Saturday, March 28, 2015

Diamond Rugs Cosmetics Interview & Show # 553

What do Deer Tick’s John McCauley, Robbie Crowell, Ian St. Pe (formerly of The Black Lips), Hardy Morris of Dead Confederate, Bryan Dufresne of Six Finger Satellite, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and a trash bag used as an instrument all have in common? You can find all of this on Cosmetics, the sophomore album by the band Diamond Rugs. The term supergroup is tossed around in articles about this band that seems to focus on all the outside elements that make up this band and while that is important, it is the songs themselves and their content that make this album and band so striking. Building on 2012’s self-tiled fourteen-track release, Cosmetics adds more groove, soul and chemistry to Diamond Rugs aesthetic. The album opens with “Voodoo Doll” a song that starts with a lone raunchy guitar riff, drum count in and a sneaky laugh before brassy horn sections come in. Trying to explain the instrumentation of this song by itself could give you the wrong impression of what to expect on Cosmetics. The chorus of the song brings in organ and synthesizer, used in such a subtle way it adds to the song’s make up, not getting lost in the groove of the actual song. Drawing comparisons to The Replacements “I Don’t Know” from 1987’s Pleased To Meet Me, “Voodoo Doll” sucks you in with its inexplicable groove.

“Thunk” comes in next echoing a similar raw garage-soul vibe as the album’s opener. Sung by Hardy Morris in between horns, piano and crunchy guitar riffs, as the lyrics evoke a story about someone that doesn’t quite know why they are involved in a certain situation, but still remain there. With lyrics such as “I never thought I’d be your problem/By the way/The way you talk I should be long, long gone” this point is proven more so. Additionally, there are some guitar lead lines that seem to reflect the influence of the Los Angeles punk band The Plugz, perhaps best known for providing the soundtrack to Alex Cox’s 1984 film Repo Man (but more on that later). “Thunk” and “Voodoo Doll” both share the same undefined charm. An interesting side note on The Plugz, Steve Berlin was also featured as a guest musician on the band’s second album Better Luck in 1981.

“I Couldn’t Help It” brings in a different type of vibe with pulsating basslines, acoustic guitars and McCauley’s vocals, which deliver a song with many melodic, mellow moments. “Meant To Be” brings in a laidback melody in a fuzzy, swampy, blues garage romp, “Live and Shout It” features vocals by both Ian St. Pe and John McCauley within its playful dynamics, loose jangly rhythms and a “believe it if you say it” message. “So What” attacks with a garage-punk aesthetic, walking basslines, swelling synthesizers and witty lyrics that state “I love you/So what”, while “Ain’t Religion” brings in smooth grooves and melodies. The acoustic guitars, drums and subtle basslines dominate the verses of this song. Lyrically, the song is as guitarist Ian St. Pe said in a recent track-by-track article with Relix “not all set in stone. But it is love that two people share and perhaps that does come from above.”

The chorus of “Ain’t Religion” provides a guitar line to the song, soaked in reverb, one that is reminiscent slightly to the song “Reel Ten” by The Plugz. This song was used as part of the soundtrack and score to Alex Cox’s 1984 film Repo Man. In the film the main character Otto finds himself amongst a collection of troublesome characters in a world that involves car repossession, aliens and punk teenagers. There is also a search for a car that has a high reward attached to it. In the film the car floats supernaturally away at one point, just like the guitar lines played here in this song’s chorus. “Ain’t Religion” searches and floats with a hard to define, unexplained, yet effective melody. This song’s lyrical and musical content ride to a degree in a Repo Man-like spirit, as it cruises its way in at track number seven on Cosmetics.

“Blame” bounces with a countrified rhythm, drawing comparisons to Gram Parsons musically in some reviews. Lyrically the song with its sharp witty lyrics such as “Say what you will/But I blame me on you” also help to drive this song in a be careful what you wish for type tale. “Motel Room” sung by John McCauley, ends the album in a collection of soulful horns, distorted guitars, murky bass rhythms and sleazy tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Some say it is the best of the eleven tracks found here, but this song along with the other ten tracks all add to Cosmetics, well sequenced, no frills approach.

While many may have thought that Diamond Rugs were a one-time thing made up of musicians from other successful bands in their own right, they are not wearing anything to cover up themselves on this album. Diamond Rugs mix all the right musical chemical compounds and a boozy six-pack charm to construct a sound and album that can make you feel good. There are many different kinds of cosmetics out there, but Diamond Rugs Cosmetics are the kind we should all get behind.

