Friday, December 29, 2006

Music is a Better Noise!

Essential Logic - Fanfare in the Garden

This double CD set on the Kill Rock Stars label gathers together the Essential Logic album Beat Rhythm News (Waddle Ya Play?), Lora Logic's solo lp Pedigree Charm, several singles and some recordings from the late 90s, but not everything as some reviewers suggest, e.g., the Wake Up 12" is missing.

The set is a great introduction to one of post-punk's brightest lights. Lora Logic created out of whole cloth a jittery, off-kilter and perpetually surprising musical carnival that bridged the gap between the Swell Maps and Etron Fou Leloublan.

A large part of the charm is due to Logic's voice, a chirpy and cheerful warble that was a perfect match for her absurdist social commentary lyrics.

Music is a better noise indeed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Jack Nitzsche Story

Helping me through the workdays lately has been two compilations dedicated to performer, arranger, and producer extraordinaire Jack Nitzsche. Google the track listings and you'll be stunned by the acts that he worked with over the years.

Hearing is Believing 1962 and 1979 and Volume 2 Hard Workin' Man [both Ace Records] play like an ideal radio station or a particularly successful mixtape. And the quality of the inserts and notes is the standard that all reissue labels should strive for.

There is a unity of sound to Nitzsche's productions, yet at the same time an ability to adapt to the needs of the performer. I guess what I'm saying is that he didn't attempt to fit the artists into some sort of production template.

Not every track is a winner of course, but all are listenable. Ah, but there are killers: on Hearing is Believing we have two solo tracks by Nitzsche, The Lonely Surfer and an orchestral cover of Link Wray's Rumble, and terrific tunes by Lesley Gore (No Matter What You Do) and Marianne Faithfull (Sister Morphine).

Hard Workin' Man starts with the song of the same name featuring vocals by Captain Beefheart and is followed by another solo Nitzsche number "Surf Finger" which I had to play five times before being able to continue on with the rest of the disc. Special mention should go to the The Everly Brothers' take on psychedelia, "Mr Soul".

What surprised me is how much I enjoyed the material by artists that I had heard of, but never investigated because I assumed they wouldn't be for me like the aforementioned Leslie Gore or The Everly Brothers.

Live and learn.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rita Lee

I've been on a bit of a Tropicália kick lately so this reissue of Rita Lee's second solo lp Hoje é o primeiro dia do resto da sua vida [Rev-Ola Records. Originally Polydor 1972] looked mighty appealling. What clinched the deal is that this is basically an Os Mutantes lp in disguise and I was pleased to discover that all the eccentricity was carried over intact. Not surprising as it was 'directed and produced' by Mutantes alumni Arnaldo Baptista.

The album presents a blend of progressive and psychedelic rock tropes, war whoops, purple moog solos, Elvis and lounge singer pastiches and even some Kurt Schwitters-like tone poems.

All in all, a nice psychedelic artifact.

Friday, December 08, 2006

David Axelrod

I'm a recent convert to the jazz and pop music productions of the legendary David Axelrod. In many ways most famous for his 60's and 70's recordings being looted for breaks, but those in the know recognize his work for Capitol Records during the label's golden years of the 60s.

The following two compilations provide a decent overview of his work from the mid-60s to 1970. The Edge - David Axelrod at Capitol Records 1966-1970 [Capitol Jazz] starts with two tracks from David McCallum's recordings from '66 (House of Mirrors and The Edge) through cuts from Lou Rawls (Lifetime Monologue and You've Made Me So Very Happy), Letta Mbulu (Pula Yetla), Don Randi (Theme from The Fox) and Cannonball Adderley (Tensity) and ten tracks from Axelrod's own solo lps Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience and Earth Rot.

1968 to 1970 An Anthology [Stateside] duplicates some of the solo material, however this set does provide additional tracks from Rawls (For What It's Worth), Mbulu (Kukuchi and West Wind) and Adderley (Space Spiritual and Why Am I Treated So Bad) with one cut from The Electric Prunes (Holy You Are), perhaps the only misfire.

What strikes me about both collections is the unity unusual for retrospectives. All the tracks have a spare and spacious production where the performers have room to breathe.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Outsider entertainment

For myself, the attractive aspect of collecting outsider music is the unpredictability of what is stamped into the grooves (or encoded on those new fangled silver discs). Imagine a Cracker Jack box of eccentricity and sincerity.

First up, Abner Jay's "One Man Band" [Subliminal Sounds]:
"For over fifty years Abner was a one-band, hambone and bone player. Except for the six string banjo he also played the old swamp style guitar, harmonica, bass drum, cymbals and sang, all at the same time." (from the liner notes).

Last of the old style minstrel performers, Jay sang songs of social commentary interspersed with raunchy jokes. The set include tunes about Vietnam, cocaine, the hard life of the working man and treacherous women. Folk-art blues best sums it up. Wonderful stuff.

The music Tangela Tricoli [Angela Masson] was on my "must buy" list after hearing a few of her songs on the Incorrect Music and Songs in the Key of Z collections.

"Jet Lady" [Arf! Arf! Records] is a deluxe reissue of her 1982 album. Tricoli is a genuine polymath who flew jets, ran for Mayor of Los Angeles, hosted a cable access show and was most likely the inspiration for Lisa Kudrow's character on "Friends". So what have you accomplished?

Songs about being a Jet Lady, shopping, stinky poodles, glorious mornings and several references to cheese. It's naive and very, very charming. I did mention that this is deluxe reissue and it is that: the booklet contains a lengthy interview with Ms Tricoli and also included is almost a hour's worth of video: The Best of Tangela Tonight, Jet Lady Unplugged and television commercials from her Mayoral campaign. Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
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