morby

Friday, February 27th, Aquarium Drunkard presents an intimate evening with Kevin Morby and Jessica Pratt in Long Beach. Location to be announced.

Limited capacity. Tickets available for purchase, here. We have a few pair to giveaway to AD readers. To enter, leave you name and a valid email address we can reach you at in the comment field. Not one to be missed.

yahphet-kotto-blues

Actor/producer/musician Yaphet Kotto laid down this dark slice of soul in 1968 via the Chisa label. Proto-rap in its delivery, “Have You Ever Seen The Blues” rides the cymbals like Max Roach, all percussive piano with Kotto spitting lines like “..and all the while visions of suicide were boogalooin’ in your head and you was thinking how you might as well be dead.” And then shit gets real.

Sourced from a 45 picked up for ten cents, the track was part of our 2010, two-disc Ponytone compilation.

Yaphet Kotto :: Have You Ever Seen The Blues

wizzDylan’s magpie genius of course exerted its influence over the British folk scene of the mid-1960s. The Incredible String Band, however, were the ones perhaps most responsible for breaking the British folk idiom wide open, taking it back from the purists and making it strange again. They were weird but in the same way that Blake is weird, in the way that British children’s books have always been weird too. Had it not been for Robin Williamson and Mike Heron, on the one hand, and perhaps Sunshine Superman-era Donovan on the other, we can easily say there might never have been a Village Green Preservation Society, no Arnold Layne, no Astral Weeks, no Bron-Y-Aur Stomp. Without the ISB—and, after the first album, there were really just the two of them, despite the ‘band’ moniker and the enlistment of romantic partners—British music of the Sixties might never have savored its folk inheritance to such a startling degree, not too mention its essential poetry.

Here’s Dylan, in a 1968 interview in the long-running folk rag Sing Out!

SO: Do you see the Beatles when you go there or they come here? There seems to be a mutual respect between your musics—without one dominating the other.

Bob Dylan: I see them here and there.

SO: I fear that many of the creative young musicians today may look back at themselves ten years from now and say: “We were just under the tent of the Beatles.” But you’re not.

Bob Dylan: Well, what they do…they work much more with the studio equipment, they take advantage of the new sound inventions of the past year or two. Whereas I don’t know anything about it. I just do the songs, and sing them and that’s all.

SO: Do you think they are more British or International?

Bob Dylan: They’re British, I suppose, but you can’t say they’ve carried on with their poetic legacy, whereas the Incredible String Band who wrote this “October Song“…that was quite good.

Hardly faint praise coming from the guy who had just released John Wesley Harding, his last (and in some ways grandest) mytho-poetic statement of the decade. Reaching for a contrast to help suggest how a British poetic legacy might be extended musically, Dylan reaches back to a song (and a not very un-Dylan song at that) from the ISB’s first album. For this to be a go-to example, two years after the fact, its earthy Yeats-ian poetry must have stuck with him. How could it not?

Beside the sea
The brambly briers in the still of evening
Birds fly out behind the sun
And with them I’ll be leaving

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground
They know the art of dying
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts
In the scarlet shadows lying

Syntactically it marks itself out as poetry, but it’s also identifiably folk, despite being written by an Edinburgh wunderkind who knew his Eastern mysticism and other psychedelic touchstones (‘I found a door behind my mind/And that’s the greatest treasure’). Here was, without a doubt, an example of the way pop could become something more than the status quo. Here was a way of carrying the poetic legacy forward.

Which brings us to “The First Girl I Loved”, another Williamson composition, that again illustrated just how rich a folk-rock song could be, the universalism and Everyman strictures of folk this time a’wandering down a personalized, singer-songwritery path. Though nameless, the girl in question isn’t just a disembodied muse anymore (in fact quite the opposite). Imagine a girl from the North Country or Greenbriar Shore or Scarborough Fair earning a few more biographical details, a character who is loved and ambivalently longed for not by you and me and the whole wide world, but by the singer of this song alone. Not back in the days of yore, either—but smack in the middle of the twentieth century (‘house and car and all’). Judy Collins picked it up quickly after its appearance on the ISB’s 5000 Spirits or The Layers of the Onion LP, and quintessential singer-songwriter Jackson Browne later covered it. But the version I go back to most often, more often than even the ISB’s recording, is one by Wizz Jones on his album, When I Leave Berlin (1973).

Jones (despite recently being covered by Springsteen) is far from a household name, even for a musician’s musician. Indeed, for a long time, he drifted in and out of the British Folk scene proper, never having commercial success on the agenda. In Acoustic Routes, a great under-seen documentary about Bert Jansch and British Folk, he’s described by Billy Connelly as a wispy, wandering figure, who’s always been hard to pin down (despite sporting what may well be one the most longstanding haircuts in all of folk). Perhaps, for this reason, he embodies so well the formerly capricious narrator of “First Girl I Loved”.

