Rating: 5.9/10 Rated as: Archival / Live Album Album Status: Obsolete Released: 1991 Recorded: 1970 Specific Genre: Psychedelic Rock Main Genre: Rock Undertones: Blues Rock, Hard Rock Label: Polydor
1 Intro / God Save the Queen 2 Message to Love 3 Voodoo Child (Slight Return) 4 Lover Man 5 Machine Gun 6 Dolly Dagger 7 Red House 8 In From the Storm 9 New Rising Sun
… and the man with the guitar!
Note: this review and rating refers exclusively to the extended yet incomplete Live Isle of Wight ’70 1991 re-issue.
This is not a bad or boring entry in the never-ending stream of live-Hendrix releases. It’s just that there are so many live releases, and so many issues, re-issues and re-re-issues of so many concerts that there are bound to be better performances captured elsewhere, statistically speaking. As some of Hendrix’ live works are pretty frustrating though, this specific version of the Isle of Wight concert still holds up as one of the comparably decent live albums. There are numerous versions of this with wildly differing content, so watch out for the specific tracklist of prospective acquisitions. This CD is a heavily edited and shortened version, obviously going for the approach to deliver the less erratic versions of the set, and even go as far as to edit „Machine Gun“ from 22 down to 12 minutes. This is neither the original six-track LP version Isle of Wight released in 1971, nor the complete concert Blue Wild Angel, released 2002/2004: It falls in between the two, as it is longer and more satisfyingly representative than the short 1971-version, but it’s not the whole ordeal, skipping historically (if not musically) interesting bits like the „Sgt. Pepper“-opening.
This is a typical release of the CD-era: doubling the run-time of the Vinyl-release, aiming for an actual “concert” experience, while containing the unfocused concert with Hendrix disgruntled by technical problems and unwilling to play his „old numbers“. Hendrix often complained about similar things on stage, sometimes more, sometimes less jokingly. Here, you can really tell that the stoned rock festival environment held him back from delivering the kind of music he was interested in, and he hates it. Weirdly, this might be my favourite constellation of his co-musicians – in theory: Billy Cox on bass is simply groovier than the (otherwise excellent) Noël Redding, and while Buddy Miles contributes to my favourite Hendrix-live album, the Band of Gypsys (1970), as much as Cox and Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell’s nervous hyper-jazz-hard-rock percussion will always be the perfect counterpart to Hendrix’ more experimental musings. But the two don’t mix and no one here lives up to their potential.
Anyhow, this particular issue is strictly not a recommended buy anymore. If you’re not enough of a Hendrix-fan to want the complete Blue Wild Angel, this edited version won’t add anything to your experience.
Rating: 7.1/10 Rated as: Archival / Live Album Status: Must for Fans Released: 2011 Recorded: 1972 Specific Genre: Krautrock Main Genre: Experimental Rock, Rock Undertones: Ambient, Free Improvisation, Psychedelic Rock Label: Spoon 40SPOON6/7
[Disc 1: 1.1 Paperhouse 1.2 Mushroom 1.3 Oh Yeah 1.4 Halleluhwah 1.5 Aumgn 1.6 Peking O 1.7 Bring Me Coffee or Tea] Disc 2: 2.1 Mushroom 2.2 Spoon 2.3 Halleluhwah
Love me! You gotta love me!
Tago Mago is – at least in recurring intervals – my favourite album. But let’s talk about the live bonus material from the 40th-anniversary edition. The bonus CD with the live material contains three tracks from a live performance in 1972. Unsurprisingly, the sound quality isn’t quite up to snuff – aside from being murky, especially Karoli’s guitar suffers from being buried in the mix, sounding as if he played from down the hallway. Well, we do with what we can get. I’ll go into the details, but what you get it is what you want and expect: Anxious, extremely rhythm-driven nightmares, amazing examples of free form tension-and-release, some chaotic nonsense, irresistible grooves: bleak, hypnotic, riveting. Well, it’s Can. What did you expect?
