"But... I mean... jazz..."

Sonic Gloo

(with periodic conceptual continuity)

Have Yourself a Very Surreal Post Xmas
"But... I mean... jazz..."
So I just got back from a mostly business trip to Las Vegas (and a bit of vacation in SoCal) where I was able to squeeze in a fair number of stops at a few key record stores and a bunch of thrift shops. This morning, for 50 cents each, I picked up two oddball xmas albums, primarily for the cover art.

This first one may be the single most disturbing holiday album cover I've ever seen. Beyond the creepy faux longing look the kid is giving the strange looking Santa HEAD sitting on the sleigh on the front cover, the back cover shows the mysterious unhappy Santa has obviously taken over the kid's body...  ALIEN ABDUCTION!   Evil Santa's mouth appears to be a different angle as if he is warning bad kids that they could make for a tasty stew with puppy dog tails and big fat snails ...   If this was the "first" Christmas record I was given as a little kid, I would have run screaming from the room.

It's not a terrible collection of holiday music and has some oddities such a Captain Kangaroo delivering a tale of "The Littlest Snowman" at the end of side 1. This was marketed by Columbia Records, by the way, not some little fly by night operation.... it has been reissued many times over the years apparently and is even available on CD and MP3 download now... but ... thankfully not with this cover art... 

GulliverSantaThis next one was a surprise because it turns out to be a pretty groovy fun album of Dixieland inspired holiday music done by none other than Alvino Ray (a popular name in big band music back in the day) recording under an alias (according to an entry on Amazon.com "Ira Ironstrings was Fritz Guckenheimer’s fictional Dixieland cousin, whose real identity, it can now be revealed, was big band guitarist Alvino Rey of "talking" steel guitar fame!" Recorded for Warner Brother's Records, early on in the label's existence, this album is from 1959. It sounds remarkable!   Very early hard-panned Left-Right stereo but, extremely well recorded to the point where I may even use this for demos some time. Still, I love the cover art of Santa tied down ala Gulliver. Fun stuff.

My 2012 Record Tree is done!
"But... I mean... jazz..."
My 2012 Record Tree is done!

I made a little mini documentary "making of" music video for it as well. Hope you like it.

If you can, watch it in 1080p mode as it looks and sounds best that way.

Hoping for the happiest, healthiest and safest of Holidays and New Years ahead for you all. Peace.


Yoshimi: The Musical Rocked My World (But Will It Rock Yours?)
"But... I mean... jazz..."

I held off on this review of the musical staging of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, based on music by The Flaming Lips, for a while as I was hoping some video would materialize from the show to complement my thoughts. It did recently.

yoshimiI was pretty well blown away by the show, which has been in world premiere previews at the famed La Jolla Playhouse, just outside of San Diego, California.  I was blown away by it not only because it featured very well played, true-to-the-soul-of-the-originals music from their same-named 2002 smash album as well as 1999's The Soft Bulletin and 2005's At War With The Mystics, but because of the way they all SEEMED to link together in a narrative which goes far beyond its science fiction like roots.  I haven't felt this compelled by an artist's long term musical statement since Pete Townshend completed his previously aborted 1971 Lifehouse musical -- much of which was included on Who's Next as well as sundry b-sides and later album tracks such as Who Are You?.


I'm compelled because I really wonder if Wayne and the gang in Flaming Lips had been working on this sort of narrative all along or if it was simply a brilliant case of connecting-the-dots by Director and Book-co-writer Des McAnuff (Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, etc.). 

What is this connecting of the dots I'm talking about?

Well you see, despite all the sci fi trappings of the studio albums, the staged version of Yoshimi is rooted more in modern day science and reality -- the pink robots she battles are in fact aggressive pink cancer cells which are steadily destroying her.

Two men are vying for her love, one dangling the riches of his success on Wall Street, the other offering only a more heartfelt promise of deep true love.

yoshimiBENI won't spoil the ending for you but the ultimate conclusion comes down to the very spiritual message of the The Flaming Lips' song "All We Have is Now" and the underlying message of "Do You Realize?" that you should tell people you love them before its too late. 

    Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?
    And instead of saying all of your goodbyes
    Let them know you realize that life goes fast
    It's hard to make the good things last
    You realize the sun don't go down
    It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning 'round

It certainly FEELS like all this was planned somehow to be connected, making the albums a sort of trilogy. But perhaps I am reading way way too much into this and it is simply a case of Director Des McAnuff being utterly brilliant at what he does -- this MAY well be the case.  

Decide for yourself and do as I plan to do:  build a playlist of songs in the musical in the running order I've included below (from the program given out at the show) and listen how they flow.  Anyhow, I loved the show and I really hope it makes it to Broadway. It will need some tweeks -- not every scene was executed perfectly -- but that is why they do workshops and premieres like this.  

Here is a link to the LA Times review of it which is mixed which I don't entirely agree with, but we're all entitled to our own opinions, right?

I think there is enough solid stuff going on there to make this show fly -- assuming the public at large is ready for a story that is admittedly pretty heavy.  And, as they sing in "Waiting For Superman"  -- "Well I thought it was already as heavy as can be."

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Really, Yoshimi as a staged musical plays more like a classic opera, many of which have ended on a tragic note leaving audiences devastated (and wanting more) for ages now.  So we'll see where it goes.  

Also up in the air is the casting.  Kimiko Glenn was terrific as Yoshimi, if a bit distant -- but that may be the intent given she is a cancer patient. Paul Nolan was excellent in the role of Ben, one of the boyfriends, who sings the Lips songs with a lot of honor, care and attention paid to the original versions and basic rock and roll sensibilities.  At times Nolan even sounds like Lips frontman and lead singer, Wayne Coyne and there in lies the rub: will Broadway audiences want to hear a voice that sounds, well, more theatrical.  

Nik Wlaker, on the other hand, as Booker, Yoshimi's corporate ladder climbing boyfriend, has the most Broadway-like voice in the show -- while he was great, I question whether that sort of perfect voice is right for the part.  

We will have to wait and see. Below are some videos that I discovered with music and images from the show plus a cool making-of preview showing how they brought the robots to life.   

And here is the play list I was telling you about

Act One
Fight Test
Mr Ambulance Driver
Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon
Yoshimi Battle the Pink Robots Part I
Goin' On
Race for the Prize
Vein of Stars
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part II
One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21
Waitin' for a Superman
What is the Light?
Suddenly Everything Has Changed
The Sound of Failure/It's Dark...Is It Always This Dark??
Satellite of You
The Gash
Are You a Hypnotist?

Act Two
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell
When You Smile
Sunship Balloons
Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
In the Morning of the Magicians
All We Have Is Now
It's Summertime
Do You Realize??

Cale in Avalon
"But... I mean... jazz..."
cale1John Cale's show at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco (aka the old Avalon Ballroom) was a real solid, basic, rock and roll show. It would be easy to say that at his age Cale has nothing to prove to anyone, but, you know, that has ALWAYS been the case with John Cale. He is an artist first and does things the way he wants.  Accordingly this was a Cale fan's show more than anything and I wasn't at all surprised when a number of young hipster couples walked out relatively early on from their spots near the front of the stage as they realized the show wasn't going to sound just like the hip hop infused music on some of Cale's recent releases.

It was indeed interesting to hear Cale fall back the basic rock and roll quartet of drums, bass, guitar and keys vs. using all manner of pre-programmed sequencers and such. Cale has become quite the hip hop enthusiast so I was more than half expecting to hear a lot more triggered beats and samples 'n such. That was not the case. When they got to newer songs from his latest album, they were presented mostly simply as rock tunes, which was great on a track like "I Wanna Talk 2 U" which was co-written with Danger Mouse and on the album sounds a bit more dance flavored. This version fit right in with older nuggets like "Hedda Gabler," "Guts" and "Helen of Troy" (which got the crowd bopping along with its funky riffing on "hey hey, baby I f#@&ed your mother").

