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PIGSHIT: Ten You May Have Missed In 2019

PIGSHIT: Ten You May Have Missed In 2019
So even though Tarantino’s latest failed to put Paul Revere or his Raiders back up at the Toppermost of the Poppermost, and American Funnyman Neil Hamburger’s long-too-awaited Still Dwelling seems to have passed totally under the fryer, the Pig Player this past year was kept busy as always spinning, alphabetically as always…   

 

 

 

ALEX CHILTON
From Memphis To New Orleans
(Bar/None Records)

“Alex Chilton created a unique body of work when he emerged from a self-imposed exile in the 1980s” says the handy sticker on the shrinkwrap, and this stellar assortment more than ably covers each of the man’s bases, musical and otherwise. From the vengefully autobiographical “Lost My Job” to the Zappa-sharp “Guantanamerika” to, yes, the covers (a fine Brian Wilson-fashion “Let Me Get Close To You” plus a “Little GTO” that would impress Ronny and his Daytonas) there is something here for every ear …as was, more often than not, Alex’s wont in life. Personally, the real revelation to me was the anything but celibate “No Sex” guitar work, the “Dalai Lama” meets Alley Oop – hearing is believing – almost – and, most comi-tragically, how with just a twee bit of a tart-up “Thing For You” could’ve been one of Hall & Oates’ most ginormous-ever chart-toppers …sparing our hero from months of pushing brooms, washing dishes and trimming trees had only, alas, song met singers. “A solid collection for the super fan as well as the new listener,” to quote that sticker again? I’d recommend everyone steering this collection From Memphis To New Orleans to your player of choice asap.       

ALAN CLAYSON AND THE ARGONAUTS
Sol Nova
(Hookah Records)

After a performance last August by the one, the still only Alan Clayson at the Half Moon in Putney (I myself caught a Neil Innes show there a few years ago …but I digress) a gentleman claiming to own a record company expressed interest in immortalizing the man’s quite legendary “Sol Nova” upon ten inches of 21st Century vinyl. “While I was civil enough to him,” Alan reports, “I’m sufficiently battle-hardened by the business to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised if it turns out he wasn’t talking crap. And, he wasn’t! He seemed to be someone with more money than sense – and I like people like that.” Or, as the official Hookah Press Release perfectly states, “On rare occasion a bright object will appear without warning in the night sky. This might be a sol nova; a star that, via a side-action of radio activity, has mutated suddenly into a celestial behemoth, swallowing and destroying all the planets in its orbit. And their inhabitants. Alan Clayson and The Argonauts have expressed this horror via a single of space-rock persuasion. Please try not to faint.”

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Between The Lines: The Complete Jordan/Wilson Songbook ’71-81
(Grown Up Wrong! Records)

Jordan/Wilson as in Cyril and Chris, that is. And while that musical team may for some inexplicable reason still not find themselves uttered in the same circles as Jagger/Richard(s) and, dare I say it, Lennon/McCartney, this above-superb compendium of shoulda-been-Big-BIG-hits from their Golden Decade sets records completely straight in a wholly, well, Groovie way. From the smartly Small Faces “Let Me Rock” clear through the too-bad-the-Ramones-never-got-a-stab-at “So Much In Love,” it’s plain this material, while planted in the past (eg: “Teenage Confidential” is the best song Gene Clark never wrote, while “Yes I Am” encapsulates the entire Aftermath LP in two and a half minutes flat) adroitly set the stage for the power popping paisleys of the Eighties and Nineties to come. Honestly, I still remember how absolutely floored I was when the magnificently Merseybeating “Yes It’s True” and especially “You Tore Me Down” first appeared upon my Pig Player 43-or-so years ago: I put my own band together within a week. P.S.: Also not to be missed in any way whatsoever is Grown Up Wrong’s I’ll Have A… Bucket of Brains collection of all the Groovies’ original, mainly Rockfield recordings from A.D. 1972. All together then, that’ll make four – count ’em! – versions of “Shake Some Action.”

