Sunday, July 30, 2006

To Sit On a Sandwich

Brute Force - Confections of Love

This guy was an arranger or something for Columbia Records, and somehow talked them into letting him make a solo album. The label must have been dead drunk, and almost certainly regretted their decision in the morning. Because this record is really weird.

It is sort of a comedy record, with songs about sitting on sandwiches and tapeworms of love and such. But then he'll follow this up with a nicely tender love song. Sung in between keys. With a full horn section.

This record couldn't have been cheap to make - there is a full production on every song on here. I can't imagine they made a quarter of their money back, because I know this didn't sell much.

For anybody who cares about such things, this is burned from a mono lp with a bit of surface noise. It hasn't been on CD, so it'll have to do.

I had planned to post a kick ass metal album today, and promised a couple people I would. Mea culpa, I'll have it up by mid-week. I want to listen a couple more times to have a better review for it.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Get Yer Band Names Here

Call Me Burroughs - William S. Burroughs

Here's the first vinyl excursion for the controversial author William S. Burroughs. And it's a good one. Sure, he's reading from great books. But what really makes this album is Burroughs' voice. It's a thing of beauty - fragile, relaxed, dreamy, creaky. Obviously informed by his drug of choice.

There are at least three or four band names taken from these readings. Hell, there's even a genre that gets its name here.

I could listen to this everyday for the next month and not get tired of it. It's that good.

Mediocre vinyl rip alert.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Girl Group Identity Crisis

The Cake

This is, or at least ought to be, three different ep's by three different girl groups from 1968.

The first one is by an LA three piece girl group called The Cake. It is three songs worth of the most beautiful late period girl group you'll hear. Echoes like frickin caverns. Very obviously made by some of the same musicians Spector and Nitzsche used on their sessions (credited, for class). Earth-shattering.

The second is by an LA three piece girl group called The Cake. It is three songs in a harpsichord folk feel. It reminds me a lot of the post-Joe Byrd USA tracks by Dorothy Moskowitz. Kind of pleasant, not Earth-shattering.

The third ep is by an LA three piece girl group called The Cake. It is five songs, mostly covers, with an above average soul feel. It is easy to suppose that this band could have been something had they not been saddled with such shite material (Stand By Me?!? - there ought to be a law...) by their manager. Worth a couple of spins, not Earth-shattering.

What was it with US Decca during this period? Their cover art is horrible, and the album covers are really poor quality. They were a big label, why was their product so shoddy? And for fuck's sake, why didn't they focus the camera for the cover shot for this album? Historians want to know if this group was hot or not.


Naughty, Naughty Girls

Permanent Damage - The GTO's

I'd love to be able to say that this record is as catchy as a herpes lesion, but this is not really the case. In fact, this record is a chore to try to listen to all the way through. The joke gets pretty old.

For those of you not familiar with this record, it is by a group of famous groupies from LA. Frank Zappa either thought it would be a laff riot, or thought he could get some righteous booty for putting them out on his label. I sure hope it was the booty.

This alternates between inside jokes and pretty grating folk-rocky musical numbers. The joke spoken word segments can be OK in small doses. They are the reason to give this a spin or two.

If all of this sounds like I don't like this album, compared to the other Bizarre and Straight releases, I don't. At least I'm not crazy about it. Still, this is pretty highly sought after, and I felt like some of you might like to hear it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Help me out here

Hey, help me out with a couple things I'm looking for, if you can. M Frog, Perry Leopold, Simon Finn. You know you've got 'em.

Help me out here, and I'll put the GTO's up on Wednesday.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Pervert Rock

Touchy - Luie Luie

For your listening pleasure, here's a record with some rough edges. If you haven't heard of this guy, you are in for a treat. Luie Luie is a one man band in the weirdest sense of the term. And a bit of a pervert.

Almost every song on this thing is a tribute to a dance craze called the Touchy. This craze apparently only existed in poor Luie's head. The touchy apparently involved touching your partner in places that they do or don't want you touching them.

When I hear one of these outsider records, I tend to dwell on what it is that makes it different than a properly produced insider record. For this one, where do I start...

I could start with tempo. It shifts around a lot. And plods. And the accents are in weird spots.

Or the monolouges between songs. Most of them having to do with women wanting to be touched. Kind of insane and rambling.

But most weird is the way the instruments are stacked on each other. The guy can sort of play the trumpet. As long as you like that braying mariachi style. But the keyboards and drums and guitars? Well, not so much.

I like these vanity projects because they represent a single persons vision, the good and the bad. This one is more bad than good, but really entertaining.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Phil-LA of Soul

Boogaloo Down Broadway - The Fantastic Johnny C

The lead track on this album is one of the best goddam soul tracks ever. Really. I'll bet it's funky enough that it would get Laura Bush dancing. Thinking about this track makes me forget that the FooFuckingFighters are on the TV sucking all of the air out of the room. Great, then.

