Terry-Allen-piano-Gary-Krueger-web

An outlaw of his own accord, Terry Allen’s output across a drove of mediums has remained open and engaging for over four decades. The Lubbock, TX native is a stalwart storyteller, oftentimes softening the lines of genre in both music and visual art. At age 72, Allen maintains a rigid work ethic, carrying with him the rich history from which he came.

Seminal 70s recordings Juarez and Lubbock (On Everything) are resolute, meant to be absorbed in their entirety. With humor and a gift for songwriting, each finds Allen subtly giving the middle finger to any and all expectations of what Country is or should be. Ahead of their reissue for Paradise of Bachelors, we spoke with Terry at home in Sante Fe, NM.

Aquarium Drunkard: What are you working on currently?

Terry Allen: I just put up a new piece I’m calling Memwars. It’s a sequence of about nine stories. Each of them kind of lead to the making of a song. How songs come about, stories of people I knew from childhood, relatives, incidents. Things that somehow ended up being a song and stories that talk about the idea that some songs don’t become what they really are until something happens after the song is written. Takes them a while to become what they are.

AD: You’ve worked across so many mediums over the years. When do you know a song should be a painting/drawing or vice versa?

Terry Allen: I don’t think in that way in terms of division. I figure there is an unlimited availability to just about anything you do. It kind of depends on what the idea is. What the circumstances are. I don’t think ‘oh well, I’m going to use this or that”, it just comes out of whatever the thinking concerning the work is. Like this piece is entirely a video installation (Memwars). There are three videos. Two of them are moving across a wall from one another. Constantly moving…the story videos. Just basically talking heads. My head and my wife, Jo Harvey, who I use a lot when there is acting involved. We’re just telling the stories. When they stop, it goes to a stationary wall. A song wall where the song is played. It’s just me playing a piano in front of a green screen with images that relate to the stories.

AD: You’re living in Santa Fe now. What drew you there?

Terry Allen: We lived in California for years. Lived in LA for all the 60s. Bay Area most of the 70s and then in the Central Valley. I taught at Fresno State for seven years and then quit, but we stayed on there and our kids grew up there. When they got out of high school and were ready to leave, we were ready to leave too. Deciding whether to come back to Texas or somewhere back in this part of the world. I booked a bunch of gigs in Texas. All over. We stopped in Santa Fe cause we had always traveled through here and really liked it and found a house just on a fluke that we really liked.

We changed our whole life overnight. Buying this house and selling the one in California. That’s how we got here. We lay pretty low when we are here. Low as snakes basically. We both travel a lot so when we are here we are in our studios. My mother did play her last professional job at the La Fonda hotel in in the lounge. We’d drive over from Lubbock to play the gig and I’d sleep in the booth. And we’d drive back after the gig. I had a history in Santa Fe.

AD: Speaking of family, can you tell me about the dance hall your folks ran when you were growing up, Jamboree Hall?

Terry Allen: My dad was a baseball player but he was nearly 60 when I was born. So he didn’t play anymore. He had a chance to get to get a hold of a defunct gospel church and he turned it into a dance hall on the weekends. He ended up getting a wrestling promotership and started throwing wrestling matches and would move to another building. He had moved out to an aircraft hangar. On Friday nights he would have these all black incredible dances with T-Bone Walker and Jimmy Reed. On Saturday nights he’d have all white country music. It was heavily segregated in Lubbock at the time. All these touring bands. Everyone was a touring band. People like Hank Williams or B.B. King. They were all traveling in one big station wagon with bass and drums on top.

Black_Sabbath

Like so many facets of modern life, music fandom prior to the birth of the Internet was a different time. While a large swath of the history of recorded music is now but a search engine query away, in those pre-Internet days it wasn’t so easy. [our shot slowly fades into sepia…] Much of my free time was spent hovering over fading music magazines in the library (both in print and microfiche), soaking up reviews/interviews, as well as digesting tomes such as The Rolling Stone Album Guide (think of it as the allmusic.com of its time). One thing I could never understand were the near unanimous critical beatdowns that were regularly bestowed upon the mighty Black Sabbath during the 70s. Like many, my own record collection began as hand-me-downs from family members, and several Sab slabs were among the records I voraciously spun on the regular. How DARE these writers rip a band like this?!

While music history can sometimes (often?) be full of bogus revisionism, the rise of praise for Sabbath is one area of reappraisal that was long overdue. Today, it’s en vogue, almost cliche, to site these Birmingham lads as an influence. This writer is no jaded cynic, and it pleases me to no end that seemingly everyone from twee indie rockers to the sludgiest bongwater scented riff-meisters now cite the influence of the band.

The past two decades have been swell times for the fans; not only have we seen and heard the unthinkable (reunion gigs with all four members), but the band has continued on and released new music that has served as a fitting epitaph to their legacy. In conjunction with the band’s final tour, Rhino records has begun a massive campaign of reissues – full of rarities that were previously unissued in the states – that sends them out in style. Thus far, the first three albums have been released, and they sound fantastic. In addition to music, the packaging features in depth notes, rare photos, and graphic reproductions of extremely rare international vinyl releases.

