Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#599: This 1's 4 Crabby!

My Internet buddy RS Crabb at Crabby's Music Review and Top 10 Site knew I was bored with just about all the music I had in the house, so he recently sent me a baker's-dozen CDs 2 try out -- including summa the weirdest stuff he's ever heard.
I promptly tested 1/2adozen of them over the weekend at work. Summa this stuff is too good NOT 2 share, so this post's 4 Crabby & I PROMISE I'll get that box of old 45's out 2 ya as soon as I can afford the postage.
Meanwhile, here's the playlist:

Sonny Rollins: THE SOUND OF SONNY (1957) -- The Last Time I Saw Paris, Just in Time, Toot Toot Tootsie!, What is There to Say?, Dearly Beloved, Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye, Cutie, It Could Happen to You, Mangoes, Funky Hotel Blues.
Shawn Phillips: SECOND CONTRIBUTION (1970) -- She Was Waitin' for Her Mother at the Station in Torino and You Know I Love You Baby But it's Getting Too Heavy to Laugh, Keep On, Sleepwalker, Song for Mr. C, The Ballad of Casey Deiss, Song for Sagittarians, Lookin' Up Lookin' Down, etc.
BYRON ALLEN TRIO (1964) -- Time is Past, Three Steps in the Right Direction, Decision for the Cole-man, Today's Blues Tomorrow.
Cromagnon: CAVE ROCK (also known as ORGASM) (1969) -- Caledonia, Ritual Feast of the Libido, Organic Sundown, Fantasy, Crow of the Back Tree, Genitalia, Toth Scribe 1, First World of Bronze.
Tangerine Dream: OPTICAL RACE (1988) -- Marakesh, Atlas Eyes, Mothers of Rain, Twin Soul Tribe, Optical Race, Cat Scan, Sun Gate, Turning Off the Wheel, The Midnight Trail, Ghazal (Love Song).
Various Artists: ALL THAT JIVE! (jazz-vocal classics) -- Billy Eckstine Orchestra: I Love the Rhythm in a Riff, Oop Bop Sh'bam; Slim Gaillard and His Orchestra: Flat Foot Floogie; Jackie Paris: Round Midnight, The Old Master Painter; Dizzy Gillespie and Joe Carroll: On the Sunny Side of the Street, Pops' Confessin' (I'm Confessin' That I Love You)....

