Saturday, February 13, 2010

Update 8

Needed a break from work. Took a coupla days off, hung out w/ the girlfriend & watched silly movies. Also saw Michael Jackson's concert-documentary THIS IS IT, which wasn't silly at all. It was actually pretty great, & I was never even that big a fan.
The documentary shows MJ preparing 4 the series of concerts he was scheduled 2 do B4 his sudden death last summer -- & the man shown on stage in the movie is not at all the flighty-voiced reclusive weirdo we'd Cn Dpicted in the media over the past 20 yrs. Makes me wonder if the media was snowing us 4 all those yrs....
Thruout the movie, MJ is down-2-Earth, involved, sure of what he wants, committed -- very clearly THERE. He helps pick out some of the dancers 4 the show, talks over w/ his backing band how 2 get the sounds he wants. He is unfailingly direct. He was IN2 it, not at all hesitant or shy or ... odd. He was perhaps just a touch thin -- but then, he always was.
& almost all the songs sound great, even the 1's I never liked much. "Beat It" & "Thriller" both sound amazing. Even "Billie Jean" sounds pretty good, & I never liked it much. "Human Nature" was a suprise 4 me. The only songs that R weak R 2 early Jackson 5 hits, "I Want You Back" & "The Love You Save," both of which MJ takes 2 fast -- but he follows them w/ an Xcellent rendition of "I'll Be There."
& even if he's only per4ming at about 50% -- sevral times he tells the crew he's trying 2 conserve his voice 4 the real concerts -- MJ is still pretty riveting 2 watch, even tho he drops lines of songs, even tho mayB his moves Rn't quite as sharp as they 1nce were -- I couldn't tell the diffrence. It doesn't matter.
& whatta backing band he had, including an amazing guitarist & a great drummer -- & their names were all new 2 me.
I guess we're lucky the rehearsals were videotaped 4 MJ's use. The rehearsals + the Bhind-the-scenes documentaries R pretty impressive. Moving, even. U might wanna check this out, especially if U were a fan....

...Fri aft I played the 1st 4 trax on Can's 2-CD ANTHOLOGY, & liked them -- especially the rhythmic propulsiveness of most of it -- made even a spazz like me wanna get up & bounce around the room. If the collection had opened w/ "Soup" (in which I SWEAR at 1 point Michael Karoli takes a chainsaw 2 his guitar), I mighta switched the thing off & never have gotten NE farther. But Bcos the assemblers softened me up w/ the hypnotic opener "Father Cannot Yell," by the time I got 2 the chainsaw-cutting part I just laffed. I especially liked the twisted gtr & the hypnotic drumming -- so, Jaki Liebezeit got his mesmerizing drum rhythms from some forbidden voodoo ceremony? Hey, I Blieve it. & how 'bout Leon Muraglia's cheerfully perverse liner notes? (He Dscibes the pieces assembled on Can's SOUNDTRACKS as "Surprisingly whistleable and song-based." Yeah, right....)
I have yet 2 hear more than the opening of "Mushroom," or NE of "Halleluwah," "Aumgn," "Yoo Doo Right" or NE of Can's other supposed masterworks, but I'll B listening 2 more of this package SOON & I'll give U a full report here.
So far, w/ me learning about Van der Graaf Generator & now Can, 2010 is already a pretty good music year 4 me.
I'm also kicking myself, cos back in my record-store daze we had all of Can's middle-period albums available in the cutout bins 4 $3.99 or less -- FUTURE DAYS, EGE BAMYASI, SOON OVER BABALUMA. I always wanted 2 check them out. & in 1990 I remember reading a review by Dave DiMartino (I think) in the pgs of the old MUSICIAN magazine, RAVING about how great, influential & overlooked Can was. & it STILL took me 20 yrs 2 look in2 them. Why? Probly Bcos if I'd tried NE earlier I wouldn't have bn able 2 HEAR them. So far, I'm impressed.
...I can also report that Van Morrison's STILL ON TOP -- THE GREATEST HITS has probly everything by Van U'd ever wanna hear Xcept 4 "Caravan," "Cypress Avenue," "Madame George," "Almost Independence Day".... I can also report that "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)," "Wild Night" & "Into the Mystic" all still sound great. & I plan 2 investigate "Listen to the Lion," "St. Dominic's Preview," "Wavelength" & others real soon now....

