Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday Extra

I can't get out right now because the Feds are parked across the driveway, so here's a trio of swell live albums from everyone's favorite cosmic cowboy. Dig!





Cody's Sunday Something

"Hi guys! Cody here, taking time out from my Stretchercize© routine to relax poolside with the Reverend Al Green! Gramps used to play his records all the time. I don't know if you know what a record is, but it's this big bit of like plastic? You got it for free inside a picture of the artist. And you had to play it on a big old record player, which was like furniture? Imagine taking that on the subway! Or to the park? LOL!"


"Today of course science has given us ear buds and music's like made of air or something! So when I feel nostalgic I listen to Al Green's Definitely [uh-huh - Ed.] Greatest Hits. Anyway, this is Cody, sayin' ... keep relaxin'!"

Can't disagree with Cody's choice this week. Green was so great a singer he didn't need a song. Class out th' ass.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Sat'dy Slapdown - Return Of Th' Cagefight!

Our Knitwear & Hosiery Correspondent B.B. reminded me in a comment that we haven't had a Saturday Cagefight on a Saturday for ... uh ... I forget. So here's one.

We're pitting ethereal Romany songstress Vashti Bunyan against dwarfish minions from Hades Thę Blüė Ōystër Cúlts in what promises to be a savage bloodbath of balladry!

Vashti Bunyan's debut album Just Another Diamond Day - which I had on white label vinyl back when stuff like that meant something to me - is a jewel-like, gossamer thing, too delicate to cast a shadow. Vashti now lives in Lothlorien, making dreamcatchers from elf ectoplasm.


Cover: FMF© Artistic Dept.
In spite of their restricted growth and Juilliard Conservatory Of Music education [citation needed - Ed.] these nice Catholic boys from Palm Springs [you're just making this shit up, aren't you? - Ed.] made quite the onstage impression with their electric guitars and powerful amplification! Stairway To The Stars AKA Captured Live demonstrates their commitment to the Illuminati agenda.

So - who will emerge the victor from this titanic struggle? Only four or five guys can decide! Some fun, huh?


Friday, December 6, 2019

Smoke And Mirrors

A hit album for Dolly Parton in 2014, and the title track tells you why. That husky voice breaks in over an irresistible beat, and when the fiddle saws up a hoedown you're grinning like a fool. The woman is a star; an epic songwriter and charismatic performer with a recording history second to none. But there's a possibility Blue Smoke may have slipped under your radar, as it did mine for a couple of years. The cheezy Walmart rack-fill cover art [below right - Ed.] said just more Dolly product, file and forget. A mistake. It's as full of spirit and honesty and joy in making music as anything she recorded. Anything anyone recorded.


The Walmart edition had extra tracks - if you gots 'em, I'd be grateful. In the UK, it was bundled with a worthwhile Greatest Hits disc, included here.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Ambientertain Yourself

Antecedently, ambient music has been buzzkill at Th' House O'Foam©, getting pageviews in the minus numbers, which shouldn't theoretically be possible. But that's what you're getting today, except it ain't really ambient. That's the closest I can get as a label. It's thoughtful, calm, harmonious, wordless music. Sometimes a little ethereal, spooky. British dude David Firth is, apparently, as much filmmaker as musician, and there's that soundtrack feel to many of these fifteen tracks he recorded as Locust Toybox.

I wouldn't call Drownscapes pure ambient because there's too much going on for it to be relegated to aural wallpaper. There's enough development and dynamics to repay quiet attention - each "song" has its own mood and - *ulp* - narrative. Some of it is indescribably lovely - if I had any acid this would make brilliant rabbit-hole accompaniment.

Caution: air guitar inappropriate.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Bill Evans - Wild Man Of Jazz

Notorious for performing in a skin-tight pink satin jump-suit, Bill Evans led the house band at Th' Boho Au-Go-Go here in Vegas during the early sixties. His outrageous act was eventually responsible for getting the club closed - many years later it became Th' House O' Foam, an executive massage and wellness facility which in turn became the headquarters of False Memory Foam© so familiar from the iconic image used as our masthead. There's a swell photo of him in the lobby, writhing on his signature neon-lit plexiglass piano. How quickly we forget!


Today, Bill is only remembered for his jazz albums ("I made them for the money," he says. "I'm not proud of that but I had a crack habit like you wouldn't believe.") and among the best of them are today's Jazzbo Jamboree.

You Must Believe In Spring is a late offering from '77, when Evans worked the picturesque Dutch cruise boat lines. "Try the fuckin' herring, ya bums. I'm here til' Tuesday, an' If I ever see another fuckin' windmill I swear I'll puke."

Undercurrent, recorded as a duo with Jim Hall in '62, was produced by Alan Douglas, who also art directed the cover. There is no better album cover in the history of anything.  No better album, really.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Getting Felt Up Today

This makes for a swell Yuletide package to gift yourself! Simply pretend it's from someone else - perhaps the hot Latina at the nailtician, or Mamie Van Doren contacting you from the afterlife. Or if you're a dame, some dreamy guy, maybe Jerry Van Dyke or that barechested guy at the carwash with the do-rag and biker belt. Maybe not him. Point is, here's an opportunity to boost your self-esteem, which if it's like mine, is eminently boostable at this point in time, having been deflated by cruel circumstance and the whims of Dame Fate.

It's ninety - count 'em - tracks of the Doors on stage, real-time and prime. These are the performances that were milked for various releases over the years before being issued as the complete cow in a limited edition box upholstered in vealskin. A small phial of backstage body fluids, authenticated by Ray Manzarek, was included in the initial run.