JOHN & YOKO
Above Us Only Sky
(Eagle Vision)

Just when you thought there was categorically nothing left to see, let alone hear, about John Lennon comes this unexpectedly revealing study of J & Y circa 1971. Ostensibly a fly-on-the-studio-wall charting of the Imagine album sessions – quite possibly the most (over?) documented five days in recorded music history – Above Us Only Sky veers into all sorts of fascinating directions; most intriguingly into the backstories of both Yoko and John… which explains not only why the two got together, but why they stayed together. These 113 minutes also illuminate, as never before, the sly yet festering radicalism which lurks, not just lyrically, beneath much of the “sugar coating” which John later described, in perhaps attempting to excuse, the finished product’s orchestral gloss. Speaking of which, of particular note throughout is the ubiquitous, perpetually sunglassed Phil Spector: “a very heavy presence” in the understated words of Sounds photographer Kieron “Spud” Murphy. On much the other hand however is the vintage ’69 Bonus footage of John, Yoko, and Apple publicist Derek Taylor (!) busking “Oh Yoko!” in a Bahamian hotel room. Who knew Mrs. Lennon could be so skilled at harmony singing?!!      

LIBRARIANS WITH HICKEYS
“Black Velvet Dress” / “Alex”
(Big Stir Records)

For anyone out there who may still, for some unfathomable reason, question the power and the glory of the three-minute four-chord p-o-p song done right, “Black Velvet Dress” will in no way fail to raise you off your settee and shove things direct towards the nearest Volume UP knob. “I heard you were giving a funeral today” may indeed be the first words voiced here, but what follows instead is a deceptively cheery deep breeze through all the brightest and the best of a circa-’78 playlist from your most trusted music geek’s audio closet. Nostalgic? No. The word would be “timeless.” N.B.: stay tuned for the coda too. Meanwhile, “Alex” sports the exceptionally ethereal sheen of, say, the Springfield or even Who at their most subtle and nuanced …and the concluding 30 seconds are just about the most gorgeous I’ve spent all year. Oh! and Hunt down then repeatedly hear these Librarians’ “And Then She’s Gone” b/w “Until There Was You” as well. And let’s all hope their long-promised full-length album isn’t much longer overdue.   

 

KIMBERLEY REW AND LEE CAVE-BERRY
Enjoy The Rest Of Your Day
(KL Recording)

And on the subject of pop done right, connoisseurs of the jangle genre, while already well acquainted with Mr. Rew’s renowned past will be as tickled as I at the breadth, bravado, and downright panache he and Lee pack into this singularly unassuming little disc. Donning their Blue Caps straight out of the gate on “Flat Cat,” rollicking towards The Great Lost Buckingham Nicks gem “Jess,” the two can make one incredible string band (“Angel On Earth”) one moment, then with “Sad Case” ricochet with precisely the kind of Northern beat ballad last heard on your fave rave Hollies B-side. Lee’s “Backing Singer Blues” places her 20 feet from stardom, certainly, but in a less bitter, more sweet way while “All The Colours” and maybe even the T.Rex-y “Sister Cow” demonstrate a most fruitful future awaits K & L if ever they should decide to explore the wide wild world of children’s entertainment. No, really! These songs are exhilaratingly all-ages, you bet, but with a keen eye and ear towards the canny sophistication which comes with musicians and songwriters who’ve been around. All the way around. And don’t it feel good?    

“THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS”
(ABKCO Films)

As the onslaught of over-boxed (not to mention all too frequently over-hyped and -priced) 50th Anniversary Christmastime Commemorative Issues roll onward and outward, how refreshing to hear – and see! – a package that more than deserves its place not only in socio-musical history, but right up there on your nearest collectors’ shelf too. This exquisitely restored and bountifully expanded edition of the Rolling Stones’ sorta-ill-fated 1968 all-star-and-then-some television spectacular is worth treasuring today if only to savor fresh commentary tracks from Mick and Keith, Marianne and Yoko, and director Michael Lindsay-Hogg …not to mention a bonus trio of additional Taj Mahal performances and even a Dirty Mac rehearsal of the latest Beatle B-side “Revolution.” Nevertheless, when all is said and sung, it remains The Who and their still-incendiary-after-all-these-years “A Quick One While He’s Away” that continues to steal the show; “for a brief moment it seemed that rock ‘n’ roll would inherit the Earth,” as no less an authority as official Circus chronicler David Dalton reminds us.    

