Thursday, February 26, 2009


Got a press release this morning about the forthcoming Jane's Addiction boxed set A Cabinet of Curiosities, which will contain rarities - demos, liveage, compilation tracks - from the band's original incarnation (roughly 1986-1991), plus a DVD with videos and live footage. Track listing is as follows:

Disc 1
1. "Jane Says" ‹ Radio Tokyo Demo *
2. "Pigs In Zen" ‹ Radio Tokyo Demo
3. "Mountain Song" ‹ Radio Tokyo Demo
4. "Had A Dad" ‹ Radio Tokyo Demo
5. "I Would For You" ‹ Radio Tokyo Demo
6. "Idiots Rule" ‹ Demo *
7. "Classic Girl" ‹ Demo *
8. "Up The Beach" ‹ Demo *
9. "Suffer Some" ‹ Demo *
10. "Thank You Boys" ‹ Demo *
11. "Summertime Rolls" ‹ Demo *
12. "City" ‹ Demo *
13. "Ocean Size" ‹ Demo *
14. "Stop!" ‹ Demo *
15. "Standing In The Shower...Thinking" ‹ Demo *
16. "Ain't No Right" ‹ Demo *
17. "Three Days" ‹ Demo *

Disc 2
1. "Ted, Just Admit It..." ‹ Demo *
2. "Maceo" ‹ Demo *
3. "No One's Leaving" ‹ Demo *
4. "My Time" ‹ Rehearsal *
5. "Been Caught Stealing" ‹ 12" Remix Version
6. "Ripple"
7. "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey" ‹ with Ice-T & Ernie-C
8. "L.A. Medley: L.A. Woman/Nausea/Lexicon Devil" ‹ Live 1989
9. "Kettle Whistle" ‹ Live 1987 *
10. "Whole Lotta Love" ‹ Live 1987 *
11. "1970" ‹ Live 1987 *
12. "Bobhaus" ‹ Live 1989*

Disc 3
1. Drum Intro ‹ Live 1990 *
2. "Up The Beach" ‹ Live 1990
3. "Whores" ‹ Live 1990 *
4. "1%" ‹ Live 1990 *
5. "No One's Leaving" ‹ Live 1990
6. "Ain't No Right" ‹ Live 1990
7. "Then She Did..." ‹ Live 1990 *
8. "Had A Dad" ‹ Live 1990 *
9. "Been Caught Stealing" ‹ Live 1990 *
10. "Three Days" ‹ Live 1990
11. "Mountain Song" ‹ Live 1990 *
12. "Stop!" ‹ Live 1990
13. "Summertime Rolls" ‹ Live 1990 *
14. "Ocean Size" ‹ Live 1990 *

Disc 4 (DVD)
Soul Kiss: The Fan's Video
1. "Mountain Song" ‹ Unedited Version
2. "City"
Music Videos
3. "Had A Dad"
4. "Ocean Size"
5. "Stop!"
6. "Been Caught Stealing"
7. "Classic Girl"
8. "Ain't No Right"
Live at the City Square, Milan, Italy (for MTV Italy) (10/11/90)
9. "Whores" *
10. "Then She Did..." *
11. "Three Days" *

[*previously unreleased]

Some of this stuff was on the "Been Caught Stealing" and "Classic Girl" CD singles, and those tracks plus more turned up on the Live & Rare disc the band put out back in '92 or so as an import; I haven't owned a copy of that in years. I'm pretty sure the demo version of "Mountain Song" is the same version that's on the soundtrack to the movie Dudes, which I also don't own. And I don't know where, if anywhere, that version of "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey" ever appeared; I knew it existed but have never heard more than a few seconds of it.

The live stuff, particularly the full concert on Disc 3, is what really interests me, though. I saw Jane's Addiction live twice; once at the inaugural Lollapalooza in Stanhope, NJ, and once in L.A. just before Christmas 1990. They did a three-night stand at the Hollywood Palladium, with Primus and (on the second night at least; don't know about the others) the Pixies opening up. And it turns out that the show I saw, a week or so before leaving California for what's been to date the final time - I've never been back - is the very one that appears on Disc 3 of this box. So I'm kinda excited to see how it stacks up to my memories.

