frank zappa

#651: Death From…Right Above?

GETTING MORE TALE #651: Death From…Right Above?

Canada’s Death From Above (formerly:  Death From Above 1979) have some pretty awesome tunage.  This bass/drum duo of Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastien Grainger have been creating edgy rock and roll (off and on) since 2001.  Their music is great.  “Trainwreck 1979” is an incredible steamroller rock song.  But Death From Above have a history that might contain some unsavoury characters, such as Vice media co-founder Gavin McInnes.

Have you ever heard of the Proud Boys?  It’s OK if you haven’t.

The Proud Boys are a “western chauvinist” group founded by McInnes.  As westerners, they “refuse to apologize for creating the modern world” (a fallacy in itself as any historian can tell you). Only men are permitted.  Women can become a “Proud Boy’s Girl”.  They even have a uniform (black polo shirts with yellow trim) and coded words that identify them with each other, but not with the general public.  They claim it’s just a fraternity, and that anyone who identifies as “alt-right” will be banned permanently from the group.  McInnes also claimed that Jesse F. Keeler of Death From Above was a member, which Keeler denies.

After my first encounter with a Proud Boy, a quick glance at his Facebook photos revealed a swastika and other Nazi paraphernalia, misogyny and a boatload of bigotry.  That was my very first encounter.  I don’t accept their claim that all “alt-right” folks are unwelcome.  I believe that they prefer their alt-right members to keep any Nazi and white supremacist symbolism in the closet.  I strongly doubt that the Proud Boys have zero white supremacists in their numbers.  That’s how it looks to me, and I’m not interested in debating with Proud Boys.

Proud Boys really hate being “mischaracterized” as a white nationalist movement, but they have become a safe space for such folks.  There certainly have been plenty of violent Proud Boy bad apples in the news, whom the organization distances itself from.  But for whatever reason, the Proud Boys attract these assholes like flies are attracted to shit.

Part of the Proud Boy initiation is getting in a fight with an “Antifa” member.  Antifa, a controversial leftist group, stands for “anti-fascist”.  So in order to be a Proud Boy, you have to commit the crime of assault.  That’s not to say Antifa have never initiated violence themselves; they have.  But to be a Proud Boy, you actually have to beat somebody up?  They call it all “freedom of expression” and “family values”.  I’m sure you’ve heard those phrases before from the far-right, just as you will also hear the word “patriot”.  They refer to their group as “fun, respectful and fair”.  Until you mention such words as “Islam”, “transgender”, “immigrant” or “liberal”.  These dirty words are sure to earn the opposite of a fun, respectful or fair response.  If you want to “trigger” a sensitive Proud Boy, try one of those words.  (Assault must be one of their “fun” activities.)

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage or your country.  I love Canada, even though our history has its dark corners.  We have not treated our native population well, and that is an understatement times 1000.  On his solo album The Secret Path, Gord Downie (RIP) of the Tragically Hip tried to educate Canadians on our shameful history with residential schools.  Yes, there are many things in our history to take pride in, such our military role as peace keepers (thank you Lester B. Pearson).  Take pride in being Canadian, but don’t distort history to do so.  Distorting history will only lead to repeated mistakes.  Pride is one thing; hate is something else altogether.  In my view, the Proud Boys are a safe haven for some very angry individuals.

Some of Death From Above’s lyrics have been characterised as misogynistic:

“So tired of sluts coming up to us in the clubs with their cocaine,
We’re looking for wives.”  (“Dead Womb”)

One of the Proud Boys’ values is “venerate the housewife”.  Death From Above’s Sebastian Grainger says “It wasn’t meant to be a hateful song…I just liked saying outrageous things.”

Death From Above’s Jesse Keeler has appeared The Gavin McInnes Podcast, viewed by some as a Proud Boy recruitment tool.  Keeler has acknowledged a past friendship with McInnes but says he’s never been a Proud Boy.  As the Canadian son of an Indian immigrant, he doesn’t identify with white nationalism.  He says that as he got to know McInnes better, he realised that he had some extreme views that he didn’t agree with.

