on a song or two from wes' dynamic duo album recorded with jimmy smith which i do like (oliver nelson does the "arrangements") in any case, these horrible recordings of things like "california dreamin" with strings over wes montgomery's guitar sold a ton and received great airplay.... wes montgomery dies suddenly of a heart attack on june 15, 1968

after wes passes on and you think maybe grant green will get his moment in the sun -although he probably loses critical time by being out of the recording scene until pretty much mid 1969- george benson, who much admired green and some say green was a sorta protege to him in his early days in new york city, steps up and becomes the new hot guitarists... grant green never did get his moment in the sun and from 1970 or so would spend the next few years scuffing around struggling from gig to gig... driving all the way from detroit to california for a gig in 1978 and trying to drive back (thats how short the funds must have been) sent him to the hospital and he never recovered dying a year later..

on the two initial grant green records from his comeback on blue note: "carryin on" (recorded 10-3-69) and "green is beautiful" (recorded 1-30-70) the covers consist of 1) a photo of a young couple (not grant green) and 2) a strange cartoon based on an old picture of grant green that must have been from 1961 or so (probably taken by wolff).. whats my point? when grant green comes out of retirement/jail/drug period or what have you he is a much older bald looking guy..nothing wrong with that but blue note must not have wanted to present him that way... clearly, grant did not have the support from blue note that he had in the day when alfred lion was running the label as he recorded just a few dates.. now its also true that by 1969 blue note was a completely shot to pieces label.. you can't compare the late 60s blue note label to the one we all know and love..having said that vangelder was still engineering the sessions and the late 60s soul jazz recordings of blue note (reuben wilson, lonnie smith, donaldson, and green) are pretty notable.. they have been mined by sampladelics and beatfreaks for the past 15 years... if you listen to any tribe called quest you're bound to come across a grant green late 60s model sample...

so what about green is beautiful? i dig it....its still grant green.. society can beat down a person like grant green but once you give him a guitar he's still the same genius.. still the same original style... to me, as i've written before, grant green plays the guitar like charlie parker plays sax.. note by note by note.. rarely if ever does he plays chords.. he just solos...and boy can he fly....the smoking 10 minute funk workout on james brown's "aint' it funky now" is my favorite track on "green is beautiful" (when you hear this version its so hot you can't help but hear james brown singing "ain't if funky now" in your head)..the album features idris muhammad (formerly leo morris) on drums and anything with idris is pretty great funk jazz!.. most of the sampling of late 60s blue note is actually sampling the drum beats of idris (he's on a ton of classics from this period starting with alligator bogaloo with donaldson).. .. the "a day in the life" is interesting but somewhat perfunctory and you have to feel grant green was recording this cause thats what he was told would be convenient.. the song could have easily been 5 minutes intead of 9.. green keeps going over and over the same paul mcartney chorus "woke up fell out of bed" which can be a bit unnerving....... the "what the world needs now is love" mandatory bacharach cover is allright but nothing too great.. the "windjammer" and "dracula" tracks are pretty sweet though and were contributed by green's keyboard player on the session: neal creque... you could argue that this album perfectly encapsulates what blue note had become in the late 60s.. pretty safe stuff with a beatles cover, james brown and bacharach cover... the "ain't if funky now" is brilliant though and worth the price of admission alone...i still say this is one of the worse lp covers ever on blue note (but by the late 60s without the wolff/miles duo photographing and designing the covers..well things had fallen apart in that departmenet with the ocasional winner of course)... i would much rather have seen a cover with grant green in some late 60s garb than this cartoon of what looks like grant green ten years ago..

the life story of grant green like that of hank mobley is a very tragic one......grant green deserved a lot better from life.. i think all the kicks people like me get from listening to his music now, somehow, validates his life

Monday, October 17, 2005

avian flu

so..i just hope that our president and other world leaders are devoting a lot of attention and resources to this avian flu biz.... if it were to mutate into something that can pass easily among humans (today a case was detected in greece so its moving eastward relentlessly) - thats my understanding- we'd be in a whole lot of doo doo.. and according to the world health organization that is just a matter of just hope scientists the world over are working on this...

it would really suck to have a flu that killed 20 million americans and 100 million plus people all over the world just because we did not maximize our brainpower./resources .. and thats what we are talking about here.

Ben Andrews debut LP "Night Ride" on Railway Records 001. Recorded in Takoma Park, MD Winter 1985. I'm going to get this autographed tomorrow.

