medicine-head-natural-sight-dandelion-3At a time when prog and glam were in the ascendant, Medicine Head stood out—or rather, they didn’t. Their lack of showiness just made them look all the more freakish: a two man band consisting of a singer-guitarist (who also handled kick drum and high hat) and a Garfunkel-like assistant on harmonica. There is something ascetic and hobbled about them. Their sound, however, is all the more remarkable for being so pared down and rudimentary. Even at their most hard-rocking, they could still be sketchy in their approach.

We’ve all seen those classic album documentaries during which a wizened engineer will fade a song’s constituent parts in and out—and there’s always that eerie moment, when suddenly we hear an old song anew because just one or two of its ingredients have been isolated. Well, Medicine Head, at their best, seemed to thrive on that same eeriness, tearing just a few threads from a larger tapestry and letting them lie there in a crumpled heap. Here you go.

The band did, however, have two wildly opposing sides to their sound. One side was a brand of British Blues that was ad-hoc and anti-purist (e.g. they weren’t seeking to replicate the blues, but to mess around with it in the abstract). The other was a blend of psychedelic folk that, because of the band’s format, came out dirge-like and otherworldly, as if The Velvet Underground had gone and produced a Donovan album.

It was John Peel who rush-released a Medicine Head demo titled ‘His Guiding Hand’ as the band’s first single in 1969.This was the same year as Norman Greenbaum’s ‘Spirit in the Sky,’ so the un-ironic religiosity of the song isn’t completely out of left field. What is striking is its melancholy, accentuated by the low-key vocal and the accordion-like drone of the harmonica playing. Here we have a blurring of the Sacred and Profane, a redemptive longing, which wouldn’t have been out of place in Donne or Herbert: ‘He put me in the spirit. He took the tooth by the jaw. He brought me to his feet with his guiding hand.’

Medicine Head :: His Guiding Hand

Also remarkable is how these two guys could shift gears completely and still (due to limits in instrumentation and personnel) sound like the same band. Listen to the way they tackle Dylan’s ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,’ and manage to actually turn it into a blues, albeit one that sounds like it’s about to be exiled on main street. Unlike Nina Simone’s beautiful, languid cover from the year prior, or even Dylan’s original, this is not pretty stuff. This is sun-stroked and hungover with the dust in its eyes. Listening to it, I’m always reminded of a joke Dylan made in an interview when asked about a screenplay he was supposedly writing. Asked what kind of film it was, Dylan replied, ‘a cowboy horror movie’. For me, this will always be the track that should have played over the opening credits. words / dk o’hara

Medicine Head :: Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues

allahlas

Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST. Our compadres the Allah-Las guest host this week.

SIRIUS 353: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ The Allah-Las – Busman’s Holiday ++ B.F. Trike – Be Free ++ Dinosaurs – Sinister Purpose ++ Flaming Groovies – Golden Clouds ++ The Ramones – Oh Oh I Love Her So ++ The Nerves – Stand Back And Take A Good Look (Demo) ++ Chris Spedding – Bored Bored ++ The Lovin’ – I’m In Command ++ Giant Jelly Bean Copout – Awake In A Dream ++ Velvet Underground – I Found A Reason (Demo) ++ Mahmoud Ahmed – Wogenie ++ Agincourt – Mirabella ++ Trap Door - £™ ++ Human Expression – Calm Me Down ++ J.J. Cale – In Our Time ++ West Coast Consortium – Listen To The Man ++ Wimple Winch – The Last Hooray ++ The Squires w/ Neil Young – I’ll Love You Forever ++ Erasmos Carlos – Grilos ++ Lazy Smoke – There Was A Time ++ Bob Lind – Cool Summer ++ Nico Gomez And His Afro Percussion, Inc. – El Condor Pasa ++ Ted Lucas – Now That I Know ++ The Troggs – Push It Up To Me ++ The Flying Burrito Brothers – Tried So Hard ++ The Equals – Can’t Find A Girl To Love Me ++ The Dovers – About Me ++ The Blue Rondos – Little Baby ++ Margo Guryan - Sunday Morning ++ Neil Diamond – Someday Baby ++ Brinsley Schwartz – Hymn To Me ++ Creation – How Does It Feel To Feel ++ Jonathan Halper – Leaving My Old Life Behind ++ Blue Things – High Life ++ Chico Buarque – Funeral De Um Lavrador ++ Arzachel – Queen St Gang ++ Savages – I Believe ++ Druids Of Stonehenge – Speed ++ Flamin Groovies – Shake Some Action ++ Kim Jung Mi – Oh Heart ++ Misunderstood – I Can Take You To The Sun ++ The Allah Las – Da Vida Voz

*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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ernie-k-doe

Take a soulful trip from the handclappin’, hopscotchin’ sidewalks of New York with Shirley Ellis, down to New Orleans to do the Te-Ta-Ta with K-Doe and on up to Memphis for some soul stew from Otis and Sam & Dave. Through the unbeknownst participation of all these soul masters, Hipshakers & Heartbreakers follows the chronology of a ragged man who had it all then sadly lost it.

Hipshakers & Heartbreakers Vol. I

HARVEST RECORDS

Just over ten years ago, in the spring of 2004, two recent college graduates drove to Asheville, NC, to look into opening a record store there. Neither Matt Schnable nor Mark Capon had ever visited the peaceful Western North Carolina city. Two days into the trip, the pair signed a lease on an old building in a run-down historic district in West Asheville. A few months later, they were living together in a one-bedroom apartment above their new shop, Harvest Records; doing everything they could to ready the space by its August opening date.

