MONTHLY COLUMN: Outsight
Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions (Outsight)
By: Thomas Schulte
The New York City club Continental was host to Tribute To Our Friend Dee Dee Ramone. The use of the venue was donated and the event happened Tuesday evening, July 2nd. This was one month after punk icon Dee Dee Ramone died in his Los Angeles home. The founding member and bass player for The Ramones was a month short of his 50th birthday at his demise. The Ramones had often played and patronized Continental and after leaving The Ramones, Dee Dee often played there with his new groups. Surviving Ramones, Dee Dee's widow Barbara and more blessed the even, proceeds of which were donated to UNICEF. Marky Ramone was in the house band on drums, CJ Ramone was on bass and Ramones producer Daniel Rey was on guitar. This was set up in advance and additional talent seen from the stage included Handsome Dick Manitoba (Dictators), Jerry Only (Misfits), Jimmy G (Murphy's Law), Walter Lure (The Hearthbreakers) and special surprise guest Tommy Ramone, founding member and original drummer for The Ramones. In addition, up and coming bands performed their versions of classic Ramones material. Free copies of Dee Dee's books, the autobiography Lobotomy and the novel Chelsea Horror Hotel, were handed out to the first few hundred patrons. During the evening there was a screening of a never before seen 15-minute home video with footage of Dee Dee through the years. Among the eulogizing remembrances was one by Mickey Leigh. Mickey is brother of the late Joey Ramone and a recording artist in his own right. Leigh perhaps knew Dee Dee longer than anyone else there. He said: "My friendship with Dee Dee began 32 years ago when Johnny introduced us in 1970. He lived across the street from Joey and me and, needless to say, his character and immense talent greatly affected our lives. The loss of another 'brother' in our extended family was eased somewhat by the graciousness of (Continental owner) Trigger and the staff of Continental. Once again, the outpouring of love, respect and support from the community was overwhelming at this beautiful and moving musical memorial. I hope I don't have to go to another one for a long, long time." Photos of the evening have been posted on the Continental Website and can be viewed at http://www.continentalnyc.com/deedee.
PORCUPINE TREE PREVIEW
Porcupine Tree fans now have a special opportunity to preview online an album track called "Gravity Eyelids". The new song will be on the forthcoming Lava Records album In Absentia. This is due out in the U.S. September 24, 2002. Porcupine Tree invites you to an early listen on the main page of their Website: http://www.porcupinetree.com.
SO MUCH SHOUTING, SO MUCH LAUGHTER
Ani DiFranco built a career on her crowd-pleasing stage presence. This captivating aura was itself captured on her highly successful first live album, Living in Clip (1997). She now follows that up with here second-ever live collection, So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter. So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter will be released September 10. Also a double-disc, the 23 selections are recent performances with a full band from various concerts between 2000 and 2002. The songs on So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter were mostly written after the release of Living in Clip. The new album features three compositions not available on any other albums. One such song is "Self Evident," which Ani penned shortly after the events of September 11, 2001.
MAGNA CARTA SIGNS WITH ADA FOR U.S. DISTRIBUTION
Magna Carta, the world's current torchbearer for progressive rock label, signed a new distribution agreement with Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA). ADA began distributing Magna Carta's product on July 1, 2002. Some of the innovative rock albums that Magna Carta gave to the world are: Bozzio Levin Stevens Black Light Syndrome, Kansas Somewhere To Elsewhere and Steve Morse Major Impacts. Magna Carta began distributing product in 1990 with an exclusive licensing agreement for the world outside the U.S. through Roadrunner.
