Saturday, June 15, 2019
Bob Dylan! John Foxx! Vincent Bugliosi! Andrew Lloyd Webber! Mick Jagger! The Sojourners! The Flowers Of Hell! Velvet Underground!
Theyíre ALL in this weekís edition of JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #683 http://www.jeffreymorgan.info
Sat, June 15, 2019 | link
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Bob Dylan – Selfie (Columbia) :: As if remixing old albums wasn’t
bad enough, now they’re retitling them.
Foxx – Metamatic (Metal Beat) :: This decades ahead of its time concept album about the
Kennedy assassination contains automated metal machine music that’s so charmingly cold and coolly calculating it makes
Gary Numan sound positively human by comparison. It’s the perfect gift for the conspiracy theorist on your holiday shopping
list who has everything—and so is this:
Bugliosi – Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy (Norton)
:: One volume. Five pounds. 1,600 pages. 1,000 additional pages of supplementary notes and sources on two portable
document files on one compact disc. All this plus the greatest conspiracy joke on page 1,489? Case closed!
Andrew Lloyd Webber & Mick Jagger
– Tumbling Dice, Superstar (Bialistock & Bloom) :: Which twin wins the Tony? Neither one since “Tumbling
Dice! Tumbling Dice! Who are you? What have you sacrificed?” is the world’s worst ill-advised Broadway lyric ever.
Various Artists – Annie: The Musical:
The New 2012 Broadway Cast Recording (Shout! Factory) :: Because as every rock critic knows, you’re never fully
dressed without a simile.
PLATTER OF THE WEEK: The Sojourners – Sing And Never Get Tired (Little Pig) :: I saw
these three cool cats strutting their barn burning stuff at Folk Alliance earlier this year so I’m more than pleased
to testify that they’ve got a brand new long player out that continues to showcase their unique style of gospelized
funk-fuelled spiritual three part harmonies. So do yourself a very big favor and pick up on what these number one
soulful brothers are putting down because you could do a lot worse than spend some of your finite heartbeats listening to
The Sojourners. Indeed, you probably already have so spin this platter pronto and set yourself on the road to redemption before
it’s too late!
PLATTER OF THE WEEK: The Flowers Of Hell – Odes (Optical Sounds) :: Word has it that
Unca Lou loved this thematic tribute album to himself that came out in 2012—and rightly so, given that it cannily coalesces
the best of his Velvet Underground excursions with some rare solo transmogrifications such as a rare first draft early lyric
interpretation of “Walk On The Wild Side” that’s well worth the price of admission alone. But Lou’s
dead so you’ll have to take my word for it in 2013 that this is now the most poignant Lou Reed tribute
album you’ll hear this year. Bonus points for including a Nicoized version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” that
would’ve sounded right at home on Chelsea Girl.
Be seeing you!
Saturday, June 8, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #682
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Lights From The Valley (Mushroom) :: The liner notes say that Chilliwack means “Valley Of Many Streams”
Doucette – Mama Let Him Play (Mushroom) ::
Papa make him stop!
Chilliwack –Dreams, Dreams, Dreams (Mushroom) :: And Wikipedia says
that Chilliwack means “Going Back Up” in Salish.
Doucette – The Douce Is Loose
(Mushroom) :: And if his name was Douchette this album woulda been called...
Breakdown In Paradise (Mushroom) :: But judging from the small print that says: “We acknowledge the financial
support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) for this project,”
I think Chilliwack means “Taxpayerola” in Freedian.
The Sattalites – The Best Of Canadian
Reggae (Solid Gold) :: Not to be confused with the Sunnalights; Monnalights; Tuessalights; Weddalights; Thurssalights;
or Friialiites, these here Sattalights have been rolling their own funky brand of reggae longer than the Department of Canadian
Heritage and Canada Music Fund has been providing financial support for decades-old deleted discs like this. So, before it
gets drilled anew, you would do well to give it a spin and hear for yourself what the Canuckistan taxpayer is being forced
to shell out and support these days against their collective will under the dubious guise of historical value.
PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Art Decade – Art Decade (self released) :: If you screw on your thinking cap,
you just might remember what I said about these cat’s début long player back in MB353 but, if not, I’ll
reiterate for ya:
“Art Decade – Western Sunrise
(Eldest Only) :: A lesser league of leeches woulda called themselves “Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family”
or “Homo From Aldebaran” but, the way I see it, if you’re gonna name your band after an obscure
’70s David Bowie instrumental, then choosing the atmospherically arch decadent “Art Decade” is definitely
the way to go—and, boy howdy, does this excellent album ever live up to that makeshift moniker and go go go!
“The first two seconds sound like a James Brown intro before everything suddenly
switches into a string-soaked Beatlesque art rock escapade which owes more than a lush nod to Queen Mercury in the vocal arrangement
and songwriting department. There’s also an admirable element of ’80s symphonic synthesizer pop in place to spice
up the proceedings—but don’t think they’re not capable of breaking out the big audio dynamite because the
longer you listen, the louder things get.
points for including a glossy full color twelve page booklet that contains nothing but twelve full bleed paintings which are
completely devoid of text—and that’s an extreme visual treat that even Eno and Peter Schmidt never attempted to
do at their Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) and Before And After Science art rock peak of perfection.”
That’s how they began the year last February and, wouldn’t you know
it, here they are again with a year-ending roundhouse to polish things off and lemme tell ya that it’s a good ’un.
If anything, it’s even more of a string-soaked Beatlesque art rock escapade (Greylock Hill”) which owes
more than a lush nod to Queen Mercury (“Boredom”) in the vocal arrangement and songwriting department. And while
many a band from Badfinger and ELO to Cheap Trick and the Knack have successfully mined that particular pop vein at various
points during their careers, keep in mind that it’s by no means as easy to do as it sounds—just ask Brian Wilson.
So if you didn’t take my advice at the beginning of the year, now’s
your chance to make amends unless, of course, you’re waiting for the band to gnaw some blotter acid and “head”
into their psychedelic period—which might not be such a bad idea. I mean, think about it, man. Aren’t
you curious about what a lysergically-soaked Freddie Mercury would sound like? I’m curious. I’m very
curious. Are you curious?
Be seeing you!
Saturday, June 1, 2019
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– Live In Central Park NYC May 12, 1975 (RCA / Real Gone Music) :: As if that newly found color footage shot
by Jean-Luc Godard of the Airplane playing on an LA rooftop in 1968 wasn’t good enough, we now have this newly found
recording that comes straight from the archives of the latter day law firm of Slick, Balin, Kantner & Creach. I shutterbugged
this particular iteration of the band when they hit My Town back in 1975 so I can testify with unimpeachable impunity that
this twofer perfectly encapsulates that incarnation at the height of their arena-packing prowess, right down to the insightful
inclusion of “Better Lying Down” from El Slicko’s Manhole album. Bonus points for the far out fab-o-phonic
1964 era mixola which idiosyncratically isolates the vocals on one channel while exiling most of the band to the other.
Lennear – Phew! (Real Gone Music) :: And while we’re on the topic of titanic pioneering
rock ’n’ roll women, if you’re not already familiar with Claudia Lennear’s vocals calisthenics on
the Concert For Bangladesh and Mad Dogs & Englishmen films, then maybe it’s high time that you
got yourself freshly reacquainted with this benchmark album from 1973 which was waxed by one of the landmark ladies of the
genre at the top of her game. Backed by such stellar studio stalwarts as ace axe maniac Ry Cooder; pneumatic traps master
Jim Keltner; and New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint, this is one of the most rawest and most high octane butane blistering
pieces of music that you’re likely to hear in this lifetime or any other lifetime for that matter. And if you’re
of the opinion that the only big letdown to this story is that Lennear never recorded a second album, don’t worry ’cause
even she’d never be able to top this one for sheer out ’n’ out peerless perfection personified.
PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Johnny McLeod – If You’re Living (self released) :: In a perfect
world, Johnny McLeod would need no introduction. But since this is a less than perfect world, allow me to set the audio table
for you by reiterating what I said about him in the August 1985 issue of CREEM: America’s Only Rock ’n’
Roll Magazine, wherein I wrote:
Johnny MacLeod with The Young Pioneers
– Dynamite In The Stove (True North/CBS) :: Even though I live in Toronto, you can count on one hand the number
of times I’ve bent your ear about Canadian talent in the ten years I’ve been writing for CREEM, so bear with me
on this one because Johnny is the only singer-songwriter I’d put serious money on. He released one album (Every
Twist Reminds) in 1980 with his former band the G-Rays, and has spent the last half decade leading up to this triumphant
moment. The man’s lyrical and musical depth knows no equal, so I’m not going to give you a comparison against
which you can judge him. But considering the current value of the U.S. dollar against the Canadian dollar, I’d say that
a trip across the border to but this album would be more than worth your while.
Thirty years later
I stand by those words—especially the parts about the money and the lyrical depth. However, with the release of this
new album, I would add one extra word which is not to be bandied about lightly:
I happen to know
a few things about poetry, which is I’d like to point you in the direction of a few song titles which grace this heartfelt
confessional because they alone should give you a good indication of the kind of emotional insight we’re dealing with
here: “Never Is Your Soul Alone.” “The Pleasures Life Reveals.” “If You’re Living.”
“More Than I Can Do.”
Oh, and then there’s “Here’s Your Moment” which begins:
is feeble and thin. Soon its weight will cave itself in. Go and bid your reward to begin. Here’s your moment. Here’s
the offer that hangs from your name.”
And that’s why I’d still put serious money on
Johnny MacLeod—and so should you because, both spiritually and intellectually, odds are you won’t get a better
rate of return for your dollar.
To get a copy of If You’re Living, contact Johnny at: Box 113,
31 Adelaide Street East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5C 2H8
Be seeing you!
Saturday, May 25, 2019
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Fever – Venus On Earth (M80) :: What starts out as a Klaus Schulze synthesizer space-out
immediately morphs into a Jefferson Starship psych-out before finally ending up perched on a rice paddy next to a finger-snappin’
mini-skirted Cambodian chanteuse who coolly coos sweet foreign-tongued somethings in your ear against a slinky bongo beat—and
that’s just in the first 45 seconds. Stick around and you’ll hear an eclectic blend that’s one part sensual
Sade, one part suave Japan, and one part pop tart Dee-Lite. Sounding as if it slowly sashayed out of a Tarantino flick, this
is one air-borne virus you won’t want to be inoculated against.
Johnny Hollow – Dirty Hands (Orange) :: Imagine longtime Hitchcock
composer Bernard Herrmann reincarnated as two gals and a guy and you’ll have a pretty good idea of just how spooky this
album is. That’s ’cause Johnny Hollow have what it takes to be the world’s preeminent Goth band—and
on Dirty Hands they prove it by cleverly carving out one of the finest examples of the genre since Siouxie &
The Banshees’ landmark A Kiss In The Dreamhouse. Merging NIN-nuanced electro-atmospherics with a lush surfeit
of strings that accentuate a multiplicity of instrumentation, Dirty Hands is uneasily the most eerily haunting record
you’ll hear all year.
– Buttercup Bugle (self released) :: If you heard Calling For Rain, Lori Cullen’s last album
of classic covers, then you know that she has one of the purest voices in a generation and more than enough talent to become
the next premier interpreter of our time. That’s because when Lori sings, she lives every song without the
slightest hint of ironic inflection. And on her new record Buttercup Bugle she offers up a delightful bouquet of
gentle brass-backed melodies which are light and airy, just like windswept love is supposed to be. This clever Cupid’s
got a hammer and she’s swingin’ it all over this land.
SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Judith Owen – Lost And Found (Courgette)
:: Bein’ a rock critic these days is just like bein’ a cheroot chompin’ music publisher back in the old
Tin Pan Alley era a hundred years ago. The only difference bein’ that instead of havin’ to suffer through a never
endin’ array of auditionin’ piano players plyin’ their songs on an upright in your office, nowadays y’gotta
suffer through the endless ordeal of listenin’ to hundreds of new records. But now as then the name of the game remains
the same: to hear somethin’ so unique it’ll snap open your saggin’ eyelids and elevate your interest level
a notch or two above the usual albatross dross.
nothin’ peeled my pooped peepers faster this month than hearin’ this woman belt out a torchy nightclub version
of Deep Purple’s goofy guitar classic “Smoke On The Water.” Backed by only a tinkly piano, Judith manages
to wrap her well endowed pipes around the most inane rock lyrics ever written and make them sound as if they were penned by
the great Sammy Cahn. I know you’re not convinced yet but by the time the accordion solo kicks in, you will be.
Be seeing you!
Saturday, May 18, 2019
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Of course, what with me being
under my usual brain-crushing weekly deadline, I plumb forgot to list two additional concerts which shoulda
made my Top Ten list last week but didn’t. So here they are in all their unabashed glory for your reading and dancing
Kraftwerk – Massey Hall (1975) :: As indicated last week, David von Bowie tried
to be quite the innovating avant garde artiste with his Krautverkian Station To Station presentation, but he was
a minor league penne ante piker compared to the band that provided his original aesthetic influence.
idea of an opening act was to run a silent surrealistic film before he took the stage? Big deal. When Kraftwerk played Massey
Hall on their Autobahn tour, they had no opening act. Instead, the house lights stayed up for almost two
hours past the starting time while the audience amused themselves by reading rock magazines and throwing a Frisbee back and
forth between the first balcony and the ground floor.
That is, what little audience there was because nobody had heard of
these guys except for a scant few hundred of the die hard Krautrock contingency who got their education by faithfully buying
both Ralf & Florian and Autobahn as a high priced import—and even then not all of them could afford
the $6.60 ducat price after that. As such, the venerable old hall was only a quarter to half full, if that.
As for the two hour
wait time it took for the group to take the stage, that’s because when Kraftwerk left their hotel to walk to the gig,
they took a wrong toin at Albuquerque and promptly got lost in the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto whereupon they wandered
around aimlessly until they ended up inadvertently sightseeing in Chinatown.
So Bowie’s idea being
visually innovating was to use nothing but arcs of white light to illuminate his stage? Big deal. Kraftwerk went him one better
by using no stage lights whatsoever. No spot lights, no foot lights, no nothing but those four dinky little plastic
boxes that spelt their first names out in neon; you know, the ones on the back cover of the Ralf & Florian album.
That and a few pin lights shining on their keyboards and drum pads. I tell ya, a Halloween pumpkin woulda provided more luminosity.
idea of being musically innovative was to perform music off his most recent album. How daring. Kraftwerk, on the other hand,
cleaned his conceptual clock by performing “Trans Europa Express” in its full-length entirety—two long years
before it would appear on any album.
Now that’s German efficiency.
John Entwistle’s Ox – Massey
Hall (1975) :: Exactly three months earlier, The Who’s bassist stormed the same stage for what was truly one of
the most legendary nights in rock history—for all the wrong reasons. This time there was an opening act and,
if there ever was a night when there shouldn’t have been one, this was that night.
The place was packed to capacity and
the poor no-name schlubs who opened for Entwistle had to suffer through a non-stop barrage of torrential abuse from a crowd
of hardcore Who fans who were there for one reason and one reason only—and it sure wasn’t the opening act.
“GET OFF THE FUCKING
STAGE!” some callous brute yelled before the hapless group had even plugged in and things only got worse after that.
“This is from our new album,” a band member helpfully explained at one point. “DELETE THE FUCKING ALBUM!”
came the immediate screamed reply. No matter what they tried to play, dozens of unsolicited requests for “BORIS THE
FUCKING SPIDER!” would rain down upon them. Indeed, the only applause they received was when they haplessly announced
that the next song would be their last number of the night.
Finally the headliners came on and it only took a few songs, if that, for me to realize,
even with my Norton Sonic 2 earplugs securely screwed in, that the volume seemed to be a tad on the loud side. A
few songs later, I was morbidly worried that my ears would start bleeding if I didn’t immediately get up and
leave. I didn’t, but any thoughts that I was simply imagining things were quickly dispelled upon seeing the next morning’s
OX GORES EARDRUMS
A few weeks later I found out that, because his regular band wasn’t touring at the time, Entwistle
had hired The Who’s sound man to mix the shows for his solo tour. And of course, because the guy’s as deaf as
a post, he automatically used the same volume settings to mix the sound for a 2,000 seat hall as he would to mix The Who in
a 20,000 seat arena.
