Monday, June 29, 2009

Aimee Mann - Hultsfred Festival (2001) (mp3, 160kbps)

Aimee Mann is tough. She didn't like the record industry and what it wanted to do to her art. She wanted to do it her way. She had a vision of her music and nothing and no one was going to stop her from making that vision a reality. She came out with a record called 'Whatever' and it was great. She came out with another record called 'I'm With Stupid' and it was brilliant! She was an indie hit. The she came out with a record called 'Bachelor No. 2' AND she wrote additional music for the film Magnolia. The movie, and, more importantly, the music put her on top of the world. She had respect, career, loving husband, sales, fans, legacy... and that's where it all seems to have gone wrong.

Em and I saw her in 2002 when she was on tour for 'Lost In Space'. That record is not bad, but it feels like it was rushed out as a set of stuff that got left off the last two releases. And that is OK, except that the concert sucked.

I don't make that statement lightly. I want so much to like this artist, and so much of her output is SO good, but not lately. There was no fire, no passion, no sweat. Just going through the motions. That is the fastest way to make me lose interest in your performance. If you don't care, why should I? And we were right up front. We wanted so badly to like this show. Here was someone who had just hit the top of her game. We waited in line, got up front at The Theater of the Living Arts, and she put up a dud. You wouldn't know it from the 'xpn disciples who were generally pleased with the lackluster performance, but the fact remains that this was not a strong show.

AND she was hating on Phil Collins - a guy who, instead of bitching about how life was so cruel to him, got up on top of it and became the busiest man in rock and roll. How many records did that guy produce in the eighties? How many guest spots? How many records did Genesis sell? How many records did Phil sell on his own? But she figured she could get away with, because Phil Collins doesn't get played on the same radio stations that think nothing but unicorns and rainbows come out of Aimee Mann's ass. Sorry, cupcake, but compared to old, bald Phil, you ain't done nothing in your little career.

Which brings us to this particular show. Three months before 9/11, everything was abit different. Back then, Mann's shtick about showin' the man that she could be the best pop songwriter and do it on her terms was still a vital story line. Despite her youthful appearance, there was a world-weariness that carried a lot of weight. 'Look what I've been through. I'm a beaten and bruised, but you still can't stop me!' It sounds like that determination was very present in this performance, and the song selection is just great. This is from a radio show, so the quality is primo as well. Listen to this great show and tell me the hell happened to Aimee Mann. She used to be a badass. Now she's a lightweight.

Hultsfred Festival, Sweden 6-15-01

  1. One
  2. Choice in the Matter
  3. Sugarcoated
  4. How Am I Different
  5. Save Me
  6. That's Just What You Are
  7. Red Vines
  8. Susan
  9. Ghost World
  10. Long Shot
  11. Calling it Quits
  12. Wise Up
  13. Deathly
  14. Fourth of July
  15. The Other Side Of The Telescope
  16. Driving With One Hand
  17. Jimmy Hoffa
  18. You Could Make A Killing
  19. Choice in the Matter
  20. Voices Carry
The concert is only the first 13 tracks. The rest of the music is b-sides and alternate versions.

The link is in the comments.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Squarepusher - Shinjuku Liquid Room (1997) (mp3, 160kbps)

This is pretty much the moment when everything changed. The good news was that Tom Jenkinson was going to be able to pursue his chosen career and actually make some money doing it. The bad news was that he was going to be a celebrity. It seems there was always a strong level of interest in his 'sound' in Japan, but it was his extraordinary performance style that closed the deal. There were DJ's and there were knob twiddlers, but there was nothing like Squarpusher. YouTube has two videos from this performance; Beep Street and Cooper's World. they apear to have beenbroadcast on MTV, but I'm thinking that wasn't in the USA. As a result of the Hard Normal Daddy lp, Squarepusher became a major label (Sony) artist in Japan.

Things changed big time after the popularity set in, and the music of revolt came next. But before that awkward period of exploration, there was this rebirth of fusion, mated with the most cutting edge technology, and an artist who refused to be defined by any boundry. YouTube may have the two videos, but with this recording your ears get the whole show. Enjoy!

