Thursday, July 31, 2014

go insane

Lindsey Buckingham challenged himself and his audience with the slick synthesized suites of this corybantic catharsis.  After his solo debut 'Law and Order' on Asylum Records produced his biggest solo hit with 'Trouble', Fleetwood Mac reconvened for their hit album 'Mirage' in 1982. The next year, Buckingham had a minor hit with the single 'Holiday Road' from the soundtrack to 'National Lampoon's Vacation' on Warner Records.  He then secured a deal with Elektra and spent a year producing 'Go Insane' with Gordon Fordyce.  The sessions featured Lindsey Buckingham on guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, Fairlight CMI, LinnDrum, vocals, pump organ, and lap harp;  with Gordon Fordyce adding keyboards and cowbell on track one and Bryant Simpson playing bass on track two.

The album was inspired by and dedicated to Carol Ann Harris, who he met while mixing 'Rumours' at Producer's Workshop in Hollywood.  They lived together for six years before their relationship came to an end.  Buckingham considers:  "She got pulled into this whole little world that maybe she wasn't ready for.  She's a girl from a small town who found herself in a world of people who were not particularly responsible...I didn't have too many second thoughts [about writing about our relationship], mainly because it was either that or go to a shrink.  I know that sounds a little flippant. I think it was something that had to be addressed. People who write things that mean something, usually they're a little too personal for somebody else. That's a risk that has to be taken ... What happens a lot of times is you get albums of material that you listen to once or twice and you've blown your cookies on it, that's about it; so I think it's important to challenge the listener slightly to make them grasp for it a little bit ... Insanity can said to be very relative to the context you find yourself in. An example might be a very acceptable and typical behavior for a group of people in a little rock and roll microcosm, might be grounds for someone being committed if they worked in a bank.  Looking at it that way we all tend to go insane a little bit, I think that's ok. I think that's one of the things the album is saying - it is ok to go insane, it can be quite cathartic actually, to watch yourself go out to the edge and sort of reel yourself back in - now hopefully you do reel yourself back in.  Another point the album makes is if you happen to be with someone else who takes that sort of behavior too far, and your not willing to give up whatever that relationship might be - then you will tend to go a little bit insane with them.  And if they are doing that you will experience a lot of the things they are simply by virtue of being a part of that. The important thing is not to take it too far, I guess."

'Go Insane' went to number forty-five in the US and thirty-three in Sweden.

'Go Insane' made it to number one hundred in Australia, twenty-three on the US pop chart, and number four on the US mainstream rock chart,.

Two kinds of people in this world

Winners... losers
I lost my power in this world
Cause I did not use it
So I go insane
Like I always do
And I call your name
She's a lot like you

Two kinds of trouble in this world

Living... dying
I lost my power in this world
And the rumors are flying
So I go insane
Like I always do
And I call your name
She's a lot like you

'Slow Dancing'

The ambitious 'D.W. Suite' was written after the death of Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson.

'Go Insane'
full album:

All tracks composed by Lindsey Buckingham; except where indicated
"I Want You" (L. Buckingham, G. Fordyce) - 3:18
"Go Insane" - 3:08
"Slow Dancing" - 4:05
"I Must Go" - 4:51
"Play in the Rain" - 3:21
"Play in the Rain (Continued)" - 4:14
"Loving Cup" - 5:02
"Bang the Drum" - 3:31
"D.W. Suite" - 6:50

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

in a silent way

Miles Davis made the leap to electronic instrumentation and created a whole new genre of music with this meditative melding of jazz and rock.  After dipping his toe into the fusion pool earlier that year with  'Filles de Kilimanjaro', Davis dove headfirst with the sessions for 'In a Silent Way'.    The sessions featured guitarist John McLaughlin, who had just recorded his debut album 'Extrapolation' a month before.  Drummer Tony Williams had invited McLaughlin to come from England to play with Tony Williams Lifetime and brought him to visit Davis at home the night before the sessions began.  Davis invited McLaughlin to the studio to take part in the proceedings.  

