seger

“East Side Story” (1966) isn’t Bob Seger’s debut record (that honor goes to the bizarre pro-war “Ballad Of The Yellow Beret” - an opinion he soon reversed via a record we’ll hear in a bit), but it is a fully realized recording that makes plain from the opening fuzz guitar and bongos it ain’t messing around. Framed by an incredible groove, the track is tied together by Bob’s extraordinary lyric, coupled with the incredibly powerful ‘no’s‘ of the chorus. And while it was picked up for national release by Cameo Records, perhaps the message was still too odious for the masses (although the record was a massive hit in Detroit).

Bob Seger & The Last Heard :: East Side Story

Bob went on to release a few more singles (including the cool Xmas novelty “Sock It To Me Santa”), but it was 1967′s “Heavy Music” that seemed poised to propel the group into stardom. With a soulful groove that swings HARD, exceptional vocals (by both Bob and angelic backing singers, Honey Ltd.) this record should have been massive. Once again, it was a local smash in Detroit.

Bob Seger & The Last Heard :: Heavy Music

By 1968, Cameo had given up on Bob, but he was soon picked up by a much larger label; Los Angeles powerhouse Capitol Records. Bob’s first release for Capitol could not have been less commercial, though. One of the most powerful anti-war tracks ever laid to tape,”2+2=?” completely reverses Seger’s views on the Vietnam war. The vocal intensity alone matches that of Roky Erickson. The record may not have been a hit, but god DAMN does it hit hard with a message is just as relevant today.

The Bob Seger System :: 2 + 2 = ?

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PROTOMARTYR

Saturday night, May 24th, Aquarium Drunkard and Blundertown present Protomartyr @ The Bootleg Theatre. Don’t miss this shit…as noted earlier, this LP is one of our favorite rippers of the year. The Intelligence and Lamps support. We’re giving away tickets to AD readers. Hit us up below with your name and a working email. Tickets available for purchase: here.

Doors at 8 / 21+ / 12 bucks. 2220 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, 90057

“A long time ago I used to hear spiritual singers singing beautiful songs and I wanted to be a singer too. I first started my musical career by singing in small local groups in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. In the year 1968 I came to Seattle and started singing with local groups, but failed to find one that was stable enough to record (with) so I decided to cut an album by myself. The music was written and produced by myself who except for the drum parts, done the entire record.” – Famous L. Renfroe

renfroeThe above quote is the only known context for this incredible, singular, album by Famous L. Renfroe or, as he dubbed himself, The Flying Sweet Angel of Joy. 1968′s Children was reissued in 2008 courtesy of Fat Possum Records, but the details of the album’s original release and reception remain scant.

DIY in approach, there is a homespun, ramshackle fidelity to Children, thanks in no small part to Renfroe essentially performing the entirety of the record by himself. Renfroe’s earnest, gospel delivery comes through in both his singing and his playing and the, presumably, one-take nature of the album really hits home. What’s more, is that Renfroe effortlessly blends his gospel inspiration with a stew of American roots music, resulting in a record that is at once gospel, blues, soul and funk.

As openers go, “Introduction” truly lives up to its title, as it riffs on the aforementioned genres and finds Renfroe declaring himself “The Flying Angel of Joy” who will “fly, fly, into your heart.” “Children” is a slower, more meditative gospel, carried along by wordless humming, while “Believe” rides a funky guitar rhythm, accented by lo-fi, almost tin can-like drums. “It’s So” – a bluesy instrumental with some real vampy guitar – is probably the funkiest cut on here, while other tracks lock into repetitive hymn-like grooves, and create a kind of hypnotic experience akin to attending a revival. It’s at time hard to believe Renfroe actually recorded all the backing vocals himself, as they vary so greatly in pitch and tone — some of the voices truly sound female. Not only is there no proof to the contrary, but each track finds Renfroe delivering such dramatically different lead vocals that it could just as well be true.

Children is one of those singular gems of idiosyncrasy and naturalism, a seamless blend of American form, which we tend to worship. But, as Renfroe would say, “tell it to Jesus…” words / c depasquale

Famous L. Renfroe :: Introduction

cale

In the mid-70s, John Cale recorded a trio of solo albums for Island Records. Ever the forerunner of avant-garde, Cale concocted a heady brew of proto-punk, glam and art pop aided by the likes of Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno. One of the more singular moments of this era appears on the 1975 album Slow Dazzle, wherein Cale delivers a harrowing cover of the King’s “Heartbreak Hotel.” Already nocturnal in its original form, Cale exorcises the material, transforming it into a gothic nightmare. Complete with doomy guitars, spooky sound effects and haunted backing vocals, Cale reaches a visceral apex in the performance, growling and screeching the lyrics, inviting forcing the listener to take part as he changes the perspective from “I” to “we”… ‘could be so lonely/we could die.’

Below, Cale’s raving performance of “Heartbreak Hotel” (circa 1981) on Spanish television. Featuring Andy Summers and “Ollie” Halsall (longtime Kevin Ayers collaborator) on guitars, the band takes a wicked trip down Lonely Street. As Halsall channels guitar feedback from his microphone stand, a deranged Cale, donning a trucker cap, white bow-tie and aviators, breaks into a bastardized version of the robot before “dying” on stage…only to rise from the grave and never look back. words / c depasquale

Previously: John Cale & Friends :: The Ocean Club – NYC, July 21, 1976

ScreenTest-Nico

“She was almost proud of the fact that her teeth were rotten, that her hair was grey…her skin was bad, she had needle tracks all over. She liked that. That was her aesthetic.”