 

SEX CLARK FIVE
The Orange Album
(Records to Russia)

It’s getting harder each and every decade to “miss” our beloved SC5, as they inch ever so closer to genuine mainstream underground acclaim and success: Now, in a mere 40 (!) minutes, are 23 (!!) good 2019 reasons why. Including “The Orange Album Song” (clocking in at 0:44), “Feel Too Hard” (adept vocal counterpointing), “Leni Riefenstahl,” “Jeanne d’Arc” and “Merchant of Venice” (acute melodic name-dropping; the latter complete with transcription sampling), “Those Days Are Gone” (psych!), “Cosmic Brain” (power!), “Home at Last” (pop!!), “Danielle” (I love the Honeycombs too), “Girl” (beats the Beatles’), “Hold On” (beats the Hermits’!), “Another Glad Life” (should’ve ended up in that Queen movie), “Dark Age Saint” (should’ve ended up on Disc 4 of the Kinks’ new Arthur box) …and I have still left a full ten other tracks thoroughly unaccounted for! Yes, James Butler and Rick Storey have produced yet another album which, remarkably, remains unfailingly loyal to their very own style of sound; as unmistakable today as it was in, unbelievably, 1985. If you missed them then, don’t miss them now.

SQUIRES OF THE SUBTERRAIN
Radio Silence
(Rocket Racket Records)

Our noble Squire may have taken ’018 off, but he’s back …in all of his “recorded in the basement on analog gear” splendor. And you know what? This whole project seems, and surely sounds, positively soused from start to finish. But, in the kind of way that might make even the 1972 Raymond Douglas Davies green with ARLD. Tracks titled “Fever Eyes,” “Whiskey Closet” and “Tequila And Gin” provide clues, of course; not to mention the “Last call, Harry Nilsson!” aroma ’round “Too Much Of A Good Thing.” Elsewhere though, there’s the “8th Wonder Of The World” (yep, it’s the eighth number of the program) which should immediately be sent David Lynch’s way, the severely alt. country – even Hank Hardwood might appreciate – “Shadow,” and the Bradley brothers’ brass-propelled clean outta Nola and into the swamp “House Of Ghosts.” Add a shot of Speedy Keen on the title track accompanied by the most, um, mischievously tuned pianos this side of Quadrophenia and the Radio Silence becomes truly deafening.    


JOHNNY THUNDERS    
Madrid Memory
(Cleopatra Records)

Had I been anywhere in Spain on the evening of June 14, 1984, I would have made damn sure I was right there cheering on everyone’s favorite Doll as he and veteran partner-in-grime S. Sylvain hurled themselves through this typically shambled set of classics, soon-to-be-classics, and Grade A clunkers to boot. Introduced with simulated lightning and, yes, thunder, then the dulcet tones of “Pipeline,” a JT resplendent in his finest Dr. as opposed to Sgt. Pepper matador finery kicks off with an expertly ragged one-two “Personality Crisis”/”Too Much Junkie Business” slap before settling into the slipstream of things, Madrid-style. That means a shot of “Tequila” mixed with the “Just Another Girl” guitar solo, Sylvain ravaging his portable 88’s for a Booker T. by way of Terry Adams “Green Onions” I kid you not and, ladies and gentlemen, Jerry Nolan beating beautifully during “Don’t Mess With Cupid” especially. Break the merriment with an interview segment featuring, and I quote, Composer and Painter Carlos Berlanga, Music Producer, Manager and Starmaker Miguel Angel Arenas and three-quarters of the Zoquillos Punk Rock Band, follow with a four-song acoustic encore featuring a flamenco “Eve of Destruction” (!)… all memories you can put more than your arms around. Then, for even more fun, Don’t Forget to check in to Room 37 on your way out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Featured Review