Shinjuku Liquid Room
Tokyo, Japan
July 24, 1997

  1. intro 2:14
  2. The Swifty 5:33
  3. Coopers World 5:15
  4. Beep Street 6:55
  5. EZ Boogie 8:20
  6. Journey to Reedham 6:39
  7. Full Rinse 2:41
  8. Massif (Stay Strong) 6:19
  9. Anirog Da 1:12
  10. Chin Hippy 3:24
  11. Come On My Selector 3:41
  12. The Body Builder 3:19
  13. Dimotane Co. 4:38
  14. encore 7:02

The link is in the comments

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Squarepusher - Bowery Ballroom, NYC (2003) (mp3, 128kbps)

UPDATE: We're coming down the home stretch of Squarepusher's installment of 'Artist of The Week'. Before I post the amazing '97 recording from the Shinjuko Liquid Room, I'm reposting this delicious recording made by yours truly.

When I first heard Squarepusher in 1997 it blew my mind. I was driving back from an unfortunate errand in Queens (don't ask) and I hoped to console myself with some good, under-the-radar, you're-not-going-to-hear-that-on-the-radio-outside-NYC, type music. I have no idea what station I had picked up, but the music proved to be Male Pill Pt. 13 from Hard Normal Daddy. If you don't own this record, stop reading and go buy it now. NOW!! The dj described the artist as the Squarepushers, but I was eventually fortunate enough to find a knowledgeable record store clerk somewhere in Philadelphia.

Flash forward six years to the summer of 2003. this is my recording of a show I attended alone at the Bowery Ballroom. This tape was made under constant threat of discovery, but it still came out great. This is from a tour in support of Ultravisitor, represents a rare States-side performance, and finds the artist in his typically hyper and destructive mood. I'm not sure that being at the concerts is all that fun (it is an aural assault), but in the comfort of your own home, you can now listen to the modern-day mad scientist, dialing knobs, flipping switches, stomping pedals, clicking his mouse button and, most importantly, shredding on his bass guitar with synth hook-up.

The magic act is impressive to see, but it tends to get a bit loud for those in attendance. With this set, you get more than a flavor of one night's work - very good work indeed.

I'm pleased with how this turned out. I used an active stereo mic (not sure of the model) and ran that into the portable MD recorder. There really hasn't been any retouching. I was lucky that there is little or no distortion or clipping. Despite the volume in the room (or perhaps because of it) all the sounds are clear in the mix. If you don't know anything about Squarepusher, please remember that the vast majority of the sounds you hear are being triggered, live, by means of synth bass. It is astonishing, to say the least.

1. Do You Know Squarepusher (5:26)
2. Dimotane Co. (8:14)
3. Ultravisitor (7:13)
4. Tetra-Scync (8:42)
5. I Fulcrum -> Come On My Selector (9:04)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chaos A.D. - Buzz Caner (1998) (mp3, 160kbps)

This is being reposted for my 'Artist of the Week' exhibit about Squarepusher. This record is not on ebay or iTunes, and the cheapest one on Amazon is over $100 (for a CD)! It's probably worth it.

Not for the faint of heart. You'll notice that the label says Squarepusher, and that's who it is, performing under the alias Chaos A.D. I believe a lot of this is culled from his early recording that predate the Warp releases - all of which are phenomenal and worthy of your hard-earned discretionary income. This is less jazz-fusion and more straight-up dance/electronica. You can still hear a lot of the trademark Squarepusher tricks, but this music is a little more of an explorations, instead of an experiment. Does that make any sense?

As with most music, the best way to understand it is to simply listen. Some of this is a bit hard to digest - the obnoxious streak (that I find endearing) is present today (listen to the ep 'Numbers Lucent') and it was present back then. Proceed with caution.