The rest of the record? Well.... Some of it's OK. Worth a couple of spins at least.

I wish the soul records from this era were more imaginative. Why the hell does every other one of these albums have a version of Stand By Me? Or Barefootin'? Hell, he even does Land of 1000 Dances.

But that Boogaloo Down Broadway kicks some serious ass.

Special credit for the album cover. It's a shot of JC standing on the smoggiest street in all creation. Maybe Times Square, maybe somewhere in Philly, I can't tell that kind of stuff. The bastards that reissued the CD messed this up with a bunch of text. Figures.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Coltrane's most maligned work

John Coltrane - OM

OM is widely cited as John Coltrane's worst album. I humbly disagree. In fact, I find it to be one of my favorites.

This might be related to the fact that this was the first Coltrane record I'd ever bought. From that time forward, this has been the yardstick I've measured all other free jazz records against.

I think several factors are responsible for the poor critical reputation of this album. First, it was one of several that came out right after he died, and as such might have looked a little exploitative. It was out of sequence, so it was a scream in the middle of some more placid works. This really should have come out around Ascension and Meditations for proper impact.

I think a bigger issue is that you can kind of hear the rhythm section being on a different page than the soloists from time to time. For instance, Tyner's solo comes out of a rage on the first side into a relatively calm and melodic couple of minutes. I like that effect, but it is kind of unexpected. Tyner and Jones made it though about one more session before giving way to Alice C and Rashied Ali.

My favorite moment on this album is right at the beginning. It starts with some chanting, thumb piano, and tinkling bells that wouldn't sound out of place on an Art Ensemble record. Then Pharoah Sanders (I'm assuming it's him) cuts through with some squacks about three registers above where his instrument is supposed to go. There's very few moments in my record collection I love more.

This one is currently only available as part of a couple of expensive compilations. It deserves a better fate. Have a listen.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


The Velvet Underground, my ass

Hackamore Brick - One Kiss Leads to Another

I don't know why, but whenever this album gets mentioned these days, it comes with some sort of obligatory Velvet Underground comparison. I've seen them called the country-rock VU, the hippie VU, VU if they were from Santa Cruz... This is all nonsense. If the VU were country-rock or hippies, they'd be as obscure as Hackamore Brick.

If you need a VU comparison, try comparing this to the Squeeze record that Doug Yule did. Now that one sounds like a close match for the Brick. I find both to be pleasant, not ground-breaking, laid-back bar rock records.


Bad idea for record album, part 45

Erica Pomerance - You Used to Think

OK, here's an idea for an album. Let's get a woman with no musical background to speak of and put her in front of a band of free jazz / blues rock dopers, and let her improvise 45 minutes worth of music in a single studio session. Oh yeah, and let's give her a hit of acid before we start.

With those marching orders, it must be 1968, and it must be ESP records. I find this record anywhere from kind of cool to incredibly annoying, depending on my mood. The band can sometimes get a cool groove going, but the singing is often far enough out of any conventional definition of pitch, that the album can feel like a chore to get through.

I've seen this compared to some of the acid-y female folk albums of the time, stuff like Linda Perhacs or Vashti Bunyan. I tend to think of this more as a "WTF" album, maybe more like something the Shaggs might have come up with.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


The middle ground

Fred Weinberg - The Non-Synthetic Method of Electronic Rock

Most early electronic music records fall into one of two camps. There's the white lab coats, modern classical school, all serious and shit. Then, there's the exploito mix-the-weird-with-the-acid-rock group, who treat the oscillators and tape loops as gimmicks backed with generic go-go music. I love both of these styles. But like peanut butter and chocolate, they just don't seem to go together.

Until now! This obscurity runs a middle ground between these two worlds more successfully than any I'm aware of. Bruce Haack? Not enough hooks. Pierre Henry? Still coming from a serious place, even at most out there. Mort Garson? Too cheesy.

Give this one a try if you dig this kind of stuff.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Caught In Transition

Penrod - Tim Dawe

Sometimes, you hear a record, and it isn't real clear what niche the artist was trying for. Most of these records suck, and the desperation involved pushes the variety. This one, though, seems like they could pull off much of the stylistic spread they worked to achieve.

Unlike most of the Bizarre / Straight artists, Dawe didn't have any affiliation with Zappa. He didn't play in the Mothers, he wasn't produced by or guested by Frank, and there is really no Zappa in his sound.

The album is a tiny bit closer to Tim Buckley, especially in the barouque arrangements. Dawe can't match Buckley's pipes, and wisely decides not to. Like Buckley, the band is pretty competent and varied. This is a strength.