The self-titled first album (released Friday, February the 13h, 1970 in the UK) is a milestone, and one that many fans and critics cite as the birth of heavy metal. This raw, timeless to the bone record was said to have been recorded in a mere twelve hours, in a single day. The original release is a stone classic, and showcases the band with very few overdubs. The alternate take of “Black Sabbath” shows just how fully formed the band’s ideas were when they entered the studio to cut their debut. There may be a few slight flubs (and it’s also missing the glorious end tag), but ALL the elements are there. In fact, it was a struggle to hear ANY differences in the alternate version of “The Wizard”; it’s remarkably close to the released version. This band was tight. “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” is one of the most memorable tracks from the debut album; its shifting grooves and menacing vocal sounded like nothing else before it. With this reissue, we now have an alternate version with a single tracked Ozzy vocal as presented here. The released version is freakier, but it’s interesting to hear it in a more raw form, here.

While the debut album became an underground success, the group followed its release up quickly with Paranoid in September 1970. With this record, the band became a massive success, hitting the #1 spot in the UK album charts, and #12 in the US (where the group received little to no airplay). The title track also hit #4 in the UK charts. As Paranoid was written quickly in the studio, an alternate take is presented in this set which features an entirely different set of lyrics. While the released version is undoubtedly superior, it’s a fascinating listen. The alternate version of “Planet Caravan” is a revelation; not only does it feature alternate lyrics, but the vocal is straightforward here, without the trip underwater effect as heard on the released version. The Paranoid bonus disc features several instrumental outtakes which clearly demonstrate the remarkable musicianship of the band. “Electric Funeral” is especially interesting, as the guitar part is presented sans wah-wah.

Black Sabbath :: Planet Caravan (alternate version)

tumblr_nzft1kryOx1r8o359o1_1280“What good that mounting sky for the grounded such as I?” Texas-based singer/songwriter Dana Falconberry sings on “Dolomite,” from From the Forest Came the Fire, her new LP with her band, Medicine Bow.

The album is filled with this kind of query, about nature, Falconberry’s relationship to it, and her persistent awe in the face of its overwhelming state.

On the record, Falconberry sometimes recalls the haunted tone of Sufjan Stevens’ Seven Swans or the ornate complexities of Joanna Newsom, with whom she shares some vocal inflections. But like those two, she’s quick to expand outward from her folksy roots in singular ways, employing progressive rock arrangements on the knotty “Snail Shells,” sock hop textures on “Calling Mountain,” and percussive ambiance on the beautiful “Powerlines,” with producer Jim Eno dubbing out clattering loops under Falconberry’s swooning melodies.

The songs here embody a kind of patience, a steady forward motion, no doubt linked to the songwriter’s time backpacking and exploring National Parks. “I used to see natural beauty more for its face value, and now I’m more interested in the mystery [of] the unseen,” Falconberry told Rookie Magazine. “I like to imagine stories about the trees and rivers and mountains, using those natural elements more as characters instead of settings.”

On the stately “Alamogordo” she dives into these mysteries, examining the destruction and rebirth inherent in a forest fire. “Wait for a call to fit the fire, some elemental noise,” Falconberry sings, spookily. It’s those kinds of noises she’s captured on this wonderful album. words / j woodbury

Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow :: Powerlines

Lee Michaels 5th Sleeve

Lee Michaels :: Heighty Hi

Golden-Daze

LA’s Golden Daze released their salt-cured, self-titled debut last month via our Autumn Tone imprint. We recently aired the following session on Sirius – now available for download – including non-album track “Within”. Roll the windows down, press play. Golden, indeed.

Golden Daze :: Low (Aquarium Drunkard Session)
Golden Daze :: Salt (Aquarium Drunkard Session)
Golden Daze :: Me Llamo (Aquarium Drunkard Session)
Golden Daze :: Within (Aquarium Drunkard Session)

lizzy

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. Today’s guest host is Jack Sills, surf Yoda and director of licensing for Light In The Attic Records.

SIRIUS 429: Jean-Michel Bernard – Générique Stéphane ++ The Panthers – Malkaus ++ Françoise Hardy – Je N’Attends Plus Personne ++ Witch – Home Town ++ McKay – Eleanor ++ C.O.B – Spirit Of Love ++ Ernie Graham – The Girl That Turned The Lever ++ Ted Lucas – Baby Where You Are ++ Kevin Morby – Caught In My Eye ++ Neil Young – Razor Love ++ The Feelies – It’s Only Life ++ Television – See No Evil ++ Nick Lowe – I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass ++ Howard Werth – Obsolete ++ The Plugz – Blue Sofa ++ Suburban Lawns – Anything ++ Dead Boys – All This And More ++ Tracy Bryant – I’m Never Gonna Be Your Man ++ Adult Books – Nihilism for Beginners ++ Billy Changer – Here We Are Waiting ++ Numb.er – Fear ++ Mammane Sani et son Orgue – Tunan ++ Spike – Fooling Around ++ Marcos Valle – Nao Tem Nada Nao (II) ++ Homeshake – Moon Woman ++ Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Wawa ++ Dip In The Pool – On Retinae (West Version) ++ Haruomi Hosono – Sportsman ++ Daniel Johnsson – Taco Nights ++ Sly – Spirit ++ Lee Moses – Bad Girl (Extended) ++ Pat Hervey – Pain ++ Little Ann – Deep Shadows ++ Willie Dunn – The Pacific

*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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NUM58CDSo, that whole “cosmic American music” thing.

