Youtube jamboree

June 5, 2010

Aw hell, I understand if you thought I broke my promise of regular posting. God knows I talk a lot of shit without a plastic bag handy, but I’ve been obsessed with youtube lately and have compiled a laundry list of videos that cover the gamut from Philip K. Dick and Francis Bacon documentaries to live Wire and Hawkwind videos. I figure this obsession will pass in a few days and I will get back to rambling about albums, but go visit the following link

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

Lick My Decals Off, Baby (Bizarre/Straight 1970)

Throughout my life, I have chosen small purgatories instead of making wild leaps. Sometimes it just seemed more prudent to ponder before making an action that may directly impact my path in this wooly wilderness. Please do not typecast me as a 99 pound pantywaist since I’ve also acted rashly to both my benefit and detriment in the realms of love, money, profession and mental well-being. Most of these stationary moments have lasted weeks or maybe months, but there is one in particular that lasted an entire year. I had graduated from my Western Pennsylvania college and decided to take a job as a record store manager and see where my long-term relationship would lead this old sap. I spent most of my days listening to Yes and Neil Young and occasionally laid on the floor while soaking in Everybody Knows This is Knowhere or Yessongs as if they were my current gospel. The other manager used to drive around with a mannequin of skeleton in the backseat of his car and pull a string to make it wave during Halloween, but many times it was in July. He also fantasized about jumping into the trash compactor while setting himself ablaze, so it is pretty certain that this purgatory deviated more towards a personal hell instead of a heaven. However, there was a numb calm to these days spent opening albums and listening to them while folks fawned over Princess Di and her sappy anthem.

During these moments of malaise, I was thoroughly embiggened every time that the truck arrived with the latest batch of cut-out cassettes. For every Front 242 disaster and emasculated Iggy Pop disaster, there was my virgin experience with Skip Spence, Hawkwind, United States of America, Flaming Groovies as well as the album highlighted here–Lick My Decals Off, Baby. My only experience with the Captain was in a vague appreciation of Trout mask replica that never went past second base. It was all maneuvering and weaving and bobbing without pathos. I still like it, but Lick My Decals was dense, but there was a melancholy about its songs that became addictive.

Many may disagree, but Lick My Decals is far superior to anything Captain Beefheart ever recorded. It is a close cousin to Trout Mask Replica and some songs fall victim to the chops and noodling of its predecesor, but this one is really touching if you listen to it as much as I have. “One Rose That I Mean” is one of my favorite tracks as it echoes John Fahey and early Leo Kottke, but there is so much hurt in this instrumental. Its meager crescendos seem crippled by the emotion involved in its creation.

For example, “Petrifed Forest” starts off with a kaleidoscope of stuttering riffs, poetic rants and rhythmic acrobatics, but there is a break in the storm and he gets it suddenly turns into a romantic coda and he makes a cryptic claim that he “only wants to rumble through your petrified forest.” It lasts only twenty seconds, but the complexity suddenly becomes a simple plea for a chance at love with someone who isn’t willing to accept his intentions.

I also love the weird eroticism and playfulness at work on this album. On the title track, the old Captain is kind of a love starved soul that devotes his time to “licking you everywhere it’s pink” and to “lick his decals off, baby.” There is more than a perverse tale at work as the Magic Band drives the song along its own peculiar manner. Yes, the the image of Captain Beefheart licking every inch of you may inspire disgust or an idiosyncratic explosion of the sexual kind, but one must admit that his paean to hedonism is quite an image to have lodged in your noggin.

Overall, Lick My Decals Off, Baby is the last we would see of the unhinged and somewhat insane side of the band before they became a bit more polished and bluesy. More importantly, his later songs fail to touch me like Decals, Mirror Man, Safe as Milk and much of Trout Mask Replica. This is his peak, but his slide is infinitely more entertaining than most musicians’ best compositions.

Monoshock-Walk to the Fire

August 13, 2008


Walk to the Fire (Blackball 1997)

Oh Sweet Jesus, where in the world have you been all of my life. Monoshock’s Walk to the Fire is a overload of psychedelia, rock and punk that falls somewhere in between Japanese band High Rise and Hawkwind at their most abrasive and fucked. I picked this album up long ago and tossed it aside because it was such a spastic mess, but that says much more about me at that time than this glorious album. It is a criminal racket that was recorded so that it sounds as if your ear is pressed against a massive amplifier pressing into the red at every moment.

Think Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath and the Stooges, but without a hit song to distinguish them. This is anthemic, unhinged and unhealthy music that pushes psych, metal and punk to its most mind altering limits. Music is phased to oblivion and reverb cascades over each brutal, but well-played riff as the band just pummels the living shit out each song. This music makes me uneasy, but it also can be catchy in its own caveman way. Each time I listen to this I am amazed at how Monoshock abused the guitar and created such a claustrophobic sound. These are anthems for riding a goddamn asteroid into a planet. Walk to the Fire deserves every cosmic, hippie adjective you could humanly apply to it.


Space Ritual Sundown V.2 (Purple Pyramid 2005)

Some readers may know Lemmy Kilmister best from Motorhead’s double decker sandwich of metal and punk. Other readers may know that Lemmy’s best work was spent with his previous band Hawkwind, who singlehandedly changed the face of metal, prog and punk with a series of classic albums: In Search of Space, Doremi Fasol Latido and Space Ritual, from which this recording is culled. If you are unfamiliar with Hawkwind, their early 70s work alternates between psychedelic, speedy proto-metal and whacked ambient instrumentals laced with the dalek ramblings of Robert Calvert.

The original Space Ritual compiles 88 minutes of a 1972 set that ranks as the best live album ever in my opinion. The recorded version were raw, throbbing psychedelic paeans to all things heavy, but this alternate version blows the original away. The original live set was too long to fit on the the double lp, so some of the more noisy, abstract stuff was left off as well as lengthier versions of their seminal tunes. “Time We Left” and “Brainstorm” are expanded while “7 by 7″‘s cosmic anthem is tacked onto the release. If you already love Space Ritual, please download so you can experience one of the rare occasions where your favorite album can actually be improved upon through careful editing. If you are unfamiliar, I envy you. You now have an opportunity to experience one of the best albums of the 70s. Like your music stoned, heavy, replete with echoing sax solos and endlessly inventive? Then, i implore you to explore their bombastic epic.