Monday, August 31, 2009

Frank Zappa - Swiss Cheese At The Festhalle Basel (1974) (mp3, c. 256kbps - vbr)

Brilliant recording from a great era. The cover recalls Roxy & Elswhere, which is a great record to start with if you don't know Frank's music. Roxy runs about 68 minutes. This monster weighs in at a considerably more portly 2-1/2 hours, and it's 'all killer, no filler'. It may lose a few points, through no fault of its own, for being just after Jean-Luc Ponty left the band, but the sheer mass of material on this recording more than makes up for it. Also, with Jean-Luc out of the band, I have a theory that Frank felt more comfortable and more in charge.

Some of this material may be heard on the 'You Can't Do that On Stage Anymore' series, but, rather than a compilation of snippets from throughout the career, you get the whole concert (and then some). The filler material is also high quality, making for a nice, beefy package.

Frank Zappa - Swiss Cheese at the Festhalle Basel in 1974

This recording is a digital copy of the Frank Zappa CD bootlegrecord Swiss Cheese at the Festhalle Basel in 1974.
Label: FZ BA 01/02

Swiss Cheese at the Festivalhalle Basel in 1974 (2 CD)

* Festhalle Mustermesse, Basel, Switzerland, 01-Oct-1974 (early show)
* Harrisburg, 07-Nov-1974
* Capitol Theater, Passiac, 08-Nov-1974

Label: FZ BA 01/02
Sound quality: very good soundboard

Musicians: Frank Zappa, Ruth Underwood, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Chester Thompson, Tom Fowler and George Duke

1. Tush Tush Tush Incl. Band Introduction (02:15)
2. Stink-Foot (07:06)
3. Inca Roads (13:13)
4. Cosmik Debris (12:38)
5. Approximate Version One (01:21)
6. Approximate Version Two (01:06)
7. Approximate Version Three (00:43)
8. Approximate Whole Version (04:21)
9. Preamble Chesters Gorilla (01:39)
10. Florentine Pogen (09:49)
11. Preamble Incl. Tuning (01:27)
12. Penguin in Bondage (08:15)
13. T'Mershi Duween (03:52)
14. Dog Meat (06:36)
15. Preamble Stupid Fucking Song (01:25)

16. Camarillo Brillo (06:29)
17. Preamble Oh No, I Don't Believe It (00:50)
18. Oh No (01:33)
19. Son of Orange County (06:01)
20. Trouble Every Day (07:09)
21. Dog Breath Variations / Uncle Meat (02:36)
22. Building a Girl (01:45)
23. Preamble Love Song (00:50)
24. Florentine Pogen (08:07)
25. Montana (07:00)
26. The Hook (Dupree's Paradise) (26:23)
27. Ruthie-Ruthie (02:16) [Berry/Zappa/Brock] [same recording as on Stage #1]
28. Smell My Beard (05:08) [may or may not be as on Stage #4]

* Tracks 1-20 live at the Festhalle Mustermesse in Basel, Switzerland, 01-Oct-1974 (early show).
* Tracks 21-26 live in Harrisburg 07-Nov-1974.
* Tracks 27-28 live at the Capitol Theater, Passiac, 08-Nov-1974.

The link is in the comments.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jimi Hendrix and Larry Young - Record Plant Session (1969) (mp3, 160kbps)

I was looking through the archive and found that this recording didn't sound nearly as bad as I remembered. It's pretty rough, but well worth it to hear the meeting of these two giants. Obviously, Larry Young did not have the same impact on music as Jimi, but his feel in Lifetime and on John McLaughlin's Devotion make him a natural for a jam with Jimi. This set is from the Record Plant Studios in New York City, May 14, 1969. Mitch Mitchell is on drums and Billy Cox plays bass.

  1. Livin at the Burwood
  2. Jam in E
  3. Theme in D
  4. Theme in D Jam
  5. Jam in Gb
  6. Jam in Gb cont'd
  7. World Traveler
  8. World Traveler (reprise)
  9. My Brother's Dead
  10. Livin at the Burwood (edit)
The link is in the comments.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stanley Clarke - Tower Theater (1978) (mp3, 160kbps)

Here is an absolutely stellar recording of Stanley Clarke at the height of his powers, playing a show to a home town audience on New Year's Day. Could a fusion-head ask for anything better? I don't know who all we're hearing in the band, but I'm pretty sure it's Ray Gomez on guitar and Gerry Brown on drums. Beyond that, it's really anyone's guess. I know it's not David Sancious or Peter Robinson on keys because the piano solo is labeled as 'Mike's Solo'. Also, there are an assortment of horns and wind which make it a great set.