  1. Thin Life (5:20)
  2. Mess Head (7:06)
  3. Bioslate (6:35)
  4. Generation Shit (3:10)
  5. Dreaded Pestilence (6+:22)
  6. Mind War Electro (9:00)
  7. Friend Track (3:54)
  8. Psultan Part 1 (5:17)
  9. Theme From Cumberland Wrestling (4:39)
  10. Male Pill Part 6 (6:51)
  11. Up The Gary (6:21)
  12. Dave's Safety Lamp (6:12)
The link is in the comments.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Squarepusher - Breezeblock Show (2004) (mp3 128kbps)

The difference between Squarepusher in 1996, when Feed Me Wierd Things was recorded, and within just a few months after Hard Normal Daddy was released - it was night and day. He was completely unknown one minute, and the next he was an insider/enfant terrible, a prohet for popular musicians. The very composition of modern music changed, to a great extent, because of the efforts of very un-cool tech heads who spent a lot of time on their own.

I don't think Squarepusher ever wanted to be 'the next big thing.' I find that his music became harder to listen to after 1998's 'Big Loda' compilation. It was a collection of the stuff that didn't make it on the two major works of the period: 'Feed Me...' and 'Hard Normal..." But after those three brilliant outings, the music becomes dark, almost oppositional. 'Music Is Rotted One Note,' 'Selection 16,' 'Maximum Priest EP', 'Budakahn Mindphone' and 'Do You Know Squarepusher' were all released between '98 and '02, and for those looking for the next 'Hard Normal Daddy', it's just not there. He is intentionally challenging his audience with something new, and the result is not always listenable.

But in 2004, 'Ultravisitor' came out, a LONG record with songs that formed a beginning, middle and end to this longer work. Compared to the exploration of the previous five years, this record sounded extremely determined, totally cohesive. He was now incorporating the noise and chaos right into the synth-driven composition. The technology allwed for a sonically more diverse live program and, indeed, portions of the album were culled from the live performaces of the year before. He succeded in bringing all the styles he had worked on and all the sounds he invented and re-invented together in one new sound. No longer was there a 'Squarepusher Theme' (from Feed Me Weird things) or 'My Fucking Sound' (from Do You Know Squarepusher?). Now it was just Squarepusher.

Another huge difference was the artist's attitude toward his audience. The album cover says it all, close up head shot of Tom Jenkinson. No more hiding behind the abstract graphic imagery and dangerous seclusion. As they say in the movies, "Now it's just you and me, sport." He even did some promotion.

Which brings us to this recording. It is a, roughy, 25 minute piece of music, presented by the BBC as one track. It was recorded live by Squarepusher in the BBC studio for the Breezblock program on BBC radio. Around the time of broadcast, the track was also made available for download. It is a beautiful, massive, and completely new work that is presented to the listener in the context of 'Ultravisitor' and that sound, but it is also its own composition, and not merely a live version of music from the record. How much pre-production goes into a work such as this is known only to the musician, but to my ear, it sounds like a lot. This is consistent with recent statements about what Squarepusher might play at upcoming festival performances this summer. He said it depended on how much he could get done before the performance.

This is not for everyone, and it's certainly not background music. It is, however, a very close approximation of what the live performance was like, presented in broadcast quality, at a time when Squarepusher came forth from transition and began to present, with all the delacacy of a chainsaw, another new sound.

The link is in the comments.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Squarepusher - Feed Me Weird Things (1996) (mp3, 128kbps)

I'm riding a strong wave of Squarepusher love right now, AND he just announced what the next project will be. So the second 'Artist of the Week' in my irregular series (started with Wayne Shorter), is Tom Jenkinson, a/k/a Squarepusher.

What better place to begin than with the very first record? Normally, I have no wish to deprive the artist of record sales, but this essential title does not really seem to be for sale. Not on iTunes and not on Amazon, other than for $80+ used. So, forget that.

This was not the first Squarepusher record I got my hands on. That was, of course, 'Hard Normal Daddy'. I always say the same thing about that record: If you don't have it, stop what you are doing and go get it. Stop reading this blog. Stop playing with your computer or phone. Go get the record. You will NOT be sorry. There are certain defining records in any genre, records that achieve the nexus of (a) unique creativity, (b) broad appeal in their time, and (c) lasting impact on other music. Hard Normal Daddy hits all three. It took the traditional idea of jazz and jazz fusion instrumentals from the 60's and 70's and connected it to rave and dance music in almost the exact same way rap and hip-hop connected to funk and r'n'b from the same era.

