Tag: 1970s

New Audio: RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records Team Up Once Again for Sixth Edition of Renowned “Brown Trip” Compilation — Release Explosive First Single from Album Slated for 4/20/18

Over the better part of the past few years, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records have collaborated on an expansive series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations, Brown Acid. Each individual edition of the series is based on RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with both Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recored together in 30 or 40 years, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi explained in press notes regarding the previous editions of the compilations “All of (these songs) could’ve been he given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

Naturally, by having the original artists participate as much as possible in their compilations, it frequently can give the artists and their songs, a real, second chance at attention and success. And certainly as a critic and as a fan, these songs help fill in the larger picture of what was going on in and around the underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Following the critical and commercial success of its first five volumes, RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records’ sixth volume of 60s and 70s proto-metal and pre-stoner rock Brown Acid: The Sixth Trip is slated for an April 20, 2018 continuing an annual rite of passage.  And much like the previous five editions, the sixth edition continues on Barressi’s and Hall’s exhaustive, painstaking research and curation with the duo continuing to discover that the well of hard rock, psych rock and proto-metal 45s from the period is incredibly deep — with the sixth edition featuring 9 deep cuts from bands based in Continental USA and one Canadian act.

Interestingly, each edition of Brown Acid has begun with an barn burner of a track and the sixth edition also continues that honored tradition with a swaggering yet frenetic, mind-melting, guitar pyrotechnic-fueled track from San Francisco, CA-based act Gold, “No Parking” recorded circa 1970. Reportedly, the band used to open their sets with the song — and as soon as you hear it, you’ll hear why: it captures a band that’s completely unafraid to kick ass and take names.  

The late bluesman Roscoe Chenier was born in the tiny town of Notleyville, LA. And although his sharecropper family were extremely poor, Chenier grew up within a deeply musical family. Although he was related to zydeco legend Clifton Chewier and bluesman Morris “Big” Chenier, his father, Arthur “Bud” Chenier, a cajun accordionist, who was frequently accompanied by his first cousin, fiddler John Stevens (the father of Duke Stevens) was the Roscoe Chenier’s bigger influence; in fact, Bud Chenier and John Stevens were best known for playing at popular weekend house parties, where Roscoe would soak up the music.

In 1958, Roscoe Chenier was invited to join one of the region’s hottest traveling bands in the region — CD and the Blue Runners, which featured Lonesome Sundown on lead guitar and three of the Gradnier brothers on harmonica, drums and bass. Chenier played with CD and the Blue Runners until 1970, finding enough work to survive as a bluesman despite the popularity of the British Invasion acts of the 1960s. However, as tastes changed, Chenier like a lot of the great old bluesman discovered, it was difficult to eke out a living — especially when some gigs paid maybe $6 per man per night. And throughout the better part of the 70s, Chenier began a succession of jobs as a truck driver while picking up the occasional hired gun gig, playing in the backing bands of Good Rockin’ Thomas, Good Rockin’ Bob, his old bandmate Lonesome Sundown, Clarence Randle and Duke Stevens.

By 1980, Chenier was leading his own band and through a combination of reputation, luck and skill, he was able to recruit a number of talented musicians while desperately trying to remain as financial independent as possible, which by the late 90s became increasingly difficult. And yet, Chenier and his band managed to play several of Europe’s most prestigious festivals including Blues Estafette (in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2001), North Sea Jazz Festival, toured across Europe several times and released a few albums before his death in February 2013 including 1998’s Roscoe Style and 2006’s Waiting For My Tomorrow. Roscoe Chenier’s last record, featured a haunting and folksy, acapella rendition of the old gospel standby “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” that immediately brings the early Delta Blues to mind — in particular, Son House, Lightnin’ Hopkins, early Muddy Waters and the like.

Interestingly, ElectroBluesSociety, a Dutch blues act, comprised of Japser Mortier (drums, bass) and Jan Mittendorp (guitar, production), who worked with Roscoe Grenier on several releases and several European tours decided to pay tribute to their late friend by adding a spectral and moody arrangement Chenier’s vocal that’s appropriately bluesy yet subtly modern, while retaining the timeless vibe of the original vocal take.

