Alternative music reviews

June 3, 2006

Alice Cooper: A Pie In The Face

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 1:04 pm Comments (0)

I know it’s all been superceded by the theatrics, the Muppet Show, the golf, etc. but, in the early days, Alice Cooper were one of the great Detroit guitar bands and Vince’s voice is still amongst the best Rock voices.

I was looking for a good early video that would demonstrate their mastery of rock n roll, when I came across this from 1970:

June 2, 2006

Stockhausen

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 10:38 am Comments (1)

When I was fifteen I worked in a record shop. One day, in lieu of pay I accepted a 7 album box set of records – Aus Den Sieben Tagen (From The Seven Days) by Karlheinz Stockhausen. It was the first in what became a large collection of Stockhausen music. I have never actually undertook my task of listening all of his music that I have in one sitting – it would take 25 hours solid listening.

But I’m not going to tell you about the innovative electronics of Prozession or the hypnotic inevitability of Mantra – I’ve never bothered with trying to convert anyone to Comtemporary Music so I won’t start now. But I will talk a bit about that original 7 record set. Each piece of music was an improvisation based on a piece of text. The fourth piece Gold Dust:

Live completely alone for four days
Without food
In complete silence, without much movement
Sleep as little as possible
Think as little as possible.

After the musicians lived for 4 days without food or human contact (in the same house, by the way) they start to play using various instruments including a sitar, a ship’s bell, a saucepan half-filled with water, and a house key. It sure ain’t Rock and Roll.

A few years later me and my mate Alan tested out the power of this record. Two girls had come round to see him. For some reason we wanted to get rid of them but without being nasty and actually asking them to leave. Stockhausen came to our rescue, and after 25 minutes of From Aus Den Sieben Tagen they left and never came back.

May 26, 2006

Memory Of A Free Festival

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 2:44 pm Comments (21)

It was 1974, a long time ago and I only have hazy recollections. I can’t even remember whether I went on the Sunday or Monday night but according to one source it was Monday. But I’d better write something before all trace of it vanishes from my deteriorating memory.

The Windsor Free Festival was in Windsor Great Park, a place open to all people by law just down the road from the Queen and Windsor Castle. When I say Free, I mean the bands played for free, no fences, no wristbands, no security guards checking your bags to see if you were smuggling in your own food or drink. Free as in not licensed. Such an event could never happen today, imagine the furore if there were such blatant transgressions of Health and Safety regulations as to allow glass bottles in a festival. Someone could cut their finger!

This was the tail end of the Hippy generation. Long hair, Afghan coats or Greatcoats, kaftans. The smell of hash pervading the air. Announcements on the tannoy about beware of the Yellow Acid. I was young and didn’t know what a ‘straight’ was when asked – luckily enough the hippy used sign language to indicate he wanted a normal cigarette and the language barrier was broken – “Thanks man” he said, not meaning that he had conferrred adulthood on me but that we were brothers. I was offered a ‘skewer’ (I think) at one point and I still don’t know what one of those is. There was one very good game. Every time you saw two men with short hair, t-shirts and shiny black boots you had to shout PIG! Most entertaining but the Pigs would have their revenge.

Not many memories of the music since I was just overwhelmed with the experience. I remember Hawkwind playing and they were always a great band live. After them was the French band Gong. A bigger bunch of hippies you couldn’t imagine. Highlight of the act – the band pointing into the night sky and saying “Look a flying teapot” (I won’t explain because you would have to partake of illegal substances to understand). So, it was a night of Spaced Progressive Rock. I left that night, relying on my inbuilt sense of direction to walk to London – luckily enough a hippy Roadie picked me and my mate up on the motorway and gave us a lift.

On the Thursday when the numbers had dropped, the Police moved in. They gave people 10 minutes to leave and then waded in with truncheons. Cracked a few hippy heads, used truncheons on at least two pregnant women. I saw the fighting on the television news – or rather I saw the Police attacking long-haired people (fighting implies two sides).

All a bit disjointed I know – I’m trying to stop myself going into a rant about the loss of freedom, state oppression, and revolution against the capitalist system. It was all a long time ago and the possibilities that seemed to exist then have been killed off.

(Edit) I found this picture of what is believed to be Hawkwind at Windsor Free Festival 1973 just the year before I went:

Hawkwind

more on Windsor 74

May 22, 2006

MC5

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 11:50 pm Comments (0)

I’ve been listening to the MC5 tonight. Various live and demo recordings of a band that loom large in my history of rock music. The particular video I have chosen to feature is poor quality but it transmits the excitement of finding a band and revelling in the most deadly dual guitar attack known to Mankind.

Another video that is interesting is Rambling Rose – featuring Wayne Kramer on vocals rather than the Afro haired Rob Tyner. I love the girl that introduces this video surrounded by balloons. Television has come a long way since. But just play attention to Wayne’s guitar playing. You may notice that the audience seems disinterested, while the roadies enjoy sharing a spliff and bopping along.

Ramblin Rose

If you want to them in context of what was going on in the the MC5s world then you need to watch a short Spanish-subtitled documentary:

MC5 documentary

May 15, 2006

Solar Race

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 11:32 pm Comments (0)

This is entirely due to The Ghosts that I have returned to listening to Solar Race. Their Hoodoo Voodoo track reminded just how good a female fronted punk band can be. So many alternative bands try to use a female singer with a melodic voice – and end up with a pastiche of pop music like The Primitives (no fun in my sun! what a lyric). But, for me, there is nothing like an angry woman shouting and screaming. I do have a penchant for the shouting to be done in the German language, but I’d better keep quiet about that.

I knew nothing about Solar Race. They don’t even feature on allmusic.com. However, I somehow acquired their Homespun album in 1997. With Solar Race, it was pure, beautiful, inspirational anger (and lots of loud guitar as well. I’m sure The Ghosts will appreciate that they were from Salford and therefore check them out. There’s a glorious legacy to be explored.

(edited, now that I have found at least one of the Solar Race members on MySpace)

Solar Race on MySpace

Nostalgia Part 3:Teenage Jesus and The Jerks

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 9:38 pm Comments (0)

It’s all getting so nicey nicey on here isn’t it? Loads of compliments for melodic masterpieces and I even managed to mention The Beatles without losing any stomach lining. I’ve obviously gone soft and learnt to appreciate other people’s point of view. But it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when music was there to thrill me and leave others floundering in incomprehension, when my friends would physically restrain me from putting on records while they lay around smoking and chilling.

I was reminded of this when I found this video. This is quite simply perfection. Lydia Lunch was Teenage Jesus and The Jerks. And this is what they sounded like:

The Beatles vs The Stones

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 1:23 pm Comments (2)

It’s the age-old question – do you like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? It has used to find out whether you are a Mummy’s Boy or a Rebel, a Rock ‘n’ Roller or a lover of Pop. The truth is that The Beatles weren’t really the clean-cut heroes and they partied almost as hard as The Stones, but musically it is still a defining question.

Forget opinion and let’s look at the Stats. Google Trends is a great new service that allows you to compare the search volumes for different terms. Let’s see what Google says of the battle Beatles vs Stones:

beatles vs stones

The surprise to me is that they were fairly close in 2004, I had always assumed that The Beatles would be far ahead. In 2005 onwards we see The Stones taking over as their longevity and continued touring makes them clear winners.

Google Trends (Beatles vs Stones)

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