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)

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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

roger-miller

Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing.

As the guitarist for post punk legends Mission of Burma, Roger Miller has played in some pretty crazy locales over the years, but he has never before boarded an airplane intent on playing in a divided country balancing the tensions behind a potential outbreak of civil war. What had before been an expected week of exciting performances with Alloy Orchestra (in which Miller plays keyboards) was now filled with curiosity as to how the people of the Ukraine were reacting to these developments, and what would it mean for the band and the concerts? There was only one way to find out, so he took his seat on the plane to Kiev and wondered what lay ahead… Part one can be found, HERE.

Morocco

It’s always a trip to hear a cover that takes a piece of music and flips it on it’s head. In addition to countless original compositions, 70s folksong seamstress Melanie is no stranger to the art of a finely crafted cover…giving them not only a fresh tone and perspective, but at times a completely different story. Here, the stalwart British monotone of a young Mick Jagger is replaced by an anxious-sounding quiver of a voice leading up to a wailing symphony of a chorus. Calm contrasts orchestrated calamity in this rousing rendition, from haunting, quiet meditations of loss, to the passionate awareness of the solace of setting someone free.  words / p dufrene

Melanie :: Ruby Tuesday

http://www.glendenny.com/index.html

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 Twin Peaks guest host the first hour and a half of the show today. Pick up their new full-length, Wild Onion, here.

SIRIUS 351: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane  ++ Twin Peaks – Stand In The Sand ++ No Thing On Me — Curtis Mayfield ++ Girl Friend — Modern Lovers ++ No Regrets — King Khan And The Shrines ++ Night Starvation — Cleaners From Venus ++ Vicious — Lou Reed ++ Whos Heart Is Yours Now — Ne Hi ++ Our Love Will Still Be There – The Troggs ++ Do You Love Me — The Sonics ++ What Do I Get — The Buzzcocks ++ Born A Man – Bee Gees ++ Pulled Up — Talking Heads ++ Why Cant You — Todays Hits ++ Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You — Bob Dylan ++ The Drawback — Warsaw ++ Im Not Down — The Clash ++ Crackin Up — Bo Diddly ++ End Of The Season — The Kinks ++ Hey Little Girl — The Dead Boys ++ I’m Your Man — Richard Hell And The Voidoids ++ I’ll Keep It With Mine — Nico ++ Apple Scruffs — George Harrison ++ Hold On — Twin Peaks ++ Eyesore — Women ++ Kanti Dadum — Spike ++ Im Set Free — Velvet Underground ++ Sweet Thing — Van Morrison ++ Parquet Courts – Instant Disassembly ++ Pavement – Perfume 2 ++ The Fall – The Classical ++ Pavement – Unfair ++ Deerhunter – Rainwater Cassette Exchange ++ Women – Black Rice ++ Ought – Pleasant Heart ++ Jeans Wilder – Sparkler ++ Jan Hammer Group – Don’t You Know ++ Talking Heads – Love For Sale

*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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eddie rayIf you’ve yet to check out our Blue August Moon mixtape, you can remedy that, here. Setting the vibe early on is Eddie Ray’s haunting and transcendent “You Are Mine.” Carried only by guitar, congas and Eddie’s deep, raspy and, at times, tortured voice, the song speaks volumes for the everlasting notion that less is more.

Featured on Numero Group’s 2007 compilation Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label, showcasing the lost gems and almost hits of the Columbus-based soul label, the track (actually considered an unfinished composition) takes a backseat in the spotlight of Ray’s contributions to the far more produced and show-stopping “Wait a Minute,” a confident, powerful funk groove, equally deserving of its due. Ray sails through that tune with a much smoother and softer vocal delivery, and you might be hard pressed to believe it’s the same voice on both tracks.

But on “You Are Mine,” he sings low, in an almost foreign inflection, and the tune’s spooky, minimal production gives the whole affair a sense of ghostly otherworldliness, far from the flashy funk strut of the former. It’s this one that delivers the chills; the down-tempo beat, the spectral reverb of the guitar, the distant, almost fading taps of the congas, the growling, hurting voice, an unfinished song…  words / c depasquale

Eddie Ray :: You Are Mine

UK Surf

In the United Kingdom of the early 70s, the rock scene wasn’t all about the pillaging of the blues and progressive rock excess. Outside of the hustle and bustle of London, musicians cooped themselves in cottages on the country side attempting to emulate what was coming from the west coast of America at the time. Their American dream sound conglomerated the pristine songwriting of the Laurel Canyon crew, the wandering jams of the Grateful Dead and maybe a little bit of the down home groove of The Band. The English twist they spun on their abstract visions of open plains, good ole times and desert nights was nothing short of confounding. Want some evidence? Grab some wood – we got twelve tracks to prove our point. words / t rettman

A Salute To The All Electric Fur Trapper :: A Mixtape

Help Yourself – Brown Lady
Starry Eyed & Laughing – Going Down
Cochise – Lost Hearts
Sutherland Brothers & Quiver – Flying Down To Rio
Mighty Baby – The Happiest Man in The Carnival
Ashman Reynolds – Come Right In
Keith Cross & Peter Ross – The Dead Salute
Ernie Graham – The Girl That Turned The Lever
Jimmy Campbell – Green Eyed American Actress
Formerly Fat Harry – My Friend Was A Pusher
Quicksand – Empty Street, Empty Heart
Brinsley Schwarz – Surrender to the Rhythm

Aquarium Drunkard Mixtape Archives: HERE

soul_unknown

As a long time fanatic of ’60s soul and rock & roll, there’s no shortage of records whose information is either completely or mostly lost to history. And it wasn’t just small time/small pressing local releases – many were released on moderately large or massive labels (such as today’s offerings). Caveat lector: just because something is rare and/or obscure doesn’t automatically pique my interest; it has to be a great record. These four are very special, and records that (to my ears) had big time hit potential, or in the case of Doris & Kelley, are so unique that they defy logic and remain fascinating through the ages.