My favortie parts were of course the more songy-song oriented tunes, especially "Paris 1919" and "You Know More Than I Know," which were just wonderful to hear live. 

cale3He did do a bunch of new songs ("December Rains," "Face to the Sky" -- one of my faves from the new album -- as well as the title track "Nookie Wood") including some non LP tracks like "Bluetooth Swings" and "Cry."  He did a track from last year's "Extra Playful" EP ("Perfection"). He encored with some relative obscurities, including a track from 1985's Artificial Intelligence called "Satellite Walk," which was fun and very 80s dance music sounding. He closed the show with "Dirty Ass Rock 'n Roll," leaving everyone on an up note and also a reminder that as much as he may embrace hip hop and rap production techniques, at his heart Cale is still all  about the rock.  

So yeah, this was John Cale "just" doing what he does best, making music, rocking out and playing his songs. No fancy light show. Not a lot of screaming and no writhing on stage. No Velvet Underground songs. No songs from his collaborations with Lou Reed or Brian Eno.  We didn't get "Fear" or "Leaving it Up To You."  

BUT it was still prime John Cale and that was just great.To find him still making fine music is a blessing we should all cherish.  

Rock on John. Rock on. 

Here's a partial clip someone posted from the show.  Be sure to click on the links above for some other performances from the tour. 

here is the promo video for "Face to the Sky" from the new album

here is the song he wrote with Danger Mouse

Sizzlin' Country...
"But... I mean... jazz..."
I almost bought this for the cover but for $1 I couldn't justify it. But I did snap the picture to prove I did see it.
sizzlin' country LP

Holdsworth I.O.U. find
"But... I mean... jazz..."
Was thrilled to find two early solo albums by guitar maestro Allan Holdsworth yesterday for a very reasonable $5 each. On the I.O.U. album especially -- which I'm pretty sure was a totally independently released album -- I have been kicking myself for not buying it in college and then finding it going very out of print for ages. The bonus find was on the inside sleeve:  taped to it is a (seemingly/likely) autographed personal note from Holdsworth to whomever received these back in the day (probably a press promo) dating this at just before his 1984 release on Warner Brothers "Road Games" (which was nominated for a Grammy). Win!


Not sure what Holdsworth sounds like? Here's a track from I.O.U. He's played with people like Jean Luc Ponty, Tony Williams, Bill Bruford, UK, and many others.  

Glowing Lips 'n Yoko
"But... I mean... jazz..."
Here is a link to my review of The Flaming Lips' collaboration with Yoko Ono and The Plastic Ono Band from late last year which -- if you are like me -- I assume most of you missed or couldn't find in the stores. I finally did. And you can hear it online (well worth a listen!).  Plus it glows in the dark!


New Music Reviews for November (mostly)
red raven

Ronnettes, ELO, Monk, Glass

Magical Mystery Tour Deluxe Box set

Record Store Day Black Friday

The Who's Quadrophenia movie on Blu-ray Disc

The Doors in high resolution download and surround sound

New Zappa releases!  Velvet Underground in Mono,

Groovy new album by The Helio Sequence on clear audiophile vinyl and a bonus surround disc

A preview listen to Neil Young's Psychedelic Pill

Glen Hansard's new solo album

Neil Young's Americana album  on Blu-ray Disc

(no subject)
"But... I mean... jazz..."
Trippy tunes on the turntable this week

A first listen to Neil Young's Psychedelic Pill and also Jerry Garcia @ Keystone on purple wax!
Electric Prunes on purple wax too!

"But... I mean... jazz..."

My new Felix the Cat Vibro-tail Electric Guitar arrived today and it seems better made than I had any right to expect (I got one of the imperfect ones that were about 50% cheaper --  this is not an expensive guitar) Haven't plugged it in but its a whole lotta fun right outta the box. Came with a gig bag too. And I couldn't resist ordering the Felix the Cat Magic Bag O Tricks Acoustic Guitar as well. It seems better made than I imagined (I got one of the imperfect ones so it was about $99 but it seems near perfect). Also with a nice gig bag too!











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