Check out the interview I did with Diamond Rugs bassist Robbie Crowell here:

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. Bipolaroid - Supernatural Beauty
2. Threads Of Fybre - Believe Me
3. Prefab Messiahs - Bobb’s Psychedelic Car
4. Of Montreal - Virgilian Lots
5. Feral Trash - Dead Weight
6. Pink Wine - Can’t Get Out
7. Paul Jacobs - That Feeling
8. The Cynics - Born To Love (Live)
9. George Jones - If I Don’t Love You Baby (Grits And Groceries)
10. Deer Tick - Main Street
11. Diamond Rugs - Thunk

Robbie Crowell Diamond Rugs Interview

12. Diamond Rugs -Blame
13. Los Lobos - Kiko And The Lavender Moon
14. Matt Mays & El Torpedo - Rock Ranger Record
15. What Seas What Shores - Twice, Twice, Twice
16. The Nervebreakers - Why Am I So Flipped?
17. Average Times - Popsicle
18. King Creep - I’m No Good
19. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - East Side
20. The Paupers - If I Told My Baby
21. Indian Wars - Windshield Wiper Blues
22. Bloodshot Bill - Gee Whiz
23. Blimp Rock - Let’s All Stay In Tonight
24. Active Dog - Nothing Holding You
25. The Scissors - Mystery Movie
26. The Pointed Sticks - Real Thing
27. Nick Lowe - Burning
28. Television - Friction (Alternate Version)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 28. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mystery Train: The Song, The Book, The Film And The Myth & Show # 552

When referring to Mystery Train, it can be looked at in three ways. There is the song covered by Elvis Presley that was first recorded by American Blues musician Junior Parker in 1953, The 1975 book by Greil Marcus often cited as one of the best books written about pop music and finally the 1989 film by Jim Jarmusch. The film delves into the myth of Elvis and early American music through three stories and characters.

The song “Mystery Train” first appeared under this title in 1953. It was recorded by Sun Records American blues recording artist Junior Parker as a follow up to his single “Feelin’ Good” which charted on the Billboard R&B charts at number five. The genesis of the song itself has been said to come from a few sources. “Mystery Train” was based on The Carter Family’s “Worried Man Blues” released in 1930, which itself was based on an old Irish Celtic folk ballad. The song has since been covered by numerous artists and there are many versions of the song that exist, but it is perhaps best known as being performed by Elvis Presley.

In August of 1955, “Mystery Train” was covered and reworked as the B-side to the Elvis Presley single “I Forgot To Remember To Forget”. For this version of the song Presley changed some of the lyrics, which in turn changed the song’s original somber tone put forth by Junior Parker to a more confident mood and feeling. Musically, guitarist Scotty Moore blended country and blues elements to create a galloping locomotive rockabilly rhythm that echoes the influence of the Merle Travis song “Sixteen Tons” from 1946 and also features a guitar riff from Junior Parker’s 1953 song “Love My Baby”. The changes made to this song also continues the folk tradition and trend in which Junior Parker originally used to create his version of the song in 1953. Despite all the versions recorded of this song, Presley’s version still is consistently considered one of the best versions released.

In 1975, the book Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music written by American author and music journalist Greil Marcus was released. This book, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2015, contextualizes and explores the image of America used in rock music, it’s evolution and impact on our culture. The book as previously mentioned is considered one of the most provocative books written about rock music. Marcus places eight songs by American musicians in comparison to the literary models of Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby and Stagger Lee.

In 1989 Jim Jarmusch released the movie Mystery Train. The film separated in three parts, explores the myth of Elvis and its impact on the characters in the film and their lives, taking the myth analyzed by Marcus and the aura created by the song itself to another level. The movie features several musicians placed within acting roles in the film’s narrative construct. Musicians Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Joe Strummer and the voice of Tom Waits all appear in the film. While there are many ways to look at this song and its influence on American culture, the song, the book and the 1989 movie by Jim Jarsmusch all add to the many factors surrounding the Mystery Train title. The title itself in the context of the song has never really been explained and is mentioned nowhere in the song’s lyrics. This is perhaps representative of the myth that it creates. It has been analyzed, discussed and been used to create different art forms, but there still is for lack of a better term a “mystery” surrounding it. The ideas put forth by Mystery Train may be forever “coming around the bend” as it still draws us in no matter which track it takes to get to us.