A LOOK INTO TRANSPARENT RECORDS
I was cruising the garage sales when I saw an address I recognized: 6757 Transparent Drive. There I got reacquainted with Paul Holstein and his institution of collectible punk rock records that is Transparent Records (6757 Transparent Drive, Clarkston, MI, 48346). Allowing for some diversification, Transparent Records has put out some CDs. One of these titles is Gutterpunx Another Year Wasted (pretty good speed punk) and another is The Bump-N-Uglies The Finer Things in Life. This disc was recorded and mixed by "Gentleman" Jim Diamond. Diamond is now known for his work with the resurgent garage punk movement, but this a fun slab of self-deprecating hardcore. Another CD title on the label is the split-CD Unreconstructed by Hybrid Mutants and Flamin' Anus. Flamin' Anus is hyper speed-punk even faster than Gutterpunx and Hybrid Mutants is suburban neo-punk affecting a Southern delivery ala ANTiSEEN. This disc has some fine artwork for gore auteur Jeff Gaither and shows half the reason Holstein got into the label game. As much for the music, he loves the artwork and, where possible, took great care in the artwork. As much as showing of the recording, he beams over the original artwork by Jeff Gaither and the recently deceased Marc Rude. The CD compilation Socially Transparent Diseases compiles Holsteins pick of the 7"-sides, like The Dirtys "Drivin' Like A Jerk," Johnny Motel and the Fast Fucks "Knock Down Blues" and the cover of "Paint it Black" by The Accused. Like the cover for The Accused, this Gaither cover was designed by Holstein and is a site to see. This compilation is also a way to pick up songs now sold out in the single formats, like "Stand for Something" by The GC5. Getting into the vinyl Transparent, we come across a 6-song 7" by The Fartz which can help radicalize your outlook with such aware punk songs as "Gotta Brain." Check out the group's two recent CDs on Alternative Tentacles, including the just released 15 Working Class Songs. This single is especially collectible for it cop as pig cum orc artwork by Gaither as is the Human Buffet seven-inch. Human Buffet featured Joey Image (The Misfits, The Undead) and the foldout vision of a ghoulish feast outdoes that classic dinner scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Another Transparent vinyl title is the Vice Amply Rewarded 7" from goofy New Mexico punk rockers Beefcake in Chains. The title was to have original artwork by R. K. Sloane, but it does not. Unfortunately, this is one of the times Holstein says he was burned by an artist. Still, he is glad he did it and is preparing to (probably) wrap things up with a finally release, a double seven-inch from The Accused.
SBS Records SEEKS SUBMISSIONS
SBS Records, the label founded, owned, and operated by musician Michelle Malone, accepts submissions for the label's sixth sampler CD. Accepted entries will appear on the sampler CD along with Website information for the track. SBS Records will give away the CD to its fan base. Previous samplers went out as far as Japan, Australia, and Canada as well as the U.S. SBS Records accepts all music genres and spoken word for consideration. Previous participating artists include Rose Polenzani, Danielle Howle, and Jennie DeVoe. For more info visit http://www.sbs-records.com. The deadline for entries is August 31, 2002. Apply by mailing your CD, CD single or DAT to:
P.O. Box 3092
Decatur, GA 30031
If there is more than one song on your recording, specify which Song is to be considered. All entries must be no longer than 4 minutes. There is no application fee, but a $275 fee will apply for material chosen for the recording. Artists retain all publishing rights and ownership.
BOOK REVIEWS ********************
Terrorism and War
Seven Stories Press
Obviously published prompted by and in reaction to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, Terrorism and War is the first full-length work in a number of years. Acutely observant, this sagely historian presents the facets of America's War on Terrorism not covered on CNN or in White House press meetings. The book is in the format of a lengthy interview chunked out in chapters. This approach directs the discussions directly to the mechanics and motivations of America's situation and response. However, this also interrupts the fluid narrative and detailed contextualization found in Zinn's other works, like A People's History of the United States. It is fairly widely known that irony that the U.S. directly supported Taliban et al against Russia as part of the Cold War, but Zinn goes further to reveal more. Zinn disconnects the WTC even from Pear Harbor comparison. (This is not a military attack between nations.) Zinn also unveils the duplicity in America's previous war initiatives. Not only does Zinn recall such recent engagements as Grenada, but the able historian summons up such remote affairs as the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor (vis-?-vis the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen) and the Mayaguez affair which nearly led to out-and-out war with Cambodia. Among the appendices are relevant extractions from the Geneva Protocol on civilian safety during engagements. The 160-page has a thorough index.
