Saturday, October 5, 2019

Diary - "Uni" (single)

I don't usually (as in, EVER) do this... but I heard a FANTASTIC track tonight and thought I'd share it with you all.  It's a new single by a Brooklyn, New York-based band called Diary.

Diary's been around since 2016, and consists of Will Banyard on drums, Christ Croarkin on bass, Andy Brienza on lead guitar and Kevin Bendis on vocals and synthesizer keys.  This song, "Uni", was released over the summer, and is intended to be the first in a series of tunes the band is planning on releasing through the end of the year.

Here's the video:

When I first heard this song, it put me in mind of some classic shoegaze bands from the last century, like My Bloody Valentine and especially The Veldt/Apollo Heights, another Brooklyn-by-way-of-North Carolina band I've written about on this blog earlier.  Diary calls themselve a "dreamwave" band, a synth genre that draws upon the synthesizer pioneers from that earlier era, while adding in something that sounds to me like almost Cocteau Twins-esque atmosphere. Whatever it's called, and however it's categorized, it completely tickled my eardrums - so much so that I immediately went to the group's site on Bandcamp and bought it!

I've received the band's permission to repost it here... so here, for your enjoyment is "Uni" by Diary, released on July 3rd, 2019.  It appears that Diary hasn't toured since mid-summer, but I recommend keeping an eye open for any upcoming shows of theirs in your area.  This is a band to watch for in the future!

Until then, have a listen to this... and as always, let me know what you think.

Diary - "Uni" (single) (direct download link)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Various Artists - Woodstock - Back To The Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive (38 Discs)

Fifty years since Woodstock... what else can I say that hasn't already been said in the run-up to this historic anniversary? With the reams of memories, commentaries, scholarly dissertations, criticisms, accolades and contextual perspectives published and broadcast over the past couple of months, there is simply no chink of daylight left for a small-time music blogger like myself to add any fresh thoughts or new ideas regarding this seminal, semi-mythical event.

I believe it's the "semi-mythical" part about Woodstock that makes it so hard for modern-day writers to get a handle on the festival, what it was all about, and what it "meant". So much of what most people in this day and age know about Woodstock comes from fragmentary snippets (such as pictures of topless women dancing in the mud, Country Joe McDonald's infamous "Gimme an F!  Gimme a U! Gimme a..." chant, and of course Jimi Hendrix's electrified "Star Spangled Banner") displayed and broadcast constantly over the decades - images that I feel have served to morph the event from simply a gargantuan and well-attended rock festival into this shining, hippie-fied anti-war wonderland of universal hope and community, truly "three days of peace and love".

In conjunction with this, Michael Wadleigh's 1970 documentary film of the concert, while celebrated, presented only three hours of the three-day show... but it drew in contemporary audiences of the time and future audiences who hadn't been/couldn't have been in attendance at the original concert with a contrived sense that, by seeing the movie, they HAD been there, and they were feeling the same sort of glow from that time and place.  Of course, that "glow" had less to do with the overall vibe there, and a lot to do with Wadleigh's skillful film editing (it even got nominated for an Oscar in the Film Editing category, a rare distinction for a documentary). In his original four-star review of Woodstock, critic Roger Ebert (who should have known better) stated "The remarkable thing about Wadleigh's film is that it succeeds so completely in making us feel how it must have been to be there", adding in a later expanded review, " touching it is in this film to see the full flower of its moment, of its youth and hope."

So, there's a lot of legend and mythology surrounding Woodstock, which I feel skews the perception of the overall concert.  Music producers Brian Kehow and Andy Zax felt the same way regarding the show's legacy, apparently. Instead of presenting to the public only the parts of the festival that fit into the overarching "peace and love" narrative, Zax and Kehow decided to restore and reconstruct the ENTIRE concert, from start to finish, utilizing all available sources. The result of their decade-plus long effort is what I am presenting here today: a 38-disc, 432-track compilation of nearly every song sung, note played and word spoken from the stage in Bethel, New York from the evening of August 15th to the morning of August 18th, 1969, chronologically sequenced (the only tracks missing are two songs from Hendrix's set, "Mastermind" and "Gypsy Woman"/"Aware Of Love", which his estate requested not be included, and a song and a half ("Teenager In Love" and the first half of "Little Darlin") from Sha Na Na's performance due to a gap in the taping). In all, over 250 of the tracks present within this box set have never seen official release.

This set provides more of a "boots on the ground" perspective of the entire event; not just the highs and lows, but some of the more mundane instances and situations involved in the operation of a large rock concert. The many stage announcements included in this set really give you a sense of being there as a participant, and modifies the established view of how it was there over those three days. Pitchfork recently published an article on this set which describes this feeling and function much better than I ever could; here it is.

This is a gargantuan release, and as such was released in extremely limited quantities - only 1,969 copies (cute) of this set were produced, retailing for $800 or more. Two smaller sets containing selections from this box - the three-disc, 42-track Woodstock – Back To The Garden: 50th Anniversary Collection and the ten-disc, 162-track Woodstock – Back To The Garden: 50th Anniversary Experience - were released earlier this year and are more widely available.

