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Saturday, May 31, 2008

JIMMY McGRIFF : The Bird Wave (1970)

R.I.P. 1936 - 2008

"Jimmy McGriff, the acclaimed blues organist, who scored his first hit in the 1960s with an instrumental arrangement of "I've Got a Woman," then continued to record hard-swinging grooves that appealed to audiences across musical boundaries, died Saturday at a nursing home in New Jersey. He was 72.The cause of death was not known but was believed to be heart failure, said his wife, Margaret McGriff. McGriff was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis many years ago.

"Though sometimes described as a jazz organist, McGriff considered himself a bluesman; the blues was what he felt when he played and what distinguished his music from other greats of the organ."Jimmy Smith is the jazz king on the organ, but when it comes to blues, I can do things where he can't touch me," McGriff once said."
Jimmy McGriff was one of those artists who was steadily releasing good soul-jazz, and funky albums throughout his career, but only starting getting proper recognition for his work decades later. He definitely put the 'soul' in jazz organ. "The Bird Wave" is a classic track recorded in 1969, which has an obvious nod to James Brown's "Cold Sweat" of the same era. Of course, this is a little more raw, with a possible influence from The Meters, and with a great breakbeat intro!

Song : "The Bird Wave" (written by Jimmy McGriff; recorded Sep. 1969)
From the LP "ELECTRIC FUNK" (Blue Note) 1970

Jimmy McGriff : organ
Horace Ott : electric piano
Others unknown

Get it here : The Bird Wave

Sunday, May 25, 2008

RUSH : What You're Doing (1974)

R.I.P. John Rutsey (1953-2008)

"John Rutsey, a founding member of the seminal Canadian rock band Rush, has died, his family announced. He was 55. Rutsey played drums with Rush from 1968 to 1974, as well as on the band's eponymous debut album, but departed soon afterwards, apparently due to a lifelong illness stemming from diabetes.

"In an obituary published in the Toronto Star, his family said his May 11 death was caused by "complications from his lifelong affliction with diabetes." Some news reports said Rutsey died from a heart attack in his sleep. According to Rush's official biography, Rutsey was supposed to write the lyrics for the band's first album, but grew dissatisfied with his attempts and never completed them. He was replaced by Neil Peart, who remains as the band's drummer and lyricist.
Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson said Rutsey became a fitness fanatic after leaving the band and continued with have contact with Lifeson until the early 1990s."

Rush's original drummer! He only played on their first album and first single, and was soon overshadowed by Neil Peart's immense presence in the group. Although he usually fell into the 'where are they now' category, I don't think anyone expected this! This track is one of their early fan favourites, and shows how much Rush was rooted in hard rock. The influence of bands like Led Zeppelin and Cream is quite present. Rutsey wasn't really a flashy player, but there is a definite groove to the beat.

From the LP "RUSH" (Moon) Mar. 1974

Geddy Lee : bass, vocals
Alex Lifeson : guitar
John Rutsey : drums

Get it here: What You're Doing

Monday, May 19, 2008

YOUNG FLOWERS : You Upset Me Baby (1969)

Danish blues-rock! These guys were important in bringing blues and psychedelic music to the Netherlands in the late '60s (it seems every European country had a band like this). The Young Flowers didn't stray too much from the blues-based format, and were very similar in sound to UK bands like Cream. They were also the backing band for the late PETER THORUP for a little bit (whom I showcased in Oct. 2007. They may even be playing on that track). This particular song seems to be an acid-blues version of "Jailhouse Rock"; I like the distorted guitar sound. The soloing isn't bad either. For some reason, this track appears on both of their official releases at the time, but here's the version from the second album.

: Original album cover :
Song: "You Upset Me Baby"
From the LP "Vol. 2" (Sonet) 1969

Peer Frost : guitar, vocals
Peter Ingemann : bass
Ken Gudman : drums

: Alternate album cover :

Get it here : You Upset Me Baby

Monday, May 12, 2008

SHAKTI with John McLaughlin : La Danse Du Bonheur (1976)

When John McLaughlin put the Mahavishu Orchestra on hiatus in the mid-70s, very few people expected this to be his next project! Basically trading electric instruments for acoustic, and sitting down instead of standing up, he helped expose the jazz community to more world music. Of course, McLaughlin being McLaughlin, he cherry-picked some of the best Indian musicians for this 'supergroup'!

It looks like Zakir Hussein is on tour! So let's hear something. This is the opening track off of the second album. One of the most impressive parts of this tune is the call-n-response vocal intro, which starts in 4/4 time, but shortens the signature and speeds it up (6/8, 5/8, 5/16??), until the rest of the group jumps in.

Song : "La Danse Du Bonheur"
From the LP "A HANDFUL OF BEAUTY" (Columbia) 1976

John McLaughlin : guitar, producer
Zakir Hussein : tabla
L. Shankar : violin, vocals
T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram : ghatam, vocals

Get it here :

La Danse Du Bonheur

Sunday, May 04, 2008

THE MONKS : Monk Time (1966)

R.I.P. Dave Day (1941-2008)
The Monks were/are one of the strangest rock bands in history. A bunch of American GIs stationed in Germany, and post-discharge decided to stay and start a band. Their gimmick was dressing up as Franciscan monks (in complete monk garbs and haircuts), but with nooses tied around their necks! They are now credited with early use of feedback, minimalist rock sound, screaming vocals, social commentary and all-around punk influence. And now there's a documentary hitting the theatres around the world (coming soon here!).
Mr. Day was the group's banjo player (yes, BANJO), who recently passed. Here's an obit:

"Dave Havlicek (Dave Day), banjo player, guitarist, singer and songwriter: born 1941; married; died Renton, Washington 10 January 2008.

Dave Day was the electric banjo player with the Monks, the rock'n'roll band made up of GIs stationed in Germany in the Sixties. They first played surf and beat music in the style of the Ventures and the Sonics, but soon developed a striking look – involving tonsures and the occasional cassock – to match their proto-punk sound.

Using chanting, feedback, improvisation, repetitive riffs and primal rhythms, and delivering subversive tirades against the Vietnam war and the atomic bomb, the Monks were ahead of the times. The debt that bands such as the Fall, the Fuzztones and the Gossip owe them was repaid when these musicians took part in Silver Monk Time: a tribute to the Monks in 2006. The Krautrock connoisseur Julian Cope has called the Monks' only album Black Monk Time "a gem born of isolation and the horrible deep-down knowledge that no-one is really listening to what you're saying"."

Here's the opening track from their first classic album. Rock and protest!

Song : "Monk Time"
From the LP "BLACK MONK TIME" (Polydor) Mar. 1966

Gary Burger : vocals, guitar
Larry Clark : organ
Roger Johnston : drums (R.I.P. 2004)
Eddie Shaw : bass
Dave Day : banjo (R.I.P. 2008)

Get it here : Monk Time