'In a Silent Way' was produced by Teo Macero at CBS 30th Street Studio B in New York City on one date in February of 1969 and includes Miles Davis on trumpet;  Wayne Shorter on soprano saxophone;  John McLaughlin on electric guitar;  Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock on electric piano;  Joe Zawinul on organ;  Dave Holland on double bass;  and Tony Williams on drums.    The music divided critics; but 'In a Silent Way'  became his biggest album in years, going to number one hundred and thirty four on the Billboard album chart.  

'In a Silent Way' 
full album:

Side one
"Shhh"/"Peaceful" (Miles Davis) – 18:16
"Shhh" – 6:14
"Peaceful" – 5:42
"Shhh" – 6:20
Side two
"In a Silent Way"/"It's About That Time" (Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis) – 19:52
"In a Silent Way" (Zawinul) – 4:11
"It's About That Time" (Davis and Zawinul) – 11:27
"In a Silent Way" (Zawinul) – 4:14

'The Complete In a Silent Way Sessions' is a three-disc box set featuring recordings from the sessions that would produce his 1969 album 'In a Silent Way'

Session One:
1. Mademoiselle Mabry (00:00)
2. Frelon Brun (16:28)
3. Two Faced (22:03)
4. Dual Mr. Anthony Tillmon Williams Process (39:58)
5. Splash: Interlude 1/Interlude 2/Interlude 3 (53:14)
6. Splashdown: Interlude 1/Interlude 2 (1:03:14)

Session Two:
1. Ascent (1:11:10)
2. Directions, I (1:26:00)
3. Directions, II (1:32:41)
4. Shhh/Peaceful (1:37:30)
5. In A Silent Way [Rehearsal] (1:56:35)
6. In A Silent Way (2:01:54)
7. It's About That Time (2:06:01)

Session Three:
1. The Ghetto Walk (2:17:23)
2. Early Minor (2:44:07)

Original 1969 LP Release:
A Side: Shhh/Peaceful/Shhh (2:51:04)
B Side In A Silent Way/It's About That Time/In A Silent Way (3:09:18)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

on the beach

Neil Young got real and turned away from the past with the honey slide murky blues of this shattered spooky seasick siren song.  In the wake of 'Harvest', Young was uncomfortable with success:   "['Heart of Gold'put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I met more interesting people there ... Danny's death probably tripped it off. Danny Whitten. It happened right before the 'Time Fades Away' tour. He was supposed to be in the group. We [Ben Keith, steel guitar; Jack Nitzche, piano; Tim Drummond, bass; Kenny Buttrey, drums; and Young] were rehearsing with him and he just couldn't cut it. He couldn't remember anything. He was too out of it. Too far gone. I had to tell him to go back to L.A. "It's not happening, man. You're not together enough." He just said, "I've got nowhere else to go, man. How am I gonna tell my friends?" And he split. That night the coroner called me from L.A. and told me he'd ODed. That blew my mind. Fucking blew my mind. I loved Danny. I felt responsible. And from there, I had to go right out on this huge tour of huge arenas. I was very nervous and...insecure...I never finished ['Tonight's The Night']. I only had nine songs, so I set the whole thing aside and did 'On the Beach' instead...'On the Beach', probably one of the most depressing records I've ever made. I don't want to get down to the point where I can't even get up. I mean there's something to going down there and looking around, but I don't know about sticking around."

Recorded after the live catharsis of 'Time Fades Away' and the dark and personal 'Tonight's The Night',  'On The Beach' features Neil Young on guitar on vocals, Wurlitzer electric piano, banjo, and harmonica;   Ben Keith on slide guitar, vocals, steel guitar, Dobro, Wurlitzer electric piano, organ, hand drums, and bass;   Tim Drummond on bass and percussion;   Ralph Molina on drums, vocals, and hand drums;   with Billy Talbot on bass;  Levon Helm on drums;  Joe Yankee on harp and electric tambourine;  David Crosby on guitar;  Rick Danko on bass;  George Whitsell on guitar;  Graham Nash on Wurlitzer electric piano;  and Rusty Kershaw on slide guitar and fiddle.  The recording took place at Arrow Ranch in Woodside, California and Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood with Young co-producing with David Briggs, Mark Harman, and Al Schmitt.  