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. The Slit Plasters - The Dung Fly
2. Moon Duo - Zero
3. Vietcong - Continental Shelf
4. BA Johnston - What A Wonderful Mediocre Day
5. Wavves - King Of The Beach
6. Dave Arcari - Devil's Left Hand
7. The Locusts Have No King - Last Night In My Favourite Bar
8. Tom Waits - Bad As Me
9. Junior Parker - Mystery Train
10. Harmonica Frank - Rocking Chair Daddy
11. Robert Johnson - If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day
12. Daniel Romano - Helen’s Restaurant
14. The Hives - Blood Red Moon
15. Joel Plaskett - Broken Heart Songs
16. James O-L & The Villains - Cross Country Canada
17. Chris Crossroads - Lost In The 13th Dimension
18. Sly & The Family Stone - Time
19. Randy Newman - God's Song
20. Elvis Presley - Mystery Train
21. Unrelated Segments - Cry Cry Cry
22. Pow Wows - You Haven’t Got Me Yet
23. Teenanger - Singles Don’t $ell
24. Ramblin' Ambassadors - Lungbucket
25. Nirvana - Hairspray Queen
26. Pluto - Million And Two
27. The Lurkers - Hey You

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 21. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rocket Trash & Show # 551

Rock ‘n’ Roll Monkey & The Robots first album Detroit Trauma was released in 2005. This three-piece band from Detroit, Michigan, was started by bassist/vocalist Craig Campbell originally to finish some unreleased material at the time. The result was a band that blended elements of garage, R&B, punk/new wave and well crafted songwriting skills. In January 2014 the band released their fifth album Rocket Trash/Strings & Traps, which is an LP comprised of two 45-RPM EPs. This vinyl only released also displayed elements of what could described as trashy new wave-meets-surf with a dash of folk, Mersey beat and pop. The following two videos are animations done by Sam C. You can pick up a copy of Rock ‘n’ Roll Monkey & The Robots 12 inch record Rocket Trash/Strings & Traps over at their bandcamp page.

Saturday Night Play List:

1. The Rezillos - I Like It
2. Private School - Science Fiction
3. UJ3RKS - Eisenhower and The Hippies
4. Gang Of Four - Broken Talk
5. Ex-Cult - Dripping Mouth
6. Silent Movie Type - Mannequins
7. The Secret V’s - Waiting For The Drugs To Take Hold
8. The Breakaways - One Way Ticket
9. Flamin’ Groovies - Him Or Me
10. Twerps - White As Snow
11. The Missing Links - Where Were You Last Night
12. King Beezz - Found & Lost
13. The Stray Cats - Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie
14. Paul Westerberg - High Time
15. Kim Gray - On Top
16. Fil Spectre - Homesick Party Kids
17. Apollo’s Apaches - Cry Me A Lie
18. The Illusions - Wait Till The Summer
19. The Roots - It’s Been A Long Journey
20. The Gories - There But For The Grace Of God
21. Rock ’n’ Roll Monkey & The Robots - I Really Like You
22. Rock ’n’ Roll Monkey & The Robots - Checkpoint Charlie
23. Lost Patrol - Rescue Me
24. The Squires - Aurora
25. The Sons of Hercules - Bad Time
26. The Diodes - Lost In The Dark
27. The Zeros - Hungry
28. The Dils - Class War
29. Elliot Smith - Needle In The Hay
30. Parquet Courts - Vienna II (Live At Third Man Records)
31. Parquet Courts - Always Back In Town (Live At Third Man Records)
32. The Black Lips - O Katrina!
33. The Damned - Neat, Neat, Neat

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 14. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Pow Wows Broken Curses Interview & Show # 550

Pow Wows highly anticipated second full-length Broken Curses was released in February 2015 on Get Hip Recordings. This album follows the 2011 release Nightmare Soda, where Pow Wows first displayed their garage punk psych and R&B twang in a greased lightning fashion, and a series of recent singles in 2012/2013. Recorded and mixed by Steve Major in Toronto at Verge Music Lab and mastered by Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit, this ten-track release contains the same intensity that was first displayed back in 2011. The press release for this album states that the songs are “tales of dystopia with a back beat. Party rock for end times” and that couldn’t be more accurate.

“Fire Song” starts off Broken Curses with a burning intensity. As the song progresses we are engulfed by fuzzy garage riffs, clanging guitar chords, steady, driving basslines and a shower of drums that attempt to cool the heat put forth in the opening moments of Broken Curses. “Rebel Stomp” first appeared on the limited edition live cassette Bent Out Of Shape in 2013, but comes in second on Broken Curses as we are taken through a series of guitar riffs that sound like the Yardbirds being assaulted by a gang of 60s garage nugget bands. As the chorus hits we hear lyrics that seem to rally a call for independent thought amongst the minutia of opinionated boring daily life. “Car Cemetery” attacks with a locomotive-like rhythm echoing elements of Davie Allan & The Arrows, The Cramps, The Gun Club and features a breakdown that fuzzes with the influence of the 13th Floor Elevators. To add to all this there are even motorcycle sounds added to the mix.