McInnes’ views are pretty simple.  Here’s one:  “We need to close the borders now and let everyone assimilate to a Western, English-speaking way of life.”

Canada has two official languages by the way:  English and French.  They are equal under law.  But the original Canadians spoke neither; they had myriad tongues including the Algonquian and Iroquoian languages.

This western chauvinist attitude of McInnes and his group goes against everything I studied earning my History BA.  It also clashes with the values that rock and roll music have taught me.

The Beatles proved that music can transcend all barriers.  They went to India and came back with the White Album.  Led Zeppelin went to North Africa and wrote “Kashmir”.  Could there be anything more boring than a plain western, English-speaking way of life?  The music in such a place would certainly be a lot duller.  Like trying to create art in a vacuum, out of nothing.  Another exception to the Proud Boy way of thinking is the long list of incredible women of rock and roll.  They didn’t just settle for being “housewives”.  Where would music be today without Janis Joplin, Aretha Frankin, Chrissy Hynde and Debbie Harry?  A hell of a lot less interesting.  I can’t even imagine a world without them.

The best art benefits from a diverse palette.  The more colours you have to choose from, the more vibrant and alive your art can be.  White western people didn’t invent rock and roll.  They stole it.  Rock and roll has a long history, and if you go back far enough you can trace it all the way to Africa.  It came to America on slave ships, mixed and matched with music from Europe, and became R&B.  R&B used to be called “race music”.  Rock and roll evolved from this stew of cultures and influences.  Elvis Presley did not invent rock and roll.  Elvis Presley didn’t even write songs.

The Proud Boy value system is one of insular uniformity.  Rock and roll is about everything but conforming to a clean and neat Western life.  It is about rebelling, and exploring all the way to the edge.  From the very beginning of rock to today, music has only benefited from cultural diversity.  Everything on the radio today is a product of cross-pollination.  If rock and roll did not embrace music from different cultures worldwide, it would be a stifled, sad thing.  There would be no Beatles, no Stones, no Queen, or any of the bands influenced by them.  From Prince to the Prophets of Rage, most of rock and roll would simply not exist.

Want to be proud of your heritage?  That’s great, but don’t pretend.  The west is responsible for great innovation, built on the shoulders of previous old-world giants.  (Ptolemy, anyone?)  The west is also responsible for the worst atrocities in history.  No amount of revisionism can change the past.  Ignorance cannot erase it.  And here’s the key point that everybody seems to miss.  You can condemn the bad stuff, like residential schools, as it deserves to be condemned.  But then you can be proud of the good, such as the bravery of our troops from World War II to the present.  You can do both, it’s allowed!

I like to think of Frank Zappa.

“Hey, you know something people?
I’m not black, but there’s a whole lotsa times
I wish I could say I’m not white.”  — “Trouble Every Day”, 1966

Death From Above have distanced themselves and disavowed McInnes and the Proud Boys.  I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt.  “I began noticing that Gavin was promoting violence and a form of radical politics that I absolutely do not agree with,” said Keeler.  I’ll continue to listen to Death From Above.  Everyone learns from their experiences.

No matter where you fall politically, if you don’t see that our “western culture” (including our music) has roots all over the entire world, then you have a lot of history to learn.  In genetics, the larger and more diverse the population, the better the chances of survival.  A small or homogeneous population without diversity will go extinct.  I think the same is true of culture.  Embrace the good and reject the bad.  That’s why the Proud Boys need to be rejected, and I’m glad Death From Above have done that.

 

 

 

Please keep comments civil.  Any personal attacks will be deleted and burned with a tiki torch.

#588: Broken Hearts are for A**holes

GETTING MORE TALE #588: Broken Hearts are for Assholes

What music do you seek out most when your soul needs soothing?

I remember my first “real” breakup in 1994.  Upset and confused, I sought solace in music.  I had just ordered a new release from Columbia House.  The Alice in Chains Jar of Flies EP hit me right where it hurt.  Why music resonates the way it does with certain feelings in specific people, nobody knows for sure.  If they did, there would be a perfect formula for writing perfect songs, but there is not.