 'On The Beach' went to number forty-two in the UK, thirty-four in Australia, sixteen in the US, and thirteen in Canada.   For years, the album was out of print until thousands of fans signed an online petition to get it released on compact disk.

 'On The Beach' 
full album:

1."Walk On" -- 2:42
2."See the Sky About to Rain" -- 5:02
3."Revolution Blues" -- 4:03
4."For the Turnstiles" -- 3:15
5."Vampire Blues" -- 4:14
Side two
1."On the Beach" -- 6:59
2."Motion Pictures" -- 4:23
3."Ambulance Blues" -- 8:56

Monday, July 28, 2014

ride the lightning

Metallica expanded their brutal thrash onslaught with the melodic innovations of this expressive electric extermination.  Their debut album 'Kill 'Em All' had revolutionized the scene with its fusion of metal and hardcore punk; but for the follow-up, the band was ready to break out of that mold.  

Lars Ulrich would expound:   "I think the first album fits into [the 'Thrash Metal'] category, every number going at 500 mph, but you can't call songs like 'Fade To Black' and 'The Call of Ktulu' from the current LP, Thrash Metal.  'Fight Fire With Fire' and 'Trapped Under Ice' are pretty much the ultimate in Thrash, I think, but from a musician's point of view I don't really like that term.    It implies lack of arrangement, lack of ability, lack of songwriting, lack of any form of intelligence.  Thrash Metal to me is just 'open E' riffing for five minutes as fast as you can go.  We do play very fast, but I think there's a lot more to our songs than just thrashing.  We try and arange and structure them with good breaks, tempo changes, and choruses with melody lines...The only reason we didn't use a producer for 'Ride The Lightning' was due to finances.  We had a certain budget, so we decided to opt for the best studio with the best in-house engineer rather than go for a half-assed studio somewhere with a half-assed producer and a half-assed engineer."

'Ride The Lightning' was recorded at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark with James Hetfield on lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, and harmony guitar solo in "Fight Fire with Fire";  Kirk Hammett on lead guitar;  Cliff Burton on bass guitar and backing vocals;  and Lars Ulrich on drums.  The band shared production duties with engineer Flemming Rasmussen.

Hetfield reflects:    "I'd have to say 'Ride The Lightning'  is my favourite. 'Kill 'Em All' , our first album, was already written when we went into the studio but 'Ride...' was the first next step, when we started to discover the studio and what we could do in it. That was kinda the fun bit, and it still is ... I remember writing ['For Whom The Bell Tolls'], and I was the only one that knew what the vocal pattern was going to be, everyone else just heard a bunch of open chords, and that was the song. They were thinking, "Are you sure?" and I was like, "Just wait." I sang the words, and that really brought it all together. I think simplistic works, and obviously it worked. I'd say at least half the black album is pretty simplistic. There's less complexity than '...And Justice For All' or 'Puppets'. A song like that was probably the single that never was, a single before we were allowed to have a single. I think the song is amazing. It works great, and Cliff [Burton]'s bass playing is highlighted on it."

Released on independent Megaforce Records, 'Ride The Lightning' would peak at number one hundred in the US, eighty-seven in the UK, seventy-eight in Switzerland, forty in Norway, thirty-eight in Australia, twenty-two in Sweden, and number nine in Finland.  It eventually sold over twenty million copies worldwide.

'Fade To Black' gave rise to the power ballad.  Hammett reveals:   "'Fade to Black' was a song we had a good four to five months before recording. We had a lot of time to settle into it and get into the groove of it and get the arrangements down. That was a song that people accused us of selling out—that was the song we heard our first cries of sellout, which is pretty funny. It was the beginning of a long chorus of people screaming "sellouts." Every time we've put out an album, there's a contingency of people who aren't satisfied. What can you do? You can't drive yourself crazy to please a small pocket of people. You have to do what you do, what goes best, what feels like the right thing to do. We follow our gut instincts, and sometimes that instinct lands us in pretty weird spots. For us, it's all part of the journey."

