Thursday, May 31, 2007


Back East
This album's title is thickly layered with meaning. It represents California native Redman's return to the East Coast for the sessions. It also nods toward the multiple tracks ("East Of The Sun [And West Of The Moon]," "Indian Song," the title track," "Mantra #5," "Indonesia" and a take on John Coltrane's "India") that reference the East and Eastern spirituality. Being Joshua Redman's first acoustic trio album, it's also a joking reply to Sonny Rollins' classic Way Out West. Indeed, two tracks from that album, "Wagon Wheels" and "I'm An Old Cowhand," are performed here by Redman and one of the three different rhythm teams he deploys on the disc.
While not as overtly spiritual or as out as Kenny Garrett's recent Beyond The Wall, this is definitely one of Redman's finest hours. The rotating personnel - and the trio of guest hornmen, including Redman's late father on the album's final two songs - indicate some uncertainty about his strategy, but the leader shouldn't have worried. His tone is rich and full, and he holds his own with everyone he's invited to the studio. The two encounters with Dewey Redman are fascinating - "India" in particular, beginning as it does with unaccompanied saxophones before the instantly recognizable bassline comes in. The two men's voices on the horn are superficially similar, but their ideas aren't, and it's a shame the producers chose to fade out this brilliant father-son moment after only five minutes. The tender ballad "GJ," a showcase for Dewey, closes the disc in fine style.


From PTW:

"Esa Tristeza"
from El Kinto (Lion)
El Kinto were a legendary psychedelic band from late-’60s/ early-’70s Uruguay, led by singer/guitarist Eduardo Mateo, sort of a South American Syd Barrett (both in terms of songwriting and drug intake). Their entire output, compiled on a single CD by Lion, includes a dozen tracks recorded, Peel Session-style, for later lip-synching on the TV show “Discodromo,” four songs backing other singers, and three or four tracks intended for a formal album release that never materialized. This track doesn’t represent the full range of what they did, but it’s a really nice song. [Read the rest here.]

From the Cleveland Scene:

Resonance World Music Festival
Featuring Luca Mundaca, Simon Shaheen, Panic Steel Drums, Halim El-Dabh, Marcus Santos, Ukrainian Folk Music, and more. Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, at Parish Hall and St. Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church, Ohio City.
World music can be a tough sell to the newbie. Lots of folks have an almost involuntary negative reaction to songs in languages they don't understand. Also, the world music audience has an image of being white, middle-aged, and bobo (bourgeois/bohemian). But here's the issue: Wouldn't listening to music in unfamiliar languages only make you concentrate on the actual music that much more? Why, of course. And there are fringe benefits too: This scene attracts smoking-hot chicks -- and dudes, if that's your bag -- of various skin tones, from coffee with cream to cinnamon. [Read the rest here.]

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Got the 2CD "Deluxe Edition" of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation, with all its bonus live tracks and cover tunes and whatnot, the other day. Listening back to the original album, which I haven't heard in several years, I'm surprised to find myself surprised how many songs I remember. There are some plenty hooky numbers here. I'm sure they made good records after this one, but all I'll ever need is the late '80s quartet - Bad Moon Rising, Evol (and I don't like that one all that much, really), Sister and this. And maybe the TV Shit EP with Eye, for when I'm feeling impish.

Got four reissues by Magazine (their total output, looks like) the other day, too. On first listen, I gotta rank early '80s British arty postpunk as follows: Wire >>> Gang Of Four >> PIL's first two albums >>> Magazine. They're enjoyable enough, though.

I kinda like the new Tomahawk CD more than my PTW editor does, but not enough to blogfite about it. Suffice it to say he hasn't heard as many coma-inducingly crappy Native American CDs as me.

Oh, and Noah Howard's The Black Ark has been reissued on CD, and you need to get yourself a copy of that right fucking NOW. Ass-rapingly great free jazz that will change your worthless life. Seriously. It's indescribable (though I tried back in the January 06 issue of The Wire, when I actually got to sit down with ol' Noah).