Ben Andrews

One of my favorite things about Washington DC is that Ben Andrews plays and sings the blues at the Madams Organs club in Adams Morgan every Tuesday night. I realized how much I missed Ben Andrews when I spent 18 months in Argentina and would ocassionally have a hankering for his show.... I started checking him out about 1996 so its been a while.. I even have friends that made a documentary about him- i was at the show the night they had the film equipment set up and shot the concert- which unfortunately still sits at the cutting/editing stage...

He'll play from about 9 until closing.. set after set..and intersperse the show with anecdotes about the blues musicians and their songs... he'll tell ya "i met mississippi john hurt in the 1980s.. he used to live (he'll wave his arm) over by columbia avenue on top of the..."...highlights are many and include songs by blues heavyweights such as Blind Willie McTell etc.. if you go hear him and you are not too familiar with the history of the blues you are likely to hear many blues songs you associate with say Allman Brothers (Statesboro Blues) , Led Zeppelin (Gallows Pole; a Ben Andrews highlight), etc.. he'll even play the ballad of casey jones which of course the Grateful Dead adapted, etc...usually he plays by himself... but he's a one man band! with the foot stomping rhthym and the guitar.. its powerful stuff.. sometimes he has an accompanist on harmonica or what have you..

In any case I was perusing the web and came across a British blues club which has a feature on Ben Andrews who it seems has played there on ocassion.. I think the feature does a great job of introducing the reader to Ben and it can be found at:

I have not been to hear Ben since February or so and I think tomorrow I'm going to have to stop by and check him out again..

Wacky records! This is Senator Robert Byrd's (Democrat-West Virginia) "Mountain Fiddler" LP released in 1978 on County Records. Senator Byrd just announced he is running for reelection to the Senate and 47west63rd fully endorses him as he demonstrated political courage and leadership on the Senate floor on the eve of the Iraq war by blasting the ill advised adventure. This album features Senator Byrd singing and playing fiddle on classics such as "Roving Gambler" and "Will the Circle be Unbroken."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

new inductees into rock'n'roll hall of fame


rummaging through stacks of old cds.. the 1993-96 period is particularly interesting..if you're read my blog before you know i feel the 1994-1995 period was the last gasp of rock'n'roll so far.. i like to think i have open ears but lately i'm not hearing it in american rock'n'roll... .... i guess its been long enough that cds from this period are old and you can look at them with some perspective..

gbv frontman's first solo lp, not in my airforce, confirms its status as a classic...its such an underrated album.. surely because of the lack of hype/promotion that accompanied it partly due to pollard's releasing new albums with gbv so fast at the time this album passed under the radar but its really a classic.. and its pollard's softer masterpiece.. more acoustic work.. shreds of songs that hold up.... the albums "ash grey proclamation" track is a complete classic in my opinion...pollard autobiography coming out soon btw.. not sure how i feel about the bio..

other classics i've been digging are uncle tupelo's anodyne (scratched to hell and skips right at the point where jay farrar shreds his guitar on chickamauga-if you've heard it you know what i'm talking about. .if not run to your store and buy this album- but still mp3s just fine.. thank you jesus) which together with johnny cash's "american recordings" and hank williams greatest hits -opened up country music for me, nick cave's "let love in" which together with his live record "live seeds" opened up the dark universe of cave, and ween's 12 country greats (recorded almost exactly 10 years ago to the day) which fit in perfectly with my nascent interest in alternative country/country/good music and confirmed to me ween were more than a goof/laugh act.... its interesting how few of the songs on 12 country greats see live airplay..did you know charlie mcoy who plays on 12 country greats played, among other albums, on dylan's "nashville skyline"?

the ten year test is a key test for music. .if it holds up it confirms the album has enough weight to get past the period from which it arose....if an album passes the ten year test its got a shot at being a classic..

Sunday, October 09, 2005

music downloaders gets a leg up on record industry!

boy.. you take a few months off from downloading music and when you check it out again its a whole new ballgame.. now most downloading seems to no longer be individual mp3 files but rather a new site called rapidshare hosts entire albums for people in RAR format...people basically upload their albums to rapidshare and then post on the links on their own blogs.. then 100s of people click on link and instantly download file... if you don't have a rapidshare "premium" account you can only download 1 file per hour (I think longer albums have to be broken up into two files) otherwise you can download as many as you want..... no longer are people individually downloading mp3s.. and i notice a lot of the files seem to not be mp3 but some other format called m4a.. anyways... this type of filesharing is really a step up

of course we can be sure the record labels will go after rapidshare.. but it does seem that downloading files has never been easier despite the record industry's best efforts...

i'm a bit torn on this whole thing myself.. now if i'm downloading some obscure 1970s johnny cash live album recorded at a swedish prison which has never been available on cd..wellthats one thing.. or lets say the cure's unplugged session from 1991 (which i'm currently waiting on from rapidshare)- a great session by the way.. i remember seeing this live.. there's one song where the audience participates playing kazoos...or say big john patton's unreleased blue note album "blue john" (with grant green!) but on the other hand this will make it easier for people to download newly released albums and that raises ethical concerns me thinks.... still you got to say life keeps getting better for the music listener.... and think of a person who does not live in the US but rather in some country like argentina where most of these cds are not available and have never been available.. with rapidshare there's instant equal access for everyone..

as before is a great clearing house on links and sites for downloading music..

