Treasures Untold

Between my recent motherboard failure and setting up the replacement PC my stepfather so generously donated to me, I’ve picked up a lot of vinyl that didn’t make it to my blog.  I thought I’d take a moment to highlight some of the better ones that I’ve neglected.

First, I found Funkadelic’s Electric Spanking of War Babies in NM shape at an antique shop.  It is another outstanding example of Pedro Bell’s artwork.

The next item I picked up was the first album to feature regenerative tape loops which Robert Fripp and Brian Eno dubbed ‘Frippertronics.’  The album is an ambient classic – No Pussyfooting.

Side A is the standout track at over 20 minutes in length, titled “The Heavenly Music Corporation.”

I insist on tracking down original pressings whenever possible, and I was lucky to find an extremely clean copy at a great price.

And thanks to my friend Brrrn and good timing at a flea market, two more early Eno recordings fell into my hands.  One was Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) – Eno’s second solo album and the other was a long-time favorite collaboration with Harold Budd titled Ambient 2 – Plateaux of Mirror.  Plateaux was one of my first digital ambient albums many years ago.

The next treasure is a deep cut, and one of historical significance.  I was exploring The Orb’s catalog and read about a curious track called “The Blue Room,” a 17 minute song which appeared on the album u.f.orb.  What I discovered was that the original single was in fact 40:00 long.

From Wiki:

The UK charts had recently decided that any release with more than 40 minutes of play would be classified as an album rather than single. The Orb thus decided to record a 39:57 version of “Blue Room” for a special release. “Blue Room” is the longest single to ever reach the UK charts, peaking at number eight.

If you have ANY interest in ambient house, you need to hear this song.

The last find in the spectrum of ambient music was a dollar bin neoclassical LP by David Lanz.  Nightfall is one of his best works.

There were several other discoveries including a number of Yes albums previously missing from my collection and Zappa’s Hot Rats which features wonderful contributions from Don Van Vliet.

Last but most certainly not least, I found a number of Sesame Street albums to add to my Jim Henson library.  It’s getting harder and harder to find ones I don’t already have, (over 40 at last count) so these were a treat.

The Ernie LP is extra special.  Mint in shrink, it includes some of my most beloved memories from the Street – “Rubber Duckie,” “Imagination,” “I Don’t Want to Live On The Moon,” and the hilarious “Dance Myself to Sleep.”

If only it featured “Put Down the Duckie” it would be my favorite Sesame record ever.  Sadly, that duet between Ernie and Hoots the Owl never made it to vinyl.

Here’s the video for “Dance Myself to Sleep.”  If you’re really savvy you might just catch the Andrews Sisters reference Ernie makes to a hit from 1941.  Watch for it!

Hit that long lunar note, and let it float.

Captain Beefheart

As Tom waits said told the Guardian UK last month, “Once you’ve heard Beefheart, it’s hard to wash him out of your clothes. It stains, like coffee or blood.”

With the recent passing of Don Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart I thought I should post something of value to both long-time listeners and to music lovers who have yet to discover his genius.

A number of books have been published about Beefheart, two by members of the Magic Band – Zoot Horn Rollo and John “Drumbo” French.  Beefheart: Though the Eyes of Magic (Drumbo’s book) is the best place to begin.

There are several documentary films on the Captain as well.  The best by far is BBC John Peel Night (1999) The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart.  To my knowledge it is not available on DVD but you can watch it on Youtube.

My favorite quote from the documentary is from Simpsons creator, Matt Groening.

“The first time I heard Trout Mask Replica, when I was 15 years old, I thought it was the worst drek I’d ever heard. I said to myself, they’re not even trying! They’re just playing randomly!  But then I thought, Frank Zappa produced it, maybe I should give it another play. So I played it again, and I thought, it sounds horrible, but they mean it to sound this way. And about the third or fourth time it started to grow on me. And the fifth or sixth time, I loved it. And the seventh or eighth time I thought it was the greatest album ever made. And I still do.”

The film begins with the band’s performance of “Sure Nuff ‘n’ Yes I Do” live at Cannes in 1968.  Blues music fans will recognize the guitar riff from the classic “Rollin & Tumblin” and Willie Dixon’s “Down In The Bottom.”  The song also shares it’s opening lyric with the Grateful Dead’s “New, New Minglewood Blues.”  I’ve included videos of each of these songs below.  I believe the origin of the riff is the “New Minglewood Blues,” a re-write of “Minglewood Blues” recorded by Noah Lewis and Canon’s Jug Stompers in 1928.

Sure Nuff ‘n’ Yes I Do:

Howlin’ Wolf performs Down in the Bottom (at 01:25):

Jeff Beck & Imogen Heap’s incredible version of Rollin and Tumblin (click to watch on Youtube):

New New Minglewood Blues live:

UPDATE: After posting this blog, I realized that a recording of Beefheart performing “Rollin and Tumblin” live in 1968 was released on the Grow Fins rarities set.  Enjoy!

You can watch the Peel Night Beefheart documentary in four parts below.  R.I.P. Captain.

Published in: on January 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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