Now that’s rock ’n’ roll.
Be seeing you!
Saturday, May 11, 2019
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I was recently waxing wroth with an
old colleague of mine about how inane “Top Ten” lists are—whereupon I naturally got to thinking about making
a “Top Ten” list of my own; namely, a chronological accounting of the ten greatest shows I’ve even witnessed.
Of course, objectivity
isn’t what it used to be, so you’ll have to excuse me if my selections seem somewhat biased. I’ve seen who
knows how many hundreds upon hundreds of concerts during my lifetime, but these are the ones that seem to have stuck in my
cranial craw more than any others.
And if it seems that I haven’t seen anything of note since the late ’70s, well, that’s
because rock ’n’ roll isn’t what it used to be, either. Actually, truth be told, it’s been downhill
all the way after I attended my first rock concert. That’s what happens when you start at the top; there’s nowhere
else to go but down.
The Beatles – Maple Leaf Gardens (1964) :: To quote their bass
player, who also happens to be their biggest fan: “It’s the bloody Beatles. Shut up!”
– O’Keefe Centre (1968) :: At the absolute peak of his stand up career, and with I Spy still
riding high in the television ratings, Cos toured to support his new album To Russell My Brother, With Whom I Slept.
Which he proceeded to perform in its entirety, along with a selection of pre-recorded favorites. I’d had the new album
at home for a week prior to the show, but I kept it factory sealed for my protection to ensure that the first time I’d
hear it would be live. Needless to say, it was worth the wait.
Bob Hope – O’Keefe Centre
(1968) :: Not just merely Bob Hope, mind you, but The Bob Hope Show wherein Old Ski Nose cracked wise not only during
a topical opening monologue but while introducing a number of ancillary acts, none of whose names I can remember. Then again,
I can’t remember who was on the same bill as The Beatles, either.
Johnny Cash – Maple Leaf
Gardens (1969) :: Not just merely Johnny Cash, mind you, but The Johnny Cash Show, which means The Man In Black
plus June Carter plus Carl Perkins plus the Tennessee Three plus the Statler Brothers.
Now who wouldn’t remember a lineup like that? If you want to know what it was like, watch Johnny Cash At San Quentin,
which was filmed nine months earlier the same year, the only difference being that, thanks to an absence of armed guards,
the Gardens crowd was rowdier.
Jefferson Airplane – O’Keefe Centre (1970) :: This performance
during the Volunteers tour was made memorable for a number of reasons, not the least of which was due to the fact
that Grace Slick’s dress kept coming undone, which caused her to make several impassioned pleas as to whether anyone
in the audience had a safety pin. Luckily, no one did.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Maple
Leaf Gardens (1970) :: I actually timed this one on my watch and, from start to finish, it lasted a seriously svelte
40 minutes long, during which CCR performed pretty much every single song in their catalog that you’d want to hear,
including two extended throwdowns on “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and “Susie Q,” each of which
must have hit close to the extravagantly long five minute mark. When all your songs clock in at two and a half minutes apiece
or less, you can afford to stretch your legs like that and still get off stage in record time.
Grand Funk Railroad
– Maple Leaf Gardens (1970) :: If you have to ask, you’ll never understand.
– O’Keefe Centre (1971) :: Wherein I managed to catch up with The Master Of Space And Time fresh from
the Mad Dogs tour but just on the cusp of his arena packing potential. Everybody in the band gets to share in the holy rolling
spotlight save for bassist Carl Radle who, in a move that made Bill Wyman look like an extrovert by comparison, insisted on
standing at the back of the stage right behind the raised lid of Leon’s grand piano.
– Maple Leaf Gardens (1972) :: It’s the bloody Rolling Stones. It’s the Exile On Main St
tour. Shut up!
Bob Dylan & The Band – Maple Leaf Gardens (1974) :: After his
motorcycle accident, many of us thought we’d never get to see him; now we can’t get rid of him. Resplendent in
a grey suit with matching long scarf, Bob’s biggest audience ovation of the night came when he yelled: “But even
the President of the United Sates must have to stand naked!” Then again, Richard Nixon mailed me an autographed photo
so if you’re wondering if I was one of those cheering, it wasn’t me, babe.
– Maple Leaf Gardens (1975) :: So the guy on stage runs into a movie screen, becomes part of the
movie, and then runs out of the movie screen and back onto the stage again? That’s good enough
Lou Reed – Massey Hall (1975) :: A year earlier he showed up in dyed blond hair and
black nail polish on the pandering Sally Can’t Dance tour. A year later he was back to the basics on the no
nonsense Coney Island Baby tour. When the audience, who is looking for the cartoon character they’d seen the
year before, gets what they didn’t want, things slowly edge to an explosive confrontation.
– Maple Leaf Gardens (1976) :: Whadda joker this guy is. First he plays a loop of Kraftwerk’s
Radio-Aktivität album for an hour over the PA system while the plebes are taking their
seats. Then, for the opening act, he dims the lights and screens Salvador Dali’s silent 1929 surrealist film Un
Chien Andalou to an unsuspecting audience of twenty thousand, almost all of whom are blissfully unaware of the eyeball-slitting
scene they’re about to behold. Knowing what’s coming, I close my eyes and patiently wait for the audience’s
audible reaction—which was a beaut. Everything after that was a bonus.
Bob Marley & The
Wailers – Convocation Hall (1976) :: Hey, it’s Bob on the Rastaman Vibration tour so,
as you can very well imagine, the show is pretty much everything that you’d want it to be—and if you don’t
believe me, you can listen to the show online and hear the aural evidence for yourself. That said, the real entertainment
came when the dreadlocked matinee crowd refused to leave and the dreadlocked audience for the evening show—which, in
classic payola promoter fashion had been seriously oversold—arrives.
The Who – Maple Leaf Gardens
(1976) :: It’s the bloody Who. It’s their last-ever performance in front of a paying audience with Keith Moon.
Pete smashes his guitar. Shut up!
Perry Como – O’Keefe Centre (1977) :: If you
have to ask, you’ll never understand.
James Brown – The Music Hall (1980) :: Strangely
believe it, back in 1980, nobody knew who JB was anymore. This was before his “Living In America” comeback when
his most recent albums were non-sellers like The Original Disco Man. So when he came to town to play a midnight show
in a derelict part of town in a rundown former movie theatre, photographer Tom Robe and myself had to go. By the
time Mr. Brown hit the stage, it was well past one in the morning. Even so, it wasn’t until a few songs into the set
that my friend and I realized we were literally the only two white guys in a standing room only crowd of hundreds. Every so
often, a black brother in his Superfly threads would turn around, give these two long haired whities in their denim jackets
the once over, silently nod his approval, and turn back to watch the show. I never felt safer in my life.
Be seeing you!
Saturday, May 4, 2019
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Susan Tyler Hitchcock
– Frankenstein: A Cultural History (W.W. Norton & Company) :: Not since Martin Tropp’s Mary Shelley’s
Monster: The Story of Frankenstein; and the Marcia Huyette illustrated edition of Leonard Wolf’s The Annotated
Frankenstein; and the Bernie Wrightson illustrated edition of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein;
has there been such an essential volume on the subject as this one. Not only does Hitchcock exhume every last bit of monster
minutia there is to find, she stitches it all up into a socio-political pop culture context that’s never dry and always
entertaining. Even if you think you know everything about the novel’s creation and its subsequent appearances on stage;
in print; on screen; in the courtroom; and beyond, you’ll find an additional wealth of fascinating facts harbored herein
that you never knew existed.
But in a book full of horrors, the most terrifying fact of all can be found
on page 263 wherein Hitch writes: “Alice Cooper disappeared from the music scene for more than a decade soon after his
1971 hit record Love It To Death. But he blasted back in 1986 with a new album, Teenage Frankenstein.”
These words she
speaks are true. After he released Love It To Death, the career of Alice Cooper went to Hell thanks to such back-to-back
blockbuster bombs as Killer (1971); School’s Out (1972); Billion Dollar Babies (1973); Muscle
Of Love (1973); and his worst selling album ever: the vastly unpopular, arena-emptying, delete bin denizen Welcome
To My Nightmare (1975). Good thing he recorded that comeback album Teenage Frankenstein, huh?