THE ULTIMATE PROG ROCK BOOK ... has yet 2 B written. I've read a coupla attempts at a Prog history/overview, neither of which were stunning. Now I'm trying 2 get thru Jim DeRogatis's KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, which covers summa the same ground, psychedelic & associated mind-Xpanding music from the '60s 2 the '90s.
But tho there R good things in it -- a nice overview of Krautrock, a brief tho intresting history of Can, LOTS on Brian Eno, pretty good work on XTC, Wire, Hawkwind, Incredible String Band, Love, Captain Beefheart & others -- & some revealing stuff, like a brief interview w/ Phil Collins & Tony Banks that indicates there were some rather heavy self-imposed restrictions on later Genesis & that Banks wasn't real happy w/ them or the slim chance of ever doing NEthing as adventurous as their Peter Gabriel-era work again....
Dspite this, the book is frustrating. DeRogatis's Standard Rock Critic Attitude pisses me off. Tho he devotes a lotta space 2 Beatles, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett & some other critically-acceptable oddballs, a lotta folks who qualify as psychedelic he has no use 4 -- Jefferson Airplane, Doors, Grateful Dead. Hendrix gets some space. I was also suprised 2 C Parliament/Funkadelic here.
But his attitude toward Art Rock really makes me crazy. No book on psychedelic rock can get by w/o trying 2 make some kinda sense outta Gong. DeRogatis doesn't bother. & tho I agree w/ his opinion of the 1st King Crimson album, he ignores everything else they did. Genesis, Yes, ELP, Moody Blues, Gentle Giant, Tangerine Dream & others R mentioned, but usually that's about all. His verdict: "Art Rock's legacy as a Bad Trip is ultimately well deserved."
No. If you're gonna cover the territory, U should COVER IT.
The Ultimate Prog Rock Book should include both history & reviews of the music, should try 2 cover the territory, & squeeze in as many acts as possible -- from the Moodies & Pink Floyd & King Crimson 2 Yes, Genesis, ELP, Hatfield and the North & National Health & Soft Machine & Matching Mole, 2 Kansas & Happy the Man (& possibly even Styx, & Jefferson Airplane/Starship's science-fiction chorales), David Sancious 2 Jade Warrior, Camel 2 Van der Graaf, Rare Bird 2 Nektar, Kevin Ayers & Robert Wyatt 2 Peter Hammill, 2 Os Mutantes & Wigwam, Marillion & IQ & all that newer stuff I haven't heard, like the Mars Volta. (Does Coheed & Cambria qualify? I think they do, & at least it's some kinda prog from the 2000's that I've actually heard some of.)
How 'bout Pete Townshend's rock operas & Xperiments? Absolutely. I'd rather have the category 2 open than 2 narrow. The Pretty Things' S.F. SORROW, PARACHUTE & EMOTIONS? U betcha. PET SOUNDS? Of course.
So why isn't there a book (yet) open enuf 2 cover all this stuff? There's gotta B enuf prog & weird-music fans around who'd buy an authoritative guide if 1 were available. I think the folks at the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock ( could do a helluva job -- & mayB they have already & I just haven't found it yet. They've got the info & the knowledge, already 2gether in 1 space -- but U may not B able 2 haul the whole website w/ U next time U hit the used record store....
4 me, the next best thing so far is the ALL MUSIC GUIDE TO ROCK, even tho I don't agree w/ all their opinions & ratings, & even tho they have their share of errors & blank spots. They also have enuf space 2 treat off-the-wall musical acts w/ some depth. & some of the writing is pretty great.
Course the kinda book I want would probly B at least 1/2 as long as the ALL MUSIC GUIDE, & would probly havta B in the same tiny type.
But if there's something that's a close 2nd out there that y'all know about, please clue me in & I'll check it out....
Either that or I'm gonna havta write it myself. & that could B a rest-of-my-life project....


Pugs Malone said...

I never could get into Can, although I'll admit I haven't tried too hard, and the last time I listened to them was YEARS ago, so it might be worthwhile to see if their stuff sounds any better now. I didn't like some of my now-favorite metal bands at first (Motorhead, Black Sabbath), but I usually warm up to progressive stuff much more quickly.
Did you ever get around to listening to A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers?

R Smith said...

Hey TAD Great to see you back again. CAN is kinda hard to get into...had Monster Movie once, very strange schizophenic as heck but Yoo Doo Right actually is fairly listenable from I remembered it. Easier to take for me is their Saw Delight, which didn't get very good reviews but found it in the cheap CD bins a few years ago. I don't think Monster Movie is the all the weird album I have ever heard (that would be Cromagon-Cave Rock on ESP Disk..nuff said).

