Our ongoing collaboration with Zach Cowie, aka Turquoise Wisdom, returns with How Small We Are – A Mixtape. Tune in and turn on this Friday as Cowie guests on our SIRIUS show – channel 35, noon EST.

How Small We Are / A Mixtape

**playlist / provenance after the jump


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 432: Jean-Michel Bernard – Générique Stéphane ++ Tommy James – Midnight Train ++ Caetano Veloso – Nine Out of Ten ++ Della Humphrey – Dream Land ++ The Combinations – While You Were Gone ++ Mighty Voices Of Wonder  – Every Year Carries A Number ++ Francis Bebey – Douala, O Mulema ++ Jim Woehrle & Michael Yonkers – Monkey’s Tail ++ Glenn Mercer – Twenty-Nine Palms ++ Laurie Anderson – Example #22 ++ The Raincoats – Running Away ++ Devo  – Satisfaction (demo) ++ The Slits – Instant Hit ++ Feelies – Fa Ce La ++ Patti Smith – Kimberly ++ Jerry Jeff Walker – About Her Eyes ++ The Everly Brothers – Illinois ++ Charles Bradley – Changes ++ Gladys Knight & The Pips – The Tracks Of My Tears ++ Minnie Riperton – Les Fleur ++ Link Wray – Fallin’ Rain ++ Nina Simone – To Love Somebody (Paris 1968) ++ Mariah – Shisen ++ Bola Sete – Ocean Waves ++ Odetta – Cool Water ++ The Mamas & The Papas – Snowqueen Of Texas ++ Irma Thomas – I Done Got Over It ++ Michael Nau – Your Jewel ++ Jennifer Castle – Keeper of the Mountain (The Flatlanders) ++ Brightblack Morning Light – Amber Canyon Magik ++ Gillian Welch – Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor ++ Joan Shelley – Jenny Come In ++ Marisa Anderson – Into the Light ++ Glenn Jones – Flower Turned Inside-Out ++ Duo Ouro Negro – Kangrima ++ King Sunny Ade – Eje Nlo Gba Ara Mi ++ Alice Coltrane – Turiya and Ramakrishna ++ Brian Eno – Another Green World

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


Before Jimmy Buffett became a corporation, he was a rangy and somewhat ragged country-folk singer/songwriter living a low finance life, still discovering his marketable Margaritaville persona. One of the projects he worked on in those early 70s Key West days was the soundtrack for a now mostly forgotten, but oft-times beautiful impressionistic fishing film / hippie travelogue called Tarpon.

At the time, Buffett was hanging out with a group of fellow cosmic American artists, all in search of fun and adventure. These included writers Tom McGuane, Richard Brautigan, and Jim Harrison, painter Russell Chatham and film makers Guy de la Valdene and Christian Odasso (Odasso had recently completed We Have Come For Your Daughters, which followed a 154 person bus and truck tour spreading “the gospel of flower power” throughout the U.S.). In a 1986 posthumous article about Brautigan in Rolling Stone, this group was described as a loose collective of “rough cut, highly competitive male artists.”

And though they were competitive, there was an overriding camaraderie among the men – evident in de la Valdene’s and Odassos’ Tarpon film. Tarpon is a fishing film in the same way John Lurie’s surreal early 90s Fishing With John series is about fishing. The sport is partly a vehicle to explore larger philosophic questions and reflect on nature and humanity.

Tarpon :: Soundtrack Excerpt One

Buffett’s soundtrack is low-key, laid back country akin to the textures on his albums of the time – A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, Living and Dying in ¾ Time, and A1A – but all instrumental. The music accentuates the cinema verite / pseudo-documentary nature of the film. The hippies, the tourists, the grizzled old salts; atmospheric, moody shots of fly fishing in the sub-tropical heat and giant tarpon jumping in the scattered sun (bringing to mind the cinematography of Peter Fonda’s 1971 The Hired Hand). Informal interviews with McGuane and Brautigan are highlights, Brautigan’s in particular as he expounds from a hammock, one of the only existing instances of him ever captured on film.

