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STUFFS & THINGS & THINGS & STUFF (STTS-013)
Dad Brown, The Stooges, Alastair Galbraith, Christgau on Eno, Noah Howard/Lonnie Liston Smith Sextet/Sam Rivers Trio,, Churners Monthly, Samul-Nori, Time Designers, Page/Zep, Cheb Kader
GREATEST DUB TRACK EVER DEPT.: All my talk in a recent ish about the greatest dub track ever ("King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown” by Augustus Pablo, for the record) and then, a month or two later, a song goes fleeting by, random-shuffling up on my 10-year-old iPod, a device that still works and happens to contain a preposterous amount of complete Trojan Records 3CD Box Sets (thanks to actual Bond villian Kim Dotcom and his short-lived Megaupload platform circa 2009), and it’s a reggae song called “Stand & Look” by Dad Brown, the 12” discomix version (meaning a three-minute vocal A side and three-minute instrumental B side as already released on a 45RPM 7” now discomixed together as a seamless six-minute track and released on one side of a 45RPM 12” with another discomix on the other side), and for a just a few crucial seconds I wonder if the “Stand & Look” dub is even better than “King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown.” First half is your basic kinda overly twinkly roots vocal A-side, “recorded at King Tubby’s, Jamaica - Produced by The Mighty Fatman,” and according to Discogs, the Mighty Fatman is “UK reggae soundsystem operator” and “label owner” Kenneth Gordon. So, a UK producer working in Jamaica in the late 1970s, and after that kinda overly twinkly vocal section, he slides right into the dub section of the 12” discomix and it immediately hits with one of the coldest vocal echo-stab-fade dropouts ever, go Fatman go. I wanna put this killer dub on the Blasta Far I Sound Dub Top 30, even though I try to avoid discomixes on there, but “Stand & Look” by Dad Brown isn’t on Sp****y at all, not as an A side, a B side, or a discomix. Regardless, the moral of the story is: you can’t just go straight to the dub. You’ve gotta go through the reggae first. I mean sure, you might be able to survive for awhile on an all-dub diet, but that’s like only eating dessert for dinner. Eventually you’re gonna have to eat the leafy greens of roots reggae, the brown rice of rockers reggae, the sweet bell peppers of lovers rock reggae. It’s all one meal.
BIANNUAL FUNHOUSE REVISIT DEPT.: Was gonna be all hot-take rock-writ and say “This is really Scott Asheton’s album” because the first thing you hear on this goddamn classic is THAT Scott Asheton GROOVE, and he cinches it up tight and never lets go throughout the LP, most definitely floating around on a real o-mind (no wall), a rhythmic tension held tightly until it finally explodes in the torrents of “L.A. Blues.” So yes it’s Scott Asheton’s album, but how is it not Iggy’s album, because this is one of the most insane (like in the deep temporary shamanic sense) lead vocal performances in rock history, easily, and possibly a contender for human history, and he does it all with his voice and words alone. But then how can you not call it Ron Asheton’s album too, the way he’s flamethrowing everywhere with punk psychedelic lead guitar? And could Scott Asheton have held it down so tightly without the ballast of Dave Alexander’s implacable basslines, even just thinking of “Dirt” alone? Of course an achievement like Funhouse is impossible without real-time group action, specifically some kind of modern-shamanic dance ritual, the late 1960s American suburban experience as a seance around a live psychic volcano in hell, the album/ritual necessarily culminating with catharsis in the psychic eruption of this psychic volcano in “L.A. Blues.” And I know me calling Funhouse a depiction of hell isn’t a new thing, as I’ve read at least, well, one thinkpiece describing not only the sounds of the album but the infernal oranges and reds of the cover art as doing just that, and “L.A. Blues”-as-volcano I copped from Tom Lax’s frankly brilliant Top 10 for Chocolate Monk, in which our protagonist’s coworker hears the track as an evocation of Popocatépetl, the live volcano just outside of Mexico City, a true reckoning and wreck-oning for civilization, Funhouse as a metaphor for any whole-shithouse-going-up-in-flames situation, be it in Mexico City, Detroit, Los Angeles, or Vietnam.
DREAMTONE MIRRORWORK DEPT.: Just wanted to note somewhere that the way tracks seven and eight hit on Alastair Galbraith’s 1998 LP Mirrorwork, the triumphantly melodic “Thoar” and then the melancholy comedown “Song to the Third” respectively, is a 90s all-timer for me. “Song to the Third” is probably my favorite Alastair Galbraith song, another from the genre I like to call “dreaming directly to tape.” (I’ve done it publicly two other times, in a 2014 Blogspot-housed review of the “ZOZ” LP by Ma Turner and in a recent Instagram posting of Handbook for Mortals by Letha Rodman Melchior... which you might notice is the lead review on the same blog post just linked to for “ZOZ.” Still talking about these two records, eight or nine years later. What’s happening is that I’m slowly and carefully forming a personal selection of records I call the “dreamtone canon” (and trying to be especially careful when talking canon about records from the last 25 years). Dreamtone manifesto forthcoming?
HATE-READING XGAU DEPT.: Absurd/goofy/weird Christgau line of the moment, from his 1982 review of Brian Eno’s On Land: “Whenever I play it (usually late at night) I experience an undeniable pleasure so mild I'm not sure anyone would want to pay for it.” Okay, Bob.