With “I Can See But You Don’t Know” Pow Wows take on a song by The Equals as The Clash did with their version of The Equals “Police On My Back” for their album Sandinista in 1980. This song is almost unrecognizable as an Equals song and it fits Pow Wows sound and style perfectly. It is a song that they have made their own. “You Haven’t Got Me Yet” is a hidden gem on track five on this ten-track album, this song is notable for its stop and start guitar and bass groove as subtle psychedelic reverb sounds reverberate in the background of the verses and choruses. Amongst these rhythms, reverb soaked guitar riffs hook you in as lyrically the song broadcasts a message for not giving up when the metaphorical deck of cards are stacked against you.

Other tracks on this album include the organ and fuzz driven “Surfin’ Dirge”, “Hidden Future” and “Going Dark”. This track has a cleaner guitar sound in the earlier parts of the song mixed with darker or dirtier sounding lyrics. The chorus seems to reflect 70s punk influences as elements of The Gun Club slide in throughout this track. The song’s lyrics seem to portray the struggle of being a musician in the modern age in this modern day garage punk blues romp. The last two tracks on Broken Curses bring in a different type of groove and feeling, but one that ties the record and its lyrical themes together. “Traces” is the longest song found on this album clocking in at over four minutes. It is a somber track with a slower groove and riotous eruptive choruses, while lyrically the song paints the picture of a modern dystopian world. “Lost Sunset” ends the album calling for understanding when you have gone past the point of no return. This hazy track juxtaposes with the opening track “Fire Song” as it smolders with the reverb drenched sounds of 60s surf.

In 2011, Pow Wows served up a potent fizzy cocktail with Nightmare Soda. In the mix we found the ingredients were made up of garage, punk, surf and R&B influences. 2012 and 2013 brought singles to quench our thirst, but with Broken Curses Pow Wows have shaken things up yet again. The fizzy cocktail that was once served to us in 2011 has now exploded in a ten-track blast. Like a dried up soda that has crusted over, this album offers a new grittiness in the spirit of the cyclic fuzz driven sounds of Davie Allan & The Arrows, garage, punk and surf music all in a modern context. With Broken Curses, Pow Wows provide us with their own unique garage noir lyrics and musical style in ten tracks that has a dizzying cohesiveness to it.

Listen to the interview I did with Pow Wows bassist/vocalist Ryan Rothwell here:

The Play List:

1. The Honeycombs - Can’t Get Through To You
2. The Angels - Get Away From Me
3. Demolition Doll Rods - Lil Darlin
4. Pearls Mahone - Blow Your Top
5. The Delmonas - I Did Him Wrong
6. The Z-Rays - Number Nine
7. The Cramps - Domino
8. Pow Wows - Fire Song
9. Pow Wows - Car Cemetery

Pow Wows Ryan Rothwell Interview

10. Pow Wows - Rebel Stomp
11. BA Johnston - You Can Love Someone And Hate The Things They Love
12. Dum Dum Girls - Yours Alone
13. X Ray Spex - Obsessed With You
14. Diamond Rugs - Voodoo Doll
15. Brat Kings - Good Drugs (Pinball Session)
16. Paul Jacobs - Pop Can Ashtray
17. The Curse - No More Ice Cream (Live)
18. The Dishrags - Can’t Wait
19. Colleen Green - I Want To Grow Up
20. Sleater-Kinney - A New Wave
21. A Place To Bury Strangers - Straight
22. Ricked Wicky - Guts
23. Alex Chilton - Just To See You
24. JD McMpherson - It Shook Me Up
25. Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse (Live In San Francisco)
26. Ty Segall Band - Skin (Live In San Francisco)
27. Ty Segall Band - Standing At The Station (Live In San Francisco)
28. The Replacements - Seen Your Video

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 7. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Challengers Surfbeat & Show # 549

The story of the surf band The Challengers first began with the formation of The Bel-Airs from South Bay, Los Angeles, who broke up in 1963. Out of the ashes of this instrumental surf rock group several bands were formed. Guitarist Paul Johnson would later go on to join Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys and be involved in a variety of other musical avenues. The group’s other guitarist Eddie Bertrand formed Eddie & The Showmen. Another interesting note is The Bel-Airs first drummer was Dick Dodd who later went on to play with the garage rock band The Standells as a drummer/vocalist. It was the band’s second drummer Richard Delvy (who replaced Dodd) that would go on to form The Challengers. The Bel-Airs were known for their 1961 single “Mr. Moto”, which is notable for being one of the very first surf instrumental songs recorded. The band split in 1963. Apparently an argument about the use of heavier reverb in their sound led to their split. At the time, The Bel-Airs and Dick Dale were both very popular in their regions, Dale in Orange County, The Bel-Airs in South Bay. These two factors are important because the bands formed out of The Bel-Airs and Dick Dale’s music would strongly influence popular culture and the surf music genre. When Delvy formed The Challengers in 1962, the band was made up of Glenn Gray (lead guitar), Don Landis (rhythm guitar), Randy Nauert (bass) and Nick Hefner on saxophone. Additionally, Jim Roberts (from The Bel-Airs) was added to the line-up on keyboards.

