Friday, September 28, 2007
Dang those dastardly Driftwood Singers! Lefty's new post about Donovan-related project Open Road forced me to scrub the rust off the vaults of my neglected stash of psych-folk hippy recordings. And now that I've started down that weedy path, it'll be hard to find my way back to the UGK, Kanye and Chamillionaire discs that have provided my soundtrack of late. This bit of madness from '68 features Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood and Nicky Hopkins. As with the Driftwood Singers' selections, "Goo Goo" takes "Sunshine Superman," "Season of the Witch" and "Mellow Yellow" to their inevitable acid-soaked conclusions. The chorus- "love is hot/truth is molten"- gives this fantastic Australian compilation its title. And don't miss the newly uploaded video for "Cosmic Wheels". The Driftwood Singers would surely approve.
Members of a Minneapolis audience have a new Ryan Adams story to tell after his so-called "meltdown" last night. Most everyone has an Adams story; here's mine. When Adams was shopping for a home for what would turn out to be Bloodshot's Heartbreaker, he gave an industry showcase in an intimate Nashville venue. My boss's boss, a mogul I'll call "B," was seated about fifteen feet from the stage. Although I was positioned across room I could easily hear B's severe criticism of Adams. Each time the young performer fumbled between songs, B would loudly exclaim, "He doesn't know what he doing!" or "What the hell is wrong with him?" B's behavior clearly added to Adams' obvious discomfort. I wish I could have told Adams that B often occasionally heckled me in the same fashion.
Kansas City Click: Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem catch the wind at Starlight tonight.
RBD will almost certainly draw a less reserved crowd to the same venue Saturday.
Wonderful guitarist Beppe Gambetta visits the Mountain Music Shoppe on Sunday.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I'm among the thousands of observers of the Phil Spector trial who are stunned today. That takes nothing away from the man's genius. One of the songs I hadn't heard until I bought Back To Mono, the Phil Spector box set, was "This Could Be the Night." It's a brilliant song about frustrated sexual desire. If you choose to listen to it with a dirty mind- as I suspect songwriters Spector and Harry Nilsson intended- it's really filthy. Spector's 1965 wall-of-sound production adds immeasurably to the tension. Incidentally, Amazon is practically giving it away.
Breaking news: Garth Brooks will perform a one-off show November 14 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Kansas City Click: Texas country-rockers Reckless Kelly are at Knuckleheads tonight.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Jazz drummer Specs Powell died September 15. He was 85. Powell participated in a historic 1945 session for the Comet label in which young turks Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie joined Red Norvo's more conventional crew to record four songs. This alternate take also features Flip Philips on the first sax solo, Teddy Wilson on piano and Slam Stewart going wild on bass. The version I own doesn't seem to exist, but it appears that this collection includes the same material. Lovers of contextual oddities should also check out this footage starring Norvo and Dinah Shore.
A Mekons tour behind a new album! Life is good.
Kansas City Click: Georgia's Warm In the Wake join There Stands the Glass favorites OK Jones tonight at the Record Bar.
Monday, September 24, 2007
The good times are over.
I remember the days when the unchecked enthusiasm of a record label's management (along with a healthy marketing budget) was sufficient to flood the marketplace with a preposterous amount of CDs. Sometimes the stuff actually sold through. Unfortunately, a few high-profile raves in the press didn't translate into sales of Bulk. Consequently, the double disc of home recordings by Jack Logan remains a fixture in all respectable dollar bins. I must have purchased a dozen copies over the years. "Good Times, Bad Memories," a primitive hybrid of Exile On Main Street and Reckoning, remains my favorite of Bulk's 42 tracks.
The comments to my review of Friday's Split Lip Rayfield show aren't very nice. Most artists would gladly accept comparison to Merle Haggard and Elvis Costello, as well as being categorized as "abundantly talented." My criticism was an attempt to suggest one possible reason Robbie Fulks hasn't achieved commercial success.
Kansas City Click: The Kerry Strayer Orchestra is at the Blue Room tonight.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Perceptions of Brave Combo vary wildly. Many of my friends consider them a "wacky" joke band because of things like this. European-American folklorists think of them as a go-to house band. They're regulars on the polka-and-beer circuit. But for me, Brave Combo represent much more than masterful eclecticism. They're supreme purveyors of surrealism, like Devo and Zippy. What makes the Texas institution's accomplishment even more remarkable is that they've been on the road presenting their art at Octoberfests, polka festivals and rock clubs for over 25 years. This rarity is from a Japanese-only release on the P-Vine label.