Until earlier this year, I only knew salsa as one of two musical genres you really don't want your downstairs neighbor to love and consequently blare at all hours, the other being Merzbow-style noise. But I'm learning the error of my ways, thanks to a recent influx of reissues and compilations from Fania Records.

Fania, the iconic Latin music label co-founded in 1964 by bandleader Johnny Pacheco and attorney Jerry Masucci, was acquired by the Miami-based company Emusica in late 2005. The new owners immediately set about refurbishing the back catalog, remastering the albums (as of 2006, the plan was to reissue at least 300 titles) and commissioning new liner-note essays from knowledgeable writers like Ernesto Lechner, Latin Beat contributor and former DJ Nelson Rodriguez, and contributor John Child. Fania's also getting into the compilation business. Folks even I recognize as major figures (Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Pacheco) get two-CD digipak collections, while second-tier but still important artists like Ismael Quintana and Roberto Roena get single-disc anthologies. Fania's also taking a tentative step toward the future, with Fania Live 01: From the Meat Market, a mix disc assembled by DJ Rumor.

In the last month, I've received about 50 Fania albums in the mail, including some of the aforementioned compilations. So far, the artists who leap out most vividly are trombonist-composer-producer Willie Colón and singers Ismael Rivera and La Lupe. [Read the rest here.]

Sunday, May 27, 2007


I wrote this (some time before that McSweeney's thing that circulated recently), so I might as well post it.


HILLARY CLINTON: Has the same lower-belly tattoo as Asia Argento.
BARACK OBAMA: Rehearses all speeches by delivering them to a life-sized cardboard figure of Detective Harris (Ron Glass) from Barney Miller.
JOHN EDWARDS: Wears an ampallang.
BILL RICHARDSON: Has Alec Baldwin's Glengarry Glen Ross monologue memorized, and makes his wife play the Jack Lemmon role as foreplay.
JOE BIDEN: Helped Paris Hilton hack into Lindsay Lohan's e-mail account.
CHRIS DODD: Has a complete collection of Micronauts action figures, vehicles and accessories.
DENNIS KUCINICH: Is actually a 13-year-old girl suffering from Cockayne syndrome.
MIKE GRAVEL: Is the oldest competitive breakdancer in the U.S.

RUDY GIULIANI: Entertains campaign staff by tearing empty beer cans in half with his teeth.
JOHN McCAIN: Eats nothing but venison jerky, shipped to his campaign stops daily by Ted Nugent.
MITT ROMNEY: Has a parasitic twin.
SAM BROWNBACK: Has written several Wikipedia entries on 16th Century French poets, including Jean Lemaire de Belges, Pierre de Ronsard and Louise Labé.
RON PAUL: Came in third in an air-drumming contest at the 2002 RushCon in Toronto.
FRED THOMPSON: Has written 36 Mack Bolan books.
TOMMY THOMPSON: Played Pat Benatar's father in the "Love Is A Battlefield" video.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


...which will be expanded in something I'm writing for print publication: the leaked Guns 'n' Roses songs (I have "Chinese Democracy," "There Was A Time," "I.R.S.," "Better," "The Blues" and "Madagascar" - if there are more, kindly drop me an e-mail and let me know) sound like the hard rock-tinged songs from any decent high-end J-pop album. Wipe Axl's vocals, throw Ayumi Hamasaki in there, no substantive change to the backing tracks is necessary. Crucial point: this is a good thing.

Monday, May 21, 2007


from Dödsvisioner (Hydra Head)
Bergraven is some Swede named Pär Gustafsson; this is from album number two. I haven’t heard the debut, but the reviews on Encyclopedia Metallum don’t describe anything close to this. Bergraven’s roots are in black metal, but like any artist with a triple-digit IQ working in that genre, he’s incorporating lots of other sounds beyond belt-sander guitars, blastbeats and croaking. [Read the rest here.]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

17 FOR 5/17

Thursday morning shuffle:

Hawkwind, "Born To Go" (In Search Of Space)
Clifford Brown & Max Roach, "Flossie Lou" (At Basin Street)
Reinhard Voigt, "Liebe Deine Musik" (Total 5)
Ghostface Killah, "Josephine (Feat. Trife Da God & the Wire Cottrell Band)" (More Fish)
Warren Zevon, "Tenderness On The Block" (Excitable Boy)
Rammstein, "Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen" (Herzelied)
David Bowie, "Blackout" ("Heroes")
Brutal Truth, "Fisting" (Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom)
Cynic, "The Eagle Nature" (Focus)
The Pogues, "Planxty Noel Hill" (Rum Sodomy & The Lash)
Black Sabbath, "Heaven And Hell" (The Dio Years)
Led Zeppelin, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" (Led Zeppelin)
Pet Shop Boys, "West End Girls" (Pop Art: The Singles)
Joe Bataan, "Mambo De Bataan" (Riot)
Sunny Murray, "Suns Of Africa (Part 1)" (Homage To Africa)
Metallica, "Ride The Lightning" (Ride The Lightning)
Jimi Hendrix, "Drifting" (First Rays Of The New Rising Sun)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Wednesday morning 20:

Grant Green, "Two For One" (The Complete Quartets With Sonny Clark)
Knut, "Bite The Bullet" (Challenger)
Death, "Cosmic Sea" (Human)
Discordance Axis, "Dystopia Pt. II" (Ulterior)
The Stooges, "No Fun (Full Version)" (The Stooges)
Lester Sterling, "Spoogy" (Dawning Of A New Era: The Roots Of Skinhead Reggae)
The Ramones, "I Can't Give You Anything" (Rocket To Russia)
Jason Moran, "Summit" (Black Stars)
Wayne Shorter, "Adam's Apple" (Adam's Apple)
AC/DC, "Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" (Back In Black)
Freiland/Frei, "Hot Love (Justus Köhncke Featuring Meloboy Remix)" (Kompakt 100)
James Gang, "Collage" (Greatest Hits)
Napalm Death, "Instruments Of Persuasion" (The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code)
Napalm Death, "C.S." (Scum)
DJ Shadow, "Stem/Long Stem/Transmission 2" (Endtroducing.....)
High On Fire, "Last" (The Art Of Self Defense)
Megadeth, "Mary Jane" (So Far, So Good...So What?)
Augustus Pablo, "Origan Style" (Screaming Target)
Eddie Palmieri/Cal Tjader, "Resemblance" (Bamboleate)
Pet Shop Boys, "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)" (Pop Art: The Singles)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


So I got the new Burning Brides album, Hang Love, in the mail (I'll be writing it up for Alternative Press). As 90s-besotted post-grunge throb-rock goes, it's not that bad. At its absolute best, it reminds me of the last Melvins record, without the gang vocals and the double drumming, of course. The problem isn't the music; it's the unbelievably douchebaggy quotes from frontman Dimitri Coats in the press pack. Ready? Brace yourself for the awesomeness, if you dare!

"We see ourselves as Robin Hoods of rock and roll."

"...our band is all about opposites. Even the name Burning Brides and the way we sound; there's a fine line between beauty and darkness."

"We [Coats and bassist/wife Melanie] started smoking pot and she'd come over to my apartment and listen to records. I'd turn her on to Sonic Youth, the Beach Boys or the cool Black Sabbath records. She was already into the Velvet Underground and the Beatles."

"I'd been playing guitar since the seventh grade, but it never occurred to me to try to write a song or sing. Melanie encouraged me to start writing and I taught her how to play bass."

"Pete is what a rock drummer should be. He rides a motorcycle, smokes cigarettes, fishes and drinks beers. All the girls like him. And if anybody looked at me or Melanie the wrong way, he'd push 'em against the wall."

"I get all these weird images in my head that are probably left over from bad dreams. I like to play guitar with the TV on but the sound off. I think a few images from world news leaked into my brain and resurfaced in 'Rosary.'"

"I'm writing ["Waring Street"] from the perspective of a serial killer in the summertime, around the Hancock Park area of L.A. The same way I'm all excited about rock and roll and playing guitar, this guy is excited about killing people. He's really psyched on it, and very cocky. He's good at it. I was thinking, 'How would a serial killer write this song?' He really considers killing an art form. There's beauty in it for him. I love the solo."

