Music

Dave Thomas of Pere Ubu is Awesome

This interviewer kept trying to get him to embrace the orthodox, bien-pensant progressive viewpoint on the music industry, and he kept refusing to. And it’s not like he didn’t have fair warning:

Is your sense of the music industry these days fairly apocalyptic, or is it mellowing, or…? You seemed fairly skeptical/ cynical about it a few years ago, for instance, quoting Hunter S. Thompson on the music business [actually a misquote, apparentlyon the Ubu Projex website and saying you were going to give up singing and become a DJ, to beat an absurd tax that was being levied in Europe…

My attitude to the music biz is no different now than it has ever been. It’s a business. It’s up to each musician to decide on how he/she is going to deal with it. Record companies are not philanthropic organizations. They mean to sell records. That said, many, maybe most, people in the business have some sort of passion for music. It’s perfectly possible to navigate a course that gets you what you want. Depends on what you want – if it’s pop stardom and lots of money then don’t blame the record company if it all gets nasty and cheap.

Ideas have consequences. If they don’t, then they’re merely feelings.

Rating My CD’s: Exile on Main Street

exileonmainstreet58. The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed

Recently I issued a half-formed opinion on double-albums. A prejudice, really, arising as much from ADHD as any learned assessment of music criticism. At best, an observation:

I don’t usually like double-albums. I find them generally undisciplined, self-absorbed affairs. Sometimes, as with The White Album, or Exile on Main Street, that lack of rigid focus is a pleasant suprise. But here, it just reflects the band’s inability to control themselves.

That album was Physical Graffiti, which people may like, but no one considers disciplined. But what about the others? Was the White Album really a departure of form for the Beatles, or just the next logical progression in a band-dissolution that had been going on, according to some, since Rubber Soul?

I ask because Exile on Main Street has long been considered the Stones’ greatest achievement, their artistic and critical pinnacle before what’s become a forty-year victory lap. Recent nostalgia has but added to its lustre, with alt.country and garage-punk luminaries willingly giving talking-face time to the obligatory documentary. You can hardly blame them: the most famous band in the world, forced into exile by the confiscatory tax code, living it up in the South of France, recording a double-album in their mobile studio whenever they good get the gang together and sober? Who doesn’t want to comment on that?

The tendency of pop culture is to dramatize the unremarkable, and the further back in time an event lies, the need to “print the legend” starts to assert itself. So I could very easily riff for a few paragraphs off say, Lester Bangs’ assessment: “Exile is about casualties, and partying in the face of them.” and go to bed.

But for all of that, is there really anything going on here that’s not present on Beggar’s Banquet? Gutbucket hard rock? Check. Smashed, bluesy country? Check. Stoned gospel? Checkcheckcheckitycheck.

If Exile stands up better than Beggar’s, it’s because there’s more music to go around, and a smaller gap between the earworms and the filler. The first six tracks on this album outpunch any six contiguous tracks on any Stones album, ever. They left nothing on the field this time, assigned nothing to the cutting room floor. Maybe this is everyone’s favorite Stones album because it’s the last time they sound like they gave a damn.

For me, it’s been a long time figuring all this out. I’ve owned this forever, as long as any of my Stones discs, and the first few times I heard it, I did not get what was happeneing. It sounded all over the place and off-center, without any of the obvious hits to carry me through. The only tune I connected with was “Sweet Virginia,” but boy, did I connect with that. It was a perfect, an invitation to dirty yourself and clean yourself at the same time, made full of worldly knowledge that I was too young to have thend didn’t know until that point that I wanted. Now I dig the whole messy thing, and don’t feel quite comfortable unless I can spare the time to listen to the whole thing. Unlike Let it Bleed, which felt comfortable as an old jacket the first time I heard it, Exile has new revelations every listen.

Grade: LL

Further Rolling Stones CD Reviews:

Rating My CD’s: Sticky Fingers


stickyfingers57. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

You could probably make an argument, if you really wanted, about the relative decline of Andy Warhol album covers by an exegesis of the “iconic” Velvet Underground & Nico cover as against the Sticky Fingers cover. For the Velvets, the genitalia was suggestion, conveyed via the kind of joke that middle schoolers could get. Five years later, as the Sixties Insurrection became the Seventies Satyricon, the need to feign interest in anything besides genitalia diminished, so we were treated to this.

That’s why I never even bought this album until last year, despite owning every other one of the “Holy Quadrilogy”. The joke in the album name was just too dumb. And the only songs I knew from it “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses”, were the ones from that era I cared least about — “Sugar” always seemed like a bastard offspring of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Wild Horses” was the kind of song that got covered by mid-90′s womyn-rawkers to accompany dramatic moments on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But they don’t call it completism for nothing, and some recent readings convinced me that some of the country-folk-rock of the early 70′s deserved a listen. So I plunked down for the most recent remastering of Fingers (complaints of fans of the previous version on Amazon notwithstanding). And I’m glad I did.

This record has an understated beauty that none of the other Stones albums of this era can boast. Stuff like “Sway,” “Moonlight Mile,” and “Sister Morphine” sound like nothing at all the first run-through, only to get better and better with each listen. But the biggest surprise for me was “Dead Flowers,” which I did not know was a Stones song, being familiar only with the Townes Van Zandt version that closes out The Big Lebowski. And while there’s nothing wrong with that version, It’s hard not to prefer the peppier original (covering the Stones is harder than most people think, because Keith plays his guitar with a very specific tuning).

And yes, it’s impossible to hear “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” without images of Joe Pesci in Casino dancing about in your head. That’s all right; the song overcomes it’s cinematic baggage, combining with “You Gotta Move” to create some of the stinkiest blues the band ever laid down. So, like Let it Bleed, this album evenly balances between hard-rock punch and country-rock melody. That was what the Stones were best at, and they never quite did it better than this.

