In a phantom world spinning out of time We’re just a sci-fi kids making dirty rhymes…

It’s been a wild few days for me, upset, frustration, righteous anger and holy wrath has been rained down on all approaching and spleen has been vented.

My brain has been at full throttle, until I am eventually running on empty. Sitting here exhausted after what seems like 24 hours of well something else.

To settle me down I played a little Trapper, their most diverse schizophrenic blitzkrieg of clashing styles. Psychedelic country stomps to indie pop passing through a little space rock and straight up rock. Wild Mountain Nation is exactly that a confusing melange of sounds, stomps, squeals and howls. It’s the sound of the woods at night if they were populated by crazed manic badgers, wolves and bears.

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Wild Mountain Nation is the album made by the freak you met on the trail. You are a little afraid of him but he has some strange sort of attraction to, he pulls you in with his stories and moonshine and you end up staying for the company. He probably then steals your shoes and leaves you to become his successor gyrating under the light of the moon holding a mason jar of hooch and smiling as you commune with the earth.

There are also sweet harmonies, melodies aplenty, jagged guitars loping drums, odd time signatures and enough slide guitar between the Hendrix riffs to make anyone happy.

 

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Yeah, I’m looking for answers in so many places I open my mind I don’t get it…

Well the bellicose moron flew out of Canada today, spouting his ridiculous biased BS and headed off to have a get together with his self absorbed confederate in Singapore.

IMG_0346I have retreated this morning to the sweet melodic dangerous sounds of the Cowboy Junkies, Canada’s most enigmatic exports. Especially the Trinity Sessions album. Basking in the lazy rhythms and beautiful vocals is some sort of remedy for the grating burble from the TV this morning.

I have made a commitment to myself this week, I will look after myself and practice mindfulness to help circumvent the inevitable dysregulation caused by paying attention. Like listening to music or playing the answer is not to stop paying attention but to do so in a way that focuses on the actual content not the distractions.

I am not sure if this is going to produce a more balanced week for me but we will see.

Of course the answer is to do something, so let the activism begin.

In other news Todd Rundgren and Utopia produced the feel good concert of the year so far for me last weekend. Rocking hard the old man took the prog route and then the pop route and finished the night off with positivity and passion and guitar histrionics.

I snapped a few pictures and looking around many others were doing the same, there were however a few just watching things through the six inch screen of their phone. One man in from of us was actually live streaming the show and was more involved in his “likes” and comments from his followers than the actual event unfolding in front of him. This I thought is were we have come to, it is more important to get a reaction than to experience, it is more important to be seen to be doing than to do. Of course isn’t that what we all do here in blog world.

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Oh mama can this really be the end?

There is a joy to Dylan at times, it’s found in the messes he creates I think.

IMG_0343The live album Hard Rain sounds like a band dragged to hell and back by a deranged lunatic crazy on hard drugs and cheap red wine. It’s messy and confrontational, sometimes it sounds like the band are all playing different songs.

The first time I hated it.

The second time I loathed it.

The third time I decided never to listen to it again.

Tonight after watching the shit show that US politics has become it seemed like the panacea I needed.

Tonights it’s my favorite Dylan album, once the funk and fog of the night is over it will be another album, but for tonight as I nurse that Bushmills into the night it’s just right.

Listening to it I feel like a drunk careering through a packed bar room. Apologizing brusquely as I meander to the bar for one more drink, neglectful of any social graces that I may have had before the fifth whiskey.

I am fascinated by Dylans inflection, the crowd noise and shouts for songs that may never get played. Between tracks Dylan strums his guitar absently trying to search for the next song. The violin and guitar solos are at times fighting with each other, not in a flashy Nashville battle of skill but in a drawn out dirty bar fight. The type of fight that involves teeth on the floor, bruised knuckles and stitches in unfortunate places.

There is no harmony here when you hear two voices they are berating each other. The music bludgeons and bullies it’s way through the classics. The songs by the end are battered and bruised, yet all the more powerful because of the battle.