Wizz Jones :: First Girl I Loved

It is a virtuoso rendering of the song, respectful to the Donovan-like delicacy of the original, but somehow enfolding more blues and more heartbreak into it. The understated delivery is distinctly English (in much the same way English folksingers have traditionally eschewed Celtic lilt by making an art of being undemonstrative). The guitar playing, however, is all nerves and heartbeat. What was wistful before is now shot through with an ache not quite touched upon in the youthful, wide-eyed original. Time has passed (the difference, quite possibly, between 1967’s innocence and 1973’s experience). He may sound like someone absentmindedly talking to himself at the back of the pub, but the content of what he’s saying is so intimate, so deeply fixed in biographical candor and tender allusion, that it feels illicit, as if we’re eavesdropping. There he is now, on his own, recounting his past and his distance from it, speaking nostalgically of something he knows is long gone. Listening to him, I’m always reminded of two lines Leopold Bloom speaks to himself after a long reverie in Ulysses, perhaps the most devastating lines in the whole book: ‘Me. And me now.’ words / dk o’hara

aquarium drunkard show

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.

SIRIUS 373: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Tinariwen – Tenere Taqqim Tossam ++ The Ify Jerry Krusade – Everybody Likes Something Good ++ Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson – Lovin’ You ++ Fatback Band – Goin’ To See My Baby ++ We The People – Function Underground ++ Darondo – Let My People Go ++ Los Issufu & His Moslems :: Kana Soro ++ Moses Dillard – Tribute To Wes ++ Clarendonians – You Won’t See Me ++ The Three Degrees – Collage ++ Gene Boyd – Thought Of You Today ++ Johnny & The Attractions – I’m Moving On ++ Andersons All Stars – Intensified Girls ++ The Ify Jerry Krusade – Nwantinti/Die Die ++ Michael Kiwanuka – Bones ++ Ken Nordine – Hippy Version of The 23rd Psalm (edit) ++ Damon – Don’t You Feel Me ++ Whitefield Brothers – Rampage ++ Elmer & Brenda Parker – Got To Get Me Back To Louisiana Pt. 1 & 2 ++ Marian Anderson – Scandalize My Name ++ Nina Simone – To Love Somebody ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem Pour Un Con ++ Johnny Thunder – I’m Alive ++ Dion – Baby, Let’s Stay Together ++ The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation – Watch ‘n’ Chain ++ The Electric Piano Underground – Good Vibrations ++ Darwin Teoria – De La Ceca A La Meca (Sally’s Uptight) ++ Ike & Tina Turner – Cussin’, Cryin’ & Carryin’ On ++ Lee Moses – Got That Will ++ Black Velvet – Is It Me You Really Love ++ Patrizia & Jimmy – Trust Your Child Pt 1 ++ Penny & The Quarters – You And Me ++ Billy Lamont – Sweet Thang ++ The Mighty Hannibal – I’m Coming Home ++ Brenton Wood – Baby You Got It ++ Simon & The Piemen – Cut It Out ++ Ike & Tina Turner – Bold Soul Sister ++ The Equals – Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys == Nolan Porter – If I Could Only Be Sure ++ Les Surfs – Tú Serás Mi Baby (Be My Baby) ++ Alton Ellis – Whiter Shade of Pale

*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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internationalheroesWaxed around the time he produced legendary recordings by the Modern Lovers, it’s no surprise International Heroes is one of the best albums from the ubiquitous Kim Fowley. Son of actor Douglas Fowley, Kim produced the novelty hit “Alley Oop” in 1960, released several commercially unsuccessful solo albums and produced/composed various oddities for other artists (including Kiss) before eventually unleashing the Runaways on the world. And that’s just skimming the surface. He even found time to write songs with Skip Battin, which were recorded by the Byrds (Untitled LP) and Gene Parsons.

Those who have worn out their copies of Roxy Music/Eno/Bowie albums will be thrilled to exhume this forgotten (read: widely unknown) specimen of oddball glam. Judging from the cover, he didn’t want to leave anyone guessing as to the sound he was shooting for. The platter plays like an instant classic, falling into some no man’s land somewhere between Roxy Music and the New York Dolls. Like Eno, he’s often playing post-punk years before it existed, but Fowley’s songs are looser and more accessible, sure to get you hooked on the first spin. “Something New” is simply a perfect pop song with a great update on a Byrdsian jangle feel. “I Hate You” is a gloomy slice of contempt that’ll leave you feeling good about your shitty mood. “Dancing All Night” rocks like a garbage can bound outtake from Sticky Fingers.

Yet another example of an exceptional rock & roll record that is in dire need of a remastered CD release (though it is on iTunes). And good luck finding any cheap copies on ebay. words / j bonanno

Kim Fowley :: International Heroes
Kim Fowley :: Dancing All Night

chris_forsyth_aquarium_drunkard

Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

This week the Lagniappe Sessions touch down with Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band — fronted by an artist we’ve previously described as your “new favorite guitar anti-hero,” creating music akin to  “Television circa 1977 recording a cover of Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has A Master Plan”. Need we say more?