The above quote, attributed to James Young – Nico’s keyboard player from 1981-86 – summarizes the often harrowing watch that is filmmaker Susanne Ofteringer’s 1995 documentary, Nico Icon. It was Young who penned the fascinating on-the road-with-Nico tell all, Songs They Don’t Play On The Radio, chronicling his days in her ad hoc touring band. But unlike Young’s book, which is frequently injected with (and buoyed by) levity, Ofteringer’s Icon is a meditative, often dark, look at the woman born Christa Päffgen. While hardly wholly representative of Nico the artist/muse/person, the film is an engaging 67 minutes beginning with Nico’s early years modeling in Germany and France, onto to her Zelig-like existence moving through sixties pop culture (Alain Delon, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol…) and beyond. And it’s the beyond, Nico’s “desire for her own annihilation”, and heroin, that looms heavily over the remainder of the film.

Nico :: Sixty Forty (Icon version)

Nico Icon is once again (at the time of this writing) available to stream, in full, via Youtube.

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18 years ago Minnesota slowcore vets, Low, released their Transmission ep. At six tracks it housed two covers – “Jack Smith” (a Supreme Dicks cover), and a glacial rendition of Joy Division’s “Transmission“, from which the ep took its name.

Low :: Transmission (Joy Division Cover)

jerrjeffThe man behind “Mr. Bojangles,” songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker is best known for his progressive country work, a catalog that puts him squarely in league with Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Michael Martin Murphey. But Walker’s psychedelic credentials are firmly established too, going back to his early work with Circus Maximus, and wonderfully evidenced by his 1969 LP Five Years Gone. Included in a recent CD reissue by Raven Records alongside Mr. Bojangles and Bein’ Free, the album carefully folds psychedelic flourishes and textures into Walker’s songs, deftly sidestepping between country and folk rock arrangements. “Help Me Now” almost sounds like something Michael Chapman would get up to, and “Blues in Your Mind” achieves the distinction of truly “Cosmic American Music.” Walker covers Keith Sykes’ “About Her Eyes” for the album’s best moment. According to Walker, Sykes “hitch-hiked to New York City from Memphis, Tennessee, to tell me how much he liked ‘Bojangles.’ He stayed on at my house for about a week or so and we swapped songs and this one he played for me.” With its cascading piano and aching pedal steel, Walker sings the song low and hazy, punctuating his lines with a soulful burn. “When she leaves you become quite drowsy/So you recline in your easy chair/She’s left you there to think in silence/About her eyes, about her face and her hair.” Longing as trip, romance as revelation. A Walker cover every bit as classic as his version of Guy Clark’s “L.A. Freeway.” words / j woodbury

Jerry Jeff Walker :: About Her Eyes

aquariumdrunkard_siriusOur weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 341: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Pappy’s Haunted House – Dude ++ Jimmy Thomas – Springtime ++ The Paragons – Abba ++ Big Star – Back Of A Car ++ The Soul Inc. – Love Me When I’m Down ++ Billy Lamont – Sweet Thang ++ Donn Shinn & The Soul Agents – A Minor Explosion ++ T.L. Barrett And Youth For Christ Choir – Like A Ship ++ King Khan & The Shrines – Welfare Bread ++ Flash & The Dynamics – Electric Latin Soul ++ Donald Jenkins & The Delighters: Elephant Walk ++ Symphonic Four: Who Do You Think Youre Fooling ++ Milton Henry: Gypsy Woman ++ Bishop Perry Tills – I Pound a Solid Rock ++ Serge Gainsbourg – New Delire ++ Phil Upchurch – Sitar Soul ++ White Hinterland – Dreaming Of Plum Trees ++ Jan Hammer Group – Don’t You Know ++ Joe Valentine – I Can’t Stand To See You Go ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem pour un con ++ The Three Degrees – Collage ++ Dion – Baby Let’s Stick Together ++ Margo Guryan – Sunday Morning ++ Robert Vanderbilt & the Foundation Of Souls – A Message Especially From God (AD edit) ++ Ned Doheny – I’ve Got Your Number (demo) ++ Daughn Gibson – Bad Guys ++ Glen Campbell – Guess I’m Dumb ++ Jonathan Rado – Valentine’s Day (McCartney) ++ Paul McCartney – Arrow Through Me ++ Gil Scott-Heron – Message To The Messengers ++ Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread ++ Jerry & Jeff – Voodoo Medicine Man ++ Jack Nitzsche: The Lonely Surfer / Oscar Harris: Twinkle Stars Boo Galoo ++ Joe Bataan: Chick-a-boom ++ Jacques Dutronc: Les Cactus ++ The Shadows: Scotch On The Socks ++ Nancy Dupree – James Brown ++ Jackie Shane – Any Other Way ++ The Wallace Brothers – My Baby’s Gone ++ Alex Chilton – Don’t Worry Baby (fragment) ++ Harry Nilsson – Mother Nature’s Son ++ The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (Rehearsal) ++ The Beach Boys – California Girls (Rehearsal) ++ The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl (Rehearsal) ++ The Beach Boys – Heroes And Villains (Rehearsal) ++ Bedlam’s Offspring – I’ll Be There

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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cajun-orchestra

Swamp Pop, Cajun fiddle and zydeco – direct from the original 45rpm releases that spun in every other jukebox and radio station in South Louisiana during the 1950s/60s. All selections culled from inherited 45s, local flea market finds and bazaars. Part one can be found, here: Fais Do-Do: A Swamp Pop Honky Tonk.

Fais Do-Do Vol. 2 :: South Louisiana Saturday Night

Playlist and provenance after the jump…