After earning enough money to enter a recording studio, The Challengers recorded the album that would be known as Surfbeat in a 3 ½ hour session at a jazz recording studio owned by World Pacific Records. The songs recorded were basically the band’s live set, but the selection of songs that were recorded for this release were mostly covers. This set included covers of songs by Duane Eddy, The Fireballs, an instrumental version of The Beach Boys song “Surfin’ Safari” that was released just a few months before The Challengers album and a nod to future surf icon Dick Dale with covers of “Let’s Go Trippin”, “Miserlou”. The band even re-recorded The Bel-Airs hit “Mr. Moto” and two songs on this album are actually recordings by The Bel-Airs (“Kamikaze”, “Vampire”).

Surfbeat was originally released on Vault records in January 1963. The album was one of the very first all instrumental surf albums. Dick Dale & His Del-Tones had released a surf album prior to this (Surfers’ Choice), but the album had songs that contained vocals. Surfbeat sold 200,000 copies and would go on to become the best selling surf album of all time. This album also featured electric bass. Prior to this recordings were made with mostly stand-up bass. With the electric bass, it contributed to a harder more driven sound. The Challengers Surfbeat also helped to bring surf from the West Coast into the mainstream subconscious and popularize the genre in other parts of the US and the world. This in conjunction with the reverb drenched ramped up versions of rock and surf instrumentals helped to lay the foundation of surf music. Reverb may be what have broke up The Bel-Airs, but it helped to propel The Challengers and surf music to new volumes. And while 1963 may have been decades ago, the Surfbeat lives on.

This year's Revolution Surf program featured a guest segment from "Hollywood" Derk Brigante of the Surfphony of Derstruction 2000.  He helped me out on this episode with a selection of sleazy surf instrumental tracks.  If you're looking for a good selection of surf music check out his podcast the Surfphony of Derstruction 2000.  You can hear his podcasts over at his Surfphony of Derstruction blog and also like his page on Facebook.  

Revolution Surf Play List:

1. The Metalunas – X-Minus One (X-Minus One - 1999)
2. The Marketts – Other Limits (Outer Limits! - 1964)
3. 9th Wave – Time Tunnel (Time Tunnel - 2003)
4. The Nation Rockin’ Shadows – Anesthesia (Diggin' Out - 1997)
5. The Newport Nomads – Blue Mallard (Diggin' Out - 1997)
6. The Goldtones –Gutterball (Diggin' Out - 1997)
7. Jan Davis - Snow Surfing Matador (Jungle Exotica Vol 1- 1997)
8. The Urban Surf Kings – The Phantom Riders Of The Back Lot (Bang Howdy Partner - 2008)
9. X-Ray Cat Trio – I Was Cruel To You (Medium Stop) (Bloody Deeds - 2014)
10. The Orions – El Don Compressor (Always Clean And Fresh EP - 2012)
11. Les Fanatics – The Spotnick Theme (Portuguese Nuggets Vol 3 - A Trip To 60's Portuguese Psych, Surf And Garage Rock - 2007)

Surfphony of Derstruction 2000 Segment:

12. Langhorns - Awesome (Langhorns - 1998)
13. The Majestics - Big Noise From Makaha (The Surf Creature - 2000)
14. The Original Surfaris - Ghost Riders in The Sky (Surfs Up! At Banzai Pipeline - 1963)
15. Pastel Six - Take it Off! (The Cinnamon Cinder/Bandido - 1963)
16. Fathoms - Groovy Boots (Fathomless - 1996)