It wasn’t the lyrics on Jar of Flies that affected me.  I didn’t consider “Hey ah na na, innocence is over, over,” to be particularly revelatory.  It was the music that got me.  While soft, Jar of Flies was also very dark and soaked with emotions.  Perhaps a lot of this had to do with new bassist Mike Inez.  Jar of Flies was one of the first things they wrote with Inez.  According to guitarist Jerry Cantrell, “He plays the nastiest, darkest shit but he’s got the sweetest heart in the world.” Both the weird darkness and the heart can be heard on Jar of Flies.  That EP stuck to me like glue.  Play it once, flip it over, play it again.

We got back together and broke up again a couple months later.  This time it was final.  I remember trying music again to feel better.  I put on “Love Song” by Tesla.  This time, this music only made me feel worse.  The line “Love will find the way,” didn’t seem real to me anymore.  So I put on something angrier.  In 1994, I was very much into Motley Crue.  I put on “Primal Scream”.  I felt the tension; I felt the frustration, and the seething.

Broke dick dog,
My head slung low,
Tail knocked in the dirt.
Time and time,
Of being told,
Trash is all I’m worth.
When I was just a young boy,
Had to take a little grief,
Now that I’m much older,
Don’t put that shit on me.

This had nothing to do with the breakup, but digging into my anger brought with it a lot of baggage from being bullied as a kid at school.  “Primal Scream” helped bring that to the fore.  It was the beginning of a long period of self-discovery and realizing that trauma as a kid can carry forward.

Breakup #3 happened in November of 1995.  Different girl this time.  I didn’t want to get angry anymore.  I decided to try to re-ground myself and get back to who I was before this.  I started hanging out with my family more.  I was listening to more old music like the Beatles.  The Anthology had just come out.  Via the Beatles (and co-worker T-Rev) I discovered Oasis (see: Getting More Tale #561: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?).  These new bands like Oasis weren’t that much different from the old ones.

What really clicked with me this time were bands from the extensive Deep Purple family tree.  (See:  Record Store Tales Part 141: When We Rock, We Rock and When We Roll, We Roll). I was playing British bands with a blues base.  Whitesnake, Purple, Rainbow and so on.  Why these bands resonated with me during this breakup, I don’t know.  Maybe it was the male posturing and testosterone.  Whatever the reason was, for a little while Deep Purple and Whitesnake really helped me put the pain out of mind.  I felt more or less normal and I think the tunes had a lot to do with it.  This kicked off a huge Purple obsession with me.

It’s strange but every breakup had its own music.  There was a girl named Jasmine in the year 2000, and the music for her breakup was Marillion.  “So here I am once more, in the playground of the broken hearts.”  Both Fish (first singer) and Steve Hogarth (second singer) are real poets.  With Marillion, both the music and lyrics seemed to fit.  I was becoming a little bit of a broken-hearted douche bag, but I had to do what I had to do to get by.

Perhaps what I really needed was some Frank Zappa.

 

Some of you might not agree,
‘Cause you probably likes a lot of misery,
But think a while and you will see…
Broken hearts are for assholes,
Broken hearts are for assholes.

#577: Wedding Tunes Tales

GETTING MORE TALE #577: Wedding Tunes Tales

Mrs LeBrain and I have been married nine years.  It is an incredible feeling, to have found the one made for you.  I thank God every day.  We still frequently talk about the wedding day itself, the most amazing day of my life.  The bachelor night before was legendary, but the wedding was perfect.

Well, except a few minor details.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, there is one thing that really bugs me today, and that is our wedding CD.  Specifically, one track on that wedding CD.

