Category Archives: King Crimson

Crazy cassette purchase day.

I’ve been reading a book called “The New Jim Crow”. You should read it. It lays it all out. It makes this blog post seem less crazy than it otherwise might seem.

I owned my first car at the age of 25. It had a cassette player. Oh, the power I felt, having a 1987 Chevy Spectrum with a cassette player. Now I could cruise down the road and listen to all my band’s crappy live performances at the same time. I owned a few cassettes that my friend Mike Barth made for me, from old b-sides and other things for which we shared a penchant. But one day I decided to purchase three cassettes made by real record companies by three artists whose previous albums had torn up the charts. I took a chance on Prince, De La Soul, and George Michael. I regret the first, adored the second, and was ambivalent about the third.

I think Vinia Mojica (at 1:34) is just stunning in this video. Note the Chicago sample “Saturday in the Park”, as well as the “Grease” sample.

After “Faith”, I figured this CD would blow up, but it did not, and his attempt at social commentary conflicted sharply with his squeaky-clean image. Too bad. He has real talent.

Then there is the soundtrack to what is by far the worst movie musical I have ever seen, and I’ve seen “Phantom of the Paradise”.

So I was thinking about music that I’ve heard in my life that really stunned me. Like “I’ve NEVER heard anything like this before.” Most of these pieces came to me in the form of the last remnants of free-form FM emanating from either Buffalo or Toronto. I thought I’d share some with you, my loyal readers and fellow amateur musicologists. Some are sort of lengthy, but I think you’ll find them as rewarding as my squishy brain did.

The first time I heard this, I was at my friend Michel Weber’s apartment in Buffalo. I had never heard anything like it.

I had forgotten at that moment that I had seen Public Enemy open for the Beastie Boys in 1987. I couldn’t help but feel PE was the better act.  I remember I was with my ex-girlfriend because she’d say things like “Are you gonna take me to see the Beastie Boys?” and “Are you gonna take me to see ‘Beatlemania’ at the Tralf?” and I never said no. Sadly, I ruined any chance of sexy-time reconciliation by treating her fragile countenance like Chris Farley treated his cafe dinner roll in “Tommy Boy”.  Substitute the word “sex” for “sale”.

Forget, if you can, as you watch this next video, the subsequent Flavor Flav TV show and all that shit, and LISTEN to the background sounds and voices. I was disappointed that the Bomb Squad didn’t play as big of a role in subsequent releases, but these first two albums were the seminal height of craft, and had they continued on that path I would have hung in there. I didn’t.

Then this happened:

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No one move a muscle as the dad comes home.

So this morning I’m making cereal (not making really, facilitating in an orderly manner is more apt) when this song comes into my head and remains there:

So I sing this to them as I pour milk on their Smorz:

Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
Everybody happy as the dead come home
Big Black Nemesis, parthenogenesis
No one move a muscle as the dead come home

And Harrison says: “comes...”

Me: “no, I think it’s come…”

H: “It’s supposed to be comes.”

Me: “Wait…he says ‘the dead come home’ like, you wouldn’t say ‘all those dead people comes home’, would you?”

H: “Oh…I thought it was ‘dad‘, like ‘no one move a muscle as the dad comes home’“…

 

So Shriekback was the band Barry Andrews formed after XTC and a brief stint with Robert Fripp in “The League of Gentlemen“. I bought this album when it came out. It can be seen as both a precursor to the Belew-era King Crimson and Eno and Byrne’s “My Life In The Bush of Ghosts“. I enjoyed it very much.

Here’s “Mea Culpa” from MLITBOG, one of the most influential albums ever released. Lead vocals: inflamed caller and smooth politician replying, both unidentified. Radio call-in show, New York, July 1979.

The bass player for TLOG was Sara Lee. You know her. She’s the one in the bathtub @1:55:

Here’s some solo Andy. Theme song for an entertaining TV show based in Niagara Falls.

 

 


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So I was busy turning over the rump roast in the slow cooker….and that’s not a metaphor…

And a song came into my head that I had not thought of in decades. So here’s a question: You’ve heard of “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” I hope. Because if you haven’t, you’re just not snarky enough for me. And you should be killed.  But to show you how strange popular music could be in the 70’s, I’m going to play the video to a song that went Top 10 in the USA in 1974. Without resorting to liner notes or Wikipedia, name the drummer. It’s a safe bet that this was as high as one of this fellow’s performances ever got on the charts.

From my teenage basement band to Kanye West.

The song “You Could Have Been a Lady” was written and performed by the band Hot Chocolate, which began life as The Hot Chocolate Band, and got signed to Apple Records because John Lennon liked this:

I played this song in bands in my early teens, but I had never actually heard the song itself until…now. I was taught which chords to play, and I played them on the old Hait guitar with the bass cranked up and the treble cut, usually through a PA speaker so it sounded like a giant AM radio. Listen to the lead guitar figure in this song. This lead sound would become very familiar as the decade went on and Hot Chocolate’s hits piled up.

And here’s the version released a year later by April Wine, a huge hit in their native Canada, and obviously it crept into the Great Lakes area as well, hence me learning it.

Our version sounded nothing like either of these. I think it’s a terrible song.

April Wine went from local heroes to international rock stars when they had the balls to released this:

which is a cover of this:

which leads us to The Kanye West video I posted before.

 

Yoko Ono is a marketing genius. Plus some life-changing musical works.