 

 

Initially formed in 1978 as a trio featuring founding members Steve Marsh, Doug Murray and his brother Greg Murray with synth player Jack Crow later joining the band, the members of Austin, TX-based punk act Terminal Mind, were influenced by the likes of Pere Ubu, Roxy Music, John Cale, and Wire — and despite a relatively short period of time together, managed to be at the forefront of Austin’s early punk rock scene, managing to quickly build a local profile, sharing bills with The Huns, Standing Waves, The Big Boys and Iggy Pop. As a result, they managed to subtly influence their hometown’s second wave of punk and noise rockers before splitting up to pursue a number of different projects: Marsh relocated to New York with his experimental noise act Miracle Room before returning to Austin to form space/psych rock act Evil Triplet and an experimental solo recording project he dubbed Radarcave; Doug Murray joined The Skunks; Greg Murray joined an iteration of The Big Boys. Unfortunately, Jack Crow died in 1994.

Now, as I’ve mentioned the proliferation of labels across the world of differing sizes has allowed for long lost bands to find their due, and interestingly, Terminal Mind’s retrospective album Recordings, which is slated for a January 19, 2018 release through Sonic Surgery Records  features the band’s very rate 4 song 7 inch album (which currently fetches more than $100 on eBay), a number of Live at Raul’s compilation tracks as well as a number of unreleased studio and live recordings. And the album’s first single “Refugee” find the short-lived band walking a tightrope between angular and nerdy post punk and furious punk with the band’s sound seeming like an amalgamation between Talking Heads: 77-era Talking HeadsPink Flag-era Wire, Entertainment! and Solid Gold-era Gang of Four, and Bad Religion.

Admittedly, while I listened to “Refugee,” there was this this sense that I had heard a band that through the weird machinations of fate and luck could have been much bigger than what they eventually wound up — after all, they were pairing tight hooks and angular power chords with an uncanny sense of melody a few years before Bad Religion even formed! But at the very least, hopefully the Sonic Surgery release will help fill in a necessary gap in the canon.     

 

Perhaps best known as a member of James Arthur’s Manhunt, Sean Morales is a Norfolk, VA-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who started working on his Stuart Sikes-produced solo debut effort, Call It In while he was living alone in Houston. When he returned to Austin, he enlisted several of the city’s most accomplished and renowned musicians to assist him in completing the album, including his wife Erica Barton, a drummer in Faceless Werewolves, who helped shape the songs; Jonathan Horne, a jazz guitarist, known for his work with The Young MothersIchi Ni San Shi and Knest; OBN III’s and Manhunt’s Orville Neely III; Golden Boys‘ Bryan Schmitz; and James Arthur.

Reportedly, Morales wrote and recorded the album with a particular mission in mind, more than an artistic vision —  or in other words, the record was written both as a way to celebrate the ease of life, and much like a comfort to those who feel as though records are like old friends, who provide a little bit of wisdom from time to time, and who you’d like to catch up with when you haven’t thought of them in a while. Slated for a January 12, 2018 release through Super Secret Records, the album’s first official single is a fairly straightforward cover of Chris Spedding‘s easy-going, jangling and twangy “Video Life” that possesses the same, loose, easy-going vibe of a bunch of friends jamming and bullshitting while passing around a bottle of bourbon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback: RIP Joe Strummer/Joe Strummer Forever!/The Clash Forever!

Time flies by and it flies by at an incredibly dizzying pace. Just the other day, a Facebook friend mentioned that the 15th anniversary of Joe Strummer’s death had recently passed. I grew up listening to quite a bit of The Clash –and as a music obsessed boy, who spent an unusual amount of time watching MTV and other music related programming, I can clearly remember watching the video for “Rock the Casbah” and others. And when I found out that Strummer died, it felt as though a small part of my music loving childhood was gone; plus it made the seemingly dim possibility of a Clash reunion utterly impossible. Such is life. But this particular week, I thought of The Clash and how much those records had meant to me  — and interestingly, I stumbled on live footage of The Clash playing at The Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ in 1980 and in Japan in 1982 or so, plus other random things. 

As always Joe Strummer forever! The Clash forever! 

Now known as the Federal Republic of Somalia, Westerners view the country as being a lawless, dysfunctional and broken country, split and reeling for a brutal and bloody civil war, and while that has been true over the past 25-30 years, what most people have forgotten is that for roughly a millennia, the Eastern African nation was one of antiquity’s major trading posts with several power Somali empires dominating regional trade, including the Ajuran Empire, the Adal Sultanate, the Warsangali Sultanate, and the Geledi Sultanate. And as a major trading post, the cultures of the Arabian Peninsula, Persia, India, Southeast Asian and China, all of whom conducted trade with the Eastern African nation, managed to influence and slowly worked their way into Somalia’s rich and unique musical culture.

