Monthly Archives: April 2015

Future Days by David Stubbs

FutureDays-book

Subtitled “Krautrock and the Building of Modern Germany” this book takes the reader on a journey through the heady days of the German experimental music scene from the late sixties into the seventies.

Stubbs begins with a lengthy prologue which traces the social developments of the country through the 20th century. This is done to provide a perspective on what was to come after the Second World War.

After he has established the state of the minds of the German youth through the sixties, he then relates the stories behind the major groups who began creating experimental music.

Full chapters are devoted to some of the best known bands in what was termed “Krautrock” such as Amon Duul, Can, Kraftwerk and Faust. He later explores the “scenes” happening in areas such as Berlin.

He finishes by discussing newer music as well as the influence of the German music on specific musicians (David Bowie) and musical scenes (post punk).

For those not intimately familiar with this music, it may serve as a good introduction to stir up some curiosity. For those of us who are already quite well-versed in the genre, there are still some facts that are revealed that may be new to us.

 

Bernard Stollman (1929 – 2015)

ESP-Disk'

Bernard Stollman passed away on April 20 at the age of 85. He was the founder of one of the most eclectic record labels that ever existed – ESP-disk.

The roster of artists who recorded for ESP in the 1960s reads like an encyclopedia of the avant-garde musical world. Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Patty Waters, Paul Bley, Burton Greene, Alan Silva, Don Cherry, The Fugs, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders… The list seems endless.

For me personally, if they had only released the Patty Waters album, I would have been more than happy. But, they released so many more interesting and influential records over the course of the years.

Here is a link to Bernard Stollman’s obituary in the New York Times.

ESP-disk website

The Mysterious Mystery of… Lois

Lois-SatinDoll-back-cover

There was a time when you could find some interesting records at the thrift shop for a buck. The negligible investment made it possible to take a chance on things that just looked a bit odd or interesting. That is how I discovered a record that still remains a mystery to me.

Lois – Satin Doll showed up during one of my scavenges at a local thrift shop. It looked interesting enough to risk a dollar. So, I grabbed it.

Lois was apparently a regular fixture playing lounge style organ at a restaurant called The Charlesgate Restaurant in Williamsville, New York. This LP was recorded live there. It contains a mix of old chestnuts like the title track, Misty, Call Me etc… It also contains Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man. The tunes are well played and her voice is very good on the numbers that she sings.

So, of course, I should be able to track down something about her on the interwebs. Right? Well… no.

The record is a private pressing manufactured by a company called Mark Custom Records in 1977. I have been able to find out that these folks are still around doing custom runs of CDs for people today. That’s where the trail runs cold.

Countless searches only turn up the odd listing on eBay which simply quote from the liner notes of the LP. So far, I have been unable to find out any information about the mysterious Lois herself.

If you have any information, I’d love to hear from you. Until then, Lois remains a mystery.

Lois - Satin Doll

 

Essential Sounds – Patty Waters

Back in the mid-’70s, I was listening to the radio (WABX, Detroit or CJOM, Windsor) when I heard a DJ talking about an record that he was about to play. He sounded very upset. He felt that this was a VERY special album and that in a perfect world everybody would own or at least hear it. He then played the piece which takes up the entire second side of the LP entitled Patty Waters Sings. I was so blown away by the sounds that I immediately went downtown and special ordered a copy of the record.

Recorded in December 1965 and released the following year on the wild and wonderful ESP record label, Patty Waters Sings is indeed an essential listening experience.

The first side consists of short songs with Patty on vocals and piano. The songs are minimalist works of art. Both the vocals and piano seem to hang suspended in space with a persistent mood of melancholy mixed with broken-hearted despair.

Every time that I have played this album for people, they would sit motionless and entranced by the sound. Jaws would drop.

And then there is the second side. Here, Patty is accompanied by Burton Greene (piano), Steve Tintweiss (bass) and Tom Price (percussion). The sole piece on this side is a radical reworking of Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.

During the course of this track, the band goes off into a manic level of improvisation while Patty seems possessed by a demon. She starts off quite traditionally but winds up sounding like she is running around the studio shrieking to the mass of angular sounds stabbing their way around her voice. It is a magnificent tour de force of both instrumental and vocal dexterity.

In a recent discussion on a music forum, the question was asked what one album you would save if you had to escape your home burning down. This was the album… and it didn’t take a great deal of thought to make the decision.

Patty released one more LP for ESP which was a live recording. But, her debut album is the one that really stands the test of time for its essential sounds.

PattyWaters-Sings

The Fall – a documentary

Mark E. Smith started The Fall back in 1976. I had read about them in the British press and eventually tracked down a copy of their debut LP Live at the Witch Trials. Loud, aggressive, shambolic. I loved it. Over the years, I’ve acquired lots of their albums and singles (many of which are quite rare these days).

If you love ’em, hate ’em or have never heard of ’em, here is a 2005 BBC documentary called The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E. Smith.

No, I can’t understand half of the things that he says, either. Does it matter?

