Archive for December, 2010

Lucky to live where I do


“Everything interesting happens on the boundaries.” – Robert Moss

            Living near Boston which has many, many colleges & college radio stations means I am almost never subjected to the repetitiveness of commercial radio.

            Don’t get me wrong, pop music in all its forms has produced some great popular, even very popular songs, but I typically enjoy more challenging fare.

           One of the great things I find among the college radio shows are bands or songs or dj’s working the boundaries where one or two or even three or four influences get mashed together so something new, greater or more interesting than the sum of the parts is created.

            Locally there are a number of these college radio shows where these types of things can often happen that I try to listen to every week during work from their archived shows.

            One great show was called House Therapy, a show on WMBR (Thursdays nights from 10-midnight EST,, unfortunately this show is no longer on the air). Awhile ago, the first hour of a show was a guest mix by a new UK transplant to the MIT community, Jake Marley Payne (DJ name is Marley-P).

             I pulled this off that show. This is a mash-up, re-edits of Fortune Teller, Cruel Summer & What Did They Say over a skankin’ dub beat, that was about 7-10 minutes in. This is just that part of the mix, about 7 minutes worth, very good:

fortune teller/cruel cruel summer/what did they say

Is this the best Boston rock 45?




All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it.” – James Baldwin

I graduated from a suburban high school near Boston in the early 70’s. Since the late 60’s the album oriented FM stations like WBCN & WCOZ had dominated the rock & roll airwaves in the area but a locally owned upstart low-powered AM station, WNTN, only on the air from  sunrise to sundown started playing new underground bands of that time like Aerosmith (hard to believe that they were once not considered  mainstream), the newly emerging prog rock & krautrock bands coming out of Europe (like Yes, Genesis, Hawkwind, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, etc.) & the gritty proto-punk bands of the American scene like the Stooges, NY Dolls and this band from Boston, the Modern Lovers.

Their first 45 actually cut in the late 60’s had gone largely unnoticed by radio in the Boston area until this upstart AM station picked up on it again.

Hearing this song coming from the tinny mono of AM like all the best Top 40 singles of the sixties was a revelation. My tastes were being challenged again, gravitating from the SF psych & country rock sound, the blues of old & the electric blues of UK rock to something much more primitive, driving, tribal. Of course, the lyrics mentioning places I actually knew, roads I had driven, were icing on the cake.

Modern Lovers – Roadrunner (original 45)

The Salvador Dali of Rock ‘N’ Roll Has Died


“The only difference between a madman & myself is that I am not mad.” – Salvador Dali

December 17, 2010 – Avant-garde rocker ‘Captain Beefheart’ dead at 69

(AFP) WASHINGTON — Don Van Vliet, an avant-garde rocker who performed under the name “Captain Beefheart” and whose artistic influence dwarfed his popular appeal, has died at the age of 69.

Van Vliet died early Friday in northern California following a long battle with multiple sclerosis, according to the Michael Werner Art Gallery, which exhibited his abstract paintings after he left music in the early 1980s.

As the gravel-voiced Captain Beefheart, Van Vliet adopted the wail of blues legend Howlin’ Wolf and melded jazz, blues and rock into a surreal mix that was never widely popular but inspired scores of later artists.

The most famous and influential of his 12 studio albums was 1969’s “Trout Mask Replica,” which was produced by Frank Zappa, who Van Vliet befriended in high school.

Rolling Stone magazine rated it number 58 in its “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” and Van Vliet has been cited as an influence on Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Talking Heads.

“He was like the scout on a wagon train,” Waits told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.

“He was the one who goes ahead and shows the way…. He drew in the air with a burnt stick. He described the indescribable. He’s an underground stream and a big yellow blimp.”

Van Vliet was a notoriously demanding bandleader, and several musicians circulated through Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band from the mid 1960s until the early 1980s.

For “Trout Mask Replica” he was said to have confined band members to a house for months on end and given them names like Zoot Horn Rollo and the Mascara Snake, in an atmosphere some of them later described as “cult-like.”

“If it had been produced by any professional, famous producer… there could have been a number of suicides involved,” Zappa said later, according to the BBC.

By the early 1980s Van Vliet had grown frustrated with the collaborative aspect of the music industry and left it to focus full-time on a successful career in abstract painting in which his works fetched high prices.

“Part of why I stopped doing music was because it was too hard to control the other people I needed to play the stuff, and I’d had enough animal training,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990.

“When it comes to art, I have a real streak of fascism. I want it to be exactly the way I conceive it, and if one line is changed it’s like, ‘Hey, the hell with it, I don’t need it.'”

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

in memeoriam, a cut from one of his most underrated LP’s, recorded in November of 1967 but not released until 1971:

Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – 25th Century Quaker