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Gary Pig Gold’s TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2016

Bob Dylan duly dumped about another thirty-seven (at last count) albums in our laps last year, while on much the other hand the vast majority of my aural Good Times! during oh-16 came courtesy of Micky, Peter, Michael and Davy. Nevertheless, there still remained room on the trusty Pig Player for the following splendid, purely alphabetically-listed items as well …which you should all be playing too if you aren’t already:

 

8x83 8X8 Inflorescence  (8X8 Records)
Once again virtually producing their sonic bridge between Queens, NY and Kiev, UKR, Lane Steinberg and Alexander Khodchenko return with forty three minutes which never fail to fully mystify as much as melodize. To begin, “Stop The Madman” takes its fanciful funereal march clear off our collective cliff, then “My Summertime High” trips Todd Rundgren straight over Colin Moulding before signing off with a most significant SMiLE indeed. But… is it Sunshine Pop?? Soon however, unlike on their previous offering, Alex and Lane start stretching out magnificent, purely instrumental passages: “Aftermath” sports a dense Mellotronic concluding quarter while “The Essence” tags on nearly two whole minutes which would sound completely at home beneath the very next Tom Cruise green-screen action caper; in fact two songs, “Head, Heart, & Tail” and “Between The Double Curtain” are almost totally instrumental. Yet wherever and whenever words do enter into it, the utterly Blonde on John “Bubbles” in particular, the lyrics weave a near Sir Ray Davies level of storytelling detail (“No More Second Chance”). Which reminds me: Lane Steinberg’s vocals – I single out “Some Surreal Idea” above all – are perhaps the best he has ever done. Which is saying quite a bit over a career which already spans decades. And counting.

Mike BadgerMIKE BADGER and the Shady Trio Honky Tonk Angels On Motorbikes (Generator)
Delightfully direct from the J. Strummer School of roots ‘n’ roll, Mike Badger’s northern UK ancestry (The Onset and, yes, The La’s to cite only two) plays as sure and smooth as his hollow body Gretsch upon this disarming little disc. “Miss Jones,” for starters, slyly sways in a Nesmith National Band way, while “27 Miles to Memphis” should without doubt be railroaded in Dave Edmunds’ direction asap. And while we’re at it, John Fogerty sure could use a tune or two just like “Mean And Nasty Devil” right about now. Elsewhere, “Adios Amigo” wouldn’t sound a single inch out of place on your favorite Rank and File album while “John Got Shot” fires 21st Century skiffle, I kid you not, complete with crackling Crickets-y guitar breaks here and then there. But it’s whenever his expertly Shady Trio channel those Tennessee Three – on “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” and “Maybe” mainly – that Mike’s way with a word and a chord shine brightest; and “The County’s First Psychedelic Cowboy” spins tall tales which could make Shel Silverstein roll over …while telling Mick Farren the news. P.S.: Mike’s exemplary The Rhythm & The Tide should be considered Required Reading as well, one and all.

Pet SoundsBeach Boys, Pet Sounds  (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
The Little Album That Could celebrated its 50th (!) Anniversary in 2016, and naturally Brian Wilson + Band fearlessly toured this whole world (“one last time”?) performing it to rapt audiences young, old, and definitely in between. To help with said commemoration on film, the venerable Classic Albums series gathers together the usual interview subjects (various Beach Boys, past and present, living and otherwise), some fascinating, seldom-heard-from figures (veteran Capitol Rec.s exec Karl Engemann), plus several downright dubious speakers (British teen singing starlet Helen Shapiro who, well, opened for the Boys back in ’67) to relate the oft-told yet still somehow captivating saga of one of our favorite-ever thirty-six minutes of vinyl. We get to view many an original Pet Sounds session reel box – one with Jan Berry’s phone number still visible – and hear snippets of raw recording chatter (thrill to M. Love Not War attempting “I Know There’s An Answer” Jimmy Durante-style), while engineer Bruce Botnick, listening to a playback of “Good Vibrations,” demonstrates how to correctly identify – within mere notes! – each studio used to record each suite section. Most interesting as well to hear Tony Asher recall how a brief hallway meeting between he and B. Wilson lead to his being asked, out of the proverbial blue, to write most of Pet Sounds’ lyrics, while Hal “Drummer Man” Blaine deciphers how the “Sloop John B” percussion was arranged to depict in sound the tiny ship’s increasingly choppy ocean voyage. “It’s all visual!” as Hal exclaims, and you’ll soon see too this is without doubt one Classic Album that more than deserves vivid A/V treatment.