Purveyors of international garage rock Gearhead Records are having a sale.
Kansas City Click: Brave Combo is one of the bands on the bill at Octoberfest tonight.
Organist Melvin Rhyne is at the Blue Room Saturday.
Fiesta Hispana might be the best place for fun on Sunday.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
One of the most notable local acts at a recent festival I attended was named "Event." Try Googling that. The conundrum brought to mind The The, another absurdly difficult name. Although the entity known as The The scored a few "modern rock" hits, it's entirely likely that more success would have come under another name, something like "Pineapple Salsa." The 1995 release of Hanky Panky probably didn't do much to maintain The The's fan base. While quite convincing, the collection of Hank Williams covers baffled many. An obscure CD single featured three acoustic covers not on the album, including "Someday You'll Call My Name." Amazon doesn't list the title, but it's available at Ebay. It looks like The The's Matt Johnson has been active lately. Clues are at his MySpace.
My friend Lee touts the young jazz vocalist Sara Gazarek.
Kansas City Click: Willie Nelson's bus parks at Starlight tonight.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
It's going to take some time to fully absorb the eighty minutes of sounds contained on the new Chamillionaire CD I bought yesterday. (At least it's shorter than the great UGK release, which I believe clocks in at seventeen hours.) Although it's somewhat deficient in musical inventiveness, Chamillionaire's effort is a landmark recording on several levels. It's the first important "clean" hip hop release in over a decade. And as Houston So Real pointed out, "dude actually has concepts on pretty much every song, he's rapping about things that matter." Chamillionaire's specific targets and pointed arguments are strikingly reminiscent of Gil Scott-Heron's work. Like Scott-Heron, Chamillionaire addresses attacks on personal liberties, perceived political threats and the crassness of the news cycle. Chamillionaire would no doubt relate to the sentiment contained on the alternate take of "No Knock" from the reissue of the 35-year-old Free Will.
The East Bay Express has an startling profile of Too $hort's career path.
Kansas City Click: Los Angeles' Julia Othmer brings her mainstream adult pop to Bar Natasha tonight.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
All out of love.
That's For Sure is far from a great album; it's no tragedy that the 2000 release is out-of-print. The new-jack-swing production is woefully misguided. Jeffrey Osborne's wonderful voice is just another element in the high-gloss sheen. Except... the disc concludes with a live rendition of "Love Ballad," a 1976 hit for the soul singer when he fronted L.T.D. It's the real deal. This video isn't what I had in mind when I searched for the original version, but I'm still glad I uncovered it.
You're the cutest little jailbird I ever did see.
Cuban trombonist Generoso Jimenez died at 90. I wish I knew who was who in this related video.
Kansas City Click: I'm not a big fan of Savoy Brown, but I'd love to peek inside the Beamont tonight to see if they can attract any kind of audience to the cavernous venue.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Yesterday's New York Times published a thoughtful essay by Ben Ratliff about Sonny Rollins' stubborn insistence on following his own muse. Many of the jazz giant's most ardent fans want him to return to the sax-bass-drums trio format. That sound can be heard in this 1959 clip. This selection from a 2000 recording defiantly issued as This Is What I Do features three of Rollins' most egregious choices, according to the critics cited in Ratliff's piece. It's a calypso. It features piano. And the bass is electric. While I dig the calypso format, I could do without the latter two elements. But the worst thing a genius of Rollins' caliber could do, of course, is acquiesce to the desires of fans- be they moldy figs or noisemongers. (Lesser talents, however, should gladly accept the advice of know-it-alls like me.) Rollins' celebratory tone on "Salvador" is infused with brash confidence, as if he's marking his territory.
The American Jazz Museum's "Street Festival" went extraordinarily well Saturday. My wrapup is here.