PIGSHIT: TEN YOU MAY HAVE MISSED In 2018

Lindsey Buckingham got kicked out of Fleetwood Mac (again), The Monkees made their first-ever Christmas album (!), and I am still waiting for that big Turtles Battle of the Bands Commemorative Special Anniversary Collectors Edition. In the meantime though, I remained happily singing along beneath headphones to (in strictly Alphabetical order)…  


EDGAR BREAU
Edgar Breau
(Flying Inn Recordings)

Understandably kept quite busy piloting Simply Saucer since his Patches Of Blue in 2012, this marvelous return to root launches from the man’s consistently astonishing acoustichords into realms only hinted at on previous releases. Meticulously, beautifully recorded by Jordan Mitchell and Adam Bentley at their TAPE Studio, the often haunting aural landscapes – evident often during each track’s decaying moments, so as to ensure the listener’s listening – support and perfectly compliment the album’s deceptively tranquil lyrics. And Edgar’s eye, not just ear for detail has rarely been as keen (“Days Of Golden Sunlight”) nor as sharp (“Mount Idaho”); even when cast with W. B. Yeats (“He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead”)!  Kim Deschamps’ pedal steel adds ideal touches, to the N.ville North of “Martha’s Back” for instance, and Colina Phillips’ vocal harmonies are of course, and I quote, knockout. Not since my most recent digital encounter with Johnny Dowd have I spent such a fulfilling three-quarters of an hour with the lights out, and the campfire slowly fading.       

 

“D.O.A.: A RIGHT OF PASSAGE”
(MVD Rewind)

Celebrating, if that’s the correct word, the 40th (!) anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ ill-fated inaugural tour of the U.S. – and subsequent implosion – this more-than-bountiful Blu-ray + DVD edition contains still-incendiary mosh-eye footage of John Paul Steve ‘n’ Sid wow’ing (all the while confusing, baiting, and too often inflaming) the unsuspecting denizens of Atlanta, San Antonio and Dallas et al, then heads to the very heart of the matter – the decaying rot of James “No Future” Callaghan’s once Great Britain – to watch Generation X record “Kiss Me Deadly,” ex-Pistol Glen Matlock’s Rich Kids attempt a pretty lame “Pretty Vacant,” and X-Ray Spex, the Dave Clark Five of the New Wave, belting out their cheeky “Oh Bondage Up Yours.” The bonus Punk Documentary That Almost Never Was featurette (actually, it’s longer than the main attraction!) is absolutely Required Viewing as well, if only to discover the hidden connection between p-u-n-k and High Times Magazine, followed by – wait for it! – vintage footage of Barbara Walters interviewing Malcolm McLaren.  

 

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES
Fantastic Plastic
(Sonic Kicks/Severn Records)

Technically a 2017 release, which didn’t arrive at the sty til early oh-18… but it’s still not a minute too late to miss! Jumpin’ just like the Groovies we all know and will always love, right off the bat “What The Hell’s Goin’ On” shakes solid not-so-slow death, maximum mid-range on each and every guitar with the rhythm a compressed Wall of Deep Sound. Even when riding NRBQ’s “I Want You Bad,” or their ol’ Bay Area Beau Brummel pals’ “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” the impressively intact C. Wilson/C. Jordan vocals most notably retain a sense of substance and style which has punctuated this band for (how can it possibly be?!!) fifty-plus years and counting. Sure, while the retro MAD Jack Davis/Beatles ’65 packaging may well point direct towards the Larry Williams bass beneath “Crazy Macy,” the “Street Fighting Man” licking “Let Me Rock,” and the wonderfully Flamin’ Springfield “She Loves Me” – to say nothing of the big beat ballads “Lonely Hearts” and “I’d Rather Spend My Time With You,” Fantastic Plastic bends, not buckles with the undeniable durability and strength of the Flamin’ Groovies …NOW.