Two main points: The rather murky sound quality doesn’t really damage the enterprise, because it fits the claustrophobic, future-noir sound. But besides a riveting second track and an at least interesting mini-version of „Halleluhwah“, there is nothing to learn about Can here that can’t be experienced as good or better on other available live material. Secondly: The reason to get this is the 30-minute second track „Spoon“ which features everything you want in a Can jam: disorientation, paranoia, exploration and a beautiful, ethereal ending in an ambient-style hinting at 1973’s Future Days. Only half of this jam is available on The Lost Tapes (as is the less interesting opener „Mushroom“, a rare jam where they lose focus and decide to run the thing into the ground). The third track is a brief nine-minute „Halleluhwah“, in an interesting version where everything happens slightly too fast, it plays like a one-act-version of the epic original and fades out before the climax – I can only assume due to some technical error or scrambled tapes.
PS. The cover art hasn’t been changed. The photograph you see on the cover is a detachable carton sleeve to protect the gatefold vinyl replica inside, featuring the famous original head and is very nicely done all in all. Complete with several interesting liner notes by fawning fellow musicians but little historical information, it is a beautifully made reissue, less informative than it could be.
Rating: 1.6/10 Rated as: Bootleg / Live / Archival Album Status: of Archival Interest Released: 2001 (1994 Galaxy) Recorded: ? [1960s/70s] Specific Genre:Latin Rock Main Genre: Rock Undertones: Blues Rock Label: ZYX Music
CD1: 1.1 Jingo 1.2 El Corazon Manda 1.3 La Puesta del Sol 1.4 Persuasion 1.5 As the Years Go Passing By 1.6 Acapulco Sunrise 1.7 Coconut Grave 1.8 Hot Tamales CD2: 2.1 With a Little Help from My Friends 2.2 Every Day I Have the Blues 2.3 Jam in E 2.4 Travelin‘ Blues 2.5 Jammin‘ Home 2.6 Jammin G. Minor
Worthless packaging, zero information
This ultra-cheap double-issue is identical to the equally crummy releases Greatest Hits Live Vol 1 and Greatest Hits Live Vol 3 (don’t be fooled, as opposed to the Wilburys, there actually is a Vol 2). The title of these is a complete joke, as this is indistinct live bootleg jamming of what must be late 1960s/ early 1970s recordings. Atrocious sound quality, worthless packaging, zero information, and a totally indiscriminate track selection. If you came here for the novelty of hearing Santana play the Beatles’ „With a Little Help From My Friend“, you’ll get that novelty, but not much more.
Most of CD1 is simply their early 1970s latin rock jams, CD2 is surprisingly blues-tinged, as already indicated by the song titles. That stresses one of Santana’s more overlooked musical sources (B.B. King, for one). Either way, there are numerous bootlegs of exactly these and similar live cuts on the market, and while this isn’t bad music at all, it’s just very uninteresting and badly recorded stuff. Definitely not worth seeking out, even for fans.
Rating: 8.0/10 Rated as: Archival / Box Set Box Set Status: Must for Fans Released: 1999 Recorded: 1965–1982 Specific Genre: Experimental Rock, Blues Rock Main Genre: Rock Undertones: Experimental, Psychedelic Rock, Field Recordings Label: Revenant