The song Frank chose to put on his label sampler is the worst one on here, which I'm sure hurt the rep of this album considerably. Too bad, its a nicely psychedelic pop album. A lot of it way heavier than I'd expected. My favorite tracks are the last on either side: Junkie John and Didn't We Love.

Posted because of the overwhelming response to the Jeff Simmons post. Apparently, people like this Bizarre / Straight stuff.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Detroit Rock City, pt 2

Hair and Thangs - Dennis Coffey

From this far in the future, it is difficult to see why everyone got so damn excited about Hair. Yeah, I hear some folks got nekkid, but the tunes are pretty cheesy. More musical theatre than rock and roll.

But even those crappy raw materials in the hands of a funk master makes a damn listenable record. You'll barely notice that the songs are those overplayed pieces of twaddle as the wah-wah pedals creak into action.

Coffey was a session player for Motown, and other stuff on the side. He is on a lot of your favorite records, quite likely. Including this one.

Sorry about the blip in posts. I let my Rapidshare account expire for a little bit.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A guitar tone so thick, you can eat it with a fork

Howlin' Wolf - The New Howlin' Wolf Album

In 1968, all the hippie kids were into the blues via bands like Cream and Hendrix. The Chess label group decided to take advantage of this by dressing up their older artists in acid rock drag.

This, at least on the surface, seemed like a hell of a stupid idea. Wolf apparently thought so, as evidenced by the album subtitle -... and he doesn't like it, either. The anti-marketing must have worked, because this album is damn impossible to find.

Guess what? This one works a lot better than it should. I think the reason why is pretty simple. Pete Cosey and Phil Upchurch were damn good players. In fact, Pete Cosey is one of my all time guitar heroes for his later work with Miles Davis (what do you mean, you don't own Dark Magus!)

Electric Mud is the Muddy Waters version of the same project, and is the one that got the reissue and the belated critical credibility. To my ears, though, this is a far better album.

Friday, July 07, 2006


The answer that makes my questions disappear

Cold Fact - Rodriguez

This is an album that I feel is both really good and awfully overrated. Awfully good in the sense that the best songs on here are mind-blowing. The album opener, Sugarman, is especially good. It sits along side some of the Superfly stuff as the most ambivalent anti-pro-drug song I've heard.

Overrated in the sense that this album has an outsized reputation as a lost folk masterpiece. I don't really think so. It lacks the variety I expect from a stone classic. It is also very of its time, especially lyrically.

It is staggering to think about the amount of good music coming out of Detroit in this period - Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, MC5, Stooges, Tempations, Funkadelic, SRC, Black Merda, etc etc. Top that, NYC!

The players on this one are some of the Detroit cats from the period, including Bob Babbitt on bass and Dennis Coffey on guitar. Keep an eye on the blog - I plan to post another album or two with these guys later in the month. Needless to say, the playing is tight and in the pocket.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


The New Math

Dickie Goodman - Mr. Jaws

I'm a little out of practice in those type of analogy questions that they put on the SAT, being old and all. Still, I think this record should best be described in the form of an equation.

I've narrowed it down to two, and I'd like the reader's help in deciding which is correct.

1) Dickie Goodman : modern sampling as Iceberg Slim : modern rap
2) Dickie Goodman : modern sampling as Blondie : modern rap

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'll be at the Ponderosa, rappin to the beat

Rappin' Duke

Just a single track for you here, to remind you that genres make more fun novelty singles when they first start out. Novelty rock songs petered out over a decade or so. Rap songs went faster - five or so years. Enjoy this.


Careful with that sitar, Gabor!

Jazz Raga - Gabor Szabo

Here is the quintessential east/west album by the underrated Gabor Szabo. If you haven't heard this, download it now. Really. It's that good.

I've read in a number of places that this record is a gimmicky and dated piece, and I don't disagree with that. But a lot of great records are both of those things.

I've also read that the intonation of the sitar is a serious problem with this recording. Again, I don't necessarily disagree with this. But almost EVERY Western sitar record from the period had intonation problems. Fact is, it's a bitch to tune a sitar, and not many got it right. In most albums, I think that subtle dissonance is actually a net positive.

There's really not too much more I have to say about this one. I'll post more Szabo if people want it.


Chess Goes Folk

Live at the Fickle Pickle - The Campus Singers

In 1963, folk music was all the rage in the US. Apparently, the Chess Bros in Chicago decided they would get in on the game. This album by the Campus Singers was their first step into the folk market via their Argo label.

And what a step it was. The harmonies are tight, the guitar playing is supple and varied, and there is enough humor in the between song banter to keep them from sounding too impossibly corny to modern ears.

But then again, kind of corny. The material is spotty - lots of Winkin Blinkin and Nod or If I Had a Hammer. Some of the topical references are awfully dated, even though the Dick Nixon swipe is kind of retro cool. Right after this album was recorded, Dylan dropped the bomb that made standards forever passe in the folk community. Accordingly, the second (and last) Campus Singers lp has lots of original and current songs.