MillersTalesBIG BOY PETE Miller’s Tales (•22 Records)
As the man/the legend himself has admitted, “This is what happens when you give Big Boy Pete a movie camera for Christmas.” And what happens all over this 90-minute (again, as BBP sez) “album of EyeTunes” is precisely the sort of seat-o-the-pants decorum-be-gawddamned DIY-ness which has infused Peter Miller’s career ever since he built his first Warblerama guitar in late-50’s Britain before going on to create some of the farthest-out sounds this side of Syd Barrett in Joe Meek’s parlor. And now, for the first time he’s bringing his all to the small – even laptop screen on this DVD: Be it chicken-pickin’ his way up and down the local record emporium’s vinyl aisles (“Once Upon a Tune”), sliding the kind of solos which would make even Zoot Horn Rollo recant (“Upside Down”), or plopping Sinatra in the middle of the nearest Nirvana video (“Baby I Got Screwed by You”). The accompaniment’s always top top notch of course (e.g.: Just when one thought there couldn’t be any more wah-wah Wonderwall Music comes “No Limeys Left in London”), but the visuals also wholly live up to their tasks (“The Flicker” imagines Casino directed by D. Lynch as opposed to M. Scorsese, while “My Loyal Shadow” displays genuine Bernard Shakey sensibilities, if you’d catch my drift). So! Call me Crazy Boy, but I for one hope we all live long enough to hear – and see – the Big Boy’s “Winnie” blanket-broadcast every 24th of January ’cross the length and breadth of that once United Kingdom in honour of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill.

chilton ALEX CHILTON Ocean Club ’77 (Norton Records)
They say cool things come to those who wait, and I had to wait about a year til this gem safely arrived here at the ol’ sty. Then again, we all had to wait 38 times as long as that to finally have those now sounds of Alex, Chris Stamey, and Lloyd Fonoroff blow their Live in New York proto-punk directly cross our paths. Kinda hot off his Singer Not The Song EP, Alex and those sometimes-called Cossacks, taking a night or two off from demo’ing up a storm for Elektra Records (who, I suppose not surprisingly, never bit) hit the Ocean stage with the following words: “Can I have a Coke and, uh, Canadian Whiskey on the rocks?” How else to follow that up than with a blast into “September Gurls” (how very odd though to hear Alex introduce this number to near silence; the Chilton revival/renaissance still, we must recall, a few years off) followed by a detour home to Chuck B’s “Memphis” as only a Box Top can, “In The Street” – yes, that 70’s theme – and then “Back Of A Car” (“There’s a screw loose in this speaker!” it sounds like Stamey saying by way of, um, introduction). Add a nice Seeds nugget, a “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” in – wait for it – Beach Boys Love You (!) fashion, a too-wily-for-words “Walk Don’t Run” and a de rigueur “Letter” (no, not “Please Mister Postman” as Alex teases) and we honestly have a fifty-minute trip back to a simpler time when Big Star albums could only be found in Woolworths’ 99-cent bin and “power pop” was strictly a phrase uttered in crinkly old Pete Townshend interviews.

FeltonSIMON FELTON Return to Easton Square (Pink Hedgehog Records)
One of my favorite singing songwriting types from the far-flung Isle of Portland – that’s in Dorset, England btw – takes good time off from his Garfields Birthday band to bring us a dozen, and I quote the Press insert, “essentially demos. The intention would be to one day record them ‘properly’ in a studio, but the reality is that this is as good as they’re ever likely to sound.” But! With material as finely tuned as Simon’s, there’s nothing whatsoever amiss in keeping said recordings raw, ripe and ready. “Will You Be There” for example rests with a low rumbling cello pulse; a most effectively spacious arrangement which features often throughout this collection. “Alibi” employs a perfectly playful rhyming scheme, lyrically speaking, while “Good Morning Britain” really makes me wonder how often Simon stays home to watch Gavin & Stacey reruns. Everything herein’s sung with a soft C. Blunstone approach; which reminds me: “I Would (If I Wanted To)” should be sent the Zombies’ way without delay! And, so far as my ears are concerned, “Goodbye (Again)” represents just about the absolute best two-and-a-half minutes they’ve had all year. “Demos”? Well, these ones prove, yet again, that less can honestly amount to more. MUCH more.