17. The Twilight Stringers – Pale Face Twist (Sleazy Surf Vol 1 - 1995)
18. The Telstars – Topless (Sleazy Surf Vol 1 - 1995)
19. The A-Jacks – Fury (Sleazy Surf Vol 1 - 1995)
20. The Mockers – Maledona (Sleazy Surf Vol 2 - 1995)
21. The Zombie Surfers – Zombie Drums (It Came From The Garage Vol II - 1987)
22. This Machine Kills Robots – Salty Wave (This Machine Kills Robots - 2011)
23. James O-L & The Villains – Kill The Devil (On The Banks Of The Detroit River - 2014)
24. The Revels - Six Pack (Intoxica!!! The Best Of The Revels - 1995)
25. Ramblin’ Ambassadors – Standoff At Califobe Bridge (Ramble On - 2012)
26. La Luz – TV Dream (Brainwash/T.V. Dream - 2013)
27. The Challengers –Kamikaze (Surfbeat - 1963)
28. The Challengers – Ramrod (Surfbeat - 1963)
29. The Challengers – Surf Beat (Surfbeat - 1963)
30. The Echo Tones – Lowdown Guitar (Inland Surfer/Lowdown Guitar - 1963)
31. The Pharohs – The Friendly Martian (The Friendly Martian/Unknown Planet - 1964)
32. Davie Allan & The Arrows – Sulkin’ (Cycle-Delic Sounds - 1968)
29. The Plugz – Reel Ten (Repo Man: Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - 1984)
30. The Traditional Fools – Layback!!! (The Traditional Fools - 2008)
31. Dead Ghosts – Tea Swamp Rumble (Can't Get No - 2013)
32. The Huaraches – I Guano Rock (The Huaraches Steal Second - 2014)
33. The Sentinals – Big Surf (Big Surf! - 1963)
34. The Torpedoes – The Snake (Good For The Country - 1996)
35. Jim Messina & The Jesters – Yang Bu (Bustin' Surfboards - 1996)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 28. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bob Dylan & The Band The Basement Tapes Unravelled & Show # 548

After the hectic and controversial live shows during his “Dylan goes electric” phase in which Bob Dylan switched from a one man acoustic folk artist to an artist with a full out rock and roll combo, everything came to a halt after an incident in 1966. In July 1966, Bob Dylan was said to be involved in a motorcycle accident, which in turn caused the cancelation of scheduled live shows and a step back from the public eye that seemed to be watching his every move.

Prior to the incident with his motorcycle, Dylan was playing a series of live dates with his backing band The Hawks, he was working on a manuscript for a book entitled Tarantula, he was assisting with the direction/editing of a documentary of his 1966 world tour entitled Eat The Document and there were recording contract/publishing issues that Dylan was dealing with. To add on top of that Dylan also welcomed the birth of his son, Jesse. Following his accident in July of 1966, Dylan sought solace in West Saugerties, New York and from roughly June-October 1967 The Basement Tapes Sessions were recorded.

The Hawks sans drummer Levon Helm, who was working on an oil rig, were recruited for the Basement Tapes Sessions. For inspiration, Dylan looked to music from the past, which would in turn influence the present in a time when the world of music was dominated by a kaleidoscope of psychedelic music. The sessions featured rearranged traditional folk songs, blues, country and several roots rock songs as starting points. In addition to covers, original material presented itself and those songs were also recording during these sessions. The sessions were recorded with no expectations. The recordings that were made during this time were not initially meant for release officially and for many decades they were not. Garth Hudson, The Band’s organist, recorded the sessions although at the time they were not yet referred to as The Band, they were still The Hawks. It was also during this time that the once raucous R&B driven Hawks began to develop the foundation for the music that would be created by The Band.

In October 1967, fourteen Basement Tapes songs and made available for so that other artists could cover them. The result was a series of successful covers of these songs by other artists, but it was during this time that the mythic quality of these songs grew in status. People wanted to hear the real thing. As copies were distributed, reports began appearing in a variety of music magazines, which added more of an awe and interest in the music that was created with Dylan and The Band during this time.

In October, Dylan began work on a new album featuring stripped down acoustic performances that would become known as John Wesley Harding. Around this time The Hawks drummer Levon Helm returned and joined the Basement Tapes Sessions. Additionally, It was also during this time that The Hawks began to really find their own voice and they would eventually settle on the name The Band. They would take their newfound style and release their album Music From Big Pink in 1968. An album named after the location where a large majority of the recordings during The Basement Tapes took place. It was also in 1969 when what is considered the first rock bootleg became available to the public. The Great White Wonder spearheaded the bootleg music industry and featured material from The Basement Tapes Sessions, material recorded by Dylan in 1961 and on The Johnny Cash Show.