The British and Italian empires through a series of treaties with Somalia’s historical empires and sultanates during the late 19th century gained greater control of parts of the coast, establishing the colonies of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland while Mohammed Abdullah Hassan’s Dervish State fought and defeated the British four times before a crushing defat by the British in 1920. Italy acquired full control of the northeastern, central and southern parts of the country after defeating the Majerteen Sultanate and the Sultanate of Hobyo — and their occupation of the country lasted until 1941 when the British took over with a military administration. British Somaliland would remain a protectorate of the British while Italian Somaliland became a United Nations Trusteeship under Italian administration, the Trust Territory of Somaliland.

In the 1960s, independence movements across the continent helped redefine the map with Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland uniting in 1960 to form the Somali Republic under a civilian government. Sadly, democratic government didn’t last long; by 1969, the Supreme Revolutionary Council led by authoritarian Mohamed Siad Barre seized power and established the Somali Democratic Republic. Now, here’s where things musically for us begin — in 1988 on the eve of bloody, two decade civil war Siad Barre launched a series of punishing air strikes in Somalia’s northern section, now known as Somaliland in an attempt to squash a rumbling independence movements in the region. Unsurprisingly, one of the targets Siad Barre targeted was the regional radio station Radio Hargeisa, as a way to prevent the organization of further resistance. Knowing that an attack on their radio station and their hometown was imminent, a handful of radio operators, tastemakers and historians recognized that they needed to preserve more than 50 years of modern Somali music — and it meant finding a way to remove thousands upon thousands of cassette tapes, records and master reels and then dispersing them to neighboring countries like Djibouti and Ethiopia, sometimes burying the tapes deep under the ground to protect them from airstrikes, fire, and so on.

The Somali Civil War broke out in 1991 and Mohamed Siad Barre’s government collapsed and as a result a number of armed factions began fighting for influence and control, particularly towards the south. And because of the absence of a central government, Somalia began to be known as a failed state, wth residents returning to customary and religious law in most regions. There were a few autonomous regions towards the north, including Somaliland and Puntland. The early part of the millennium saw the creation of several fledging and sputtering federal administrations including the Transitional Federal Government in 2004, which reestablished national institutions as as the military and in 2006 with the assistance of Ethiopian troops, assumed control of the Eastern African nation’s southern conflict zones from the Islamic Courts Union, which eventually splintered into several radical groups such as Al-Shabaab. Al Shabaab in particular continued to battle the Transitional Federal Government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for control of the region.

By 2012, insurgent groups had lost most of the territory they had seized and a political process providing benchmarks for the establishment of a permanent democracy was launched, and it included a provisional constitution, which reformed Somalia as a federation. The end result was the Federal Government of Somalia, the first permanent central government in over 20 years was formed and a period of reconstruction began in Mogadishu.

Remember those buried audio recordings I mentioned earlier? Well they were excavated and recalled from their foreign shelters very recently, Some of those recordings are now kept in the 10,000 cassette tape achieve of the Red Sea Foundation, the largest known collection of Somali music and cassettes in the world in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa. Ostinato Records, best known for the preservation, digitalization, and distribution of obscure world music was able to digitized a significantly large portion of the Red Sea Foundation’s archives, choosing 15 songs as part of their latest compilation of African music Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa. And while revealing the diversity of styles and sounds of Somali musicianship, the compilation also provides a glimpse of life in Mogadishu in the 1970s and 1980s, when the coastal capital was referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” At the time bands like Iftiin, Sharero and Dur Dur played at some of East Africa’s glitziest nightclubs, while Waaberi Band played packed to the rafter sets at the national theater.  Nightlife, music, culture and art were enormous — and interestingly while there were renowned male vocalists like Mahmud “Jerry” Hussen, Somali music of the 70s and 80s were best known for beloved female vocalists Faadumo Qaasim, Hibo Nuura, Sahra Dawo and a collection of truly empowered, prolific women; in fact, half of the compilation features songs sung by and written by women.

