As with any artist whose career spans more than several LPs (let alone 30-plus) it’s often difficult to pick a peak. That said, there is little doubt that 1973 featured Van Morrison at one of his highest of his highs. With numerous hits under his belt, some flops, and some good and bad times ahead, he set out across America and England with as powerful a set as any band could claim at the time.

The expanded It’s Too Late to Stop Now proves the original (now Volume I) was hardly a one-off in terms of the quality of the performances therein. That release was seemingly a live Greatest-Hits-Til-Now with some other bangers mixed in; Volumes 2, 3, 4 and their accompanying DVD prove that the three-month tour was one massive highlight and a mere sampling of what Morrison, and the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, could do.

The forty years in-between its original release and present day have muddied the context of It’s Too Late To Stop Now, an album from a promotional tour in advance of Hard Nose The Highway. Morrison is decidedly Irish in popular context, but his first ten years as a solo artist were almost entirely spent in America – New York and Northern California to be exact. The band for Hard Nose, like It’s Too Late, was entirely American. The aloof, or otherness, that Morrison has become known for was an entirely new concept to him in 1973 – a dynamic performer that had become introverted, scared in many ways of the scope of his own success.

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In the early ’70s,  progressive rock band Träd, Gräs & Stenar emerged from the Swedish “New Left,” part of the counter cultural “music movement,” bearing a unique sound with elements of Swedish folk, Bay Area psychedelia, the minimalism of Terry Riley, gutsy American R&B and blues, and the British rock inspired by it.

Formed in 1969 after Bo Anders’ previous groups Pärson Sound and International Harvester ended,  TG&S recorded an excellent self-titled studio album, but like their counter parts on the American West Coast, the Grateful Dead, the group’s power was best exhibited in a live setting. In the interest of documenting the group’s in-concert power, Anthology Recordings released a tremendous box set earlier this year, featuring three documents of that live wildness: 1972’s Djungelns, ‘73’s Mors Mors, and Kom Tillsammans, featuring previously unreleased material recorded in ’72.

Often, the group’s live sound is droning and mantric, group vocals tangled up with steady rhythms and repeated riffs, but sometimes it melts into pure blues-driven freakout mode. Even when the band approaches conventional pop material, like their cover of the Stones’ “The Last Time,” it’s stretched and mutated. The group’s sound wasn’t necessarily one of direct political action; in the liner notes, bassist Torbjörn Abelli writes: “We were invariably criticized by the representation of the orthodox Left: ‘Why aren’t you out there protesting? The masses are listening to you — and all you can do is sing about the MOON!?'” But it was the sound of a kind of rebellion, a “ritualistic battle cry” for freedom, Abelli writes.

Träd, Gräs & Stenar :: Sanningens Silverflod

Aquarium Drunkard reached out to Träd, Gräs & Stenar guitarist Jakob Sjöholm for insights into the group’s influences, progression, and the Swedish counter culture of the late ’60s/early ’70s. Like the band’s legendary live sets, Sjöholm’s answers flowed in unexpected directions.

Aquarium Drunkard: Where did your interest in music start?

Jakob Sjöholm: The first memory I have is from when I was three or four years old…my uncle used to come and visit us in the countryside during summer and there was an old harmonium he used to play and sing old Swedish folk songs on. I was completely spellbound by this and never wanted him to stop playing. He visited us every year and that was always the highlight of the summer for me.

AD: What were the circumstances behind you joining Träd, Gräs & Stenar?

Jakob Sjöholm: [Pre-Träd, Gräs & Stenar group] International Harvester was a band, but also a collective of different artists. As an example, we had a performance installation at the Pistolteatern [a theater] in Stockholm in 1968 where we used music, painting, photography, films, theater etc. I was [initially] involved in this larger Harvester collective, [which grew into Träd, Gräs & Stenar].

dungen

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

The Lagniappe Sessions return with Dungen whose 2015 lp, Allas Sak, remains one of our favorite releases of the past year. Below, the group take on the underknown Wil Malone composition, L.A.; appropriate as the session was recorded by Josh Conway in Atwater Village while Dungen were in town touring behind Allas Sak. Next up is a reimagining of Aphex Twin’s – “Alberto Balsalm”, originally found on 1995’s …I Care Because You Do. An organic take that does Richard D. James proud.

Dungen, on their selections, below . . .

