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Saturday, September 28, 2013

JOHN CALE AND TERRY RILEY : Church Of Anthrax [1971]

This is the only collaboration between John Cale (from the Velvet Underground) and Terry Riley (minimalist composer). Always felt to be a unsatisfying meeting of the minds between the two artists, the result is in retrospect strangely satisfying. The album consists of two long tracks, two short tracks, and one semi-poppy vocal track, but there is an unusual balance within the music. This is the first (and title) track to the album, beginning with an (almost) funky bassline. When the drums kick in, there is a busy repetitive keyboard riff. The main point of this jam is to put the listener into a trance-like state as every bar gets slightly more complex than the last. One more synth, one more drone, one more notch on the volume knob, and finally Riley's saxophone noodles its way into your brain. Both artists were familar with avant-garde and the subtlety in repetition, and this song presents it in a more accessible 'rock' context. Shades of prog-rock, Eastern, and even jazz can make the piece more rewarding as you peel the layers away. Roll 'em if you got 'em...

Song : "Church Of Anthrax" by John Cale And Terry Riley
From the LP "CHURCH OF ANTHRAX" (Columbia) Feb. 10, 1971

John Cale : keyboards, bass guitar, harpsichord, piano, guitar, viola, organ
Terry Riley : piano, organ, saxophone
Bobby Columby : drums

Link in title.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

RODRIGUEZ : Cause [1971]

This has to be one of the most emotionally 'challenging' song by the rediscovered Rodriguez, and part of a great vignette on the "Searching For Sugar Man" documentary.  Starting with an almost demo-like quality to his acoustic guitar, his strong voice then hits you with depressing lyric after lyric.  The sweet string section enters around 0:54, and intersperses with Rodriguez' chords and words for 5+ minutes...

Cause I lost my job two weeks before Christmas
And I talked to Jesus at the sewer 
And the Pope said it was none of his God-damned business

While the rain drank champagne
My Estonian Archangel came and got me wasted 
Cause the sweetest kiss I ever got is the one I've never tasted

Oh but they'll take their bonus pay to Molly McDonald,
Neon ladies, beauty is that which obeys, is bought or borrowed

Cause my heart's become a crooked hotel full of rumours
But it's I who pays the rent for these fingered-face out-of-tuners

And I make 16 solid half hour friendships every evening
Cause your queen of hearts who is half a stone 
And likes to laugh alone is always threatening you with leaving 

Oh but they play those token games on Willy Thompson
And give a medal to replace the son of Mrs. Annie Johnson

Cause they told me everybody's got to pay their dues 
And I explained that I had overpaid them 
So overdued I went to the company store
and the clerk there said that they had just been invaded

So I set sail in a teardrop and escaped beneath the doorsill
Cause the smell of her perfume echoes in my head still

Cause I see my people trying to drown the sun 
In weekends of whiskey sours
Cause how many times can you wake up in this comic book and plant flowers?

Song: "Cause" by Rodriguez
From the LP "COMING FROM REALITY" [Sussex] Nov. 1971

Rodriguez : guitar, vocals
Jimmy Horowitz : arrangement

Link in title

Saturday, September 21, 2013

WEATHER REPORT: Dara Factor Two [1982]

So this is the last studio track by Weather Report featuring Jaco Pastorius on bass (that's him yelling at 0:33 of the song).  He was working on his burgeoning solo career with his Word Of Mouth band, and touring conflicts forced them to part ways.  Also out of the band after this was drummer Peter Erskine, who had committed to the group Steps Ahead.  Thus, ended the classic lineup of the group.  The pulse of this track is a continuation of Part One (earlier on the album), and essentially a long groove with various sections coming in and out throughout; but make no mistake, many parts are almost entirely thought out.  The bass line at 1:03 establishes the main figure, and you can hear each instrument taking their jabs at the piece.  By 3:16, the main keyboard chords are established that rides out the the piece.
Song : "Dara Factor Two" by Weather Report
From the LP "Weather Report" (Columbia) Jan. 1982

Wayne Shorter : saxophone
Joe Zawinul : keyboards, percussion
Jaco Pastorius : bass, percussion, voice
Peter Erskine: drums, drum computer
Robert Thomas, Jr.: hand drums, percussion

Link in title

Thursday, September 05, 2013

THE MACKROSOFT : Quiet Encephalitics [2006]

The Mackrosoft is a jazz-funk collective headed by musician Aja West (Alexander Vallette Cheever).  Originally from a hip-hop background, he quickly began churning out album after album of groovy music, utilizing various artists from the jazz & hip-hop community.  On this album, he enlisted none other than drummer Mike Clark (from HEADHUNTERS fame!).  This track is propelled by a classic funk beat, with bass & electronic piano stabs.  More synth and marimba fill out the sound.  And about halfway through the track, horns start adding their part, with a trombone & piano competing for solos.
Song : "Quiet Encephalitics" by The Mackrosoft
From the LP "ANTONIO'S GIRAFFE" May 2, 2006

Link in title.

Monday, September 02, 2013

AARDVARK : Very Nice Of You To Call [1970]

This UK quartet boasted a band WITHOUT a guitar player (I guess in the 70s, that was a novelty).  The group usually compensated with an distorted Deep Purple-like organ.  In comparison, this track is piano-driven (compared to their usual heavy organ), with laid-back melodic vocals.  The bass & drums keep the tempo moving throughout.

Song : "Very Nice Of You To Call" by Aardvark 
From the LP "Aardvark" (Deram) 1970

Dave Skillen : vocals
Steve Milliner : piano
Stan Aldous : bass
Frank Clark : percussion

Link in title.