CD 1: Just Got Back from the City (1965–67) 1.1 Obeah Man (1966 Demo) 1.2 Just Got Back from the City (1966 Demo) 1.3 I’m Glad (1966 Demo) 1.4 Triple Combination (1966 Demo) 1.5 Here I Am I Always Am (Early 1966 Demo) 1.6 Here I Am I Always Am (Later 1966 Demo) 1.7 Somebody in My Home (1966 Live) 1.8 Tupelo (1966 Live) 1.9 Evil Is Going On (1966 Live) 1.10 Old Folks Boogie (1967 Live) 1.11 Call on Me (1965 Demo) 1.12 Sure Nuff N Yes I Do (1967 Demo) 1.13 Yellow Brick Road (1967 Demo) 1.14 Plastic Factory (1967 Demo) CD 2: Electricity (1967–68) 2.1 Electricity (1968 Live) 2.2 Sure Nuff N Yes I Do (1968 Live) 2.3 Rollin N Tumblin (1968 Live) 2.4 Electricity (1968 Live9 2.5 Yer Gonna Need Somebody on Yer Bond (1968 Live) 2.6 Kandy Korn (1968 Live) 2.7 Korn Ring Finger (1967 Demo) CD 3: Trout Mask House Sessions (1969) 3.1 (Untitled 1) 3.2 (Untitled 2) 3.3 Hair Pie: Bake 2 3.4 Hair Pie: Bake 2 3.5 (Untitled 5) 3.6 Hobo Chang Ba 3.7 (Untitled 7) 3.8 Hobo Chang Ba (Take 2) 3.9 Dachau Blues 3.10 Old Fart at Play 3.11 (Untitled 11) 3.12 Pachuco Cadaver 3.13 Sugar N Spikes 3.14 (Untitled 14) 3.15 Sweet Sweet Bulbs 3.16 Frownland (Take 1) 3.17 Frownland 3.18 (Untitled 18) 3.19 Ella Guru 3.20 (Untitled 20) 3.21 She’s too Much for My Mirror 3.22 (Untitled 22) 3.23 Steal Softly Through Snow 3.24 (Untitled 24) 3.25 My Human Gets Me Blues 3.26 (Untitled 26) 3.27 When Big Joan Sets Up 3.28 (Untitled 28) 3.29 (Untitled 29) 3.30 China Pig CD 4: Trout Mask House Sessions (Storytime Portion) (1969) 4.1 Blimp Playback 4.2 Herb Alpert 4.3 Septic Tank 4.4 We’ll Overdub It 3 Times Video 4.5 Electricity (Live Cannes 1968) 4.6 Sure Nuff N Yes I Do (Live Cannes 1968) 4.7 She’s Too Much for My Mirror (Amougies, Belgium, 1969) 4.8 My Human Gets Me Blues (Amougies, Belgium, 1969) 4.9 When Big Joan Sets Up (Detroit, MI, 1971) 4.10 Woe Is Uh Me Bop (Detroit, MI, 1971) 4.11 Bellerin Plain (Detroit, MI, 1971) 4.12 Click Clack (Paris 1972) CD 5: Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Grow Fins (1969–82) 5.1 My Human Gets Me Blues (Live 1969) 5.2 When Big Joan Sets Up (Live 1971) 5.3 Woe Is Uh Me Bop (Live 1971) 5.4 Bellerin Plain (Live 1971) 5.5 Black Snake Moan (Radio Phone-In 1972) 5.6 Grow Fins (Live 1972) 5.7 Black Snake Moan II (Radio 1972) 5.8 Spitball Scalped Uh Baby (Live 1972) 5.9 Harp Boogie I (Radio 1972) 5.10 One Red Rose That I Mean (Live 1972) 5.11 Harp Boogie II (Radio 1972) 5.12 Natches Burning (Radio 1972) 5.13 Harp Boogie III (Radio Phone-In 1972) 5.14 Click Clack (Live 1973) 5.15 Orange Claw Hammer (Radio 1975) 5.16 Odd Jobs (Piano Demo 1975) 5.17 Odd Jobs (Band Demo 1976) 5.18 Vampire Suite (Worktapes/Live 1980) 5.19 Melltron Improv (Live 1978) 5.20 Evening Bell (Piano Worktape 1980) 5.21 Evening Bell (Guitar Worktape 1982) 5.22 Mellotron Improv (Live 1980) 5.23 Flavor Bud Living (Live 1980)
I should dip myself into that Coca-Cola
This box set is subject to the box
set-curse more than any other I’m aware of. There are musical pearls next to
bits recorded from the back of the studio (minutes of mumbling, chair clicking,
airplane noises from outside the window), there’s historically indispensable
stuff next to, well, just stuff. Also, it
manages to seem expansive and inomplete all at the same time: There is so much
previously unreleased material here that it doesn’t really leave you asking for
even more Trout Mask outtakes or even
more radio snippets. But then, this hardly fulfills any criteria of a
‚historically comprehensive‘ box set: It’s just a huge ragbag of anything that
could be interesting to the fanatic followers of Beefheart. These, though, will
be delighted, because in a sense, this doesn’t plays as a box set but, more
fitting, like very precise representation of Beefheart’s career: Full of bursts
of energy and brilliance, full of holes and frustration – but extremely
rewarding for those that listen closely.