S. Jason Black & Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph. D
Pacts with the Devil
New Falcon Publications
Pacts with the Devil gets off to a good start due to extensive relating of the foundations in demonology in Europe from half a millennium ago. This is the same rich and ribald times that gave the setting for Huysman's La-Bas. Black and Hyatt cover the highpoints, like the raucous Hellfire Club, as well as obscure figures and the historical roots of Faust. (It is somewhat shocking they do not even mention the well-documented career of the ghoulish Gilles de Rais, "The Pious Monster." After more recent history, like of course Aleister Crowley, there are chapters of elitist and bilious thought that a reader may feel their eyes have wandered into the pages of Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard as the two writers espouse philosophies that those who wish to appear well-read would call Nietzschean. However, having gotten through this and having read some personal conjuring testimonials we get the promised meat of the message: excerpts from arcane grimoires slightly altered for the moderne yet purist necromantic. A would-be anti-Christian Satanist expecting just goats' heads, black candles and pentagrams will be let down at this point. For, the point the authors have made in the book is they espouse a method of spirit channeling that reaches back to the days when most 'summoners' were also 'sermoners' from the pulpit of the Catholic Church. (The Church has a monopoly on such basic skills as reading and access to books necessary to pick up diabolical hobbies.) So, one most be willing to announce all the names of Jehovah in order to chat Beelzebub according to the ways of this illustrated manual. Regardless, it is a handy tome to file next to the Necronomicon for such unique pet names as Rantam, Merloy and Phorsy.
DVD REVIEWS ***************************
Bobby Hutcherson / Flora Purim
Quantum Leap/Music Video Distributors
This is the third volume in the Cool Summer video series. The video footage here was shot in 1983 at the Paul Masson Vineyard in California during the Harvest Jazz Festival. The featured performer on the disc is Hutcherson. During the showcase, half-hour performance by the vibraphonist, episodes of a candid interview with Hutcherson are interspersed. While introducing us to Hutcherson as a person, this tends to disrupt the continuity of his lengthy, improvised performance. Beside Hutcherson's own performance, a highlight of this segment is the musical saw performance by the percussionist in his quartet, Eddie Marshall. An additional Hutcherson segment exhibits him in front of several jazz musicians, including pianist McCoy Tyner. Also on this DVD is a very brief exhibition of the talents of vocalist Flora Purim. This shows Flora's synthesized style reaching back to the easy grace of Sarah Vaughn as well Ella Fitzgerald's scat singing. (3)
Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Inakustik/ Music Video Distributors
During three decades of holding the bottom end with Charlie Watts in the classic foursome that made up The Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman became a legendary bass player in rock-n-roll. Along with Watts, Wyman supplied understated, subtle rhythms that upheld the theatrics of Jagger and Richards. In this concert recorded in Germany, Wyman fills an analogous role in his Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings. Among the stars Wyman allows to shine brighter at this gig is ultimate rockabilly and country-rock sideman Albert Lee, versatile drummer Graham Broad (Polecats, Mike Oldfield, Culture Club), keyboardist Gary Brooker (Procol Harum). Underscoring Wyman's background role even in his own group he does not sing. However, there are a lot of talented vocalists on hand, including gospel-blues-jazz vocalist Terry Taylor from previous Bill Wyman solo albums, Beverly Skeetes (Boy George) and Janice Hoyte (Bill Wyman's Groovin', Pete Townshend Iron Man). Highlight performances include "I Put a Spell on You," "Mystery Train" and "Hello Little Boy." (3.5)
Cleopatra Presents The Phantom of the Opera: Featuring the Music of Switchblade Symphony
Cleopatra Records/ Music Video Distributors
This 90-minute DVD mates the music of Switchblade Symphony with the chilling 1925 silent Lon Chaney classic Phantom of the Opera. This is not original music from the group, but rather back catalog extractions from Bread & Jam, Clown, Drool, Serpentine Gallery and more. Knowing this, one may expect sonic incongruousness, but actually the music fits very nicely, even lyrically, as if this was the intention from the start. Opera trained vocalist Tina Root's delivery, inspired as it is by Classical Music, is a stylistic fit. (3.5)