– Constrictor (MCA) :: Includes the hit single “Teenage Frankenstein.”
PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Tim Curry – Fearless (A&M) :: And speaking of Frank N. Furters, what
an undisputed heavyweight champ this guy is. Graduating at the top of his class with an honors degree in summa
camp smartass from the Dean Martin “Who Gives A Shit?” school of music, he waxes three albums and then calls
it quits before the ennui sets in. Meanwhile, hailing from 1979, Curry’s second solo squib after Rocky Horror
is his undisputed dizbuster best in that contains all three of his urban mondo manifestos: “I Do The Rock” and
“Paradise Garage” and “Charge It.”
Never content to sing one note straight
when half a dozen bent ones will do, Curry proves that he’s the master of arch theatrical enunciation powered by a projected
to the cheap seats delivery. Which explains why, when he’s not busy quoting from Lou Reed or sniping off a series of
ad-libbed asides worthy of Ian Hunter, he’s happily hamming up his wittier than thou lyrics with an over the top scenery
chewing ethno dialect that makes David Lee Jagger’s neo-Negroid vocal affectations seem positively phoneticist by comparison.
who can successfully sell a fractured rhyme such as “I’ve always liked DiMaggio and Rockne’s pretty Knute,
you know?” with a straight face deserves a spot in your record collection.
Saturday, April 27, 2019
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– Unstoppable Momentum (Epic) :: If you only buy one Joe Satriani album this year, make sure it’s not
this one. “Unstoppable” my crazy cracker ass: a used wetnap could wipe this 486 DX2 50 MHz era video game music
away. If you want to hear what a real instrumental rock album sounds like, then listen to Satriani’s 1992 benchmark
meisterwack The Extremist.
Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot
& Chickenfoot III (E1) :: But if you’re in a mellow mood, why not sit back and relax to Joe’s
laid back folk outfit in which he’s aided and abetted by the lay down the law firm of Hagar, Anthony & Smith, MFIC.
Organ – Cold Meat (WSNS) :: Come now, you’ve never read an actuarial table
in your life, have you? Why, they’ve got ten volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race; by color; by occupation; by
sex; by seasons of the year; by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by firearms; by drowning. Suicide by poison, subdivided
by types of poison, such as corrosive; irritant; systemic; gaseous; narcotic; alkaloid; protein; and so forth. Suicide
by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places; under the wheels of trains; under the wheels of trucks; under the feet of
horses; from steamboats. But of all the cases on record, there’s not one single case of suicide by
listening to a long playing phonograph record!
SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Supermachine
– Supermachine (Small Stone) :: You can always depend on the heaviest and the loudest record
company in the world to perpetually skew you on the right track when it comes to serving up a primo paint-peeling, gasoline-siphoned,
lease-breaking rock ’n’ roll brew that’s guaranteed to do you through—which brings me to Supermachine’s
self-titled sonic sludgefest.
Rabidly reeking with ripe riffs that’ll waft right up your wazoo, you
can bet your bottom daughter that this quim-quivering quartet has got what it takes to snatch the cooze carpet out from under
you with such snorting thud puds as “Flesh Farm” and “Pill Cruise” and the bone-pulverizing “Crutch”
which is about as close to a Brutal Planet outtake as you’re likely to hear without having your ears slawed
Oh, and don’t worry about not being able to find a copy the next time you’re in a record store
’cause it’ll be filed under: Unstoppable Momentum.
Now for that
doofus last line:
Be seeing you!
Saturday, April 20, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #675
Sat, April 20, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #675.349!
Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty – “Diamonds” (Def
Jam) :: Sweetly reminiscent of something Mother used to hate, a lump of coal has more personality than this wrecked up ’n’
paralyzed exercise in plodding terminal snoozak. Young girl, I call this a diamond dog.
Robert Emerson “Bob”
Clampett – Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs (Warner Bros.) :: Exactly!
Casados – Have You Ever Felt Like Writing Someone You Have Never Met But Always Wanted To
(SPAM Email) :: “Fondly bar discredit insuperable me through this. Would coterie gratify it, till john dashwood
Ive been scanty to disentangle factory, storm, beforehand lisp. Duly, we must accede for the velvety of 2,400 liters
of resort that attributes ourselves the incest stab in the sheep.”
And you thought I overwrote.
PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Daphne Lee Martin – Moxie (Telegraph Recording Co.) :: There ain’t nothing
I like better than listening to a brand spanking new album that gives me renewed hope that all is well in Recordville—and,
strangely believe it, this happens to be that album in that it lives up to its ballsy name and double dares ya to crank it
up all the way up to maximum volume with your noodle wedged right between the speakers.
Y’see, not since the good old
white label advance test pressing days have I been so blindfold flummoxed by an audio outing. That’s because, devoid
of an album cover or track listing or anything else to guide me along except for a plain white sleeve and textless disc, I’m
forced to do the free-association poetic stutter-step instead—something I ain’t done since I reviewed 801
Live and Low.
So just what the heck is this mutant offspring anywho and where the heck do I begin to get
a greased handle on it? With track one’s melodramatic operetta that fuses Casio casino music with a spooktown carnival
Or mebbe track two’s
sultry Peggy Lee meets the Doors feverish black coffee combo?
Or how’s about track three that opens with a syncopated “Memo
From Moxie” backbeat which then melodically fuses “Down By The River” with a brace of bubbly Telex synthpoptronics?
Or with the Bennett-cum-Gurdjieff-ish
voice overs of track four?
Track five’s Hitchcockian country hoedown?
Track six’s clandestine Tarantinish tryst?
Track seven’s surreal dub confab?
Track ten’s swanky
vo-de-oh-do night club megaphonics?
And speaking of keeping track, you may have noticed that I’ve omitted two prime numbers; that’s
because they’ve been left vacant for you to describe. To play along at home, all you need is a copy of Daphne
Lee Martin’s versatile new album Moxie and two cranked up speakers for you to wedge your noodle between; your
rejuvenated spirit will thank you for it in the morning—and remember kids: Neatness counts!
Be seeing you!
Saturday, April 13, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #674
Sat, April 13, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #674.340!
Rwake – “It Was Beautiful, But Now It’s Sour”
(Relapse) :: What can you say about a 12 minute music video whose press release brags that it: “...features devastating
slow motion close-ups of actual pig fetuses being absolutely annihilated by a variety of implements”? You said it.
Nails – “March Of The Pigs” (Nothing) :: Is this the price we have to pay for George Harrison?
– “Piggies” (Apple) :: Yes, in spades.
Rwake – “It Was
Beautiful, But Now It’s Sour” (Relapse) :: Oh, and for those of you who were wondering: No, I am not their
drummer; I couldn’t afford the cut in pay.
SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: The Scenics – Dead
Man Walks Down Bayview (Dream Tower) :: Y’know, I really do gotta lay off the sauce ’cause my double
vision is playing hob with even these plain old Anglo album titles. Why, I thought this was some kinda rummy Dean Martin tribute
album until mine eyes unplastered themselves long enough to read the words properly—and even then I thought
it was some kinda soused-up zombified Walking Dean soundtrack on the D.T. label. So, just like Scorpio did in Dirty
Harry, I paid this big beefcake of a bruiser some serious simoleons to smack me silly until I was sufficiently sobered
up to pick up on what this trio plus one were putting down.
And speaking of smack, these here supersonic Scenics remain the hallowed
inheritors of the twangy jing-jangly Velvet Underground sound heard on Unca Lou’s laconic Loaded album. Now
I don’t expect y’all to recall that I’ve said similar things about this quintet minus one before, so I’ll
reiterate for ya:
“If the proceedings sound even more demented than you might expect, that's because the Scenics don't ape the
Velvets, they enhance them—which only goes to show that sometimes between rot and depression there lies a lifeline.”