This mostly doesn’t make for a
coherent listening experience – but just mostly. The five CDs thankfully all
follow an at least chronological coherence. This redeems some drawbacks in the
sequencing per CD. The true problem is: To issue any of this stuff only makes
sense within a larger context. There is no way they could have split the „good
stuff“ from the scraps, you have to take in the whole sludged affair or just
The first CD is a bunch of early
blues rock numbers that never made it on an album (and some that did). The
sound is similar to Safe as Milk, and
since these are all complete demos or live cuts, you can actually listen
through the whole thing with excitement. It’s a primal, terrific version in
that rousing mid-1960s style between R&B, psychedelia and deep blues. For
Beefheart fans, this first CD is inexpendable. The band is already in full
flight, Beefheart is already all there. The sound quality is mostly murky (but
the swampy approach lets you accept that), and the band’s playing is basic but
they rock hard and fierce. Given that the early cuts are from 1966, this must
have been one of the heavier bands at the time – raw, ramshackle. This CD also
satisfies the box set-buyer in all respects: You get cuts of later album tracks
(„Call on Me“, „Yellow Brick Road“), which are inferior to the later album
tracks, but interesting from an evolutionary perspective. You get awesomely
grooving rhythm/blues/rock numbers that are every bit as good as the ones on Safe as Milk („Here I Am I Always Am“, „Obeah Man“). And
finally, you get Beefheart performing numbers of his idols („Evil is Going On“,
„Tupelo“, „Somebody in My Home“) – all absolutely terrific swamp blues in
imposing John Lee Hooker- and Howlin’ Wolf-manner.
The second CD is in a similar
vein, collecting live records from apparently European tours. Manic versions of
standards like „Rollin’ n’ Tumblin’“ are here, as well as some Mirror Man-era pieces. Hard, driven, uncompromising blues
rock. This is also listenable from beginning to end.
With the third CD, the promised
box-set-problems start. The whole CD comprises evidently the leftovers they
could find in the trashbin of the studio where Trout Mask Replica
was recorded. You start of with fifteen minutes of documentary style noises
which seem to stem from a recording device pickin up sounds while the band
members were still preparing. Okay, you can skip this, so I don’t mind. The
rest is purely instrumental versions of Trout Mask Replica.
These are practice runs of the album tracks, there is no ‚evolutionary‘ aspect
here. I must say that I like to listen to these compositions bare-boned,
without Beefheart’s voice-beef, so to speak. You actually get a very direct approach
to their immediate groove and compositional structure. And for these like me
which are at least as interested in his compositional skills as the vocals,
this remains an interesting listen. So, while this is far too long as a CD (i
mean, this basically is all of Trout Mask Replica without the vocals plus some additional
scraps and tuning-up), I still am happy with this. For some, this probably is
expendable. Why listen to the relatively unedited, non-vocalised version of Trout Mask Replica? Why should I listen to the band tuning
up for minutes? I understand the questions. But hey, at least you get to witness
how the conversation with the kids who just moved here from Reseda ended up on the
album. The most obscure quasi-gem I could find on here is the untitled 29th
track – before the band goes to record „China Pig“, you can hear a jam of the blues
standard „Candy Man“ for about a minute. Why is this interesting? I don’t know.
I just never knew that the Captain had done at least one minute of „Candy Man“
in his life.
Then, CD 4. Just forget the musical aspect: There isn’t any. It’s Beefheart talking, some noises, Beefheart joking about Herb Alpert, and that’s it. 12 minutes of unedited documentary studio babble (incomprehensible for the most part). Don’t get upset though, in the original package, this is actually a VCD. With moving pictures. So, no reason to listen to this on your CD-player. But you do get to see video clips, comprising live versions of songs (2 from Safe as Milk, 3 from Trout Mask Replica, 2 from Lick My Decals Off, Baby and „Click Clack“ from The Spotlight Kid, taken between 1968 and 1973). These are great, the live setting showcasing how musical everybody involved with Beefheart was. You can watch these on Youtube nowadays, of course.
Finally, the 5th CD. This is the
most imbalanced piece of the whole affair, I guess because they just threw
anything on there from his post-Trout Mask Replica period
they couldn’t fit anywhere else (with a time span of 1969–1982). So, in no
particular, haphazard order, you get a lot of live recordings (nothing
exceptional), Beefheart performing short pieces of blues harp and acapella blues
on the radio (terrible quality, but cool stuff), some more live recordings
which border on performance art or futurism „sound machines“ and were not
actually meant for the CD-format, I presume („Spitball Scalped Uh Baby“), and
some weird demos for more complex avant-pieces.