(Of course, none of this should be taken as any indication that I'm gonna see the band when they tour with Nine Inch Nails this year, even with only true original bassist Eric Avery back in the fold.)


Lamb of God's third album, 2003's As the Palaces Burn*, was both a powerful antiwar statement and one of the 21st century's most crushing metal releases. The follow-up, 2004's Ashes of the Wake, was kind of a holding action, offering more of the same lyrical themes, crushing riffs and intricate rhythms. It wasn't bad, but it was a sequel. On 2006's Sacrament, they got all introspective 'n' shit, and the music suffered further. Even the first single, "Redneck," didn't have the power of earlier songs like "Ruin" and "Laid to Rest." Wrath, though, is a ferocious return to form. Songs like "Contractor" and "Fake Messiah" offer some of the band's fastest riffs, most punishing drumming and angriest lyrics (and vocal delivery) since Ashes of the Wake. American metal is on a hot streak, and Lamb of God is poised to be the new Pantera.

[*counting their self-titled release as Burn the Priest]

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Buckcherry And Papa Roach Have Survived Rock's Roller-coaster Ride

Early on, Buckcherry were marketed as a revival of Sunset Strip titty-bar metal, while Papa Roach crawled onto the charts from somewhere in the middle of the nü-metal pack. But each band has evolved from its origins, surviving record-label upheaval, breakups and reformations, and now they're touring together, demonstrating the resilience of American hard rock.

"I never felt like we were a Sunset Strip band," says Buckcherry guitarist Keith Nelson via phone. "We happened to be from L.A., and we were a rock band, but we were all too young to actually catch the wave from the Sunset Strip era."

The band's self-titled 1999 debut and 2001's Time Bomb mixed punk and hair-metal sounds into a distinctive, aggressive blend. Label problems and musical differences led the band to fracture in 2002, but Nelson and singer Josh Todd reformed Buckcherry in 2005, with a new rhythm section and a more traditional hard-rock sound, heavy on power ballads like "Sorry" and "Don't Go Away." The two albums they've released since reforming, 2006's 15 and last year's Black Butterfly, have been their most successful, commercially and artistically. These days, they're less Mötley Crüe (with whom they toured last year) and more Social Distortion.

"I'm glad that other elements of our influences are coming out over time, whether it's blues or punk or whatever it is," says Nelson. "I think it's just really taken time for it to evolve and come out. I'm super pleased with the way things are. I love the sound of this band; I love that we can put a song like 'Cream' on the album with a song like 'Rose' and it all makes sense."

Papa Roach has undergone a similar evolution. The band's debut CD, Infest, found them firmly within the nü-metal pantheon, offering rap-like vocals, funk-metal melodies and lyrics about suburban angst. But on 2002's lovehatetragedy and 2004's Getting Away With Murder, the band transformed into a more straightforward, punky hard-rock outfit. This has allowed it to play before a wide range of audiences, according to bassist Tobin Esperance.

"We've toured with everyone from Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden to Eminem and Ludacris and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Suicidal Tendencies," he says via phone with some pride. "We've done it all, and it's more fun that way."

Like Buckcherry, Papa Roach are vets of last year's Crüefest tour, and the two bands have more than that in common - they're also survivors of the ill-fated DreamWorks label. "It's funny, because I don't remember ever knowing those guys back in '99 or 2000 when DreamWorks was going on," says Esperance. "When we made our third record, Getting Away With Murder [for Geffen], that's when I met Keith [Nelson]. He was working in the studio where we were recording, guitar teching for us, and I was like, 'Hey, you were in Buckcherry.' He was like, 'Yeah, I'm jamming with the guys again, we're thinking about getting back together,' and we were all excited, like, 'Yeah, good luck. Hope everything works out for you.' It was really exciting to hear. And to see their success story, see them come out and really just take the world by storm with their comeback - it was really cool. And here we are playing before them, you know?"

"They should have called it 'Dream Doesn't Work,'" laughs Nelson. "That would have been more accurate. In a way, I'm really grateful to those people, because they signed the band, but the process of getting there was never fun, it was never enjoyable, and I think it played a major part in the demise of the original band. But things are better now, we're moving forward, and I'm not gonna name names or talk shit. That's history. Here we are, it's 2009, and things have never been better.