CD REVIEWS *****************************
The Loom's Desire
It is the magical concert experiences given by Nyro that are most often remarked by her cult following as truly tipping their fan appreciation into the arena of true zeal. That unbridled enthusiasm Nyro engendered comes across in the generous applause on these two concerts. Like Tori Amos, Laura Nyro creates a very personal, sophisticated piano-based pop that is especially transcendent live. Backing vocalists on these 1993 and 1994 concerts augment her soulful delivery. That is her Harmony Group and they mark the creative output of those final Luna Mist Records years. These New York City Christmas Eve events, a tradition with her, were her last live concerts before falling ill. At the height of her powers and delivery her annual present to her hometown, these are exquisite documents of Nyro's special ability. (4.5)
Finally the Rain has Come
Leni Stern Recordings
Leni Stern's albums of guitar-based jazz-pop have always resonated brightly and suggested crisply rendered emotions. Finally the Rain has Come, her 13th album, particularly scintillates with the accentuating tablas and other ethnic percussion of Zakir Hussain. Other giant talents participating on this album are guitarists Bill Frisell and John McLaughlin (also adding world sounds) along with Michael Brecker on tenor saxophone. Drummer Keith Carlock is of Steely Dan and bassist/loop programmer Paul Socolow is in the rhythm section of the David Byrne Band. This Leni's first album after September 11 and was recorded the following month, October 2001. Some of Leni's reaction can be felt in "Where is God" and "For Peace to Come." Named Gibson Female Guitarist of the Year five consecutive times, Leni has long moved past the more purely jazz instrumental albums of her early career into shimmering, warm and compelling songs. (4)
Human After All
Lis Harvey has a bright, percolating enunciation to her swinging folk-pop which recalls Ani DiFranco. Her take on contemporary folk is hip and on-target. Her reality poetry is witty and wry: "You see that girl over there with the should length hair? She plays guitar in the bar/ and her boyfriend is never there." Her spunky delivery of intelligent lyrics provides a well-rounded entertainment package that springs from the coffeehouse tradition. (4)
Alex de Grassi / G. E. Stinson
Auditorium, via Paullo, 20135 Milan, Italy
This is the first collaboration from Los Angeles's experimental electronic guitarist G. E. Stinson and solo acoustic guitarist Alex de Grassi. On this album, the duo's impressive technique is transmogrified through improvisation and extemporaneous manipulation of frequencies. Stinson co-founded Shadowfax and eventually migrated to Los Angeles to work with Nels and Alex Cline, Gregg Bendian, Jeff Gauthier and more. Like Stinson, the American folk and blues scene inspired De Grassi. He came to lead Andean jazz group Tatamonk. Stinson's L.A. studio was the setting for the unrehearsed two days of recording that compared and documented the meeting of two extensive vocabularies in separate languages talking, as it were, on the same topic. Instead of relying on technology, the pair employ unexpected tunings, differing implements, bizarre fingerings and a spectrum of guitars to create the otherworldly and expansive note from beyond, Shortwave Postcard. (4.5)
Demons Dance Alone
East Side Digital
Demons Dance Alone is an extremely strong album from The Residents. The teaser of including "Betty's Body" on Petting Zoo heralded its imminent genius. That compilation was intended as a primer for listeners new to the group and included their most melodic, accessible material. This is the spirit of the group that celebrated its 30th Anniversary partly with these two releases. Demons Dance Alone is also easily enjoyed; a lyrical, sublimated slab of weirdness from the group. This is the first studio album of completely new material since Wormwood (1998). It was written mostly during their 2001 European tour. Fans of the group's '70's and '80's albums like The Commercial Album and Stars & Hank Forever will appreciate the fact that the group's love/hate relationship with pop has swung back into love. (5)
Townes Van Zandt
Live at The Old Quarter
This 2-CD live set captures Van Zandt's warm, engaging folk-pop. Pieces like this history piece "Pancho & Lefty" reverberate like heartland Leonard Cohen. Long one of the pinnacle live albums of folk rock, Van Zandt separates group of songs with short jokes on this exquisite work. The music was recorded during a 5-night residency at The Old Quarter. The opening track is the M.C. announcing the final night. Comfortable with the venue, Townes shines as a poet of the acoustic guitar and song. (4)
Living with the Blues