In 1975, The Band culled sixteen tracks from The Basement Tapes reels and overdubs were added. Additionally, eight original Band recordings made specifically for this release were added to the mix. The Basement Tapes from 1975 featured a rough, yet more concise representation of the songs made in 1967 with Dylan. But even though a greater picture was presented, it still added to the desire to hear the original recordings from 1967 in a larger context. Bootlegs appeared in a variety of forms throughout 1969 up until about 2001 when the A Tree With Roots: The Genuine Basement Tapes appeared. Several songs also appeared on Dylan’s own official Bootleg Series releases. In 2014, all of the surviving and salvageable recordings from these much talked about months in 1967 were put together as The Bootleg Series Volume 11: The Complete Basement Tapes. The recordings were made available in a six CD box set and in other more abbreviated collections.

Despite withdrawing from the public and keeping a lower profile during this time period in his career, a mythic like quality was built up around Dylan at this time. It only helped to add to the ever-changing character of who Bob Dylan was. Never one to follow popular trends, Dylan always did his own thing and in 1967 his music changed again. Now even with the tapes being released officially, the songs created during this time, which “summon sea chanteys, drinking songs, tall tales, and early rock and roll” as stated by Greil Marcus in the 1975 Basement Tapes liner notes are like a ubiquitous musical text or document. However, that mythic quality that first presented itself decades ago still remains. This triumph led Bob Dylan down a different path in the road. It was a path that was not predictable to others, one that could change direction at any time and one that he is still riding.

The Basement Tapes Play List:

1. 900 Miles From My Home (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
2. One Too Many Mornings (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
3. Bells Of Rhymney (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
4. Under Control (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
5. This Wheels On Fire (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
6. Open The Door Homer (Take 1) (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
7. Tears Of Rage (Take 1) (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
8. Tupelo (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
9. Kickin' My Dog Around (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
10. See You Later Allan Ginsberg (Take 1) (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
11. See You Later Allan Ginsberg (Take 2) (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
12. I'm Your Teenager Prayer (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
13. Song For Canada (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
14. Don't Ya Tell Henry (The Basement Tapes - 1975)
15. Don't Ya Tell Henry (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
16. Apple Suckling Tree (Take 2) (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
17. Lo And Behold! (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
18. Sign On The Cross (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
19. Belshazzar (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete – 2014)
20. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (Take 2) (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
21. Bonnie Ship The Diamond (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
22. Million Dollar Bash (Take 2) (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
23. Odds & Ends (Take 2) (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
24. Instrumental Jam (Even A Tomato) (A Tree With Roots - The Genuine Basement Tapes – 2001)
25. I'm Not There (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)
26. I Shall Be Released (Take 1) (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 - The Basement Tapes Complete - 2014)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 21. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Actual Water Calls 4 Fun & Show # 547

Toronto’s Actual Water released their most recent full-length album Call 4 Fun in the summer of 2014. Like the band’s previous efforts it offers something different, some say this is their most realized effort to date. On Call 4 Fun, Actual Water fills an album of nine tracks with power pop sounds from the 60’s, 70’s and also attaches elements of punk, garage rock and 90s Halifax oriented rock ala Thrush Hermit and Eric’s Trip. The album is not a carbon copy of the aforementioned influences, instead they serve as reference points throughout this twenty-three minute trip. Lyrically, the album operates on a completely different level at times, but more on that later.

“Take The Stairs” opens Call 4 Fun with its jagged power pop punk complete with smooth melodic rollicking basslines and strong vocal melodies. Lyrically the song is a witty comment on overweight North American societies as the lyrics state “When you go anywhere/I bet you never ever, ever take the stairs/You can be whatever you please/But you gotta workout you gotta bend your knees.” The album’s title track “647-445-1141 (Call 4 Fun)” draws melodies and riffs reminiscent of the sounds of 90s Halifax bands Thrush Hermit and Eric’s Trip, without the 90s sounding production, while a song like “Fire On George St” ignites the listener with a Jam meets Exploding Hearts-like pop mod glory. Lyrically the song portrays the anarchy of Toronto’s troubled George St amongst the stop and start riffs and guitar leads and solos. Another song found on Call 4 Fun, is equally short, under two minutes packing pop and punk influenced potency too, it is titled “Three O’ Clock Kids”. As the song develops we hear of disillusioned youths “eating McDonalds” and staying up all night amongst Paul Simonon sounding basslines and garage rhythms. “Power Pop Radio” features loud chunky windmill guitar riffs, while lyrically the song seems to be identifying with some form loneliness.