"All I can say is that it's a marathon, it's not a sprint," he continues. "Look around. A lot of bands we came up with aren't around anymore, and a lot of the bands that are around currently won't be around."

Esperance concurs.

"I don't want to say 'mature,' because we're in a rock 'n' roll band, but there's no stupid shit going on. I'm sure we've all paid our dues in the 'let's fuck shit up and do as many drugs and have as many chicks as we can' department, so we're all kind of having a good time in a more positive and healthier way. I think in the end we're all rock 'n' roll bands who just wanna get out in front of kids who enjoy music and have a good time. With the exception of Saving Abel, 'cause you gotta have the new band that's out there rippin' it for the crowd, we're all bands that have withstood the test of time, and we all strive for longevity."

[From the Cleveland Scene.]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A New Hope

A New Hope is interesting for about 30 seconds. The first guitar riff heard on Vanna's sophomore full-length is unsteady, slightly distorted and painstakingly detuned. You can't quite tell what direction the band are heading; will they be ripping off Sonic Youth or the Foo Fighters? The anticipation is almost tantalizing. Then "Into Hell's Mouth We March" starts, and funtime's over. The remaining 41 minutes of A New Hope are achingly pro forma screamo/post-hardcore. Every riff and breakdown is a copy of a copy of a copy; there's absolutely nothing of note to say about the album itself, only that it exists. The only thing left to wonder about this gray lump of by-the-numbers bark 'n' croon is whether they meant the title "The Sun Sets Here" to refer to their genre, or just their careers.


[From the Riverfront Times.]

"I've always avoided situations that reeked of that nostalgic/exploitive, son-of-Coltrane thing," says saxophonist Ravi Coltrane. That's no easy task for the son of John, one of jazz's true legends — especially in a business that only seems able to sell new jazz by relating it to the past. But this mindset makes his seeming ambivalence about the Blue Note 7 project somewhat understandable.

The band — which also features trumpeter Nicholas Payton, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash, among others — recently released Mosaic. This CD reworks tunes from artists like Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and Art Blakey in celebration of Blue Note Records' 70th anniversary. The tour expands the band's repertoire, but it remains an oldies show.

"When I got to New York, the bands I was playing in were all guys doing original music, and most of the tunes I'm playing on this tour are tunes I last played when I was in college," says Coltrane with a laugh. (One exception is Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge," which Coltrane previously recorded on his debut CD as a leader, 1998's Moving Pictures.) Still, he understands why jazz fans respond so rapturously to history-minded albums and performances: "There's nothing wrong with sitting down, paying for something and knowing exactly what to expect and getting it."

But in his solo career, Coltrane has deliberately turned his back on that sort of thing. Aside from working on his mother Alice Coltrane's 2004 comeback album, Translinear Light, and recording two of his father's lesser-known tunes on 2002's Mad 6, he's avoided making family connections — even musical ones — explicit. There is no Ravi Coltrane Plays John Coltrane album out there, and there likely never will be.

"If an audience only wants something they've heard before, that can be a drag for cats who are trying to extend a little bit and say, 'Look, I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel,'" he says. "'I'm not trying to get up here and completely freak you out, but I'm trying to do something that's relevant for me as a musician, and if it's something that's kind of unique and different for me, maybe it'll be unique and different for you, and that won't be such a bad thing.'"

But Mosaic — which reunited Coltrane with Payton, whom he played with in Elvin Jones' band in the early 1990s, as well as with former sessionmates Nash and Washington — is a strong album that will easily outlast the corporate self-celebration that spawned it. The saxophonist admits as much when he says, "Somebody might say, 'I have this idea and it's gonna involve this [person] and this [person] and this [person],' and I might say, I don't like your idea, but this person'll be involved. So sometimes, if there's a musical reason for doing those types of gigs, regardless of the names and all that stuff, then the value is there."


