Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hot Tuna - “New Song (For The Morning)“
From the album Hot Tuna
(May 1970)

Last song scrobbled from iTunes at

Not for the first time, but I heard this uplifting little fingerpicked blues shortly after the sun came up a couple days after my father died, right when I had just started getting used to the idea.

And now, though this song ain’t about the relationship of a man to his father, and though it ain’t really something my father would have liked in the first place, and though he sure as hell wasn’t perfect, everytime I hear "New Song” now, I think about my old man, and get a little misty-eyed.

And I guess that’s alright, it feels kind of good.

    #Time goes on and I get older What am I gonna do

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


Wrong Way Up
Opal Records

Back when it was new--and I was 25 years old--I eagerly purchased this compact disc. Oh, it was a time, man. The CD was packaged in--get this (if you can: most people today I would assume don't know what it had been)--a longbox. A theft deterrent then, and a music geek collectible now. Funny the way things transform, sometimes.

So. It being that time, I didn't know as much about Brian Eno or John Cale then as I do now, but I still knew Here Come the Warm Jets and White Light/White Heat. And because those records had been great, I expected Wrong Way Up to be pretty awesome.

Did I know then that the 3-1/2-minute revolution called "Sky Saw" featured Cale? Or that there was a cult album named June 1, 1974 that featured them both?

Not sure. Wise now, was I wise then?

Anyway, the excitement before the purchase turned into disappointment afterwards. This album, it did not rock, it bore no traces of Warm Jets or White Heat, and it wasn't weird at all, and I sold it and I forgot about it as quickly as possible.

Lately though, nearly 30 years later, thinner of hair, and wiser of the music, man, I've been on an Eno jag, and I came across a review of the album on Pitchfork that suggested the album, synthpop though it was, achieved nothing less than brilliance in its rather conflicted creation.

Hell, I hadn't even known that the artists hadn't gotten along. . . . So I figured, what *had* I known, in my judgement 30 years ago? I'd been only 25, and had probably been a little bit um, over-influenced, by hardcore punk. My tastes are more sophisticated now! I could like an album that maybe wasn't so manic. Really I could. And shit, everything I've been doing for the last month was all about what a fucking genius Eno was. . . Maybe I'd been hasty in my dismissal of WWU back then, simply because it didn't sound like "Third Uncle," or "I Heard Her Call My Name." 'Cause hell, on reflection, thinking about it in 2019, in the midst of a Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno freakout, neither does "Luftschloss."

Goddamn, then, let's try it again, I thought. So last week, I bought a CD copy off Discogs. Received it yesterday, listened to it on the way into work this morning, and ... it's unabashedly awful.

It's lame, predictable, and without a trace of the genius which otherwise marks both men's work. You're tempted to say a few things, although you should probably resist the urges. You're tempted to say that it was a case of men outside the times attempting foolishly to sound like them, but that's wrong. 1990 had no great rush of synthpop albums.

1990 was about Jane's Addiction; Jane's Addiction, and Happy Mondays and Sonic Youth's major label debut. Nobody was making synthpop. That these two major artists felt like going there, I don't know, it's odd, it's strange, it's fucked up.

You're also tempted to say, maybe, if you're not that familiar with the facts, that this was the work of giants who had exhausted their creative energies prior to its making, young lions become old farts. But, of course, that's ridiculous. Five years after this mistake of a record, Eno would record Nerve Net, which showed him as able as his youngself to stretch things out. And if you want pop, shit, Eno made Another Day on Earth in 2005, as he was approaching 60, and that is a brilliant, quirky, intelligent pop record, even if it's not as much like M83 as I might prefer.

Wrong Way Up is a detour into mediocrity. Definite, and puzzling, that is.

It all goes to show many things, perhaps most importantly--and I swear I'm not looking to trash Pitchfork specifically here--that if an artist known for making good things makes something crappy, there will always--always--be somebody around to tell people that, fuck the facts, it is in fact pretty good.

There's also the reminder given that I had the suss of the thing down back in 1990. I like to think of myself as smarter now, wiser if you have to go there, and I was prepared to second-guess myself, and take a lesson from it too, but at least in this case, me and the version of myself that existed three decades ago are smack dab in agreement. There's a stolidity about that I find appealing, but maybe, just maybe, there's also a disappointing inability to evolve.

Funny the way things don't transform, sometimes.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Brian Eno: 1971-1977 - The Man Who Fell to Earth

Copied from my Tumblr of course

I am only just now beginning to recover from a weeklong Eno bacchanal brought on by the viewing of this 2-1/2 hour film. During this last week, I:

  • Listened to Here Come The Warm Jets straight through at least ten times
  • Purchased the 33-1/3 on Another Green World and read it over two successive nights
  • Purchased the Harmonia '76 reissue, and listened to it in full at least four times
  • Downloaded Cluster & Eno, ripped it to disc, and listened to it all the way through at least three times
  • Downloaded After the Heat, ripped it, and listened to it in its entirety at least six times
  • Used that YouTube to mp3 tool to make files of both sides of that "Once Away My Son" 12-inch with Kevin Shields from Record Store Day last year, then listened to 'em
  • Did the same thing with the files you can find on YouTube of the 1974 John Peel Sessions with The Winkies, listened to them, "Baby's on Fire," "The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch," "Totalled," and "Fever."
  • Broke out the copy of More Dark Than Shark and especially pondered the lyrics to "Needles in the Camel's Eye" and "Tzima N'arki"

My conclusions other than Brian Peter George St John etc etc is a fricking genius?

  1. "Needles in the Camel's Eye" is the first shoegazer song, a realization which certainly reinforced my listening of that joint with Shields
  2. None of it was truly ambient as I define the term, although Cluster & Eno sure is by God soft
  3. After the Heat is damn well underappreciated.

The funny thing about it all, the funny thing about my characteristically over-the-top reaction to seeing the film, is that the documentary itself is not itself perfect. Eno was not interviewed for the film, and even archived footage is used only two or three times. I'm not really surprised Eno didn't cooperate with the making of the film, but he has led a fairly public life, even if you limit yourself to the time since he for the most part quit making vocal based rock and roll.

It's surprising to me that more footage could not be dredged up. The film instead relies on still photos, and really, the ones you've already seen, that bounced around the screen while critics of more or less considerable credentials talked over them.

They interviewed the gal who wrote the 33-1/3 book, name of Geeta Dayal, and they interviewed David Shepherd, who wrote The Life and Times of Brian Eno, and they interviewed Eric Tamm, who wrote Brian Eno and the Vertical Color of Sound. And they interviewed Johnny Rogan, who wrote a bio of Roxy. These four plus this other annoying bloke whose name I didn't bother to notice were the meat of the movie, although I loved it the couple times they showed Christgau and Simon Reynolds, rock critics ftw!

Brian Turrington of The Winkies--and three of the four vocal albums--told the best stories (and the ones I didn't already know) while Jon Hassell was gone so fast you weren't sure he was there.

So lots of observations, lots of theorizing, and lots of headshaking at the oblique methods from observers and theorists and method actors. But not that much from the man himself, and that's what would have really capped off this properly-directed tribute most effectively.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Text to Cerveza from the other day

In addition to the promo videos for Helmet's "Give It" and Adrian Belew's "Big Electric Cat," and a bunch of live stuff from the Soft Machine, I watched King Crimson's version of "The Sheltering Sky" from Live at Frejus last night.

Watching Fripp play these nearly inhuman runs defines for you a dichotomy between extremely limited expressed emotion and a very very blistering action in sound.