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  • blechtram 11:38 am am April 23, 2020 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: , , , Can, , Krautrock, , Must for Fans, Rock   

    Can: Tago Mago [40th Anniversary Edition Bonus CD] 

    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.

     
  • blechtram 10:41 am am November 26, 2019 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: 5.0/10, , Art Rock, David Bowie, , of Historical Interest, Rock   

    David Bowie: Lodger 

    Rating: 5.0/10
    Rated as
    : Album
    Album Status
    : for Fans, of Historical Interest
    Released: 1979
    Specific Genre: Art Rock
    Main Genre: Rock
    Undertones
    : Art Pop, Worldbeat, New Wave
    Label: RCA Victor

    1 Fantastic Voyage 2 African Night Flight 3 Move On 4 Yassassin 5 Red Sails 6 D.J. 7 Look Back in Anger 8 Boys Keep Swinging 9 Repetition 10 Red Money

    Can you hear it fall? Can you hear it well? Can you hear it at all?

    Thus, after all the Berlinnovation that was part neurotic pop overkill and part ambient art rock, Bowie’s back to albums where the single is the best thing about it. With „Look Back in Anger“ being by far the most captivating song on here (if only because it sounds like a left-over from Station to Station), the listener isn’t left with much else to admire. Lodger is an album filled with unwelcome leftovers of an overcharged party: So many quirky worldbeat ideas in the production, so many ways to subvert the usual verse-chorus-structure, just so much of anything: nothing here has a lively spark. This is what you get if you put the two brains inventing the sound of the 1980s in a jar.

    Surprisingly, there are two tracks that are blueprints for the sound of Blur. „Boys Keep Swinging“ is the (less exciting, but nonetheless) direct mother of Blur‘s song „M.O.R.“, and the eerie, driven „Repetition“ is like a submerdged sonic blueprint for the whole Parklife album. Bowie’s imprint on Blur is evident elsewhere anyhow, but who would’ve thought that of all his albums, this is the one Albarn had on the top shelf. Odd. This makes it an essential purchase for historically interested Blur fans like me. [Afterthought: It’s not as odd as I used to think, Bowie/Eno have now received writing credits after „legal intervention“.]

    Bowie is tired on this album and who can blame him after 1977. „Red Money“ is Bowie’s own irritatingly crummy version of the great „Sister Midnight“ he wrote and produced for Iggy Pop. It is basically the intstrumental base track with different lyrics, sounding limp and canned. „Red Sails“ is an inferior Neu! track with Bowie-vocals and less interesting guitars than any Neu! track ever had (hold your horses: I’m not saying Adrian Belew isn’t exciting, he’s one of my favourites. But he’s worse at being Michael Rother than Rother himself). Many things here, including the in a sense exciting and strange worldbeat innovations, simply sound very forced. It is squeezed, pressure-grouted Bowie, so to speak.

    Taking a look at the grand scheme of things for a second, one could say that Lodger is the ultimate transition album from the 1970s to the 1980s – in a rather backwards sense: It portrays what didn’t work as well anymore in the 1970s and foreshadows what wouldn’t be that great about the 1980s. Essential for historical reasons.

     
  • blechtram 9:15 am am November 19, 2019 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: , , , , Rock, Skunk Anansie   

    Skunk Anansie: Stoosh 

    Rating: 3.7/10
    Rated as
    : Album
    Album Status: of Zeitgeist Interest
    Released: 1996
    Specific Genre: Alternative Rock
    Main Genre: Rock, Alternative Rock
    Undertones
    : Hard Rock, Grunge, Alternative Metal
    Label: One Little Indian

    1 Yes It’s Fucking Political 2 All I Want 3 She’s My Heroine 4 Infidelity (Only You) 5 Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good) 6 Twisted (Everyday Hurts) 7 We Love Your Apathy 8 Brazen (Weep) 9 Pickin‘ on Me 10 Milk Is My Sugar 11 Glorious Pop Song

    Naa-naa. Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-Naaaa-Naaa.

    They do have sweeping choruses and angry anthemic songs like „All I Want“ and „Hedonism“ (a good, almost year-defining single of course) which are just made for big stages and a teenage crowd to chant along, they have pop instincts and they have a radio-friendly grungey hard-rock sound quite typical of the period – this is the politicized phase of grunge, after having gone through the horrors of adolescent angst, so to speak. Skin is a commanding singer with a supernova’s worth of charisma, but listen to this if you want to know what went wrong when the market dressed up anti-commercialism all fancy. Hard riffs and about two or three melodic ideas aren’t enough for nearly fifty minutes of music. About three songs stick – the rest gets washed down the drain by its own boring arrangement and lack of hooks.

    As far as the overall attitude goes, I’m all for Rage Against the Windmills, but the lyrics here do mostly tap into protest as a performance, not as a communicative, topical form. I mean, there’s a place for that, but when Skin belts out lines like „Yes it’s fucking political! / Everything’s political!“, it’s not much of a manifest – she’s right, of course, but the performance, stressing pure attitude over ideas, hasn’t really aged well. They put words like „The poorer you are, the better / that gives me more control“ into the mouth of whatever social or political entity you want to attribute this to – just make sure that entity is part of the „establishment“. Or – alas! – is it the establishment in YOURSELF!? Beware! This is self-conscious, but non-meta. If it riled up folks back then – sure, I’ll take it.

    For all the draining emotions of despair and rage here, in the very end, the band does something quite corageous by facing their actual musical forte: the fact that „Glorious Pop Song“ – no irony here – is exactly that.

