Friday, May 22, 2009

Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band - Safe As Milk

Another absolutely essential Rev-ola reissue this time of rock Dadaist, as ol' Lester Bangs had it, Captain Beefheart’s 1968 debut of skewed blues through a garage/psych/soul slew siphoned from wholly different unholy realms than say The Doors or Love - other discardees of summer of love asininity. Forget the much acclaimed avant-garde hard to listen to claptrap that surrounds the likes of Trout Mask Replica, Strictly Personal or Mirror Man, which opened up and stretched out the elasticated liquid head further still and slip down into this house wholeheartedly. With his supernatural voice sounding like he’d beamed in from a Parchment Farm jam session with Bukka White and Howlin’ Wolf he, along with a musical co-ordinator in the form of a young Ry Cooder, set out on the trail that saw him co-opt the blues to his own unique vision than the more self-conscious psychedelic prattling of Cream. The sprightly spring clean in the mix department might not be to everyone’s majesty and pleasure, especially if used to the original cluttered mix, though that suits the irascible erratica filtering from the Captain’s bedeviled bonce perfectly. Abba Zabba may hint at musical miscreancy to come (the infamous playing around the beat) after the seemingly straight ahead (ie Muddy Waters Rollin’ and Tumblin’ taken ‘cross tracks) blues of Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes I Do has signposted the way. Even so, that still bays at signposts on route way out west and the eerie east, along with the elated, lovely as the Elevators, psychedelicised R’n’B soul of Call On Me and I’m Glad, the mellifluous menacing undercurrent in the shimmering luminescent call and response soul stomp more like Wilson Pickett of Zig Zag Wanderer and country jaunt in a jalopy Yellow Brick Road that are, like the whole, utterly entrancing amid the more traditional (hahaha, in van Vliet-ian terms anyhops) of Plastic Factory and Where There’s Woman, not mentioning the seismic spine-crawling caterwaul on Electricity, as described in Kris Needs’ new sleevenotes. A rare case of a reissue that’d be pleasing to behold just as is, without any bonus brouhaha, just, well, just because. Maybe this and Mirror Man (out-takes of which form the seven bonus tracks here) merely wiped the slate clean, clearing the palette of all urges to follow more conventional paths, though it has been said the captain’s own disenchantment at being constrained by commercial considerations, either by label or collaborators or both, resulted in his ensuing output of increasingly discordant art-rock. Whichever it may be, as mystery suitably shrouds the full story, ever since this album most of his work has been far removed from its wondrousness, forsaking it for disembodying eddies round your senses. It still remains a remarkable record. Safe as milk?? Hahaha, safe as a straw hat in a shark attack. Dive in.
Stu Gibson
Name In Vain - Name In Vain EP

Alas an all too common case of the usual suspects on the influence lists producing numberless nameless bands stewing away in the sandpits and cesspools of music worlds, suburbs and sewers. Biog bull about rivalling current kings of your genre rarely bodes well either, arousing suspicions of not’n special inside just as much as false attention-seeking arrogance does of the wannabe Crue ilk. So despite the undoubted vocal prowess and personality a la Chris Cornell of Matt Pelosi and some potential staircase crushing chugarolla in the riff n’ rhythm departments, they show up the complexity of making the slow, sinew dissolving grunge-metal they’re aiming to line up in their sights, a menace, a stomp, a swing even that goes beyond mere production budgets and possibilities. No discernible evidence of any incandescent dynamic, call it what you will, X-factor, the what tha furrrcck factor that makes you take your hand out your ass to allow the metal up it, that early Metallica and Sabbath possessed, nor the seismically brute force of Pantera, shines through on this four track EP, which is a shame, as it’s not in a world of shit, just somewhat indistinct as yet. Musically, nothing a dose of leaving the grungy melodies behind and spending some time in isolation with several dismemberating samples of gruesome grindcore couldn’t cure, in some form or other. Good luck guys.
Stu Gibson
Shredding Across The World...Volume Two