So with yesterday’s release of “Power To The People” this makes 7 albums of original, non-experimental music in his lifetime, and 14 compilation albums. 14. You COULD argue 6 albums of original material, since half of “Some Time in New York City” was half Yoko, half meandering, heavily-edited jam session, and “Double Fantasy” was half Yoko.  Not since The Who has so much rehashing been done for cynical blackmail of fan’s wallets. When does it stop? There are fools out there who have bought or will buy every one. But I’m here to tell you, friends, as I said before, Lennon was just not the same man once he stupidly rid himself of his one true motivating factor in favor of another, somewhat less talented manipulator. You could and should jettison all that stuff for one pristine copy of “Leave My Kitten Alone”.

Here, now, as well as I can remember, are some of the most transcendent moments of musical discovery in my life, in no particular order:

Le Sacre Du Printemps – Igor Stravinsky (1913)  – I first heard this in my college library on one of those primitive old school record players. It showed me that I needed to open up my mind to all the things that classical music could be, not just what I had been taught that it was. It is the first progressive rock piece. All the dissonance, all the poly-rhythmic mayhem, so new and fresh even now. I soon got into what is known as the Second Viennese School, combining Romanticism with Schoenberg’s tonal mathematics, somehow the music I was born to listen to.

Close To The Edge – Yes (1972) -Dan. Paul and I huddled around Paul’s brand-new record player and gigantic speakers. I don’t remember who had just bought this, probably Paul, and why I do not know. But the volume was turned up and the intro grew and grew in intensity. Then that opening with that slinky guitar and crushing bass speaking almost diametrically opposed languages, yet one. I think the thing about it now is that it was somehow instinctively plausible to us that these sounds, these aggressive scales and grace notes COULD have come from our instruments, but the instruments themselves were now suddenly in the hands of men whose imagination and power far exceeded our own. Listening to The Beatles, for instance, it was easy to imagine one’s self coming up with those chords and playing those notes. Now, with this song, there was now a real possibility that no matter how easy the sounds were to approximate, we were clearly in the presence of gods.

Random Brainwave/I Pity Inanimate Objects – Godley and Creme – (1979)- Is this the first use of auto-tune? Since both of these fellows are among the finest singers in rock at that time, it was not a mere gimmick. It was a leap forward in technology and music. And the first time I heard it was on WZIR 107.7, Buffalo New York, in 1980, and it scared the living shit out of me.

Larks Tongues In Aspic (Pt. 1) – King Crimson (1972) -I had never heard of King Crimson, but upon hearing this for the first time on WZIR, I called the DJ, Gary Storm, who called his show “Oil of Dog”.  It was and is a powerful introduction for me to all things progressive, particularly the virtuosity aspect of it. I have heard everything by King Crimson, but this was the first, which is special.

I Want To Hold Your Hand – The Beatles (1963) – There’s a swing to this record, an amazing rhythmic funkiness that caught my ear in almost a primal sort of way. Paul Rinedoller exposed me to The Beatles, and this is possibly the first song he played in my presence. Listen to the powerful vocals, the dynamic guitars, and despite the nice-nice lyric, a universality in the message. Can you imagine what it was like in America hearing this for the first time? Truly there was nothing like it to warn of its coming. And in my world, there was nothing to get me ready for the love affair that began in Paul’s house in 1972 and has not abated one bit since then.

I’m BAD – Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers – (1987) This was on Black Entertainment Television ONCE.  It might have been another live performance, then again, it might have been this one. It swings so fucking hard, for a young man like me, it was simply too much to comprehend. It made me want to do this kind of music, even though I didn’t understand it or the Go-Go scene in general. But can you imagine being in this audience? CAN YOU IMAGINE BEING IN THIS BAND?!?!?!?! What does it mean when I saw it once 23 years ago and it hasn’t left my mind in that time?

The Entire “Innervisions” Album – Stevie Wonder – (1973)  It is still my favorite album of all-time, and the only album I can listen to wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, and never come upon a song or moment that doesn’t resonate inside in a positive way. I am an atheist, but Stevie Wonder is the best argument I’ve seen for faith. If you don’t have it or have not heard it, I PROMISE you that you will like it. I can’t even say that about “Abbey Road”. Here, listen to this, and try not to be smiling or moving by the end. That’s one man making all those noises. One fucking brilliant man.

That didn’t work? Try this:

No? You have no fucking soul and I want you to kill yourself.

Bad Man’s Song – Tears For Fears – (1989)  Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith were matinee idols for the last half of the 1980’s due to their good looks, above-average musicianship, and eye-friendly videos. But no one was prepared for what came next, and that’s why they’re struggling to keep even their own website up as we speak. Aside from the Beatles paean, “Sowing The Seeds Of Love” which I found excellent and entertaining,  the rest of the album is deep and amazingly well-produced and well-played. Session players like Manu Katche and Pino Palladino along with ringer Phil Collins (on “Woman In Chains”) make for an exponentially more diverse pallet of sounds than their big coming out record, “Songs From The Big Chair”. But the star of the record is Oleta Adams, my favorite female singer of all-time. A unique, earthy voice, reaching low “F”(2:40 of the clip here) and four octaves higher, and simply cutting her contemporaries to pieces. it’s unfortunate she wasn’t bigger longer, but I will always have this, my favorite song from my #2 album of all-time.

 

Kanye West samples King Crimson. Blog writer chokes on coffee.

This is simply garbage. Why is this moron still in the public eye?

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