Buffy Sainte-Marie

Illuminations (Vanguard 1969)

http://www.mediafire.com/?zn4wmvbcwqj

I don’t even know why I picked this one up during a chicken shit jag in Dothan, Alabama where my masochism led me to linger after a slow-moving breakup. No one said “No Mas”, but both parties were constantly on the verge of letting those words fly. During this awkward status quo, I wandered the local mall and picked up Roky Erickson’s Never Say Goodbye and Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Illuminations. I didn’t know much about her other than her stint on Sesame Street, but the cover looked so sparse, pagan and downright alien to me as i ran my fingers over an endless parade of alt-rock detritus. This depressing moment resulted in my first date with two albums that still symbolize love, longing and its eventual decay to me.

Illuminations is the darkest and bizarre album of Buffy Saint-Marie’s career and much of this due to the contributions of Michael Czajkowski who recorded an odd electronic album for the folksy Vanguard label. She definitely plumbed some chasms on past albums, but the vocals and lyrics were the foundation for her angst and eloquence. However, Illuminations transcends her past because the orchestration, process vocals, reverb and general eccentricity comes from a place not unlike fellow travelers 50 Foot Hose, Jefferson Airplane and even the Silver Apples. I love Grace Slick’s embrace of the psychedelic goddess on the first two Jefferson Airplane records, but this less hippie-dippy and more tender and fractured.

It is hard to discuss this album without paying tribute to the pagan mysticism of the opener, “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot.” It is no surprise that Coil covered this song since it seems like a template for most of their excursions into magick and hallucinatory imagery. Only Comus delved into such impassioned psychedelic territory. This song celebrates the existence of spirits all around us, but the fucked electronic effects make it downright unsettling. It is as if your beliefs in sprituality have come back to haunt you as animism takes hold and your surroundings come alive with a cavalcade of good and evil spirits. It is haunting in a literal sense and never fails to creep me out of my fucking gourd.

Maybe my devotion to this album is rooted in its association with a low point in my life, but tracks like “The Vampire” capture the essence of emotional cannibalism where both parties feed on one another in order to prolong the inevitable. Plus, I love the line where the vampire’s victim laments the fact she must bid goodbye to her rosary now that she has crossed the border into another phase of her life. She has been drained and it is time to start a new life. I may be stretching a bit, but I found solace in this morbid tale and still do to a lesser extent.

Illuminations is ahead of its time, but you rarely hear anyone cite her as an influene or embrace her as a newfound love. I wholeheartedly endorse any of her 60s albums, but this one possesses a hoodoo that rivals any record of the late 60s.

Ted Lucas-s/t

August 13, 2008

Ted Lucas

s/t (Om 1976)

http://www.divshare.com/download/5166781-daf

Since this was sent to me earlier this year, I have listened to this album incessantly. It sort of is an imaginary link between the beautiful bummers of Skip Spence’s Oar with the nimble fingerwork of the Takoma label, especially John Fahey and early Leo Kottke. It is a fantastical description, but an apt one in my incredibly biased opinion. I love how the beginning of the album leads you to believe its all gonna be some fell good instrumental folk jamboree, but then he gets into some really spooky pop songs that sounds like some dirty backwoods drugs and heavenly harmonies. Raga folk gets married to some really emotionally devastating shit that makes me want to know a lot more about this guy’s life and what led him to create such a gorgeous, but emotionally damaged album. There seems to be a desire to get away from it all and retreat into himself and his odes to drinking and smoking weed aren’t celebratory, but kind of a plea for a better place.

On a purely musical and puerile level, I get a big old kick out of the slow-motion bliss of his pot smoking anthem “It’s So Nice to Get Stoned.” On one hand, it’s an angelic ode to the joys of smoking weed to get away from the daily grind, but within the context of the album, it can also be interpreted as an ode to sedating your personal demons with weed. I guess the dark side of the song mated with the bleary-eyed lyrics of flying into the heavens like an eagle make it somehow perfect to me.

The next song “Baby Where You Are” is another mixed message. It is a romantic sentiment about a wish for a reunion with a lover, but there is a creeping sense that obsession is somehow involved in the relationship as he wants to see, think and be wherever this beloved baby may be in this godforsaken world.

Man, I could ramble about this one for a lot longer, but I feel very bad about not posting for a week due to my thesis and I want to post some more music tonight. However, this is what all “forgotten” albums hyped to the heavens should sound like. I also love how he is tapping into Skip Spence and After Bathing at Baxters era Jefferson Airplane and Takoma in 1976. It probably was an anomaly at the time of its release, but really deserves the simple action of a download so he can get some of the respect he deserves.

Spectrum

Geracao Bendita (Shadoks reissue of 1971 album)

http://www.mediafire.com/?z5gpzouyfgf

Once you stray outside of Tropicalia’s inner circle of Brazilian psychedelic royalty (Gilberto Gil, Gaetano Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, Jorge Ben and Tom Ze) there are so many more misses than hits. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to find an album that holds its own against any album recorded by the aforementioned artists. This Spectrum has nothing to do with Pete Kember of and his brilliant continuation of Spacemen 3’s work, but this Spectrum was assembled to perform the soundtrack to a Brazilian hippie flick.

Consisting of actors and actresses in the film as well as members of the 2000 Volts band, this Spectrum has much love for Os Mutantes’ first two classic albums, but the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour albums as well. Vocalists jump from English to Portuguese without rhyme or reason as the band professes their love of peace, love and understanding, but it doesn’t really matter anyway. The main attraction is in how this suddenly assembled band deftly builds upon the sound of Os Mutantes and slathers the tracks in fuzz guitar.

However, there is one track on Geracao Bendita that still floors me a year after I first stumbled upon it. “Mother Nature” combines the Brazilian vibes of Tropicalia, the wide eyed optimism of the Beatles and the laid-back West Coast vibes of Haight-Ashbury in one track. It’s Abbey Road, After Bathing at Baxters and Os Mutantes in one sitting. The rest of Geracao Bendita is good, but this track makes me grin from ear to ear. There is not hyperbole in my mutterings. I really, really love this song.