 

THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE
Electric Ladyland
(Legacy Recordings)

As the boomers – or at least their hearing – slowly but surely all f-f-fade away, what remains of the recorded music industry scramble to squeeze the last remaining blood off the tracks of warehoused catalog items prior to shuffling them permanently out to audio pasture. Hence the ongoing onslaught of Deluxe Remastered Super 50th Anniversary Numbered Limited Special Signed Commemorative Collectors Editions of each and everything from that White Album to Big Green Village Pink on down. But! One such big bonus Yule box deserves a fate much better than play-once-stick-up-on-some-shelf; in fact, its contents have aged not one note since first appearing upon countless turntables a half-century ago. Produced and directed in true cinematic fashion by Jimi alongside studio savant Eddie Kramer, a 2018/19 visit to Ladyland is every bit as mind-boggling and, yes, ear-shattering as it was circa ’68. And its Electric extras, including demos, out-takes, grungerful Hollywood Bowl concert plus expanded Making of Electric Ladyland Blu-ray only serve to enhance and enlighten this bona fide classic. Why, even its original Jimi-approved (but never used) front cover has been reinstated: another example of how this is one 50th Anniversary done entirely right.

JOHN & YOKO
Imagine / Gimme Some Truth
(Eagle Rock Entertainment)

And! Not to be one-upped by that above-mentioned White anniversary, the Lennon quarter of our forever Fab equation is more than fairly represented by these 152 (!) minutes of gorgeously upgraded sight and sound, centered on and around the recording of his most popular-ever long-player. The original 1972 Imagine film – the world’s first “video album” as it turns out – is still a joy to behold, guest-starring Dick Cavett, Jack Palance, George Harrison and, ever the debonair perfectionist, Fred Astaire …though it’s still not entirely clear who that man and/or woman wandering around London in a black bag is. 1999’s Gimme Some Truth: The Making of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ Album is just that; to watch things getting, um, testy as Phil Spector tries voicing his high “Oh Yoko!” harmony in the Lennons’ right-by-the-kitchen Ascot Sound Studio is, as Yoko says, “home cookin’.” Self-indulgent, ultra-big-budget glorified home movies, you say? Well, I say Where else are you going to be able to watch Miles Davis shooting hoops with John Lennon as Andy Warhol skulks in the shadows with Jack Nicholson, shooting off Polaroids?!

 

CHRIS RICHARDS AND THE SUBTRACTIONS
Peaks and Valleys
(Futureman Records)

Barely a minute into this disc and we’re already thoroughly, willingly submerged by every single Vox-happy, ooooh-ahh’ing, tom-tom’d beat; long a specialty of Chris’, but the first we’ve heard from this incarnation of his since 2012’s Get Yer La La’s Out. And now with Andy Reed – yes, he of Bay City’s Reed Recording facility – on board, the musical team is complete, and completely compatible. Andy’s keyboards, be they a Wing-y Moog on the “Weekend,” dash of Mellotron (“The Coast Is Clear”) or strings “Wrapped In A Riddle” color but never overwhelm he and Chris’ angular axes and luscious vocals. Yes, those vocals! Meanwhile, “Maybe That’s All” is the BEST track Cheap Trick hasn’t cut …yet, and “Call Me Out” stars guitar lines worthy of, dare I compare, ex-Mac Lindsey. But it’s throughout the four infallible minutes of “In A Sense” all of these Subtractions’, er, pluses ring finest as Larry Grodsky’s drums pitch against, then wash amongst the 6-strings, Todd Holmes’ lock-step bass, and (speaking of Bay City again) wholly Roller-worthy backing choral. Bonus Points are due too towards Chilton/Bell’s “Thirteen”: it takes a big band to tackle Big Star, but it’s just one of many many peaks Chris has hit herein. As he regularly does.     

SEX CLARK FIVE
Mrs. Von Braun You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter
(Records to Russia)

Four songs, Seven inches, Nine minutes: my still favorite strum ‘n’ drummers from Alabama offer vinyl obsessives ample reason to heave their latest too-big-stickered Record Store Day hauls off the turntable, making way for something altogether groove-ier. Track-by-lovely-track then, the final 30 seconds of “Saint Barbara” would not have sounded a tad out of place inside a Saucerful of Secrets or even The Who Sell Out, why “Quasar” wasn’t chosen as The Big Bang Theory theme I’ll never know, cue up “Painting” if you ever wondered what Del Shannon (!) produced by Joe Meek (!!) would’ve sounded like, and “Paper Rock Saber” takes a mere three-minutes-five to flawlessly encapsulate those first four Doors albums …with Sexier lyrics and vocals, it should go without singing. Which reminds me: Their grand new Live! album (SC5 in NYC for CMJ on 11/1/91) should be grabbed ASAP as well. “A typically out of control show,” in their own wide words.