Duke Robillard's good-time electric party blues sounds solid and great from this artist that won the W. C. Handy "Blues Guitarist of the Year" award in 200 and 2001. The versatile artist does and has done more than just blues, though. That makes this his first pure blues album since Duke's Blues (1994). Beside Duke's originals, we hear his take on such blues songs as the title track by Brownie McGhee, Freddie King's "Use What You Got", "If Walls Could Talk" from Little Milton and more. As founder of Roomful of Blues and former member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Duke has done much to define contemporary blues. This is a worthy and exquisite album from the important bluesman that has also worked with Ruth Brown, Bob Dylan (Time out of Mind), John Hammond and more. (4)
Jeff Gauthier Goatette
Jeff Gauthier Goatette is an experimentalist in the forward moving edges of new jazz and creative music. Using electric and acoustic sounds and such able sidemen as Nels and Alex Cline, Gauthier creates eminently memorable instrumental pieces. Gauthier performs on the electric and acoustic violins, adding a rare timbre to jazz. There is nothing harsh or impenetrable about these sound experiments. Pieces like Gauthier's own "Clea's Bounce" invite the listener with fluid melodies and rolling rhythms. Along with a piece from each of the Clines, the Goatette ensemble works through Ornette Coleman's harmolodics on "Enfant" and does "Waltz for K.P." by former Goatette Eric von Essen. (4.5)
Human Being Lawnmower: The Baddest & Maddest of the MC5
Once again, John Sinclair uses Total Energy as his vessel for hard rock gold out of the MC5 archive. This compilation focuses on the wild, unhinged energy of unrestrained live tracks and rare, explosive studio outtakes. Beside the violent title track of this compilation largely represented with 1968 material, The Baddest & Maddest features such full-on aural assaults of psychedelic blues-rock as "Motor City is Burning" and an early, tentative stab at "I'm Mad Like Eldridge Cleaver" that builds into an outward spiraling vocal freeform orgy from Rob Tyner. (4)
The Black Keys
The Big Come Up
The Black Keys is an Akron duo that burns with the frantic but focused bluesy hard rock energy as Jimi Hendrix. They add a hard and heavy garage rock crunch that got them native respect in the juke joints of the Delta. This two-man powerhouse is Dan Auerbach (cousin to Akron's Ralph Carney) on vocals and Harmony electric guitar aged 22 at this release and a year-younger Patrick Carney (nephew to Ralph Carney) on drums. Dan spent an apprenticeship in Greenville, Mississippi jamming the area clubs with James "T-Model" Ford before recording this potent album. (4.5)
Something in the cruel, cold, authoritarianism of German makes that language ideal for heavy, industrial music. This duo, formed in 1989, has that ominous Teutonic sound in spades. This, the group's thirteenth album, continues they heavy Gothic stylism inherent in their thunderous, industrial Sturm und Drang. In this the group works in a lot of eerie melody, though. This gives their material depth and dimensionality. (3)
Fans of Kate Bush will appreciate the ethereal, haunting beauty of the vocals and piano/keyboard compositions of the amazing Mary Sarah. Accompanying Sarah on this recording is multi-instrumentalist Danys Levasseur. On Oh, We Sarah compels folk sounds of the globe into her organic, high-pitched, mesmerizing compositions. Levasseur channels various cultures through ethnic percussion, sitar and an instrument that in its very name suggests this association of modern electronic compositions and exotic traditional sounds: the guitoud. Declaring her music "new world -- ambient soul," dancer, educator and psychologist Mary Sarah suggests the intersection of Brian Eno, Laura Nyro and Laurie Anderson. (4.5)
The Microphones is responsible for strange and beautiful post-folk songs, like the chilling and authentic "I Can't Believe You Actually Died." Following this song of plain and simple heartache over a friend's death comes the bouncy "I'm a Pearl Diver." A vivid tale in song, its ragged rhythms make it sound like something out of the songbook of The Holy Modal Rounders. Phil Elvrum and his cohorts in the ensemble paint moving and compelling portraits from a basic spectrum of brevity, acoustic guitar, honest poetry and some rugged studio techniques. Each song is like the beautiful stones that can catch the eye of a child, or can reawaken life-shaping events, as in "The Moon." (4.5)
?Anywhere but Here
Kung Fu Records