I personally selected and approved most of the music for the day.  I was very proud to work Frank Zappa into the reception music (“Peaches En Regalia”).  I also had to make sure I had a Kiss song, so I chose “And Then She Kissed Me” from Love Gun.  We focused on Johnny Cash and the Beatles for the ceremony, killing two birds with one stone on “In My Life” for the signing of the registry.  As soon as we started sending out the “thank you” cards to all the guests, I compiled and burned dozens of copies of what you might call The Official Soundtrack Album to Our Wedding.  I squeezed in everything I could, but Jennifer insisted we include one specific song for her maid of honour, Lara.  [Note:  Lara is not evil, but she will be portraying the antagonist in an upcoming store called “Seven”.  Stay tuned.]  I guess when they used to work together in a video store, they would play “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit a lot.  Some customer gave Lara a CD with that song on it and only that song…on repeat.  I guess this inside joke meant that “My Own Worst Enemy” was Lara’s entrance music at the reception.  And I guess that justified it being on the soundtrack CD.  That is, by far, my biggest wedding regret.  It never should have been on the soundtrack CD.  It’s the only song I absolutely have to skip every time.  It’s shit.  Sorry Lara, but your tribute song sucks!

Jen has her own decision that she would go back and change if she could.  We had the proverbial “bridesmaid from hell”.  Bridesmaidzilla, or ‘Zilla for short, was drama from start to finish.  Without getting into too much detail, ‘Zilla was at the bottom of the bridesmaid totem pole but tried to manipulate certain things to be about her.  The highlight of these efforts was what we call the “caesar salad saga”.

It’s quite simple, really!  Jennifer has a seafood allergy, and any decent caesar salad dressing has anchovy paste in it.  We never take any chances, so we requested a regular garden salad for the dinner reception.  No big deal, right?  It’s a salad, but most importantly, it’s Jennifer’s wedding.  You wouldn’t believe how this salad became a bone of contention between them!  ‘Zilla looked up recipes for vegan versions online.  The salad was repeatedly brought up, but Jen had never really had caesar salad before due to her allergy.  Why would she suddenly want one for her wedding?  Bottom line, Jen chose the salad she wanted.  And for the record, since that time, she has tried vegan caesar salad and likes it.  But why would she gamble on something like that for her wedding night?  No, pick the salad you want.  Bottom line, end of discussion.

Drama continued right up to the morning of the wedding day.  As maid of honour, Lara was in charge of the bridesmaids and all communication was to go through her to relieve the pressure from Jen.  Lara would take care of any minor details so Jen would not have to be bothered.  Well, apparently a bra was needed on the wedding day, and so I received a 7:00 am phone call about it.  ‘Zilla didn’t want to call Lara because they were not getting along, at all, so they thought it would a good idea to call the groom on his wedding day, about a goddamn bra.  They actually called me to ask where you can get a bra on a holiday weekend.  Are you kidding me?

They must have called Lara and gotten it sorted because they got the bra situation taken care of without the groom having to intervene.  The wedding went off perfectly and the reception was even better.   I did my best to curate some cool music, and as a special treat, my sister Kathryn performed at the reception.  It was a jazz quartet — bass, bass clarinet, drums, guitar.  The crowning moment of their performance was a jazzy rendition of the “Cantina Theme” from Star Wars.  My sister had to order the sheet music which wasn’t cheap.  Her band’s performance that night was her wedding gift to us, and that reminds me that I do have one more regret.  That is, I wish I had filmed it.

After dinner, after the cake was served, and I was taking a rest between songs (I was a dancing fiend) I sat at ‘Zilla’s table for a bit to chat.  Jen’s friend Gordie, who is hilarious by the way, and married to one of the good bridesmaids, was also sitting with a few others at the table.  Knowing full well the drama that had gone down, Gordie mischievously commented, “That was a great wedding, Mike.  Everything was perfect and I am so happy for you and Jen.  The cake was great…the only thing I would change is the salad, if it was caesar it would have been perfect.”  Then the husband of ‘Zilla said, “We even gave them the recipe to make it…”

The last bit of ‘Zilla drama happened later in the evening as they were leaving.  The DJ played one of the special songs I picked, which was “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.  My mom, sister, aunt and new wife started dancing to it and I shouted “It’s the Ladano girls dance!”  My sister, who was right drunk at that stage, yelled out, “LADANO GIRLS, YAAAY!”  They joined with me in a circle and we danced away to Neil, singing along, having a blast, laughing.  ‘Zilla was, apparently, standing nearby waiting to say goodbye.  I felt a tap on my shoulder and she very bitchily said “BYE!” while making a talkie-talkie motion with her hand.  Yeah, bye!