Feed Me Wierd Things retains fewer of the traditional elements. Yes, this is a 'long player', a full length record, as opposed to being a vinyl 12-inch stuffed into an anonymous white sleeve - DJ style. What this record firmly establishes is the painstaking and meticulous approach to rhythm and percussion that was not previously present in electronic music.

'His beats are made,' said Bono. And this record is where that begins. In earlier electronic music, the driving drum beats were loops which freed up the DJ/producer/musician/rapper to layer on his or her own, without the need of a live drum set. Also, the mechanical sound of the drum machine served as an anchor, thudding away in a constant beat - louder, really, than any other part of the music.

Squarepusher comes along and thinks, 'Those beats can be just as loud and driving, but they don't have to be the same over and over again." That fits with what a jazz drummer does with a rhythm; play around it and let it swing and it can keep the beat without repeating. The downside is getting a machine to recreate the nuance of human spontenaity would take someone who was willing to put in untold hours, secluding himself from the world in order to create process his music until it is just so; going drum stroke by drum stroke with everything programmed and perfect. Tom Jenkinson is the human/ghost in the machine.

Whether you are talking about the near chaotic blerps and schbleps of 'North Circular', or the cool, almost classical guitar feel of 'Squarepusher Theme', or the unrelenting killer melody that frames a drum frenzy on 'Theme From Ernest Borgnine' - those beats are mad. The following record may have been the one that broke through, but it is this first outing that introduces the noisy/obnoxious/avant garde streak in a man who is, technically and otherwise, a real musical genius.

  1. "Squarepusher Theme" – 6:20
  2. "Tundra" – 7:55
  3. "The Swifty" – 5:20
  4. "Dimotane Co." – 4:54
  5. "Smedley's Melody" – 2:33
  6. "Windscale 2" – 6:35
  7. "North Circular" – 6:08
  8. "Goodnight Jade" – 2:45
  9. "Theme from Ernest Borgnine" – 7:55
  10. "U.F.O.'s Over Leytonstone" – 6:39
  11. "Kodack" – 7:14
  12. "Future Gibbon" – 2:18
The link is in the comments.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Police - Gateshead Festival (1982) (160kbps)

This wasn't quite the end, not quite time to pass the baton to Bono and the boys, but on this day in 1982, U2 showed they could go toe to toe with the big boys. And the biggest boys back then were The Police. Andy Summers made a decision to go minimal. Stewart Copeland could play anything, but was lucky and smart not to get stuck in an aging prog or fusion act. And Sting? Well, I think Sting is a huge wanker and now he just sucks. But back then, he had what it took to be a sincere and agile front-man who actually played an instrument. It wasn't Sting and The Police. back then, he was just another guy working his ass off to make his band the biggest thing in the world. By the time Synchronicity came out (the year after this show), that goal had been achieved.

July 31, 1982

CD1: (46:07)
01. Message In A Bottle (4:18)
02. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (4:13)
03. Walking On The Moon (5:04)
04. Spirits In The Material World (3:26)
05. Hungry For You (J'aurais Toujours Faim De Toi) (3:13)
06. When The World Is Running Down (3:53)
07. The Bed's Too Big Without You (4:59)
08. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (5:57)
09. Demolition Man (5:31)
10. Shadows In The Rain (5:28)

CD2: (42:15)
01. Driven To Tears (3:22)
02. Bring On The Night (5:42)
03. One World (Not Three) (4:16)
04. Invisible Sun (4:29)
05. Roxanne (5:56)
06. Don't Stand So Close To Me (3:28)
07. Can't Stand Losing You / Reggatta de Blanc / Be My Girl, Sally (7:44)
08. So Lonely (7:14)

The link is in the comments

Van Halen - Goldenwest Ballroom (1976) (mp3, 160kbps)

The Golden West Ballroom appears to have little significance outside of the fact that is was the scene of this concert in 1976. It was our Great Nation's two hundredth birthday; punk didn't exist yet; Prog Rock and Jazz Fusion were still riding high, but showing some signs of aging; Miles Davis was in self-imposed exile from music. And this quartet from Los Angeles was getting ready to change everything about how we understand that ephemeral phrase: ROCK AND ROLL!!