Metal Inquisition has an excellent take-down of the metal subgenre known as "riff salad" (better known as "technical death metal" or "tech-death"). I think they did a pretty great job with this, though obviously there are tons of other TDM acts that could have taken DragonForce's slot - Brain Drill, Necrophagist, the Faceless, Psycroptic...

I really like this stuff, which is one of the reasons this piece made me laugh a lot harder than some of their other recent efforts (and don't get me started on their obsession with "wigger slam"). The other reason is that Hate Eternal really is that boring. I listened to their most recent album, the one the whole DM scene raved about (oh, wait, the whole DM scene raves about every Hate Eternal record) and just wound up wishing I could hear nothing but Jade Simonetto's drum tracks. That bastard can crush a drum kit like nobody's business. But the music on top...urgh. Spare me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


The forthcoming Brutal Truth album Evolution Through Revolution features a cover of the Minutemen's "Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs." After looking at their new promo photos, I suspect they may have been inspired to record it after noticing how much their singer, Kevin Sharp, looks like Mike Watt these days.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009


"Yeah, your last band's album and my movie both tanked...fuck it, let's go get that money. Remember Woodstock '99, dude? That shit was awesome."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Interesting piece on Rob Halford here. Halford's a great interview, not necessarily because of what he has to say (at least in this piece, the questions are fairly straightforward) but because of his demeanor and his approach to being interviewed. This writer captures it perfectly: Halford has a way of being genuinely engaged in a conversation with an interviewer (or, one presumes, a fan) that is supremely welcoming and flattering. I've never heard a story of him blowing someone off or being an asshole, and when I interviewed him, he thought about what I'd asked him, and answered in paragraphs. The guy has earned every bit of the respect he has within the metal community, and continues to come across as grateful for his status. He's a showbiz pro, but he's also by all appearances a genuinely nice person.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Evisceration Plague
(Metal Blade)

Why should you spend money on a new Cannibal Corpse album, 11 studio full-lengths into their reign as the kings of classic Florida-style death metal? You know the song titles are gonna be awesome ("Beheading and Burning," "Skewered From Ear to Eye," "Evidence in the Furnace"), you know the drumming will be relentless and the guitars downtuned and excoriating, and George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher will be roaring and shrieking atop it all. But do you really need a fresh dose? Yeah, you do. The members of Cannibal Corpse are impeccable craftsmen, writing structurally perfect death-metal songs like Shakers making austere, beautiful wooden furniture. "Scalding Hail" is a relentless 1:46 of headbanging madness; "A Cauldron of Hate" churns like a cement mixer; the guitars on "Carnivorous Swarm" buzz like the insects the lyrics describe; and the title track is almost … catchy. Cannibal Corpse are the masters of their chosen idiom. Bow down.


[This is a piece I wrote for the November 2008 issue of The Wire.]

So I'm preparing for my interview with Bill Dixon (see The Wire 293) and I know there's no way around it - by hook or by crook, I have to hear his landmark 1967 album Intents & Purposes. It's justifiably regarded not only as a major statement by the trumpeter, but also as a massively important avant-garde jazz LP. Tough, then, for me to imagine approaching the guy for any kind of halfway intelligent conversation without at least a glancing familiarity with its tracks. Too bad the album's been out of print since about 1968. Vinyl copies turn up here and there on occasion, or so I'm told, but it's not like I know anybody who's got one, or who'll transfer it to tape or CD-R for me if they do. Most old-schoolers, the kind of folks who actually own original copies of legendary records, are kinda tight with 'em, it seems.

The digital age has created a new generation of more generous souls, though, and Google helps me find one. The search "bill dixon intents purposes rapidshare" turns up a blog on which somebody has posted a link, only a month before I need it, almost as though they've seen me coming. And it's still live! I download the 192kbps MP3s on offer, throw 'em into my iPod, and I'm off to the races. (By the way, a disclaimer: I don't wish to condone or encourage illegal behavior. I was desperate. That being said, Intents & Purposes is a fantastic album, and you should hear it by any means necessary.)