Here, The Solar Motel Band delve into the majesty of Richard Thompson’s “Calvary Cross” and Paisley Underground giants The Dream Syndicate’s “When You Smile”. Forsyth, in his own words, below…
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Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band :: When You Smile (Dream Syndicate)

Dream Syndicate’s The Days of Wine and Roses is one of my all time most obsessed over records. That and the self-titled Down There EP that preceded it are pure gold, if you ask me. Damn close to perfection. Steve Wynn’s songwriting is at a peak here, and there’s that noir-ish menace that really set The Dream Syndicate apart from the rest of the Paisley Underground bands. Plus, Wynn and Karl Precoda made a really great, essentially raw guitar team (and were fortunate enough to be recorded magnificently by Chris D. on this record). There’s a spark running through the performances that is so rare. Comparisons to the VU and Crazy Horse, etc are easy but I think what they did in 81-’82 is something that I really strive to do with my own music: they internalized their influences so thoroughly that they managed to tap the same energy, the same essential force, that made their models so powerful in the first place. Progress and originality are red herrings, anyway; more like byproducts of a true creative act, not pre-requisites. And people didn’t really care about that stuff so much until relatively recently. Special credit is due to our man Nick Millevoi for just owning the lead feedback on this track. His playing on this reminds me of another of my favorite guitarists who knows a thing or two about the power of channeling spirits in the moment – Keiji Haino.

Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band :: Calvary Cross (Richard Thompson)

I play mainly instrumental music with the Solar Motel Band, but we’ve always peppered our sets with the odd cover with vocals here or there. We’ve tended to gravitate towards epic guitar workouts like Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel” or Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer”, so this song is a logical choice, keeping with the tradition of the iconic jam. I love the studio version of this song on …Bright Lights… but this take is more modeled on the extended live version that appears on the excellent R.T. comp guitar, vocal. I find the chord progression to be really oddly beautiful in it’s simplicity. A descending Am to G to F progression is really common – you’ll find it in countless songs such as “All Along the Watchtower,” “Lover of the Bayou,” shit, even the end of “Stairway to Heaven,” – but this “Calvary Cross” progression, so stately and cyclical, is inverted, starting on the F, then to the Am, resolving on the G. There’s a momentum to it like a pendulum or a perpetual motion machine. It’s always grabbed me. Plus, I feel a strong attachment to the words. This song could be about a mystical/religious experience, obviously, but also a love affair or any kind of very intense relationship. I’ve read speculation that the subject is Thompson’s muse, itself; the compulsion to create. There’s surrender in these lyrics. They’re a little terrifying, but also so full of truth.

Chris Forsyth: guitar, vocal – Nick Millevoi: guitar – Peter Kerlin: bass guitar – Steven Urgo: drums. Recorded and Mixed by Jeff Zeigler at Uniform Recording, Philadelphia, December 20 & 31, 2014.

Lagniappe Sessions Archives / imagery via d norsen.

scott walkerSetting aside his more contemporary avant-garde adventures, We Had It All is a bit of an oddity, even for 60s pop crooner extraordinaire Scott Walker. After releasing some very seminal solo material – four albums in the span of three years during the late 60s – Walker settled into a little bit of mediocrity, a lot of drinking, and then mostly obscurity – recording a series of four albums comprised of no original material.

Enter We Had It All – Walker’s foray into country music, featuring a strange mix of covers, but most notably four songs by Texas legend Billy Joe Shaver. And while he did reunite with The Walker Brothers in the 70s, We Had It All would mark the artist’s last solo album for ten years prior to the release his 80s experimental lp Climate of the Hunter, before progressively pushing the vanguard into the 90s with Tilt and beyond. words / j romo

Scott Walker :: Sundown
Scott Walker :: Low Down Freedom
Scott Walker :: Black Rose

unnamedSince 2005, Tompkins Square’s Imaginational Anthem compilations have offered essential overviews of the rich American Primitive/guitar soli landscape, highlighting the cream of the diverse post-Fahey crop. Label head honcho Josh Rosenthal; put together the first several volumes, but he’s handed over the reins to the musicians themselves. The latest volume was curated by Amarillo, TX-based guitarist Hayden Pedigo (whose Five Steps LP was a 2014 favorite), and it’s a dazzling kaleidoscope of six-string (and sometimes 12-string) sounds, from Norberto Lobo’s bewitching nocturne to Dylan Golden Aycock’s spacious, cosmic ramble. An early standout is Kyle Fosburgh’s lovely tune, “The Great North American Wilderness.” The Minnesota-based player is one of the principals behind Grass-Tops Recording, the label that has released two fantastic Robbie Basho reissues recently. Basho’s spirit is strong in Fosburgh’s contribution to Vol. 7, with its chiming harmonics and sublime, ascending lines. All in all, the latest Imaginational Anthem proves that the possibilities of the acoustic guitar are nowhere near exhausted.  words / t wilcox

Kyle Fosburgh :: The Great North American Wilderness

Welcome to the second installment of an ongoing series with Pickathon, showcasing footage from the Galaxy Barn located at Pendarvis Farm in Oregon. Woods played twice that weekend, once…on the Woods Stage, out in the woods, and once here, inside the barn.