It’s not all existential mellowness, however. In a particularly brutal and jarring sequence, a deckhand on a tourist excursion fishing boat wears a “shark killer” t-shirt and seems to take perverse pleasure in clubbing small sharks to a bloody death while the passengers watch uneasily, not sure whether to laugh or look away.

country soul sisters 3

Giddy on up and adjust your hi-fi for our third round-up of songs concerning life, love and loss by the Queens of Country Music.

Aquarium Drunkard Presents: Country Soul Sisters III – A Mixtape


In the market for an expansive, dreamy headphone record par excellence? You couldn’t do much better right now than Ears, the latest by Bay Area composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.

Mining influences like the minimalism of Terry Riley, Suzanne Ciani and Laurie Spiegel, the films of Hayao Miyazaki, and the cartoons of Jean Giraud Moebius, Smith’s vision is kaleidoscopic and breathtaking, equally evoking rich earthiness and cosmic expanses. It’s an enveloping, moving record, blending woodwinds played by Rob Frye of Bitchin Bajas, bubbling arpeggios, and Smith’s vocals, multi-tracked and densely layered.

AD spoke with Smith from her home, where she was prepping for her upcoming tour with Animal Collective, packing last minute provisions and gearing up for live performances.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith :: First Flight

Aquarium Drunkard: I have my own personal experiences listening to Ears, but I wonder: Were you trying to evoke anything like a specific mood on this record?

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: My intention was to create a sonic motion ride through a futuristic jungle. I wanted it to be heard straight through, from beginning to end, so that it feels like it has an intentional arc to it. Well, it’s pretty straight “up,” so it’s more a ramp than an arc. I can’t presume everyone will listen to it straight through, but that was my intention.


“Anybody can throw a bunch of licks at your face,” Endless Boogie’s Paul Major writes in the liner notes of Anthology Records‘ new reissue of Ilian’s 1977 pop gem Love Me Crazy. “Communicating, telling the story is where it’s at.”

“When you hear my songs, you always good,” Leon D. Nahat — Ilian himself — says from his place in Flagstaff, Arizona. “When you hear a song and you want to play it again, that’s a formula for success, I think.”

As is the case with many neglected private-press records, success, at least in the form of chart-topping singles, didn’t happen for Ilian. But that other part — about writing songs you want to play again as soon as they finish — Love Me Crazy has that going on in spades. Ilian’s guitar pop is ebullient. The ping-ponging riffs of the title track, the jazzy glide of the spiritually seeking “Saturday Song,” the propulsive groove of the instrumental “Wildman” — these are songs with heart and a tunefulness. Influenced by disparate groups like the Stones, the Beatles, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Paul Davis, the songs reflected Ilian’s personal taste and desire to pen universal kinda songs.

When Ilian had recorded it, he was something of a rock & roll veteran. He got his start in Detroit, where he formed a band called Fat Daddy Puck in 1970, covering blues rock by groups like Savoy Brown, Butterfield Blues Band, and the Yardbirds. The group moved to Phoenix, Arizona, soon after. “We took over Phoenix, pretty much,” Ilian says. Along with the move came new stylistic touches, and he began to incorporate jazz touches and R&B. Ilian began to narrow in on the kind of music he wanted to put on tape. “I was completely into writing tunes that could get played on crossover stations.”

Fat Daddy Puck came to an end, but Ilian quickly find himself playing in Zephyr, replacing guitar hero Tommy Bolin, whom he’d met when the bands played a gig in Phoenix. His stint didn’t last long — he apparently distracted the crowd too much from front woman Candy Givens. He made his way back to Phoenix, where he ended up backing up Dottie West and Chuck Berry for a series of shows. “He needed some back up players,” Ilian says of Berry. “A club owner got me and Doug Brown [Fat Daddy Puck keyboardist] to back him up. That was a lot of fun — we tore it up. I was following him around, tuning his guitar while was doing his Chuck Berry shuffle.”