"I'm a Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan. I love that song 'Maps.' I was hanging out with Karen O, having dinner with her. I realized that she was torn up over a boy that I know but she also told me how she's crippled by anxiety. And I can relate to that. I get anxiety from time to time but it's a real ball and chain for her. So I'm actually singing 'Unglued' from the perspective of a girl, but it ended up being about anyone who's lost someone and doesn't want that person to go. I was gonna call the song 'The Unanswered Prayers Of Karen O' but then I decided it's more interesting to disguise the inspiration."

"It's ['Feel No Shame'] got that Black Sabbath-meets-ZZ-Top feel, the kind of song you're gonna play in your car while driving down the highway and feeling badass."

"I like playing off opposites. Love and Death. And even though I'm hanging from a noose on the album cover, it's not really about death. Or if it is, it's the death of rock and roll. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club had that song, 'Whatever Happened To My Rock and Roll?' When I heard that I said, 'Yeah! What did happen to it?' I feel a duty to rock and roll. I love the way the vocals turned out. I usually sing very loud but this time I wanted to try a different approach super close to the mic. I don't think I could have been more stoned."

"This album is a story of survival. It's about making it out the other end stronger than you were before. When you believe in something so strongly you have to fight against the odds and the fear and go for it no matter what. And in the end, regardless of whether you get what you want or not, the fact that you reached for it, that will set you free. If I died tomorrow, which I hope I don't, at least I know I have made what I feel is a great record. The kind of rock record you don't hear anymore. So I am free."

Thursday, May 10, 2007


"Helpless Corpses Enactment"
from In Glorious Times (The End)
Are you easily bored and even more easily distracted, requiring near-constant stimulation? Are you also a pretentious, pseudo-artsy dork convinced nobody in gym class can ever truly understand you because you’re just too deep for your sterile suburban surroundings? Then have we (and by we I mean “the global youth subculture industry, avant- garde-fake-opera-metal division”) got a band for you. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum are a trio formed by two ex-members of Idiot Flesh (a Bay Area ensemble who ripped off the Residents and Gwar for several years to general apathy) and Carla Kihlstedt of Tin Hat Trio. Like Idiot Flesh, SGM shows involve lots of non-rock performance-type elements, including pseudo-scientific lectures, puppetry, interpretive dance—you know, the usual distractions intended to convey depth and ironic distance. This is their third album and their first for The End Records, a fine label also currently bestowing Lordi, Novembers Doom, Agalloch and Melechesh, among others, on the world. SGM stand out, though, because those other bands are all good. [Read the rest here.]

Monday, May 07, 2007


I finally got the official release of Residente o Visitante (I had an advance CD-R for about a month before the disc streeted), and I like it better this way. There's an extra song, "Un Beso de Desayuno," which isn't great and doesn't feature any kind of super-special guest star, so it's hard to figure out why it wasn't on the advance. Plus, the sequencing is totally different from the advance.

"Tango del Pecado," the still somewhat disappointing first single, is still the first proper track, but "Sin Exagerar," the collaboration with Tego Calderon, has been moved up to the #4 spot, followed immediately by "Mala Suerta Con El 13," a sexually charged duet between Residente and La Mala Rodriguez (who sounds a lot like an earlier Calle collaborator, Nelly Furtado, here) and "Llégale a Mi Guarida," which features Vicentico formerly of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. So it's more front-loaded now than it was, and all those tracks are really good, too (as is track #3, "La Fokin Moda"), starting the album off very strong before it drifts into a weird psych-pop romantic interlude with the aforementioned "Un Beso de Desayuno," which is an acoustic-guitar-and-piano-driven love song that makes "La Jirafa," from the last album, sound like Mystikal's "Pussy Crook" by comparison. That's followed by my absolute least favorite track on the whole damn disc, "Uigi Guaye," which features a chorus that literally features Residente grunting like some kind of fucking troll or something. What's really disappointing is that "Uigi" is built on a really cool electro groove, with dashes of theremin in there, too, and the verses are okay, but then the chorus just completely ruins it. Maybe they need an outside set of ears to veto ideas this shitty.