Dungen :: L.A. (Wil Malone)

Wil Malone is still something of a hidden treasure. He is mostly known for his string arrangements for artists such as Massive Attack, The Verve and others but also for scoring film-music. In the late 60s and early 70s he recorded a lot of ”demos”, mostly where he played most of the instruments himself. He also made an amazing folk-pop record, now ultra-rare, and also created the more progressive outfit ”Motherlight”. This track is taken from the un-released second album from 1970/71, also recorded by his group Orange Bicycle. We hope our version gives it some kind of justice. Going to an L.A.session and also ending the last tour in the US the very same day, this song finally made it as an obvious pick for us. – Reine Fisk

Dungen :: Alberto Balsalm (Aphex Twin)

It’s a all time classic for me. My elder brother and his friends were arranging raves in the mid 90s and Aphex Twin was one of the gods, and still is, for us. – Gustav Ejstes

Lagniappe Sessions Archives / imagery via d norsen

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Welcome to the third episode of Aquarium Drunkard’s Transmissions podcast, our recurring series of inspired conversation and unexpected sounds.

On this week’s episode Jason P. Woodbury speaks with Nashville-based guitarist William Tyler. As a sideman, Tyler’s guitar work has appeared on records by Lambchop, Charlie Louvin, Candi Staton, Hiss Golden Messenger, Silver Jews, Wooden Wand, and dozens more, but since the dawn of the decade, he’s focused mostly on his own records, vivid instrumental soundscapes which connect country and folk traditions to kosmische musik and ambient soundscapes. His latest, Modern Country, was released earlier this month via Merge Records, and it’s his most expansive yet. With a full band including Phil Cook and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche in tow, Tyler paints a view of America in all its fractured complexity, evoking beautiful landscapes and forgotten rogue states. The songs act as views from back roads, and even as Tyler eschews lyrics, he nonetheless tells stories with his sounds. Sally forth…

Transmissions Podcast :: William Tyler’s ‘Modern Country’

Subscribe to the Aquarium Drunkard podcast on iTunes or via RSS feed.

music

It’s a great idea to cover Brian Eno’s deathless “Music For Airports 1/1” in the style of Miles Davis’ electric jazz masterpiece In A Silent Way. But does the Long Beach, CA-based collective Psychic Temple actually deliver on this promise? Oh, yes. Led by guitarist Chris Schlarb (and featuring living legend Mike Watt on bass), the group breathes new life into Eno’s becalmed masterpiece, opening it up and unlocking its mysteries, while still remaining faithful to the source. Swirling electric keyboards, shimmering guitar, Miles-ian trumpet and a bubbling, flexible rhythm section all combine for 16-and-a-half minutes of pure sonic bliss. Eno would probably love it. Hell, Miles might’ve loved it too. And the flip, an extended workout slyly called “Music For Bus Stops” is just as solid, a strutting original that suggests Psychic Temple may have nothing but great ideas. words / t wilcox

Related: Psychic Temple :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

artworks-000164270754-n1qt6w-t500x500Don’t let the all-American corporate name fool you. Wells Fargo were an edgy, guitar driven and politically dangerous band from 1970s Rhodesia — a group that defied the odds of political apartheid and took incredible risks in performing their music. While their sound draws parallels to the more melodic works of Jimi Hendrix and (especially) Black Merda, Wells Fargo cut a unique take on rock n roll; one of haunting melodies and relentless rhythm.

At the time this style of music was known simply and appropriately as ‘heavy rock’ in Africa, and the groups playing in this style adopted the stance of peace, love and unity, all the while being seen as a crucial force in the liberation movement of the continent. Influenced by the screenings of Woodstock, several rock festivals were organized in the 1970s, proving to be culturally progressive — progressive in that they were fully integrated during a time in which segregation was still an ugly reality. “Watch Out”, the group’s most famous recording, was adopted by the liberation movement as a theme song, prompting the menacing investigative arm of the Rhodesian government’s Special Branch to spy on both the group and their fans. It was this political heat that eventually resulted in the brutal beating of the band by police following a concert brought to an abrupt halt.