 

LANE STEINBERG
Lane Steinberg & His Magical Pony
(Lane Steinberg)

Leave it to Lane to again provide me with just about the fun-nest, most rewarding forty minutes I’ve spent (after taxes) all year. This time ’round and ’round however, the man is joined by a stellar assortment of fellow DIY-at-home writers and players: R. Stevie Moore, Irwin Chusid, the remarkable David Grahame and, for a splendidly understated little trio of Broadway-bound trinkets, the piano of Tot Taylor. One screen over, “You’re Not Connected To The Internet” sports a decidedly dial-up sound, “Everyone Thinks I’m Happy Now” rests upon one phenomenal cat indeed, “Crazy As A Shithouse Rat” must certainly be The Title – perhaps even Zeitgeist? – of The Age, and “Another Early Autumn” with perhaps even “Portofino” makes one won-won-wonder why Lane isn’t writing (for starters) Brian Wilson’s next couple of albums. After all is said and sung, I will conclude by saying “Magical” only begins to describe the ever-melodious goings-on in and around this astounding collection …and, come to think of it, this one too.

 

TODD AND JINGYU
Find Me Find You: A Story
(Todd Lerner Music)

Delicate yet disarming, always enchanting yet occasionally striking; purely adjectively speaking this seemingly merry skip down a romantic trail belies the over ten years it took to write and record. For not a solitary word or chord is ever overwrought or self-consciously labored. The piano-focused à la Left Banke Michael Brown/Odessey and Oracle Rod Argent arrangements – which, most cleverly, build and bloom as the album progresses – remain sparse, while often nuanced (the vocals especially). Speaking of which, Jingyu and Todd’s voices mix, match, then will overlap and counterpoint …the better to subtly conjure the musical dialog their dance relates. Then, as in “Everything Is Good,” a simple whistling “da-da-da” can, and does, suffice. Then, a minute later, “Where It Goes” demonstrates a remarkably complex, though again seamlessly tossed-off mastery of time and tempo. Find Me Find You is truly unlike anything I have heard this year; I now hope you hear it soon yourself. P.S.: and, as the couple themselves suggest when cueing up the tracks, “if one listens in order they tell a fully-integrated story on finding romantic love.”    

 

“WHITE LACE AND PROMISES: THE SONGS OF PAUL WILLIAMS”
(Curry Cuts)

For those who may have in 2018 – or, for that matter, 2019 – question the very concept of the “tribute album” (not to mention the compact disc itself), I would suggest even a cursory listen to any of the twenty-three tracks on this downright delight-filled, yes, tribute to iconic songwriter / singer / actor / supreme 70s talkshow guest Paul Williams. Everything about this endeavor, right down to Craig Dorfman’s rock and roll reporting introductory notes reflect much, much love within its labors. As its subject unquestionably deserves. From the Davenports’ “Evergreen” clear through Brandon Schott’s “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday” the material, as challenging as it may be stands not only the test of four decades’ time, but also the approaches, often whimsical yet always respectful, each participant offers. And while several bravely recast, as in “update” I suppose one could say (Cait Brennan’s “Old Fashioned Love Song” and even more so XNYMFO’s “Dangerous Business”) the existing templates, wisely none ever stroll too far from the indelible, impactful originals. Even Sitcom Neighbor, as they take my All Time Fave PW tune “Out In The Country” straight back to America …as in Gerry, Dewey etc. that is. Paul Williams is most deserving of such a talent-heavy nod, of that there can be no doubt. Thankfully, Andrew and all at Curry Cuts have now produced it.         

 

by Gary Pig Gold