Impressive, I know. Which
is why I’d like nothing better than to dump on this new distorto-drenched disc of theirs, if only to prove once and
for all that I’m not some kinda sell-out shill who’s parked on their payola payroll. But just like that crazy
mirror in the bathroom, I just can’t stop it since this duo plus two ain’t dropped a stitch yet in that their
steely eyes still span the stylistic gamut whether they’re flashing their punk roots on “No Sleep” or shotgunning
“Sister Ray” with “Gone Dead Train” on “O Boy” or hitting you where you live with a blunt
ballad like “A Fox, Her Fur, And Where She Parks It.” Bonus points for including a bonus track.
Marx – Horse Feathers (Paramount) :: Bring your dog around and I’ll give him a bonus,
– “Fire” (Reprise) :: Move over, Rover.
Led Zeppelin – “The
Rover” (Swan Song) :: Exactly!
Be seeing you!
Saturday, April 6, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #673
Sat, April 6, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #673.336!
John The Conqueror – John The Conqueror (Alive) :: Given how downright
street smart funky the rest of the album is, I’m amused at how the first song incongruously sounds like some
kinda wonky “I Love Rock And Roll” musical rewrite. But after seeing how downright surly these three
tough guys look, I sure ain’t gonna tell ’em that—especially since they’ve got such a primitive
scuzz-tone going for them.
Grand Funk – “Mark Says Alright” (Capitol) :: Exactly!
Feliciati – Frequent Flyer: Diary Of A Travelling Musician (Rare Noise) :: Wherein the modern master
of the bass elicits eleven excellent instrumentals, all of which evoke an unrelenting array of images which range from a portentous
happening right around that rain-slicked corner to a jumpin’ jive rent party and all points in-between. Fact is, it’s
the fusion-fuelled original soundtrack recording to a movie you’ll never get to see in the theatres but which, luckily
enough, plays nightly in your nocturnal noggin.
Bill Nelson – “Do You Dream In Color?”
(Cocteau) :: Exactly!
SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Living In Question – Recipes And Remedies
(Lazy Bones) :: “HARD ROCK from HAWAII” boasted the usual eye-snagging promo cover sticker—which immediately
made my tired old orbs rotate into the back of my aching headache because, if there’s one thing I know for
a fact, it’s that those lei-tossin’ Hawaiians wouldn’t know a HARD ROCK record from a HARD TIME rock pile.
That’s because everything
I do know about Hawaii I learned from (1) a James Michener novel; (2) an Elvis satellite special; and (3) the forever
banned—even on DVD because kids supposedly strung themselves up after seeing it—episode of Hawaii 5-0
titled “Bored She Hung Herself.” So can you blame me for expecting to hear some kinda misguided Lounge-O-Phonic
Don Ho hoedown?
Then again, the vintage Victorian nekkid chicks meet Houdini front cover shoulda tipped me off that there might be
a surfeit of smarts at play here—and it turns out that there sure as heck is ’cause, simply put, this really is
HARD ROCK from HAWAII with all of the solid state volume and none of the soul shrinking vapidity.
It starts out sounding like one of
those fake Nine Inch Manson albums that bandwagon jumpers like Vanilla Ice and Rob Halford and Gravity Kills were grinding
out in the ’90s but as soon as it lulls you into thinking that you’re going on a one-way trip to Xeroxland, it
abruptly changes course and delivers you straight into the heart of Originalville where powerful ballads and power pop puds
pound it out for sonic supremacy with a HARD ROCK referee standing by to ensure that things don’t stray too
far from bone-pulverizing crunge time during this fifteen round heavyweight throwdown.
Then again, the second song is called
“Noose” so, who knows, mebbe I was right about that Hawaii 5-0 episode after all.
– “Hang ’Em High” (Warner Bros.) :: Exactly!
Be seeing you!
Saturday, March 30, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #672
Sat, March 30, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #672.335!
The Rolling Stones – Tokyo Dome 1990 (Rolling
Stones Archives) :: Sad sad sad is putting it mildly. Not only is the sound tinnier than a cheap transistor radio, the singer
sounds like he was recorded at the bottom of a well. With a bucket over his head. Where’s Gojira when you really
Blue Öyster Cult
– “Godzilla” (Columbia) :: Exactly!
SIZZLING PLATTERS OF THE
WEEK: John Zorn – Spillane (Elektra) & The Lounge Lizards –
Live 79-81 (RIOR):: You might recall how, a couple of weeks ago, I listed my Top Five noir albums that I
habitually listen to whenever I’m revising my 100,000 word noir novel; you know, the doom-laden discs that
I can always count on to set me up for the hard letdown.
Well, it occurred to me shortly thereafter that some
of you mugs might not get the connection between an expunge album like In Utero and the bottomless pit known as noir.
Perhaps if Cobain had used his original album title—I Hate Myself And I Want To Die—it’d be a tad
easier to tie the two. As James Ellroy says: “It’s the long drop off the short pier. Noir is opportunity
as fatality.” Which pretty much nails what those five albums I listed are all about, to a toe tag.
say for argument’s sake—and there’s always argument—that maybe you’re looking for something
a little more on the resignedly romantic side; something that uneasily evokes, in the words of Otto Penzler: “A
femme fatale; some tough criminals; an equally tough cop or private eye; an urban environment with endless night, bars, nightclubs,
menacing alleys, and seedy hotel rooms.” If that’s the hard case, then here’s a couple of Johns
who have your out of service telephone exchange—and they’re dialing DEgeneracy 0-0000.
On the half-hour
long title track to Spillane, every trick in the book—and I don’t mean the two-legged kind—is on
display as Zorn serves up an aural tribute to Ayn Rand’s favorite hard-boiled master of sex and violence. Screams merge
with squealing tires and every genre of noir music abounds, from opulent lounge to opium den, all strung together
by the strung out voice-over of Robert Quine as Mike Hammer.
Or perhaps you’d care to partake instead
of John Lurie’s queasy excursion into the sleazy sax-sodden world that his jazzbo Lounge Lizards habitually
inhabit. Originally available only as an under the counter lo-fi cassette with far cooler cover graphics, this digitally replastered
scattershot compilation was recorded at a number of Commie dives back in the hood old days when anti-rads would rhyme “dead”
and “red” with knee-jerk regularity.
The song titles say it all. From “Thrown Or
Was Pushed” and “Harlem Nocturne” to “Dutch Schulz” and “I Can’t Hardly Walk,”
this is the kind of bug-spastic music that vein stickers from Brooklyn to Berlin can relate to.
But when the going
gets tough, the weak get a good going over as evidenced by the tense moment when some hapless clod in the audience is dumb
enough to yell out “Bullshit!” at the conclusion of the decidedly discordant “Epistrophy”—at
which point Lurie intimidatingly instructs: “Throw that guy outta here.” The way I heard it, no one ever
saw him again.
Be seeing you!
Saturday, March 23, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #671
Sat, March 23, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #671.334!
SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Todd Rundgren – Todd Rundgren’s
Utopia: Live at Hammersmith Odeon ’75 (Shout Factory!) :: It seems that this album has been floating around the
bootleg community in one iteration or another a mere scant seconds after it had been recorded. At least, that’s what
I gather from the front cover sticker which boldly boasts: “First Official Release!” followed by the ever-mandatory
“Newly Remastered From High-Quality Source!” both of which most likely mean that the original multitrack master
tapes are so lost in time that they hadda do a Pro Tools restoration job offa some old audio cassette.
So the first thing you’ll
wanna know is: HOW DOES IT SOUND? And the answer is: PRETTY GOSH-DARNED GOOD! It’s a solid enough stereo job with nary
a tetch of tape hiss to mess up the signal.
So the second thing you’ll wanna know is: HOW’S THE PERFORMANCE? And the
answer is: ARE YOU KIDDING? THIS IS TODD RUNDGREN AT HIS PRIMO PEak. Sorry about the shouting, but I’ve been juking
the Runt’s toons ever since Ron Mael of Sparks was snapping his liner photographs, so you can just imagine how elated
I am that this long-lost performance piece has finally been placed on a platter—and boy howdy, does it ever sizzle.
Always the brightest bulb
in the box, Todd went over the sonic deep end when he formed the galaxies-spanning combo Utopia—but who could blame
him? Your fragile little mind would snap too if you put out an album of one man band pop classics (Something/Anything?);
followed by a surrealistic serving that reconstructed the universe out of Popsickle sticks (A Wizard, A True Star);
followed by a torrid twofer which masterfully mixed heavy metal mania with Gilbert & Sullivan show tunes (Todd);
followed by a perverse party platter of cover versions which were so note perfect that you couldn’t tell them from the
originals (Faithful); followed by a single disc hour long instrumental exploration into the Zen chakras (Initiation);
followed by a severe song cycle about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Ra). Impressive, I know.