'Ride The Lightning'

full album:

00:00 Fight Fire With Fire
4:44 Ride The Lightning
11:20 For Whom The Bell Tolls
16:20 Fade To Black
23:07 Trapped Under Ice
27:07 Escape
31:25 Creeping Death
38:00 The Call Of Ktulu

Sunday, July 27, 2014


John Coltrane found tension and release in the spiritual dynamic creativity of this deep and brooding arc of emotion.  Riding high on the triumph of  'Live at Birdland',  the quartet of John Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, and McCoy Tyner went into Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to lay down the first set of tracks in April of 1964 and then again in June to record 'Crescent'.  For the sessions, Coltrane sticks to tenor saxophone, with Tyner on piano, Garrison on double bass, and Jones on drums.  Produced by Bob Thiele and mixed by Van Gelder, the album shows Coltrane playing with Latin and African rhythms within the context of these mostly meditative pieces.  

Nat Hentoff would express in the liner notes:  "In all the writing-much of it bewilderedly contentious-about John Coltrane, his diversity of moods and the scope of his emotional range have often been overlooked. There are many Coltranes because, as he once pointed out, “an artist of ability may lead you down paths in music where many things can happen.” In addition, for example, to the fiercely searching, turbulently complicated Coltrane, there is the soloist writer who focuses on reflective order, distilling his emotions into carefully shaped structures.    In everything he does, Coltrane is fundamentally a lyrical musician. Ornette Coleman recently said that Coltrane “is the most lyrical player I ever heard.” And it is disciplined lyricism which pervades much of this album. The opening Crescent, for instance, begins with a contemplative theme which Coltrane then elaborates and intensifies, but throughout there is the sense of his authoritative command of his material as well as his horn."!/album/Crescent/283318

full album:

Side one
"Crescent" – 8:41
"Wise One" – 9:00
"Bessie's Blues" – 3:22

Side two
"Lonnie's Lament" – 11:45
"The Drum Thing" – 7:22

"Song of Praise" was also recorded during the sessions

Saturday, July 26, 2014

roman candle

Elliott Smith whispered his head full of flames into no name homemade heartsongs and found his voice with this accidental achievement.  Smith had formed Stranger Than Fiction with Garrick Duckler while in high school in Texas; and then Heatmiser with Neil Gust while a student at Hampshire College before moving to Portland, Oregon where they were signed to local Cavity Search Records by Denny Swofford.  As the band was building an audience, Smith began recording the demos that became 'Roman Candle' at the home of his manager and girlfriend JJ Gonson on microphones from Radio Shack and a four track recorder.  Smith played all of the instruments save for some snare and cymbal provided by Kid Tulsa on a couple of songs.  

The demo tape got passed around and eventually Swofford made a deal to release the recordings as an album.  The lo-fi acoustic sound of the album was a departure from the grunge sound of Heatmiser; but the songs were a revelation.  Smith would reveal:   "I just wanted to move out of Portland to do something...I was also doing odd jobs around Portland, like spreading gravel and transplanting bamboo trees...My girlfriend at the time convinced me to send these songs to Cavity Search. When they wanted to put out my record I was totally shocked...People just have a way of - y'know they'll review your record in two sentences and put you in this little stupid box that you don't want to be in...If you play acoustic guitar you're the depressed, sensitive guy...I'm just writing songs about how I feel or about how people I know feel."

"Roman Candle"  

He played himself
Didn't need me to give him hell
He could be cool and cruel to you and me
Knew we'd put up with anything

I want to hurt him

I want to give him pain
I'm a roman candle
My head is full of flames

I'm hallucinating

I hear you cry
Your tears are cheap
Wet hot red swollen cheeks

Fall asleep

I want to hurt him
I want to give him pain
I'm a roman candle

My head is full of flames

I want to hurt him
I want to hurt him
I want to hurt him

I want to give him pain

And make him feel this pretty burn

"Condor Ave."  

"Last Call" 

'Roman Candle'
full album:

All songs written and composed by Elliott Smith, except "No Name #1", written by Smith and J.J. Gonson. 