Fleshtones THE FLESHTONES …The Band Drinks for Free (Yep Roc Records)
Joyously celebrating, as their sticker sez, “40 Years Of Rocking Harder Than Anyone In The World,” those ever-touchy-feely Fleshtones defiantly continue to put the Rage in the back of Garage …and then some. To wit, this latest and very possibly greatest release of theirs turns the guitars up and screws the snare taut for the kind of witful wallop we’ve long come to expect from these masters. More specifically, “Love Like A Man,” not to mention “Rick Wakeman’s Cape” (Title of the Year, btw) deftly add the Sir to the Douglas, “Suburban Roulette” should be considered for immediate cover on the very next Teenage Head platter, and “Respect Our Love” sounds as if those Dead Boys actually aren’t. I personally cherish that little Ox outro, bass-ically Who speaking that is, on “Living Today,” and Bonus Points aplenty for shutting completely down Usher/Christian’s golden vintage “Gasser” to boot. Then, signing strategically off “Before I Go” with said fuzz’n’Farfisa-crusted capper and this is, without debate, one band who can live up to its album title. Any time. On me.

JanisJANIS JOPLIN Janis: Little Girl Blue (MVD Entertainment Group) The mark of good filmmaking, especially of the docu genre, is the ability to capture and hold the viewer’s undivided attention even if the subject matter is unfamiliar or of little if any interest. I’ll admit to falling into the latter category insofar as Janis Joplin is concerned, for while I have always admired her talents and drive, I never really appreciated the range and depth of both until Little Girl Blue laid it plainly to see …and hear. Not only is the wealth of historical footage, both performance and otherwise well chosen, but so is the inevitable swell of talking heads – notably her Holding Company, her younger sister Laura, and intriguingly her “former boyfriend” David Niehaus – and thankfully all the young, Century 21 celebrity testimonials are saved til the end credits, lest they divide and distract from Those Who Were Actually There And Know (John Lennon’s final words on the subject, from a 1971 Dick Cavett Show, remain most chillingly profound). BEWARE, however, the “Big Brother Acapella” on the Special Features menu …you’ve been warned. All from our heroes at MVD, who have also just brought us magnificent audio compilations from John Coltrane (!) and John Lee Hooker (!!), not to mention – speaking of fine documentaries and even finer record stores – All Things Must Pass.

 

Legal Matters THE LEGAL MATTERS CONRAD (Omnivore Recordings)
Meanwhile, from the fine folk over at Omnivore who, on the most recent Record Store Day alone brought us lotsa Bangles, Beach Boys and Big Star present (to kinda quote the sticker right there on the CD cover) the highly anticipated second hook-filled and harmony-drenched release from Michigan’s Keith Klingensmith, Chris Richards and Andy Reed. And while absolutely no time whatsoever is wasted as “Anything” lulls ‘n’ floats most gently in on a lush Badfinger-by-way-of-Crowded House bed of ooooh’s, ahhhh’s and six strings, these Legal Matters, baby, are never content to toil merely within the boundaries of any musical pigeonhole: there’s “More Birds Less Bees” which goes one further plus deeper into vintage – guess who? – Bachman/Cummings territory while the sweet chilling “Pull My String” adds a slight scoop of Townshend, but with the ’tude toned properly down. May I add “The Cool Kid” should henceforth be piped through the PA at the conclusion of each and every International Pop Overthrow festival clear round the globe? Andy’s Reed Recording Company right there in Bay City, MI checks that all sounds shimmer, yet pack punch when need be, ensuring and reassuring any out there who may often fret over who killed all the rock and roll stars – yes, the ones that used to make us wanna learn our guitars in the first place.

MonkeesOh ! and Did I mention… THE MONKEES Good Times! (Rhino Entertainment)

 

 

 

 

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Gary Pig Gold

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Pigshit with Gary Pig Gold: TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2015

Just on the off chance you’ve already made it through all 18 discs, 20 hours, and/or 379 tracks of Bob Dylan’s Cutting Edge Collector’s Edition, then may I suggest you now turn both ears immediately towards…
driftingsand21 DRIFTING SAND Summer Splash (Piña Colada Records) To fill that sonic gap in a year which saw exactly zero new Beach Boys or even Laurie Biagini albums, Rick Escobar and all his fellow Surfer Spuds from the far left coast produce thirty-four-minutes-thirty-four of sounds, sights and even aromas which conjure those Modern Lovers of yore hijacked by Keith “Beachcomber” Moon. Bravely mixing a clutch of entirely too-cool-for-words instrumentals – Dan Burdick’s lonely trumpet being particularly effective – with Muscle Beach Party-pedigree songs to evoke your fave rave Surfaris B-side, Drifting Sand can, will, and do rhyme “splash” with “such a gas,” “July and August” with “Robert August” (!) and, on “Beach Tour USA” alone toss an M.Love-ly sax solo over carnival barking unheard since our last visit to “Amusement Parks USA.” Top with an ultra-vibra-spaghetti-slappin’ cover of Hazlewood/Sinatra’s “Sand” and the end result may well be the sophomore Fantastic Baggys LP we never thought would ever reach shore. P.S.: and guys? When you’re ready to do your next album, lemme know. Coz have I got a song for You!!

