Sunday, August 31, 2014

uncloudy day

The Staple Singers broke through the clouds with their seminal spiritual synthesis of soul, blues, gospel and folk.  Roebuck "Pops" Staples was born in Winona, Mississippi in 1915 and learned blues guitar from an early age.  He played with the Golden Trumpets in Mississippi before moving to Chicago with his wife Oceola.  There he played with the Trumpet Jubilees.  

Roebuck recalls:   "I was the first artist with a singing group to take the guitar and go into church, which they didn’t allow. And they had faith and believed in Pops Staples and the Staple Singers. You know, we wasn’t trying to start something for money or nothing. We were just singing because we love God’s word and we love God. We were singing for the praises of God. And the ministers could see that. They let us come in with the guitar, and that started the whole ball rolling. The Soul Stirrers, Blind Boys, Nightingales, Swan Silvertones, all of them – we would come to Chicago to sing on radio. They got to their songs, and I was on one end of the studio and had a guitar, and that was fascinating to them. The next time around, everybody came to Chicago had guitar. Something new, see? They had sung themselves out, went all over the world, just singing a cappella. And that was a new thing – the guitar was new! Now, they got guitar, bass, drum, everything."

He began singing with his four children Cleotha, Pervis, Yvonne, and Mavis Staples in churches around the midwest.  Radio show appearances led to the recording of a single  “These Are They”/”Faith and Grace” on Pops’ own label, Royal Records.  Another single "Won’t You Sit Down” on the local United label led to a contract with the Chicago-based Vee-Jay Records, which released the Staple Singers' first long-play album, titled 'Uncloudy Day', in 1959; the disc, number 5000, was additionally the first in the Vee-Jay Spiritual Series.

Pops says:  "The children were so young, they didn’t know how to sing in a key, what key, or nothin’. It’s four sounds, so I just took them and... I give them a note. I said, “Now you keep that. Hold it!” So she sings [sings an A]. Each one gets a note. When they all sing together, that makes a chord. That’s the way I taught them how to sing. I said, “Now you just keep that sound all the way through.” That’s the way I taught them – no music or nothin’. I hit the string where they should be – where this one should be and where that one should be. That’s the way I taught them how to make that music...Mavis was two years before we could get her – like I was hittin’ that sting – to hold her tune. For about two years, we kept on singing around the house. That’s the reason I said, “Never think about going on no road,” so we was just singin’ for ourselves. After about two years, Pervis and me was singing lead. Mavis was singing contralto, and then Pervis’ voice got too heavy for lead. I said, “Mavis, you try it.” And right then, when she hit the first song, I said, “That’s something.” I knew then. One of the guys said, “Staples, man, you sure got a good group” – that was when Pervis and me were singin’. He said, “You did right to leave the other group and start your family.” And I said, “Yeah, you think so? You just wait a minute – you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.” Sure enough, about six more months, Mavis was taking off."

Mavis muses:    "As a child I would sing to myself all the time. I first learned You are my Sunshine and I Love You, a Bushel and a Peck, then it was anything I heard on the radio. I first sang in front of an audience when I was eight. We sang our song Will the Circle be Unbroken at my aunt Katy’s church in Chicago. We were just so happy to go sing somewhere other than our living room floor. The people liked us so much they clapped us back three times. It was the only song we knew and we had to play it all three times. Pops said: “Shucks, these people really like us, we’re going home to learn some new songs.” And we did. The rest is history...If I met the teenage Mavis now I’d see a very humble, friendly girl. By 16 I had already been singing with The Staples Singers for many years. I was singing on records, in front of thousands of people, travelling the country – my sisters and I always had different gowns and robes to wear. Life was beautiful at 16. Everyone wanted to know me, my friends wanted to talk to me. But I never got on any star-trip. Pops [Mavis’s father, Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples] taught us not to get a big head, not to think we’re better than anyone else...I grew up with many of my peers. Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick were childhood friends. I lived in the same neighbourhood as Sam Cooke and Lou Rawls. Sam had five brothers and one sister, Lou’s uncle, Reverend Rawls, had the Tabernacle Baptist Church and we’d sing there or stand under the streetlights and sing doo-wops...I’d tell my younger self she has so much to be grateful for. I’d tell her, God has blessed you by giving you this gift. You don’t even know what keys to sing in, you don’t know music but for you to be able to go out and sing the way you do, to have people admire you across the world, you are blessed. You have many, many wonderful days ahead. Love and treat everybody right. Keep your head up when things don’t go the way you want them to go. Have faith and think positive. And whatever the problem is, you can survive it because you’re a strong girl, you’re well loved, you have faith and you can conquer anything that comes your way."