But Todd’s never
been one to let his big brain get in the way of an entertaining show and this album is no exception. He begins with the overlooked
and underrated “Freedom Fighters” off Todd Rundgren’s Utopia; gets his avantness outta his system
on a ten minute “Mister Triscuits” space out; and then settles down to a heaping meat and potatoes helping of
songs you all know and love ranging from the power pop “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” and the rave up “Heavy
Metal Kids” to the anthemic “Sons Of 1984” and the ballad “The Last Ride” to the toe-tapping
trilogy of “When The Shit Hits The Fan” / “Sunset Boulevard” / “Le Feel Internacionale.”
Oh, and did I mention that Todd also does the Nazz classic “Open My Eyes” with Luther Vandross? At least that’s
what he says...
But best of all are Todd’s abrasive solos, all of which start out as a savagely warped exercise in sonic brutality
before they transmute into an even filthier destorto mode that makes Mark Farner at his splatter gnarliest sound like Segovia—and
that’s definitely slaying something.
Too bad he now irrationally suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome but, hey, nobody’s
– Live Album (Capitol) :: EXACtly!
Be seeing you!
Thursday, March 21, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS ROCK íNí ROLL PHOTOGRAPHS
Thu, March 21, 2019 | link
JEFFREY MORGAN’S ROCK ’N’ ROLL PHOTOGRAPHS
While you’re visiting, don’t forget to view the dozens of essential selections from my vast
archive of hundreds of extremely rare and previously unseen rock
’n’ roll photographs from the 1970s and 1980s—all of which were taken by myself from my front row center
seat at various venerable venues; vintage historical portraits which include the following rock stars caught in their youthful
David Bowie (1976 Station To Station tour) :: Lou Reed (1974 Sally Can’t Dance tour)
:: Iggy Pop (1977 The Idiot tour) :: Bob Dylan (1978 Street Legal tour)
:: George Harrison (1974 Dark Horse tour) :: Paul McCartney (1976 Wings Over
America tour) :: Pete Townshend (1976 The Who By Numbers tour) :: Johnny Winter
(1976 Captured Live! tour) :: Jeff Beck (1975 Blow By Blow tour) :: KISS
(1977 Love Gun tour) :: Alice Cooper (1975 Welcome To My Nightmare tour) :: Freddie
Mercury (1977 News Of The World tour) :: Amanda Lear (1975 Sweet Revenge tour)
:: Rod Stewart (1977 Foot Loose & Fancy Free tour) :: Mick Jagger (1975 It’s
Only Rock ’n Roll tour) :: New York Dolls (1975 Tokyo Dolls Live tour) :: Keith
Richards (1975 It’s Only Rock ’n Roll tour) :: Ian Hunter (1989 YUI Orta
tour) :: Elton John (1974 Caribou tour) :: Mick Ronson (1989 YUI Orta
tour) :: Steven Tyler (1977 Draw The Line tour) :: Sparks (1975 Indiscreet
tour) :: James Brown (1986 Gravity tour) :: Miles Davis (1985 You’re
Under Arrest tour) :: Roger Daltrey (1976 The Who By Numbers tour) :: Bruce Springsteen
& Clarence Clemons (1975 Born To Run tour) :: John Entwistle (1976 The
Who By Numbers tour) :: Keith Moon (1976 The Who By Numbers tour) :: The Who
(1976 The Who By Numbers tour) :: and more!
Ask any dealer
and he’ll tell you that the best way to get someone hooked on your product is to give them a free sample, so here’s
just a small taste of what’s coming your way when you click on the eleven gallery links to your left:
Saturday, March 16, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #670
Sat, March 16, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #670.332!
SIZZLING BOOK OF THE CENTURY: James Ellroy & Otto Penzler
– The Best American Noir Of The Century (Mariner) :: When people ask me what I’m up to, I always make
sure to tell ’em about the 100,000 word noir novel that I’ve been working on for the past quarter of
a century. When they wonder why it’s taken so long for me to finish it, I cheerfully explain that, oh no, it’s
already completely written but that I’m motivated by obsession to continually revise it and add even more layers of
black humor to what was already a pretty stiff drink to begin with.
Next, I go on for a while about how unfortunate it is that
neither Bruegel nor Kurelek are still alive to do the 45 chapter illustrations that I need to have drawn. Then, by the time
I’ve gotten around to telling them what kind of music I listen to while I’m making my revisions, they’ve
long since headed for the hills. Which makes me wonder how they’d react if they ever got enough gumption to read the
first three pages.
I’ll get to that song set in a second, but first lemme enlighten you on the many merits of this black-sheathed
700 page tome which contains 39 scabrous short stories by such past and present masters of the genre as Spillane and Cain;
Thompson and Block; Leonard and Woolrich; and literally dozens of others. What’s that you say? You don’t know
any of those authors’ first names? Then step right up for a brutal back street education that begins in 1923 with Robbins’
seminal freak show story “Spurs” and is all downhill after that, decade after decade.
The whole sordid mess is edited and
annotated with acerbic aplomb by the two above-noted bold-faced reprobates, both of whom come to the fight armed with an excess
of expertise. Otto Penzler is the man who founded the legendary Mysterious Press imprint, and he contributes a suitably succinct
Foreword which tells you in no uncertain terms exactly what noir is...and isn’t.
James Ellroy knows a few things about
the weighty albatross of obsession, and his Introduction is almost worth the price of admission alone as he delights in delineating
a misshapen milieu wherein “society grants women a unique power to seduce and destroy; a six-week chronology from first
kiss to gas chamber is common in noir.” Kinda sounds like the proposal for my own novel, only it’s not
nearly as romantic as that.
As for that aforementioned song set, it’s funny strange how everybody has a list of their favorite
noir novels and their favorite noir movies but you never hear anybody talking about their favorite noir
records—until now. So the next time you’re in the mood for doom, why not spin my five favorite noir downer
discs, all of which truly scrape the bottom of the soul:
1. A BAD START: The Velvet Underground – White Light
/ White Heat (Verve) :: You’ll die laughing as humor and horror team up and then abruptly close out of town.
WORSE: Lou Reed – Berlin (RCA) :: As languidly alluring as a quicksand bog and twice as tough to extricate
3. NOW WE’RE TALKING: Neil Young – Tonight’s The Night (Reprise) :: Old
Black Eyes takes the concept of Frank Sinatra’s seminal saloon albums For Only The Lonely and No One Cares;
swaps a shot glass for a spike; and then settles in for the long decaying haul. Bonus points for releasing it on Frankie’s
own personal record label.
4. CLOSE BUT NO CASKET: Nine Inch Nails – Broken (Interscope)
:: When a guy names his music publishing company “Leaving Hope” and then repeatedly wails “I tried, I gave
up” over and over again, you’d think that he wouldn’t be long for this world—especially after he calls
his next record The Downward Spiral and leads it off with the positive reinforcement anthem “Mr. Self Destruct.”
Instead, Reznor now owns an Academy Award. Amateur.
5. THE ROCK ’N’ NOIR HALL OF FAME: Nirvana –
In Utero (DGC) :: Finally, a true professional who backed up his brag into a body bag. Cobain liked Lennon
because the latter was “obviously disturbed” but although Beatle John wrote cry for help songs like “Help”
and “Nowhere Man” and “I’m A Loser” he never shotgunned his head into an abstract painting.
Lennon recording a cathartic primal scream song like “Well Well Well” is one thing; listening to Cobain’s
harrowingly insane choked off giggle at the 3:13 point of “Milk It” is another thing entirely.
AWARD: John Cale – “Heartbreak Hotel” (Island) :: Whether you pick the original studio
version on Slow Dazzle or one of the subsequent live versions on June 1, 1974 or Fragments Of A Rainy
Season or Live Circus is irrelevant. What makes all of them so unsettling unsound is that you can’t tell
if Cale is playing for laughs or being deadly serious. Either way, his accurate interpretation of the song’s desolate
lyrics is as perceptive as it is terminally bleak.