This has been tagged from track one to track ninety, as one improbable disc, so if you're into the tangible permanence of the physical doodad, you're on your own.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Spirituality

A quick one while I'm away today at my parole board hearing. Damn ankle bracelet slipped off onto a passing train, and they say it's my fault? Excuse me? Anyway, first up is this surprisingly high quality recording of Spirit at Ash Grove in '67. I believe this is both sets. Even if yez gots awready, dis cover will be a improvemink to what yez gots in dat line. Ain't it swell?


Next is the original nine-track vinyl release of Spirit Live from '78, always one of my favorite finger-waggle "live" albums. Randy California sweetened the tapes with overdubs, creating a high-gloss studio album from an assemblage of raw live recordings from different venues, much like Zappa. The difference between this and the sonic mess of the "newly remastered" version recently released is astonishing. This is just so much better. Night and day.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Late Rick

First there was his rock n' roll period, then brief flings with Bakersfield country and pop-psych, then a decent run of more or less successful country rock albums from '70 to '74, peaking with the hit Garden Party, then a brief hiatus.

Could have been his personal life, or diminishing returns, but Intakes in '77 tried a different image in the hopes of a comeback, but it never happened. The album stiffed, and the follow-up, already recorded, was shelved. This version has the outtakes, plus also.


The Memphis Sessions have (has?) over the years limped out in various forms, but this is, I hope, the "compleat" version. A return to his rockabilly roots (the album was going to be called Rockabilly Renaissance), it was recorded by a shit-hot band in a funky little Memphis studio, and it's as great as you'd expect. Hard to say if it would have been the shot in the arm his career needed in '78, but I doubt it.




But the music stayed real. He always had a quietly genius band behind him, and his taste in songs never failed. The Al Kooper-produced Return To Vienna was never, as far as I know, officially released, but its slightly harder rock band edge is nicely judged. Its non-release, after the aborted Rockabilly Renaissance, must have come as a crushing blow. A split with his label, Epic, was inevitable.

He was struggling with the musical changes of the time, as were all veteran performers, but he never quite got the image right. The skinny ties, gold bomber jackets, and coiffed hair were hopelessly dated and un-hip. But he found a home at Capitol for what was to be the last album issued in his lifetime.


See what I mean? In 1981, this was never going to fly. His Ricky fanbase remained loyal, but heartland rock fans, the Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seeger audience he needed to win over, were never going to be seen dead grabbing this from the racks. Dude needed a beard and a plaid shirt. And a smile wouldn't have hurt.

Their loss, Rick's loss, our loss. There's not a track on any of these albums that's not, in the man's quiet way, beautiful. We can ignore the crossover market forces so important at the time, we can forget about the wardrobe wreckage. The thing is, you only have to cue up the first track of any of these albums to get hooked. They play themselves. So many artists and albums I click out of a few songs in, but these ... I want to hear them all the way through. Often ignored or sidelined, they're as good as anything he cut. Late Rick is great Rick.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Siegfried And Roy Give Birth To Baby Tiger, Talk About Obscure Concept Albums

Proud parents!
These guys are neighbors of mine here in fragrant downtown Las Vegas, NV. I knew they'd been trying for the longest time to have a family, but when they gave birth to a baby tiger I was as surprised as they were. 

I kept my distance when I visited the proud new Pop n' Dad down at The Mamie Van Doren Memorial Veterinarian Hospital. Those claws can be sharp! (And I didn't trust the tiger cub, either).

S&R: Well hey there, neighbor!
FMF©: Gee! Dat's some hairy baby youse guys gots! 
S&R: We are truly blessed.
FMF©: I brung yez some pickles.
S&R: And we have a couple of albums for you, sweetcakes! Life Is But A Dream, by Wichita Fall, and Miss Butters, by The Family Tree. They're both from '68, which we've always thought of as Peak Concept. The Family Tree was an early Bob Segarini project, and Wichita Fall was an LA band whose album got the most lavish orchestral arrangements! We thought they'd find a home at Th' House O' Foam©. 
FMF©: Dat's swell. Well, I guess I better be goin'.
S&R: Toodles! Thanks for the pickles!

If you have more information - even made-up shit - on these albums then please do feel free to make a comment. If you have any Siegfried N' Roy stories, also too.





Friday, November 29, 2019

Back To The Future

If there's one album that sums up the spirit of sixties pop - and by extension the sixties - it may be this one. Once Upon A Dream wouldn't be the first choice of many, because it's perceived as a minor Pepper clone, or embarrassingly naive, or pretentious over-reaching, or way past its sell-by date, or simply because it's by The Rascals (seriously?).

Well, yeah. If you want to go that route, you can file it under charming period piece or whatever and move on. Which I did for many years. It seemed all of the above; the sound of a pop group punching over its weight, trying to cover all the bases without reaching one. Enough sporting metaphors already. But for reasons I can't explain, repeated plays have revealed what a gorgeous piece of work this is. Here's a quote from a very informative Allmusic review: "It's an under-celebrated masterpiece of the psychedelic era and belongs next to Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper's on the shelf, because it is easily as sophisticated, and once heard in its entirety, can never be forgotten." He's right, and I join the ranks of believers who love this album as much as those sixties benchmarks.

So why is it under-celebrated, under-rated, and under the radar? Why doesn't it ever make the Top Fifty Greatest Pop Albums This Week You Must Hear Before You Die lists? Why am I asking you? Me, I don't have a clue. But I think it may be because of its stylistic range. An entire album could have been recorded in the style of any one of these songs - even the OTT soundtrack swell of My Hawaii - and been a success. There's everything sixties in here, from blue-eyed soul to sitar bliss-outs, and it's all too much. But in a good way, without the slightest taint of irony or cleverness; the album is saturated with the spirit of hope and peace and love, and not without a certain sweet melancholy. Once Upon A Dream - remember? Back when there was one? It's still here - listen.