At least the album picks up steam again after that - every song from track #9 ("Algo Con-Sentido") through the closer, "La Era de la Copiaera," is solid or better, with the possible exception of the slightly too weird for its own good "El Avión Se Cae." I think it's gonna be a mistake to release "La Cumbia de los Aburridos" as the second single, though, as I've heard they're gonna do. Two songs in a row making a big deal out of incorporating regional sounds makes them seem too hippie/arty. They should put out the pimp-walking "La Crema" instead - it leaked months ago, so everyone knows it already, but it presents a great opportunity for a new video, which has always been one of their real strengths. (The "Tango del Pecado" video feels over-thought to me, though; they don't look like they're having nearly as much fun as they were in "Atrevete-te-te.") Anyway, other than the exact middle of the disc ("Un Beso de Desayuno" and "Uigi Guaye"), RoV is a very strong album, even better than it initially seemed. What do you mean, you haven't bought it yet?

Friday, May 04, 2007


The Words And The Days
Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava's discography is both wide and deep, encompassing sessions as free as Manfred Schoof's 1969 classic of blare, European Echoes, and Cecil Taylor's Winged Serpent from 1984, as well as a long history with ECM, having first recorded for them 32 years ago on 1975's The Pilgrim And The Stars.
This disc, his eighth for the label and his second since re-signing in 2003, features a working band of younger Italian musicians, including trombonist Gianluca Petrella, pianist Andrea Pozza (replacing Stefano Bollani), bassist Rosario Bonaccorso, and drummer Roberto Gatto. Rava's tone is rich and full, and he's shadowed throughout by Petrella - one man in the left speaker, the other in the right to beguiling effect.
Petrella's growling, sputtering solo on the irresistibly grooving "Echoes Of Duke" is one of the highlights of the album. It's followed by stream after stream of rippling high notes from Rava, asserting, in case anyone forgot, just whose album this is. But every member of this band gets spotlight time, bassist Bonaccorso most notably of all: "Sogni Proibiti" ("Forbidden Song" for you non-Italian-speakers) is a two-minute bass solo, effectively leading into the lush ballad "Todamor," that's reminiscent, in its powerful strumming, of Jimmy Garrison's work with John Coltrane.
At 12 tracks in just over 72 minutes, it could be argued that The Words And The Days is a touch long. But trying to choose which of these beautiful performances to chop away would be close to impossible.

When We Were There
Pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura (her husband and creative partner) are staggeringly productive, and their eclecticism is almost as determined as their profligacy. While her various orchestras (she operates four, one in New York and three in Japan) frequently traffic in long-form compositions or marathon improvisations, when the groups get smaller, so do the pieces.
When We Were There teams Fujii and Tamura with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Jim Black, both Americans, for an 11-track set of remarkable concision. only three tracks pass the five-minute mark, one being the 15-minute finale, "A Diversion." The whole album runs just under an hour. "Sandstorm," the 2:31 opener, comes in hard and whirls around the listener's head much like its namesake. The title track, by contrast, centers around a pulsing piano line and Latin rhythm.
Other tracks shift from slow, chamber-like interactions to ultra-abstract soundscapes - "A Path Through The Garden" includes passages where Dresser's bowed bass is a distant scrape, and Black's drums sound like they're being dusted rather than played. Track 10, "Inori," is a three-minute miniature that finds Tamura and Dresser playing near-unison phrases, and its delicate finality serves to separate everything that came before.
Fujii doesn't typically specialize in Cecil Taylor-esque tsunamis of notes. Most of When We Were There is more reminiscent of a disc like Matthew Shipp's New Orbit, her interaction with Tamura mirroring Shipp's precise figures, which landed like raindrops around Wadada Leo Smith's bleary trumpet lines. On "Runaway Radio," though, Fujii rumbles around the keyboard's low end to powerful effect, and "A Diversion" surges and recedes repeatedly during its allotted quarter hour. This disc combines its miniatures into a unified whole, then caps everything off with a truly grand finale. It's one of Fujii's most satisfying releases.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Act III: Self/Act IV: Goat
Moribund Cult
The most fascinating aspect of black metal, at its best, is its seeming opposition to what prior generations grew up believing to bhe the core values of metal. Not the whole Satan thing. In that respect, the face-painted forest trolls are way at the back of a long, long line. But anybody who thinks of metal as being fundamentally about transcendence, catharsis, being larger than life - whether that's communicated through instrumental virtuosity, rafter-shaking vocal power or generally via bandmates' collective interaction - has to feel like black metal, so frequently created by bedroom loners these days, is a conscious rejection of all these values. Riffing is primitive, mixing is blurry, vocals are incomprehensible howls mutated by effects. Azrael is a duo, not a solo act, and vocalist/guitarist Lord Samaiza and bassist/drummer Algol are determined to outdo their contemporaries. These two discs are extremely well recorded by the standards of the genre. Algol's drumming, in particular, is crisp and powerful throughout. The cymbals are superbly recorded, never disintegrating into a messy, oversaturated hiss. Samaiza's not content to limit himself to the genre's usual fuzzed-out guitar tones, either, doubling his lines on acoustic just as Algol plays upright bass on a few songs. The vocals are incomprehensible croaks, and there are no lyrics in the booklet, but that only winds up making the music - progressive and often quite beautiful - easier to focus on. These guys are serious artists, operating on a level far beyond most of their contemporaries. They're too profligate for their own good, of course. Two 64-minute CDs is a lot to offer even to devoted BM listeners. But spend a week or two dipping into this overflowing offering and you're sure to come away satisfied.