In the decade that’s followed since they welcomed the first customer through the doors of Harvest, Matt and Mark have carefully carved out a friendly, bustling environment that defies record store stereotypes and attracts music lovers from across the globe. They’ve also released records from the likes of Steve Gunn, Floating Action and the ever-elusive Brightblack Morning Light, and organized hundreds of live performances with artists ranging from El-P to Rodriguez to Stars of the Lid.  The duo’s boundless energy has galvanized Asheville’s music community, as well as the now vibrant neighborhood Harvest calls home.

This Labor Day weekend, the store will celebrate its tenth Anniversary with Transfigurations II. The multi-day, multi-venue extravaganza features thirty bands, including the Clean, Lee Fields & the Expressions, Mudhoney, Michael Hurley, Sonny & the Sunsets, Endless Boogie, Little Wings, Angel Olsen and many, many more fantastic acts beloved by the AD readership. Most of which will be performing on an island in the middle of picturesque Marshall, NC. In anticipation of this upcoming soiree, we tracked down Mark to ask him a few questions about the last ten years. He and Matt also took the time to compile a collection of songs that reflect their first decade in Asheville. Enjoy.

AD showOur 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 352: 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 Velvet Underground – Oh! Sweet Nuthin’

*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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aq_sidecar_15

Ghana / Nigeria / Jamaica / Senegal & beyond. More freeform interstitial airwave debris transmitting somewhere off the coast of Los Angeles. This is transmission fifteen.

Direct download, below. The first fourteen transmissions can be found and downloaded, here.

MP3: Sidecar: Transmission / 15

Intro
Mor Thiam – Ayo Ayo Nene
Fela Kuti – Lover
Ebo Taylor & Uhuru-Yenzu – Love And Death
The Reggae Boys – Selassie
Willie Dickson & The Playboys – Lickin’ Stick
The Fabulous Three – Django’s Soul
Ofo and The Black Company – Allah Wakbar
The Dutch Rhythm, Steel & Showband – Down By The River

Subscribe to future transmissions via iTunes and/or through the RSS, HERE. Imagery via d norsen.

Brian_Wilson_1976

This clip, from an NBC special on connection with the release of the 15 Big Ones album, featuring the Beach Boys singing “live” with the Alexander Hamilton Double Rock Baptist Choir, is eyebrow-raising for many reasons, most obviously Brian’s physical appearance as he was clearly struggling with health issues connected to his “prescribed” public re-emergence from the reclusive lifestyle he adopted in the late 60s and early 70s following his retreat from live performance. The marketing tagline for album was “Brian Is Back!”, which arguably didn’t ring fully true until fairly recently; nevertheless, it’s a treat to see him and the rest of the band (including Mike Love in full-on TM turban mode) in this setting, complete with obvious lip-synching and the haphazard editing job (watch the piano play itself at 2:50). Dated? Yes. An improbable combination? Perhaps, but like the Grateful Dead, whose name carries a heavy stigma to the uninitiated, the Beach Boys (especially the post-1970) consistently struggled to re-define themselves beyond the trappings of their original incarnation (hot rods, teenage love, surfing, etc) while managing to deliver some of the most soulful, spiritual music of their time. Surf’s up!  words / r wilson

Robert-Mapplethorpe-in-front-of-his-cover-for-Patti-Smith’s-Horses-c.-1975The second disc of Patti Smith’s 2002 compilation, Land (1975-2002), is comprised mostly of live recordings and a handful of outtakes. However, sitting side by side are two beautiful demos – both of which are a must-hear for Patti enthusiasts, or really anyone interested in her saga-oriented, meticulously crafted, art-rock.

First up is a demo of “Redondo Beach,” found on Smith’s masterpiece 1975 debut, Horses. The demo differs most noticeably from the studio version in that the drums are absent, allowing the reggae inspired organ and bass-line to really shine through as Patti recites the tragic and hypnotic story of a lover’s suicide. The near-tropical party vibes of the instrumentation, coupled with Patti’s vocal delivery, somehow both deadpan and heartfelt, play off the grave nature of the lyrics in a way that is mesmerizing and, in the best possible way, unsettling.

The second demo is of “Distant Fingers”, a track originally found on Smith’s 1976 lp, Radio Ethiopia. A bewitching plea of desperation, the narrator longs to be taken away from a dream-shattering Earth, and into her lover’s space-bound ship – arguably one of the more affecting alien metaphors ever committed to tape. Whereas the demo possesses a similar cadence to that of “Redondo Beach”, the studio version emits an industrial, almost dubby bass groove, with bursts of shimmering electric guitar, not unlike something you’d hear on an Eno or Gary Numan record of the era…though Lenny Kaye’s guitar lines ascend into something entirely more ablaze. The demo is heavier on the organ, a deep, resounding reggae groove. The bass-line, here, while still dub-oriented, intertwines with the organ into an almost hypnotic drone. As guitar tweaks and shrieks, Smith delivers her spoken word poetry over this sonic wave of energy, while we, the listener, feel as though we are floating out into the orbit while Patti despairs, restlessly, on Earth. words / c depasquale

Patti Smith :: Redondo Beach (Demo)
Patti Smith :: Distant Fingers (Demo)

3709957343_e1a63c6ef7_o

One thing fans of Chicago-based Drag City Records have always hoped for was a full-album collaboration by their two all-star players, Will Oldham and David Berman.  To this date, that has yet to happen. However, this rare 7”, Silver Palace – Mr. Jews, released in 2005 and limited to 500 copies on Drag City/Sea Note Records, attempts to resolve any remaining inquests surrounding this topic. What follows are some tough questions given straightforward answers by the artists themselves…sort of.   words p dufrene

Silver Palace :: Will Oldham Speaks His Peace
Silver Palace :: Dave Berman Tells His Side Of The Story