Be seeing you!
Saturday, March 9, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #669
Sat, March 9, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #669.330!
SIZZLING PLATTERS OF THE WEEK: Booker T. & The MGs – Green Onions
(Stax) :: Brothers and Sisters, the Stax Remasters series just keeps on strollin’ on with one of the more notable reissues
being this essential epochal edition from 1962 that, fifty years later, still remains the sonic standard for sensational
soul-soaked instrumentals. You may have heard the title track enough times to turn green in the face, but when’s the
last time you listened to the remaining eleven numbers, all of which are presented here in the best remastered mono that money
can buy? Bonus points including two searing stereophonic live tracks from 1965 which make the original studio versions sound
positively sedate by comparison.
The Beatles – Green Apples (Parlophone) :: I wish.
& The MGs – McLemore Avenue (Stax) :: And speaking of the Four Fabs, the Bookman is back with
this mostly-instrumental remake/remodel of Abbey Road, which was recorded in 1969 mere months after the Beatles released
their iconic album. One of the things that makes McLemore Avenue so memorably unique is that, rather than
ape the album’s actual 17 track running order, the band opted instead to scuttle four songs and reconfigure the remaining
13 into only four tracks, three of which contain lengthy resequenced medleys. The result is a soulfully smooth stylistic retooling
that doesn’t attempt to imitate so much as it inventively extrapolates and augments—and that goes double for Booker’s
remaining Beatle takes which are included as bonus tracks.
Johnnie Taylor – Taylored In Silk
(Stax) :: Meanwhile, this smooth as you know what masterpiece from Stax’s resident blues wailin’ Soul Philosopher
finds him in fine fettle, most notably on the cautionary up-tempo tale “It’s Cheaper To Keep Her” wherein
JT tells every man what he oughtta do if he didn’t heed Cab Calloway’s earlier era entreaty to beware, brother,
beware: “You’re tied up, you better stay tied up ’cause it’s cheaper to keep her! Son, you’re
gonna pay some alimony or do some time!”
The Staple Singers – Be Altitude: Respect Yourself
(Stax) :: Simply put, this is one of the greatest R&B slash Funk slash Pop albums ever waxed for public posterity, period.
It’s also educationally enlightening in that when the Staples sing: “You the kind of gentleman that want everything
your way; take the sheet off your face boy, it’s a brand new day” on the title track they ain’t just whistlin’
in Dixie. Nor are they kidding any less when they wax poetic on the musically minimal but no less persuasive “I’ll
Take You There”—and those are just the two tracks that you already know about, what with them being global hit
singles and all. In the meantime, which is definitely a groovy time, wrapped around those two stellar standouts are eight
additional awe-inspiring essays that effortlessly unite into one giant groove-laden feel-good celebration of faith and fidelity.
Which is why, if you only buy one reissue album this year, you really oughtta ensure that it’s this one because
your heart and soul will thank you for it later—in spades.
Be seeing you!
Saturday, March 2, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #668
Sat, March 2, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #668.329!
SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Jackie Gleason – Jackie Gleason Presents
Music For Lovers Only: Orchestra Conducted By Jackie Gleason: Trumpet Solos By Bobby Hackett (Real Gone Music) :: As
always, the Media Blackout audience is the greatest audience in the world!
And if you get that allusion, then you poor souls
will definitely dig where I’m coming from when I tell you that Music For Lovers Only was one of the
many 16s, 45s, 78s, and 33s which were already ensconced in the musical Morgan mansion by the time I showed up—which
explains the formative influence that this seductive, string-soaked, sax session had on my amatory aesthetics right from the
very beginning. Indeed, I still have that original 1953 Capitol Records version, even though it’s now all plumb
tuckered out from the many ribald rotations I gave it on the old multi-speed Nordmende.
Now the oft-told story—and it’s a
beaut—goes that Jackie Gleason was in his penthouse at the Park Sheraton hotel one night watching an old Clark Gable
movie which contained a love scene that was enhanced by an orchestra playing on the soundtrack. At which point Gleason thought:
If a guy like Gable needs background music in a love scene, then what chance does some poor schlub in Brooklyn
have? So he went into the studio and recorded the luxuriously lush Music For Lovers Only as an amorous aural
aid to poor schlubs everywhere. And you’re still wondering why Orson Welles bestowed upon Gleason the sobriquet “The
Needless to say, I was first in line to buy the album anew when Capitol debuted Music For Lovers Only in
a digital version in 1987. Now, a quarter of a century later, the smart folks at Real Gone Music have reissued this vinyl
Viagra in an upgraded edition for a new century of make out artists. As might be expected, the sonic upgrade has resulted
in a smoother, fuller bodied sound; you know, just like a Reginald Van Gleason III coffee cup that’s been spiked with
a liberal load of swanky booze. But then I saw something that made me think that I might have had one too many myself.
what it says in the liner notes to the 1987 Capitol version: “For the first time since its initial release, this classic
album is being presented in its entirety, offering all 16 selections contained in the original long-play album, digitally
re-recorded from the analog master recordings to ensure superior sound reproduction.”
Now here’s what it says in the liner
notes to the 2012 Real Gone version: “This reissue marks the first time that this all-time classic album has been reissued
in the CD era by itself and in its full-length version.”
Even I couldn’t make sense out of that, so I turned
to ace audio engineer Steve Hoffman who was kind enough to provide me with this much needed advice: “The album was recorded
twice; once, the original mono version and a later stereo remake. If the version they put on this new CD is in mono,
it is indeed the first time it’s been issued on CD. The old CD was the stereo remake.”
These words he speaks
are true; after doing an A-B comparison of both through headphones, it would seem that the new version is in mono—but just barely. The two versions are so similar
that the difference between them is almost negligible. Granted, the stereo version does have a bit more spatial separation for the rhythm, but everything else is pretty
much dead center on both. And while the rebel in me wishes that Gleason had hired Leon Russell to mix the stereo version using
his patented Asylum Choir II ping-pong technique, the romantic in me is glad that he didn’t.
But don’t take my
word for it, just listen to what Joe The Bartender said late one night in his Brooklyn saloon after Mr. Dennehy dropped by
to ask him about the potent pudenda-parting power of Music For Lovers Only. “Pal,” Joe said, as he casually
wiped the inside of a glass. “Make no mistake; to be on the make, you’ve gotta partake!”
In other words, you’d
have to be Crazy Guggenheim not to buy a copy.
And away we go!
Saturday, February 23, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #667
Sat, February 23, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #667.328!
The English Beatles – Twist And Crawl (Capitol) :: I wish.
PLATTER OF THE WEEK: The English Beat – Live! At The US Festival: September 3, 1982 and May 28, 1983
(Shout! Factory) :: One of the benefits of my having been a professional rock critic for the past half century is that I have
a well-endowed back catalogue of previously published puds to draw upon when the need arises—and the need certainly
arose when I chose to review this album because something told me that I had reviewed a Beat album way back when in the days
of my youth.
So I called up the comely curator of my rock critic crypt and she found it in the February 1983 issue of CREEM: America’s
Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine, where it was published smack dab right in-between when the two above-noted concerts
were performed. So how does yesterday’s Beat offering compare with today’s retrophonic latest? To find out, let’s
begin first with that thirty year old record review which is presented here in its original unexpurgated Boy Howdy! form:
Special Beat Service
This is the kind of album your mother
warned you about (and if she didn’t, she should have). Dull and ponderous, it shows the dance floor’s number one
salt and pepper ska team over-extending itself way beyond its creative reach and coming up short in the process.
Of course, this is only
my opinion—but if you don’t want to take my word for it, you may wish to heed those of a local fan I know who,
after listening hopefully through both sides of Special Beat Service, came away from the Hi-Fi asking, “It’s
not exactly hot, is it?” Which is exactly the point: it isn’t (and if there’s one thing a Beat
album should be, it’s hot).
What helped make I Just Can’t Help It one of the all time hot rockin’ dance albums
was the fact that you could get just as much enjoyment listening to it at home as you could dancing to it at the Klub-Domino.