But I got my hands on the source, the granddaddy, and thus I present it to you for your perusal and enjoyment (or at least for those of you without a spare $800 lying around...) - Woodstock - Back To The Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive, all thirty-eight discs, released by Rhino Records just last month, on August 2nd, 2019. Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think.

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Blind Faith - London Hyde Park 1969 (video)

On this date fifty years ago, the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith played its debut concert (and as it turned out, their ONLY live appearance on English soil) on a scorching hot day in London's Hyde Park. Less than three months later, after a 30+-date worldwide tour that ended in Hawaii, the band (comprised of co-lead vocalists keyboardist Steve Winwood (ex-Spencer Davis Group and Traffic) and guiarist Eric Clapton (ex-Bluesbreakers, Yardbirds and Cream), along with drummer Ginger Baker (ex-Cream) and bassist Ric Grech (ex-Family)) called it a day, leaving behind only one
 artifact, their eponymous 1969 album release (with its controversial cover), to mark their passing.

The rapid rise and fall of Blind Faith was the result of wild hype, overblown expectations, and corporate/managerial greed destroying what started out as an informal jam session/get-together between old friends. I would usually go into the details, whys and wherefores of this story of rock 'n' roll misfortune in my own long-winded and inimitable (ha) way... but it appears I won't have to. Writer Johnny Black penned the definitive version of this chronicle for MOJO magazine back in July 1996 - a link to his article is provided here.

So, instead of my blathering on and on regarding the circumstances that led up to this historic day in rock history a half-century ago, how about if I let you all see the performance for yourself?  Here's London Hyde Park 1969, the official video album by the band at their free concert on that day, the full 45-minute show with band member interviews dispersed throughout.  Despite the brevity of the performance, this is still a classic, and worth viewing.

Enjoy London Hyde Park 1969, released on DVD in 2005 and burned to .mp4 format off of my personal copy.  And as always, let me know what you think.

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Friday, April 5, 2019

Nirvana - Into The Black (6-disc set)

Kurt Cobain died twenty-five years ago today... damn.

Hard to believe it's been THAT long, and even still harder for me to believe that there are young adults walking around nowadays who either weren't alive or old enough to be aware of what was going on in music at that time - all of the great tunes and bands that were on the scene, with Nirvana in the forefront. Gotta say, the thought that people missed out on those heady times when they were happening, the times I lived and reveled in and enjoyed... well, it makes me feel sad, and kind of old.

I've already said more than enough about Cobain's band and his suicide in a post I published five years ago on the 20th anniversary of the event (again - wow, it's been that long)... no need to elaborate or belabor that point here again. Instead, to commemorate the life and legacy of the now-immortal Kurt Cobain, I'll just shut my mouth and offer up the following Nirvana hard-to-find for your listening pleasure: the legendary Into The Black box set.

From Wikipedia:
"Into The Black is a six CD box set released by Tribute in 1994, which is often considered the preferred Nirvana bootleg box set due to it being compiled by a knowledgeable fan... Several recordings were obtained specifically for the set and it contains a large amount of material that had not yet surfaced up to the time of its release. The extensive 116-track collection includes demo recordings, two band-made compilations, the 1992 Reading Festival performance and BBC radio sessions from Maida Vale Studios. The set also contains two Seattle shows; the 1991 Halloween homecoming performance for their North American Nevermind tour, and their last ever American show in 1994."
Here's the song lineup, and a summary of the sources of these contents:

Disc 1:
* Tracks 1-9 from Reciprocal Recording, Seattle, WA on January 23, 1988, with the exception of "Beans".
* Tracks 10-12 recorded at Smart Studios, Madison, WI in April 1990 and are sourced from the 7" vinyl bootleg Total Fucking Godhead. "Sappy" and "Polly" can be found on Master Demo Recordings in better quality.
* Tracks 14 and 15 from the November 1, 1989 VPRO session recorded at Villa 65 in Hilversum, Netherlands for Nozems-a-Gogo.
* Tracks 17-20 from the November 9, 1991 BBC session at Maida Vale Studios, sourced from the 7" vinyl bootleg Smells Like Nirvana. "Something in the Way" remains unreleased, while the other songs appeared on Incesticide.
* Tracks 21-23 recorded live at MTV Studios, New York, NY on January 10, 1992.
Disc 2:
* Tracks 1-12 were a band made compilation of songs from two Reciprocal Recording sessions on January 23, 1988 and June 1988, with the exception of "Escalator to Hell". When Into the Black was released, only four of the songs were commercially available.
* Tracks 13-19 recorded at Smart Studios, Madison, WI in April 1990. They were taken from a cassette Nirvana was sending to record labels in 1990, after the original intention for release as the second Sub Pop album was scrapped.

