Hi! Here’s a fun quiz!
The following is the first paragraph of a brand new record company bio I just received–plus a sentence I just added to it for kicks! Can you guess which sentence is mine?:
“High atop a mountain, somewhere in California’s Mojave desert, the members of Electric Skychurch are setting up their equipment in the dirt. Armed with generators, electronic drums and enough cable to wire a small town, James Lumb, David de Laski, Alex Spurkel and Roxanne Morganstern assemble what will eventually become the focus of a live electronic musical performance. Suddenly mean aliens–who historically tend to dislike overly dramatic bios–descend from the sky and skin them alive!“
BREAD Bread Retrospective (Rhino/Elektra Traditions) 4/5 JAMES BROWN Funk Power 1970: A Brand New Thang (Polydor) 5/5 In many ways alike, these two packages 1) are CDs, 2) feature musicians who excelled at what they did during the â€™70s, and 3)are being reviewed together for my own personal convenience! Bread were, in retrospect, cooler than most people gave them credit for–and this package absolutely proves it. Though the song line-up slightly changed from the initial advance cassettes Rhino had sent out–the track from early Uni Records group the Pleasure Faire, for instance, was dropped–you can’t argue the inherent rockin’ dudedness of Mr. David Gates! His famous songs such as “Make It With You,” “If,” and the always charming “Baby I’m-A Want You” not only laid the ground work for such later pioneers as Pearl Jam, but clearly wiped the floor with his fellow Breadwinners James Griffin and Robb Royer, who–try as they might–simply couldn’t write a tune that could match DG’s incredible gift for sheer hummability! Similarly, James Brown–heard here with Bobby Byrd and Bootsy Collins–is real good, too!
THE SIN EATERS Linoleum Years (Modulus Records) Apparently from San Francisco and featuring Stephen Siegrist–formerly of Thin White Rope–this abfab disc arrived unasked-for and accompanied by an actual slab of linoleum, which (believe it, baby!) can make all the difference in the world. An accomplished, well-recorded set featuring songs that bear the influences of (it says in the bio) Ray Davies, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Brian Wilson and Merle Haggard–and boy, weren’t they a great band?–this record is so fresh and invigorating it makes me want to suggest you call 415-647-3993 to find out more about it! Frankly, I was floored! 4/5
J.J. CALE Guitar Man (Virgin) J.J. Cale continues to make fabulous records, and this–his latest–is one of his better efforts. Opening with “Death In The Wilderness,” a futuristic-sounding churner decrying modern man’s role as destroyer of all things natural, Guitar Man actually sounds better than the 1972 Bread song bearing the same name! How’s that for inter-column irony? 4.5/5
GASTR DEL SOL Upgrade & Afterlife (Drag City) Bearing the coolest cover picture you’ll see this year, this fine disc features the return of indie bigwigs David Grubbs and Jim O’Rourke. The latter previously spent some time “making a record” of the recent Faust reunion tour–and the effort he spent editing those zany Krautrockers’ atonal hijinks into something substantial has clearly paid off here. By no means a studio quickie, Upgrade & Afterlife shows depth, substance, and another descriptive noun–and also features a John Fahey tune! 4/5
OUTPOST The Samples (MCA) Confusingly, all the songs on this new sampler the new MCA-distributed Outpost label sound like they were made by the same band! Yikes! But, as always, any cover featuring the heads of cats and dogs superimposed on kids’ bodies ranks high with me! 2/5