     
  • blechtram 10:12 am am August 16, 2019 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: 1.6/10, , , Bootleg, Latin Rock, Live, , Rock, Santana   

    Santana: The World of Santana 

    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.

     
  • blechtram 3:14 pm am July 2, 2019 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: , , , Blues Rock, Box Set, , , , Rock   

    Captain Beefheart: Grow Fins: Rarities (1965–1982) 

    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 avoid it.

    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.

     
  • blechtram 11:39 am am May 21, 2019 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: 7.3/10, , , Indie Rock, , Noise Pop, Rock, Tocotronic   

    Tocotronic: Nach der verlorenen Zeit 

    Rating: 7.3/10
    Rated as
    : Album
    Album Status
    : Genre Recommendation
    Released: 1995
    Specific Genre: Indie Rock, Noise Pop
    Main Genre: Alternative Rock, Rock
    Undertones
    : Lo-Fi Indie
    Label: L’Age d’or

    1 Ich muss reden, auch wenn ich schweigen muss 2 Du bist ganz schön bedient 3 Gott sei Dank haben wir uns beide gehabt 4 Ich hab 23 Jahre mit mir verbracht 5 Ich werde nie mehr alleine sein 6 Michael Ende, du hast mein Leben zerstört 7 Ich mag dich einfach nicht mehr so 8 Ich bin neu in der Hamburger Schule 9 Es ist einfach Rockmusik 10 Hauptsache ist

    Der da drüben ist jetzt DJ in Berlin

    This is a very short, but all the more concise follow-up in the direct vein of their debut Digital ist besser (which was published not even five months earlier the same year): their simple, brash, riff-driven indie rock (with some noise elements) and panache for post-adolescent yearning is still fresh although they’re less eager to impress with pure force and noise experimentation. The lyrics are as clever, but take a notable shift towards a generation in their mid-twenties slowly realising they’re not automatically the youngest people anymore when entering a room.

    The thematic choice and the sonic restriction pay off: with a Marcel Proust-referencing title and a runtime of not even thirty minutes, this could have come across as a weirdly uncomfortable, extremely rushed sophomore effort, seemingly just throwing leftover ideas from the debut at the wall. But it’s not! With its rigid structure, the choice of avoiding lengthy guitar thrashing and the lyrical quality, they manage to turn their simple formula into another melancholic but emphatic indie rock burst that expertly thwarts collapsing beneath built-up expectations and self-imposed ambitions.

     
  • blechtram 11:46 am am May 4, 2019 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: 9.5/10, , , , Jazz-Rock, Miles Davis, , Rock   

    Miles Davis: Jack Johnson 

    Rating: 9.5/10
    Rated as
    : Album
    Album Status
    : Classic
    Released: 1971
    Specific Genre: Jazz Fusion, Jazz-Rock
    Main Genres: Jazz, Rock
    Undertones: Avant-Garde Jazz, Blues Rock
    Label: Columbia

    1 Right Off 2 Yesternow

    The outrageous one

    Miles Davis’ fusion albums of the late 1960s and early 1970s form something like the cast boy group of progressive jazz: the chilled-out mysterious one (In a Silent Way), the brainy weird one (Bitches Brew), the wild one (Live-Evil), the aggressively sexy one (On the Corner), and now: the one that everybody wants to hang out with – the outrageous one, the fun guy! In a less moronic way to talk about it, it really seems like Davis had a sort of vision for this period and what to do with the fusion style: though similiar, each of these albums represents one perfect stylistic distillation of what fusion could do.

    Jack Johnson, then, is obviously and audibly spliced together from several different jam sessions (this is most notable when a short part of In a Silent Way shows up on side B) – but let’s talk about what it sounds like if you have no edition history to consult.

    On the side-long first track (which is what this album is all about) a small raunchy combo kicks it right off with a simple blues rock rhythm, a distorted electric guitar attack, a bass finding its bluesy groove and staying with it – did I mix up records in the sleeve again? No, after John McLaughlin’s hilariously primitive riffs cease for some moments, Davis’ piercing trumpet takes over about two minutes in and it’s simply a ride of a totally loose groovy funky unstoppable jazz rock jam from here on, as the trumpet and the guitar exchange improvised solos and duels without giving it a thought. The soloing in the following ten minutes is just brain-melting, Davis screeches, rocks, and lumbers his way through the blues rock like you’ve never heard him. This part ends about twelve minutes in with some short ambient fusion intermezzo but thankfully immediately returns to the same relentless groove, with Steve Grossman’s saxophone and a new trumpet sound, the band continues to groove even swampier and Herbie Hancock is thrown into the mix. Judging from his performance he must have thought something like: „Okay guys, if you’re not taking this seriously, I’m not“ and plays a totally disastrous solo on some heavily distorted, disastrously sounding organ and the result somehow is instant history. With this completed line-up, they tip the rhythm into even dirtier territories, McLaughlin wraps it all up with a razor-toothed shredding guitar fest à la Hendrix and well that’s that.

    Side B is more akin to the calmer, more textured and nuanced fusion sound of Silent Way and Brew, and it’s also a very good track, with calm keyboard layers for Davis to float away on, the typical start-stop bass patterns and heavy editing. It’s a generally more pensive, deliberate affair that gets screechier and decidedly cross-grained in the second ten minutes when keyboard, electric guitar and trumpet are constantly fighting for attention. Good stuff.

    Either way, with all the splicing done here, the reduced fusion line-up and the improvised feel to it, this is not a „perfectly executed“ album – but who cares, among Davis’ fusion and jazz-rock albums, this stands as an absolutely unique, unrepeatable jam session that might well become your favourite „rock“ record for a while. Indispensable.

     
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