Even though this album was recorded in Chicago, and the liner notes say they were from Kalamazoo, MI (that Mecca of the arts), these guys were fixtures on the east coast folk scene around the same time as PPM, Bobby D, and Phil Ochs. This ought to give you a rough sense of where they are coming from.

My favorite joke from the album: Singer 1 - If I had a (pregnant pause). Singer 2 - I'd drink it in the morning. Stop it guys, you're killing me!

This album probably didn't sell real well. The only copies I see are promo - a dead giveaway. Someone reissue this now!

I burned this as side 1 and side 2, as the bits between songs run all together. If anyone wants it, I'll post their other album, which is almost as good.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Love you love to hate

Reel to Real - Love

This is the last album Love put out before their long period of exile. They'd experienced a pretty steep decline from Four Sail through Out Here and Arthur's solo album Vindicator. No reason to expect this album to be anything but mediocre.

And, really, it isn't. But a mediocre Love album is worth spinning a couple of times, especially if you've worn out the holy first four. And unlike the Blue Thumb stuff, this one is actually a new direction for the band.

There had always been a soul feel going on in the band, but it was buried beneath rock and show tunes and Johnny Mathis and flamenco touches, etc. Not so on this one. There are even some vague heavy funk moves on some of the tracks - think some of the heavier Vertigo records. You can spot a couple of direct nods to George Clinton in the ARP synthesizer and backwards rhythm tracks. All this stuff makes this feel like a record of its time.

This one has always had a terrible critical reputation that I don't think it deserves. If this didn't carry the Love brand, it would be (barely) remembered for what it is: a nice heavy soul album with a damn good front man. I'm curious to hear what others think.


Please add me to your links if you do a similar thing. Leave me the name of your site in the comments, and I'll add yours, as well.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


When I paint my masterpiece, noone will notice

The Painted Word - The Television Personalities

The TVP's first came to public awareness via some jokey singles in about 1978. Part-Time Punks, I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives, etc. Cute, clever, amateurish, and designed for a shelf-life of about 20 minutes.

Surprisingly, when they got around to putting a whole album or two out, a musical sensibility started to emerge. Shambolic, yes, but pointing to a new psychedelia. One based on droning chords and skittering guitars.

They got to work on their masterpiece in 1982 or 83, depending on the source. The damn thing sat on the shelf for over a year, while they settled some label issues and backed down from the original controversial sleeve art. It finally came out in 1984, and the record label (Illuminated) celebrated by going out of business.

Unsurprisingly, this disappeared unnoticed into a world transfixed with Madonna and the Boss. It was five full years and a revamped lineup before TVP's would exist again, at least in lp format.

The world missed a record that was the best damn platter of the '80's (white pop music division). The once cheeky lyric sense turned inward, paranoid, depressed, naked. There are places on this record where the effect is like watching someone pick at a painful scab - you want to turn away, but you get compelled to keep looking.

The music backings are absolutely incredible. The rhythm section sets up drony grooves, and the guitars wash over them. Lead guitar lines pop up in eccentric spots, and jangle around like McGuinn on 5D. Lots of big echo and reverb, but not in that awful 80's production way.

I could rattle on about how much I love this record for a damn week. By that time, you could have downloaded it, burned it, and listened to it fifteen times. Why don't you get started? Tell me if you like it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Duet for bagpipes and (loud) electric guitar

Albert Ayler - The Last Album

In honor of the new book about Impulse Records, here's a post of a record that just might have been the worst seller they ever put out. But here at the PLO blog, we never judge a record on sales alone.

No sirree, Bob. This is a kick-ass piece of late period energy music. I count five killers to two fillers, a good ratio, and way better than its reputation.

Let's start from the top. The Untitled Duet (sign of class, natch, to not name it posthumously) is a duet for guitar and bagpipes. And as you might have guessed, it's weird. Guitar is courtesy of Henry Vestine from Canned Heat, and way better than you might have guessed. He plays around pitch in a way only the biggest acid freaks could manage - think MC5 or early Dead. The drone potential of bagpipes works nicely with a modal blues style. One of my favorite jazz tracks ever.

The other Vestine showcase that kicks off side two is almost as good. Unhinged blues in the same way that the AEC / Fontella Bass collaboration is. Nice stuff.

There are a couple of your usual sax rants and an Albert vocal on here. As good or better than the equivalent tracks on the other Impulse Ayler's.

The only duffers, to my ears, are the Mary Maria vocals. She has aged pretty poorly. Very strident. Skip 'em if you are close to the player.

This album was put together from tracks left over from the Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe sessions after Albert died. It makes a fitting end to his recorded career. Dig the box set while it is still in print for still more outtakes from this period.

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