  1. Overture
  2. Silly Putty
  3. School Days
  4. Quiet Afternoon
  5. The Magician
  6. The Magician (cont'd)
  7. Song To John
  8. Confirmation
  9. Solo
  10. Dayride
  11. Mike Solo
  12. unknown
  13. Lopsy Lu
The link is in the comments.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spock's Beard - Live at Whiskey and NEARFest (1999) (mp3, 160kbps)

I originally got this set because I desperately wanted to hear the Beard's version of Genesis' Squonk. So many years later, I can easily say that is the worst song in the bunch. I was not able to get into this band right away. I knew they were big fans of 'old' Genesis and I also knew there was a big Gentle Giant thing going on. Even though I wasn't well-versed in the ways of Gentle Giant, Genesis was about the best thing in the world, so I hung in there. What I discovered was the genius of Neal Morse. What a fascinating guy. He can crank out the 30 minute epics without even breaking a sweat. He split the band in 2002 after finding that his commitment to Jesus Christ would not allow him to be in 'rock bands' anymore. Yet, since that date, he has proceeded to make music that is even more amazing and inspirational. You may not agree with his evangelical message, but there is no arguing with the authority and sincerity of his songwriting gift. I truly believ that he has been called by God (whatever that means) to make progressive rock. I know it sounds crazy, but when you listen to ? and Sola Scriptura, its easy to understand that this man is not like the rest of us. In this so-called Christian period, he is making the best music of his life.

But back in 1999, he was just the front man of a prog rock outfit from LA. This is what that band sounded like at the height of their powers. When these recordings were made, Spock's Beard was moving forward and moving up and there was no limit to what they imagined was possible. This quintet attacked their compositions and set a new standard for 'difficult' music that was also highly emotional and moving. This set included the favorites 'Doorway', 'June' and 'Waste Away' as well as the early epick 'The Light' from their first album of the same name. But it is the too often forgotten pieces such as 'Skin' and 'Walking on the Wind' that make this a special collection.

Don't worry about the Genesis cover. That's not what it's all about. Instead, check out a great band that worked its ass off to become a big deal in a music scene that probably wanted nothing to do with prog. In the most improbable place and time, Spock's Beard created amazing songs.

  • "Introduction" – 1:01
  • "In the Mouth of Madness" – 5:00
  • "Gibberish" – 4:40
  • "Skin" – 4:14
  • "Go the Way You Go" – 13:27
  • "The Distance to the Sun" – 5:19
  • "Crack the Big Sky" – 9:50
  • "The Doorway" – 14:04
  • "The Light" – 20:13
  • "June" – 3:48
  • "Waste Away" – 5:04
  • "Squonk" – 3:33
  • "Walking on the Wind" – 10:01
The link is in the comments.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yezda Urfa - Boris (1975) (mp3, 128kbps)

For those of you not familiar with this 'demo' it is outrageous. This is over-the-top prog perpetrated by some American students who could burn on their respective instruments. By the time these compositions were written and recorded, these guys had a pretty fair chance to listen to all the Yes and Gentle Giant they could get their ears on. When it came time to make their own foray into the genre, the mandate was do everything that everyone else was doing, just more so. They wanted to make the most over-the-top prog album that had ever been heard, and when you hear this, you may well think they succeeded.

There is so much ornamentation and trickery, it literally made my head spin. Concepts such as succintness, brevity, compactness, stripped down - these ideas just didn't enter the picture. I don't know what's more amazing, that they didn't get signed or that the record is so good. So many people criticize prog for its excesses, and, to a great extent, I think there is some validity to those criticisms. But for this one-off novelty piece (there is actually another album out there that I have not heard), I just cast aside all insecurity and enjoy the noise.

1. Boris And His 3 Verses, including Flow Guides Aren't My Bag (11:00)
2. Texas Armadillo (1:48)
3. 3, Almost 4, 6 Yea (8:46)
4. Tuta In The Moya & Tyreczimmage (10:50)
5. Three Tons Of Fresh Thyroid Glands (10:20)

Total Time: 42:44

Line-up / Musicians

- Brad Christoff / percussion, all sorts
- Phil Kimbrough / keyboards, synthesizers, mandolin, wind instruments
- Mark Tippins / guitars, banjo, vocals
- Marc Miller / bass
- Rick Rodenbaugh / vocals

The link is in the comments.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

PInk Floyd - Interstellar Fillmore (1970) (aac, 128kbps)

The era of wide open psychedlic improv is coming to an end. It will soon give way to more composed pieces like Atom Heart Mother, Echoes, and finally Dark Side of The Moon. But on this lovely-sounding stereo soundboard from nearly four decades ago, that old black magic is alive and well, from the 20 minute-plus version of 'Saucerful of Secrets' (from about twelve minutes for the studio version) to the 2nd encore of Barret-era favorite 'Interstellar Overdrive'. This is the real deal. Shows like this established the groundwork for tremendous popularity in the States and mammoth record sales world-wide.

But back then, with Barret recently excused, and newboy Gilmour still trying to find his place, Pink Floyd was a ball of energy, boundless, sometimes formless, and always fearless.