Elsewhere on Call 4 Fun, we find the songs “Latoya” and “Waldo Jackson”, two characters within the album’s lyrical and musical construct. “Latoya” first appeared in more frenetic form on the B-side of the 2012 She’s A Priest single, a song about Toronto’s The Burger’s Priest establishment. The theme of Toronto and different parts of it appear scattered throughout Call 4 Fun as well. “Latoya” appears here in a steadier, more refined groove. The song tells the story of summer love, driving and a sense of undefined freedom. Musically the song features tambourines, jangly guitar, power chords in a Big Star meets Guided By Voices fashion. “Waldo Jackson” seems to pull from the sounds that Actual Water experimented with musically on their previous album, The Paisley Orchard. The songs lyrics tell the story of Mr. Jackson who seems to be stubborn and so stuck in his own sense of self worth that he prevents himself from having any actual fun. The band does this with their own sense of reverb-drenched satire, as they do throughout the nine-track Call 4 Fun release. The music video for this song features a discussion between the band members Anthony Price and Gary Arthurs as they discuss rock n’ roll music in a different philosophical context.

On Call 4 Fun, Actual Water’s two chief collaborators Anthony Price and Gary Arthurs construct what some might call a power pop, party rock album. Musically there is a blurry, undefined line somewhere between Nick Lowe, Thrush Hermit and garage rock. The album’s cover provides even more clues as we see images of Ringo Starr, The Strokes, a Lou Reed 8-track cassette, Paul Weller, Bob Dylan and a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, among other paraphernalia. On the surface the album’s lyrics seem to convey the simplicity of a party atmosphere, but there is also a certain mysteriousness that seeps into the songs found here. To coin a term from the “Waldo Jackson” video there are many different verbal arpeggios found on this album. Underneath the surface for those that listen a bit closer there could be another message entirely for listeners to discover under the album’s nine-song guise.

Saturday Night Toronto Play List:

1. A Neon Rome - The Magical Summer Of 85 (New Heroin - 1987)
2. Cardboard Brains - Living Inside My Head (White EP - 1977)
3. Death From Above 1979 - Black History Month (You're A Woman, I'm A Machine - 2004)
4. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Get Pumped Up (Gates Of Hell - 2014)
5. Supreme Bagg Team - If You Could Read My Mind (The Supreme Bagg Team - 1989)
7. PONY - Somethin’ About You (Somethin' About You - 2013)
8. Mexican Slang - Double Trouble (Twerp EP - 2013)
9. The Secrets - Crying Over Her (Wyld Canada Volume 1: Crazy Things - 2005)
10. Canadian Squires - Leave Me Alone (Wyld Canada Volume 3: Endless Dream - 2005)
11. Bobby Kris & The Imperials - A Year From Today (She Belongs To Me/A Year From Today - 1966)
12. Buddy Burke & The Canadian Meteors - That Big Old Moon (That Big Old Moon/Street Of Sorrows - 1957)
13 Jay Sad - Noodle & Egg (Jay Sad Goes - 2009)
14. Papermaps - There Are Wolves (Interior Ghost EP - 2012)
15. Change Of Heart - There You Go (Smile - 1992)
16. Actual Water - Floorboard Speculation (Double Negatives - 2008)
17. Actual Water - Brighton (The Paisley Orchard - 2010)
18. Actual Water - Take The Stairs (Call 4 Fun - 2014)
18. Actual Water - 647-445-1141 (Call 4 Fun) (Call 4 Fun - 2014)
19. Actual Water - Waldo Jackson (Call 4 Fun - 2014)
20. The Viletones - Screaming Fist (Screaming Fist EP - 1977)
21. No Hands - Conquerors (Conquerors/Dirty Water - 2015)
22. Leather Uppers - Carne Mysterioso (Carne Mysterioso - 1993)
23. Arson - Coho Coho (Smash The State: Volume One - 1994)
24. The Government - Flat Tire (The 33 1/3 EP - 1979)
25. The Fits - Bored Of Education (Smash The State: Volume One - 1994)
26. The Diodes - Tennis (Again) (Tired Of Waking Up Tired: The Best Of The Diodes - 1998)
27. Teenanger - Frights (Frights - 2011)
28. Pow Wows - Hidden Future (Broken Curses - 2015)
29. The Ugly Ducklings - Hey Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Somewhere Outside - 1966)
30. The Underworld - Love 22 (Unreleased Single - 1968)
31. The Ardels - Piece Of Jewelery (Wyld Canada Volume 2: Shake Yourself Down - 2005)
32. Handsome Ned - One Hundred Miles Of Open Road (The Name Is Ned: Anthology - 2000)
33. Hooded Fang - Too Late Night (Album - 2010)
34. The Poles - CN Tower (CN Tower/Prime Time - 1977)
35. Zro4 - Gimme Attention (Punk History Canada Presents: Only In Canada, Eh 77-81 Volume 1 - 2005)
36. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Zombie Compromise (Savvy Show Stoppers - 1988)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 14. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.