From Arizona, he decamped to Hermosa Beach, where he built a small studio to record his new songs, songs like those that appear on the re-pressed record — progressive, sophisticated pop songs. He recorded a lot there, though sadly, much of the material has been lost, including a record he sent to CBS and never got back. But thankfully Love Me Crazy managed to get pressed, by a small label called Album World out of Nashville. It was a “tax-loss” label, Major writes in explains in the notes, which pressed small quantities of records “with a goal of losing money on them to scam the IRS.” It wasn’t a square deal, but at least it allowed his songs to get out there. The new deal with Anthology promises to reach even more people, a prospect that delights him. “They’re doing a great job  getting the album out there.”

After Love Me Crazy‘s release, Ilian focused on his career outside of music — doing quite well with a water systems company and coin dealing — but he never quit music, playing to this day. “I never quit writing,” he says. “I have a plethora of new songs.” Particularly excited about a new one, an easy, breezy song called “Don’t Worry About It.” It’s the kind of song he’s spent his entire life trying to write — an ode to positivity in the face of bad deals and bummers. “It relates to everybody,” Ilian says, humming a few bars. “People let things get to them in life, all the trials and tribulations, and they think they’re not going to make it. I say: don’t worry about it.” words / j woodbury

Ilian :: Saturday Song

peterfrontpicCleveland guitarist/singer/songwriter/scenemaker Peter Laughner, best known for co-founding Rocket From The Tombs and Pere Ubu, died at far too young an age in 1977. But he managed to pack an astonishing amount of activity into his short life — including a tangled relationship with Television, Tom Verlaine’s pioneering CBGB-centric NYC band. Over the years, countless myths, legends and half-truths have been built up about this relationship, often going way beyond “just the facts.” Fortunately, Cleveland punk scholar/Laughner archivist Nick Blakey has gone above and beyond and written Let Me Take You To The Empty Place, the definitive history. It’s an essential longread.

As a soundtrack to Nick’s essay, we’ve got two raw-but-right documents: Laughner’s early 1976 tape of a Television set at CBGB (kindly supplied by Peter’s friend and collaborator Don Harvey), along with a home recording of Peter and Don in Ann Arbor, featuring some of his own distinctive originals (check out the gorgeous rendition of “Amphetamine), plus covers of The Velvet Underground, Richard Hell … and Television, naturally. words / t wilcox

Download: Television – CBGB, January 1976 (zipped folder)

Fire Engine / Prove It / Little Johnny Jewel / Psychotic Reaction / Friction / Guiding Light / Let Me Out / Kingdom Come

Download: Peter Laughner – The Ann Arbor Tape, February 1976 (zipped folder)

Candy Says / Fire Engine / Blank Generation / That’s The Story Of My Life / Dead Letter Zone / Amphetamine / Venus de Milo

The Outtakes of David Bowie's Iconic “Heroes” Album Cover Shoot (8)

David Bowie had a habit of covering the songs of other artists, sometimes sublimely, sometimes woefully. In turn, covers of Bowie songs range from the “why?” (see Barbra Streisand’s “Life On Mars?”; well, don’t really) to the weird to the rare version that manages to surpass the Bowie original.

The earliest hail from a time when Bowie was as much a jobbing songwriter as he was a performer. Scraping together a living in part by doing lyrical translations for Israeli and Belgian composers, Bowie made demo after demo, which his manager sent to the likes of Peter, Paul & Mary, Jefferson Airplane, Chris Montez, and Tom Jones, with no success.

A few took chances with Bowie’s material in the Sixties. In 1965, Kenny Miller sang Bowie’s fledgling composition “Take My Tip”. There was Billy Fury’s go at “Silly Boy Blue”, with Fury gamely handling lines like “yak-butter statues/ that melt in the sun.” Better still is The Slender Plenty’s version of a song that Bowie never recorded (though a demo exists): “Silver Tree Top School For Boys,” in which masters and boys in a public school share joints on the cricket pitch.

