had an exciting year of discovering new music in 2018, and most of it
was made by ladies and/or Japanese folks. Combining the best of these
two trends, young Haruna Kimishima goes by the stage name Haru
Nemuri ("Springtime Sleeping") and comes across on her debut album with
a merger of Yoko Ono's unrestrained shrieking and Patti Smith's intense and emotive poetry, though she's hardly a copy of either. More review soon!
- Haru Nemuri "Haru To Shura" 2018 (Japan)
this year's Zappa-themed show, perhaps the most interesting non-Zappa
album that is totally Zappa-related. Not only are all but one of the
tunes Zappa compositions, recent Mothers of Invention Ian Underwood (arranger, conductor, reeds) and Art Tripp (percussion) play on it, as does future Mother George Duke and some of the same studio pros that played on Hot Rats and The Grand Wazoo. Plus of course, Ponty himself played his electric violin on Hot Rats and toured as a member of the Mothers around the time this album was being recorded. More review soon.
- Jean-Luc Ponty "King Kong: John-Luc Ponty Plays the Music of Frank Zappa" 1970 (France)
Also, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's slightly Christmas-like song "Mottai-Nightland", wishing you a baffling pink icecream poo holiday (see about 2:00 into the video)!
The Residents could be the weirdest group of all time, and they are certainly the most obscure. More review soon.
- The Residents "The Third Reich 'n' Roll" 1976 (USA)
A one-off album by an obscure late psychedelic / Hendrixian wannabe heavy latin rock band; more review soon!
- Broth "Broth" 1971 (USA)
Blackfoot (born Benjamin Franklin Van Dervort) is a fairly obscure
singer/songwriter whose career began in Ohio in the late 1960's. His
first album The Ultimate Prophecy
(1970) included a side of short commercial songs aiming for radio (but
failing to hit), and a sidelong suite of super-heavy mystical folk
poetry stuff. His second album is this week's CAOTW, recorded several
years later in New Zealand of all places; once again, an entire side of
the record is a mystical-poetic folk/rock epic (the title track plus
concluding movement "Ride Away", presented as a separate track since it
was released as the single from the album). The other side consists of
(again) short commercial songs, including one novelty country number
called "Flushed You From The Toilets Of My Heart" which got some play
on the Dr. Demento show (where I heard of J.D. first!) On the show I
called this his "most ambitious album", but he actually made a lot of
ambitious albums, and the topper must be The Legend Of Texas Red (2012), a triple-CD, 43-song concept album clocking in at three and a half hours!! (I've never heard that one before.)
- J.D. Blackfoot "The Song Of Crazy Horse" 1974 (USA/New Zealand)
Mitchell celebrated her 75th birthday last week! This week's CAOTW is a
somewhat polarizing album from the period where she was at her peak of
commercial success, following her most popular studio album Court And Spark and obligatory rockstar double-live album Miles Of Aisles,
both released in 1974. As great artists often do, she followed these
hits with a more eclectic album that pushed her style further in the
direction of her own version of "jazz fusion", in this case fused
with her own unique style of songwriting which never fit properly into
the folk scene any more than her "jazz" would fit into the jazz scene.
At this point, she was still playing with rock-oriented jazzers,
including folks who played on records by Steely Dan (Robben Ford, Larry
Carlton, Skunk Baxter, Victor Feldman) and Frank Zappa (John Guerin,
Max Bennett), plus of course some of the usual suspects from the Cali
Smooth Mafia (Crosby, Nash, James Taylor). By
the end of the decade, her touring band included legendary fusionistas
Jaco Pastorious and Pat Metheny, while heavy hitters like Herbie
and Wayne Shorter appeared on her albums.
- Joni Mitchell "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns" 1975 (Canada)
In other "weird girl pop" news, Poppy's second album has arrived and it's a bit of a surprise! I believe one of Poppy's secret influences is the Japanese "rapping, dancing mannequin" duo FEMM, who also specialize in three minute girl power pop ditties and act like robots.
nearly Halloween, which means I like to do a heavy metal themed show,
and Judas Priest so far wins the prize this year for being the classic
artist of yesteryear who put out a surprisingly vital new album: Firepower (2018) is Priest's 18th album in 45 years, and it's certainly their best album since Painkiller
(1990) at least, rivaling the best albums from their period of peak
popularity in the 1980's. So this week's CAOTW is an overlooked
record from 30 years ago (the first third of their very long career!) Ram
is not considered a classic by too many folks, receiving "two stars"
from Allmusic.com, and wikipedia notes the album received "negative
reviews" upon release. But I find it to be a solid batch of their
80's-style metal anthems with production that is overly slick and "very
eighties" in a way that makes it a cool period piece rather than a
dated bore. For example the song called "Heavy Metal" begins with an
over-the-top guitar solo before a riff kicks in . . . on the
synthesizer?! They also do a strangely dramatic rearrangement of
Chuck Berry's classic three-chord rocker "Johnny B. Goode" (which I
played on the show last month). The story behind this album is that
they had originally intended a double album of half synth-driven pop
metal, which eventually became the album Turbo (1986), with the other half being heavier songs which eventually became Ram It Down. Though both of those albums are the synthiest and most eighties-ish of their career, Ram is not nearly as wimpy as Turbo (which was a better seller). In fact, coming after that album and Defenders Of The Faith (1984) which is another overly slick record I'm not fond of, Ram seems to me to be a return to form that points directly towards the thrash-inspired Painkiller
that followed and rejuvinated their stalling career somewhat
(though they stalled again soon after when legendary vocalist Rob
Halford quit the band, though he returned in 2005). Fun fact:
since guitarist Glenn Tipton is semi-retired due to age affecting his
playing, that means bassist Ian Hill is arguably the only constant
member of the group since the beginning! He must be the most anonymous
musician who's ever been in a major band for almost a half century! (I
have long suspected Hill was an inspiration for the character Derek Smalls).
- Judas Priest "Ram It Down" 1988 (UK)
In other news, this week I got to see Public Image Ltd. on their "The Public Image is Rotten" 40th anniversary tour! I've never had a chance to see The Artist Formerly Known As Rotten
before, and I must say his "unique" voice sounds as strong as ever, and
his current group is one of PIL's best lineups (it's actually 3/4 the
same guys as the late 1980's version of the band, tying things back to
the CAOTW -- though the records they were making back then aren't as
good as the last one they did). This
current version of PIL has been playing together since 2009 and is a vital
contemporary band, even if most of them are sporting grey hair and
bifocals these days!
But wait there's more - that Haru Nemuri
chick I keep going on about has released a couple more
singles in the last month and is starting to get more attention,
including this article in English with interview
(I suspected "Haru Nemuri", which translates as "sleeping springtime",
was not her real name -- indeed, the gal's name is actually Haruna