Everything about the album says fuck you, the songs are listed on the top right corner of the back cover out of sequence, a brusk notation saying check label for sequence.

The front cover is a weary close up of Dylans face, the eyes glazed. The back cover is a IMG_0344blurry distorted hunched rear view shot of Dylan in front of a festival audience.

So tonight on the eve of the G7 conference as the roadies prepare the prima donnas for their moment on the spotlight.  Our glorious leader thinks its inconvenient this summit was arranged immediately before his get together with the despot from North Korea. I hope that we all manage to make it to Monday. After all there is the opiate for the people of the World Cup to prepare for.

Monday I install the corner bracket in my office for the TV so we don’t miss a moment.

In the words of Bobby…

Once I had mountains in the palm of my hand
And rivers that ran through ev’ry day
I must have been mad
I never knew what I had
Until I threw it all away

And if I ever grow old and I’m lookin’ back On these wild and reckless times Where they the best days of our lives? These wild and reckless times…

I was sat here towards the end of the day and thinking. This is often my way, everyone is in their room or bed and here I am alone slouched on the couch, the dogs laying on the a/c vents keeping the house too warm as they cool down. As I said I was thinking/listening to some music. In this case it was the most recent Blitzen Trapper album, Wild and Reckless which continues the bands blend of folk, prog-rock, tricky time signatures, stadium rock choruses and catchy pop songs via some histrionic Queen like vocals.

IMG_0312So zoned out towards the end of my wakeful period I thought, “do I still have favorite bands?”

Do I?

I now own more physical music than I ever did as a teenager, according to discogs over 1,300 records, thats the large black and other various colors, this does not count the CD’s in the attic of which I have no way of knowing how many  other than there are five boxes. I also have access to a streaming service that we pay for as it seems the artist should get something out of me and my families addiction for musical sounds however little.

As the 90’s began and I prepared to leave the homeland for the USA I had 312 records total. I sold most of these as I thought I was moving on to CD’s never to look back and it seemed too much hassle to pack them for a 6000 mile journey.

Thinking a little harder I tried to decide what would make a favorite band. Is it owning the entire discography? Is it going to see them play live? Is it the collection fo aran knowledge rattling around the fevered balding head? Or is it when you find yourself humming a song you have heard many times just to calm yourself down when things get tough about 4pm and you should have left for home?

So here I am on the couch as the sweating a little as the dogs have covered all the vents realizing that as I move into my alleged middle years  I am still the fan boy music fan. Able to realistically say that is one of my favorite bands.

These days my choices are broader as I am past the strict demarkation lines of tribal loyalty. I do however realize that if by some strange chance there was a call to arms for the true Hawkwind fans in the Portland metro area I would pull on my faded levis and converse with my Sonic Attack t-shirt and head out to do battle with the forces of evil side by side with my brothers in arms. The same is true if I was called to the bar by my fellow Fairport Convention brethren to raise a glass of real ale in battle against the Coors and Bud Lite swilling country hordes.

There are now many favorites over many genres, bands I never thought I would buy a record by never mind listen to on the radio. Bands I would have mocked for their lack of originality or musicianship.

Strange thing this maturity, it seems to have simultaneously cured my blinkered allegiances and created some firm thoughts. At least I have not become conservative in my viewpoint or politics along with some of my besuited peers.

 

unheard but not unwanted part 2…

Back to those records that I buy because I feel I should, after all who else would look after these potential treasures, then they sit in a long line of records that have not been played. Some of them are albums from my youth  and others are records that I think I should have for some reason, it’s a disease I tell you, after all it’s not like I need them. They may be genuinely unheard or realistically things I have not heard in a long time and sometimes wish I had not wasted that 40 minutes or so.

I know nothing about Robin Trower other than he was in Procul Harum I think, I could google this and find out I suppose but to be honest I am not that energetic tonight. I think he made a valiant effort like many guitar players to step into the void left by Hendrix, he is a fine player in that vaguely bluesy, psychedelic way.