Uncloudy Day

They tell me of a home far beyond the skies
And they tell me of a home far away
They tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise
They tell me of an unclouded day

The land of cloudless days

The land of an unclouded sky
They tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise
They tell me of an unclouded day

Will the Circle be Unbroken?

I was standing by my window

On a cold and cloudy day
When I saw the hearse come rollin'
For to take my mother away
Will the circle be unbroken?
By and by Lord, by and by
There's a better home a-waitin'
In the sky Lord, in the sky
I told the undertaker
"Undertaker, please drive slow
For this lady that you're haulin' Lord
I hate to see her go."
Well I followed close behind
Tried to hold the family grace
But I could not hide my sorrow
When they laid herein the grave
I went back home, my house was lonesome
Cause my mother, she was gone
All my brothers, sisters, crying
What a home, so sad and lone
One by one the seats were empty
One by one they went away
Now my family, they are parted
Will they meet again someday
Will the circle be unbroken?
By and by Lord, by and by
There's a better home a-waitin'
In the sky Lord, in the sky

Let Me Ride

God's Wonderful Love

Help Me Jesus

I'm Coming Home

If I Could Hear My Mother

Low Is the Way

I Had a Dream

On My Way to Heaven

Going Away

I'm Leaning

I Know I Got Religion

Ain't That Good News

This May Be the Last Time

Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Stand by Me

Come on Up in Glory

Pray On

Somebody Save Me

Each Day

So Soon

Too Close

Let's Go Home

Vee-Jay Records released the Staple Singers' first long-play album, titled 'Uncloudy Day', in 1959; the disc, number 5000, was additionally the first in the Vee-Jay Spiritual Series.
The songs for this video I selected from the album; they are
1) On My Way To Heaven;
2) Going Away;
3) I'm Leaning;
4) I Know I Got Religion.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Mastodon channeled their progressive metal sludge into the epic ocean coil of this crushing conceptual cetology.  The group had formed in Atlanta in 2000 and released a demo on indie Reptile Records before signing to Relapse Records a year later.  The EP 'Lifesblood' came later that year to be followed by their fiery full length debut 'Remission' in 2002.   

'Leviathan' was produced by Mastodon and Matt Bayles at Robert Lang Studios, Studio Litho, and EK Studios, Seattle, Washington and features Troy Sanders on bass and vocals;  Brent Hinds on guitar and vocals;  Bill Kelliher on guitar and backing vocals;  and Brann Dailor on drums;   with Scott Kelly from Neurosis providing additional lyrics and vocals on "Aqua Dementia";  Neil Fallon from Clutch adding vocals on "Blood and Thunder";  Matt Bayles playing organs on "Joseph Merrick";  and Phil Peterson contributing cello on "Aqua Dementia".  

Dailor explains the concept behind the album:    "This is our second release, but I think that -always- with Mastodon there's always gonna be some kind of theme that has to be worked out way beforehand, obviously. Last summer when we did the headlining shows of the UK, I was in the middle of reading "Moby Dick". We were in London in fact, and I kinda just spouted off why we should choose "Moby Dick" as a guideline of what to write about and what to go for. I was looking up all these passages and reading them to the guys and saying: look, they call Moby Dick the sea-salt mastodon, you know, it's all in here. There are so many different images we can borrow from whaling and just the whole thing as a complete package. I thought it would be really, really cool, and I kinda used Mad Ahab as -us- being obsessed with, you know, playing music and potentially going down with the whale or whatever, you know what I mean? The whale being the audience, and we just... playing music and touring being such an obsession and just kind of like such a shaky ground 'cause it's heavy metal music, it's really not -- I mean we're all like 30 years old and it's quite possibly, almost definitely, gonna take you nowhere, you know what I mean?...It's not a good decision to make, to play heavy metal. Rap and r'n'b and stuff like that, that's where the money is at. Rap like Eminem; Britney Spears obviously: those are the people that are massively successful, blah blah. But there's no integrity, no heartfelt anything in that. But we just chose "Moby Dick" 'cause we're all really interested in any kind of folklore. We're totally into Sasquatch and The Yeti and The Loch Ness Monster and all that stuff, you know. We like that kinda subject matter; we're into that kinda subject matter. So I think the record as a whole, as it's coming together right now, has taken all this different stuff -- there's songs about like Fiji Mermaids, songs about Nephilims and all sorts of crazy stuff going on -- but it's also, we kinda tried to tie it into ourselves and the way we feel about stuff, and try to make it as passionate as possible."