Jen and I will soon be celebrating our anniversary again, and we’ll probably play that wedding soundtrack CD and relive the good memories.  And I’ve convinced her to skip Lit from now on.  Small victories are still victories.

REVIEW: Frank Zappa – Zappa Picks – by Larry LaLonde of Primus (2002)

Scan_20160613FRANK ZAPPA – Zappa Picks – by Larry LaLonde of Primus (2002 Rykodisc)

This was a cool idea for a series.  I love the concept.  Big name fans of Zappa compiling their own Zappa disc.  I only know of one other disc — a Zappa Picks by Jon Fishman of Phish.  I prefer Primus to Phish, so getting Larry LaLonde’s instalment of Zappa Picks seemed like a good idea.  LaLonde assembled an eminently listenable, endlessly entertaining and humorous Zappa album. And of course the playing is still stunning, because it’s Zappa.

What I like about this album is that you get a lot of great and challenging tunes that aren’t on the Simply Commercial hits album. In fact I think there’s only one song that appears on both! The CD is sequenced in such a way that it sounds like an actual album in terms of flow. Songs merge into each other seamlessly and the pacing is perfect. I’m discovering a lot of music I missed, because I simply don’t have all the Zappa albums.  Who does?

This is spacey fun.  It’s guitar nirvana.  It’s percussive.  There is a wealth of material both instrumental and vocal.  It’s weird all the way to the edges of comprehension.  It stretches every genre you can think of.  It’s anything but boring.

Highlights:

  • “Five-Five-FIVE”
  • “Dumb all Over”
  • “Camarillo Brillo”
  • “Doreen”
  • “Wind Up Workin’ in a Gas Station”
  • “Black Page #2”

5/5 stars

#433.9: Top 15 on the 15th (by Iron Tom Sharpe)

NOTE:  Because of the three Top 15 on the 15th posts today, there will be no posting for Wednesday.  A directory to all the Top 15 on the 15th posts can be found here.  Browse them all!

Getting More Tale #433.9 presents: A worldwide online event!
THE TOP 15 ON THE 15th – Guest shot by Iron Tom Sharpe

Latest to throw his hat into the Top 15 on the 15th ring is Iron Tom Sharpe, Meaford’s Greatest Athlete. One of the most knowledgeable rock fans in the country, Iron Tom is a national treasure. He is a former Record Store owner, and one of the Jedi masters who instructed me.

His message to me upon completion of his list: “Fuck that was tough…and I know I left off some big ones…I just know it…Ah fuck, The D! Max!”

There may be no Tenacious D, and there may be no Max Webster. But here is one kick-ass #Top15onthe15th.

 

WARP15. The Sword – Warp Riders

MASTER14. Metallica – Master of Puppets

PERFECT13. Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers

BONGO12. Frank Zappa – Bongo Fury

PHYSICAL11. Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

SKY10. Kyuss – Sky Valley

FAIR9. Van Halen – Fair Warning

PHASES8. Willie Nelson – Phases and Stages

CLOSE7. Yes – Close to the Edge

POWERSLAVE6. Iron Maiden – Powerslave

ACTION'5. Fu Manchu – The Action Is Go

ALRIGHT4. Steve Earle – I Feel Alright

MISPLACED3. Marillion – Misplaced Childhood

II2. Queen – Queen II

MOVING1. Rush – Moving Pictures

 

 

Almost made it:

  • Orange Goblin – Time Traveling Blues
  • Crosby Stills & Nash – CSN
  • Pink Floyd – Animals
  • Motorhead – Another Perfect Day
  • Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell

 

And finally…an extra bonus.  Iron Tom’s Top 5 Live!