What I do know is he has a nice idea of what an album cover should look like. As usual my pictures in no way will do justice to the album.

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Vaguely science fictional it thats a word.

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Just played both of these and I won’t be getting rid of them but I am not sure when I will play them again.

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I don’t know whats going on, I have owned this for years and not played it, yes I have heard it before, just never really had the desire to listen again although I did feel the need to own it.

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Finally Donovan with Cosmic Wheels, a return to form and an interesting album with no real hits but the entrancing Suzi Quattro guesting on vocal somewhere in there. I’ve had this in the to be played pile for a long time and passed it by quite quickly at times. I love the package though, it makes me want to get the coloring pencils out.

all the while he was alone…

I read in the booklet to Biograph that Dylan felt the best/truest version of Tangled Up In Blue was recorded on Real Live. After searching the album out and remembering my disappointment the first time I heard it in the late 80’s I have to say the man himself may not be wrong. Now is this the best performance I leave that to the Dylanologists out there. The delivery urgent, breathless and immediate, the guitar strummed frantically as if this is the only time it will come out this way, it’s a compelling version and it’s back in the third person the way the original New York version is.

IMG_0265Of course years of familiarity with the song may mean I am hearing years of versions and performances overloaded and juxtaposed in my mind.I stopped going to see Dylan when I reached ten times. I never knew this until I counted them up today, this seems like too perfect a coincidence to start going again, although I have a deep hankering to again. I want to see the old fart one more time maybe, or I am looking for some honesty in performance.

I tried to listen to the lyrics closely this time, I didn’t google them. It plays like a movie in my mind as he gasps his way breathlessly through the lyrics. At the end I have no idea what happened. Red hair, beer, parents, jobs, strip clubs and shoe laces, failure and hope and a wood burning stove for some reason. This is what I am left with. I seem to have listened in some state of late night dreamscape that has superimposed my own hopes on the song. Maybe this is the importance of Tangled Up In Blue it seems so personal and universal at the same time.

When my eldest was five he could sing along with two songs, Tangled Up In Blue and Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. He would bellow the lyrics to these songs at the top of his lungs as we drove to school in the muggy late spring heat with all the windows open on the old pick-up I owned at the time. Eventually the lyrics to Maxwell’s Silver Hammer got him sent home from school, the teacher thought they may incite violence, little did we know that twenty years later violence would become the nom in our schools. Yesterday as he pulled out of the driveway in his own pick-up after kissing his newborn goodbye he was singing Tangled Up In Blue at the top of his lungs. Things have a way fo coming back around it seems.

Psychedelic so we could see…

Oh how I pretended to hate this record at the age of 19, oh how I vilified the whole thing, complained about the drum sound and joined the anti-Yes army. Screaming at the top of my self-righteous lungs that this was antithetical to the whole Yes ethic. As if I even knew what that meant.

I railed against the drum sound, the peppy uptempo numbers. The orchestrations and the short songs, and shit their are horns. Wikipedia insists the songs are longer than regular pop songs, for fucks sake this is Yes they can do a double album with one song and not break into a sweat. Twenty minutes is just warming up to these guys, what do you mean long, these are just intro’s.

In the strange dark hours of the evening, when alone and nobody could see I would play the record smile and bounce gently around. I really wanted to bounce off the walls in joy but then the Yes purists may figure I liked this poppy side to their symphonic heroes and confiscate my flairs and cheese cloth shirts. IMG_0248

I think it took me a few years to get over  there was no Steve Howe on this or the previous album. Of course to this date the internecine arguments are a little old hat and is it really worth it at this point, obviously old men in flowing robes think so. Determined to argue over who has the keys to the Yes secrets.

So if you want to bounce around to loud 80’s pop music then Big Generator does the trick, it’s surprisingly strong as an album and a nice break from the dense somewhat enigmatic lyrics, and let’s be honest it’s not Close To The Edge, however it took a lot of Yes fans over the edge in it’s day.