Giving Bowie a push after a halt in momentum (he’d had a UK Top 10 hit with “Space Oddity” but his follow-up singles stiffed) was Peter Noone’s take on “Oh! You Pretty Things,” a UK #12 in 1971. Noone and his producer Mickie Most tweaked the lyric (the earth is a “beast” here, not a “bitch”) and smoothed the song’s rough edges. Bowie played what he called “composer’s piano” on the recording, needing multiple takes to get through it, as his hands would cramp up at the keyboard.

Bowie also offered one of his strongest compositions of the period, “All the Young Dudes,” to Mott the Hoople. It was a bequest to a band he liked, and it essentially marked the end of Bowie, Songwriter. Having become a cross-Atlantic rock star with Ziggy Stardust, he no longer had to market his compositions (with a few exceptions—he wrote for Ava Cherry, Mick Ronson and Tina Turner, among others).

So here’s a dig through the Bowie catalog, as heard through the voices of others. We start with a track originally from Bowie’s 1967 debut LP. – Chris O’Leary

White Fence – “She’s Got Medals”: As the chassis of Bowie’s gender-fluid “She’s Got Medals” is the garage band staple “Hey Joe,” it’s fitting that White Fence (Tim Presley and friends) showcased the song’s Nuggets qualities in a 2013 Aquarium Drunkard Lagniappe Session.

Lucien Midnight – “Space Oddity”: For grandeur, there’s the astronaut Chris Hadfield singing “Space Oddity” from space; for eeriness, there’s the Langley Schools Music Project, who sound like the children of Village of the Damned singing in harmony. Lucien Midnight (pseudonym of Montréal’s Frank Fuller) made Bowie’s trademark song a washed-out, bummed-out internal conversation: “la planète terre est bleue, qu’est-ce que tu m’veux ça me calisse?” (roughly “planet earth is blue, so why the fuck should I care?”). Major Tom also wears a fur hat here, not a helmet (well, he is in Montréal). From 2008’s Champion des Choses en Bois.


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 431: Jean-Michel Bernard – Générique Stéphane ++ Billy Changer – Chiller ++Emerald Web – Flight Of The Raven ++ Harumi – What A Day For Me ++ Truck – Earth Song ++ Mandy More – If Not By Fire ++ Tages – You’re Too Incomprehensible ++ Twice As Much – The Spinning Wheel ++ Tangerine Peel – Trapped ++ Twice As Much – Play With Fire ++ Catharsis – Masq ++ Víctor Jara – El Aparecido ++ Natty Bump – Theme From The Valley Of The Dolls ++ Kōji Ueno – Professor Persec ++ Fuat Saka – Atladım Girdim Bağa ++ Carl Erdmann – Devil Worship ++ The Vampires Of Dartmoore – Tanz Der Vampire ++ Rock Revival – Venus 2038 ++ The Network – The Boys And The Girls ++ Broadcast – Long Was The Year (Black Session) ++ Broadcast – Where Youth And Laughter Go (Black Session) ++ Broadcast – Message From Home (Black Session) ++ Broadcast – Echo’s Answer (Black Session) ++ Broadcast – Dead The Long Year (Black Session) ++ Broadcast – Look Outside (Black Session) ++ Broadcast – Papercuts (Black Session) ++ Broadcast – Lights Out (Black Session) ++ Broadcast – Hammer Without A Master (Black Session) ++ Spike – Kanti Dadum ++ Creation Rebel/New Age Steppers – Earthier Line (AD edit) ++ Jan Hammer Group – Don’t You Know ++ The Headhunters – Mugic ++ Woods – Sun City Creeps ++ Dion – Purple Haze ++ Talking Heads – Double Groove (unfinished outtake)

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