Thursday, November 30, 2023

John Coltrane - "Greensleeves" from the album Africa/Brass

Listening to Coltrane's cover of "Greensleeves" for the first time. Nine or ten times over the last two days.

It's got a lot of the same lyricism that "My Favorite Things" does, the same modal, kind of raga feel, the same jawdropping glissando sound to his solos as he shifts the soprano sax up into hyperdrive--no, *through* hyperdrive, quickly tasting n-space and then bringing it back down into standard topology again.

Conjecture: If he had lived long enough Coltrane probably would have covered "Pure Imagination" too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Stupid and Silly

But I couldn't help myself

Monday, October 30, 2023

King Crimson (with Jon Anderson) - "Prince Rupert Awakes" from the album Lizard

After basically being an ostracized dork during elementary and junior high school, I made the social decision to become a stoner in high school. You know, just to have someone to hang out with. Worked out pretty well, gotta say. The entrance requirement was basically: Smoke Dope. That, and listen to rock music. I already did the second, and # 1 seemed pretty easy enough--which it ended up being!

So I was accepted into my peer group, and even managed to keep up my grades, but looking back, I was still a weirdo even by the relaxed standards of the stoners. To wit:

While the more graphically talented and mainstream musically of my high school burnout brethren were attempting to draw the Aerosmith logo on their duotangs, because of talent (non-existent) and taste (eclectic, of course) I was instead simply writing out weird prog song titles on my notebooks.

So I'm in 10th grade Vocabulary class, and my weird song title for the day is "Prince Rupert Awakes." Not even sure I'd even heard it as of yet, but clearly I'd heard of it, and if it was like that, if it was the second without the first, I was running ahead of myself as I so often did. Do.

Mr. Bloom as he proctors our open book quiz passes by, and notices what I've doodled, and almost sneers, looking down at me as I clutch my Bic Banana. "Some *rock* song, I assume?" And yeah, of course, but I'm not gonna admit it to him.

"No," I almost snarl back at this guy, this teacher, this . . . older person who doesn't *get* prog. But I catch myself and continue reasonably. "It's a fantasy novel by James P Hogan." I'd read a few science fiction paperbacks--maybe was even reading one then--by the Englishman Hogan. My uncle had given me The Genesis Machine, and the author's "Giants" series was really really fun, and boy was I glad I had Hogan's name at the tip of my tongue that day in first period, because I sure as hell wasn't going to give Mr. Bloom the satisfaction of knowing that I write the names of goofy prog songs on my notebooks.

Even though I did.

James Hogan The Gentle Giants of Ganymede
So Mr. Bloom says, "Oh . . . bring it in, I'll read it. . ." and moves off to the next desk, leaving me infuriated with just a touch of sophomoric shame. You . . . *entitled* so and so, I think. I wouldn't let you read "Prince Rupert Awakes," even if it just so happened to exist--which it DOESN'T.

Ha! Joke's on you!

And that was the end of that. Mr. Bloom didn't six weeks down the road ask me what ever happened with that book I was supposed to bring in? And I ended up getting an 'A' in vocabulary.

But you know what else? Lizard continued to sit in my record collection, unplayed over any of its grooves, including those of "Prince Rupert Awakes." My puny 10th grade brain thought, oh yeah, Jon Anderson PLUS King Crimson, should be awesome. But turns out, it was only OK. Fripp was in a weird period, you know? I'm more familiar with the song now, 'cause I've listened to the mellotron, piano and flute melange now more times as an .mp3 than I ever did on vinyl, but yeah: it's still only OK, Cosmic Jon's vocals notwithstanding.

Mr. Bloom--if he's still around, which he's probably NOT--would definitely think it was a whole kerfuffle over nothing.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Low - The Great Destroyer

Been listening to The Great Destroyer all day. And it's like this movie is playing in my head, this neo-noir hardboiled whodunnit. Not sure how well the lyrics would agree if I broke it down, but:


The Man and His Wife are living on a farm in West Kansas. The work's hard and the money's OK, but the relationship, it's not good.

On a night that involves some fucking ("Monkey"), the toxic detente they had is broken.

In the morning after the dust has settled, it's agreed: they'll sell the farm and move to Los Angeles ("California"). But it's no good, they sell the farm but they break up before they get to Los Angeles so they are each dropped in LA alone, by themselves. ("Everybody's Song").

The woman there meets a dark shady man nicknamed The ("Silver Rider") guess he'd worked as a cowboy, or maybe he was just a mediocre actor, who gives her in an unconsidered moment the Macguffin of the album title.

And she falls in with him. Theirs is a violent relationship, no uneasy detente or spaces unfilled, it's heavy with menace and violence, loud arguments, thrown glass, the sex is bondage with weapons, stilettos, leather. ("Just Stand Back")

And it gets her killed. The Silver Rider's got some kind of conman scam with The Great Destroyer as the lure in mind; he wants the MacGuffin back from the woman who used to be The Wife, but she's pawned it for clothes, stupid frilly clothes, so he kills her with a jade bludgeon though he probably shouldn't have and he certainly didn't have to ("On the Edge Of").

Two mornings later, Her ex-Husband reads about her found corpse in the LA Times ("Death of a Salesman"), and after stumbling around a bit through the downtown streets, stumbles into the dick's dusty office with the smoked glass insert in the door and the empty hatstand in the corner and it takes him five minutes to hire the detective.

At some point later on, the gumshoe has to go to a law office? A bank? And in this huge waiting room, the mural on the wall is the cover art of the album, suggestive of the 10,000 ft cloud palisades of the California coast. But though the detective quickly susses what's happened, and by whom, The Silver Rider has disappeared.