Friday, October 07, 2005

bush pulls shit out of his *ss!

so... his numbers are sagging.. the american people are not too happy.. whats a president to do?.. i know! lets play that terrorism card again.. lets remind the american people of 9-11 (white house spokesperson scott mclellan was doing the same thing today at the white house press briefing "i will remind you of september 11.....")...lets tell them ..lets tell them we foiled 10 terrorist attacks many of them on the same scale as 9-11!!!!!!!! brilliant..

bush making up shit like a drowning man does...
one is tempted to say: american people would see right through this...
but then again 1/3 of american people still think saddam was responsible for 9-11..
conclusion: this may well work to shore up bush's position...
its funny how sad our country is (or is it sad how funny..).. we're being run by a gang using the most elemental tools of control (fear/scaremongering/patriotism[the last refuge of a scoundrel])...and since the people are on the whole so ignorant it works like a charm...
its all so orwellian..
its amazing more people don't see through this stuff..
before i hated bush on a personal level and for what he is doing to a country i love.. now i really have to say there are grounds for impeachment here...there are very few nations in the world (democratic ones) where a president- an administration- could pull the stuff these knaves have been doing and not be forced to resign/impeached/call for new election or of course not be re-elected... some may say our stability is an asset.. but when the nation is being ripped apart as it is since 9-11 i would rather see a revolution...
gore gave a great speech today- another in a long series of great speeches where he actually brings up interesting ideas/thesis (no one pays attention as we are all too busy listening to the lies these clowns put out there for the media to feed on) and the gist of it was our nation is in some serious danger and it ain't from no terrorists..its from ourselves..
good night america...
wake up america......

Thursday, October 06, 2005

the clash "reforming"?

i have not written much lately as my head and body have both been occupied elsewhere but i'm going to try and write more regularly even if perhaps with less pictures..

rumours are floating- perhaps a hoax- that the clash will be reforming to tour north america and england... tim armstrong of rancid would join the band for the tour..

although i think the world of paul simonon and mick jones the clash reforming with joe strummer dead lies dangerously close to very poor taste (unclear whether topper would be drummer- he should be- or terry chimes or if they'd go for some hired hand)....

on the other hand the clash does not belong to joe strummer but to the world now..... people ascribe pecuniary interests to bands deciding to reform .. they stomp all over johnny rotten aka lydon for reforming the sex pistols.. as if it was all about money when it is about playing songs again and getting out there.. a bit of a college much "filthy lucre" could the pistols have made this past tour for playing the 930 club in dc? a few grand each?? not much more...i don't think its about THAT...and if they want a few grand to send a kid to college whats wrong with that?... do they owe some allegiance to some ill defined principles of whats acceptable or "punk" or do their fans owe them some allegiance?

now joe has passed on but people still have college reunions after a mate dies.... and bands can tour after their lead singer dies too.... would it be fair for ME after all the wonderful times i've had listening to the clash (and the times i've marveled at paul simonon's singing or mick jones vocals which i sometimes prefer to joe) to come down on anyone for doing what they want with their person?...... would i reunite "the clash"? no.. if i was paul and mick i'd tour under some other moniker (how about "last gang in town"? or better yet "the cash"!) and all serious clash fans would still be there.... we all want to see them playing together anyhow.. and i don't think anyone would say anything about them playing a lot of clash songs... in fact we'd all be yelling for them to ONLY play clash songs (yes, we the same we probably going to be coming down on them for "reforming")

one thought that crosses my mind is what would joe strummer say....i can't imagine him getting too worked up about it....i picture him with a joint in one hand, curling a smile, and shrugging it off with a few disarming words in that wonderfully honest cockney accented voice of his..

but why now? why not tour when joe was around?.. answer: joe was having such a blast with his new band the mescaleros that the clash were in the rearview mirror.. i'm sorry i did not catch the mescaleros live but glad for the good times they inspired..i've talked to a few who were at their shows and its nice to know joe was continuing to spread the love..