5. Iron Maiden – Live After Death

4. Jimi Hendrix – Band Of Gypsys

3. Supertramp – Paris

2. Dire Straits – Alchemy Live

1. Eric Clapton – Just One Night

#433.5: Top 15 on the 15th (by Uncle Meat)

Getting More Tale #433.5 presents: A worldwide online event!
THE TOP 15 ON THE 15th – Guest shot by Uncle Meat

This is an event spanning many sites and writers in the World Wide Web.  I will link to as many as possible; my own Top 15 can be found here.  A few months ago, the challenge was thrown down to all comers:  List your top 15 albums of all time!  The date September 15 was chosen for the deadline.

Uncle Meat laboured hard on his Top 15, eventually whittling it down from a list of 31 great records*.  Without any commentary, here they are.  His only requirement:  No live albums.

RUST15. Rust in Peace – Megadeth

SCREAMING14. Screaming For Vengeance – Judas Priest

EARTHQUAKES13. Little Earthquakes – Tori Amos

CLOSE12. Close to the Edge – Yes

CONSOLERS11. Consolers of the Lonely – The Raconteurs

CLUTCHING10. Clutching at Straws – Marillion

REIGN9. Reign in Blood – Slayer

MINDCRIME8. Operation: Mindcrime – Queensryche

WHALE7. Whale Music – The Rheostatics

MISPLACED6. Misplaced Childhood – Marillion

MOVING5. Moving Pictures – Rush

ROXY4. Roxy and Elsewhere – Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

PET3. Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys

HEMISPHERES2. Hemispheres – Rush

CORAZON1. El Corazón – Steve Earle

* For shits and giggles, here are the rest of The Meat’s albums that didn’t make the final cut.

  • White Pepper – Ween
  • Sky Valley – Kyuss
  • Harvest – Neil Young
  • Heaven and Hell – Black Sabbath
  • Fireball – Deep Purple
  • Somewhere in Time – Iron Maiden
  • Tenacious D – Tenacious D
  • Queens of the Stone Age – Queens of the Stone Age
  • Dogman – King’s X
  • American II: Unchained – Johnny Cash
  • Sheer Heart Attack – Queen
  • Noisy Nights – Uzeb
  • White City – Pete Townsend
  • Van Halen – Van Halen
  • Let There Be Rock – AC/DC
  • Kristopherson – Kris Kristopherson

REVIEW: Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica (1969)

“My smile is stuck; I cannot go back t’yer frownland.” – Don Van Vliet

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & HIS MAGIC BAND – Trout Mask Replica (1969 Reprise)

Produced by Frank Zappa, written by Don Van Vliet.

I’m no professional musician — not even close.  I can’t speak that language, so I can’t explain to you why Trout Mask Replica is pure genius. I can tell you that it is not for everybody. Frank Zappa once said, regarding the public’s attitude towards popular music: “Give me something that sounds exactly like something that I already like.” With that sarcastic comment, Zappa hit the nail on the head. Most listeners want music in standard (4/4) time, with familiar tones, and based on familiar scales. If you fall into that majority, do not buy Trout Mask Replica.

I’ll give you an example of the weirdness within, right out of the liner notes.  “Captain Beefheart plays tenor and soprano saxophone simultaneously on ‘Ant Man Bee’.”  [My emphasis]

TROUT MASK_0003Those who have studied music, particularly free improvisation, find Trout Mask Replica to be utterly brilliant. It is an ugly duckling of an album, something that seems stark and unforgiving on first listen, but revealing more depth and beauty the more you hear it. There is much to be enjoyed here. The drumming (by Drumbo aka John French) shatters preconceived notions about tempo and timekeeping in a rock/blues context. Bass clarinet is present, a rare instrument these days to be sure, and not an easy instrument to appreciate. The guitar and horns are harsh and difficult for the average listener to digest coming across as nothing more than a cacophony. Often, it sounds as if all six musicians are playing different songs at the same time, and that is not too far off the mark. Yet, these conflicting parts mesh and intersect at key moments, creating an overall effect of, “It sounds wrong, but right.” With repeated listens, it begins to sound more right than wrong. Bits and pieces gradually coalesce, and suddenly it clicks. There are hooks here, catchy guitar parts that reveal themselves slowly.  The howling moans of Don Van Vliet are always enticing.  I love his “old man” voice on the scratchy “The Dust Blows Forwards ‘N the Dust Blows Back”.