Kansas City Click: Gary Foster plays at the downtown Marriott.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The truth has been told
AJ, the mastermind behind one-man-band Slow Gun Shogun, fancies himself a gonzo outlaw. But don't hold that against him. I'm down with anyone who features both Waylon Jennings and Peter Tosh among his MySpace friends. Like fellow solo traveler Scott Biram, Shogun knows his classic American roots music. Yet where Biram falls back on John Lee Hooker, Shogun turns to the sludge of bands like Mudhoney. His rough six-song self-release Stray Dogs, Broke Cars, Graveyards... was recorded a couple months ago in Chicago. It finds Shogun conjuring the defiant weariness of all three Hank Williams, Jon Langford and Mike Ness.
Even though I had a good time at last night's Arctic Monkeys show, it left me unsatisfied. I was hoping for a Spirit of '76 mess- kind of a woozy lads-in-the-pub experience. Instead, the young British band was professional to a fault. I wanted catharsis- not a nifty light show. Instead of this, it felt like this.
How bad was Voxtrot's opening set for the Arctic Monkeys? It was so hideous that I began looking for objects to hurl at the Austin band. They were entirely irredeemable. Until now, I've never criticized the "cool kids" music blogs. But if Voxtrot is what passes for exciting in hipster circles, then I'm relieved that I'm hopelessly uncool.
The most discussed song in Kansas City today
Kansas City Click: Mark Olson plays an early show at Davey's tonight. I caught his Borders in-store yesterday; Olson and his band were charming.
Look for me on Saturday at the American Jazz Museum's Street Festival. Between Cameo and dominos, how can you lose?
I have no idea what time Peregrinos Musical play the City Market on Sunday, but based on the strength of their downloadable songs at MySpace, I intend to find out. The local nortena band also has a low-tech promotional video.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
In a reversal of common perception, Bobby Byrd is the front man on 1972's "Never Get Enough" while James Brown offers running commentary and harmonies. It's from the out-of-print The Best of Bobby Byrd. The collection is loaded with prime funk and soul issued under Byrd's name. Byrd first encountered Brown when the future Godfather of Soul was serving time in juvie. Byrd died yesterday.
This death march is exhausting. Willie Tee passed away Tuesday.
Here's my review of last night's Indigo Girls show.
I profile Mark Olson here.
Kansas City Click: The Arctic Monkeys make their Kansas City debut at the Uptown tonight.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The Rebirth Brass Band will be in Kansas City this weekend on official government business. While I really enjoy the efforts of local brass bands Loose Cannon and Dirty Force, it'll be fun to hear one of the world's top five exponents of the form on our home turf. Links to details about "Turning X On 18th & Vine" are available at Plastic Sax. This cover of the Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers hit is from the out-of-print The Main Event. And ReBirth offers a spirited rendition of Joe Zawinul's "Mercy Mercy Mercy" here.
Ann Wilson's solo album hit store shelves yesterday. Her take on Zep's "Immigrant Song" is pretty darn impressive.
Kansas City Click: The Flaming Lips touch down at the Uptown tonight. I'll be the Wayne Coyne doppelganger.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Perhaps more than any other individual, Joe Zawinul is responsible for my initial interest in jazz. I'd never been exposed to anything quite like "Birdland" when the Weather Report instrumental became a radio hit in 1977. I soon discovered Jaco, Shorter and, of course, Zawinul. That led to Miles and beyond. Zawinul died today at the age of 75. It's impossible to select a single piece to accurately represent Zawinul, but "Tower of Silence" from 2002's Faces & Places represents many of his music's characteristic traits- deep groove, conceptual genre-bending and technical adroitness.
Kansas City Click: Joe Cartwright and Gerald Spaits, two guys who have almost certainly listened to their fair share of Zawinul, are at the Majestic.
Monday, September 10, 2007
A sure sign of a compulsive music acquisition problem is buying CDs that you never even open. That almost happened to Mike Andrews' Hand On String. It's been collecting dust in one of many teetering piles of neglected discs at There Stands the Glass central. It wouldn't have changed my life if I'd played it the day I rescued it from a retailer's sale bin, but no collection can have too much Harry Nilsson-influenced post-Elliott Smith pop. The imaginative production is especially notable.
"The Ranch" kept me company as I drove across Kansas over the weekend. Between detailed ag reports, the country oldies station mostly stuck to obvious picks by Merle, the Possum, Cash and Waylon. So I about drove into a ditch when "Riding My Thumb To Mexico" blared from my car speakers. Man, it'd been years since I'd heard Johnny Rodriguez.