Disc 3:
* All tracks from a near complete soundboard source recorded live on October 31, 1991 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA.
* The only tracks officially released include "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam" featured on the DVD portion of With the Lights Out and "Negative Creep" included on From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah.
* Other bootleg CDs to feature this show include No Place Like Home on Murphy Records, Happy Halloween on Genocide and Trick or Treat on Kiss the Stone.
Disc 4:
* Tracks 1-16 from an incomplete soundboard source recorded August 30, 1992 at the Reading Festival, taken from the second FM broadcast.
* Although many bootleg CDs feature this performance, they have become obsolete since the release of Live at Reading. However, there is still some interest with collectors because the FM broadcasts contain an alternate sound mix. In addition, the bootleg CD releases maintain better continuity as compared to the official release CD version, which is heavily edited.
Disc 5:
All tracks from a complete audience source recorded live at the Seattle Center Arena in Seattle, WA on January 8, 1994, with the six final tracks of the performance featured on Last American Show Part 2.
Disc 6:
* Tracks 1-6 from a complete audience source recorded live at the Seattle Center Arena in Seattle, WA on January 8, 1994, with the first 19 tracks of the performance featured on Last American Show Part 1.
* Tracks 7-18 from BBC sessions recorded in 1989 and 1991 at Maida Vale Studios.
* Track 19 is Courtney Love's complete eulogy for Kurt Cobain recorded at the Seattle Center Flag Pavilion on April 10, 1994.
So, in memory of Kurt Cobain, I proudly offer up the Into The Black compilation, released on the bootleg label Tribute in 1994. Enjoy, remember, and as always, let me know what you think.

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Fall - Final Gig (QMU Glasgow, 4 Nov 2017)

Well, it was exactly one year ago today that Mark E. Smith died, done in by lung and kidney cancer. Since then, it's been an odd year for me (and many others, I'm sure) in that regard; the first one in memory that wasn't graced by a new Fall release.

As affecting as MES's death has been to me over the past year, what I'm finding equally distressing is the gradual silence which seems to be falling over Fall-world. Yes, there are still diehards who frequent The Fall Forum, posting on band-related topics and the like. But from my vantage point, the number and quality of posts there has declined significantly since the initial flood of comments, tributes and the like that came immediately after Smith died. And The Fall Online blog, a formerly "must-see" site that for many years I used to visit at least weekly, is also slowly and gradually falling quiet. There have been only two posts in the "Fall News" section since last September... I suppose with the band kaput and the leader no more, there wouldn't be much "band news" to report, per se. Still, it's weird to see how quickly that once go-to source has become moribund.

Somewhat related to that: in the wake of Smith's death last January, I figured that, as in the case of other rock legends who pass on, the "floodgates" (as it were) would soon be opened, and longtime fans would have been blessed with a plethora of heretofore unreleased Fall product - rare outtake and demo collections, multi-disc compilations, album re-releases and the like stored away in the vaults, pulled together from the prolific band's long career. I was all but rubbing my hands together in anticipation; it all might not have been of the greatest quality, but I reckoned at the very least these archive releases would have kept the name and legend of The Fall alive for many more years. But for the most part, this hasn't happened... which I find sort of strange. Other than a few live sets (a couple from the 1990s released by Cog Sinister, consisting of some dodgy FLAC-only files of various shows in Sheffield) and a three-disc set of "golden greats" out on Cherry Red, there's really been nothing noteworthy put out. It's as if the world is already forgetting about the honorable Mr. Smith, and deeming the volume and quality of material he and his band produced over the past four decades is inconsequential and unworthy of continued acknowledgement.

Therefore, it's up to us, true Fall fans, to keep Mark's name and legacy alive. And to that end, here's a little something for my fellow Fall travelers - a bootleg recording
of the very last concert by the band, which took place in the Queen Margaret student union at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, only two months before Smith's death. A very obviously ill MES performed seated at center stage for the entire show... but he DID perform, so all props and respect to him for that. The Telegraph (UK) newspaper published a superb review of the gig the day after the show - the story's opening paragraph was prophetic, and therefore now haunting:
Hunched in a wheelchair, right arm in a sling, face bloated and bearded, Mark E Smith sang-spat a repeated phrase – “I think it’s over now, I think it’s ending” – as his sidemen locked into a brutal riff. This sounded valedictory, and a question hovered in the air: could we be witnessing the last days of The Fall, a band that for 40 years has belched like a dirty chimney through the drab skies of British culture?
Sucks to be right sometimes... Anyway, I got this recording from my friend and fellow blogger Jon Der - and subsequently I bestow it unto you all as well.

Here it is, The Fall's final show, recorded on the evening of November 4th, 2017. Enjoy, and spare a moment today to remember the late, great Mark E. Smith, the original Rock Curmudgeon, and all of the outstanding music he and the various incarnations of his band The Fall left behind. He, and they, remain my all-time favorite artist(s), and probably will so for the rest of my life.

And as always, let me know what you think.

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