Doris & Kelley :: You Don’t Have To Worry (1967)

I am completely transfixed by the psychedelic, deep vibe of this song. Sadly, it appears as if this is the only record that these two made. A pity, but at least we have this one. This is by far one of the ‘stoniest’ soul singles I’ve ever heard; the slow tempo, the lazy (but transcendent) vocals, the droning organ all kinda make me think that this record was heavily influenced by reefer. But maybe it’s simply a coincidence…

The De Vons :: Someone To Treat Me (The Way You Used To) (1969)

It looks as though this glorious group only cut one other 45 (which I haven’t heard). That’s a shame, since they lay down a glorious last gasp of the classic girl-group sound, coming in at a time when funk was the dominant force on the horizon. Perhaps an example of too much too late? Regardless, this is an absolutely amazing song with stellar vocals. Produced by the Godfather himself, James Brown!

The Mellow Fellows :: My Baby Needs Me (1968)

Dot Records was a rather massive label that released records of practically every style of music ever cut to wax. Many of their releases were licensed from smaller labels or fledging production companies. These Mellow Fellows seem to have been either a group put together for this amazing record (likely) or a group with a massive amount of talent that was only given one chance to record (perhaps). Whatever the story, this is one of the most beautiful mid tempo soul ballads I’ve ever heard, oozing with heavenly vocals on top of a catchy, hypnotizing song.

The Other Brothers :: It’s Been A Long Time (1966)

The Modern record label was based in Los Angeles, and they released a massive amount of stellar blues, r&b and soul music; it’s safe to say that this group were probably west coast based. Like many California soul records, it’s groove oriented with upfront drumming and a horn section that’s present but mixed on the lower side. An excellent group vocal (especially dig the shout at the end), a wonderful song, and a groove that MOVES make for one hell of a great record. This seems to be the only release from this particular group.

(Derek See is a Bay area based musician who plays guitar with The Bang Girl Group Revue, Joel Gion & Primary Colours, and occasionally makes records on his own with The Gentle Cycle.)

Al Kooper gets a lot of flack for being a storyteller of the ‘That Fish Was This Big’ variety. As biographer Clinton Heylin (Dylan: Behind the Shades) would have it: “there are lies, damned lies, and Al Kooper’s recollections.”

alkooper-koopersessionsBut what else, really, do you expect from someone who went professional at the age of 14; who stumbled into classic sessions with Dylan and the Stones; who vouched for the American release of the Zombies Odessey and Oracle and wrote the liner notes himself; who shows up in the credits of The Who Sell Out and Who’s Next; who can still be held to account for assisting in AOR staples like “Free Bird”; who could just as easily guest as a guitarist for Rita Coolidge as lay down some synth on a Leo Sayer album; and who wrote songs for The Banana Splits children’s TV show?

Given Kooper’s Zelig-like proclivities of being in the right places at the right times, his tall tales seem justified. Tasked with explaining how he came up with the idea of putting together the brassy rock outfit called Blood Sweat & Tears in 1967, he deviates in typical Al Kooper fashion:

‘One particular night, Jimi Hendrix, B. B. King, myself, and an unidentified drummer and bass player were going at it all night at the Cafe Au Go Go… At daybreak, when we finished playing, they put the house lights on and somebody observed: “Christ! Look at the organ! There’s blood all over the keyboard!” Sure enough, I had cut my hand playing, and in the state of bliss induced by my compatriots’ sound had not felt a thing. What a great album cover, I thought. No. What a great name for a band.’

Kooper cut a number of collaborative albums over the course of his career. The most famous of these is probably Super Session, which, with the help of Stephen Stills, produced a hit version of Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’. Less well known is his follow up session with the wunderkind Shuggie Otis from 1969, when Otis was still just the guitar-slinging whiz kid (whose dad also happened to be Rhythm and Blues impresario Johnny Otis). Called Kooper Session, and bluesy at its core, the album is pretty so-so compared to the heights that Otis would later scale into the Soul Genius pantheon. However, one track in the middle of the album does stand head and shoulders above the rest: a cover of Little Buster’s “Lookin’ for a Home”.

Al Kooper & Shuggie Otis :: Lookin’ For A Home

Listen to the way in which Kooper slows the tempo down, then brilliantly harnesses the production to balance out his own limitations as a vocalist. Listen for how upfront the backup singers sound when they arrive, and the way they keep humming underneath Otis’s wonderfully Allman-esque solo. It’s tear-your-heart-out blue-eyed soul, yet we’re somehow not too far away from Darondo either. There’s even just a gleam (not so accidentally, given that Kooper played on it) of Dyan’s New Morning. And if ‘I was lost by the river…’ isn’t the best way to begin a plea for new mornings, I don’t know what is. words / dk o’hara