Enjoy.

 

 

Essential Sounds – John Martyn

John Martyn (1948 – 2009) was one of the stand-out artists on the British folk / folk-rock scene for many years. Over that time, he produced a number of wonderful albums which varied from straight-ahead folk to folk infused with jazz elements.

He also pioneered the use of the acoustic guitar along with a number of electronic effects like delay and reverb which produced a unique sound.

For many people, Martyn’s 1973 LP entitled Solid Air is regarded as his classic release. The title track was written about his friend Nick Drake and its fluid bass and shimmering keyboards provide a superb backdrop to his acoustic guitar and sultry slurring vocal lines.

Martyn also has occasion to get a bit rocky with I’d Rather Be the Devil. It contrasts with more gentle folky numbers like Over the Hill and May You Never.

This is an album which I consider to be an essential addition to anybody’s record collection. It is currently available on vinyl via the Back to Black series.

Pictured below is a UK pressing of the album dating from around 1976.

JohnMartyn-SolidAir-Island-UK

 

Record Store Day 2015

Record Store Day started back in 2007 as a special day to promote music and independent record shops. It was originally a single even held in April but, it’s continued popularity spurred a second day coinciding with Black Friday (October) in the USA.

For RSD, many record labels issue special releases in limited quantities. The list of releases is usually quite staggering in length. However, your excitement level will likely be tempered somewhat if you don’t see anything that suits your particular tastes.

This year, I didn’t think that the list had a lot of interest for me. I did see a few things that piqued my interest and, as usual, headed down to my local vinyl enabler, Grooves.

As usual, when I arrived the line-up to check out ran completely around the store. I scanned the racks and wall displays not really knowing what I might find. It’s quite common for many stores to not receive all of the items which they have ordered.

Luckily, I found four of the items which were highest on my list. Tomorrow, Rainbow Ffolly, Jethro Tull and The Stooges. I also returned a couple of days later to still find copies of the first Hawkwind LP and Deep Purple’s The Book of Taliesyn re-issues.

Not a bad haul at all.

Tomorrow-Tomorrow-Parlophone-EU-mono-angle

RainbowFfolly-SalliesForth-Parlophone-EU-mono-angle

Stooges-HaveSomeFunatUngano's-ElektraRhino-US-angle

 

Grooves Records (London, Ontario)

Robert Rich – Filaments

Robert Rich is an electroacoustic composer based out of California. Over the years, Robert has continued to forward along his numerous releases for airplay on my radio programme.

I have been fortunate to have seen him perform on two occasions in Toronto and also get a chance to hang out and chat.

Robert’s music (as a solo artist and in collaboration with many other musicians) has a common thread. It weaves, glows and pulses its was from the speakers and into the your psyche.

His latest work – Filaments – is the culmination of many years of impressive sonic soundscapery. From beginning to end it is a work of intricate patterns shifting organically to weave its magic.

Visit Robert’s website at: http://robertrich.com/

 

John Renbourn (1944 – 2015)

JohnRenbourn-Guardian-pic01

In 2015, we lost another one of my favourite musicians. John Renbourn was probably best known as one of the founding members of the band Pentangle (along with Bert Jansh, Danny Thompson, Jacqui McShee and Terry Cox). Together, they created a wonderful addition to the growing folk-rock genre happening in England in the late ’60s into the ’70s.

I saw John Renbourn in concert three times over the years. The first two times were as a solo artist but, the last time (2005) he brought along the wonderful Jacqui McShee to sing. It was a magical night as they performed many familiar numbers (many of which are included on the live LP in the double album set Sweet Child).

After that concert, I was lucky enough to chat with both John and Jacqui. They also signed a few Pentangle LPs for me.

Here is a link to his obituary in The Guardian.

Pentangle-CruelSister

 

 

Daevid Allen (1938 – 2015)

DaevidAllen-Guardian-pic01

Daevid Allen passed away on March 15, 2015. I first heard his music with the group Gong over 40 years ago and acquired many of the albums over the years.

Allen was also a founding member of the band Soft Machine but, left the group early on. Luckily, the early recordings featuring him were recorded for posterity and are still available today.

I never thought that I would have the opportunity to see Gong but, I did manage to finally catch them at a small club in Liverpool called The Lomax in 1997. It was a magical night with the band playing two long sets which included a great deal of the music from their classic era of the early 1970s.

Here is a link to the obituary which appeared on the website of The Guardian.

Gong-handbill-Liverpool-1997

Wired for Sound blog

April 2015 represented my 25th anniversary on CHRW-FM (London, Ontario, Canada). I decided that this would be a good milestone at which to bid a fond farewell to the radio airwaves.

However, I still wanted to have a way in which to relate my thoughts on music to my audience. So, I have now created the Wired for Sound blog. I realize that there are other blogs out there with the same name but, that was the name of the radio programme so, that’s the name of the blog.

In this space, I will take the opportunity to post about recent releases, discuss records, books, videos and whatever concerns music.