Strangely enough, this cultural and musical golden age occurred under a socialist, military dictatorship, which effectively nationalized the country’s music industry. The state owned a thriving scene and essentially music was recorded for and by national radio stations, and it was on distributed and disseminated through public broadcasts or live performances. Privately owned labels were non-existent and the work of a generation of artists was never made available for mass release — and until recently, hadn’t been heard outside of Somalia and its immediate neighbors. Adding to a rather strange period of history, during the height of the Cold War, Somalia had been supported by the Soviets and then US in the Ethio-Somali War — and with a decade of US backing, American soul and funk captured the imagination of Somali youth and musicians.

The Ostinato Records team then spent the better part of year traveling to Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Djibouti and across the Somali Diaspora in parts of Europe, the US and the Middle East to track down the musicians, songwriters, composers, government officials, scenesters, radio personalities and other folks, who had played a role during the 1970s and 1980s and got their stories down in a 15,000 word liner note booklet.

As the folks at Obstinato Records explain in press notes ” Alongside the story of Somalia’s music before the civil war, the selection is also focused on the pan-Somali sound. Spread over much of the Horn of Africa, Somali language and culture transcend arbitrary borders. Somali singers from Djibouti were at home in Mogadishu.” They continue by saying that “this compilation  seeks to revive the rightful image, history, and identity of the Somali people, detached from war, violence, piracy, and the specter of a persistent threat.”

The compilation’s first single Danan Hargeysa’s “Uur Hooyo (Mother’s Womb)” feat. Mohamed “Huro” Abdihashi was recorded and released in 1987, and the breezy and summery track manages to nod at the trippy psychedelia of 70s dub and soul as a shuffling rhythm is paired with explosive and expressive horn blasts, synths that possess a cosmic sheen, and a strutting bass line. And if there’s one thing the song does evoke is a far simpler time of laughter, constantly flowing wine and beer, of dancing until the sun came up and walking home in a drunken and elated shuffle with arms draped over the shoulders of your comparisons softly singing the songs you heard in the nightclub throughout the night. The language, the scales and the melodies may be somewhat alien to many Westerners, but it’s the wistful tone — albeit in retrospect perhaps? — that should feel familiar. It’s the sound of youth before inevitably being altered permanently by life’s complexities, ambiguities and horrors.

 

 

 

New Audio: Mute Records Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Influential Krautrock Act CAN with a Compilation of Singles — Includes a Never Before Digital Re-Release

Initially, beginning his musical career as a pupil of avant garde composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and Gyorgy Ligeti, CAN’s founding member and primary composer/songwriter Irmin Schdmit (keyboard) had conducted a number of high-profile orchestrated pieces in his native Germany and aboard; however, a trip to New York where he encountered Andy Warhol and Hotel Chelsea, and heard the sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa had transformed his life. Along with the band’s other core members — Holger Czukay (bass), Michael Karoli (guitar) and Jaki Liebezei (drums) CAN officially formed in Cologne, Germany (then-West Germany) in 1967. With the release of 1969’s Monster Movie, 1971’s Tago Mago, 1972’s Ege Bamyasi and 1973’s Future Days the German experimental act collaborated with a number of vocalists including Malcolm Mooney (1968-1970), Damo Suzuki (1970-1973) and a rotating cast of musicians and wound up developing a reputation for an imitable sound that possessed elements of avant garde and modern classical composition, minimalism, electronica, world music, psych rock and funk, while being widely hailed as pioneers of the German krautrock movement. And because of their eclectic, genre-defying sound the band’s influence has been massive and can be traced in the work of acts like Joy Division, Primal Scream, Radiohead and avant-garde composer Bernhard Lang, among others.

Throughout the band’s history — the bulk being a continuous run from 1967 or so – 1979 with the members of the band reconvening periodically over the past 30 years — the band has released a number of singles, some which have appeared on the band’s albums and others that have not. And to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band’s formation, Mute Records will be releasing CAN The Singles, a compilation featuring all the band’s single releases, including “Shikako Maru Ten,” a B side to the “Spoon,” a top ten hit in their native Germany back in 1972 and it’ll be available for the first time ever digitally. Interestingly, the single manages to possess a percussive and breezy arrangement that sounds as though it were influenced by Brazilian samba and Afro-Cuban/Afro-Caribbean jazz, further reminding listeners of the band’s reputation for being defiantly difficult to pigeonhole and being relentlessly, mischievously experimental with their sound and approach.