'Leviathan' only charted at one hundred and thirty-nine in the US and one hundred and ten in the UK; but it established Mastodon as an irresistible force in the world of metal and harpooned the competition with its cutting edge artistry.  

Iron Tusk

Blood and Thunder

Hearts Alive

full album:

1. "Blood and Thunder" (Feat. Neil Fallon) 3:48
2. "I Am Ahab"   2:45
3. "Seabeast"   4:15
4. "Ísland"   3:26
5. "Iron Tusk"   3:03
6. "Megalodon"   4:22
7. "Naked Burn"   3:42
8. "Aqua Dementia" (Feat. Scott Kelly) 4:10
9. "Hearts Alive"   13:39
10. "Joseph Merrick"   3:33

Friday, August 29, 2014

the holy bible

The Manic Street Preachers brought the pain from purgatory's circle and recognized truth in acedia's blackest hole.  The Welsh group had made a name for themselves with their earnest and ambitious double album debut 'Generation Terrorists'; but the overly produced followup 'Gold Against The Soul' was considered a compromise of their beliefs.  Eschewing the luxurious Outside Studios where they recorded their second album, the band decided to record their third in the spartan Sound Space Studios in Cardiff, Wales.  The sessions for 'The Holy Bible' featured James Dean Bradfield on lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, and production;  Richey Edwards (Richey James) on rhythm guitar, sleeve design, and production;   Nicky Wire on bass guitar and production;  and Sean Moore on drums and production.  All of lyrics were written by Edwards and Nicky Wire, while all of the music was composed by James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore.

Edwards would recount:  "We started writing it last summer; some of the early songs were written quite a while ago. I think it was a difficult time for everybody really. Especially the way we did it; going to Cardiff every day, I picked everybody up in the morning and we went down and then we went back home. We just kept concentrating on the words, trying to get them like we wanted. Trying to make them better. I don't think it's being a perfectionist, I just think it's trying to hone it down, do it properly. There was lots of things happening outside the band, personally. But I think it's our most complete album, by a long way...Nick had lots going on in his personal life at the time as well. I'm on my own, I'm very selfish. 'Self disgust is self-obsession' - that's the truest line on there, probably...I don't think we've ever made happy records. Maybe we've had uplifting moments, but I don't think lyrically we've ever been particularly joyous. Right from the start. I know what people think about me. But if you look at our lyrics, they've developed and got better, but thematically they're pretty much the same; what's going on in mine and Nick's head...I would like to be able to write, 'I'm feeling supersonic, give me gin and tonic', but I just can't do it. I think that it's a brilliant lyric, but whatever ability that is, I haven't got the ability to write that line. I don't feel that way, you know. The last time I felt supersonic was when I was about ten years old, I expect...At the same time, there's lots of bands with angst-ridden lyrics, and I just really can't believe most of them, because they seem so happy when they're singing them on stage. It's like, this is what you're supposed to do. Whatever you think about our lyrics, at least they're true ... The way religions choose to speak their truth to the public has always been to beat them down. I think that if a Holy Bible is true, it should be about the way the world is and that's what I think my lyrics are about. The album doesn't pretend things don't exist."

Wire calls the album "gothic with a small 'g'. It's not Cranes, but it is quite a morbid album. We've rejected our past in a lot of ways with this album. There's a bit of early Joy Division on it, and a few PiL basslines...Last year we visited Dachau, Belsen and the Peace Museum at Hiroshima, and those places had quite an intense influence on us, and on the whole album. Dachau is such an evil, quiet place. There's no grass, and you don't even see a worm, let alone any birds. All you can hear is this humming of nothing."