Wells Fargo :: Watch Out

The Beatles proved to be a massive influence on the heavy rock scene, and Wells Fargo brilliantly adapt the ‘Norwegian Wood’ riff onto the the beautiful “Bwanawe”. Pressed on yellow/ green swirl vinyl, complete with a 12”X12” book of historical notes and rare photos, this release is essential for both fans of guitar driven psych and music of the people. words / d see

Wells Fargo :: Bwanawe

kKacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum are second cousins, barely past the legal drinking age in their rural home, and have been playing music together for over a decade. Their music is steeped in the traditions of Southern Appalachia, the British Isles, and their Saskatchewan homeland, yet it is wholly forward-looking. Their recently released third full-length is a monumental leap forward for the duo, and one of the finest Canadian folk albums in decades.

Front and center on Strange Country is Kacy’s subtle and twisting voice and Clayton’s fingerstyle guitar. Her voice reminiscent of many others—yet completely unique—and his playing as tasteful and versatile as it is virtuosic. Shuyler Jansen’s production is expert and unobtrusive—always letting the two speak for themselves. Arrangements for songs about murder, jealousy, and infanticide are augmented with an occasional rhythm section, well-placed effects, and a bevy of other instruments.

Unlike their earlier work, Clayton joins his cousin on vocals for a large portion of the album, and Strange Country is mostly originals—each as timeless as the three traditional songs they take on. “Seven Yellow Gypsies” is the best of the traditional bunch, with their rollicking version faithfully paying it backward to Shirley Collins. Closer “Dyin’ Bed Maker” offers a glimpse of where the duo might be headed—Clayton’s pendulum-like playing anchoring Kacy’s hypnotic voice and swirling strings.

The heirs to Canada’s abdicated folk throne have truly arrived. Long may they reign. words / k evans

Kacy & Clayton :: Seven Yellow Gypsies
Kacy & Clayton :: Dyin’ Bed Maker

daveExtremely sad to wake up to the news of British folk legend Dave Swarbick’s passing at the age of 75. Swarbrick was the violinist on several Fairport Convention classics, played in a duo with Martin Carthy, made countless records on his own … and much more. The guy was a wizard, and could light up a room with his easy grin.

In a cruel twist, today sees the release of Live in Finland 1971 via Real Gone Music, capturing Swarb and Fairport blazing through an all-too-brief festival set of excellent Britfolk boogie. The raw, righteous recording features the band just after guitarist Richard Thompson exited. But even without their resident six-string genius, Fairport is a force to be reckoned with here, careening with thrash metal speed through some well-nigh unbelievable jigs, reels and traditional tunes, Swarb gleefully at the helm. Check out his fiery violin/guitar duels with Simon Nicol on “Matty Groves” and “Journeyman” for a blast of pure, raging glory.

For an incredible visual complement to this highly recommended set, dig in (for the first or hundredth time) this wild clip of the same Fairport lineup summoning the wild sprit of untamed Albion at the first Glastonbury Fayre. Farewell, Swarb, and thanks for the music. words / t wilcox

tumblr_nssrdpqJls1tqfiweo2_500Our 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 435: Jean-Michel Bernard – Générique Stéphane ++ Damo Suzuki / Kraftwerk ++ The Young Senators – Ringing Bells pt. 2 ++ Les Olivensteins – Fier De Ne Rien Faire ++ White Fence – Trouble Is Trouble Never Seen ++ Ghetto Cross – Dog Years ++ Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Wawa ++ Thee Oh Sees – Tidal Waves ++ Ty Segall – Cat Black ++ Willie Loco Alexander – Gin ++ Omni – Wire ++ Deerhunter – Leather Jacket II ++ Parquet Courts – Paraphrased ++ Klaus Johann Grobe – Ein Guter Tag ++ Belong – Perfect Life ++ Faust – It’s A Bit of A Pain ++ Ty Segall & White Fence – Scissor People (Room 205 Session) ++ Billy Changer – Chiller ++ Golden Daze – Wildcard ++ Lower Dens – Tea Lights ++ Deerhunter – Dr. Glass ++ FELT – Something Sends Me To Sleep ++ Krano – Mi E Ti ++ John Cale – Cable Hogue ++ Arthur Russell – Oh Fernanda Why ++ Ultimate Painting – Kodiak ++ Cass McCombs – Big Wheel ++ Television – Marquee Moon ++ The Chills – Pink Frost ++ Omni – Jungle Jenny ++ The Cure – I’m Cold ++ Ought – New Calm pt. 2 ++ The Fall – C.R.E.E.P. ++ The Clash – The Call Up

*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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