Kansas City Click: The Ataris are at the Grand Emporium tonight.
Friday, September 07, 2007
It's Chrissie Hynde's birthday. Wanna guess her age? It's difficult for me to fathom, but she's 56 years old. The first Pretenders album was a staple of my college years. I kept buying Pretenders albums, hoping that each one would approach the quality of that first release. None did, but many contained lovely songs like "Criminal." It's from the out-of-print Mitchell Froom production Packed!.
Wonderful Kansas City chanteuse Megan Birdsall recently received some bad news. She's seen here dissing Topeka before singing "Wichita Lineman."
Kansas City Click: OK Jones plays a free show tonight at the River Market Brewery.
The best place to be Saturday and Sunday is the Crossroads Music Fest. From Malachy Papers to Lucero, and from Lights & Siren to Eleni Mandell, it's a rich lineup.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Music needs characters like Luciano Pavarotti now more than ever. That makes news of the icon's death even more painful. As they're being increasingly pushed aside by other mediums, classical, jazz and folk musics require flamboyant, larger-than-life ambassadors. Not to take anything away from the artistic merits of Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis or Doc Watson, but their personalities don't lend themselves to the challenge of providing warm, immediately engaging representations of their individual genres as did Pavarotti.
The Kansas City Star provides a local angle on Pavarotti's death. His 1973 "international solo recital debut" was in Kansas City. While the New York Times obituary makes for entertaining reading, it comes across as unnecessarily cruel. It asserts that Pavarotti "seemed increasingly willing to accept pedestrian musical standards," "was not an intellectual presence," and had a "dominant gift for soliciting admiration from large numbers of people."
Pavarotti's best loved work may have been Puccini's Tosca, heard here on this hit 1990 recording. He sings a triumphant rendition of the same piece here.
Kansas City Click: I'd like to see more of Pavarotti's carefree consequences-be-damned attitude from Gretchen Wilson. She was initially billed as a wild outlaw, but Wilson seems to have been overly obsequious lately. She's at Ameristar tonight.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
The love is over.
Let's start a Greg Kihn revival. Even when he became an MTV staple with dubious hits like "Jeopardy," I was always partial to Kihn's power pop. Not only was his music consistently catchy, it was obviously grounded in a solid understanding of rock music's history. This Yardbirds cover serves as an example. It's from the out-of-print Kihnspicuous Taste compilation. In addition to writing novels, Kihn currently toils as a KFOX jock and also has his own Live365 stream. It's "Kihn-tagious."
Meet pianist Matt Herskowitz, Barry Manilow's new collaborator.
Janis Martin died earlier this week. In this video clip, Martin explains how she became the "female Elvis." Her cover of Roy Orbison here is tons of fun.
My head almost exploded when I tuned into the opening of the Kansas State-Auburn football game Saturday night. ESPN's new Saturday night theme song is a collaboration between 50 Cent, Kelly Rowland and Perry Farrell. Really.
Kansas City Click: Keith Kirchoff has a piano recital at UMKC tonight. He'll be performing works by Derek Bermel, Ives, Ruggles and others.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I don't yet own Hank Jones' new album with Joe Lovano. It's receiving terrific notices, and an EPK for the release convinced me that I must find a copy. (I do, however, relish their work together on this year's Billy Strayhorn tribute.) On the 89-year-old's out-of-print 1989 Lazy Afternoon he's joined by Dave Holland on bass, Keith Copeland on drums and Ken Peplowski on reeds. It's all very nice, of course, but it's the title track that's utterly brilliant.
I'm waiting for an irate mob of Nickelback and Daughtry fans to bust down my door. They're not amused by this review of Sunday's show.
On the other hand, concertgoers seem to think I was overly generous in my negative review of the Black Crowes' Friday night outing.
Ali & Gipp are what's making cash registers ring in my neck of the woods.
The moment I saw the headline- Colorado Police Link Rise In Violence to Music- I knew the story would be about Colorado Springs. It's a gritty town with startlingly varied social contrasts.
Kansas City Click: I'm amused that the manager of this area high school marching band's MySpace account posted today's practice as a show. They're good, but I don't know if they're good enough to compel me to sit in the heat and watch them work on alignments.