1. "Roman Candle"   3:37
2. "Condor Ave."   3:34
3. "No Name #1"   3:03
4. "No Name #2"   3:34
5. "No Name #3"   3:13
6. "Drive All Over Town"   2:36
7. "No Name #4"   2:30
8. "Last Call"   4:38
9. "Kiwi Maddog 20/20"   3:40

original photo taken by JJ Gonson 

Friday, July 25, 2014

paul's boutique

The Beastie Boys reinvented themselves and changed the face of hip hop with the dense and daring psychedelic post modern sample collages of this legendary laugh-out-loud landmark.  The trio had been written off as frat boy one hit wonders with their debut album 'Licensed to Ill'; and, after they separated from Def Jam Records over non-payment of royalties, it seemed that they might be done for.  They signed with Capitol / EMI and began working with the production team The Dust Brothers (Mike Simpson and John King) on a more experimental sound to break away from their image and show more depth.  

Adam Yauch would recall:  "The Dust Brothers had a bunch of music together, before we arrived to work with them. As a result, a lot of the tracks come from songs they'd planned to release to clubs as instrumentals – "Shake Your Rump," for example. They'd put together some beats, basslines and guitar lines, all these loops together, and they were quite surprised when we said we wanted to rhyme on it, because they thought it was too dense. They offered to strip it down to just beats, but we wanted all of that stuff on there. I think half of the tracks were written when we got there, and the other half we wrote together."

Simpson says:  "Sampling was just a hobby for us. It was just something we did for fun while we were in college. John was destined to become a genius computer programmer, and I was going to enrol in law school. We never had any intention of making records. I didn't even know what record producers did at the time. In the course of doing samples for Delicious Vinyl Records, every once in a while we put something together that seemed just too dense and too busy and too crazy for a rapper to rap on, and we put these tracks aside as instrumental Dust Brothers tracks. Then the Beastie Boys wandered into the studio, and heard one of these tracks, and they loved it. That's how the album got started.    Up until that point in hip-hop, people had been using samples very sparsely and minimally. If anything, they would use one sample in a song and take a drum loop and that would be the foundation. But what we were doing was making entire songs out of samples taken from various different sources. On 'Paul's Boutique' everything was a collage. There was one track on which the Beastie Boys played some instruments, but apart from that everything was made of samples. But we never had a grand vision of trying to make groundbreaking music. We just enjoyed making music in a way that was an extension of our DJing, combining two or three songs, but with greater accuracy than you could do with turntables."

'Paul's Boutique' was recorded in Los Angeles at Matt Dike's apartment and The Record Plant studio with engineer Mario Caldato Jr. and assistant engineer Allen Abrahamson.  The groundbreaking multi-layered approach utilized one hundred and five different samples from diverse musical genres to produce a surreal pop culture pastiche that alienated and confused many of their fans.  The album only went to number twenty-four on the Hip Hop/R&B album chart; but it continued to sell over the years as word spread in college circles.  By 1999, it had sold over two million copies.

 "Shake Your Rump" 

"Egg Man"

"Hey Ladies" 

"Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun"


"Year and a Day / Hello Brooklyn"

'Paul's Boutique'
full album:'s+Boutique

1. "To All the Girls"   1:29
2. "Shake Your Rump"   3:19
3. "Johnny Ryall"   3:00
4. "Egg Man"   2:57
5. "High Plains Drifter"   4:13
6. "The Sounds of Science"   3:11
7. "3-Minute Rule"   3:39
8. "Hey Ladies"   3:47
9. "5-Piece Chicken Dinner"   0:23
10. "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun"   3:28
11. "Car Thief"   3:39
12. "What Comes Around"   3:07
13. "Shadrach"   4:07
14. "Ask for Janice"   0:11
15. "B-Boy Bouillabaisse"   12:33
"59 Chrystie Street" - :57
"Get on the Mic" - 1:14
"Stop That Train" - 1:59
"Year and a Day" - 2:22
"Hello Brooklyn" - 1:32
"Dropping Names" - 1:03
"Lay It on Me" - :54
"Mike on the Mic" - :48
"A.W.O.L." - 1:46