My experience was far from a fluke. The world of MP3 blogging, though it's only been truly active for a couple of years, is allowing jazz fans to mount what could be seen as an insurgency. By sharing their own records anonymously in cyberspace, the proprietors of these blogs are writing artists and albums back into history. When labels permit albums to fall out of print, either because they're independents that go under or because - as is more and more frequently the case with major label jazz divisions - there's no profit to be made by keeping the weirder corners of the catalog active, those records effectively cease to exist, especially when they're vinyl and physically deteriorate with each play. So this samizdat circulation of digital files, vinyl crackle and all, is the only way this music can keep even the most delicate toehold on existence, or have even the slightest chance of reaching a new audience. What is true for the jazz releases mentioned here holds for any other specialist genre.

It seems to be primarily the free or avant-garde scene which is reduced to digitizing old jazz records in this way. Blue Note churns out reissues of even middling hard bop titles at a speed no gainfully employed listener can keep pace with; Verve, Impulse! and Prestige continue to recycle their catalogs, too, albeit at a slower pace. And let's not even talk about the cash cow that is the Miles Davis reissue/compilation/box set industry. But what about the more difficult releases sponsored by the major labels in the 1960s, '70s and even '80s? The experiments and inexplicable signings have largely disappeared into the memory hole of commercial failure. Even recent-ish releases such as the Columbia albums by Tim Berne and David S. Ware are long gone.

Of course, there were just as many if not more fly-by-night independents and artist-owned labels in the late '60s and early '70s whose catalogs are just as scarce; India Navigation, Artists House and Sun (Frank Wright's label, not Sam Phillips') are but three examples. Many of those labels' releases have now drifted back into digital availability on this or that anonymous blog. There are even blogs devoted to digitizing the entire catalogs of highly-regarded independent jazz labels such as Strata-East, Flying Dutchman and CTI.

This kind of quasi-bootlegging is fascinating not only because it reveals music fans' priorities as being diametrically opposed to those of record labels (we'd rather hear a long-gone Marion Brown album on MPS than one more set of Rudy Van Gelder Editions), but also because it reduces music to pure information. No one is pressing up new copies of these records from a vinyl master; they are merely sharing digital (and lossy, and crackly) copies of the audio files. And yet, this is likely still seen by label executives - to the extent they're aware of it - as just as bad as reproducing the physical item. But is it possible to steal something that no one is offering for sale? Who's being harmed by the digital dissemination of audio from an out-of-print album? The proprietor of a used record store somewhere in Paris or Chicago, whose lone, spine-split, dusty copy of Noah Howard's Space Dimension will sit a little longer on the shelf, because the free jazz hipster who might have purchased it has instead downloaded it from Rapidshare?

If anything, given the music industry's current state of slow, creeping death, labels should be doing the same kind of web searches I did to find Intents & Purposes. Not to download albums themselves, but to see which of their titles are being downloaded most frequently, and get them back into print. Even if it's 1000 copies of some rare jazz title, it's more copies than they're selling at present. The existence of MP3 blogs proves the existence of an audience for avant-garde jazz. The correct response to this situation is not anger or even blithe dismissal, but embrace.

[N.B.: This cranky old fuck disagrees with me.]

Sunday, February 08, 2009


The Cramps were one of the first "punk" bands I ever heard - I started with the Dead Kennedys and Flipper, followed by Black Flag, and all that anger (some political, some not, it seemed) kinda made sense to a formlessly pissed-off junior high school kid, but then one day someone gave me Bad Music for Bad People, which is still one of the greatest titles of all time, and something kinda...popped in my head. It was the unbelievable groove their music had, those simple Poison Ivy riffs - her name was perfect because her riffs seemed to crawl up under your skin and live there - and the minimum-maximum beat of Nick Knox (you can have your motorik rhythms, I'll take the Cramps' unstoppable throb). Everything they recorded in those initial few years, from Gravest Hits and Songs the Lord Taught Us and Psychedelic Jungle through A Date With Elvis and the live albums Smell of Female and Rockinnreelininaucklandnewzealand - is absolutely essential American rock 'n' roll, as focused and conceptually perfect and awesome as it gets. When whoeverthefuckitis says "Ladies and gentlemen, live from the Peppermint Lounge, the Cramps!" and the band launches into "Thee Most Exaulted Potentate of Love" on Smell of Female, my heart rate doubles and my skin prickles up, and let's not even get into what happens when I hear the opening riff of "Garbageman" or Lux shouting "Igahtehyawhudis" at the beginning of "She Said."