wheel of talent2 THE FLESHTONES  Wheel Of Talent (Yep Roc Records) Technically speaking, this 2014 beaut didn’t arrive in the sty, courtesy of our pals over at Rock Beat International, til just a few months ago. But no problem! ’Cause any year’s an ideal time for those Fabulous F-tones. And as ever and always, these veteran garage czars’ unfailing, unflinching embrace of all things rock and naturally roll are intact from the very get-go herein: “Available” blasts direct into the backyard on wings of brazen brash ‘n’ trash …yet with some incongruously appropriate cellos and violas to boot. Likewise, a good half of this talented Wheel – notably “The Right Girl,” “Tear For Tear” and “For A Smile,” the latter featuring the Southern Culture Skid-vocals of Miss Mary Huff – somehow bring a Shadowy Meek sheen of pure pre-Beatle UK pin-up pop to the proceedings (attention! John Waters) without sacrificing one iota of the oomph. Elsewhere, “Roofarama” speeds Jimi’s “Crosstown Traffic” all the way downtown, “Hipster Heaven” sounds tailor-made for the nearest USB latte turntable, and “It Is As It Was” manages to spin the entire Fleshtone fable in a Schoolhouse Rock! as opposed to School of Rock manner; Ghetto Recorder Jim Diamond professorially sees to THAT. And, for anyone left out there who all these years later still doesn’t get the message? Right there on Track 4, “Remember the Ramones.” Got it!

You Are Here3 GARFIELDS BIRTHDAY  You are Here (Pink Hedgehog Records) Another holdover from ’014, “recorded mostly at home with files winging their way from Dorest to Yorkshire via Bristol then back again” in the words of the handy enclosed press sheet. In other words? The fourth, and positively most welcome to date collection of smart, stylish poppin’ rock from the British brothers Felton, Simon and Shane, this time with none other than Lucky Bishops/Schnauser man Alan Strawbridge on drums. And that’s an important factor indeed, lest the Feltons’ files end a tad too GarageBanded as they travel the virtual UK. To wit, as soon as their “Magic Bike” gets rolling we are finely assaulted with a great big meaty and beaty bounty – yes, this being Century 21 the Magic Bus has been downscaled somewhat, but the drive is every bit as present and potent. “Carpet Ride” similarly soars Armenia City’s skies with, and I quote, “one eye on the future and one foot in the past.” Witness as well how “It’s Your Lucky Day” somehow Cyrkles clear ’round those Basement Tapes while “Lunar Eclipse” happily weds Kurt Cobain verses to killer-kilter XTC choruses. Shane Felton’s fearlessly inspired lead guitars are a vital part of the equation throughout, but particular notice must also be paid to the other Felton, Simon’s, magnificent vocals …on “Oxford” (most importantly); a masterful performance, and song, whose files deserve to be shared this very instant with Art Garfunkel for starters. Which reminds me: visit the Pink Hedgehog for a copy of Simon Felton’s recent Emotional Feedback as well. You will be doubly glad you did.

The Grip Weeds4 THE GRIP WEEDS How I Won The War (Jem Recordings) With their latest release, the Grip Weeds have gone and done, by my count, two outstanding things: (1) claimed full lineage at long last to their Richard Lester-ized namesake, and even more importantly (2) made the best album of their career. Here’s how: As no less an authority as Phil Spector once explained, some artists sing ideas, and that the Grip Weeds always have. And it helps immensely, to say the least, that they most fortunately number within their ranks a member who is equally talented on the other side of the microphones too. That would be Kurt Reil, who once again has twiddled knobs brilliantly inside the band’s own House Of Vibes studio to create textures that are lush but not cluttered; bright but never brittle. Overall, the sounds this time out contain much more bite and snarl – in Kurt’s vocals, pointedly – which suits to a “t” the confusion, conflict and, yes, warfare which always seems to boil below the surface. Several short, mainly instrumental segue pieces play a key role as well in making this disc an end-to-end singular experience. Ah! The long-lost art of the Album as a totality. What a concept! But then about two-thirds in, beginning with the completely Zombie-able “Heaven and Earth,” comes a trio of more nuanced numbers which relax things to a whole loftier level. In fact one of these, “Over and Over,” not only serves as a much-needed truce during this great War, but thanks in big part to the lead vocal of Kristin Pinell – always the Grip Weeds’ not-so-secret-anymore weapon – may honestly be the highlight of it all. Which reminds me, Kurt and brother Rick: Where’s HER album already?!!