Listening to the new Black Sabbath (Dio version) disc, Live At The Hammersmith Odeon, I came away with two or three dominant responses. Response #1: Wow, this kicks all kinds of ass. Response #1A: Wow, Vinny Appice is a fucking incredible hard rock/metal drummer. His machine-gun fills on "Neon Knights" alone are worth the price of this disc - maybe even the wildly inflated eBay price that's about to take hold, now that the initial 5000 copy print run has vanished. Response #2: Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio up front were/are a completely different band than Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne up front, and nowhere is that made clearer than when Dio tackles the Osbourne-era material on this disc.

See, the thing of it is, and this is in no way a slap at Dio, whose work in just about every context I tend to like (I'm not a big Elf fan, but hey, who is?)...but he sings nonsense. His lyrics are disjointed strings of often clumsy metaphor, all about questing, and heroism in the face of nothing specific, and the soul, and on and on. If you know Dio's music, you know the deal. For example, here are the lyrics to "Heaven And Hell":

Sing me a song, you're a singer
Do me a wrong, you're a bringer of evil
The Devil is never a maker
The less that you give, you're a taker
So it's on and on and on, it's Heaven and Hell, oh well
The lover of life's not a sinner
The ending is just a beginner
The closer you get to the meaning
The sooner you'll know that you're dreaming
So it's on and on and on, oh it's on and on and on
It goes on and on and on, Heaven and Hell
I can tell, fool, fool!
Well if it seems to be real, it's illusion
For every moment of truth, there's confusion in life
Love can be seen as the answer, but nobody bleeds for the dancer
And it's on and on, on and on and on...
They say that life's a carousel
Spinning fast, you've got to ride it well
The world is full of Kings and Queens
Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams
It's Heaven and Hell, oh well
And they'll tell you black is really white
The moon is just the sun at night
And when you walk in golden halls
You get to keep the gold that falls
It's Heaven and Hell, oh no!
Fool, fool!
You've got to bleed for the dancer!
Fool, fool!
Look for the answer!
Fool, fool, fool!

This song is meaningless. No single verse has anything to do with the one that precedes it, or the one that follows it; indeed, no idea is sustained for an entire verse. Note the deployment of the place-holder "Oh well" and the utterly clumsy phrasing ("The less that you give, you're a taker") undertaken just to fill out the rhyme scheme. It's a string of muddled concepts that don't stand up to even rudimentary analysis, but sound really fucking cool bellowed into a packed, screaming arena atop a wall of power chords and thunderous rhythm. And every one of Dio's lyrics with Black Sabbath are exactly the same kind of empty mumbo-jumbo. Even when he seems to be addressing something specific, such as the song "Country Girl," he blows it up into a big gaseous cloud about a girl who'll "snatch your soul" - but she doesn't even have a name, or any identifying characteristics. Dio doesn't sing about women; he sings about Woman. And this is why he falls so flat on some of the early Sabbath songs that make it into the set here, "War Pigs" and "Paranoid" in particular.