This is the first CD by these icons of California punk pop, reissued by Kung Fu Records. The album originally came out in 1997 on the same label. Produced by Warren Fitzgerald after Joe Escalante (Vandals bassist and head of Kung Fu Records) received a demo cassette from lead singer / songwriter Kris Roe at a show, this led to the sudden whisk into a neo-punk life for Roe that so many yearn for. Escalante heard in that demo, crudely made with just Roe on guitars with a drum machine) the anthemic, upbeat, moving power pop that came to be with this album. While the later Ataris records are good, this collection of songs written by Roe yearning to blast out of small-town Anderson, Indiana may forever remain the most pure and peerless of recordings in the Ataris' discography. Completely remixed and remastered, this enhanced CD edition includes video footage and some material not present on the original release. (3.5)
OOOH! (Out of our Heads)
Mekons embrace the basic catharsis of pure punk while evidencing a wide swath of musical knowledge and ability. The cerebral group cannot merely express angst but reaches for eloquence. The effect, when all this works, can be quite majestic, as on Fear and Whiskey (1985) and Me (1998). Unfortunately, this album, upon initial listening, has islands of that unique genius with other portions that sound tired and hollowed out. Are Mekons tired? Have key members spent too much critical energy on side projects? Perhaps Mekons just ask more of us, now. Listening to the album several times, and it asks you too, greatly increases the realization of the scintillating beauty in this, another singular example of post-punk sophisticated pop to come from the group. (4.5)
King of Woolworths
Beggars Group/Mantra Recordings
King of Woolworths shows two sides on Ming Star. First, there are patient pieces of culminating rhythms, dark and heavy. This part of the album is ready made to be a trippy soundtrack to late-night highway drives. Also here are bizarre phone conversations with weird background music. These can summon twisted images in the minds of listeners as they ask themselves, "Is this staged?" Operating out of Manchester, England, this alchemist of textural electronica serves up such a jumble of styles (some ambient tracks smack of French '60's film music) that each track, each tile in this mosaic, must be considered uniquely. It is because each is such a good song that this study in contrasts succeeds as an excellent album. (4)
The Strange Lives project was inspired buy live, ambient electronic improvisation recorded at The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. There in 1999 Metaphor opened up for German electronic pioneer Roedelius in 1999. Metaphor employs PVC pipes, French horn, electric guitars, analog synthesizers, samples and a theremin in creating strange and otherworldly soundscapes over simple but urgent beats. Steve Sklar makes a special appearance to contribute Tuvan-style throat singing to the otherwise instrumental recording. At times stark and chilling and other times impressionistic and cinematic, Metaphor is a pendulum that swings artfully from the slick dance sounds to eerie moods. (4.5)
Songs and Ballads of the Bituminous Miners
As with many Rounder Select editions from the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture, Songs and Ballads of the Bituminous Miners is an encyclopedic look at the culture that spawned this music. This is a companion recording the Rounder's Songs and Ballads of the Anthracite Miners. This album of mining songs came about through the work of folklorist George Korson, an Alan Lomax of the minefields. Korson cast his net wide and retrieved this material from hardworking citizens of Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The reasons for this are partly geological. This is because the bituminous (soft) coal lies in more widely scattered regions than the centralized anthracite coal. So, more regional influence is picked up as some tracks have a gospel-blues feel while others have a guitar-based Old Timey feel. The 25-page booklet exhaustively details each track and the culture that spawned these songs. (4.5)
The Spencer Davis Group
Cherry Red/RPM Productions
A two-disc set, Time Seller includes a reissue of With Their New Face On (1968). This pre-psychedelia rock-n-soul album includes the hit singles "Mr. Second Class" and "Time Seller." The digipack packaging reproduces the original UK artwork. (This artwork was planned for the U.S., but not released.) This excellent R&B-influenced album proves the group to be much more than the cradle of Steve Winwood, who had exited the group by this point. This transitional time, also the period of the Here we go Round the Mulberry Bush soundtrack, is marked by impressive creativity as the group seeks their new direction. This CD comes with a bonus CD-ROM containing a 56-minute documentary film of the group's day-to-day activities from 1967. The film is in English, but includes commentary in German.