The music is playful (“Ella Garu” for example). Captain Beefheart plays homage to Americana on “Moonlight on Vermont”.  “Pachuco Cadaver”, the most immediate piece here, is catchy and pop-like in its structure. Yet Trout Mask Replica‘s prime influence in the blues, both at its most ancient and futuristic simultaneously. If that’s even possible, then Beefheart did it right here. Then again, “Hair Pie: Bake 2” is just pure jazz.

TROUT MASK_0006If you gave it a shot and you didn’t like Trout Mask Replica, then that is a question of personal taste and you are not wrong. However, nobody can say that this is “not music”, or that this is the work of “amateurs”. It takes years for musicians to be able to compose and play music of this stature. If you don’t appreciate it, that’s fine. AC/DC are still making records. A lot of people can’t appreciate Edgard Varese or Ligeti either. Yet their music continues to live on years after their deaths. So will it be for Don Van Vliet & his Magic Band.

After repeated spins, I believe that even the most jaded of listeners can find something to enjoy if they try. Whether it be Van Vliet’s gutteral blues howling or the loud and aggressive slide guitar, there is much to be loved on Trout Mask Replica. If by chance you are a Beefheart fan already, or are slowly becoming one, there are some interesting companion pieces to be had:  The one I want is Grow Fins: Rarities 1965-1982.   It’s a 5-CD box set containing two entire discs of Trout Mask outtakes and sessions.

Buy this if you like experimental Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Mike Patton, the works of Edgard Varese, early (Easy Action and Pretties For You) Alice Cooper, or free improv.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Frank Zappa – Baby Snakes (1983)

Third review from Mike and Aaron go to Toronto…Again!  This Zappa bought at Sonic Boom for $10.99, original green Rykodisc case intact.

BABY SNAKES_0001FRANK ZAPPA – Baby Snakes (1983, 1995 Rykodisc)

Baby Snakes is the soundtrack album to the Zappa film of the same name, famously using clay animation by Bruce Bickford.  This bizarre landmark of a movie deserves a bizarre soundtrack, which Frank ably delivers with his ace band including Tommy Mars (violin) , Terry Bozzio (on two tracks),  Adrian Belew (guitar) and more.

Yet the title track is remarkably accessible.  Sure, there are the typical Zappa elements: high munchkin voices, low Zappa moans, eclectic and humourous lyrics…and playing out the wazoo!  There’s nothing wrong with these “Baby Snakes” as long as you can keep up with the time changes.  (This is an edited version of the same song from Sheik Yerbouti.)

Before you know it, you’re live in funky New York listening to “Titties and Beer”.  These live tracks were recorded Halloween 1977 at the Palladium.  Will Frank sell his soul to the Devil?  Is Frank rough enough to get into hell?  Does he have the style that it takes?  Listen to “Titties and Berr” and find out (I won’t spoil it).

“The Black Page #2” is infamously hard to play, so just listen up and hear how the pros get it done.  The percussion alone makes heads spin.  Another seamless transition goes into “Jones Crusher” which has a classic soul of rock.  The vocal parts are damn fine, the lyrics hilarious, and Frank’s outro solo smokes.  A rock and roll slant on “Disco Boy” is a tad faster than the studio counterpart.  This hilarious ode to vanity and ultimately masturbation is just fun, because who doesn’t love ripping on disco?

PUNKYSide two of the original LP was made up of just two tracks, both long bombers:  “Dinah Moe Humm” and “Punky’s Whips”.  The Ryko CD blends the two sides together without a break.  You can hear the band quote “Sunshine of Your Love”) at one point  in “Dinah Moe” (they quoted “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” on side one).  “Punky’s Whips” is a completely different deal.  Apparently, Terry Bozzio had a bit of a man-crush, or at least a fascination with Punky Meadows from the band Angel.  This satire poked a bit of fun at the expense of Punky, but who can blame them?  Who could blame anyone?  “Punky’s lips, Punky’s lips, his hair’s so shiny, I love his hips!”  I mean, how can you not make fun of this guy?  Even though the lyrics are distractingly hilarious, the music goes into epic soundtrack mode by the time Bozzio’s shouting “Jack it Punky, jack it faster!”  Frank ends the song with one of his signature guitar jams, a sound that this world truly does miss.