OK, I don't know crap about Good Jazz, but 4 me Sonny Rollins's THE SOUND OF SONNY is nearly as good a jazz-blowing album as John Coltrane's GIANT STEPS and Thelonious Monk's UNDERGROUND. Not too Out There, pretty melodic, never boring (even onna coupla lyrical ballads), Sonny sounds great, & this disc will bounce you right along. + Sonny Clark adds Xcellent piano & Roy Haynes is great on drums. Bassists Paul Chambers & Percy Heath R right on it 2.
Summa these R covers of classic showtunes, tho it don't matter if you don't know the originals -- I DID recognize "Toot Toot Tootsie" from an OLD Wayne Newton album(!). Not much else 2 say Xcept sevral customers noticed the sounds & were diggin it, & that's always a +. Put this disc on & you'll see the light, that everything's gonna B all right.
Shawn Phillips is almost always pleasant, Xcept when he starts singing like my Grandpa, railing at the objects of his derision like some Old Testament prophet with a guitar -- which he somewhat resembles on the cover of SECOND CONTRIBUTION. He has a very strong multi-octave voice, & I'd heard part of this album B4 -- I remembered "She was Waitin' for her Mother at the Station in Torino...."
I don't know if Phillips really needed the sometimes-rather-large production 4 what R basically folksongs -- & his backing band includes '60s/'70s studio stars like Paul Buckmaster, Harvey Burns, Brian Odgers, Poli Palmer, Bruce Rowland, Jim Creegan, Peter Robinson, etc.
But what lets him down here R his songs. They don't always seem 2 B worth the drama, & the 2nd side descends in2 kinda pointless short quiet instrumentals. The best moment 4 me is on "Lookin' Up Lookin' Down," when Phillips urges the younger generation repeatedly 2 "Go slow...."
Nothing here is as striking as his later, slightly-more-commercial "Bright White," which shoulda bn a hit....
BYRON ALLEN TRIO is a set of improvised Ornette Coleman-ish early-'60s free jazz (1 of the pieces is titled "Decision for the Cole-man"), released on the trailblazing ESP-Disk label. It's about what I Xpected -- lotsa honking & screeching sax from Allen. Clearly free jazz wasn't meant 4 me. But drummer Ted Robinson's pretty great. Not unlistenable, but not that pleasant. Bad background music.
Speaking of ESP & unlistenable, here's the big 1: Crabby sez Cromagnon's CAVE ROCK (aka ORGASM) is the weirdest album he's ever heard. & it IS weird. Some of it really DOES sound like caveman music -- now that I've gotten thru it 1nce, I wish MORE of it sounded that way. But it's all over the map.
"Caledonia" is some nonsense verse (lyric-sheet provided) recited over familiar patriotic-march music, bagpipes included. "Ritual Feast of the Libido" is the most disturbing -- it sounds either like a caveman being crushed in an endless rockslide, or being beaten 2 death with rocks & clubs -- or like a guy with a REALLY BAD case of stomach flu. Not sure which. But the grunting & screaming is 2 passionate 2 take it as comedy.
"Organic Sundown" really does sound like post-apocalyptic caveman music -- like 40-some members of a tribe gathered around a huge campfire & beating on tin cans & pots, all while chanting disjointedly at you 2 "Sleep!" "Fantasy" includes some rather disturbing woman's laughter -- I could only get thru a couple mins of it....
"Crow of the Back Tree" sounds like kids cheering repeatedly, endlessly at some junior-high or highschool sports event, or maybe a tennis match. "Toth" opens with volcanoes erupting, then goes in2 roaring dinosaurs, speaker-melting Xplosions.... How did they get something this powerfully bass-y down on tape in 1969?
"First World of Bronze" sounds like little green aliens chanting a brief poem in 1 speaker while an overdriven Hendrixy gtr wails in the other. Almost intresting. Coulda bn a hit, compared 2 the rest of this stuff....
Some rather obvious questions present themselves. I'm impressed with the HUGE sounds on "Toth," & the detailed atmospheric sounds elsewhere -- I'm gonna havta go back & re-read the interview with Cromagnon's "drummer" in Jason Weiss's ESP history ALWAYS IN TROUBLE 2 C if there's NE clues about how they got summa this stuff down.
Who was the intended audience 4 this? What the hell was the message? & why wasn't "The Connecticut Tribe" credited on the back-cover listed in detail? From the disc, it sounds like it musta bn a pretty BIG tribe....
I'll give CAVE ROCK a coupla things -- it's 1 of a kind, & it's timeless, it coulda bn recorded ANYwhen. Definitely NOT unlistenable, tho I don't know if I'll ever play it again. If I still needed some "music" 2 drive unwanted guests outta the house, this would do it.
It's not Xactly enjoyable, but it works. & some of it's pretty disturbing. Guaranteed 2 cause Bad Trips. Despite all the evidence, I'd say these guys knew what they were doing....
Tangerine Dream sounds positively NORMAL compared 2 Cromagnon. OPTICAL RACE is from the milder, tamer, New-Agey '80s version of TD. "Mother of Rains" is the best thing here, with a melody you might actually remember after you finish the disc. "Sun Gate" has some actual haunting electric guitar work from the David Gilmour School. Most of the rest sounds like gameshow themes, or like a soundtrack from a wildlife documentary. Pleasant enuf, but background music.
The Tangs were a lot better back in the '70s, when they had that distant, icy, Germanic coolness going 4 them. They had enuf cool 2 dare 2 take-up whole album sides with winding, leisurely compositions. I don't remember them being so worried about keeping a BEAT back then, either....
I'm sure Crabby threw-in the ALL THAT JIVE! collection cuzza my weakness 4 silly '50s stuff like Louis Jordan. There's some nice amusing stuff here, but no knockouts so far. Dizzy Gillespie's voice is a hoot -- like a "buzzier" Louis Armstrong. It was cool 2 finally hear the notorious "Flat Foot Floogie," whatever the hell it all means. & Jackie Paris's "Old Master Painter" is nothing like the version of that song Brian Wilson used on SMiLE....
More from Crabby's box of suprises Coming Soon....

1 comment:

R S Crabb said...

I figured that I'd give some of these CDs a good home and since you like that out there stuff, Cromagon Cave Rock is as far out there as it gets. Only The ESP Disk would ever release this kind of stuff, I still can't quite make of it. Contact High With The Godz was not as weird it just sounded like the guys just picked up certain instruments and tried to play them. The other ESP artist I thought was more Albert Ayler than Coleman but I don't think it was abstract enough to really last a couple plays.

All That Jive was part of Savoy Jazz Series that showcased their artist and Dizzy is probably the best of the bunch with Billy Eckstine a close second. Babs Gonzalez the best unknown but the rest really didn't stand out for me.

Shawn Phillips Second Contribution seems to be the best of his albums but you're right on the overproduction on this album. Tangerine Dream in the 1980s was more soundtrack and background music rather than the Virgin years to which remain their best years. The Private years they reminded me more of new age than Prog rock and I use that term very loosely. Tangerine Dream isn't for everybody but if your in to a new age moment. They make a nice band to fall asleep to... ;)