Pop Spaceman5 RICK HARPER  Pop Spaceman (HiVariety Recordings) Hey, have you noticed everyone and their roommate lately is not only a singer/songwriter/player, but a bonafide home recordist in addition it seems? Well, listen: Rick Harper, in case you hadn’t noticed – and you certainly should have by now – has been toiling at all that and so much more since ’way back in the primordial pre-laptop daze, I kid you not. Which is why he’s so damn good at it, dammit, as Pop Spaceman, the latest in his Demo Teasers series, surely demonstrates. Along with Erich Overhultz’s occasional keyboard, Rick sing/write/plays up a one-man storm of not only undeniable Songs for our far-out Times (“Pax: Kiss of Peace,” “Wind Idiot,” and “Ca$h Poor,” you bet) but offers as well an unusually good selection of classic Rickenharper-clever chord and monumental chorus compositions (“Not About Us” and my favorite “Pretty Fool”). Each note is not only expertly played, but oh-so-properly placed as well: a supreme proficiency at the fine art of orchestration which is even more apparent during the 14-minute “Music From the Film, Cue 1,” a score of truly cinematic proportions which, for best results, requires secure headphones, a recline position, and lights right off. Interesting how this Pop Spaceman appeared on the ol’ Pig Player right alongside Eddie Cochran just the other night …and fit in just fine.

Lemon Clocks6 THE LEMON CLOCKS  Time To Fly (Jam Records) Rather than attempt myself to adequately describe the tight ‘n’ tart dayglo delights of this disc, let us turn instead to the wise words of the three Clocks themselves, Stefan Johansson, Todd Borsch, and Jeremy Morris: In the land of ELECTRIC TOMATOES we can always find the TIME TO FLY. When the FUTURE IS THE PAST we can bend the clock and make time last. We hear the RAINBOW ECHO all around. Our ring is a promise that is growing underground. We will WALK UPON THE WATER because you just CAN’T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN. It all happened JUST IN TYME during an UNDERWATER DREAM. AND I FOLLOW in TIME until we’ve FINALLY FOUND OUR HOME. Our lemon clock life is like a GROOVY MOVIE with a very happy ending. It’s full of peace and love coming down from above. So LET THE SUNSHINE IN and let it in your heart. You’ll be really glad you did! It’s THE BEGINNING OF THE END and it’s also THE END OF THE BEGINNING…

Mariam7 MIRIAM  Down Today (Norton Records) As if co-launching Brooklyn’s greatest-ever fanzine (Kicks) then coolest go-to music stop (Norton), as well as providing big beats behind the Cramps, Zantees and A-Bones wasn’t more than enough already the one, the only Miriam Linna again steps from behind her Pearl’s to deliver what must be 2015’s rock-candy ear necessity #1! Alongside producer/multi-musician Sam Elwitt, a dozen sweet Sixties slices of strictly 7-inch caliber are fully reheated and served anew… but with nostalgia thankfully taking a distant back seat to respect and utmost finesse in both arrangement (Gregor Kitzis’ occasional strings, for example, always augment; never swamp) and performance (Miriam has added a definite Bazooka Joe as opposed to Bubblicious snap to her Lisa-Jenio-meets-Mary-Weiss pipes). To wit, the Dave Clark Five’s “Don’t Be Taken In” now sounds more like one of December’s Children, while “One More Rainy Day” – the flip of my favorite Deep Purple (!) 45, by the way – quickly turns, somehow, into a full-on Joey Ramone-opus. But after reveling in a half hour of such Evie Sands, Terry Reid, Neil Diamond et al chestnuts, it’s actually one of Mr. Elwitt’s two own compositions, the wholly ’67 Gibb-worthy title track, that just might steal the show. Yes, in yet another year when words like “power” and “pop” continue to be thrown around far too liberally, Miriam shows not only how it’s done, but precisely how it should be SUNG. Hear, here, for yourself.