CRUCIAL FREE JAZZ FOOTAGE DEPT.: It’s unlikely that a discussion of crucial free jazz footage can be had now in 2023 without the name of Jay Korber coming up. In fact, if you’re still reading this far down on a Dolman-certified BlastiStack™ newsletter, there’s a good chance you already know about Korber’s YouTube channel (@hideouslyhilarious) and all of its crucial uploads like Cecil Taylor in 1969, the Sun Ra Arkestra in 1979, 80 minutes of Pharoah Sanders in 1968, 1 minute and 41 seconds of Han Bennink going off in 1972 (with glimpses of Brotzmann and Van Hove), not to mention over 2.5 hours of the Art Ensemble of Chicago from various stages of their career (going as far back as 30 and 6 minutes from 1970 in France). A particularly interesting @hideouslyhilarious upload from just 1 month ago is the above-embedded French-produced day-in-the-life 1973 docufiction in which Noah Howard wanders around NYC on his way to his own evening concert, stopping on the way to check out the Lonnie Liston Smith Sextet killing it softly on a rooftop, and the Sam Rivers Trio (with Sam on piano only!) killing it not-as-softly in an outdoor amphitheater. These performance excerpts weave in and out of a few excerpts from Howard’s own evening concert, maybe all introduced by the unsubtitled French voice-over (I don’t speak the language). Either way, enjoy it and all of Korber’s other free jazz uploads, and keep digging deeper on the channel, which he started by documenting tons of live performances from the 2000s-and-beyond San Francisco Bay Area post-noise underground rock music scene, in which Korber himself played/plays wild saxophone and/or drums in the black metal free jazz duo Ettrick and for awhile has been a/the drummer for the ferocious long-running two-bassist band Burmese.
QUICK WAY TO BLOW YOUR MIND ON A SUNDAY MORNING DEPT.: Churners Monthly, yo. As compiled/curated/churned by Neil ‘Cloaca’ Young aka Bromp Treb, and reminded of by Neil’s recent interview on the Fruit of the Spirit blog. I do some very regular churning of my own on Sp****y — click on “show all” next to public playlists and scroll down a ways for the “GOOD TRACKS (Nigh-weekly digital C90 from Blastitude Sound Selection)” series, now on it’s 73rd installment, play any one of them completely at random and, I humbly say, also quickly get your mind blown on a Sunday morning — but mine are merely fake C90 mixtapes, while Cloaca’s mixes are on very real C60s (pictured), even if here conveniently uploaded to Mixcloud for your remote digital enjoyment. Go to the Churners Monthly blog, again fire up any installment at random, and boom, you’ve never heard such sounds in your life. You can just tell, the vibe is better when it’s a real (reel) (Neil) cassette tape. Right now the Churners discovery haunting me the most is someone called Samul-Nori with a percussion jam called “Youngnam Nong-Ak.” But wait, that vibe has been overtaken by an even more haunting number later on that same mix-tape B-side, a driving lo-fi techno jam called “trk 3 from The Design Demos” by the Time Designers, and very strange to dig into the internet just a little and learn that the Time Designers are a Wolf Eyes-related project that feature on the same new Difficult Messages release(s) that I’m concurrently listening to and writing about over on my Blastitude “Recent Listening #29” newsletter (not yet published as of this writing). Cloaca with the finger on the pulse!
Speaking of C60s and C90s my best recent Ron Hardy mix discovery is the Ron Hardy Live @ AKA, Chicago — 1989 tape, especially how side B kicks off with the blistering Trax subsidiary label track “Living in a Land” by Gene Hunt. These and so many other Ron Hardy mixes (I believe mostly/all now at Soundcloud) can be accessed through the legendary page gridface.com /ron-hardy-playlists, really one of the great online treasure troves of modern American music as it reached an underground peak of social function and inspiration on the streets of Chicago in the late 1980s. Thinking of original Ron Hardy cassettes being circulated in Chicago (and maybe even beyond) back in the 1980s also has me thinking about the C30/C60/C90 means-of-production-seizing that revolutionized all kinds of underground and regional music in the 1980s, whether tapes were sold out of car trunks in Oakland, at nightclubs in Memphis, or through a front gate in Houston (and for that matter traded through the mail by pasty metal and/or industrial youth all over Europe and North America) (or for that matter made and not sold but mixclouded monthly 30 years later by Neel ‘Cloaca’ Young).
SOME FAVE PAGE SOLOS DEPT.: “Fool in the Rain” starting at 3:50 with that sickest of fat post-parade tones, the also-sick lumbering celestial grandiosity of “Achilles Last Stand” starting at 3:42, like a great old Graeco-Roman giant walking the Earth and pondering their immortality, bearded visage barely visible through gathering stormclouds, and of course #1 is “Ten Years Gone” from 2:30 to 3:20, still raining, still dreaming, still crying, still singing (but also that glorious little multi-guitar orchestration he lays down after the bridge, swooping in at 3:42 over and around Plant as he finishes the “and you knew you woooooullld” line).
OUR CORRESPONDENT FROM THE NORTH (@MUEMUSIQUE) DEPT.: “Hi Larry! I don't know if you're into raï, but I'm currently digitizing a few cassettes I recently acquired. This first one I would really like to share with you. It's a little out, sounding more like what I wish post-punk would sound like. Bonkers drum machines, mini-wave synths, floating sax riding the crest of the laid-back/free swell, tcetera tcetera. You can download it here. More info here. The tape looks like a bum re/issue of another album titled El Awama.” Thanks Mue, and the C30/C60/C90 (GO) theme continues…