During the recording of 'The Holy Bible', Edwards was challenged by depression, anorexia, self-mutilation, and alcohol abuse.  During a tour in Thailand, he cut his chest with a knife before a show and had to be hopitalized.  After the album was released, he checked into a psychiatric hospital and then a private rehab clinic:   "If you're hopelessly depressed like I was, then dressing up is just the ultimate escape. When I was young I just wanted to be noticed. Nothing could excite me except attention so I'd dress up as much as I could. Outrage and boredom just go hand in hand ... Gets to a point where you really can't operate any more as a human being – you can't get out of bed, you can't...make yourself a cup of coffee without something going badly wrong or your body's too weak to walk."

The band continued to promote the new album without Edwards and, when he was finished, they did a tour with him that ended in a show at the London Astoria where Edwards initiated the smashing of equipment and stage lighting at the end of their set.  Wire remembers:  "From Thailand to the smashing up of the Astoria, it was hospitalization, no money, drudgery, hateful, miserable, awful.  It felt like Richey was drifting away. I'd just lost him. Couldn't talk about rugby or cricket or football. He'd call you up at strange times about some documentary he'd just seen or something he'd tracked down. It was hard work, it was baffling at times. He was finding it really hard to sleep. When people talk about the wounds or the blood, the only real tragedy is when you lose someone kinetically, someone you've known since he was five, you've done all those things with and you feel you can't communicate. It was terrible. But in the last three weeks, there was a serene calmness to Richey, he was laughing more, the pathos and the irony were back. Maybe that's because he had reached some conclusions and he just felt some inner peace. We did a recording session and came up with some great tracks. So the Daily Telegraph and the Mars bar, I just saw it as a little 'Things are going to be OK'. Which maybe, in his mind, that's what it was.  But different meanings of OK, I guess."

On February 1, 1995 Edwards disappeared just before a US promotional tour.  His car was found abandoned near the Severn Bridge two weeks later, leading to speculation that he had committed suicide.  His body has not been found, and, despite reports of sightings around the world, he was declared legally dead thirteen years later.  

'The Holy Bible' only charted at number fifty in Japan and six in the UK; but it has gone on to sell over six hundred thousand copies.  The harrowing personal and political lyrical reflections have led many to consider it the darkest album of all time.

'Faster' performance on Top of the Pops that was controversial for Bradford's military style mask

Manic Street Preachers - Faster (Live on Top of... by marshare


'She Is Suffering'

'The Holy Bible' 
full album:  US mix

1. "Yes" 5:19
2. "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforoneda­yit'sworldwouldfallapart" 3:43
3. "Of Walking Abortion" 4:07
4. "She Is Suffering" 4:57
5. "Archives of Pain" 5:30
6. "Revol" 3:05
7. "4st 7lb" 5:10
8. "Mausoleum" 4:13
9. "Faster" 3:53
10. "This Is Yesterday" 3:58
11. "Die in the Summertime" 3:07
12. "The Intense Humming of Evil" 6:14
13. "P.C.P" 3:57
14. "Die in the Summertime" (demo) 2:26
15. "Mausoleum" (demo) 3:29
16. "Of Walking Abortion" (Radio 1 Evening Session) 3:39
17. "She Is Suffering" (Radio 1 Evening Session) 4:25
18. "Yes" (Radio 1 Evening Session) 4:40

live at the Astoria in 1994
'You Love Us'

0:00 P.C.P. 
3:40 From Where To Despair 
6:54 Faster 
10:27 She Is Suffering 
14:48 La Tristesse Durera 
18:42 Slash N' Burn 
22:16 Motorcycle Emptiness 
28:03 New Art Riot 
31:02 Life Becoming A Landslide 
34:56 Revol 
37:41 4st 7lb 
42:35 This Is Yesterday 
45:23 Motown Junk

Thursday, August 28, 2014

monster movie

The Can carved out an inner space at a German castle and sculpted a monstrous new music out of scraps of avante rock noise and experimental improvisational minimalism.  