Andy reed8 ANDY REED  Relay Vol. 1 (Futureman Records) This little seventeen-minute EP demonstrates the absolute best case imaginable for the wealth of miracles found lurking, quite regrettably, in the nether regions of that musical so-called subculture. Relay 1 happens to be Bay City, Michigan one-man audio factory Andy’s first solo release since 2008 (in the meantime, he is also a member of the Legal Matters who I raved of as one of 2014’s Missed); it, and Vol. 2 are apparently due together soon on an up-coming Futureman vinyl release. Til then, this digital trailer recalls, on say “Dreaming Of The West Coast,” Bruce Johnston by way of Eric Carmen… BUT, luckily, with only the most attractive vocal characteristics of both. “I Love A Long Goodbye” features an octave-leaping melody of Jimmy Webb proportions – and that’s one comparison I rarely get to make anymore! – while “Darlin, You Don’t Know” is a drop-down wonder; an around-the-wide-world trip of sound in three and a half minutes flat. In all, Andy’s work is smart and detailed, sometimes stark, sometimes dense. Someone get this man a gig scoring indie films, quick! Meanwhile, as we await that Relay vinyl, you should seek and love his Oddities And Entities collection as well, which holds over thirteen years’ more rare and precious gems.

thewind39 THE WIND  Re-Wind (Cheft Records) Though it seems more like 300, it’s actually “only” been around thirty years since the original Queens-by-way-of-Miami, Lane Steinberg/Steve Katz/Stephen Burdick-model Wind last made us an album. And it HAS been worth the wait, for the trio’s deftly under-troubled skinny white approach serves as even more urgently-needed fresh air against our current century’s assaults upon ear canals. F’rinstance? “Fight Like A Girl” needs less than three whole minutes to perfectly encapsulate, then broaden wildly upon its Buddy ‘n’ Beatles For Sale history of every little AM radio thing. Spin the dial further and “Think On Your Feet” crouches in some recessed corner of an Emitt Rhodes session, “Which Part Of Goodbye?” really could be The Great Lost Wings B-side we’re still queuing for, “Baby, I Can Take A Punch” finds Todd Rundgren pillow-fighting Squeeze while “There’s A Clamoring” and even more so “Let Me Show You How It’s Done” point Badfingers in thoroughly the right direction. Still, Messrs. Katz and Steinberg roll their tan sleeves all the way up to mix “ambivalence” and “after-dinner mints” with some lo-gummed “Sugar Sugar” keyboard for “Yes And No” …and isn’t “Weak Spot” the theme from Craig Ferguson’s late late, extremely great talk show?! Whatever the cases may be, David Grahame’s co-production keeps all sounds – vocals first! – ice-clean, clear, and to-the-heart at all times; it does take a brave man, not to mention fabulous material, to mix this way. But that’s always been, and apparently continues to be, The Wind. Hopefully it won’t be another thirty years before another album blows our way.

Frank Zappa Roxy10 FRANK ZAPPA  Roxy: The Movie (Eagle Rock Entertainment) Delayed even longer than the mighty Wind is this nifty, sometimes tough, and often quite bitchin audio/video record of Frank and his Mothers’ three-night stint at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood during December of ’73. Why it’s taken sooo long to reach us is – Surprise! – NOT the usual legal morass ‘n’ molasses which coats most things Zappa. No, this time it was a simple [sic!] case of technology sufficient to sync the Roxy audio with the Roxy video not being at hand until just a couple’a years ago. Meaning we can all finally not only hear, but see FZ sucking down endless Winstons, seated on-stage in chair having make-up touched up as George Duke pulls a “Big Swifty,” watching Ralph Humphrey drum duel Chester Thompson with a lot of “Cheepnis,” then even manning an extra set of traps himself to help beat off the “Uncle Meat” variations. Later Bruce Fowler and Napoleon Murphy Brock go trombo-a-saxo too all over their “Be-Bop Tango” before Carl and Rick and Jane (then Lana, Brenda et al) are coerced on stage to, um, dance to it …a sight even more unsettling than I’d imagined all those years ago under headphones spinning Side 4 of Roxy & Elsewhere when I should have been doing my homework. Caveat Emptor however: as Gail Zappa (RIP) of the esteemed Zappa Family Trust says (admits?) in the accompanying liner notes, Frank indeed “shows up here at his geekiest,” as many of the fiercely wrought arrangements, not to mention between-song “announcements” attest. Of course, a mere five years pre-Roxy such a disclaimer would NEVER have been necessary regarding the original Mothers of Invention and those things they did, but…

Gary Pig Gold

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