Of note: this album was originally released on 12″ picture disc.  The Ryko CD cover replicates this effect.  I like that.

5/5 stars

WE’RE BACK: Toronto Record Store Excursion 2014 success!

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Aaron and I have returned safely from Toronto, with treasures in hand! He has posted to the KMA a non-spoiler update regarding the trip. We both did very well. As a “Taranna First” I was providing live photographic updates of the trip via social media.

As I did on the previous two trips, I took plenty of photos and video with the intent of creating another great trip video! With that in mind, we don’t want to spoil too much about our adventure, so this is just a brief preview. Of note, Aaron bore gifts, and one of them is a book that I am just as happy to get as I am some of my musical finds. Aaron also helped add to my 6″ Stormtrooper army!

The sad news: Even though I was quite confident that we would find at least one item from somebody’s KMA Holy Grail list, we did not. I was sure that we would at least be able to find one of Sarca’s, such as the Ray Lyell CD. I was surprised that we didn’t. I might have an easier time finding it locally.

Having said that: I encourage you to check out the KMA Grail list and add your own long-sought albums to it.  Though we did not have luck with it this time, we did look hard.  The more people who participate in the Holy Grail list, the better, so as my buddy Aaron would say GIVE’R!

Enjoy the photo gallery, and if you missed the videos from the 2012 and 2013 trips, you can check those out below.

LeBrain (who, I am glad to say, did not fart once in Aaron’s car this time.)

2013: PART 1

2013: PART 2

2012:

Part 289: Tom’s Frozen Beater

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RECORD STORE TALES Part 289:  Tom’s Frozen Beater

This is a previously unreleased story!  It was first recorded in audio format only, as a special “exclusive” Record Store Tale for Sausagefest XII.  Now, the text version is available for all to enjoy — a rare exclusion to the “What happens at Sausagefest, stays at Sausagefest” rule.

It was early in 1995, winter.  The near-legendary Tom, who today hosts Sausagefest every year, was working the day shift at our mall store.  I was working the 5-9 shift.  As was my modus operandi, I showed up early (about 4:30) to check out the new stock and do bank runs.  Tom and I caught up for a bit; he was acting as store manager for the moment and let me know what needed to be done.

His shifted ended, Tom met some of his friends at the store, and departed.  I began my shift and started pricing new CDs for sale.

10 minutes later, Tom and his friends stormed back into the store.

TOM2“FUCK! Fucking piece of shit car! Fucking doors are frozen shut!”

It was the first time I had ever seen Tom enraged.

“Jeez, is there anything I can do to help?”

“Not unless you have lock de-icer on you,” Tom responded.  I did not have lock de-icer.  I had walked to work.

I’m assuming the Zellers store in the mall was also sold out of de-icer, because Tom’s next proposed solution surprised me.

“Fuck it.  I’ll just sleep here tonight.  I have to open tomorrow anyway.  Yeah, fuck it.  This is fine.  I’ll fucking just lie down in between Easy Listening and Rap.  Fuck it.  Yeah.  Fuck, I’m sleeping here tonight.”

Great googly-moogly!  Was that even allowed?  Tom scoped out that section of floor, eyeballing it, making mental measurements.

“Fuck, this is perfect, I’ll just sleep right there on the floor.”

Thankfully one of Tom’s friends found some hot water from the mall coffee shop, and with some effort they got one of the car’s doors open.  If they hadn’t, it might have been the first time somebody slept on the floor!  (It would not have been the last time – a homeless man fell asleep on my floor in the middle of the afternoon once.)

Tom however has a different conclusion to the story:  “A little piss on the lock and voila…”