What exactly was Gram Parsons getting at when he first muttered it? Each element of the term is loaded — the cosmos are awful big. So’s America. Did Parsons mean country music okay for hippies to dig and play? Rural music as informed by grass as the dirt? A melange of uniquely American musics: soul, R&B, folk, blues, western swing, and rock? Did the Flying Burrito bro mean for it to become an idea bigger than him, a sort of ambiguous legacy left behind after he space cowboy-ed his way up to the big western in the sky?

It’s the ideas Gram inspired and that famous quote which give Numero Group’s excellent new compilation of private press country rock gems its name. Don’t get hung up on “cosmic American music” as a genre. Like “country funk” or “loner folk/psych,” you can spend many enjoyable hours debating exact definitions. Ultimately, it’s less about specifics and more about feeling. The songs on Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music help draw a picture of what Gram might have meant. They’re rurally rooted, often soaked in pedal steel, but not confined by strict adherence to anything other than good grooves. Most were created outside of the Nashville machine, issued on fledgling labels or the artists themselves.

Under this particularly open banner, there’s lots of room for diversity. Kathy Heidiman’s perfect “Sleep A Million Years” sounds the way the McGarrigle Sisters might had they jammed with Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen; Angel Oak’s gorgeous “I Saw Her Cry” sounds like a less sinister John Phillips’ outtake from Wolf King of L.A.; Kenny Knight’s sly “Baby’s Back” could find a home on a Tony Joe White record or, if someone stepped up on a stomp box, even a mid-70s LP by ZZ Top. It’s good stuff. Things get sad — hear the weeping harmonies of White Cloud’s “All Cried Out” —  and they get sexy, like on Ethel-Ann Powell’s smooth come on “Gentle One.”

Some of the songs get spacey, some not so much. But the records collected here share a spirit, a homespun vibe. Mostly, they sound like songs that would work well in a bar on any given night, the kind of barroom Mike and Pam Martin sing about in their great cut “Lonely Entertainer.” You get the sense these two weren’t concerned with psychedelia or the cosmos the way Gram might have been, but their song still taps into the mystic vein beneath the mundane. “Every song I sing begins to sound the same,” they harmonize. The line resonates in ways they never knew it could, or always knew it would. words / j woodbury

Kathy Heidiman :: Sleep A Million Years

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Cheap Trick needs precious little in the way of an introduction. Roaring out of Rockford in the early ’70s, the band’s stayed on a remarkably consistent career path for decades, hewing close to a muscular framework of guitar-driven glam riffs and sturdy, pop-based song craft. Anthems like “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender” bridged arena rock bombast with power-pop melodicism, hard rock heft with a nearly punk intensity. The band’s latest, Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello, is its first in seven years, but the 11 songs featured show little wear on the band’s singular style. Even if drummer Ben E. Carlos is missed — Daxx Nielsen mans the drums for the quartet these days — songs like the over-the-top “Long Time No See Ya” and “Heart on the Line” are meaty and exuberant.

Chatty and quick with a Midwestern self-deprecating dig, Rick Nielsen spent some time with AD on the phone to discuss the new record, playing with John Lennon, and recording with the late George Martin. Below, edited excerpts from our conversation.

Aquarium Drunkard: Congrats on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Have you guys been working on something cool for the ceremonies?

Rick Nielsen: Uh, no. [Laughs] I don’t think so. We’re a little new to it, so…

AD: Well, everyone’s new to it. You only get inducted the once.

Rick Nielsen: Well yeah. If we screw it up, it was the best we could do, and if we do good, it’s a fluke.

AD: Let’s talk about something you might have some more thoughts about, your new record, Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello.

Rick Nielsen: It was a lot of fun to make. We made it over a year and a half. [We did] about seven songs in L.A., and we went back and did eight more, and then we did eight songs in Nashville, and did seven more [in L.A.] It was kind of fun. Not everything sounds the same. Sometimes in the studio you get tunnel vision, but [this one felt] a bit fresher.

AD: Cheap Trick spends a lot of time on the road. Compared to a lot of other bands who’ve been around as long as you, you tour an awful lot.

Rick Nielsen: I tell people if we waited around for a hit to go on tour, we’d never tour. I see other groups saying, “We’ve got this big tour lined up, we’re doing 60 shows.” I say, “60 shows? [Laughs] That’s just getting warmed up.”

Crazy Elephant

“Gimme Gimme Good Lovin” bubblegum this is not. Via our Transcendence mixtape, found here. . .

Crazy Elephant :: Dark Part Of My Mind