And buried in the middle of this looong CD, you get the most stunning record of the whole box set, which is the Captain performing „Orange Claw Hammer“ with Frank Zappa on acoustic guitar for the radio. Zappa’s simple strumming fleshes out that this song follows the actual structure of a sea shanty (which could only be guessed at with the acapella version on Trout Mask Replica), but that’s good, because now we have both: an avant-garde acapella version of a surrealistic sea shanty and a beautiful acoustic guitar version of that same sea shanty. Then the mixed bag continues, many experimental live recordings, Beefheart messing with a mellotron in Sun Ra-manner – with the result that you realise Sun Ra actually could play the instrument. Some of these are improv-sketches, frustrating Beefheart and audiences alike („Sun Ra!“ someone keeps shouting on „Mellotron Improv (Live 1980)“, causing Beefheart to yell at the crowd, violently batter the keys and ask „Who was that, Liberace?“). Some others, though, are quite interesting. I dig both the versions of „Odd Jobs“, while I admit that this is already hardcore Beefheart-ology. Nothing to convert people. The „Odd Jobs“-piano demo is strangely forlorn and beautiful – you find the most realised and best version of that lost piece on the reconstructed Bat Chain Puller album from 2012. Most of this CD, naturally, comes in just about bearable sound quality.
So. What we have here then is a box
set which contains enough to make it essential for the fan – both from a
historical (CD1 and CD5) and a musical (CD1 and CD5… and partly CD2 and even 3)
perspective. Everyone else should stay well away from this. This is the last
territory of Beefheart-land one should turn his attention to. If you’re the
enthusiastic explorer in the old spirit, you’ll find plenty of adventure and
condiment on this wild, wide, dangerous and tedious jungle continent.
Rating: 6.1/10 Rated as: Album / Archival Album Status: for Fans Released: 1973 Recorded: 1965 Specific Genre: Cape Jazz, Piano Jazz Main Genre: Jazz Undertones: Third Stream Label: Black Lion
1 Little Niles 2 Resolution 3 Which Way? 4 On the Banks of Allen Waters 5 Knight’s Night 6 Pye R Squared [Medley 7–9:] 7 Mood Indigo 8 Don’t Get Around Much Anymore 9 Take the „A“ Train
A good but in no way essential addition to Brand’s early work
Originally recorded in 1965 (but not released until 1973), this is early Brand. It doesn’t sound unfamiliar, but Brand displays neither his sprawling african piano swirl, nor does he go into his Ellington-musings too often (though he does, of course: the last three tracks here are an Ellington-medley).
No, in this London solo-session (Pye Studios), he explores pieces which are
slow and abstract, with some of his signature clusters and fast little
dissonant attacks thrown in, but he never sets into the relentless groove
familiar from his works from the later 1960s. His tone is harsh and direct
here, the abstract pieces sound pleasingly pensive and alienated, and the
Ellington-pieces sound, well, also pleasingly pensive. Abstract Brand
plays some abstract Ellington, both survive. The songs are not very constructed but do follow Brand’s idiosyncratic
logic of structure which is always borderline improv.
Of most interest is the display of an additional side of Brand in 1965 – his
published works, like the trio-session Duke
Ellington Presents the Dollar Brand Trio, retained more of a swing feel, while
the live set Anatomy of a South African
Village was already introducing his mobile, sprawling „cape jazz“. This, on
the other hand, is Brand displaying his stark, slightly avant-garde leanings.
Without the soft touch, though. If there ever was a great pianist who didn’t
care about the „soft touch“, that is Dollar Brand.
This is a good but in no way essential addition to Brand’s early work, as
everything that is „signature Brand“ is only faintly audible here, as if he was
deliberately holding back. Brand wasn’t a refined player at that time, so the
slow but brittle sound might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I’m not surprised
this didn’t get released until when he was already internationally famous,
because it has this demo-feel all over it, as if Brand was just trying out some
new motives on some afternoon in the studio. Yet it lets you see Brand’s less
approachable, voice-searching leanings at the time, which makes for a great
The several mid-1960s sessions Brand played (mostly in Europe) have a messy
publication history. The tracks from this 1965-session have surfaced 1973 on
several LPs and CDs eversince, usually called This Is Dollar Brand or Reflections.
They are the same and the track
listing is usually congruent, but the LPs and CDs called Reflections usually feature four additional tracks. Several online
sources claim that these sessions were issued under either title in 1965, but
that is not true. While this track list here contains the session’s bulk of interest,
the entire session is available on Reflections
(Black Lion BLCD760127).