Awesome, dudes, just what ya need right, a collection inspired by that Shrapnel label that spawned a generation of young men guitar teachers gesticulated lavishly about as they pontificated about pointless modes and Iolian triplets like a constipated tabloid columnist with elephant laxatives catching up on several chutes of gossip. Either that or a cruel trick to assuage the angst and giving the impression that practising the art of the widdle, years after you’ve (hopefully) passed potty-training with distinction (again, hopefully) will assure you the services of the girls from the Crue vids AND the Dave Lee Roth ones with a few English dogs from some old Gun video thrown in for variety. Or, Peter Andre in a wig. So, guys on a variety of super-Strats amplified to simulate wild abandon unnecessarily hurl scales at advancing walls of indie oiks and sees what sticks? Not exactly but pretty much. So one time Dio mechanical spider slayer and rainbow arpeggiator on the drum riser Tracy G (sure, the first may have been Craig Goldie, indulge me, it’s Friday and I’m insolvent and sofa alone) perform a Massacre In Bridgetown which, while being basically unaware of what atrocities the poor place has visited upon him, suggests strongly it sure must suck like Warrington and be a place to extricate repulsive oiks to in quarantine to use for practicing grenade throwing and carpet bombing and the like, has made a welcome ear perforating squall like an obstreperous horde of pterodactyls ripping Trent Reznor’s windpipe out to use as a baton to conduct such ridiculously lavish fret-rippery as this, along with the power thrash pillager Toby Knapp and Darin J. Moore's flamenco-prog on Prognosis: Psychosis, all proving technical ecstasy is possible and can be commendable. However, any prayers for this to be an unlikely exercise in expelling the ghastly spectre of the likes of Joe Satriani and Tony MacAlpine are in short shrift. Swiftly shredded, if ya please. Many, like Mike Abdow and Jeremy Barnes are no fun, babe, unlike Blackmore’s ludicrously and in all likelihood accidentally, joyous romp through Beethoven’s Ninth. Sure, it all depends on whether you want histrionics in context like Angus and Randy (Rhoads, not Piper) or have a secret, or undiscovered, as yet unsatiated desire for aimless misuse of scales on an unhithero seen scale.
Stu Gibson
Baltimoore - Quick Fix

Eleventh album from Swedish veteran Bjorn Lodin, born again yeah yeah yeah with a new line-up and a great gimmick that sees Quick Fix include a bonus instrumental disc for fans to indulge in a bout of karaoke crash n’ burn. Either that or something for the band to indulge in, whiling away the hours on the tour bus in hysterics. Once a member of Ready Steady in those heady late eighties with a dude from Electric Boys, Lodin can belt out some classy hard rock, of the designated classic style, though they can come across better when conducting themselves on the more dextrous moments of musicality. Back with acutely well-christened organist Orjan Fernkvist, who does much to lift this record’s too frequent descents into middle ground, this might not be, well, isn’t, smelted in an arsenal of dum dum biker slugs but combining operatic vocals with a rock-ready stance akin to Bruce Dickinson with Spike’s warmth (well, Ian Gillan?) they’re like a gritty Deep Purple of the Coverdale / Hughes era - the good bits, mind, like Burn and the other snippets, though the similarities are borne right down to new guitarist Emanuel Hedberg's crisp Strat-strut. Though ‘tis when they delve into the eccentricities of their native glaciers, as on The Bet, which boasts a Tull-tastic tussle between flute and guitar sure to set Blackmore’s night ears a-harking, that they really prepare for take-off. That even requisite power ballad, and 12-step tongue-twister How Can You Undo What’s Become Undone, has a great deal of smoke-singed charred charm wins points, just that too usual blues-plods like Make Good and The Shame Lingers On flaunt too much mid-tempo paunch, stumbling unself-consciously bus shelter-ward like a can-crazed old skank. So too lower middlin for this rock snob despite its plus points, but gauge it on how often you get a sudden desire to delve into old Coverdale. As such, that does do it a slight disservice, though if you do then opening cruncher I’m All About Me and soulful shuffle Haze Of Wonder to Somebody Look At Me and sprightly Shoot The Dark put ‘em in credit.
Stu Gibson
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