Those early songs, written primarily by Geezer Butler, had a psychic groundedness that turned them into messages aimed straight at the hearts and minds of stoned, depressed late-60s/early-70s youth across the globe, but particularly in the then-failing Western industrial nations like the UK and US. A lyric like

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight
They leave that all to the poor

with its raw class rage, is utterly beyond Dio's ken. Thus, he attempts to put his own stamp on the song, ad-libbing at the beginning "Oh, they take you away/Make you go/You die/But you try/Oh yeah" over the classic opening doom riff. It's almost embarrassing; it takes the song from the realm of political protest to the brink of Broadway schtick. The ad-libs continue throughout the song, so it's not like Dio's not trying to sell it, but he's doing it in the only way he knows how - through muddled conceptualism. Concrete ideas just aren't his thing. And so, while both the Dio-era Sabbath and the Ozzy-era Sabbath released great records, they were doing completely different things. Which is why the Heaven and Hell project, during which the band plays only Dio-era material, is such a good thing. It keeps Dio from screwing around with songs he doesn't understand.

(To be totally fair, there are Ozzy-era songs with lyrics that are unreal enough for Dio to tackle them in perfect psychic comfort. I'll bet he could sing the fucking hell out of "Supernaut," for example.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


There hasn't been all that much metal content on this blog of late. So here's a brief change-up.

I got the Black Sabbath (Dio version) Live At The Hammersmith Odeon CD, out today on Rhino Handmade. I can now go on with my life, without spending every waking moment mentally kicking myself in the nuts for not getting into the Radio City show a month back. This thing is fucking awe-inspiring. Take your copy of Live Evil and break it into a million glimmering shards, because this is the stone cold shit. Limited edition, so get one today.

John Darnielle is a clear and perceptive thinker, a smart motherfucker generally speaking. But when it comes to metal, he and I don't always agree 100 percent. He likes Laethora a whole fuckin' lot. Based on his write-up, I dug through my towers of promos until I found this one (luckily, it was right near the top of the first tower I approached).'s okay. But it's not life-changing in any way, shape or form. I could listen to the Nox album another dozen times before feeling the need to go back to these Swedes, I think. (Minor heresy: I'm not a huge Swedish-death-metal fan, period. Grave? Love 'em. Entombed? Like Clandestine just fine, but can take or leave everything else. Arch Enemy? Fucking great, but they're more pan-Euro than Swedish, and Meshuggah aren't even from Earth.) Bloody Panda, who he big-ups a few times on lptj, are as good as he says, though. And I have the feeling that when the new Pig Destroyer lands, he and I will be totally in sync.

ANDREW HILL 1931-2007

The pianist Andrew Hill, who died of lung cancer on April 20, was born in 1931, not 1937, as was frequently reported, and in Chicago, not in Haiti, like he used to tell reporters and liner-note writers. Never as willfully enigmatic as Thelonious Monk or as alienating (to some ears) as Cecil Taylor, Hill was an integral member of Blue Note Records' mid-'60s class of "in 'n' out" players—musicians equally comfortable with freedom, complexity, and the deceptively simple joys of hard bop. His compositions were frequently tricky, almost to the point of dissonance, but "Pumpkin," "Refuge," "Black Fire," and many more have melodies and a swinging energy that's impossible to shake loose once you hear them. [Read the rest here.]

Tuesday morning 10:
"Flight 19" (Point Of Departure)
"Tired Trade" (Black Fire)
"Mother Mercy" (unreleased session, 6/1970)
"Subterfuge" (Black Fire)
"Soul Special" (Grass Roots)
"Wailing Wall" (Smoke Stack)
"Symmetry" (Andrew!!!)
"Mira" (Grass Roots)
"Yellow Violet" (Dance With Death)
"Verne" (Smoke Stack)