I didn't get to see the Cramps live until 1995, when they toured in support of Flamejob, an album I still have never heard. They were as amazing and terrifying as I'd hoped they'd be. Lux climbed the amplifiers, stuffing the microphone down his throat and howling as he humped the top of the stack; meanwhile, Ivy cranked out those immortal riffs from her side of the stage, totally impassive, never even glancing in her husband's direction. She knew, I guess, that he was totally in control of his out-of-controlness and that any permanent damage he or the audience suffered would only be psychological. I've gotten to see some impressive frontmen over the years, guys who really knew how to captivate a crowd: Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Chuck D, Angelo Moore, Iggy Pop (with and without the Stooges), Henry Rollins, Perry Farrell, G.G. Allin...but Lux Interior was easily the best of 'em. I still listen to those early Cramps records all the time, and they still kick just as much of my ass as they did when I was 13.

Rollins remembers Lux, in the L.A. Times:

In my opinion, when it comes to being a frontperson, you should say, "That person could never hold a full-time job. Just give him a microphone and get out of his way." And that was Lux -- he was definitely that uncontainable personality. And that voice -- the guy could really sing. Nothing sounds like him. He had that gender-bending kind of "What is he?" thing . . . He was kind of crazy, and you gave him some room because he might get some on you.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Rest at Worlds End
Rune Grammofon

This Norwegian keyboards/electronics/drums duo's 2004 debut, called Humcrush and credited to keyboardist Ståle Storløkken and drummer Thomas Strønen, was a surprisingly supple exercise in groove, with oozing and humming electronics pelted by intricate rhythmic outbursts. A few tracks, like "Marked East" and album closer "Japan," almost sounded like Confield-era Autechre. The follow-up, 2006's Hornswoggle, on which they adopted the first album's title as a group name, was more digital and clicky, but demonstrated a considered evolution. The pair continued to rock the funky beats, while heading into near-Ambient territory on cuts like "Anamorphic Images" and "Roo."

Rest at Worlds End (which has 11 tracks on CD and 18 on vinyl - for which those of us without turntables say "gee, thanks, guys") is a live album, though it's not exactly dominated by the roar of wild, cheering throngs. Instead, it's largely a quiet effort. The few bursts of noise, like "Creak" and album opener "Stream," are aggressive (Strønen, who's all over the kit, in particular) without being assaultive; Humcrush's brand of crunch is warm and human. The quietest moments of all, like the title track and "Audio Hydraulic," spread that warmth in a manner reminiscent of early '70s Tangerine Dream, before they got sequencer-happy and back when they were still drifting, in Lester Bangs' words, "like silt seeping on the ocean floor." When the pair kick into gear, their funk is ascetic and cybernetic, emulating the crisp Swiss perfection of Nik Bärtsch's Ronin. Ultimately, Humcrush make unique and uncannily compelling music.

[I also have a really excellent Invisible Jukebox interview with James Plotkin in this issue. Check it out.]

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Haven't done one of these in awhile, but I had a long commute this morning and decided to limit myself strictly to Blue Note releases from the mid '60s, and here's what shuffling got me:

Dexter Gordon, "I Want More" (Doin' Allright)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, "Pisces" (The Freedom Rider)
Wayne Shorter, "More Than Human" (Super Nova)
Sam Rivers, "Paean" (Dimensions & Extensions)
Larry Young, "Backup" (Into Somethin')
Dexter Gordon, "Coppin' the Haven" (One Flight Up)
Dexter Gordon, "Cheese Cake" (Go)
McCoy Tyner, "Vision" (Expansions)
Hank Mobley, "Third Time Around" (Straight No Filter)
Andrew Hill, "Ghetto Lights" (Lift Every Voice)
Lee Morgan, "Filet of Soul (aka Hoppin' John)" (Delightfulee)
Lee Morgan, "Edda" (The Rumproller)

Monday, February 02, 2009


I went to see Metallica at Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday night. It was great. Here's more about that.