Grade: LL

Content? Fie Upon Your “Content”

Is there anything lamer than  having two “Sorry I no blog” posts in a row?

But I seriously had a good reason. Seriously.

Seriously.

Anyhoo, while I prep for the school year, here’s some nonsense. First my first feedback on Solar System Blues from someone who doesn’t know me and is therefore under no pressure to say they liked it (Goodreads link):

This book was just amazing. I won it through a good-reads giveaway and was so excited when I won. The whole idea and aspect of the book keeps you on your toes and excites you to turn every page. I recommend reading this book.

So there, people who have not the readiness to slam down $2.99 (more for dead tree) for a copy of an “amazing” book! How stupid do YOU feel?

Yeah, not very. I get that. God carried away. Sorry.

Here’s some vintage 1978 French punk rock, by way of an apology. I know, but listen to it:

That just rocks, that’s all that does…

Incoming Geekery

With summer comes a teacher’s vanity. Educators are vouchsafed 10 weeks to rest, recharge, and remember all the other things in their lives. I have never known those 10 weeks but they burned by while you got maybe half of what you wanted to get done actually delivered. It’s a function of our mechanized world: maintenance takes up as much time as production.

Nevertheless, I feel the need to dedicate myself to a few projects for this summer. Books, mostly, and a long-considered re-working of Riposte Publishing’s web site into something more functional. GoDaddy, maybe. I’m good at overlooking bad marketing campaigns.

There’s a long post in utero, something I’ve had on me mind for some time, and finally resolved to express. It’s not important, even in a small scheme of things (that phrase should work. It’s alliterative. But it sounds wrong). But it my free up some headspace on the commute, which is where I do most of my thinking.

See?

And there was where I had to abandon using the BlogNow! app I’d gotten for my iPad. Simply loading that picture was too complicated. There’s a whole separate feature for adding pictures to blogpost with the app, and I didn’t feel like wrestling with it. So I pulled out old trusty laptop and got the link from my Tumblr (Instagram doesn’t let just any fool copypasta with pictures, for which they are to be commended, I suppose. Even when it’s my own picture).

Anyway, big meaty geeky rant forthcoming. For the nonce, enjoy this lanky Kiwi/Brit getting off on Prime Americana while rocking like 1965 just woke up in 2013 and decided to split the difference and party like it was 1995. Via Third Man Records, because Jack White’s taste just seems to get better as he ages:

Where the Hell I Have Been, or 70 is a Suffusion of Yello

(Dirk Gently reference.)

Periods of time come when the thought of adding content to a blog puzzles the will. The evergreen political nonsense saps the spirit. Repeating the same arguments to the same applause sounds agonizingly dull.

Besides, it’s springtime outside. The human animal was not meant to remain inside shut up with People Being Wrong on the Internet when the trees bloom and the thermometer finally creeps above the magical number of 70.

And besides that, I’ve found an entirely new way to express myself.

Youtube posits this as the “Official video” of “Oh Yeah” the tune by Swiss electronica duo Yello. The track hit #51 on Billboard in the spring of ’87, and appeared in Ferris BuellerSecret of My Success, and any other scene where the director wanted a montage expressing a character’s sudden overpowering desire. ‘Cording to Wikipedia, they had a whole slew of albums and such, and had regular hits on the UK charts and the US Hot Dance Club/Club Play Singles chart. Still most of us know them from this, if we know them at all.

Well they’ve put out an app that will make you a DJ.

Yellofier video tutorial from Yello on Vimeo.

Downloaded it on a whim, spent a few days playing with it. It’s genius: intuitive and idiot-simple.You can record any sound and turn it into a not-bad-sounding electronica song in a few minutes. I have done so, the results are silly.

Yellow Boom from Andrew Patrick on Vimeo.

That’s the first thing I made on the first day I messed with it. Nothing to it: theme and variation. The one’s I’ve done since are better, better enough that I download them to my iTunes and like them on repeated listens. I’ll post them somehow later: on Soundcloud, maybe. “Duke Bike Rider” is my phony rock-n’-roller stage name. We all wear different hats.

This is spring: your ears perk up and you try something new. Your life renews.

Rating My CD’s: Hot Rocks

Rolling_stones_-_hot_rocks56. The Rolling Stones — Hot Rocks 1964-1971

This is where it all began for me.

I became a fan of the Rolling Stones about halfway through college, at the end of a late night viewing of Full Metal Jacket in a friend’s appartment. We were both of us familiar with the movie but had not seen it all the way through, and had some kind of odd theory that Gomer Pyle and Animal Mother were the same dude (probably my theory, given how wrong it was). I was pulled in by the perversity of the flick and smacked in the face by the end, when the survivor of Tet march lockstep through the ruins of Hue, Vietnam singing the Mickey Mouse Club theme song. And as the credits came up out of the fade, “Paint it Black”

It was perfect. I got it. I was a fan.

(more…)

Patrick Carney Trolls the Beliebers, Emerges Triumphant.

While strong in reality, appear to be weak; while brave in reality, appear to be cowardly.

-Sun-Tzu

I mentioned this the Twit-spat that Justin Bieber started with Black Keys Drummer Patrick Carney the other day. I only marginally cared because I’m a Black Keys fan, and I never intended to pay it further mind. But Patrick Carney has come up with a Sun-Tzu level response to being Twit-mobbed by Beliebers:

Does one argue with an enraged, irrational crowd of cultists? Of course not, because argument has no effect on them; one may as well argue with the tides. What you do is use their fury against them. Bend with the winds, and they pass through you.