The group was born out of the experience of Irmin Schmidt when he visited the United States and was corrupted by the velvety music underground:   In 1966, I came to New York for the first time. I was sent by my professors for a conducting contest. But right at the start, I met Terry Riley. He had this strange little grotto in the Bowery. We sat there night after night, and he made me play “de dah de dah de dah de”... me on the piano and him on the sax. At first I thought this was totally stupid. The result was that I was thrown out of the contest, because I missed certain rehearsals. I met Steve Reich, and he was also doing the “de dah de dah de”... but he was different, he had just finished a tape-loop piece. I was fascinated...When I founded the group I was a classical composer and conductor and pianist making piano recitals, playing a lot of contemporary music but also Brahms, Chopin and Beethoven and everything. And when we got together I wanted to do something in which all contemporary music becomes one thing. Contemporary music in Europe especially, the new music was classical music was Boulez, Stockhausen and all that. I studied all that, I studied Stockhausen but nobody talked about rock music like Sly Stone, James Brown or the Velvet Underground as being contemporary music. Then there was jazz and all these elements were our contemporary music, it was new. It was, in a way, much newer than the new classical music which claimed to be 'the new music'."

The collective initially included Holger Czukay on bass and tapes;  David Johnson on flute and tapes;  Michael Karoli on guitar;  Jaki Liebezeit on drums, flute, and percussion;  and Irmin Schmidt on organ and piano.  They called themselves Inner Space and played their first gig with guest vocalist Manni Lohe at Schloss Nörvenich, 14th-century castle in North Rhine-Westphalia, near Cologne, Germany.  It was documented in the 1984 release 'Prehistoric Future'.  

Schmidt says:  "We had to be [a rock band], it was destiny. When we started, we knew we wanted to do something spontaneous together. And it was necessary for music like this to make sense to have a rhythm. It was Jaki who created the rhythm. And once you have a rhythm, it became rock. And then one day, this friend of a friend, a painter and sculptor who was a friend of the composer Tcherepnin, we met in Paris, and we said, come visit us in Cologne. This was Malcolm Mooney. When he showed up, I just said, come with me to the studio, we are making music there. All of a sudden he took the mike and started singing. And this was like the ignition -- this gave the last kick toward rock. Between him and Jaki, who had already started to establish this hypnotic rhythm, all of a sudden Malcolm directed all this undecided energy in the group to this rhythm. He focused us all on Jaki’s rhythm. It was clear in this moment that this is where we had to go...We embraced it! This was ‘Father Cannot Yell’, the first piece."  

The group had by this point adopted the name The Can which Liebezeit later considered to be an acronym for "communism, anarchism, nihilism".  They built a recording studio at Schloss Nörvenich and called it Inner Space. 'Monster Movie'  was produced by the band and features Holger Czukay on bass [Red Armed Bass], and as technician [Technical Laboratory Chief];  Irmin Schmidt as coordinator [Adminaspace Co-Ordinator], and on organ [Organ Laser];   Jaki Liebezeit on drums, engineering [Propulsion Engineer], and other [Mystic Spale Chart Reader];   Michael Karoli on guitar [Sonar & Radared Guitar Pilot];   and Malcolm Mooney on vocals [Linguistic Space Communicator].  Some of the sessions were later released in 1981 as 'Delay 1968'.  

Much of the music they created was done spontaneously with extended jam sessions that would later be edited.  Czukay considers:   "What we did was not improvisation in the classical jazz sense, but instant composition. Like a football team. You know the goal, but you don’t know at any moment where the ball is going. Permanent surprise. Editing, on the other hand, is an act of destroying. And you should not destroy something if you don’t have a vision to establish it afterwards. If you have that vision you can go ahead and do that. Can was a band. The editing had to handled carefully, because it could destroy the character of the band."