That's Rock 'n' Roll
Cherry Red/RPM Productions
The distinctive Tommy Bruce voice was something like that of rock-n-roll Boris Karloff used by Bobby "Boris" Pickett on his "monster" hit "Monster Mash." Like a cartoonish blend of Howlin' Wolf's guttural howl and Dr. John's funky swagger, Tommy Bruce would also be aptly suited for novelty numbers. Bruce applied this memorable and striking technique to a version of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehaving" which reached #3 on the U.K. charts in 1960. Only that gem has previously been on CD. Here RPM collects two dozen more Bruce sides for the definitive collection of his recorded output from 1960-1968. (4)
The 5th Elephant
Lutz Glandien's music is ominous, truly fearsome electronic creations. A mesmerizing, plodding substrate of tempo-shifting beats conveys a discharging storm of psychopathic, fractured melodies and backwards voices. The genesis of this opus was studio improvisations with drummer Chris Cutler (Pere Ubu, Henry Cow) and tuba player Michael Vogt showing his avant-garde side away from the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Glandien took this material and spent three years analyzing, processing and re-creating it with computer technology. The result is as disturbing as it is lucid. The 5th Elephant is shades of Nine Inch Nails in the spirit of Stockhausen. (5)
A criminally uncelebrated American progressive rock band, The Muffins return to the scene with this, their first studio release since 1980. The Muffins draw from the post-psychedelic Canterbury scene (Soft Machine, National Health, etc.), Sun Ra and Henry Cow. (Henry Cow member Fred Frith later called the group "the finest progressive band America produced.") They combine matured post-psychedelic textures with the focused jazz energy of early- and middle-period Sun Ra on this jazzy, well-hone creation that was in production for more than two years. (4)
Backwards is entirely recordings previously unreleased from the innovative and challenging avant-garde group. In roughly reverse chronological order; these half-dozen tracks (one over 20 minutes in length) cover the period 1968-1970. The most visible representatives of the post-psychedelic Canterbury scene, Soft Machine progressed from accessible pop to more innovate jazz fusions. The initial three selections are studio tracks recorded after the quartet version (Dean/Ratledge/Hopper/Wyatt) finished Third. Following are two live recordings from November 1969 of the large septet version adding Dobson/Charig/Evans. Concluding the disc is Robert Wyatt's demo version of "Moon in June" recorded by the band in two parts months apart and spliced together. (4)
Deep River of Song: Bahamas 1935, Vol. 2
At the age of 20 Alan Lomax had already collected voluminous amounts of folk song from the American South. At that time he arrived in the Bahamas to find another wealth of material. This is the second volume Rounder has released exploring that bounty. Focusing on catchy songs for ring games and round dances, this collection includes a native version of "Delia Gone." Often featuring group vocals with handclaps and drums, this is a bouncing, lively compendium of game and dance songs and from the subtropical paradise. (4)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Touch and Go Records
In preparation for a tour with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (apt pairing), Touch & Go reissued this 5-song EP previously issued on Shifty Records. Vocalist Karen O leads her trio group down a wild ride of aggro-pop. Leaping from squeals to screams, the guitar and drum backing (the only instruments) matches her sudden mood changes -- from the melodic ("Our Time") to the malicious ("Art Star"). The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are a high-octane blend of The Gories and The Cramps. (4)
Ass Baboons of Venus
Phuket ala Bum Bum
Crazed and childish, Ass Baboons of Venus walk a tightrope act of being insane without being inane. Led by Naoko Nozawa, a Japanese comedienne, the group has been touring around the states as well as making TV appearances in Japan for about ten years. In Japan, Naoko is known for being member of the Yamamoto Kougyo comedy troupe as well as being a member of the Monkeys, a ridiculous singing group where all the members dressed up as monkeys. She sings in English and something that sounds made-up, ala Boredoms. Some of the material sounds like caffeinated '80's pop ("Top Secret") while some is just joyously directionless (drum portion of same song). Anal humor and a twisted derivation of Devo and the early B-52's make this sonic freak show a real classic. (3.5)
Coup De Grace
The Music Cartel
Ultimate stoner rock bassist Scott Reeder (Kyuss, Obsessed, Unida) produced this new edition of heavy, groovy '70's rock. Episodes of unfettered punk rock attitude, like in the opening "Your World Will Hate This" keep the sludge from during to drudge. Another standout track is their high-energy take on The Misfits' "We Bite." For another Kyuss connection (the association with the band goes way back), Kyuss vocalist John Garcia is on hand to provide guest vocals on "Made of Rats" and "Jesus Beater." (3.5) Mammoth Volume
The Early Years
The Music Cartel
Remixed and remastered from their original recordings, this is the nascent Mammoth Volume. "Frisco" sounds like Dio-era Black Sabbath and marks the group as heart-and-soul stoner rockers. "Diablo" could be off an old Deep Purple album and mixes well with its Night of the Living Dead theme. The Swedish stoner rock institution has long been held up as the thinking man's representative of the genre for their Yes-inspired time signatures and King Crimson-like changes. (3.5)
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Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions.
Published, somewhere, monthly since July 1991. Feel free to re-print this article.
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