I only wish there were a bit more bass in teh recording, but it's still a killer.
  1. On Fire 2:35
  2. Show Your Love 4:37
  3. Last Child 4:27
  4. Tush 3:05
  5. The Rover 6:19
  6. Let's Get Rockin' 3:11
  7. Ice Cream Man 5:12
  8. Last Night 3:52
  9. Eruption 3:09
  10. We Die Young 3:36
  11. Somebody Get Me A Doctor 4:47
  12. Babe Don't Leave Me Alone 4:14
  13. Let Me Swim In Your Ocean 1:40
  14. She's The Woman 3:23

Total Time - 54:07

The link is in the comments.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Decemberists - KCRW (2009) (mp3, 256kbps)

They put on quite a show at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA last night. Em and I are still recovering. Feel free to check out my thoughts on the show at or at the brand-spankin' new It's the same post, but there's now an effort to make some collaborative music blogging happen, so I'm double posting everything.

So, as part of the promotion for their new album, The Hazards of Love, the band stopped off at KCRW and played some of the highlights from the record. This is no substitute for seeing the action go down live and in person, but it at least provide a glimpse of the tasty output presently coming forth forth from this highly ereudite indie rock outfit.

KCRW Radio FM Broadcast
Santa Monica, California.
Source: FM Broadcast

Live In Studio Session @ Time Of Broadcast

AIRED: Friday, May 15, 2009

02.The Hazards of Love 1
03.Won't Want for Love
04.The Hazards of Love 2
06.The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid
07.The Queen's Rebuke
08.The Rake's Song

Colin Meloy - Guitar, Vox
Chris Funk - Guitar, Mandolin, Vox
Jenny Conlee - Piano, Organ
Nate Query - Bass
John Moen - Drums, Vox
Becky Stark - Vox
Shara Worden - Guitar, Vox

The link is in the comments.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Fish - Tales From The Big Bus (1998) (mp3, 160kbps)

Well, we're going to see The Decemberists tomorrow night, and I really don't know anything about them, so it's been a steep education curve over the past few days. The band is fronted and master-mind-ed Collin Meloy, who in his earnestness and eccentricity reminds me of the Fish. The music is different and, of course, Fish is older and has been sloggin away at this rock singer thing for low these many years. But the showmanship and the just-ever-so-slightly-out-of-kilter charisma - Fish has really got it. We'll see what Mr. Meloy looks like tomorrow night and report over at Mpomy HQ.

But to keep things moving at the music blog, and seeing as this title is pretty much out of circulation, here is a fine example of the 1989 Sunsets on Empire Tour. This was the first tour I saw Fish, though not in Koln. But this is the same band and roughly the same set and its a real corker! Enjoy the extended medleys, broken up by Fish's amazing stories of life on the road, badgers and everything else.

CD1 (64:05)
01. Perception of Johnny Punter (11.41) [Dick/Wilson]
02. What Colour is God? (07.21) [Dick/Wilson]
03. Family Business (06.24) [Dick/Simmonds/Lindes]
04. Mr. 1470 (05.32) [Dick/Paterson/Boult]
05. Jungle Ride (08.15) [Dick/Boult]
06. Medley (20.25):
(i) Assassing [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Trewavas/Mosley]
(ii) Credo [Dick/Simmonds/Boult/Usher]
(iii) Tongues [Dick/Simmonds/Boult/Usher]
(iv) Fugazi [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Mosley/Trewavas]
(v) White Feather [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Trewavas/Mosley]

CD2 (50:17)
07. Cliché (08.35) [Dick/Simmonds/Lindes]
08. Brother 52 (06.08) [Dick/Wilson]
09. Lucky (20.14) [Dick/Simmonds/Boult]
10. Internal Exile [Dick/Simmonds/Boult]
11. The Company (08.48) [Dick/Simmonds]

The link is in the comments.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

B. B. King - Toronto Forum (1978) (mp3, 128kbps)

Time for a little blues. If you know nothing else about the blues, you probably know BB King. He's been around a long time, he's extremely well-spoken and respectful - not like all those other scary blues musicians! We can debate the climate of racism during which this artist reached tremendous success till the cows come home.