Fillmore West, San Fransico, CA
April 29, 1970

  1. Granchester Meadows
  2. Astronomy Domine
  3. Cymbaline
  4. Atom Heart Mother
  5. Embryo
  6. Green Is The Colour
  7. Careful With That Axe Eugene
  8. Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun
  9. A Saucerful of Secrets
  10. Interstellar Overdrive
Gilmour, Mason, Waters, Wright

The link is in the comments.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Booker T. and The MG's - Melting Pot (1971) (aac, 128 kbps)

After spending a few years making hits with really short instrumentals, this album marked a more experimental turn for the legendary Memphis quartet. This appears to have been the twelfth lp, even though they were less than ten yeqars removed from the legendary debut 'Green Onions'. These guys were prolific!

So much of the magic on this record comes from the drums. Al Jackson, Jr. was more than just a talented player. He brought so much atmosphere and dynamics that the other members of the band can just make everything very simple and understated. Th result is nothing less than extraordinary. Listen to what he does on the ride cymbal on 'Back Home' during the break down. The mood becomes almost silent so that the slightest guitar line or piano riff will speak volumes. Also, the effort at innovation was present with the Manhattan Transfer-esque singing that appears on the second half of the record. At the first, I was put off by these strange noises, but now I appreciate how they accentuate the organ solo in an almost Zappa-like fashion.

Jackson was the house drummer for Stax and appeared on a variety of other records, including material by guitar god Albert King. He was described by MG's guitarist Steve Cropper as "the greatest drummer to ever walk the earth", and based on the playing on this record, it's not hard to see how someone would think that. Thus was the tragedy that much greater when Jackson was murdered in his home on October 1, 1975.

A few MG's records came after this one, but this finds the band at its peak. Understated and powerful. Conveying more emotion with fewer notes and innovating all the time. No band could do more with less.

  1. "Melting Pot" - 8:15
  2. "Back Home" - 4:40
  3. "Chicken Pox" - 3:26
  4. "Fuquawi" - 3:40
  5. "Kinda Easy Like" - 8:43
  6. "Hi Ride" - 2:36
  7. "L.A. Jazz Song" - 4:18
  8. "Sunny Monday" - 4:35
The link is in the comments.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Johnny "Guitar" Watson - Ain't That A Bitch (1976) (aac 256kbps)

Johnny "Guitar" Watson is one of the great unsung heroes of music. About an artist such as Watson, I like to say the following: He did all his own stunts. He could sing, write and play guitar. And from the very beginning, he had style. Not just the clothes, although he excelled in the sartorial department until the time of his death in 1996. But, even early on, he was a wildman with the guitar and vocals. he wrote humorous lyrics and did outrageous things with his voice and axe. Such techniques and innovations drew the attention of Frank Zappa, who owes much of his antics and lyric writing to the style created by Watson.

In the 70's, Watson changed from Texas blues to LA funk, and the results were just as extraordinary. This lp starts presents itself as a humorous outing, from the cover and title to the song names. But don't be fooled. This is a serious funk band with a man who runs a tight ship calling the shots.

  1. I Need It (4:46)
  2. I Want to Ta-Ta You Baby (5:49)
  3. Superman Lover (5:44) (Reynaldo Rey)
  4. Ain't That a Bitch (5:02)
  5. Since I Met You Baby (3:30)
  6. We're No Exception (4:18)
  7. Won't You Forgive Me Baby (5:17)
  • Johnny "Guitar" Watson - organ, synthesizer, bass, guitar, piano, conga, drums, keyboards and vocals
  • Paul Dunmall- saxophone
  • Bruce Fowler - trombone, horn
  • Peter Martin - trumpet
  • Tommy Robertson - trombone
  • Emry Thomas - drums, backing vocals
The link is in the comments.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ronnie Earl - Searchin' Live (1988) (mp3, 160kbps)

Ronnie Earl is one of the great blues guitarists of any age, religion, color or creed. The fact that he's a white boy who was born Jewish, well, that certainly speaks to my experience. But none of this really matters when you get there, in front of those high-powered pre-CBS Fender Super Reverbs, and that red Strat is plugged straight in - no bullshit. And the amps are cranked and the sweat is coming down his forehead in torrents, and he grits his teeth and squeezes his eyes shut and kneels down real low and picks it so soft and so quiet that audience yells for more, but he just raises a single finger to his lips, and all the pain and the poetry just pours forth. It's an amazing performance that runs the full spectrum of energy and emotion, but the showmanship is never undertaken for its own sake. It is only done in faithful service to the almighty blues.

I don't have a lot of details about this show, but it seems to be from 1988, when he toured the Soul Searching lp. You should clearly be listening to his studio and live releases, but more importantly - GO SEE HIM PLAY. It sounds something like this:

  1. Scorchin' Intro
  2. Alabama
  3. Rigo Park Blues
  4. Dat Dere
  5. Still Soul Searchin
  6. Beautiful Child
  7. Silly By You
  8. band intros
  9. [unknown]
The link is in the comments.