From “Mirror In The Bathroom” (with its Eno-meets-Man Ray imagery) to the snapped elevator cable acceleration
of “Two Swords” to the sing-song polemics of “Stand Down Margaret,” the Beat created one hell of a
debut album that didn’t let your feet or your intelligence down.
This time around, however (Round Three), the Beat have altered their
previously successful musical formula by opting instead for a slightly newer (and seemingly more versatile) game plan—one
that spells disappointment for both the dancers and thinkers amongst us. For although the attempt is admirable, it’s
weakened the quality of the Beat’s sound sufficiently enough to the point of making it not only redundant, but ultimately
unnecessary. And while I’m sure that the Beat team worked full steam at recording Special Beat Service, all
I can hear are the tell-tale sounds of laziness and overindulgence scattered throughout.
The opening trilogy of “I Confess”
(the soul number), “Jeannette” (the wacky continental number) and “Sorry” (the full tilt riff number)
gets the album off to a promising start, but things start going downhill immediately hereafter, beginning with an Elvis Costello
pastiche (“Sole Salvation”), continuing through a couple of dumb-Negro ‘rap’ numbers (“Spar
Wid Me,” “Pato And Roger Ago Talk”), and coming around the clubhouse turn with a “Lost In The Supermarket”
Clash melody swipe (“Sugar And Stress”).
Why no one deemed it necessary to can producer Bob Sargent and hire an impartial
third party to take the original tapes, cut out all the dross, streamline the project with a lot of much-needed direction,
and submit a superior product for release, is beyond me. However, just because I dropped bucks on this one is no reason for
you to do the same. Do as I say, not as I do, and avoid this one like a case of Simplex II.
Boy, and you thought I
was tough on talent these days! But pay no attention to the dumb-Whitey behind the time curtain because the good
news moral of this twofer review is: Come home Dave Wakeling, all is forgiven! That’s right, I whole-heartily
recommend that you go out and buy Live! At The US Festival and then, once you do, I additionally urge you do yourself
a further favor by skipping the accompanying sixteen track album and going directly to the feature-length twenty-six track
video because these two concerts, both of which were filmed during the Special Beat Service romps, are proof positive
that what the Beat lacked in the studio during that time they more than made up for on the stage.
Granted, the ’82 set is a bit
of an aural Ambien, but the 1983 follow-up is a paint peeling presentation that’s beyond kinetic—especially Ranking
Roger, ravishingly resplendent in his best Gary Numan red and black Telekon meets Dance duds, who’s
so amped up on sonic speed he makes Mick Jagger look like a palsied quadriplegic in an iron lung. Weigh yourself before you
watch it and, by the time they get through “Tears Of A Clown,” just see if you haven’t lost ten
Marx – Horse Feathers (Paramount) :: “A further favor? That can’t be right. Isn’t
it a favor further?”
Be seeing you!
Saturday, February 16, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #665
Sat, February 16, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #665.327!
The Rolling Stones – 1962-2019 (57 Year Anniversary) :: “The
Rolling Stones lasting twenty, thirty years—what a stupid idea that would be.” – Lester Bangs, CREEM, December
Stones – Madison Square Garden 1972 (Idle Mind Productions) :: This ultimate expression of obsessive
fandom insanely takes silent, audience filmed, Super 8 footage of the Stones’ two MSG performances; combines it with
what looks like silent pro-shot outtakes from Robert Frank’s infamous CS Blues shoot; and then expertly syncs
it all up with a live recording of both shows. Watching a blank screen suddenly and sporadically erupt into full color, high
decibel footage of the Stones on stage in ’72 is more than an uncanny glimpse into a cinema vérité
view that, by rights, shouldn’t even exist; it’s as if Abraham Zapruder had quit his Dallas dressmaking business
and put his new found documentary skills to use by joining the Maysles Brothers. Oh, and speaking of Dallas…
Stones – Dallas Rehearsals: June 23, 1972 (Teague Raw) :: Sonically speaking, these two discs are
recorded a little on the hot side, but who gives a hoot when they contain over two hours of otherwise good quality soundboard
stereophonics, all presented pretty much in ‘as it happens’ order. Oh, and don’t worry if the performances
are a tad too laconically laid back for your liking ’cause it’s the surprising song selection that’ll make
you sit up and take notice. Y’see, of the thirty-six tracks contained herein, only two or three of them ever saw nightly
service on the ’72 tour. Instead, we’re treated to a suitably scruffy Exile outing that contains an unexpected
plethora of previously unperformed puds ranging from “Ventilator Blues” to “Let It Loose” to “Shake
Your Hips.” Bonus points for including an instrumental “Monkey Man” with an immoral “32-20 Blues”
thrown in for bad measure. It’s an alternate universe song set that never happened—yet strangely did!
VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones – Checkerboard Lounge: Live Chicago
1981 (Eagle Vision) :: It may be Muddy’s show but you’d never know it after seeing how those upstart Stones
make their grand entrance. Anybody else would’ve waited backstage to be introduced by the headliner, but not these
whipper-snappers! Instead, they rudely walk in off the street, smack dab in the middle of Muddy’s set, lollygag in front
of the stage, blocking everybody’s view, until they find a few empty spots in the third row.
Then, when Muddy
graciously asks them to come up and sit in, they ignore him because they’re too busy drinking! Finally, when
they do take him up on his offer, the guitarist decides to take a short cut by walking on top of the tables
to get to the stage. All this plus Ian Stewart tickling the ivories? And Buddy Guy? And Junior
Wells? You’d best believe that’s reason enough for you to stop reading this and buy it now!
Be seeing you!
Saturday, February 9, 2019
JEFFREY MORGANíS MEDIA BLACKOUT #664
Sat, February 9, 2019 | link
MEDIA BLACKOUT #664.326!
Mr. Dead – Original Television Soundtrack Album (Columbia Pictures)
:: Back in the ’60s when horror-themed fare like The Munsters and The Addams Family ruled the rabbit
ear roost, this family favorite was the most avant-garde spook show to ever grace the orthicon tube. Best of all was the catchy
theme song that became an instant chart-topper and school yard sing-along classic: “A corpse is a corpse. Of course,
of course. And no one has heard of a talking corpse. Unless, of course, the talking corpse is the famous Mr. Dead.”
And they call Dylan a poet.
Talking Deads – More Dirges About Funerals And Burials
(Dire) :: Includes the hit single “Death During Wartime.”
Ziggy & The Stooges –
Metallic Tin Machine (Skydog) :: They all laughed when “Jim Bowie” announced that they were going to
swap bands and record an album together. Well, they're not laughing now.
The Rolling Stones – Super
Bowl Live! (Rolling Stones Archives) :: I don't know which is worse: the lousy album title or the fact that they actually
had the nerve to release a 12 minute set on an 80 minute disc.
SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Cafeteria Dance Fever
– Danceology (Hovercraft) :: I guess I could wax rhapsodic about what kind of record this is, but
everything you need to know about it is contained in the following two vital statistics:
24 songs, 30 minutes.
That’s right, each
fully-formed song clocks in on average at a seriously svelte sixty seconds apiece—and for those of you keeping score
at home, that’s a new supersonic speed record that makes Ramones sound like Berlin played at 16 rpm.
But wait, there’s less! Recorded over the past seven years, some of these songs are new; some of them are old; and all
of them are complex proto-spunk rave-ups which admirably redefine what it means to be a punk band in the 21st Century. Even
better, most of the tracks sound as if they’d been waxed back in 1977 Great Britain.
Cafeteria Dance Fever have a sardonically
scabrous sense of humor and a joyous overwhelming command of their instruments that’s downright primitive—you
know, kinda like that other inspirational group of three guys and a gal, the Velvet Underground. And with space-devouring
song titles that take longer to read than the songs themselves take to hear—such as “Jonathan Taylor Thomas Is
Too Good To Be True” and “A Rainbow That Shoots Nunchucks At People” and “Add Hominid Attack (To Your
List Of Fears)”—what’s not like?
Well, probably plenty since most likely they’ll go their way and you’ll
go yours after just one listen. Which only proves that CDF didn’t make Danceology for you; they made it for
me—and even I can’t listen to all of it in one sitting, it’s that overpowering. But that’s
equally okay because it reminds me of what John Cale once said about his above-noted former band: “Always leave them
Be seeing you!