Oh yeah, one other thing. He's an absolutely filthy guitar player. And that's the real reason he got to where he got. BB took the basic idea of the single note blues that T-Bone Walker really established, and he just made made it so down and dirty and nasty that you can't resist. Just listen and tell me that you disagree.

A big reason that BB has been able to keep it going so long is that he's also a hell of a showman. Even in this recording, you can hear him working the audience and using that energy to get the band into a higher plane of performance. It's so good you can taste it!

1. Caledonia 4:30
2. Night Life 6:35
3. Walking Dr. Bill 4:55
4. monlogue> 3:44
5. Instrumental 6:23
6. Why I Sing The Blues 5:32
7. Never Make Your Move Too Soon 6:16
8. The Thrill Is Gone 6:06
9. outro 1:30

The link is in the comments.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Steve Hackett - Highly Strung (1983) (mp3, vbr)

I usually try not to post something that can readily be obtained through other means. I'll probably earn myself a cease and desist letter for this one. But it was definitely time for some pure prog after all that Wayne Shorter. Not because they're so different, but because they're (also) so similar. The painstaking compositional aspect of those Wayne records from the 80's depends on every note being in the right place. That's just like lots of prog rock! How Wayne was able to do that in a predominantly improvisational format (i.e. Jazz) is beyond me and a testament to his substantial genius.

But back to Mr. Hackett. I'm not saying this particular prog rock masterpiece embodies all those strange and wonderful qualities. On the contrary, Highly Strung is a bit of a romp. Hackett flexes his substantial guitar muscles on the first three tracks, all of which feature his beautiful, harmonic soloing. He then lays it on even thicker with 'Group Therapy' and the aptly titled 'Hackett to Pieces'.

Two things come to mind with this collection of music, especially after listening to all that Wayne Shorter. The first is that Hackett is producing with a much smaller budget. The overall musical impression of the record is just a little more chintzy. I don't know how else to say it. With Wayne's solo records, I feel like there is a beautiful and shimmering quality to the production. As with the composition, everything is just right, and cost is no object.

The second difference, for me at least, is that this music does not seem to be influenced by the popular music of the day, or by any context. Talk about no compromise! It's something that's always been one of Hackett's most admirable qualities. He simply plays what he hears in his head. No one knows where it comes from. Take, for example, the bonus track 'Guitar Boogie'. Ladies and gentleman, this is not blues. I don't care how much the artist tries to tell you different. Calling that song blues is like calling Keith Richards a classical musician. It's just wrong. But that's how Hackett hears it, and, god knows, he can play the shit out of that guitar, so why not?

  1. "Camino Royale" (Hackett, Magnus) – 5:28
  2. "Cell 151" (Hackett) – 6:26
  3. "Always Somewhere Else" (Hackett) – 4:02
  4. "Walking Through Walls" (Hackett) – 3:48
  5. "Give It Away" (Hackett) – 4:08
  6. "Weightless" (Hackett) – 3:31
  7. "Group Therapy" (Hackett) – 5:47
  8. "India Rubber Man" (Hackett) – 2:31
  9. "Hackett to Pieces" (Hackett, Magnus) – 2:40

2007 Remaster Bonus Tracks
10. "Guitar Boogie" - 2:12 11. "Walking Through Walls (Single Edit)" - 5:55 12. "Time Lapse at Milton Keynes" - 3:52

  • John Acock – keyboards
  • Steve Hackett - guitars, vocals
  • Chris Lawrence – contrabass
  • Nick Magnus - keyboards, devices
  • Ian Mosley – drums
  • Nigel Warren-Green – cello
The link is in the comments.