Mooney revealed that the twenty minute piece 'Yoo Doo Right' that comprises the second side of the album was culled from twelve hours of tape:   "The recording, which started at about eleven a.m., ended at eleven p.m.. It was quite a session.  I left the studio at one time for lunch, when I returned the band was still playing the tune and I resumed where I left off. " 

'Monster Movie' has the subtitle "Made in a castle with better equipment".  Their creation was a unique sound that prefigured later trends in music such as  electronic, gothic,  industrial,  progressive, and punk.  At the time, they struggled for recognition, as Liebezeit would later recount:  "Can back then was not really noticed.  We were considered not to be as good as English bands. It was difficult in Germany in the beginning - they thought of us as a band that was trying to make rock music because they 'Can't'.  You see?  Can. Can't.  What we were doing was simply not recognized as rock music.  But that was the idea.  Not to copy English or American bands; but to find our own way, which differs from other countries.  In England, when we first played, they enjoyed it for that.  In Germany, they thought the same thing, 'It doesn't sound English!' and hated it!"

'Monster Movie' 
full album:

All songs written and composed by Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Jaki Liebezeit, Malcolm Mooney, and Irmin Schmidt. 

Side one
1. "Father Cannot Yell"   7:06
2. "Mary, Mary So Contrary"   6:21
3. "Outside My Door"   4:11
Side two
4. "Yoo Doo Right"   20:27

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


ZZ Top came back strong and gave no quarter with the bearded Texas boogie of these low down hi-fi nationwide blues.  The band had taken an extended break after seven years of non-stop touring.  Dusty Hill went to Mexico, Frank Beard visited Jamaica, and Billy Gibbons traveled to Europe where he explored art and music:  "I had some buddies from Houston that had started this consortium of new-day surrealism – more than just a tip of the hat to the Dada guys. We were doing Xerox art and it was not so great, but the effect … If you took an image and then printed it out and then re-imaged that, the more generations you did the degradations started to set in. It was real vivid. From a technical standpoint it was just degradation, but from an artistic standpoint it was an enrichment of a visual experience...So we go and we drop down when this punk explosion was happening.  One thing I can assure you: I remain open to the effects of the energy events. That really got my attention. The anger and the angst did not allow anything more than: 'I don't have time to practise too long, I'm just gonna give it to ya like I got it.'"

 It was during the nearly three years between their previous album 'Tejas' and 'Degüello' that Gibbons and Hill both grew their iconic beards.  The band also switched from London Records to Warner Bros. Records.  They retained their tried and true team of producer Bill Ham and engineer Terry Manning for the sessions that featured Billy Gibbons on guitar and vocals;   Dusty Hill on bass guitar, keyboards, and vocals;   and Frank Beard on drums and percussion.  

 'Degüello' reached number one hundred in Australia, twenty-four in the US, and nineteen in Austria.  It became their second platinum record.

'Cheap Sunglasses' saw its way to number eighty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100.  Gibbons says:  “This song was actually written during a trip from the Gulf Coast up to Austin, Texas. A bright spot of creativity flared as we were passing the hamlet of La Grange, and I recited all three verses of ‘Cheap Sunglasses’ within the space of 20 miles. And that’s the way they stayed. Though that may sound simplistic, the lyrics speak for themselves. ‘Simplistic’ is indeed a word which may come to the minds of some."

'I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide'
Gibbons:  “We wrote this about the great Texas bluesman Joey Long, a Gulf Coast lead-guitar picker who appeared on a great number of wonderful records by the likes of Slim Harpo and Barbara Lynn. He played on Lynn’s great hit record ‘We Got a Good Thing Going,’ which was covered by the Stones, and which was really one of the important recordings that shaped my understanding of where it was I wanted to go with my life. It was good. And so was he.   Joey loaned me a multistringed mandolin-like instrument from Parral, Mexico, and I put it to good use on ‘Nationwide.’ If you listen closely, you can hear close-miked mandolin-sounding rhythm accompaniment."

'I Thank You' didn't have to become their second top forty hit, but it did, going to number thirty-four.


full album:  

1 - I Thank You   (Isaac Hayes, David Porter) 00:00
2 - She Loves My Automobile 03:25 
3 - I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide 05:48 
4 - A Fool For Your Stockings 10:37 
5 - Manic Mechanic 14:54 
6 - Dust My Broom  (Robert Johnson)   17:31  
7 - Low Down In The Street 20:40 
8 - Hi Fi Mama 23:31 
9 - Cheap Sunglasses 25:56 
10 - Esther Be The One 30:44 

beard talk with Billy