It's like Chinatown, Jake, there's no saving anybody no retribution for anybody and in the end the gumshoe has the truth and so does the ex husband but so what, and everybody complicit skates, including the Silver Rider, who's last seen entering with shaven head the ziggurat-like monastery of a violent, tattooed, betel-nut chewing sect in Burma.

Cut back to California. The dick in full uniform, cheap dark suit, trenchcoat and fedora, the beach sand in his shoes, takes a "Walk Into the Sea," to cleanse himself of the awful case.

Friday, May 26, 2023

When They Get The Best Album Wrong

May 26:

Happy Birthday to the most overrated rock album of all time. It's been 56 years.

"A Day in the Life" is pretty great, and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "Good Morning" are also excellent, but as for the rest . . . meh.

For me, Sgt. Pepper was more about a narrative people who really didn't know that much about rock 'n' roll felt the need to tell. Our music is deep! We have . . . substance!

If only they knew! The Byrds, The Mothers, Red Krayola, and even The Beach Boys had been there before The Beatles arrived.

My old man back in the day asked me the question: "Did The Beatles make the times, or did the times make The Beatles?" and I always leaned toward the latter.

But regardless of whether I got that answer right, Revolver is just far superior, track by track, or in the aggregate...

Monday, May 22, 2023

Comments Elsewhere: on Nirvana at Reynolds Retro

So, not sure why I would have the gumption to mouth off about Nirvana, and to do so at one of Simon Reynolds' blogs, no less, but that's exactly what I did.

Reynolds reposted or reprinted or whatever you'd like to call it, a contemporary review he wrote of a show Nirvana did at the Kilburn National Ballroom in December of 1991, and he'd thought the band "didn't quite happen" because of all the "goofing around," so I said

Exactly! Never saw Nirvana live, but through their videos and interviews I completely got the feeling that Nirvana refused to take themselves seriously, to the point where the band's disrespect towards itself had a deleterious effect on THE BAND as a concept, as a working unit, as an artistic collective.

Goddamn right, they should have taken themselves and their music seriously. They were, um, a lean mean rock machine. Be proud when you're being artistic, you know?

And then Kurt's liner notes on that outtakes thing were serious to the point of melodrama, so what the fuck, they/he were/was just a complete mess, always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Which, I guess, was a state Kurt had an inkling of.

Didn't have to be, anyway, if they'd just had confidence in their art, and their own goddamned *worthiness*.

Being old enough to remember when the prime criticism of my favorite (read: prog) bands was that they took themselves too seriously, all I can do when I think about Nirvana since Kurt died is to think about the same things I do during the middle sections of "The Revealing Science of God" or when some bozo references that transgender manifesto-writing person from Liturgy: It's bad to take yourself too seriously, but it's much worse not to take yourself seriously *enough*

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Friday, April 14, 2023

Primus - Miscellaneous Debris

This is not necessarily my favorite Primus record, or my favorite covers record, but I think you have to say that it's a pretty successful covers record for Primus, if you consider "pretty successful for a covers record" to mean that it garishly displays your band's eclecticism. Like, 'OK, we're an Afro-futurist folk-metal band with two drummers, and we stick to that pretty much exclusively, but we ARE pretty wide-ranging in what we listen to. Check it out!'

So (more realistically) Slayer covers TSOL on Undisputed Attitude,

Overkill covers Jethro Tull on their covers album, and Prong does Neil Young AND the Butthole Surfers.

But--again, just conceptually, 'cause the songs aren't really that good--Primus has got it going on with this one. Peter Gabriel, XTC, The Residents, The Meters, for chrissake, and Pink Floyd.

It's tough to top, and I don't think it has been, at least on the eclecticism front. On the musical front, well, I think a few do nose past it.

The other thing going on is the Pink Floyd track. Les Claypool LOVES Pink Floyd; he's covered with some of his other projects "Astronomy Domine" and the entire fucking Animals album. The version of "Have a Cigar" on MD doesn't maybe get to the heights reached by the Frog Brigade's cover of "Sheep," that's for sure, but it does sound more different if you know what I mean, and that's not a bad thing. You definitely notice the difference in bass style and the difference in guitar tone ('cause replicating Gilmour's tone is so difficult you shouldn't even try), and you also notice the awkwardly inserted Bob Cock reference, which I guess *is* a little bad.

But mostly what I think about with track five is that this was a Pink Floyd cover from after the time the covered band ended, but before said covered band's bassplayer so sadly and so publicly went completely insane . . . .

Thursday, March 2, 2023

In Which I, rastronomicals, reveal the name of My Next Band

*** Charlie Kaufman's Hipster Bullshit ***


#Named in honor of the Music for Airports reference in CK's unfilmed script for Eternal Sunshine

Friday, January 20, 2023

The Night I Refused to Meet Matt Pike

It's almost three years now since Sleep closed their 2019 tour in Miami. I had been *really* early so I could grab a poster, and therefore had had my fill of the venue and bolted out shortly after the last note faded into nothingness.

The band's tour bus was out front and the parking lot was off to the side. So I come out through the front entrance and start walking to my car. There's no-one around, everyone's still inside but as I walk I see this dude visibly limping towards me. More slowly than you'd guess, I realized it was Matt Fucking Pike. Not frantically, but definitely with some urgency, I tried to think of something to say, I mean, shit, Matt Pike! Too bad I don't smoke weed, or at least that I didn't have any. But at any rate, nothing occurred. No good under pressure, that's me.

Mostly in the midst of my utter lack of inspiration, I was feeling sorry for the guy, last show of the tour, can't hardly walk, he probably just wants to get on the bus. As I passed him he looked at me, it almost seemed as he was expecting me to say something. But I didn't. Writing about it now, I wonder if I insulted him, coz y'know,--and this understates it--he played very well that night.

So there it was; could've met Matt Pike but didn't. At least I've got my short conversation with Dylan Carlson . . . .