First 45 ya ever had was old Mitch eh? Bridge March remains a fun listen. As for Roy Harper, Pink Floyd and Jimmy Page love this guy. Long time ago Chrysalis had most of his stuff on vinyl but only thing I saw on CD was the Hats Off compliation. It's a bit uneven although everybody from Ian Anderson to Alvin Lee to Keith Moon and Paul McCartney plays on some songs.

Yeah, it's still all snow everywhere here although we didn't get 59 inches of it like they did out in the east coast. But we had a damn snow storm every week it seems since December. Needless to say everybody is sick of winter here.

tad said...

Update 8.1: On Sat 13 Feb I got all the way thru the Can ANTHOLOGY's 1st CD & a coupla trax in2 the 2nd disc -- the 1st time I've listened-2 a whole CD by NE1 all-the-way-thru since probly Fleet Foxes a yr or so ago. I like Can, apparently, & would like them even more if they were even louder & wilder. I'm kinda suprised.
I realize a lotta the stuff on ANTHOLOGY is edited segments, but they're really good, really well-chosen segments. There IS a big slab of "Yoo Doo Right" included, & it's OK, but as it went on I wanted it 2 get louder & wilder -- I wanted MORE crazed guitar & raving freakout madness.
This is a pretty weird reaction coming from me, who almost always wants a tune 2 hum or lyrics 2 hang on2. Guess I havta blame it on the hypnotic rhythms, the groove, etc. -- & the crazed gtr & freakout vocals. (Course I've always liked King Crimson's really loud stuff, & I like Van der Graaf's wild sax & organ sounds. So now I'll havta go back 2 Gong & Mahavishnu Orch. & C if I can hear THEM NE better....)
MayB it's the hypnotic groove or whatever, but Can is pretty catchy sometimes. "Outside My Door" coulda been a hit! "Spoon" went 2 #1 in Germany? I can Blieve it.... Not sure about the spooky "Aumgn," but it's sure diffrent.... Still have mosta the 2nd CD left 2 listen-2....

Pugs: I did listen 2 "Lighthouse Keepers," tho I haven't gone back 4 a 2nd listen yet. I liked parts of it, even the really noisy parts, & liked the closing "We Go Now" theme. But I think the other 2 trax work better 4 me, especially "Man-Erg," but I really like their overall sound, the great sax & the doomy organ -- I'll B playing them more & looking 4 more stuff.... (& I've updated my original review of them, BTW).

Crabby: No snow here but DAYS of rain, about 1 day of sun/wk then 6 more days of rain & grayness. I pretty-much hate it, feel like I never wake up, feel like mayB I'll wake up in April when the sun comes out 2 stay 4 awhile. & this is a MILD winter 4 us.... I had enuf snow last yr 2 take care of me 4 awhile.... Hang in there! -- TAD.

rastronomicals said...

Was never a fan of Michael Jackson; in fact I think he probably retarded the progress of rock music during his heyday. But you have a sympathetic ear when you report that Jackson did not come across as a whack job during the video you saw.

It is in the best interest of mass- (and even narrow-focus-) media to present artists and the like as freaks and weirdos because of the prurient interest it creates.

But it's funny that in the few cases where I am actually familiar enough with an artist's career to call bullshit on the popular media-created myths surrounding them, I find that I can.

So I can't say one way or the other, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that Michael Jackson was, in fact, a semi-normal dude.

Recently downloaded Pawn Hearts and was surprised to find how much I didn't like it. . . no lack of noise, but often a lack of energy, I think. While I like me some British prog, this was much too mannered for me.

**Love** Ege Bamyasi, love it. Future Days is pretty great, too, though I don't have the Anthology and I don't have anything else, except a reunion album from the '90's which was kind of boring except for one song, forget the name.

Will also recommend Sacrilege, an album of Can remixes, featuring contributions by Eno and Sonic Youth. Eno's track is like a minute long, and I'm not even familiar with the source material, but whatever, it's fantastic. Sacrilege might break up that hypnotic trance-groove that Can had in favor of more forward-moving beats, but mostly it makes you think how at home Can would have seemed had they had been transported 20 years into their future.

I'd never in my life heard of the Gibralter Encyclopedia of Prog, thanks for turning me onto that.